If you’ve been to classic rock shows, you’ve seen this happen over and over again. The artist begins introducing a new song and within seconds people are up and heading for the bathroom or beer stand. It even happens to Bon Jovi, and the ladies can’t get enough of staring at him.
We’ve heard artists wage some mild complaints about it, but in a recent teleconference Steve Miller went off, going after fans and critics alike.
"But, our audiences are so conservative now and so strangely addicted to ... They’ve paid their money, they want to hear the greatest hits. We’ll go out and we’ll be playing in front of 15,000 people and say, “Hey, we’re going to do three new songs from something we just recorded” and 5,000 people get up and go get a hot dog and a beer and they don’t come back until they hear the opening strings of ‘The Joker’ or ‘Fly Like an Eagle.’ That to me has really bothered me about audiences is that when you have the kind of 40 years’ success with ....
"I mean, this is unprecedented. People are playing music that I recorded 40 years ago on the radio all over the world. I’ve played myself into a box in one way in that, I mean, I see it all the time. I generally do a two hour show. I do about 23-24 songs. There’s 14 greatest hits. So, that gives me 9-10 songs to play with.
"I feel like I have to sneak them into my set. I feel like when the critics come to see my show, they go, 'Well, then they went into this jazz/blues thing for a while and the energy went out of the audience until they came back and played this other song.' So, it’s a very strange kind of world that I occupy.
"I love playing. I’m a writer and a singer and a guitarist and a band leader. I love performing and connecting with an audience never gets old for me, but it does get old for me when my audience is just only interested in something they’ve already heard and it makes doing new stuff very ... it’s a strange experience right now."
What did I say?
Proud to say I did not go for a hot dog and a beer during the non-hit parade, but I wasn't blown away either. From my review his concert at the First Niagara Pavilion in 2008:
“The mid-section of the concert is Miller’s baby these days, his chance to stretch out on a variety of blues.
"On board for this tour is new member Sonny Charles, from the Checkmates, who brought some flashy ol’ doo-wop showmanship to the stage. He got to step out front for Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing,’ a gritty rocker he failed to do justice to. Charles sounded better on the smoother jive tune ‘Ooo Poo Pa Do.’
"Between Miller and ace harmonica player Norton Buffalo, the band certainly has blues chops, as heard on “Mercury Blues” and “Come On,” but it’s not anything you couldn’t get at the corner bar, where the beer is a lot cheaper.”