Added on Sunday 31 Jan 2010

West End Volume 23

Audiences. What about audiences? I mean, words on live music come easily to me but what about the audience? Other than as a side effect of doing a headcount, it hadn't occurred to me that there must be a reason for an audience to attend a particular musical event in Glasgow.

While doing reviews at various Celtic Connections gigs recently, I noticed that a different demographic was present. Now I suppose that is a reasonable enough thing as perhaps you have to be over a certain age to tolerate fiddles. Their behaviour was different too. They were, for the most part, attentive and appreciative of the acts on stage even the ones at the Open Stage events. Actually, there was an old woman asleep on the floor at one of them but that was probably an anomaly. No one blinked an eye either - they just stepped over her.

You don't often see these people at the gigs that I normally review. Maybe they only sneak out for certain gigs at certain venues in the West End? Is it a comfort thing? It might well be, as seats seemed to be a standard at the Celtic Connections venues. However, even if they were standing, they could also be provoked to dancing action as Angelique Kidjo proved.

Yet, at a normal Glasgow venue, you will see the crowd - almost regardless of size - ignore the bands they do not know (if the band is lucky) or try to talk over them (if they are not). I was in the 13th Note the other night with an ill mannered collection of proto-beards and Oxfam fashionistas for company and I wondered if they missed the point. Being in a band might make you cool but being in an audience doesn't. Are there prizes for being able to tell your friends you talked over a band you couldn't be bothered to listen to? As one of them spilled his Guinness over the bar - amateurs really should stick to bottles of lager - I wondered at what point a 13th Note audience becomes a Royal Concert Hall audience. Is it after the purchase of that first corduroy jacket? Or after that unfortunate misunderstanding in a public toilet? Or is it simply that they get old and can't stand up for too long?

If I were a promoter, I would, or should, care about such things. There might be money in figuring it out.

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