Taking a look at the backing track generation with ol´ blue eyes
Live! Take a moment and think about the word, what does it mean? In the sense of music, it used to be a group of musicians standing on stage, singing and playing on their instruments where the audience could witness a performance that would be unique for that special night.
You see, humans aren´t perfect but machines are.
When an artist or a band is out on a long tour, you could have the misfortune of catching them on a bad night because that´s the charm with playing live.
You never know what you´re gonna get, most often a professional artist does a solid performance so the fans can go home from a show quite satisfied. But the concerts you will always remember, are the ones when the band is on fire and it feels like they were playing like it was the last days of their lives.
I´ve seen a few of those and it stays with me for the rest of my life.
So it makes me sad that more and more artists and bands use pre-recorded tapes or if you prefer, backing tracks, to put on a show.
I think it´s ok if the band still plays live and the backing tracks are to be used to add something like a special sound effect, a sequencer or loops but when they replace one or more instruments, it´s not live.
There´s no chemistry in recording software like pro tools, reason or cubase. The manufactured sound is already done with the product, you can choose from thousands of different drum and guitarsounds etc.
But many producers and also musicians are lazy and comfortable, instead of searching for the right sound with microphones, different rooms to find the right vibe and practice real hard on your instrument.
It´s so easy to let the computer do all the work, because machines are perfect.
You´ll get the same result everytime you click start and stop.
It´s so easy that you don´t have to include all members of the band when you perform live.
That happened to Swedish rock band Smash Into Pieces when one of their two guitarists couldn´t perform on one of their shows, instead of cancelling the gig or bringing in a replacement to rehearse the setlist. The band only used his pre-recorded guitar tracks from the CD and let the drummer play along to a clicktrack.
One guitarist on stage but two guitars out in the PA system. Live?
The line between playback and live has been erased, now it´s playback and still called live.
Welcome to the age of autotune, in many cases the singer doesn´t even use his own voice. Each and every pop hit on mainstream radio today will make Frank Sinatra turn in his grave because of the extreme use of autotune.
I want to see a singer perform in the same way as Frankie did, he let the orchestra practice for a couple of hours, then arrived in a limo to the studio, on time at 18.00 everyday and said "Let´s make a record". With not more than 2-3 takes per song.
One week later, the album was recorded and ready.
Give me drum kit, a few amplifiers and speakers, a bass, a guitar and a few microphones and a PA.
No computers! That´s live.
I welcome any band in the backing track generation to show their skills. Surprise me.
I have my The Who t-shirt on and I´m waiting............feel no pressure.