As usual I am starting my blog with a promise to actually put some effort in and keep it up to date...... Believe that when you see it!
I, somewhat unexpectedly, popped along to see Midge Ure last night. Not unexpected in so much as this wouldn't be a gig I would like to have gone to, more from a had no plan but ended up going anyway. I am writing a review for one of the magazines I occasionally do bits for so won't go into the whole gig here. Instead I wanted to cover the topic of heckling.....
I quite often have pub debates about acoustic gigs. The argument usually goes along the lines of me saying 'you can tell a great song if you strip it down' and everyone else saying 'That's utter £$£%'. Anyway, I am sticking to my guns. Midge Ure has been involved in an amazing body of work over the last 35 years-ish. If you go to see Ultravox, you don't really get how good his collection is. If you go to see him solo then you get a sense of just how prolific and fine his back catalogue is. The songs absolutely stand the test of time.
The acoustic shows are also enhanced with entertaining tales in between songs. The insights serve to make a great connection between artist and audience and add some colour to the evening.
The most famous of all of these songs, 'Vienna', is particularly awe inspiring to see played on nothing but an acoustic guitar. Midge delivers the tune with all the passion it deserves and strains his vocal chords in the process. The crowd listen and hang on every word with rapt attention and explode into applause as the song comes to an end. Midge inclines his head to acknowledge the appreciative audience and the crowd and artist are in perfect harmony. As the applause drifts though, from the back of the room, comes a very well oiled heckle in a Glaswegian accent. The words are those that must haunt Midge Ure where-ever he goes.....
'Joe Dolce', a dramatic pause.....
Midge looks into the darkness of the crowd, not believing what he has heard. The applause faded now into nothing. It is high noon now between artist and heckler. The pause is broken by the second ill aimed shot from the drunkard at the back,
Midge takes a deep breath, one full of the the weariness that only 30 odd years of hearing the same thing can bring. He clears his throat,
'In some parallel universe, Joe Dolce is standing on this stage. Some sad bugger just shouted 'Midge Ure' at him......'
His aim straight and true, as only a seasoned gun slinger could manage brings down the drunken heckler, but as if he needed to make sure no further shots were fired....
'...but I doubt it'
I can't imagine how hard it is to be up on a stage presenting your life's work for an audience. Harder still, to imagine facing the same tired tale, inarticulately delivered as it was, for 30 odd years. It was great to see a immensely talented performer deal with heckler with all the aplomb of a seasoned stand up comedian with years of experience on the club circuit.
I do not know what possesses people to make loads of noise or heckle performers at acoustic gigs. It is an all too frequent occurrence and always sets my teeth on edge. These are fabulous opportunities to get closer to an artist and their music.... so when they are playing and putting it out there, is it really too difficult to just keep quiet and appreciate?