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We’ve all been to live concerts and had a great time watching our favourite bands crank out hit after hit. That's great fun, but there are some drawbacks. Not so much fun are noisy fans, and the endless pauses between sets while the band tries to locate its lead singer, engages in verbal warfare with hecklers, or just takes some time out to tune its instruments and play with the levels.

Nothing will ever substitute for the real deal, but 3D technologies are now coming to the fore as viable alternatives to a road trip to the Twin Cities. Irish supergroup U2 decided to go 3D for its Vertigo Tour of Australia and Latin America, with the result, “U2 3D”, getting wide release in 2008 after gaining considerable acclaim at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. Though  initially hesitant about the project, the band ended up having no regrets with the film grossing $23 million and marking  the start of a new age in recording of live entertainment.  It was also the first live-action digital 3D film.

The result really is remarkable, bringing to mind the title of one of their songs: Even Better Than the Real Thing. It takes you beyond the mosh pit and right onto the stage with the band. There are moments when you feel you can reach out and touch Bono’s hand (or put him in a headlock, if Henry Rollins is more your cup of tea). If you are a fan, you’ll probably find it hard not to get out of your seat, and jump and dance as if you were right there inside the stadium. More subdued, introspective songs like Miss Sarajevo will probably reduce some fans to tears - that are perhaps only a little more real than the beads of sweat that you see rolling down the Edge’s forehead. They’ll probably get so involved that they’ll be yelling “down in front” at audience members that clamber onto each others’ shoulders for a better look at the stage.
Rock and rock are not the only genres to have attracted the interest of the 3D crowd. German production company “aha International Media” have a project under way which they call “Concerts in the Third Dimension”, where they will seek to showcase their 3D production skills through recordings of classical outfit the Fauré Quartet, and group Tangologia accompanied by the (you guessed it) tango dancers of Egotango.
With the once legendary bonuses paid to music executives having become a thing of the past, and CD sales figures having been eroded steadily since the advent of the MP3 format and online shopping through iTunes (with piracy continuing to flourish, despite the best efforts of the RIAA), musicians and their production companies are on the hunt for new sources of revenue. 3D recording of concerts may just be what they are seeking, because the technology is still expensive and complex (and therefore hard to rip off), and delivers an experience that is guaranteed to attract audience interest.

And with 3D televisions now on sale at the local Best Buy, audiences soon won’t even have to leave their own homes to feel the excitement of being in the front row.