This is heartbreaking to read.
In Austin, after or during an encore, I noticed about 5 empty seats in the front row that hadn't been there before. I rushed to sit in one, which ended up being almost dead center. I was pleased to have this seat for the final songs, but very disappointed that Leonard and the band would have to look out and SEE those empty seats. I hadn't noticed anyone's departure, and wondered if they left, believing the show was actually over. Those of us who have been following Leonard as we have [not necessarily in concert] are so grateful for every song, and final word, that we wouldn't dream of leaving like that. I thought how these MUST be newcomers to have done this.
Leonard's response to what Arlene has sadly described makes it very clear how he felt about this, and Wendy [Mabeanie] was absolutely right in saying that audiences have become rude. I'm praying these things won't impact Leonard's decisions regarding 2013 and 2014.
In Austin, I fortunately, was sitting at ALMOST the far right end of the 2nd row, and so widely angled that few views would have been blocked when I hurriedly got up after a couple songs into the second part. I'd lost my glasses and suddenly realized this when I went to put them on. Because they are REQUIRED for distance details for seeing the rest of the show and driving, I had to try to find them ASAP. Still, I waited until the current song ended; darted out of the row as people applauded Leonard, and then stood at the very side next to an usher to watch "Suzanne" and left the auditorium to seek them. Was directed to guest services and they were there... found by an usher near the elevator [mysteriously falling out of my purse and miraculously not stepped on or stolen before he found them]. After retrieving them, I stood in the wings until the then current song ended before taking my seat again as people applauded Leonard. It seems to me COMMON SENSE... and, even so, it had to be dire circumstances for me to get up at all, once seated. Clap and shout as you will at the understood and appointed times, but the rest of the time... attention and silence, please.
In Europe, I was fortunate enough to have seats close enough to where I wasn't subjected to this rudeness. At the Lisboa concert, a woman friend from Portugal registered with me her strong discontent with how people rushed the cordoned off area at the foot of the stage for the encores. She felt it was rude to those who had paid high prices for front row and other seats close to the front. Her description was that Leonard's show had transported her to another world and that suddenly, she was severely forced out of it by all the activity and her blocked view. Following along with the others who suddenly were blocking mine [as I'm short], I had gone forward out of my feeling of necessity, as they were all clearly going to be standing for the remainder of the show. I understood her complaint and, even more concerning was that this was her first time seeing Leonard, as well.
What I didn't care for with what I experienced in the European concerts was the lack of ebullient expressions of appreciation that I'd experienced previously in the U.S., but then at the end came thunderous clapping and shouts, demands for encores. It suddenly felt like greed to me and my feeling was, "Where was all your expressed appreciation during the show itself?" Perhaps, it's simply a difference that I wasn't aware of, and this was my introduction to that difference.
From the descriptions I've heard of the shows in Ireland, I lost my desire for seeing a show there... and was gratified to find some Europeans agree with me on that. Even in my own home or someone else's, I like to watch a movie [that can be wound back and rerun] to proceed without conversation and/or interruption of other types. I like to get lost in the experience. The description above is just abysmal and shocking; shocking being a word I rarely use.
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde