Edition 326 – Lessons From George

I’d been a fan for over 40 years. His music was and is part of the soundtrack of my life. He doesn’t often tour Australia, yet this time, I made sure the diary was cleared and the chance to experience the mastery of a musical icon didn’t slip through my fingers.

George Benson has had a 60 year career in music. From jazz guitarist to contemporary music legend, picking up 10 Grammy Awards along the way, to finally enjoy him in concert at Sydney’s State Theatre prior to Easter was pure joy. I hate the term, but it was a bucket-list moment.

As he wandered on stage, the walk was a little slower than you might have expected. However, at 79, he’s entitled to walk less purposefully. From the reaction of the audience when he appeared to the right of stage in his silver jacket and dark trousers, it was almost like we all moved towards him, like a tsunami of fandom.

The greatest hits rolled out – “Give Me the Night” – “Love x Love” – “Turn your Love Around” – they were all fantastic and George was well and truly in his element. He can still reach the high notes and strum the guitar as well as he’s ever done and as deliciously as I’ve heard it these past four decades.

The greatest hits rolled out – “Give Me the Night” – “Love x Love” – “Turn your Love Around” – they were all fantastic and George was well and truly in his element. He can still reach the high notes and strum the guitar as well as he’s ever done and as deliciously as I’ve heard it these past four decades.

  1. Passion – he truly loves what he’s doing. His interaction with the audience and with his band members was not staged. It was evidence of him having a good time, if nothing else.
  2. Support – his band were entirely from the USA. To look good, he needs good people around him and he needs to be able to trust them. This was evident through the night as the band communicated to each other and to George, non verbally, to keep things moving or to change tempo.
  3. Step back – after three numbers, George stepped out the back for a moment, placing one of his female vocalists front and centre for a fantastic rendition of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”. He continued to build expectation amongst his audience by not rolling out too many of the big hits too early and was gracious to have one of his star support acts take the limelight in his show.
  4. Energy – he paced himself throughout his performance. Some songs were energetic and at full tilt. Others, he slowed it down. That’s been the story of his musical life, but was also a great observation in his ability to conserve his energy for the 90 minutes he was on stage.
  5. Emotion – as soon as he walked on stage, he immediately engaged with an audience not only starved of live music over the past two years, but devoid of international touring artists. He wondered aloud as to whether there was a connection with the lovers of his music, and nations that had a high proportion of Irish & Scottish immigration, such is his penchant for not shouting it out and the musicality of each of those nations. If we weren’t already hooked by being there, we were then.

Sure, being an international music icon is completely different to being an Electrician, Builder, Optometrist or Surgeon. However, if our careers and our businesses define so many of us, just as they do musicians, then don’t we do our best, and deliver our best, when we’re as passionate about our calling as any artist is?


This Week’s Tip

“Is there a correlation between people that want to retire early
and those that simply don’t enjoy what they’re doing with their lives?”

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