Lynette Fay: 'It's time to leave your phone behind and live in the moment'

Summer isn't complete without going to an open air gig. Whether experienced in the rain or when the sun is shining, there is something very special about experiencing live music outdoors. Even more so, if witnessing an artist or band whose music you really love...

It's time to leave your mobile phone in your pocket during concerts
Lynette Fay

LAST Sunday was one of those days which brought an experience that I will never forget: Neil Young and Bob Dylan at Nowlan Park.

We hit the road early to be in Kilkenny on time to watch the hurling quarter-final between Cork and Kilkenny, then it was the Kerry annihilation of Mayo, then off to Nowlan Park, having applied factor 50.

Earlier in the day, someone had joked to us that 'the smell of All Ireland medals' would guide us to Nowlan Park. He was right. As we sat in Ardán de Gras, waiting for Neil Young and Bob Dylan to take to the stage, expectations were high – I had to pinch myself again and again as I sat in the sunshine, in this legendary amphitheatre, waiting for two legendary figures of modern music to perform in front of us.

From beginning to end, this was unapologetically a rock 'n' roll gig: no pomp, no ceremony, limited technology. There was a quick change of stage backdrop to transition from Neil Young's set to Bob Dylan's, a few lighting changes, and that was it.

The musicians were specks in the distance, but the music was ringing in our ears. Seeing Neil Young join Bob Dylan on stage to perform Will The Circle Be Unbroken will stay with me forever, as will the version of Like a Rolling Stone which followed.

I made three short video clips of the gig, and took a few photos. For the most part, I left my phone in my bag and engaged my senses with this concert.

In recent weeks, I have seriously reconsidered the way I experience live music. Ahead of Eddie Vedder's unforgettable gig at the 3Arena a couple of weeks ago, there was a notice on-screen on the stage asking the audience not to take photos or videos during the gig. For the most part, they did not.

I resisted until the penultimate song, I took one photo as I would like to frame it and have in the house as a memory of a brilliant evening.

I am guilty of 'Instagramming' my way through gigs, whether big or small. Primarily, I do this because I love the music I'm experiencing. I also to try to help the artist or the venue as social networks provide another platform through which musicians and promoters can gain better exposure.

This can be important for smaller artists who are gigging to pay the rent and feed their families. I am also acutely aware, however, that by sharing videos I am sharing music for free. It is difficult to quantify whether or not the artist actually benefits from my actions.

This week, Jack White's band The Raconteurs have been doing the rounds promoting new music and a tour. Jack famously bans mobile phones from his gigs. Speaking to NME, White says that mobile phone use is "an addiction, driven by competition, voyeurism and jealousy."

If we can't leave our phones down for an hour to enjoy a gig fully, we need to ask ourselves questions.

Bob Dylan famously banned photos at a recent gig, much to the disgust of many fans. Surely he has the right to make this request? Yes, he's a big star, and some may argue that he should be used to social media, but people at gigs can occasionally be very invasive of the performer's space.

My first out door gig was in September 1993 at the RDS in Dublin. I went to see U2's Zoo TV tour. Ironically, American hip-hop band the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy opened that show: "Television, the drug of a nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation".

In 2019, the drug of a nation which breeds ignorance is a mobile hand-held device.

I don't have any photos from that Zoo TV tour gig and I will never forget it. I have thousands of photos on my phone, hundreds of videos which I haven't looked at since I took them.

My last two gigs with minimal mobile phone action have been my most enjoyable in a long time: it's time to leave the phone behind and live in the moment.

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