I’ve just been trying to catch up on my 122 hours of recorded programmes on my TV Digi-box and watched Paloma Faith performing at the Royal Albert Hall, from the Late Night Prom – yes that’s how far behind I am with my TV viewing!
Paloma was accompanied by the brilliant Guy Barker Orchestra (approximately 40 musicians) and a sizeable Choir and vocal backing group and I was immediately struck, not only with the quality and musicianship of the performers, but with the sheer visual spectacle on display. As the Arts get financially squeezed more and more, it was refreshing to see that we had “real” “live” musicians on stage to deliver the performance and lots of them at that – well let’s face it, if the Proms can’t manage to provide live entertainment, then we’re really in the mire! My point is that the paying public is all too often being short-changed at the box-office, with reduced bands/orchestras and worst of all, the dreaded backing track, replacing live musicians. This is certainly not a new phenomenon, but is becoming the norm nowadays and audiences are becoming acclimatised to seeing less musicians on stage or in the orchestra pit. I went to see the much-acclaimed show “Riverdance” in Cardiff some 5 years ago and was really looking forward to not only seeing the dancers in action, but to hear and watch the wide and eclectic range of musical instruments used by the Band for the performance. To say I was underwhelmed is a monumental understatement, as my expectations were shattered when I saw that the total number in the Band was …… 4!!!! The bizarre and ridiculous sight of the Flamenco Dancer, performing her solo to a backing track will haunt me for many a year to come. Back to the present day and I was performing at a Corporate Event, where a very famous male vocal group had been hired to perform a set during the evening. They were accompanied by a substantial orchestra and the noise, sorry sound was deafening, however, there was not an instrumentalist in sight. I would also question, whether there was an “actual” note sung in anger too. Post match analysis: Backing Track 2 – Live Music 0. So, not only are venues giving us less than value for money – substantial money at that – but, performers (ahem!) are just as culpable for peddling fake “musak”, all in the name of entertainment. Next time you attend a performance, check that you are paying for “live” music and if not, WHY NOT??? Hopefully sights such as the Phil Dando Big Band (pictured above) performing live, will not be a thing of the past. In the words of the Musicians’ Union slogan, please help “Keep Music Live“. For more details about Music for You, providing LIVE Musicians for your event, contact Andrew on 07973 869621 or visit my Website