Monthly Archives: July 2012

WEEKEND GIG REVIEW PART 2, HARD ROCK CALLING FRIDAY

FEATURING SOUNDGARDEN, IGGY AND THE STOOGES, COLD CHISEL, BLACK STONE CHERRY, KIDS IN GLASSHOUSES

My decision to buy a ticket for this gig was an impulse one. I was always going to Springsteen on the Saturday and when Queen came up on the Thursday it seemed logical to do something on Friday as well. Soundgarden were not a band I’d thought much about previously (and I bought their classic Superunknown album after buying the ticket). As it was this made for a couple of firsts; my first day at a proper festival and my first stadium metal gig.

I’ll try to clear the supporting line up in a paragraph. Kids In Glasshouses did a good job of warming up a largely disinterested crowd and Black Stone Cherry were a terrific blues rock band who Cold Chisel (legendary in their native Australia but little known here) couldn’t quite top. It’s worth noting that I’ve known their lead singer Jimmy Barnes for years from his contributions to the Lost Boys soundtrack but didn’t make the connection until after the fact – I wondered why the voice was familiar. And I’ve never been a great fan of Iggy Pop but it was quite humbling to be in his presence (he’s a lot smaller than you’d think) and he certainly got the crowd going – a point I’ll return to later. Incidentally if you’re looking for an Iggy Pop album outside of the obvious stuff try Kill City with fellow Stooge James Williamson.

Then Soundgarden came on stage. Given that I’m not a particular fan it was quite satisfying how much of their stuff was familiar. Jesus Christ Pose (a track I’d not heard before) might just have been the highlight but Spoonman, Superunknown and 4th of July (all from an album I wish I’d bought years ago) ran it close. And I think Fell On Black Days may have finally replaced Black Hole Sun as my favourite Soundgarden track.

By virtue of getting there early I managed to get close to the stage; by the time Iggy came on I was only four rows back. This makes it my best view at a major concert and I only fell back when Soundgarden came on and the moshing started in earnest.

And this was another first; my first proper moshpit. Moshing is a very metal thing, as is crowd surfing – obviously the stewards were forced to prevent the latter on safety grounds. During Iggy’s set I saw one kid carried over the barriers to the waiting men in hi vis and escorted out, only to return a few minutes later (presumably after promising to behave himself) and promptly vanish over the barriers again at which point I assume he was booted out of the grounds. My first thought was that it was a rather silly thing to spend forty quid on a ticket and miss the headliner but it occurred to me that in twenty five years time when he’s got teenage kids of his own the story will probably impress them more.

Had I been ten years younger I probably would have joined in the moshing (and got very bruised) but as a dull thirty something I withdrew to a safe distance. So that was my friday, pushing, shoving, kids being ejected, the smell of pot, the lad next to me doing a sneaky piss where he stood. It was all quite uncivilised and perfectly rock and roll. It wasn’t my scene at all – and I fucking loved it!

And finally – it rained. Kids In Glasshouses performed in a flurry of drizzle, the sun dried me out during Black Stone Cherry, Cold Chisel witnessed a downpour, Iggy escaped and finally the heavens opened for Soundgarden. All grist to the mill – as Chris Cornell put it for the quote of the week, `Anybody can go to the park when it’s fucking sunny`.

Photo: AP

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WEEKEND GIG REVIEW PART 1 – QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT, HAMMERSMITH APOLLO

I could be all day writing about the background to this show. Briefly Queen & Adam Lambert were originally going to headline Sonisphere festival (for which I bought a ticket) but that festival collapsed from lack of interest. With hindsight this worked out better for a lot of people. It saved me the expense of two seperate trips to London, Hard Rock already being booked. It also worked out better for the performers whose show benefitted from being held indoors with superior acoustics and more scope for effects.

I could also have written pages and pages about the battle for Freddie Mercury’s legacy; the rock fraternity on one side and the gay community on the other. I’m sorry to say that I’ve long regarded Brian May and Roger Taylor among the villains of the piece. Most biographers now accept that the group of friends and confidants who cared for Freddie during his final months were quite brutally airbrushed out of the picture after his death – while May and Taylor can hardly be held complicit in this they have hardly been supportive of attempts by Freddie Mercury’s gay friends to present their side of the story. Rather more damning is their involvement in any number of tacky spin off projects; the atrocious musical We Will Rock You was probably the worst but the collaboration with boy band 5IVEĀ  was almost as bad (more the association with the brand than anything else – to credit the record as 5IVE + Queen was stretching a point). May and Taylor were last seen limping away from the wreckage of The Cosmos Rocks, a new `Queen` album featuring Paul Rodgers of Free and a contender for the title of worst album ever: you might have thought that alumni of two great bands could put together one decent song if only by accident.

So why should a series of gigs with Adam Lambert, an American Idol runner up relatively unknown in the UK, be any different? Several reasons really. First and foremost Adam Lambert has the range to do Queen’s songs justice, something Paul Rodgers conspicously lacked, secondly his relative anonymity stops him imposing his profile on the Queen brand. However most importantly Lambert is openly and defiantly gay and in sharing a stage with him May and Taylor immediately apologise for every inadvertant piece of homophobia they’ve been involved with over the years.

The bulk of the concert was a rip through the hits, albeit with a few interesting ommisions (Killer Queen and Innuendo being the main two). Lambert left the stage for the middle section of the concert allowing Taylor and May to take a turn in the spotlight. Roger Taylor’s spot seemed a little bit pointless; Lambert would have sung A Kind Of Magic and These Are The Days Of Our Lives better – Taylor used to sing his own compositions on the early albums and a couple of these could have been dug up. Brian May did better, inviting the crowd to sing Somebody To Love for him and then being joined by a projection of Freddie Mercury himself for Love Of My Life. It was quite humbling how a man dead for over twenty years could so easily steal the show.

One interesting thing about live shows is how a song you’ve never been madly fond of can suddenly jump out. For me this applied to Another One Bites The Dust, never my favourite Queen song before, but arguably the highlight of the night and certainly Lambert’s best vocal performance (and his vocals were impeccable throughout I must add). The most obscure selection, Dragon Attack (from The Game album), which descended into a drum duet between Roger Taylor and his son Rufus ran it close.

Finally a mention must go the bass player and keyboardist (unfortunately I don’t have their names) who spent most of the evening in shadow but deserved their applause.

Obviously this show won’t please everyone and Adam Lambert will get some stick for not being Freddie Mercury (were the man still around today he’d probably be coaching X Factor contestants, guesting on dance records and generally being less precious than his fans). However, after twenty years of trying, Brian May and Roger Taylor have done the legacy justice. The future; well everyone involved would be advised not to push their luck but if there are future concerts let’s have some more off the wall song selections (It’s Late from News Of The World would be good and Too Much Love Will Kill You would suit Adam’s voice). And it would also be good if Adam could round up some kids who can play guitar and form a proper band to give his solo work the extra spark it needs.Image

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