There is something about live music that just sings to your soul. When you listen to a song on Spotify or Apple music, whatever your streaming service may be, you enjoy the music. Your head may bop along and you may relate to the lyrics but sometimes the meaning and the soul is lost in the recording that is there during the performance of the song, whereas when a band takes the stage live, the lights come on, they start playing, and it’s just …. incredible!
But it also comes down to mainstream acts versus smaller artists. When it comes to deciding between the two, I am definitely a fan of the smaller artists and their live performances. They stand up on stage in a small club in front of 300 people with their guitar and sing. They may sing songs that you have heard before but before the performance you feel the atmosphere of the audience, everyone coming together and feeling what the musician is trying to convey through the music. There is a sense of unity and understanding as you listen. It is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Author Aldous Huxley wrote, “After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
You stand there in a crowded, darkened room with everyone looking toward the stage and watching the performance and you experience the singular feeling of being in the “here and now”. There is something profound about the authenticity, as the musicians pour out their heart and soul in a live performance. A musician performing live is akin to someone speaking from the heart. By its very definition it is honest. There is nothing but a stage and a few inanimate instruments. The instruments don’t do anything by themselves. They just sit there. But put them in the hands of a skilled musician and they are transformed into a once-in-a-lifetime unforgettable experience.
It’s not just the heart and soul of the event that makes them so great but also that no two performances are the same. The audience and the musician bring something that is 100% unique to the event. Recently I went to a performance of a folk singer. The singer wanted to perform some acoustic songs that he said brought him back to why he loved music, the joy of hearing the simplicity of a guitar and just singing without loops, backing tracks or anything else. By stepping away from all the bells and whistles and performing acoustically the performance became quieter. The audience, noticing this, invested in enjoying the simple quality of the music and got annoyed at anyone who ordered too loudly at the bar--the simple noise of a can of beer opening was met with an annoyed “sshh” as everyone enjoyed the simple melodies.
You can look at any major event such as the Superbowl, presidential Inaugurations, and awards ceremonies and they all include live music. Why? Possibly because people want to make these events memorable and unique. Look at Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of “Shallow” at the 2019 Oscars. The song was originally recorded for the movie “A Star is Born” and had been performed several times but the most lauded performance was at the Oscars because of how emotional it was and what it brought to the live audience.
With so many ways to communicate at our disposal, we must not forget the transformative power of a live music experience and genuine human exchange.