The Demise of Live Music as witnessed by Mark Cockburn
If anyone was not up to the task they would be found out. The digital revolution burst onto the scene making any instrument accessible to all and began to make music automated, even correcting sloppy timing and bad tuning. This was creating a new genre which was the catalyst for much of the 80’s and beyond. With amazing new sounds, and the ability to manipulate audio at the touch of a button, things were easier than ever but there were to be consequences.
Some started to believe that we could replace certain musicians and their cumbersome instruments with digital drum loops and ready made fills. There was a notion that instead of paying for strings and their arrangement you could put the strings down with a keyboard but this was missing the dynamic movement and textures of the real thing.
Producers were beginning to forget what the drummer himself brings to the table and creators were too busy laying down an expressionless robotic sequence. The next to fall were guitars, which could not initially be made to sound in keeping with the new 80’s vibe, but were no longer considered an option by the music factories that were occupying the limelight. They were sometimes used as subtle overdubs but in the main were thought of as a bit “old news”.
The problem with this was that the guitar was at the heart of modern music going back as far as I can remember and young people could form a band in a garage with a warped 5 string guitar, half a battered drum kit and an old stereo as an amp. This was how it started. This was how you learnt your craft. You could form a band by saving up your paper round money for a few weeks. It was accessible..
When the digital revolution began, chart music was being created by Fairlight and Sinclavier keyboards costing up to £15,000 a pop thus alienating a whole new wave of would be contemporary musicians. When these young bucks couldn’t get near to creating and emulating the music they were buying, many turned to alternative pursuits like Game Boy and various computer games which were rapidly coming on stream.
At the same time as there was a fall in the amount of acts being developed to perform live the venues themselves were discovering that video juke boxes were offering a much better return than paying 4 spotty oiks from down the road £100 a night and take up half the pub with 3 amp stacks, a drum kit and a P.A.. You could have Phil Collins singing In The Air Tonight 25 times on 3 screens for less.
Although they never floated my boat, Oasis and their peers was what was desperately needed to re-establish the man made element back in music production and give the budding ones something tangible to aspire to. As with all art we need it all, every colour, every tone but to drift too far one way becomes an extreme, and with an extreme comes consequences.
Here are ten sample tracks from Marco Burn’s album: “Niceley Out Of It” The album can be bought from Stephen Edwards Electrical on King street for just £6.99