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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Rocking out with my Hard Rockin' Amigo

Usually my blogs relate to issues related to policing or some other socio-political issue, however, this time I want to write about something completely different. Music. Last night I saw on of my favourite rock bands, Rush. I have been a fan of their music ever since I first heard side one of Hemispheres in about 1977. I say the first side, but it one single track. I managed to catch them on the Tour of the Hemispheres and I was hooked. Last night must have been the seventh or eighth time that I have seen them and they have never let me down. My favourite period for their music was the '70s and '80's, so I was delighted when they played the whole of the 'Moving Pictures' album.

This is my third arena concert in the last 12 months having seen Kiss in Liverpool and Manchester and I will be seeing my other favourite band Journey on tour with Foreigner and Styx in a few weeks time.

You may well be thinking that I am stuck in a time warp of music appreciation from three or four decades ago, and I would have to agree with you. In the last couple of years I have seen Journey (five times)' Ozzy Osbourne, Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio), The Scorpions, Extreme, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper and Deep Purple. All classic bands who I saw in their original heyday. A second coming maybe?

But what makes these bands stand the test of time? They reform and come back for more and pack out our biggest venues. The answer I believe falls into two areas. The first if professionalism. They can actually play their instruments and have honed down their stage skills to perfection. Having a it of a birds eye view last night gave me an appreciation into how hard Rush work even when they are not stood on the stage. uitar changes, timing to arrive at the perfect point and the ability to connect with 10,000 people with consummate ease.

The second is the fact that they just pen darned good tunes. All of the old classics, recorded on tape and pressed in vinyl stand up to the scrutiny of digital sound that is so clear that you can hear every twang of the guitar and crash of a hi hat. Add an imaginative light show, a few fire pots, fireworks and the odd laser and explosion and you have the makings of a cracking show.

Perhaps the only criticism would be that the 'old' groups are almost too professional. The ease with which they perform tends to mean that there is a lack of 'edge'. Almost nothing goes wrong. There are no surprises. You know what you are going to get and they deliver it in the bucket load. I think the right word would be 'slick'. They are too slick. Don't get me wrong, I would pay to see these bands over many of the modern groups any day. In fact I cannot think of many modern groups that I would pay to see. But if you take a band like Alabama 3, their stage show is electric and it has 'edge'. You just don't know which members of the band will turn up, or when Larry Love will forget the words and the band will have to start the song again. Maybe this is why they play the smaller venues and the old bands who have crafted themselves to suit the arenas stick to what they know best.
So would I pay to see Rush again? In the blink of an eye. You can't keep an old rocker down and as long as Rush, Kiss, Journey et al want to tour the world to entertain us, I will be the ticket in hand ready to sing-a-long and shout 'hey' at the appropriate moment.

Yes, the average age of the people at the gig was about 50, but there were plenty of your people, some of whom would have been getting introduced to the world of live rock music via a band that recorded their first album in about 1973. But that is what music of this genre is all about. Music for the selective masses?
To be able to 'stand within the pleasure dome decreed by Kubla Khan' Is both a privilege and a pleasure.

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