Stage Presence 101

I have just recently discovered Matt Nathanson. Yeah, I know…I guess I’ve been under a rock, but I thought I would spotlight him here with some of my favorites. If you like him, he’s going to be opening for Jewel starting in March.

Car Crash

Gone

Suspended

Laid

These last two performances are perfect descriptions of what I meant when I said Taylor should interact with his audience. Granted, this is a little over the top…but it’s pretty damn funny, too. And before everybody gets all bent out of shape, saying I just want a nasty, foulmouthed Taylor…I say…so what? No, I kid. I just think that even though Taylor is a fantastic performer, I think he could take some lessons from others with his on stage presence. Opening up a little would just make everything that much better. I mean, talking to the audience, interacting…isn’t that what an entertainer does?

Now, I know that Taylor used to talk to his audiences. I’ve listened to his old gigs (the ones that thankfully somebody had the foresight to record) and he actually interacted with the audience. So, I know that he can do it.

I just don’t buy the whole “shy” argument. This man was on television every week hamming it up for millions and millions of people. So, you can’t tell me that by putting him on a stage with a few hundred people in front of him that he’s going to clam up? Part of me just thinks he’s afraid to let himself go there…not sure why, but it’s just a suspicion I have.

Why can’t he tell us about when he wrote Somehow? He was so young, and yet he wrote lyrics like this:

Look at the people around you
Stabbing at your heart
But you still smile in kindness
For not knowing who they are

And their stories have ended
And they’ve lit up the town
And it’s time to go home
As they go and lay their bodies back down

There’s too many things
Left to be unsaid
So I live in a dark hole
Sometimes in my head

But I’m all right
I’ll get by
Somehow

Those lyrics were written by somebody wiser than their years would suggest. Yet, we don’t know any of the story behind it. Maybe he doesn’t want us to know, maybe he wants to keep those years a secret, I don’t know. I just wonder about the meaning behind his songs all the time.

I’m sure after ten years in bars and two years riding around the country, he’s got to have lots of life experiences to share.

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32 Responses to “Stage Presence 101”

  1. I have been to more concerts in my years than I can count, and every singer and/or band interacts with their audience (or in the case of Guns N Roses, gets into fist fights with them . . . but I digress). The town usually gets a shout out, and a “thanks for having me.” I’m not saying Taylor has to stand up there and chat incessantly or soliloquize, but a little eye contact and acknowledgement of the crowd would be fun.

    (Oh, and I mean other than saying “thanks for voting for me” and the Soul Patrol shout out.)

    Audience interaction would be a welcome thing.

  2. brightlite Says:

    If you are talking meaning to lyrics, I will chime in yet I just got off a six hour waitressing shift and I should just get to bed…but ok
    Somehow is a song that has both a sad lyric and sad melody, and in that combination you have a very sad song. Taylor wrote this beautiful song pre-Idol, and it isn’t exactly what I would call “mature” lyrics that suggest wisdom beyond his years, if that is what you were implying in your post, I think it is merely a reflection. he was reflecting his experiences and interpretations of the people he observed while performing all those years. Most people in bars are pretty sad folks, sorry to inform y’all. I work in a restaurant/bar now, moonlighting and I see some of the saddest folks every night, in the same spot, drinking the same drink, looking the same way, and it is a sad existence. I may not be playing music or singing, and am instead serving dinners, but I still see them, and they do “stab at my heart” I feel terrible for them as they are lonely, and seeking, and yet not finding anything it seems. So I can see how, if Taylor is as perceptive as I think he is, and as intuitive as I think he is, he can and did see what I see too, the people who are really there, watching him, having there own stories, sad stories mostly, and it hurts to think that you are their solace maybe, you are their only light, it is a tremendous responsib;ity to be that for people. An entertainer has a very difficult job and it is draining, very very taxing to be “on” to be ‘up” to be so “bright” and always so “alive and out there” but as Taylor says, he’ll get by, he’ll do what he does, and get by somehow.
    Now goodnight. πŸ™‚

  3. brightlite Says:

    Pipsmom, seeing Taylor in concert is special and having Taylor make eye contact with you does indeed impact you and feel tremendously good, I can say that with certainty. If he had not made eye contact with you previously, it may be a host of factors. The lights are very bright on stage and many times they are flickering and it is difficult to see anyone past the thrid or fourth rows for one. Anothe ris the size of the venue, it is diffuclt to make eye contact when there is a very wide stage, and there are several seats across. Wires on the stage and amplifiers make it diffuclt to manuever and he doesn’t want to make a mistep either so travelling to several venues in one week makes for hazardous dancing,lol, and I think he was juist trying to get to so many places and see so many people and let so many see him that he was just like a human tornado. Try again! Go see him again and wear a brightly colored shirt, something he will spot and when he sees you give him the peace sign, or blow him a kiss. Do something to catch his eye and then when he looks your way just hold him in your soul for a second or to with your look, and he will see you for sure.

    Now it IS goodnight. πŸ™‚

  4. Seems we’ll have a chance to see another National Anthem gig at the Phillies/Vikings NFC Wild Card game. Check out an emotive and interactive Mr. Hicks on Fox at 3:30pm CST.

    πŸ˜‰

  5. I don’t think Pipsmom was looking for eye contact. I think she was looking for maybe some banter from Hicks, or maybe he could actually speak druing a concert with the crowd. I know that I’m not talking on a personal level. I’m talking in general, with the crowd. Just interacting.

    As for the National Anthem gig, I’ll be watching. Definitely not my favorite song to have him sing, but I guess it’ll have to work. πŸ™‚

  6. I don’t know for sure, brightlite, but I think Taylor was 19 or 20 when he wrote Somehow. To me, that just seems really young to write like that. I think it’s a shame that we haven’t heard more of his songwriting abilities.

  7. jerseyirish Says:

    iag, The guy is very talented, has a nice stage presence. Somehow is a very deep song, I can understand him writing something like that, as he grew up with alcoholism in his family, he sees things differently than those that didn’t. He always seemed to me wiser than his years.

    BL, Although we didn’t know it at the time we were both at Sayerville to see Taylor, I saw alot of what that fella did in his video. He came out thanked NJ for having him, talked about Sayerville a bit. Throughout the show he made eye contact and interacted with the crowd. I couldn’t have asked for anything more he was perfect. He may not always interact the same depending on the crowd, seems to me he feeds off of the audience.

    JI

  8. brightlite Says:

    good morning all, hope everyone is well today, the sun is shining brightly, it is getting lighter ealrier, and I feel the energy of that sun bringing life to my somewhat bluesy soul today. Lack of light really has a very dismal effect on me, I hate to admit, winters are tough for Brightlite, but we are moving back towards the sun here on the N. hemisphere, hoooooooooooooooooooray!!!!!!!!!!
    Pipsmom did write “make a little eye contact” so I picked up on that, just saying give the guy a chance to just get situated , in a way with everything, he must have had a hellava time with his first tour, second tour, out there all over the place, trying so hard for everyone…just saying live and let live, be happy you got so see him, and just because you didn’t actually “make eye contact” doesn’t mean he didn’t see you, Taylor sees all, I believe. Believe me. He sees more than you know or can comprehend.
    IAG…That leads me to your thoughts about his being 19 and writing Somehow. He is perceptive. Perceptiona nd awareness are just a natural part of some people, and I know about that, I am perceptive and aware as well. Always have been, and it is like a language all its own. I was this way froma young age as well and by the time I was 20 I was thinking about things that most people still don’t think about in the 50’s and 60’s. I am speaking of a certain intuition and just a knowing of what is happening around us, the bigger picture of all things, the unseen as seen. Howard Gardener, a leading educational psychologist named this talent

    Intrapersonal
    They are skilled in inner focusing. They have deep awareness of inner feelings, dreams, and ideas. They are reflective and analytical. They can recognize self-strengths and weaknesses. They have wisdom, intuition, motivation, strong will, confidence and opinions. They are self-employed, researchers, theorists, philosophers.
    How to learn:
    Through privacy, time, books, creative materials, independent study, introspection.

    “Intuitiveness” is a talent just like math ability and/or verbal ability. All people have intuition, but like all abilities, some people have a higher developed sense of it than others. I am highly intuitive, and I think that Taylor is as well. It is not a very easy talent to express. And most times people with highly developed intuition are the most misunderstood. It has been discussed and decided that along with John Lennon’s incredible musical talent, Gardener said his genius was in his other strength, Lennon was highly intrapersonal, and it was reflected in his deep and profound song lyrics and emotional melodies. Taylor new music may reflect both of these talents. Ther is also a very interesting relation to taylor and Lennon here as well. After you placed his party video writing up for us all to see, I noted that Taylor and Lennon have very similar handwriting styles when compared. both are up right, both are hard to read yet discernible with effort, both are poorly spaced, and both use a combination of capitol and lower case letters in the same word. Not saying that Taylor is like John Lennon, just saying that Taylor is an intorspective person, and his outward persona is an expression of that introspective nature.
    Have a nice day. Be well.

  9. spinshack Says:

    Matt’s quite the modern troubadour. Flashback to Arlo Guthrie in his humor, talent and approach to music.

  10. spinshack Says:

    Post went into moderation. Link. πŸ˜›

  11. This discussion jogged my memory. During the Tampa show, (the 2nd of the solo tour) Taylor asked the lighting guy to bring up the house lights for a moment. Taylor said, “Oh-there you are!” He smiled and scanned the crowd while everyone cheered. It was kind of cute. A small thing, but it was a connection with the audience. I never saw him do that again, which is a shame I think.

    I’d love some more banter. He usually mumbles something before each song, but it’s brief and I don’t always understand what he’s saying.

  12. Taylor told the crowd outside of Grease, shortly after EW was released that he wrote Somehow in about 10 minutes and that it could use another verse. I interperted the lyrics as his hurt from his family situation growing up, so I guess music speaks to us each in our own way. It is my favorite among his EWs.

  13. Virtual Speak Says:

    I’ve always thought that “Somehow” was written about his family. But, what do I know. πŸ˜†

    I’ve often wondered if it’s difficult for him to revisit those songs because that seems like it was such a hard time in his life?

  14. jerseyirish Says:

    Rosie, VS, I also thought he was talking about his growing years and what he experienced in somehow, that is what I took from the song, his own personal pain.

    VS, I would think it is sometimes hard for him to revisit, but also must have a healing effect to put it on paper.

    JI

  15. brightlite Says:

    I guess when he says “not knowing who they are” could mean literally not knowing the people at all, or figuratively not knowing the people whom he lives with or who are his family. It could be taken different ways I guess, either way he expresses something of being an outsider in a way in the song. Whether personally or professionally, the song to me is about not really finding comfort yet, not having peace, not feeling centered.
    It’s all up for interpretation just like poetry and art, it is music and it is something different to us all but beautiful if is from him, in my opinion.

  16. Just may be my imagination but the lyric to SOMEHOW seemed to me to be aimed at the people in the audience who whoop and holler at each othe while the band is playing their hearts out and he is singing. In other words, the drunks. Yeah, bars are sad places and interaction in that setting can be chance-y. It can open up a whole can of worms to “chat” with the audience in some venues.
    While we crave entree to Tyalor’s concious attention, a lot of the audience may be thinking “Sht up and sing!” It’s hard to please everybody.

  17. IAG wrote: I don’t think Pipsmom was looking for eye contact. I think she was looking for maybe some banter from Hicks, or maybe he could actually speak druing a concert with the crowd. I know that I’m not talking on a personal level. I’m talking in general, with the crowd. Just interacting.

    ^^ Exactly that. Even something like what Caryl said happened at Tampa with turning on the house lights to acknowledge the crowd. It doesnt’ have to be a lot, but something more would be nice. And yes, I HAVE seen him a few times in concert, and received not only the eye f . . . um, look, but a wink as well.

    *Goes back to celebrating Ravens’ well deserved victory*

  18. Caryl, that’s exactly what I mean. I think it would do him a world of good to be “cute” with his audience. Just something.

    Welcome, Linn. Thanks for posting.

    The meanings behind songs has always been a particular interest of mine. Can’t wait to see if there are any new ones of Taylor’s that I can speculate about.

  19. brightlite Says:

    Linn I agree with your assertion. Sometimes even now when Taylor is on stage, like at the bar he recently played in, where he sang Night Moves…the crowd was having fun, grooving to the music and feeling the rhtym I think but sometimes I felt badly for Taylor and the band because I could not hear him singing really, but the crowd just kinda talking and chatting with each other. I didn’t like that really, but as an entertainer you want the people to watch you, it’s your dream to hold their attention and have all the eyes focused on you. It can hurt a bit if you do everything you can, bring it all as they say and still not really have that impact that you seek to have. That may be the stabbing at your heart line he says, and it may just have been a response to his growing pains as an entertainer. But I get a vibe from Somehow, that it has to do with the audience. Taylor really gives it all everytime, no matter where or when.

    pips…you had the all important, much talked about and insanely desired eyef—-???? omg, how lucky you are! He never looked at me that way…so you are lucky girl! I tried like heck to get his attention at every concert I went to, and I don’t think he ever really saw me, but there is always a next time. (smile) Maybe I will take my own advice at Ram’s Head and wear a brightly colored t-shirt and when he looks my way I will let him see my soul in my big blue eyes. Sounds like a plan to me. lol.
    Good day all!! Go Eagles!!
    BL

  20. BL…once you’ve had the eyef…, you’ll never be the same.;) *tries to tamp down inner fangirl* ahhahahhaa

    I am going to have to disagree with your statement that “Taylor really gives it all everytime, no matter where or when.” I just don’t think that that is the whole truth. I’ve been to several concerts where he seemed rushed and just wanted to get through it. That’s a disappointing feeling, to say the least, especially after spending lots of money to get there.

  21. So I assume you’ve all read my rewrite of “Somehow”? When Taylor said it could use another verse, I wrote it for him. Then I thought, “Aw, heck, I’ll just rewrite the whole thing-free of charge.” I’m a giver.
    http://a-caryling.blogspot.com/2008/11/somehow-rewrite.html

  22. brightlite Says:

    Hey JI…
    We both were at Sayreville, the Hunka Bunka right? That was once cold night and my feet were frozen in my pretty little diamond sandals! I still laugh at myself for wearing those in the winter like that, don’t know why I did that actually to this day. I watched vids from HBB recently and you are right, it was a fabulous concert. He interacted with the crowd and even came out at the end after his encore to slap hands which was really cute I thought. Great show! But to be honest, I just love when he sings and performs over talking. If I wanted talking I would go see the Oprah Show but I don’t want him to talk to me when he is onstage, I want him to sing, that is what I paid for right? Bruce Springsteen did a concert years ago at Gammage and he sat on a stool and sang, it was God-awful too, but I am not a real fan of Bruce, sorry Bruce fans, but he said nothing to the audience, not hello or goodbye he just sang ona stool…. snore. At least Taylor is alive and kicking up there, he makes you glad you are alive and kicking, which I am truly. (wink) Glad you were there too, and we both shared in that experience, unforgettable night. That was my first Taylor concert btw, and they say you never forget your first. lol.
    Be well.

  23. Love it, caryl!!

  24. jerseyirish Says:

    BL, I agree, I go to see him sing/perform a little chit chat is nice but I really want to hear him belt them out. To me when he is sining he is interacting with the crowd, by his moves and motions. Yeah I was there for the hand thing at Sayerville, he was really on that night just set the place on fire!!! πŸ™‚

    JI

  25. brightlite Says:

    IAG…I can’t wait, maybe I will get the opportunity to get close enough to him to actually see his eyes, I don’t think I will but one never knows I guess. When I say he puts it all out there I am basing that on my experiences. I have been to several concerts, six to be honest, and every single one was fantastic in my opinion. What can I say, maybe he feeds off the audience? I know that great entertainers can sense the crowd the moment they hop on the stage, they feel the vibes immediately through the looks on the faces of the crowd, the eyes of the people they can see, it is an innate ability actually, assessing body language in an instant and knowing immediately the flavor or climate in the room. New jersey loves Taylor Hicks, he has alot of fans here, die hards to be honest and we welcome him with open arms and he feels that and it energizes him, so I guess he can have his off days, but I think he isn’t doing so intentionally, instead he is just responding to people who are watching. Nobody can be on 100% of the time either so no biggie really, let it ride, let it roll.

  26. Virtual Speak Says:

    If you’ve have had an eye**** you don’t recover quickly. Messes you up for weeks. πŸ˜†

  27. jerseyirish Says:

    VS, You had one of those eye*** hard to get over huh. I can only imagine with those eyes of his, lucky lady!! πŸ™‚

    BL, I agree, he was on fire here in Jersey, said he loved coming to NJ. We are not always 100% on our best and neither will he be, we all have our moments when we just aren’t feeling what is going on around us.

    JI

  28. I agree, JI. Unfortunately, it seems that when it comes to concerts, Taylor’s more off than on. Still love the guy, though.

  29. brightlite Says:

    IAG that wasn’t really very accurate I don’t think. Taylor is not off more than on in my opinion. I can only go by the past history and what we saw here of course, and the videos on youtube, and I have to say that he is on almost all of the time. I think that people inherently have expectations of almost all things and all people. It is human to have some sort of preconcieved notion of just about everything we go into, whether it be a concert or church or a wedding for that matter. We enter into every situation, with some expectations of what it will be like, and how it will make us feel, and then we measure as soon as we get there and start to compare our expectations to the reality. That is where it is difficult for taylor and his fanbase I think, it really unravels right there. What are we expecting from him? What is he expected to deliver? What is it that he is supposed to perform and how? How should we all feel when we are all done and we all go our separate ways, him, us, and the other fans?
    My answer is that off or on, up or down, in or out, forwars or backwards, it doesn’t matter, I think that Taylor does all he can for each one of us, as much as he can for each of us inhis own way, and he cannot please everyone, but he does try to, he is only one person, and we are several hundred in the audience, the ratio is a bit harsh don’t you think? As long as the music is good, and he is singing well, I would say that is all we can truly ask for, he cannot possibly make everyone in the seats feel moved, and that is okay…it is not his job to tdo that right? It is his job to sing and perform whatever that means. We have to sometimes just move ourselves and allow his energy to feed off of our own, so that’s all.
    Nice blog, thank you very much for the venue.
    I am tired though now, got to get to bed.
    Peace all.
    BL

  30. Sometimes I think we have been to so many shows, we’ve watched so many vids, that maybe we’ve seen too much. If we were more…er…regular? fans, we would be rockin’ a CD over and over and maybe seeing maybe a show a year if we were lucky. In that circumstance we would never know if we saw one of his best shows or not. We would just see the show and enjoy it.

    But as it is, it is too easy and only natural to categorized any show we see on the spectrum of many shows we’ve seen…and some are bound to not be as amazing as others…

  31. jerseyirish Says:

    BL, You said it beautifully, thank you, I think that is what I was trying to get across but didn’t quite make it.

    tandjam, You maybe right about seeing so many sides of him at so many shows. But I do think overall he gives it his best always.

    JI

  32. Very good point, tandjam. Well said.

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