Monday, January 30, 2006

U2 on audience and performance

I got my hands on a two months old Rolling Stone magazine featuring an in-depth interview with Bono, written by Jann S. Wenner. Interestingly, Bono states that very little has been written about performers' psychology. Performers usually try to fill a hole, that's obvious, Bono says and continues: "What's less obvious is that through this insecurity we develop a kind of a third eye or a sort of reptilian sense of what's going on in the room.".

I experienced one of those moments when you realize that what you just read, you've always wanted to know, it's just that you haven't been aware of it until then. The question on what goes on inside a singer's head when performing in front of a crowd of thousands of fans really caught my interest, for some subconscious reason. Perhaps because I sense a paradox when it comes to performing music. On one hand, music has a way of completely absorbing you once you start playing or singing. You can really lose yourself in producing sound and the surroundings basically disapperar. But on the other hand, there are great performers who read their audience brilliantly, artists with great stage presence who are completely aware of what's going on in the back rows of the arena. Robbie Williams is one of them. After a quick search for academic writing on this delicate balance between complete absorbation and complete connectedness with every individual in the arena, I'm no smarter. If anyone can point me to resources, readings or blog postings about this, I'd be grateful!

Further down the article, Bono answers Wenner's question "What are you trying to do with the audience?" like this:
"To lose my own sense of self, self-consciousness - and theirs."

There's an excerpt from the article here (RS 986, November 3, 2005), though not containing the citations above.

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