John Harris

Journalist & Author

Kate Bush makes a valiant stand in the battle of transcendence v smartphones | John Harris

Argument is raging between those who see concerts as collective film shoots and those who just want to lose themselves. I know whose side Im on

On 1 June 1993, I was fortunate enough to be at the first public performance by the reunited Velvet Underground, at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Within months, Lou Reed would be leading his old comrades into support slots with U2 and giving the impression of a man with an amazingly cavalier attitude to his own history. But that night, I managed to have a life-affirming, moving, frequently joyous experience.

It was sullied by only one irritant: a trio of leather-jacketed rock blokes (they were French, for what its worth), who greeted the start of each song with hugs and bursts of high-fiving Pale Blue Eyes! Yowza!, Waiting For The Man! Formidable! and passed between them a smuggled-in Dictaphone, whose operations they carefully monitored throughout the gig. At one point, a security guard spotted its flickering LED light and confiscated the device. But, once he had gone, another was produced, leading to a particularly frantic fit of man-hugs and exaggerated hand gestures. Meanwhile, those of us who had to suffer these interruptions got on with our evening and the quest to somehow immerse ourselves in the occasion.

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