Talking to Mike Ponczek, the Dallas-based award-winning live sound engineer whose resume’ for mixing Big Event stadium sound around the world runs the gamut from Paul McCartney to The Pope, we couldn’t help but both comment on the remarkable similarities in response that millions of attendees display at those two seemingly disparate gatherings.The pilgrims to see both the Pope and Paul McCartney are multi-generational and multi-cultural. Every socio-economic and political stratification that labels, limits, or permits in the individual pilgrims’ daily lives is effectively erased for the duration of the Papal Mass and the Macca mosh. The fact that a quarter million show their religious reverence by hushed silence, while a similar number for McCartney express their revelry with a roar, risks missing the point: it is the unison nature of the expression, the public pronouncement of not just shared experience but also mutual hopes and dreams, which connects us to our humanity. In a high-tech device-dominated world, “high touch” events and experiences will be more important than ever before.
In 1974 the Rolling Stones reminded us all that “it’s only rock’n’roll”, and barely three years later the Punk Rockers would take that sentiment to nihilistic extremes. But as Paul McCartney, the defacto Post-War Pope of Pop, pulls into yet another stadium erected by captains of industry to worship the twin towers of competition and capitalism, who dares try to convince the pilgrims filing in, ages eight to eighty with stars in their eyes and a song (okay, three hundred songs) in their hearts, that this isn’t a religious experience? – Redbeard