Tommy Emmanuel doesn’t like it when fans film his live shows: “Just enjoy it… You have to live it”

“The thing is – all the feeling, and the emotion and all that of this moment, right now, is not going to come out of your phone.”

The next time you’re at a Tommy Emmanuel gig, remember to keep your phone away, for the guitarist is not a fan of those who film him during his live shows.

In a recent appearance on the Beyond the Vibe podcast, Emmanuel recalled the time he called out a fan who just would not stop filming: “There was a lady, and she was messing with the phone and she was filming me. Then she’d put it down then she’d drop it and she’d pick it up. And then she’d film a bit more. And she did this over and over. And I thought she’s like a performing monkey,” he said.

“She’s addicted to this. And, eventually, in the middle of the song, I lean over and I said, ‘Just enjoy it.’ That’s it, just enjoy it. Stop trying to film it. Why people are like that, I’ll never know.”


“You know, it floors me that you go to play a show, and everyone puts their phone on,” the guitarist explained. “The thing is – all the feeling, and the emotion and all that of this moment, right now, is not going to come out of your phone. You have to live it. You know what I mean?”

“You have to live it, now. Because this is what you have.”

Emmanuel added that it “drives [him] crazy” when fans walk up to him and start recording, saying “they walk in and turn their phone on, walk up to me and say, ‘Hello!’ It’s like, put that damn thing away. It’s unbelievable. I don’t get it.”

Asked why he doesn’t enforce a no-phone policy at his shows as Jack White famously does, Emmanuel said: “I don’t have that big a following, I guess.”

“I do chew people out sometimes if they’re told to put their phone away and they keep filming. But I promise you brother, that every night, people are recording me. Every single show. It doesn’t matter where you go. I can see people who have twin microphones around their neck, and they think no one knows. And they’re sitting there and they’re recording me in stereo.”


As much as he dislikes the practice though, the guitarist revealed that best sound recording he’s ever heard of himself live actually comes from a fan bootleg: “You know, one of the best-sounding live albums I ever made was in the city of Seoul, in Korea. And I bought it online the next day, and it was a show I did the night before. And it was one of the best sounding recordings I’ve ever heard of me live. And somebody recorded it in the audience and sold it the next day.

“I bought it,” he laughed. “I listened to it.”