People value experiences over things so it is no wonder live is almost always better.
It’s something I have noticed with countless gigs. There might be an artist I’m only marginally interested in but after experiencing a live show, I’m all in. Or hearing a song in a different environment and ‘getting it’. The latter happened to me when seeing Kendrick Lamar perform a few years ago.
The show was great. I heard everything I wanted and then Kendrick closed the show with ‘Cartoons and Cereal’. This was a song I had heard a few times but it never really had an impact on me, until that moment. Now when I hear it the whole experience has changed for me.
So live shows aren’t always better than the recordings. I’ve seen drunken acts forget their lyrics, I’ve heard people rant at a crowd relentlessly and seen one artist stand dead centre on the stage and not move from that spot. But generally, nothing beats the live experience.
This holds true for most things. Sport is better in the stadium or the arena than on the TV. Music is better live than streamed. Even films, experienced with others, are better at the cinema.
I would argue that the best experience of them all is being a part of the action. Being the performer, the athlete or the actor. Directors, entrepreneurs and photographers are performing in their own arena too. Sure it’s great to look up to people and be inspired by what they do, but it’s no match for going out there and doing it yourself.
This is perhaps best summed up by Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena”. Nothing beats performing, whatever your arena.