People will give you different answers when you ask them “What makes a great concert?” I, of course, have my own opinion too. And since this blog is about my concert experiences, I’ll just tell you what I think.
I could go on and on about all the things that I think make up a great concert - good music, singers that can actually sing, being able hear the singer over the music. But the number one thing, in my opinion, that makes a great concert is connection. I believe that an artist’s ability to connect with the audience is key to having a great concert experience. When I go to a concert, not only am I looking to be entertained, but I am also looking for something I can’t get by watching them perform on TV. I want to feel like they are performing just for me, no matter where I am sitting.
Country artists seem to do this the best. They realize that they are there ONLY because their fans put them there. They interact with the fans and pay attention to what is going on in the crowd. Many of them will even stop their concerts to sing Happy Birthday to someone or bring kids up on stage to sing with them. These extra things are what make it an experience to talk about the next day.
There has been some big pop star concerts that, although the singing and maybe even dancing were great, I left disappointed because I didn’t feel there was anything special in the concert. They were there just to put on a performance and go home. They didn’t seem to care whether anyone was there or not. I prefer when the artist talks to the crowd a little bit. I want to feel like I get to know them personally just a little. It makes me a bigger fan. Garth Brooks is amazing at this. He speaks to the crowd like he is talking individually to every person there. Cher was also very good at telling her stories that went along with her songs.
In large venues, screens are a big part of this connection to the crowd. We have the BOK Center here in Tulsa. It is an amazing venue that holds 17,000 people. When you sit in the nosebleed seats the band is so small you don’t get any detail. I can’t even imagine those venues that are much larger. If the artist does not use the screens to show their faces then those far away do not get the whole experience.
Some artists do this wonderfully. Keith Urban has my vote for best use of screens. His screens were floor to ceiling and there were times when his face was the only thing on it. I don’t care where you are sitting, you feel like he is right in front of you. Bruno Mars is the worst offender in this category. He had huge screens behind him yet only 2 songs all night did he actually have his face on them. The rest of the time it was used as back lighting or just designs. Why have that big of a screen and not show us who we came to see?
So I believe that when a performer finds a way to make every person feel like they are there to perform just for them - that’s what makes a great concert.