Don't Go There: Rules Of The Road Vol. 5

JacksonBrowne(31).JPGA few words in defense of my concert. (Or not.)

The latest additions to our list of things artists should never, ever do in concert were passed along by a Very Special Guest Contributor: Randy Newman.

During his terrific concert last night at the Music Center at Strathmore (Klimek review coming in tomorrow's dead-tree and dot-com editions), Newman noted that there are a few basic show-biz rules that he tries not to break when performing live.

> Don't tell the audience that you're sick.

His thinking being that if somebody is paying $40 or whatever to see you perform, they don't want to hear your excuses. Newman wasn't quite right last night (physically, I mean; we all know he's a little "off" upstairs, though in the best possible way). Kept wiping his nose with a white cloth.

But he never mentioned it, instead soldiering on and ultimately delivering a knock-out performance. It probably helps that his isn't exactly the purest or most powerful of voices in pop music; so, hearing him at less than 100 percent wouldn't be quite like hearing somebody like Raul Malo singing when he was sick.

Still, I agree with Newman on this one. Nobody wants to hear that you can't hit the highest of notes because you're fighting a head cold or that your voice is just a little bit frayed because you can't get over that cough. Adjust the performance accordingly if you have to. No excuses.

Exceptions: You offer a partial refund on tickets. You want to make a big deal about the fact that you're not at 100 percent? Fine, then don't charge 100 percent.

Also: You're around B.B. King's age (83).

> Don't tell the audience that a song is [expletive].

Newman seemed to be suggesting that the terrific title track from his new album, "Harps and Angels," might be a problematic performance piece. Whatever he was saying, he needn't have. It was great. And anyway, let the audience decide if a song or performance is [expletive]. Also, if a song is [expletive], or your performance of it is usually [expletive], then why the [expletive] are you playing it in the first place? Unless, of course, you're a high-risk, high-reward kind of artist, in which case: By all means!

Exception: You just wrote the song in the dressing room, an hour before the show, and you actually believe that it might be [expletive]. But you're dying to play it anyway, to see if the audience agrees.

Bonus: Do not leave your wallet in the dressing room

Self-explanatory, although Malitz wondered why Newman would need his wallet on stage. (Like, is he planning to call in an order to Joe's Noodle House in the middle of the set or something?) Also, this isn't really the sort of rule we care about in the audience, but it seems like sound advice, so there you go.

By J. Freedom du Lac |  September 25, 2008; 7:57 AM ET Concerts , Lists , Live Last Night , Randomness , Rules Of The Road
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Um, that "white cloth" is called a handkerchief. It's like a Kleenex, except more environmentally friendly, since you can wash it and use it again. You stick one in your back pocket every morning and you can cover your face when you have a sudden sneeze, instead of spreading your disgusting germs everywhere.

Posted by: Old Fat Bald Chick Magnet | September 27, 2008 8:18 AM

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