Rock gigs are no place for middle-class tossers like me
So Slash is playing one of the hits – it might have been Rocket Queen, the anthemic final track from Appetite for Destruction. The crowd up the front has the devil horns going. We’re a couple of dozen rows back, just standing around. I get a tap on the shoulder.
“Excuse me,” says a guy who looks like he’s just come the trading floor, “but I can’t see a thing.” Pfft. Where are we? The Louvre?
But it’s to be expected of fans at modern rock concerts, attended as they are by middle-class tossers pretending they’re still as rebellious as when they first listened to an album by the ageing millionaire and recovering drug addict with the guitar on stage. I know this because I am one of those middle-class tossers.
“Rock and roll, it’s the best f***in’ thing in the world man!” Slash told the crowd in a random intervention. Woo! More devil horns. Fun, but it didn’t ring true. That crowd at the Hordern Pavillion in Sydney last night would agree that the best things in the world are as follows: getting upgraded to business class on a long-haul flight, getting a great parking spot on the trip into Woolworths, and finding that nifty feature on Powerpoint you were looking for.
Slash and his band churned through rock classics and a few fans went crowd surfing. His guitar solo (boring, but there has to be one at a Slash gig) was the theme from The Godfather, the same one I heard him play when I saw him play at Slane Castle outside Dublin on the Use Your Illusion tour.
Eighteen years ago.
It wasn’t all financial services types who had hung their shirts on their cubicles and thrown on a black t-shirt over their pressed pants. There were some spotty teenagers there, kids in the thrall of getting to know their rock music who came to see one of the unquestioned legends of the genre. Two little scuts standing beside me at one point were probably not much older than I was when Appetite for Destruction – still the biggest selling debut album of all time – was released.
Twenty-three years ago.
For some perspective, 23 years before Appetite was released it was 1964, when The Beatles recorded I Want To Hold Your Hand. Woodstock hadn’t happened and Jimi Hendrix was still playing with Little Richard.
By 1987 rock had evolved to Welcome to the Jungle but if you ask me it hasn’t gone all that much further in the time since.
The gig was good, but the band knew their audience. Singer Miles Kennedy politely asked the crowd at one point if everybody up the front was OK. You half-expected him to add a nice lady could bring you a cushion if it might make you a bit more comfortable.
Rock marketing is about anarchy and rebellion, but apart from the teens who are yet to realise that being a rebel gets you fired, the genre is getting so long in the tooth now that its fans are getting false ones. It’s just a bit of an escape.
And I say “a bit of an escape” because it’s certainly not a complete escape, like a couple of nights at the Crown Plaza type of escape. As Slash was burning through tunes like Civil War and By the Sword, I found myself not fully away from it all. Thoughts included: I wonder how Abbott is going on Q&A; I’m tired, god it’s only Monday, and there’s five days of this election campaign to go; the debate on the economy could be good tomorrow, and hey, I might be able to get a post out of this for The Punch.
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