Do concert reviews have value?

The inherent merit of album reviews is that they seek to verbally capture an experience in which we can all share, listening to a new CD. A concert, however, is a different story. At most 1% of this site’s readers (thus, 28-35 people) will be in attendance at an average concert. These posts, then, describe an experience in which most readers will never share.

Past concert reviews have generally generated very little discussion. There are exceptions: NQC coverage, since probably 20%-40% of this site’s readers are present, and events of standalone newsworthiness, such as Jonathan Price’s first night with the Dove Brothers.

Of course, comments aren’t the only way to measure level of interest. Daily readership is another metric, though that’s as often as not a measure of whether anything newsworthy is happening, reminding you to stop by (and less an indication of how interesting you found the post when you got here).

There is, of course, one other factor. Groups with live bands can and sometimes do create live concert experiences which differ notably from the CD. But in concerts where soundtracks are used throughout, sometimes there is simply little to be said that couldn’t have already been said of the CD.

What, then, is the value of concert reviews?

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27 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I know where you’re coming from. I did one concert review, and it seemed like it didn’t generate all that much interest. Most people don’t read a concert review and come away saying “Oh, I think I want to go see them now.”

    As for reading others’ concert reviews, I find myself skimming over them unless it is one of my very top favorite groups.

    I would say that writing a concert review has just as much, if not more, value to the writer. It’s a way to get those memories down in a hard form so that they are preserved. Any time you are thinking about that night in the future, you can go back and look at the review, and those memories will fall in place.

    • …and that’s a perfect case for writing them…in our diaries. 🙂

      Dinana’s concert reviews are the exception to the rule, of course, since her videos make the event being described a shared experience.

      • I hear what you’re saying. I would say it doesn’t hurt anything to go ahead and put it out there. You never know how it might help or interest someone. I guess the negative would be taking the time to actually write it, but if you’re going to put it in a “diary” anyway…might as well put it where people can see it.

      • That makes sense, unless it’s a day where I have something to say on a topic of broader interest (as I often do!)

    • I would say there are probably more people who enjoy reading the concert review then would respond. They are out there.

  2. I’m not a frequent commenter, but I am an avid SoGo blog reader. Since I don’t get to go to a lot of concerts (actually none in the past 2 years), I kind of experience the concert experiences vicariously through concert reviews and videos.

    Also, as a church music leader-in-training I use them to start making a list of possible groups to bring into our church based partially on these second-hand experience.

    • Fascinating! I’ll keep that in mind, and I wonder if you’re the only one, or if there are others.

  3. Personally I love reading the concert reviews. I like to experience the concert through someone else’s eyes and I am also interested in the set list because a group’s set list rarely changes much in the course of a year. This helps me determine if I want to go see the same group when they are close. Concert and CD reviews are equally valuable to me.

    • Interesting – thanks!

      This isn’t a random intellectual exercise, by the way. I have been seriously considering dropping concert reviews, unless there is inherent newsworthiness to the concert. This input helps!

  4. Concert and project reviews help big time in maintaining and improving relationships with the artists.
    Review of projects do help sales over the long haul.
    Strong relationships will produce concert goers.
    Either way, you all keep up the good work of blogging and reviewing about the good things God has given us..

    • Thanks! Of course, I have no thought of canceling the CD reviews portion!

      • I know this is a bit off subject but I will tell you that I like your 3:1 album reviews much better than other lengthy reviews.

      • Fascinating! Writing that concisely is almost a genre in and of itself. It forces me to break through the standard boilerplate prose and get to the heart of what makes the album strong (or not).

        Of course, I still do lengthy reviews on occasion, as I did the other day with the new Gaither DVDs. But that was practically called-for, since I was there at the taping, and could offer a song-by-song commentary on the transition process from taping to final product.

  5. I enjoy reading then quite a bit. As far as commenting, it might be harder to comment if I wasn’t there unless something you shared about the concert inspires me to comment on it and I have something to say about it.

  6. I particularly enjoy concert reviews when they cover groups that I don’t get to see often or even at all. And I particularly like them when there is a new group member or when they tell about new project releases.

  7. Daniel, wanted to say I love the new layout of the website! looks very modern and fresh.

  8. Concert reviews, if well written, can provide valuable feedback to artists and concert promoters, just as CD reviews can provide valuable feedback to artists, studios, and producers.

    On the fan side of the equation, concert reviews can generate an interest in an artist they haven’t heard before, or make them decide that particular artist isn’t one they’d want to see in a concert setting.

    It’s more of a snapshot, whereas an album review is longer lasting, but I think most fans want to know if the artist that sounds good in the studio can also deliver the goods in a live performance.

    • I agree with DBM. In fact, I’d venture to say that reviews – concert, CD, etc. – should be just as much for the benefit of the artist as it is for fans (if not moreso). Yes, reviews can give fans information about a certain product or event, but they can also give the artist an indication as to whether they are doing something right or if they are way off base.

  9. I’m with Greg about the value of the set list. As a writer, I can see which of the album cuts have “staying power” with the groups…which ones they know are tried and true with their fans, and also those which may be several years old but are just too good to drop from the program. From a business perspective, that is helpful in knowing how to pitch to that group in the future. Most important though, I love it when you give the crowd’s response to the songs, Daniel. What blesses me is knowing which songs bless THEM. It’s a wonderful thing when the Lord anoints a concert with His presence and His power. So I do believe the concert reviews have value. Dianne.

    • Thanks! I think y’all are persuading me that they do have some value!

  10. I would say that concert reviews with links to videos, for me, have value. Even if there are only two to three video links it still gives the reader a moment to either agree with said review or disagree and more importantly enjoy. I know all reviews can’t have video for one reason or another but it does make them more of a ‘shared experience’.

  11. “…sometimes there is simply little to be said that couldn’t have already been said of the CD”

    The thing I look for when attending concerts or reading reviews is what happens outside the singing. My post last month on “The EHSS Experience” is a perfect example of the types of things I look for. The artist-artist or artist-fan interaction is something that simply could not be found on a CD.

  12. Absolutely!! Concert reviews do have value. I am a huge HUGE fan of Brian Free and assurance. I’ve never seen them in concert UNTIL last sunday in Blairs, Virginia. Only 20 minutes from my house at a small church. They were amazing. I’ve been a long time fan of the group nut didn’t know what to expect. Also I was trying to convince a friend to go with me. He’s not very familiar with southern gospel so we looked up the concert review so he would know what to expect. He went and was very surprised at the music, talent, and message. So keep the concert reviews coming!

  13. I enjoy reading concert reviews. I like to know what songs an artist is staging and get a feel for how the experience would flow if I saw them.

  14. I want to revise your question a little “What, then, is the value of concert reviews?”. Your question was right after you mentioned the fact that most concerts are utilizing soundtracks and not live bands.

    I would revise this question to read – What, then, is the value of the concert?