Since bars and other venues in the U.K. are restricted to those eighteen and over, rather than twenty-one as in the states, I have been able to attend a few concerts across northern England. Tickets for smaller performances are usually less than £10 (roughly $13) and the cost of trains tickets from Sheffield to Manchester, or wherever the venue is located, often outstrips the cost of the concert ticket itself. While I have enjoyed these concerts immensely, I cannot help but note several marked differences between live-music events in England and those in the States.

Whether in a small pub or a large venue, bands must respect curfew. While bars and clubs will pour bass-heavy music through speaker systems until three in the morning, concerts are required to wrap up by 11 p.m. Given that venues are often in close proximity to residential areas, this is considerate, albeit strange to my American sensibilities. Furthermore, since daylight often lingers until 9 or 10 p.m., the openers usually play with sunshine streaming through the windows and skylights. To performers in the States, this interference with a carefully designed and coordinated lighting setup would be appalling. However, the concerts I have seen in England, even those of American bands, have relatively spartan and static lighting configurations.

Such reserved stage design matches well with the reserved audiences that attend. Even at upbeat rock concerts, the crowds, in my opinion, could be described as dead. Songs concluded to polite applause and a few cheers. Dancing or moving to the music is minimal and mosh pits are rare. I have observed this behavior across a variety of concerts, each in a different venue with a different style of music which leads me to conclude that this attitude is more a reflection of British conduct than the quality of the performance.