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Encores, standing ovations, "We don’t know any more tunes" and all that..

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds

Standing ovations with people begging….musicians getting bored with the game of bluff….what is to be done? Try George Bernard Shaw’s solution from 1885:

“One cannot help pondering whether [the audience’s] consciences ever ask them why they permit themselves to do at a concert what they would not do elsewhere.  Imagine the sincere encorist consuming a bath bun and asking the confectioner to give him another for nothing because the first was  so nice. […] The simplest [remedy] would be to send round the hat, with an announcement that as soon as the singer’s terms for one song had been collected, the encore would be complied with. […] Beggars in broadcloth inside a theatre are not a whit more respectable morally than beggars in rags outside.” 

The plate above doesn’t have enough in it yet, right?

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3 replies »

  1. I rather agree with GBS – I hate encores! I can cope with a band that stays on stage and says “Ok we'll do a blues in Bb that we recorded etc…” What gets me is when the band vanishes back stage – probably having a smoke or a beer then, just as the skin begins to flake from our beleaguered palms they stroll back on and play some throwaway number – imagine Toscanini saying to his boys “Okay, Moonlight Sonata in F a one a two a…

  2. I have very mixed feelings about encores. I agree with the point that we should be happy with the two sets and not demand an encore. But bands seem to feel that the audience hasn't really enjoyed the gig unless an encore is demanded and so I often find myself getting the audience to applaud for as long as possible and chasing the band to come back on.

  3. i think that doing an automatic encore is hazardous: often the audience doesn't really want it either. You have built them up through the last set and now it's over, they just want to show in words that they liked what you've done, so much that they'll have some more please. But this is just politeness. many are putting scarves on, trying to get out the door to the last train, babysitters etc and then they either sit back down again, looking at their watch, all vibe gone, or they hustle out as you cue the song, which is also a vibe killer. having said that, some nights it is magic, and if an audience has been really supportive, an encore will give back to them some of the joy they have given you. I prefer to say in advance that the last tune is the real last tune, and then people can clap as loud as they like afterwards without fear it will trigger an unwanted encore.

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