I guess that talking to the audience before a concert is something that audiences enjoy, and I suppose that my nostalgia for the "fuddy duddy" concert is something I share with fewer and fewer people as I make my way into what some people might call the "older generation."
Earls and Countesses wear jeans when they appear on television, and many of us commoners address people by first name as soon as we're introduced. I suppose the ways of the world have changed, so I believe it is important that performing musicians who address audiences, whether they are conductors or instrumentalists, make sure that they do it in a way that is appropriate for the audience and for the medium. We musicians may be doing the act of performing, but that doesn't mean we are in the business of providing superficial entertainment. We are still doing something that many of us feel is at least equivalent to a sacred rite. Really. I suppose we all need to learn how to talk to audiences, and we have to learn to do it properly, because the talk before the downbeat might just be here to stay.
I have heard young instrumentalists talk to an audience of people twice their age in a condescending manner. I have heard young conductors try to sound old and experienced, and I have heard people address audiences as "you guys," which is an instant turn-off to me, particularly when that person might be as remote as Antarctica if I were to go backstage. I have also heard conductors reveal very interesting information about the music they are about to play to an audience, and sometimes it isn't information that the conductor previously shared with the musicians in the orchestra.
Note to conductors who have something to say that might help the musicians play a piece with more understanding: we do want to know about it before the performance.