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Have I the right to tell you? – Kate Bush asks fans not to use phones at gigs

kate1-466086The Guardian reports that comeback queen Kate Bush is asking fans attending her residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo beginning later this month to refrain from filming the set on mobile phones or other tablets. In an open letter to fans, Bush – whose last show came when the idea of a cordless phone seemed futuristic, never mine a mobile one – suggested that the experience would be lessened by any such filmic tomfoolery.

She wrote on her website: “I have a request for all of you who are coming to the shows. We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium. It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows.

“I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras. I know it’s a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.”

How nice. How quaint. And what bollocks.

There’s a difference in sharing the experience between audience and performer, and in this instance it’s the fact the audience paid £150 to be there. Telling them how they should then experience it is beyond arrogance, and leads back to the days when the stars were stars and plebs were plebs. You get to perform your songs and charge to people to watch it…and that’s it.

The fact is it isn’t 1979 any more, and part of the experience for many people attending shows is sharing it through social media. You may not agree or understand the practice, but it doesn’t change it. And you have absolutely no right as a performer to tell them that they can’t.

It also ignores the fundamental point that, at gigs in yer old days, audiences didn’t stand in rapt awe anyway. They queued for drinks, smoked, talked to friends, went for a piss and, yes, took photos.  People do stuff during your show. It happens – get on with it.

If one was feeling cynical, you could be forgiven for suspecting that this is less to do with “contact with you as an audience” and more to do with limiting the available footage on You Tube in case it affects sales of the inevitable DVD. But either way, if an artist invites you into their house and offers to perform for you, they have the right to tell you how you should experience it. If they charge you money to watch them, they do not. It’s self-important twaddle.

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