Sunday, December 23, 2007

Read all about it!

I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the world, but here in the UK it’s notoriously difficult to get any kind of review of a concert in the press — local or national. When I approach the local papers, they tell me that they won’t review any concert that’s not on for at least five days. I can see their point I guess if you think that the only point of a review is to attract more punters to come to shows. By that view, there’s no point in printing a review if, by the time it’s printed, the show has finished its run. But aren’t reviews more than that? I enjoy reading reviews in my daily paper (The Guardian) which has national coverage. I regularly read reviews of theatre, pop concerts, opera, classical concerts, etc. in places far from where I live to which I am very unlikely to go. It keeps me in touch with what’s going on, even if I never get to see the live show.

A review can stimulate new ideas; introduce me to new critical language; bring a new artist to my attention; make a connection with other things that I might otherwise not have made; by making comparisons, introduce me to a new book/ film/ piece of music/ artist that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. I’m sure there are 101 other things I get from reviews, but way, way down the list is an urge to go and see the show. Most reviews these days (of any medium) are basically of the 5-star type: does the reviewer think it’s worth your while to go and see it? There doesn’t seem to be any space for more critical, analytical reviews of the arts if a show is on for one night only – except, of course, if the director/ conductor/ performer is suitably famous!

What are your experiences with the local press where you are? Can you get your concerts reviewed easily?


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