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Date: Thu 18 May, 2006 at 10:50
Headline: Next To The Next Best Thing

Greetings & Salutations!

This week I went to check out the Big Screen Concerts presentation of David Gilmour's live show at my local movie theater. Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't even know this concept existed, but I think it's a cool idea, at least in theory.

I was a little disappointed with the screening, for two reasons: A) It was a re-broadcast of a 70 minute BBC performance which I had already seen on the net, whereas I had been expecting a full 2 hour + concert, and B) the sound, while loud enough to be clear, wasn't loud enough to be powerful in the way that a rock concert should be. I'm not saying so loud as to require earplugs, but surely enough to move the air just a little. Anyway, musically it was still a masterful performance, and it was cool to experience it on something bigger than a computer screen. Hopefully there will be an full-length live release somewhere down the road, so I can finally hear "Wot's...Uh The Deal" (among others) live.

It was also interesting to observe the audience's reactions. A movie theater is a curiously civilized place for such an event, particularly for this artist, whose legacy is forever linked to drug use of all stripes. I imagine they had even bigger issues with smuggled chemical entertainment when Widespread Panic made their debut in this format, but even here there were clearly some folks who...came prepared.

There was also applause and cheering at various points, which for some reason struck me as just plain weird. I don't know why -- that sort of reaction is pretty common in theaters generally, and makes no sense at all, as neither the characters on the screen or the filmmakers who put them there are around to hear and appreciate it -- but when put in the context of a live performance, where applause is an ostensibly interactive thing, it just seemed even more absurd. And yet, there I was, doing it too. Maybe it really is more about release than communication in some instances. Anyway, the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for Richard Wright's performance of "Wearing The Inside Out," which came as a pleasant surprise (both the performance and the reaction.) There was also some of the usual, boisterous concert behavior, particularly slurred demands to "crank it up!" running amuck alongside some folks who seemed to be expecting the (usually) respectful quiet of the theater-going experience. Clearly the two worlds are going to take a while to integrate properly.

Would I do it again? Sure, if I had enough interest in the artist. Even to see a truncated version of Gilmour's fll show it was a bargain at $10 -- less than 10% of what I would have had to pay for a concert ticket. We'll see what the future lineup brings...