Obviously missing family and friends is the biggest drawback from the pandemic lockdowns but one of the other key events that a lot of people are missing is live music.
Gigs have been cancelled or postponed – some initially from 2020 to early 2021 and now even put back to 2022 – some have just been cancelled due to the problems of rearranging a full tour schedule. As well as impacting on music fans this has impacted on the bands themselves, the venues, the road crews and the whole live music scene.
However there have been some attempts at producing live shows – either through zoom or other platforms – and even some specially recorded shows just to keep the music going. Joe Bonamassa even went to the trouble of hiring the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to stage a full concert, complete with full band, backing singers and full PA and lighting rig. The only thing missing was the audience – although fans could pay extra and have cardboard cut-outs of themselves in the crowd! This gig was in promotion of his excellent new album Royal Tea – as well as some other classics thrown in. It was a weird experience; Joe and the band were on fine form and the silence between songs (cardboard cut-outs don’t make a lot of noise!) was a bit unnerving at first but it helped to reinforce the strange circumstances we’re all under just now.
Other bands have gone for a studio-based option, playing in either rehearsal rooms (King King – Live at Berkley Studios -now available on Amazon Prime) or in more traditional studios (Thunder, Black Stone Cherry) and others have went for a unique studio with walls of fans joining in via online links. This was the route for the excellent Metallica concert, allowing them to have short breaks between songs to chat to the multinational audience who joined them for the online gig.
And of course, facebook live and zoom have been used widely by many artists. There were a few online blues gigs featuring various artists all lining up to present their 20/ 30 minute worth of material – probably reaching audiences who they would never normally meet. It’s certainly introduced me to new artists such as the excellent Dave Arcari and the blues duo When Rivers Meet. The excellent When Rivers Meet have been holding a regular online gig for about a year now – meeting every Saturday evening and launching a couple of EPs and now their first CD (which has done well in the Blues charts) the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t held them back. They found a way of connecting with their fans and are no doubt picking up more followers every time the perform.
As for Dave Arcari, he’s probably adapted most to the challenges faced by lack of live gigs. Initially he held online gigs via facebook, then updated his internet connection and offered a few zoom concerts but not content with that, he’s been busy developing ideas to keep his fans coming back for more. From having guests from all across the globe join him for chats and some live music, to online cooking sessions he’s now also started streaming behind the scenes of his previous tours as well as offering online slide guitar lessons. Dave has embraced the challenge of working online and continues to grow his audience throughout this. However, as with every other artist mentioned I’m sure he’s still relishing getting back in front of a live crowd.
So it’s not all bad – yes it’s not ‘live’ music as we know it, crushed together, getting your view blocked by some giant who decides to stand in front of you or waiting on the best time to rush to the loos when the queues are the smallest – but its still something to keep us going until the venue doors are thrown open and we can get back to live music.