Call me old fashioned but manners cost nothing.
A few days ago a friend and I went to an all-seated show in Glasgow. Yes, it was a music event, an acoustic show, but the setting was most definitely more akin to a theatre setting than your standard rock venue.
Now let’s make something quite clear from the start here. I am not against folk against folk having a few drinks and a good time at a show. OK?
It was the lack of manners on several levels that quickly got under my relatively thick skin.
I have been in the habit of visiting theatres and concert halls and attending rock shows for over thirty years. (EEK!) I’ve always been taught that if a show is all-seated then there are some basic rules of etiquette to be followed. They’re not difficult!
The first is common courtesy – arrive on time! (yes, I know folk get stuck in traffic etc. etc.) Please don’t arrive half an hour or, as was the case with several folk, an hour and a half late and expect to be shown straight to your seat, especially if said seat is in the middle of a row of folk who actually arrived on time and are enjoying the show. I’ve also a word of caution for the theatre staff here. Please be careful where you are pointing your torches as you escort latecomers to their seats. Repeatedly we were blinded by a member of staff pointing his Maglite torch in our faces as he walked to the front section of the stalls. Point the damn thing at the floor not the audience!
The second rule, especially when there’s clear signage on display, turn off your phone and don’t attempt to take photographs or record parts of the performance. If it’s the theatre’s policy, then please comply. There’s no one who enjoys capturing a few photographic or video memories than me but, if the venue says “No” then I’m happy to comply. The man with the torch was policing this by shining his torch directly on the offenders but yet again was blinding those in his path to the offending fan.
The third rule is around food and drink in the auditorium. I appreciate that this is a sensitive area and that I am in the minority as, in general, I don’t drink alcohol at a gig. Never have, never will. (Makes you need to pee and also leads to fuzzy photos!) If, however, you feel the need to bring drinks into the theatre then please do so at the start and during breaks in the show and not in the middle of the set. The traffic to and from the bar throughout the entire show was ridiculous and unnecessary! This behaviour also leads to two other issues. The first of these is spillage. From our elevated seats, I watched numerous music fans who were happily enjoying the show have to stand up to allow folk to return to their seats and who got slopped with beer for their courtesy. It kind of goes without saying, if you drink too much liquid then you need to pee so by the latter half of the show there was a constant stream of folk heading out of the auditorium towards the toilets, again disrupting the show for those around them. Now, if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go (as an IBS sufferer I totally get that) but in these surroundings be considerate to all concerned, including the performers on stage.
The fourth rule in my book is no talking during the performance. Now this one can be relaxed a little as singing along was most definitely called for throughout the night. However, among the worst offenders for talking loudly throughout the entire show were the two “mature” members of the theatre staff, who were manning the doors to our left. The music may not have been to their personal tastes but they of all people should know that you don’t carry on a full conversation at normal conversational levels during a performance. There were many,many other offenders throughout the evening. At one point, someone on their way back to their seat explained in no very direct terms that he hadn’t come there to listen to a particularly noisy group of music fans but had paid money to listen to the guy on the stage. The piece de resistance though was the guy seated diagonally behind me who either made a call or answered a call on his phone and sat having an entire lengthy conversation in the middle of the set.
The fifth rule links back to rule three. If you’ve got an allocated seat, sit in it! Again, it’s different if the show allows for the audience to be on their feet or if the performance has earned a standing ovation which this one did. Rule six links in here too. Keep your feet off the seats but also don’t interfere with someone else’s seat by leaning on it or kicking the back of it, even if you are kicking in time to the music!
I’d love to know what the performers on stage thought of this behaviour. These guys had travelled thousands of miles to bring this show to the stage and a large number of the audience didn’t even pay them the common courtesy of arriving on time and paying attention to the magic being spun on the stage.
It’s sad…..tragic almost.
One music fan caught my eye late on in the evening. He was seated in the stalls near the front and several seats in from the aisle. He waited for a lull between songs before leaving his seat, quietly slipping from the auditorium. Upon his return, he stayed at the back until the song in progress on the stage was over then walked back down the aisle towards his seat. The star on stage launched straight into the next song. Did this music fan barge his way back into his seat? No, he stood in the passageway until the song was over then re-took his seat. It was nice to see that not all manners had been lost.