If you've ever seen Gamers 2, there's a line in there that kind of summarizes this for me. The Bard is playing his lute and standing at the back of the party. One of the PCs says "God dammit, man, HELP!" and the Bard says "I *AM* helping!".
I'd prefer a Bard whose entire purpose wasn't to use nothing but one ability every combat. And especially not to have that ability be "I play my instrument...look at all the bonuses the rest of you get".