After many years of attending live music events, I’ve learned to expect, if not wholeheartedly embrace, the fact that people like to sing along to their favourite choons by their heroes. Call me perverse, but I actually prefer to listen to the artiste whom I’ve paid good money to see perform the piece, rather than have a tone-deaf fanboy bellow it down my ear by way of a duet.

Complaining to such tribute acts has, on a couple of occasions, led to regrettably unpleasant exchanges, although, in my defence, I have always tried to voice my objections politely. The trouble is, ignorant people behave according to type, and don’t always take kindly to being asked to tone it down a bit. (On one occasion, I was even threatened with being bottled in the face for my trouble, despite it not being me who’d complained!)

Today saw a new nadir, however. It was the last session at the Wirral Folk Festival, and the performer was Joe Topping, of Elbow Jane. Now, Elbow Jane have a fair following, but I suspect that no-one in the audience was over-familiar with the solo work of one of its members. Nonetheless, the man behind me, who was old enough to know better, actually started trying to whistle along to tunes that I’m fairly certain that he had no prior knowledge of. What he was whistling bore very little relationship to the sound emanating from Mr. Topping.

On this occasion, I did my best to ignore it. To be fair, he wasn’t whistling loudly, and he eventually gave up. Just as well, really, as I didn’t want any unpleasantness. I do wish, though, that people could just ask themselves whether others are likely to prefer their version of a song, or the original artiste’s before chiming in.


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