Taj Mahal and Joe Bonamassa, Montreux 29th June 2012
A new review. And it's a bit of a mixed feelings one. Mostly that my main gripe with this festival is still ongoing, they dont' care very much about the public's satisfaction. Sorry if this is mostly negative, I keep saying I will not go back but I keep falling in the trap.
A while ago I bought this ticket and felt very happy about it.
The last time I went to that same venue it was general admission in the central area, ad seats in the back, a standing place meant a chance at a very good view of things. Long story short, this time it wasn't so at all. There were seats in the main area and the standing places were on the sides beyond the side edges of the stage. Possibly the worst place you can find to watch.
Now I don't really have a problem with any kind of layout, if a promoter wants to sell seats and make more money, whatever. But, as a customer I want to know what I am buying. There was no seating chart on the site (there is one now though I can't access it as it's in Java and most recent computer don't accept Java any longer...way to go). To their credit (?) I bought it from a counter and the lady there never told me there were other options or such.
I would have liked to be able to choose my ticket according to said chart, I would have liked to know on the day I bought my ticket that if I wanted a good seat it would cost me 220.- (1Franc is about = 1 US dollar) or a standing ticket with limited view would be 88.- then I could have decided for myself. Maybe I would still have gotten the 88.- ticket but I would have known what to expect.
As a result I was stuck with some other bemused people, behind a rope, next to an aisle where people kept coming and going, chatting, and generally not paying attention at all. Everything I totally can't get and really hampers my enjoyment.
I know the view is not that bad but that was when no one was standing there talking or trying to find their seat, or going to the loo... the rope was further back than the side of the stage which means we were behind most of the loudspeakers, you can imagine what the sound was like there.
I know I am not the majority in thinking that live music is the centre of the world, to me it is the most amazing thing that can happen, to be in a hall watching some of the best musicians of this Planet, play. I am probably in a minority in thinking that people go to a concert to watch religiously, manifest enthusiasm and dance about if they feel like it.
I know that most people don't need to watch every single move of a musician in fascination. But I cant help it it's been ingrained in my being since the day I was born. I think it's linked to my synaesthesia thing. And as I've said hundreds of times already being closer to the show means less annoying interruptions by people who aren't there for the music.
I've had all sorts of good and bad experiences at various venues, and while I've seen worse, the problem is here is that there is always something like this happening at this festival. True you get to see some things that no other venues will ever offer, worldwide. And I don't mind paying extra for this. But I wish they stopped considering the public as a minor entity, a minimum of respect towards us would be nice.
I guess I was more sensitive to all this as I had a most crappy, stressful week, problem after problem piling up and I was really looking forward to that night to let go of the tension and recharge my batteries.
It didn't help that I really got the feeling that all the actual fans who bought their tickets the first day before it all sold out (so to say, since the actual seats obviously went on sale much later) were relegated to the sides and back. I could be wrong but I watched the people in the seats, I'd say that about 50% were really fans and enjoyed the show. The rest had obviously gotten free tickets through work, and a high percentage of seats were totally empty!! The two rows right in front of me were mostly empty, since it was sold out I can only deduce that these seats were bought by enterprises and used for employees who never even bothered to show up. Sure the festival is happy as it was sold out, but what about the artists playing to a lot of empty seats and a vague clutter of dark silhouettes trying to show their enthusiasm?
Musically it was fabulous. Taj Mahal is a legend, it's a pleasure to watch him. Too bad no one seemed to care, maybe I was in a negative mood but I didn't see anyone smiling, only few people were moving, I mean you don't have to bounce in your seat as I would but at least move one foot a little? A lot of people were chatting.
I really hope the artists enjoyed themselves, well to them it's a bit like a holiday they stay in a beautiful location get shown around and have fabulous food. But as far as the performance goes is it really a good one for them?
It looked Like Joe Bonamassa enjoyed it at least. He did get a standing ovation and people seemed to defrost at the end.
So here's the positive part of this, not so cool review. Joe B is a genius, well that's not new. But this acoustic set was absolutely amazing! I didn't memorise the names of the rest of the band but Joe explained they had just met four days before and had whipped this set up. That's exactly the kind of thing I love, taking some risks, mixing people from all sorts of backgrounds. And you get some extremely good music! If they play near you go see them absolutely!