Sun | May 19, 2019

More cameras change live experience

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Beres Hammond
Marcia Griffiths
Chronixx in performance
A patron captures the action on stage during the recent Chronixx concert in Kingston.

I can't pinpoint when I first saw Beres Hammond perform, but I know that a Western Consciousness concert at Llandilo, Westmoreland, was the first time I saw him sing Live On with Marcia Griffiths.

And that, my goodly folks, is unforgettable. Much earlier this year, in January, I saw them do the song again at Rebel Salute (it's hard to believe another staging is about four weeks away) in Priory, St Ann.

They sounded fantastic, but this time, though, I was watching a screen at one side of the stage, more than I was looking at them. Part of the reason for that was the number of persons in the front jostling for a good shot of Beres during his performance ... most of them not professionals, but persons using cell phones. And woe be unto the person who steps between Beres and someone capturing his or her personal take on the legend, which could possibly end up on YouTube.

Then later in the year, at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew, I really saw the Beres screen effect. He was a surprise performer after the line-up was complete, and as soon as people realised that he would be singing a song or two, a lot of people went to stand in front of the stage. And, it seemed to me, every one of them took out a smartphone and stood as still as possible to record the moment, while everyone else was dancing.


I thought, where is the fun in that? But then thought that I should not take the opportunity of seeing any number of standout Jamaican performers on stage because of my job for granted. For most persons who actually pay to attend the event, it is a really special occasion.

The same thing happened with the Chronixx concert at Mas Camp recently, with the phones popping up en masse, as soon as he came on.

So where is the liveliness in the live concert experience when you are busy recording it on your telephone? You end up looking at the small screen, rather than the performer, musicians and stage equipment, which is all part and parcel of the performance. Heck, from my point of view (normally close to the back of the audience) the people's reaction to the music is a crucial part of the concert experience.

When you are at the front staring grimly at a little screen, you miss so much in the determination to get your own little piece of Tarrus Riley or Beenie Man or Spice or Ken Boothe or Kevin Downswell to carry home. And, chances are, someone will put up a better video on YouTube of the same event than you took anyway.