Sunday, July 03, 2005

Spent most of yesterday in Rotterdam for the final day of the Primitive festival and was thus not only able to avoid the Live Aid hoopla, but also had myself a keg of a time. Came in just too late to witness local heroes the Stilettos who were part of the afternoon show, but I'm glad to report that by all accounts they delivered the goods. Skipped the "garage karoke" in the overcrowded/hot bar, and instead stood outside of the club enjoying the spectacular view over the river Maas and Rotterdam's skyline, sippin' beers 'n meetin' up with friends both old and new. After a quick dinner in the company of the esteemed Tony Slug, it was back to the club for the evening's festivities. First up were Denmark's Dee Rangers whose records I like but they disappointed somewhat in a live setting. And it must be pretty harsh on the band that special guest Parsley the Lion easily stole the show with the two songs he sang. Next up were Germany's Cool Jerks who played a solid set of Hamburg era beat tunes. Good as it was, it was no match for what was to come next. Leave it to the Americans to do this garage stuff in a much more convincing way. It's in the blood I guess. The Blacklips' two LPs are fine enough, but nothin' prepared me for the surprise hit 'n run they delivered on stage. Young, energetic and with an off-beat vision that makes 'm hard to categorize, they sounded like Tim Warren's wet dream come to life. By all means check 'm out if you get the chance. If there was any doubt about the current abilities of Jeff Conolly, he made sure there was absolutely no reason for those concerns from the git go. Backed by real Lyres (Rick Coraccio on bass, Danny McCormack on the guitar and Paul Murphy on drums) , he started with 'How Do You Know' and things went up hill from there on. Monoman may not be the nicest guy in the world at times, but his vocal delivery still holds more soul than the entire "urban" section in your local record emporium. These Lyres could destroy southern Europe, we're talkin' scorched earth here. Outsider Ron Splinter joined them for two songs and especially during 'Touch' got the heroes welcome from the crowd he so obviously deserves. Two encores, loud 'n sweaty, and it was over. No better way to close the festival. Monoman rules!
Now that's what you call a find
The biggest, er, "music" event the world has ever seen is over. I haven't clocked the US portion yet and get the feeling it may have stunk but you can't help wondering what the hordes out there reckoned to The Kaiser Chiefs '77 propelled pop. But anyway here - the 'big acts' that opened because they had to hightail it to destinations elsewhere for proper shows were all pretty much cruising. Macca's performance of Sargeant Pepper with U2 was every bit as lame as expected. It made ME, of all people, think that even O*sis could have made a better fist of it. A consideration that has disturbed me since I thunk it. And so it went, Coldplay made me pine for Dire Straits and fetching Richard Ashcroft from the freezer didn't help. And what was with Elton John dragging Pete (I'll Never Be Shane McGowan) Doherty out to kick "Children Of The Revolution" around the park. Product placement like this was something that the show didn't need. It all trundled along with Ricky Gervais' dance being decidedly more rock'n'roll than much of what preceded it. REM were an exception to this rule, they performed a perfect three song set and made me wish I'd caught them in Glasgow just a couple of weeks ago.

The serious aspect of the reason for all this remains to be vindicated. Maybe these G8 leaders will have to take notice but do you trust any of them? Obviously if you could go and help the people that they make these "films" between the bands about you would. If you could go direct to them but there's something lairy (to quote The KC's) about the process. But anyway, it's those intentions and that road to the burny fire again. Nobody can question or sully Geldof's intentions but the event itself is hijacked by it's apparent scale. The wheeling on and off by industry-sanctioned success stories at various degrees on the ladder of perceived popularity all becomes a tad too much. Nobody is more cynical or more jaded than I am but there was the odd flicker of humanity that suggested, despite and in consideration of all odds, this campaign might bear fruit.

It was a long haul. The Pistols reunion never happened and nobody was there to represent that era of Punk. Green Day were in Berlin and it made me consider that maybe, if they were still around, somebody would have had the good sense to involve The Ramones. 29 years ago tomorrow, my buddies and I were larking about in Hyde Park just prior to their Roundhouse debut but there I go digressing again.

A short burst of The Red Elvises from Moscow would have been welcome but wasn't to be. By the time Robbie Williams came on, the game show host turned entertainer or is it the other way about, rolled out his cheeky chappie schtick and the crowd went berserk. This is the problem right here and his crowd are the mobile phone toting, attention deficient solution. No point in mithering about it.

Peter Kay came on and did what the former Take That donkey did single handed. The crowd buoyed by their RW fix went bonkers and did a 200,000+ impromptu redition of Amarillo. Kay is a genius and if the world was in his hands then the story might be different. I wonder if he was beamed to the US? If he was, I wonder what the US unconciousness thought was going on. Something entirely alien to their culture I expect. The came The Who. They were fantastic. Did the CSI Theme and "Won't Get Fooled Again" and left. The energy of their performance lit the whole planet up.

And Pink Floyd. Bloody hell. I saw them on the "Wish You Were Here" tour and was singularly unimpressed but there was an almost folky quality to their ambience which really worked. When Roger Waters dedicated "WYWH" to Syd, the emotional undertow to this short burst out of retirement was palpable. Maybe they'll save the world from Radiohead after all. I'm no fan but they were good by any stretch of the imagination and credit was most definitley due. And similarly McCartney, my Beatlephobia is legend but his band pulled him through. Where his trawl through his back catalogue at Glastonbury last year was embarassing, these guys were tight an proficient an made him look good. Not an easy task in these eyes and ears I can tell ya.

And that was it, possibly not the outright train wreck one might have expected. And, if it does raise awareness of what it was arranged to do then that's grand. However, if the sensory gratification of the event does little more than increase sales for the people who "gave their services" then that would, to put it mildly, suck. Let's see how the land lies a week from now...

Late extra - Just finished fast forwarding through the Philadelhia segment and it was beyond excrecable. I'm tempted to say lamer than US foreign policy but that would be damning it with faint praise. Maroon 5 tickling "Rockin' In The Free World" to death. Stinkin' Park plus Jay Z futzing though some rock/rap fiasco, had they been granted the chance, The Star Spangles could have taken the whole bill with one hand between them. When will their "Gangland" save the world? No wonder the music biz is headed down the dumper. As for the "urban" quotient, this stuff patently doesn't work live. To me, much of it doesn't fly at all but these gimps can't even mime.

I'm now in recovery, using a mix of Mose Allison's "My Backyard" and The Groovers "Undergroove" to ease the trauma of what I witnessed in the pursuit of my, um, "art". Serves me bloody well right you're probably thinking and I cannae disagree. Still if this cosy, cosetted world of make believe can act as a stepping stone to ridding the planet of the poverty blight then so be it. I can't help thinking that it'd be a tad more swallowable if there was some substance behind it but I'm a contrary SOB at the best of time.