Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"I don't want to cheat those people"

In a new wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone, Macca explained at length why he takes such a crowd-pleasing approach to his live shows. Turns out, Paul is the anti-Dylan because (in part, anyway*) he himself has been on the losing end of a concert that didn't deliver the goods as expected. To this I say: Paul, never change. There may not be a more exasperating breach of faith between musician and fan than a set list that's designed to satisfy the whims of the artist over the general desires of the crowd. Especially at big ticket shows, it's a reasonable expectation that the performing act will honor the outlay of money and commitment of time by his or her fans with a performance that, at the very least, isn't unprofessional or willfully challenging, and, even better, is geared toward broad appeal. That's not asking much. Now, within the "give the people what they want" prescription/policy, there's plenty of room for maneuvering and balance. It doesn't need to be pursued in draconian fashion (i.e., singles and hits always trumping lesser-known entries), but it should serve as a starting point, a guide. And for most performers, it does. But that doesn't undo how refreshing it is to hear Paul loudly proclaim the gospel of populism. Everybody, listen to the what the man said.
*There's also the obvious $$$ factor.
Here's part of the excerpt:
Well, I'm always reminded of when I was a kid and I used to go to shows. This was pre-pre-pre-Beatles. I was just a little kid in Liverpool with no money, and I'd be saving up forever. It'd be really good if the show satisfied me – and it really pissed me off if it didn't. So I have this thing, which is that these people have paid money. They're not necessarily all going be that flush, so let's give them a good night out. Let's have a party. Let's make it a fiesta kind of thing, so everyone goes home and thinks, "Yeah, I didn't mind spending that money." That's the philosophy behind a lot of what I do.
One of the first concerts I ever went to was a Bill Haley concert. I was so young, I was still in short trousers. I was about 13 or something. It was rock & roll coming to Liverpool, and I was so excited. I saved up, got this ticket, went to the Liverpool Odeon – and the whole first half wasn't Bill Haley! It was this other guy who, years later, I learned was a promoter who had his own band. Mind you, the second half, when Bill opened from behind the curtains with, "One, two, three o' clock, four o'clock rock," and did "Rock Around the Clock," which is almost the birth of rock & roll – okay, that was exciting. The curtains opened and they're all there in these crazy tartan jackets. That was worth it. But I was always pissed off about the opening act, thinking I got cheated. And I once bought a Little Richard record where he was only one track on the album. It was this other thing, the Buck Ram Orchestra.

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