What Makes a Great Live Show?

Its funny really.  You read all these articles about how to improve your live show, and study how others are doing it.  You hear about crafting a great setlist, and how visually, each song should look different, how each song should sound different, how your banter should be polished but not memorized, and on and on.  

To some extent, I suppose that all these ideas are true, but sometimes, you can toss the bulk of them out, cut loose and just have a great time, and these shows are pretty damn good too.  Of course, it always helps when the bulk of the crowd is cheering for your recent success, or coming to see you live after seeing you on tv, but being comfortable, truly excited, and in tune with your band mates, all signs of having paid your dues, goes a long way.
This past Thursday, I took my daughter to Ann Arbor to see Joshua Davis on vocals and guitar, and Mike and Mike, the on Cajun and keyboard respectively.  We have a lot of musician friends in the area, and many  have known Joshua for years before he became more widely known through The Voice.  I hadn’t had the pleasure, so I’m a new convert.  I can’t say if he improved through the show or not, but what I can say is that people lined the streets and sidewalks despite rain, and screamed, cheered and danced as Josh and co performed for an hour.

There were no gimmicks, no fancy lights, no sets, dancers, or efforts to change the visual look between songs.  In fact, all three musicians were seated throughout the show.  What there was, in abundant supply, was great songs performed by some talented musicians that were just happy to be there, sharing their talents with us all, and we were more than receptive. 

 
The trio were smiling from beginning to end, and each had plenty of opportunities to cut loose, swapping solos back and forth throughout.  What made the show great was how real it felt.  Banter had a point, from the origin of a song to why he would be unable to hang back and meet everyone, going on to dedicate a song to his recently departed grandmother, who would be laid to rest a few hours later.

Great music, deep honesty, and heartfelt emotions… that’s what made the show truly worth getting wet for.  Joshua can write, play the guitar, and sing well, but what brought him to the final round of the voice, beyond his raw talent and experience, is his character and his willingness and ability to let others into his world.

We, the folks of Michigan are lucky to count him among our own, as he not only reaches for personal success, but tries to bring the whole Michigan music scene with him into prominence.

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