I’ll take Sweet Caroline over screechy Rihanna any day
Remember when you first felt old? I do. It was Thursday night, watching pop star Rihanna playing at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
What’s old? ‘Old’ is being astonished that people pay up to $150 a ticket to stand up all night. ‘Old’ is when the doof-doof of insanely loud music plays havoc with the chicken schnitzel that can’t seem to settle in your stomach. ‘Old’ is wishing that you could go back in time ... exactly three nights earlier when the same stage was commanded by 70-year-old singer Neil Diamond.
It would be unfair for a reasonably conservative woman of 41 (a simple country lass, no less, whose teenage pin-up was Cliff Richard) to compare and contrast Neil Diamond and Rihanna. But I’m going to do it anyway.
One can sing while simultaneously standing in an upright position. The other sings doubled up like she’s puking into a toilet bowl. (Apparently Rihanna doesn’t lip sync but the words sure have a funny way of coming out when the microphone’s nowhere near her mouth.)
One croons, almost talks in harmony with his music – but lets his music do the talking. No manic outfit changes here, just a simple black suit and an unadorned stage with a merry band of musos and three female vocalists in glittering blue.
The other assaults the senses with massive hi-tech screens flashing obscure messages about Rihanna being the last girl on the planet, “our only hope”. Her voice wages constant war against a battery of sound, while a supporting cast regularly pops up in post-apocalyptic costumes to hint at the appalling prospect of a world without Rihanna. Hey, she’s “the last bee-yatch on earth”.
One gently suggests you might like to clap along. The other demands: “Put your f**king hands up!”
He sways. She grinds. He strums guitar. She strokes herself. He slow dances with a backing singer during You don’t bring me flowers. She peddles soft porn, rasping “Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me”.
But don’t get me wrong. Rihanna has some great songs and she didn’t put on a bad show. The sell-out crowd adored her (although I’d wager that more seated fans got up to dance during the Diamond concert).
I didn’t mind that outfit #3 was so tight it had to be constantly extricated from her butt. It didn’t even matter that her beautiful, unblemished face was so often obscured by an over-sized red wig.
And it’s certainly not her fault that I don’t know every word to her many hit songs, which reduced most of her tracks to meaningless clamour in my tired old ears.
She knew where she was, at least, regularly yelling “Adelaaaaaide” to roars from her fans, and thanking us all for buying the tickets to help make her dreams come true.
But it really was all about Rihanna. “Adelaaaaaaide, I want you to say my name!” she insisted (and if you’d forgotten you could always double-check the massive screens behind her, invariably emblazoned with a little seven-letter clue).
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like my relationships to be a two-way street. Diamond didn’t pay lip-synced lip service to Adelaide. He graced us with memories about his first SA concert 35 years ago. He told us about his songs and inspirations, his failures and successes. And he repeatedly emphasised that he was not the most important person in the room. That was actually me – and every person in the audience.
So what does it all mean? It means that time is uncompromising but ultimately enlightening. It means (to my mind at least) that Neil Diamond makes Beautiful Noise, while Rihanna in concert is simply a racket.
And sure it’s horses for courses, but I wouldn’t see another gyrating pop starlet. Not even if she WAS the last singing bee-yatch on earth.
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