10 Worst Things I Ever Did As A Live Music Critic

I just read another gem of a list from Collapse Board, and I’m delighted to say that I’ve not done any of the things on the list, save for making the odd comparison, and this one:

You may get inappropriately drunk, scrawl meaningless notes which you can’t decipher the next day, forget most of what happened during the show and rely on friends’ accounts and sheer bulls*** to scrape together your pitiful pile of words to meet the limit.

Actually, that’s pretty much how I spent the whole of the 90s. My comment on the post about how I used to scrawl pithy one-liners in biro on my arm for me to read when I woke up on the floor isn’t much of an exaggeration. Still, while I might recoil in embarrassment from my youthful antics, by this generation’s standards I was positively teetotal.

Here’s a list – in no particular order – of some of the crimes I have committed when I was supposed to be reviewing the band:

10 . Write for something I don’t read

It’s far too easy to say “yes” to people, especially when they’re offering you money and the ego gratification of national publication. If you wouldn’t ordinarily read the magazine you’re writing for, it will cause you to lose interest in the whole process over time.

9 . Write about things I don’t love

If you’re not a good fit for the publication, you’ll find yourself being sent on assignments that don’t interest you, and writing too often about things you don’t like. Then when something good comes along, you’ll lose all objectivity and heap undue praise on it, simply because it contrasts so much with all the other crud you’ve heard that week. It takes a long time to get your enthusiasm back once lost, so if you’re hating most things most weeks, just leave now before you end up bitter and hollow.

8. Criticise … to their face

“How were we?”
“Um … I think you were a little out of time at one point.”

It’s not that reviewers aren’t allowed to criticise at all – it is, after all, in the job description – but that the very last thing anyone who’s just walked off a stage wants to hear is anything that isn’t “you were great!”

The correct protocol in these circumstances is to shout “LOOK! A BEAR!” and scarper.

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