David Bowie Live

Why it makes no sense to be a rebel

The perils of listening to live music, loud.

There’s a great line in David Bowie’s glam rock anthem, Rebel Rebel:

You love bands when they play it hard,

You want more and you want it fast

It’s a line that sums up everything that’s great about a live gig. The excitement and the sense of abandon that goes with it is what rock and roll is all about – the harder, the faster and the louder, the better. It doesn’t really matter where you are or who the band is, when it’s good there’s really not much to touch it.

But like all the best things in life, there is a sense that too much of a rock and roll thing can have a down side. And before you ask, we’re not talking about the sex and the drugs.

Shocking research published in the US last year found young adults increasingly reporting serious damage to their hearing. The source of that damage was found to be overwhelmingly caused by their exposure to too much loud music. As many as one in six of the 500 people surveyed reported experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, with 46% admitting to feeling ringing or pain in their ears at some point.

That ringing sensation is what happens when the delicate mechanism of your inner ear suffers damage. It’s not a good thing and it’s most definitely not something you should make a habit of. That doesn’t mean you should give up gigging. It just means that you should be aware that when it comes to rock and roll if you have too much of a good thing you may not have it for long.


Taking precautions

We’re all familiar with the idea of eye tests, but our generation is the first that is getting accustomed to routine hearing checks on the same basis. For example, national audiology specialists Hidden Hearing conduct hundreds of free tests every day – and they report more and more of those involving people in their early twenties.

The problem is not just restricted to the US. Too much rock and roll, and too much maxed-out headphone time mean that the quality of our hearing really isn’t something anyone can take for granted. If you’ve experienced that ringing in your ears on a regular basis, your nearest Hidden Hearing clinic will be able to advise you as to how best to prevent any further damage.

There is no cure for hearing damage so it is worth wising up to what is at stake sooner rather than later. It always pays to take precautions.

On a practical level, it’s worth knowing that the middle of the crowd is the healthiest place for your ears to be at an indoor gig. There is simply less sound bouncing into them in that spot. It’s also worth knowing that there are also custom fitted ear protectors for those – like musicians and DJs – who spend more time than the rest of us in those acoustically charged conditions.

We all love bands when they play it hard, but there is a serious and lifelong price to pay if you push it too far.

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