In June 2008 I was at a Cat Power concert in Paradiso, Amsterdam. It was a legendary concert. After finishing a full set Cat Power played I don’t know how many encores. She kept on singing even after her band left stage. Finally the lights went on but even that didn’t stop her; she kept on singing until she was practically dragged off stage.The whole concert must have lasted 2.5 hours.
9 years earlier, in 1999, I saw the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion performing at Pinkpop festival. A concert so intense it can only be called musical exorcism. After 40 minutes of driving out demons Jon Spencer threw down his guitar, kicked the monitors off stage and left without saying goodbye. It was the highlight of the festival.
Why am I telling this?
Because there is something fundamentally wrong with most concerts. Too often the encore seems to be planned in advance. Too often we get a full set, a small break and then one or two songs for the encore. Songs that could have easily be made part of the set. Personally I don’t need a standard encore. It is supposed to be a surprise gift, something that doesn’t happen all the time but is the result of the chemistry between audience and artist.
Cat Power just wanted to be on stage and sing songs. Maybe she technically played a lot of encores, but I doubt she even realised. Jon Spencer didn’t play an encore at all. How could he? The sheer intensity of his performance made the encore pointless.
I know, encores are woven into the concert because leaving them out would make a lot of people unhappy, but how much fun is it to watch two contractually agreed encores after which the lights are switched on?
Make it memorable again please. Be drunk on stage, high as a kite, show boredom or insult your audience. Cut your concerts short or just walk off stage after 20 minutes. All of that is allowed, and forgiven, if there are also nights you do want to play, when inspiration (not drugs) are flowing through your veins and you feel an electric connection with the audience. Play endless encores on those nights.
All I’m asking for is a little bit of authenticity.Tweet