What does LIVE really mean these days, anyway??

Good morning on this beautiful Tuesday morning from Southern California!! (My apologies to those of you in England today – thanks to Mr. Dom Brown I hear the weather has not been kind there today. The sun has relocated to California!) I say it’s beautiful now, but as the temps hit 90 degrees here later this week, I doubt I will be as thrilled to see the sun!

I would imagine that by now everyone has seen, heard or even read about the “holographic” performance of Tupac Shakur at Coachella this weekend. (The performance was actually in 2D so technically not “holographic”) No one needs to be a fan in order to recognize the significance of such a posthumous appearance. It would seem there is no limit to what technology can do – if it can whisk people out of their graves in order to have them back onstage in time for a short gig – I’d say it can do just about anything.

But can it really?

There’s no denying that seeing Tupac was quite a trick, and for some in the audience that night it may well have been a dream come true. However, smoke, mirrors and mylar screening does not a live performance make. (Now that I’ve drifted into Yoda speak…it’s time for more coffee for this American!) I don’t wish to trivialize the show, but the facts speak for themselves here. Could such a projection become anything more than a novelty? Granted, there’s not a music news blog around that hasn’t covered Coachella, and with each article or blog that has been written there’s been paragraphs written about Tupac and yet nearly nothing about the rest of the festival as of yet (there’s one more weekend on tap). Obviously that was the big news coming out of the festival for the first weekend.  I’ve also read that the price tag for creating Tupac’s appearance was nearly $100,000. Not exactly play money these days, so it’s no surprise that there are rumors circulating that Tupac will be making appearances on tour with Snoop long after the lights go out at Coachella.

This appearance from the Great Beyond by Tupac begs questions to pondered. What stops this from becoming the next greatest thing? I’m honestly surprised they haven’t conjured up Elvis, John Lennon, George Harrison, or even Michael Jackson for that matter. Money is to be made here, and I’m pretty sure that the labels still have quite a love affair with the green stuff!! I’m sure there’s got to be some out there that would gladly pay whatever price necessary in order to even see a projected image of John and George in order to recreate the Fab Four again. Elvis fans are still out there – the attendance figures at Graceland each year prove that one over and over again. Heaven (or Hell) is the limit!!

Did I just hear groaning out there??

In recent days I just read an article about the Summer Olympics in London. Planning is well-underway for the Opening Ceremonies and while no – there were no rumors put to rest about a certain band we all know and love – the current discussion is that the music for these ceremonies will not be live. When I read the article, I have to admit that I didn’t quite understand the uproar. Many “live” productions are filmed with the music on a backing track.  Even TV shows are done that way. According to the articles I read, the musicians had no issues with the ceremonies being handled in this way, and the show itself would be far too complicated for the music to be done live.

It would seem that more and more often these days, there is less and less importance being hung on the word “Live”, which can really be heartbreaking. When one pays for a ticket to see Britney Spears live, for example – are they really getting a live performance, or nothing more than someone lip synching on stage? She’s certainly not the only artist that’s been accused of lip synching, and most assuredly not the only one who doesn’t even have a band on stage with her while she’s performing. What counts as being enough to say it’s live?  There’s been so much discussion about using backing tracks – most bands admit to using them for one thing or another – but honestly – who plays EVERYTHING live anymore?

With the invent and success of a holographic Tupac along with a realistic backing track – who is to say that bands won’t start just touring holographically at some point? Even Duran Duran, with the amount of countries that insist that they visit – could at some point choose to use this method to reach more people in more places in shorter periods of time. Touring? Traveling away from the family? Who needs that?? Let’s face it, the band isn’t getting any younger, yet there are many of us out there who are not at all excited by the prospects of their eventual retirement. Would you pay to see them holographically if there was no other way?

What does live really mean these days, and where is the real limit between a live show and a “taped” one?

-R

4 thoughts on “What does LIVE really mean these days, anyway??”

  1. Great subject today. I don't think that I would pay to see 'Virtual Duran Duran' for the same reason that I've yet to join Second Life. I'd rather have something tangible to hold on to rather than just images.

    As for backing tracks, I must be the one person who truly believed that our favorite band did not use one, until I was slapped into reality at the 'fan show' in NYC a few years back. The glitch that occurred during Sunrise showed me that they do, in fact, use backing tracks and I've never been able to listen to Sunrise the same way since that show and I'll admit that I am a bit disappointed that nothing really is ever truly 'live' anymore.

    As my brother is fond of saying, I'm the school they tore down to build the Old School. 🙂

    Teri

  2. Yeah, this doesn't surprise me in the least. Remember Natalie Cole's “Unforgettable” duet with her deceased father, Nat King Cole? What about footage of Forrest Gump interacting with John F. Kennedy? To me, that was just the beginning. Anyone remember Milli Vanilli (?) lip synched their way to a few Grammy's? What about the Monkey's even before them?

    SO now we have all this technology. In the VH1 classic Albums “Rio,” JT said he couldn't play both bass tracks simultaneously in “New Religion” so I know NR has this in his many mixing tools to play one of the tracks while JT plays the other. Likewise, in that same song, Simon has 2 lines of lyrics sung at the same time. He can't do them both, and no one else sings it in his place live, so one is recorded and he sings the other, although JT may sing the other line “Don't know what is evil, it bothers me…” while SImon sings the other which goes to fast for me to even catch the words.

    For DD, I know Nick is a mixing master. He can produce any sound that has ever been recorded by the band and use it during the shows. So is Nick even playing or is he just pushing buttons that produce the right mix at the right time? I often wonder, although I have seen him play the keyboards while mixing.

    Holograph schmolograph. IDGAS [I don't give a shite] about Tupac, no offense. I doubt music will go to this level across the board. Fans will demand more.

    As far as the Olympics, the logistics of live performances among all the security problems with the event itself, it just makes sense to have it beamed in from another galaxy far, far away.

    As Forrest Gump would say, “And that's all I have to say about that”.

    Deb

  3. I just have to say that the Monkees actually did sing and play their own instruments, and while yes what you're saying is true – I think there's much to be said for this technology being used across the board (Holographic imagery). It's much too easy to simply dismiss it and say that fans would demand more. Of course we might, but what if we couldn't?? There's actually a lot of fans that I've heard from today on Facebook that think this technology might lend itself very well to concerts now and in the future. -R

  4. Monkeys eventually learned to play instruments once exposed that they were not.
    And I am not dismissing the notion that technology will continue to evolve and play a greater role in performances. I have not been following the tweets but have seen the feeds come through. I have ignored them because it is tagged as 'tupac' and I was never a fan.

    Interesting topic indeed. I look forward to other comments.

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