Sometimes a Little “Show” Makes a Concert Pop

TraceAdkins

Trace Adkins

Country superstar Trace Adkins has reached a stage in his career where he can do what he wants. As he puts it in this article, “I’m not too concerned about what the industry will let me do anymore. I’m not in that political competitive game right now, so I can pretty much do whatever I want to do.”

Thus liberated from such limits, Adkins just released a Christmas album heavy with traditional songs, given a Celtic flavor.

But that’s not the interesting part. His tour for the album, which runs until December 18, 2014, is not just a musical performance. It’s a staged show with other performers, narration and a storyline.

I know there are purists in the vein of Bob Lefsetz who believe that “the music is enough.” True. A single performer on a stage with a microphone and a guitar or piano or a zither or whatever can be mesmerizing, life changing and put you in orbit.

On the other hand, more dimensions to a show can create something that moves you in other ways, that draw out what’s special about the music itself, or even put a context around the music.

Of course, this can be done poorly, but it can be done well too, and when it’s done well, it’s almost always a winner.

Beyond that, I will go out on a limb and say that in the long term, the trend among successful touring musicians will be more “show” as a percent of the performance. Do this part well, and it gives people something else to latch onto, to understand about what they’re buying and to talk about afterward. If done right, it could take solid sales and turn them into something special.

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