Men behaving badly

If you’re gonna clap, at least clap on the beat”. One of my all-time favourite Justin Beaver lyrics.

Ok, not strictly speaking from one of his songs, but the onstage demand from the tiny pop rodent certainly struck a chord with me.

Bieber’s big enough for his fans to forgive his every misdemeanour and crazy-assed pronouncement, but how often must musicians want to tell their audience “no” – whether it’s fighting, slam-dancing or chucking pint tumblers of wee at the objects of their affection. Sadly, gig etiquette is something that the average pop fan doesn’t always seem to get. And there’s nothing worse for ‘proper’ music fans than someone else ruining your night by dint of tuneless singing along, bad dancing or sweaty pits (mosh or arm).

Call me a music snob (oh, you did last week?), but I find that your real music enthusiasts are better behaved. The bigger the band, the greater the percentage of their audience is there for a bit of a night out. “I like that single, what’s it called again?” And with that comes drink, old mates to catch up with… and with that, idle chatter, much barging through to get to the toilets, annoyance with those selfish idiots who came to hear the music, and ultimately, the Jesus and Mary Chain playing ‘The Rites of Spring’ at Altamont looks like a safer option.

So here’s my manifesto: firstly, ban booze at gigs – if you need alcohol to enjoy a show then chances are it’s rubbish anyway. Although this doesn’t apply to the performers as some are more entertaining when hammered. I’d go to see Adele if she gets as drunk as she has when tweeting in the past – the record-breaking songstress now has ‘people’ to monitor her online output, but it’s not clear if she’s ever gone full Shane McGowan onstage.

Classical music cannot be exempted either – have you seen that bouncing thing they do at The Proms, which already looks like a Britain First fundraiser? However, there’s much we could take from jazz – ok, maybe not the berets or chin-stroking – but their almost militaryesque precision in clapping each solo is something to be applauded (so to speak). A bit like tennis – look at the racket at those Davis Cup matches in Glasgow where the raucous, US-baiting between-point racket stops for pin-drop silence when Andy Murray prepares to fire a serve into the the row.

Speaking of which, arenas are built for sport. Shows under 100 capacity… fine, if you head along to your toilet venue on a wet Tuesday in November you’re clearly keen and unlikely to gab all the way through the gig. I can recall early Coldplay shows (DON’T JUDGE ME) in front of a small, rapt audience. One hit single later and they’d play to 800 people hell-bent on drowning out Chris Martin and chums with bar orders – aside from that curious Pavlovian applause at the end of each song, almost as if they had been listening.

It’s actually those veterans of tiny indie venues that tend to be the best behaved – punk legend TV Smith recently attracted mainly old fans who were appreciative, listening to the songs, applauding in the right places, and rather than pogoing as in their heyday, shuffling gently in time to the music, presumably due to ongoing hip problems. Though the bathroom visits seemed to be fairly frequent.

Anyway, that’s my plea. Wherever you’re watching a show, try to remember music is a serious business, and you’re not there to enjoy yourself. And that goes for you Beliebers more than anyone else.

music w46 justin