Monday, May 26, 2008

No photographs? You're havin' a laugh

I witnessed comic history on Friday when I joined more than 15,000 at London’s O2 Arena to see Chris Rock beat Lee Evans’ record for the biggest audience for a live comedy gig.

A one and a half hour music-free, prop-free monologue of sex, race, politics, race and more race was probably worth paying £50 for, joining a queue for a drink that took the entire interval and a queue to leave that took 30 minutes to get outside, but that’s showbiz.

But I reserved the biggest laugh for the pre-concert announcement to comply with the artiste’s wishes for no photography during the show. Stewards then found themselves running up and down the aisle shooting chiding glances at those who did what they did at every other concert - and snapped away merrily with their phones.

Two nights later, a hand reached across to my £85 seat at the Coliseum and patted me on the back during the Liza Minnelli concert. The steward couldn’t reach the woman filming a few seats up and asked me to pass on her disapproval.

I did, only out of politeness, but have to say I felt that sanity returned later during the encore when a few dozen en masse began to flash away.

I’m the first to jump up and down when someone breaches my copyright and am no stranger to litigation when my interests need protecting. But these days every ticket-holder is a photographer and promoters would do well to wake up to that.

Besides, when you ask that number of people to pay those prices (plus, in the case of the Coliseum an extra £5.50 for a small glass of ordinary white wine) and expect them to keep their phones in their pockets when the performers do their best to ramp up the excitement, I think you’re taking the Michael with an M.

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