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The irresistible thrill of a live event.

After the paralysis of the past 18 months things are opening up again, and how good it feels. Last night I went to an event in Alexandra Palace in which Quentin Tarantino was interviewed about his novelisation of the film ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood’. My son treated me – a benefit of having adult children is that they keep you up to speed on popular culture. This was a self-selecting audience of hard-core fans already primed for excitement. I have not heard a roar of cheers and whistles like that since Rufus Wainwright burst on the stage at Carnegie Hall 2016 wearing his Judy Garland outfit.

Tarantino was brilliant of course, testing the crowd for receptiveness to the F word (we were fine) and feeding in expletives in a very judicious way. I didn’t know novelisation was a thing, but apparently it is and there were quite a few geeks in the crowd. The craic was electric. and once more I was reminded that this kind of interaction is only possible in a live event, and part of the excitement is that it is unique, irrepeatable and shared. Tarantino made this point himself about moviegoing before Amazon and Netflix.

As brilliant as technology is, it can never create alchemy in this way. The opera singer Katia Ricciarelli used to the word ‘Sternstund’ to describe moments in which singers transcended the usual performance to create a magical memory that people discussed for years afterwards. There is no algorithm for that, but if there were, part of it would be the willingness of the audience to engage until the very last curtain call. Leaving early for the last train destroys the catharsis.

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