Via whichever outlet you happen to glean your music news from, you learn that a favourite group of yours has scheduled a nearby concert. You then purchase your ticket, and countless questions flood the mind. Will the group's performance be great? What material will comprise the set list? How will the evening's atmosphere be? The night then arrives, the concert forthcoming. You might down a few pints before leaving, or perhaps not. You might attend with a couple of friends, or your other half. You might attend alone, even. The concert inevitably arrives, whether it be at a small club, or a large arena. If you're smart, you've arrived early enough to catch the supporting group's performance. More often than not, these supporting acts fail to create much of an impression. Occasionally though, one proves to be particularly impressive, and you make a mental note to investigate their material. It could even be the supporting act you've come to see. Following that, the headlining act is due to venture onto the stage. The moment the group enters never arrives quickly enough, and maximum tension is built. Finally, the lights dim, the music stops, and the outfit walk onto the stage. If a group is smart, they'll strike a rapport with the audience, and encourage interaction. Interaction might encompass shouting, clapping, or whatever - whichever way, the group wants you to make an emotional investment. Throughout the performance, you'll wait to hear your favourite composition, and hopefully be consumed by the sight before you. If the concert is great, you'll wish to heavily play the group's material yet again. If the concert isn't great, it inevitably changes your perception of the group in question. You might still enjoy the group's music, but not quite as much as you once did. No two concerts you attend will ever provide the exact same feelings and memories, each boasting their own individual quirks which lend them a unique identity. Also, each person's feelings regarding the performance will differ, causing much scope for debate. This is why live performances happen to be so special. If you could travel back in time, which concerts would you attend? Personally, I'd watch Jimi Hendrix's 1969 Woodstock appearance, or even Queen's 1986 Wembley performance. The list goes on and on. DVD has immortalised these performances, but watching these performances on the small screen isn't quite the same. Being a part of the audience supplies memories for years to come, something you can recount to friends, family, but more importantly those that weren't fortunate enough to experience the concert for themselves.
"Left to right: Bjorn Strid of Soilwork, Robert Gray"
To pay tribute to acts toiling the circuit, I'm happy to launch a new series entitled Hit The Lights in partnership with Ultimate-Guitar.com. The series will publish interviews with artists just before they're due to venture onto the stage, or due to launch a string of touring dates. Some might even revisit past dates, where the artist reflects upon high profile treks, or a high profile date. Telephone and face-to-face interviews will be Hit The Lights' main approach, offering a depth and focus which email interviews sadly cannot offer. The aim is to gain insight, and exclusive information for readers to muse over. It's no holds barred, and no stone will be left unturned. If a difficult question needs to be asked, then it'll be asked. Readers will be left to gather their own thoughts, as opposed to thoughts being gathered for them. There's no room to accomodate the fanboy type articles which riddle many online interviews, articles I particularly dislike. Who knows where Hit The Lights might venture from here? If feedback proves to be particularly positive, Ultimate-Guitar.com may look at plans to expand Hit The Lights, and make the series a more prominent weapon in the site's arsenal. Installments might become more frequent, with the series covering other aspects of the global live scene. Additional correspondents may be utilized to report upon the live scene in each specific country, all for the benefit of readers. For now though, Hit The Lights is spearheaded by one interviewer. I'd be extremely interested to hear your thoughts on Hit The Lights, and your continual feedback regarding specific installments. Are they entertaining you? What did you like regarding an interview, and what didn't you like? Which genres / subgenres should Hit The Lights cover more of? Let me know; I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, and messaged at www.myspace.com/robertpgray. With Hit The Lights sufficiently introduced, I'll bid you farewell for now, and lend some thought on how to make the series a major success, and a regular hit with readers. Over time, I hope that the series will provide warmth and joy, and become a staple in the reading diet of rock / metal fanatics across the web. Robert Gray Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009
"Left to right: Whiplasher Bernadotte of Deathstars, Robert Gray"