MCing Large Concerts

This page comprises a random selection of responses to Jacey Bedford's posting on MCing Large Concerts.

Thank you to all contributors, including Russ Clare, George Hawes, David Harley, Jack Campin, Dick Gaughan, Ian Anderson, Steve Mansfield, Jacey Bedford...

Very nice article. Didn't leave much for anyone else to add, though. B-)

Just a view from the audience.

In my experience at festivals, MCs rarely make any attempt to go beyond the bare minimum for the job while on stage. Usually, there is zero effort at engaging the audience with humour, anecdotes, songs or whatever between sets.


"Thanks very much Joe Bloggs, that was wonderful. It'll just take a few minutes for the sound people to set up for the next act."

A few minutes later:

"And now a big hand for the wonderful Jill Smith".

Should MCs be selected for their ability to put on a bit of a performance during the link time - or, as a punter, am I expecting too much?

Do a bit of homework - and check it with the performer (I recall Column Sands being introduced entirely with reference to songs about "the troubles" - and then performing a set which made NO reference to that topic . . )

Be natural, honest and sincere (if you've never seen the act before then simply say so)

Aargh, please, no. It makes the artist feel about three inches tall when even the MC hasn't seen him before. Unless of course he's a big name on a first tour from abroad.

It's like that dreadful MC gaff -- "Next week we've got Eric Bloogle. A great performer with a stunning voice and excellent songs, but this week we've got Vin Garbled" :-(

I think there is a difference in semantics here. "never heard of" might sound dismissive and belittling, "never had the chance/good fortune to have seen", sound perfectly OK to me

"Now we have an act that I haven't had the chance to see, but everyone is raving about them, and I'm very pleased to introduce ....."

and at the end... "so those people who said they were brilliant were absolutely right eh?"

"never embarrass the act, the audience or yourself"

Real examples of some bad introductions:

Classic example of how an MC introduced Calum Kennedy in a large Scottish trades club -

Club secretary rises to announce the aforementioned Mr K. and spoke more or less the following glowing words of introduction. (In order to get the effect you should speak it all in one rushed sentence without even pausing for breath, especially not before the last two words.):

"Right, listen. Last week we gied ye yer pies oan plates wi knives and foarks an at the end o' the night we fund we wis missin fower knives and three plates so this week ye'r gettin yer bluddy pies oan a napkin in yer hand. Calum Kennedy."

Unnamed Miners' Welfare chairman introducing John Cairney's solo show about Robert Burns:

"I didn't want to book this fellow but I was overruled by the committee..."

and another from Jacey...

One of the worst intros we've ever had (at a folk club) was when the MC - who had already arranged to put us on at 9:00 after three floor spots - went up on stage to take the second floor spot off and then said directly to us across the room, "You might as well go on now; it'll save me putting another floor singer on." Then he left the stage, walked out of the room and left us to it. What a build-up eh?

It was a long time ago and we were still fairly new to the business, but even then I had the presence of mind to jump up on stage and laugh as though I wasn't taken aback, and say (in my best over-the-top build-up voice,) "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome -- Artisan! - Ta-daa!!!" And then I started clapping, jumped off stage and jumped back on again with Brian and Hilary. Luckily the audience played along with me or I'd have felt like a prize idiot. :-)

So long ago that I can't remember where it was with certainty so I won't libel the wrong venue. Paraphrase of a certain Scottish folk club MC introducing Hot Vultures. "I don't know much about this lot but they're from England so they must think they're pretty good. Let's see them prove it. Hot Vultures... "

Aly and Phil

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, doing a tour of the Orkneys / Shetland Islands a few years back. The concert is taking place is in a small village hall. The MC stands up and says "We're now going to have a few tunes from Aly and Phil".

From the back of the hall a drunken voice shouts "But Aly and Phil are crap!"

The MC draws himself up to his full height: "Nevertheless..."


don't leave the wings 'til you know the act is successfully under way, 'cos you never know what last minute duty you might suddenly be needed for.

Don't leave the auditorium during the performance without saying where you are going to your "runner"

Let the venue manager/sound crew know where you are sitting.


Don't be a prima-donna, do anything that will help the act ... carry stuff up from the dressing room, move chairs etc


A single acoustic performer can get on stage in a couple of minutes, if someone like the Albion Band is moving in having played another stage, they might take twenty..

Keep the "on" times tight, better to get the previous act off a couple of minutes early, rather than ten minutes late.

Find out what the absolute final time the venue will tolerate is, so that if things do slip, you know exactly how far you can go.


As little as possible, and it's actually easier to say stuff as the act goes off, rather than as they come on. I've not been MCing long, and started off with all sorts of potted biographies which now I'm less nervous I've abandoned in favour of things like... Prepare to be amused, prepare to be very amused, The Mrs Ackroyd band!
The man who's a legend in his own haircut, Vin Garbutt!
because as Jacey says, people have read the programme, and they know who people are.

if the occasion requires *dressing* then don't be afraid to go for it - - in whatever way suits you best.

...and I'll give the final word to Jacey:

"As performers, we've come across a lot of MCs good and bad. The good ones slip into the comfortable recesses of your memory but the bad ones stay burned on the front of your brain for evermore."

Back to Jacey's original article on the previous page

Folk Music stuff | MCing Large Concerts

Top Tips for running a session

page created 04 November 2000