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Lack of Stage Presence


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Under the GO ALL THE WAY section, there's a thread devoted to Stage Presence and who has it.

As a weird wrinkle on this theme - Who do you think has (or had) absolutely no stage presence whatsoever?.....yet you used to (or still do) go out and see them when they come around?

Off the top of my head - I'd name:

- Bob Dylan, who used to be quite good on stage, but now he appears to be a jagged walking bundle of nerves, and it's like watching a potential train wreck waiting to happen.

- The Ramones (RIP) - God bless 'em, I loved (and still love) their music, but none of them liked to talk to the audience at all, and they just blitzed their way through about 30 songs in 45 minutes, one right after another. Very entertaining, but stage presence? Nah

- Joe Pernice & The Pernice Brothers - Great, great songwriter and singer, excellent band, (and they make fantastic records/CDs) but Joe has the charisma and stage presence of a fence post.

- The Eagles - As several of us have pointed out before, undeniable talent and popularity, but there might as well be 4-5 cardboard cutouts up there on stage, with their records/CDs playing. I understand they've loosened up a bit, but not much.

- Alex Chilton - Not nearly as much fun as he was in the 80s when he was drinking heavily, Alex appears to be very uncomfortable on stage at times.

- Early REM - Watching Michael Stipe on stage, prior to REM becoming famous, was not an easy experience. The first time I saw them, opening for the Gang of Four at the Bayou in DC, it was impossible to hear half of Stipe's vocals - he was flailing around, "dancing", and wasn't singing anywhere near the mike for a good deal of the set.

Any others?........

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Brian Wilson is almost totally uncomfortable on stage. Part of his charm. cool

The fact that he *IS* Brian Wilson provides ALL the stage presence he needs.

That he's still alive, creating and performing ranks right up there with the fact that Keith Richards SOMEHOW managed to survive [remain alive]...in spite of himself. [speaking of the Stones...'cept for Mick trying like the dickens to be cool...and failing miserably every time...the Stones have never had any stage presence...but they're the Stones.]

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I'd have to agree with Chris.....the Cars played well when I saw them(I think, right after "Candy-O" came out.....but they had little else to offer.

I am not that much into the Eagles, but my experience was a bit different. When I saw them in the 70s, they actually had some charisma when on stage(right after Felder came on board)....they had a lot more going on than the headlining Doobies. Despite the fact the Doobies rocked harder, and were the headliner, the relatively mellow(and second-choice)Eagles blew them off the stage.

Britney Spears was on TV a few years back, on either American Music awards or the Grammys(can't remember which) but here dancing was absolutely atrocious! Totally out of synch with the rest of the dancers....

Paul Revere and the Raiders were very much like the Ramones, in that they rushed through their set bang-bang-bang.....and Revere himself was a bit too annoying for my tastes.

Eric Clapton's playing and singing is(and always was)great. But he really doesn't have much to offer---a great part of which has to do with little on-stage talk by him, and his bandmates.

Olivia Newton-John was a really pleasant surprise. She made a couple of mistakes while singing "Physical", stopped the show for a few seconds, and went right back into the song. And the rest of the show was better than what went on earlier.....talking about making lemonade out of lemons!!

Same with Frank Sinatra.....wasn't hitting some of the notes on some tunes, so adjusted the melody as he went along. Another case of making lemonade out of lemons.

Kiss....take away the costumes, makeup, lighting and special effects....and they're still great.

Simmons has quite a sense of humor, and Stanley

is a perfect foil.

Other artists with great stage presence(in my opinion): Greg Kihn, Alice Cooper, Elton John, Earth Wind and Fire, Barry Manilow, Tower of Power, Buddy Guy......just to name a few....

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Kraftwerk at The Allen Theater - not much was expected as far as a "show" and they delivered, the movement of a finger or two was the highlight. The main entertainment was watching people pull themselves up to the opera seats by climbing the curtains.

Lou Reed in Akron - his only dialogue was "there ain't gonna be any f---in Satelite of Love, baby" after it was requested from the croud.

Robin Trower/Public Hall - can't really put a finger on what was missing here, really liked his music, and he played it to a T, but the concert droned on and on, may have even left early, could have been the venue.

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I mentioned this some time ago. I saw Rick Nelson c.1968 in a rather small venue (held about 125 people) in Bryn Mawr, PA. Musically he and his band, was superb but he seemed extremely shy. Maybe the fact that this was an "in your face" audience he was taken a back. I miss Rick.

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"Sure sells a lot of product & seats. I'm thinkin' the majority of folks ('specially Boomers) are gonna like him."

All valid points, but they really don't have all that much to do with whether he has stage presence or not. Those same points certainly also apply to the Eagles, Brian Wilson, Dylan, etc....and, as in the case of anything else, stage presence (or lack of) is all a matter of

opinion anyway, unlike sales or popularity.

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So what is stage presense? I want to hear a well performed show. If there is amusing banter between songs, that's a plus. What I don't like is obnoxious performers who feel the need to jump around the stage in leather trousers like David Lee Roth. I've seen James Taylor countless times over the years and have always found him incredibly amusing; very dry wit. He is able to create an atmosphere where you feel like you are sitting around in his living room and he's talking to you in spite of the fact that there is tens of thousands of people there.

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Peter Noone may do a Vegas act...But he does it well.He was on the London stage as a boy...and his many years of experience on the stage are evident in his act.

My buddy Bobby Vee and his sons the Vees are charming,warm and funny.

And in a vote for the home team...Gary Lewis has great songs,a great sense of humor...AND...a drummer,soloist,singer,and Jack-Of All Trades extroadanaire named Billy Sullivan...Who by the way does a killer "I Feel good"!

On the negative side I agree...having seen Alex Chilton and the Boxtops 3 years ago.

I'm surprised he didn't sing Jimi and Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" lyric...

"there must be someway outa here"...That's what he seemed to be thinking. wink

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"So what is stage presense?"

Bluntly - It's whatever YOU interpret it to be! There's no right or wrong here....You've seen JT countless times, and love him - more power to you! I saw him once about 25 years ago, and haven't seen him since....didn't care for his wit or charm then, and still don't - which is my prerogative, and frankly, I doubt that Taylor or his fans care what I think anyway.

Also, stage presence (whatever each person defines it to be) is only a small part of the package anyway, IMO. I agree with the comments above about Brian Wilson having very little, if any, stage presence....yet I'll see him every time he comes near my area...because, to me, the music and his band make up for his lack of (once again, TO ME!) charisma or excitement on stage.

P.S. Oh, BTW - While I agree with your assessment of David Lee Roth, he ALSO enjoys huge sales and popularity, so he's doing something right as far as his fans go....

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Didn't mean for you to take the heat on this one. I have been to several James Taylor concerts. In both cases, I was with someone who was a big fan. I thoroughly enjoy Taylor's songwriting, but the times that I've seen him, he was so laid-back, and the music was all pretty much the same tempo, I nodded off both times.

I can't say I saw much evidence of this dry, witty banter either. But to each his own.


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