The Show Versus the Album

People have often told me that they prefer the album over the show and vice versa.  It has turned into this kind of battle, which makes no sense to me. I’ve always thought of the album and the show as complementary to each other as both have pros and cons.

First of all, albums have the widest rage of accessibility. Instead of following a band religiously, hoping you’ll be able to find a show and attend, you can just listen any time you want.

At any given time you’re listening to the album, you’ve got consistency. If you’ve listened a few times, you know exactly what it’s going to sound like. For most artists, you’re going to have a mixed/mastered copy of the album, so it’s going to sound pretty good. (Not every band mixes/masters/edits the sound, so that can vary).

Anything goes for live performances, which is one of the best things about them. Artists have the chance to change things up and experiment with lyrics or sounds at every show. It makes the shows more interesting for the artists who have played the same songs 100 times and for the audience members who have listened to the same songs 100 times.

Another bonus to live shows is the energy. There’s an engagement with the artists and audience. There’s a movement, and you’re not just listening to a song, you’re feeling it. The entire show is an experience – sounds, smells, sights – everything adds up to an all-embracing experience.

Of course, there’s always that awkward moment when an artist isn’t as good live as you’ve expected based on an album. This is probably one of the biggest let-downs for fans. Live shows take a lot of practice to master – it’s not the same as recording in the comfort of your home or studio. The ability to excel at both the show and the album is crazy impressive (to me, at least).

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