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Article from the UK Observer newspaper talks about behavior at concerts
June 1, 2003

Updated Fri, Jun 06, 2003 - 10:30am ET

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This is not an article that mentions Tori, but it discusses some of the annoying behaviors that are seen at various concerts. I found it to be a very truthful and insightful article, because I have seen such things at Tori shows.

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Thanks to James for sending this article to me. You can read it online at or below:

Spare us the shameless devotion of the Intensely Annoying Fans
by Sean O'Hagan

I have seen two rock legends play live in the past month. Both Neil Young and Patti Smith have been around long enough to inspire utter devotion in their followers.

Take Patti Smith's audience, many of whom had travelled from far and wide to see her perform songs and poetry at Charleston House, where the Bloomsbury set once did the same - though I doubt they'd have approved of Patti's raucous 'Piss Factory'. A fine experiment, then, and one that, in this intimate setting, worked wondrously. For the most part.

The problem was the drooling faithful, whose love of Patti, it seems, had to be shared, loudly and embarrassingly, at every opportunity. Behind me sat an American lady whose contribution to the evening was an initially irritating, then immensely annoying, cry of 'We love you, Patti!', delivered in the voice of a deranged six-year-old. Not just between songs, either.

Miss Deranged America was outdone, though, by Mister Beyond Embarrassment, a middle-aged guy, sitting stage front, who decided to answer Smith's announcements as if he, and he alone, had a special relationship with her. Example: Smith: 'It really is a great honour to be here.' MBE: 'We're even more honoured Patti, come back anytime.' Smith had the grace to smile gamely, but you could see that, like the rest of us, she was wincing with embarrassment. Or maybe she recognised his voice, and was thinking, 'Oh no! It's that guy who was sitting in the front row in Denver. And Brussels. And Dublin.'

Performers have an antennae for this sort of thing; they know the most fawning are often the most devouring. Ask John Lennon.

This was probably the same guy who clapped loudly at the beginning of every song. One chord was all it took. I mean, no one can detect a song, particularly one rearranged for acoustic performance by someone as unpredictable as Patti Smith, on the strength of one chord. Can they? He even clapped Smith's accompanist retuning his guitar.

What is it with people who clap at the start of a song anyway? It struck me, during the surreal set of old favourites that Neil Young played at the end of his interminable 'concept' show at the Hammersmith Apollo, that the reason he tootles around on acoustic guitar for so long before singing is in the vain hope that the clappers will not come in five minutes into a song. It kind of worked. But, alas, it didn't deter the shouters; it encouraged them. I used to think there was no bore like a Bruce bore, but I am revising my opinion.

The guys behind me had been to six shows on the current tour, so they must have absorbed the fact that Neil is a legendarily moody performer, who doesn't suffer fools gladly. Why, then, get pissed up on lager before an acoustic Neil Young show and then run back and forth to the lavatory 10 times? Why shout endless requests for old songs that he may do on a whim but certainly won't if you keep howling the titles at him? His silence throughout was withering, but that didn't stop the requests, nor the inanities. The best bit was when someone shouted, 'When are you coming back, Neil?' He cocked a bushy eyebrow like some backwoods Eeyore. 'I'm still here,' he scowled, 'I ain't left yet.'

Therein lies the rub. For the Neil and Patti bores, fandom is onanistic and insatiable. A concert simply provides the context wherein the eternally adolescent fan, having shed the adolescent's fear of embarrassment, can now show off their trainspotty knowledge and parade their pointless fandom for everyone else to see.

When they shout out a request, or applaud the first chords of a song, they are shouting for themselves, and clapping themselves, oblivious to the fact that this is disrespectful to the performer, and intensely annoying to the rest of us. The Intensely Annoying Fan is not going away, but I live in hope that they will one day wise up. And, more to the point, shut up.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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