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Reviewing a success story
Onsiri Pravattiyagul writes about the popular music scene for the Outlook section. Sometimes her articles are previews of concerts coming up; other times, like today’s story, she reviews concerts she has attended.
Getting the gist
Similar to movie reviews, there is a pattern to concert reviews, that is, there is certain information we can always expect to find.
First, the writer will express an opinion about the success and appeal of the concert. That idea usually comes in the headline and the subheading. Read those now. Did Onsiri think the concert was a success or not?
Next, we can be sure to find some information about the performers – their careers and their style of singing or playing. Scan through the article looking for names to see who the performers were. Carabao is a group with a 22-year history. Were all the performers in this concert from the original band or were some of them newer members of the group? Were there any non-group guests on stage? What key words will you look for?
In a review, you will always be told the names of the songs that were sung during the concert. Pick out one of the songs. What’s the name of the song in English?
The theme of Onsiri’s review is the irony of a band with a history of protest songs staging a classy (expensive and fashionable) concert. In their younger days, the band was associated with democracy riots and resulting violence. What is unexpected, the irony, is the style of recent concert. That theme in made clear in the first three paragraphs of the review.
Look at the concluding paragraph. Is the theme referred to there? A good writer will tie her story together by doing that.
Language and style
Onsiri says that when she writes, especially about music, she likes to think that she is talking with friends about the concert or CD. That way, she says, "there is a bit of me in the story, but not ‘I’ or ‘we’, of course". That wouldn’t be standard journalistic style.
You’ll be aware of her conversational style as you read phrases like "seemed a tad (a little) stiff" and "to the max".
There are more informal phrases. Some of them, with explanations, are below in bold print as they appear in the story.
In conversation with native speakers, you may hear those phrases not only about music, but other topics as well.
There are several words and phrases in the story that are typical of writing and conversation about music. You’ll find them as you read. The way they are used in the story will help you to match the meanings.
revere venue subdued extravagant capitalistic lavishness haunting engaging sam cha undermined fared better grandeur graphic second only to graced wit protégé passable ubiquitous
second only to
Answers: e, c, d, a, f, h, b, i, g.