My Top 5 Concerts Ever

24 May, 2008

This is my 200th post – thought I’d put in a bit more effort than usual.

In the spirit of the great John Cusack movie High Fidelity, here’s a list of the best five gigs I’ve ever attended.

Let me know your own top five.

Green Day, Bullet in a Bible tour, Telstra Dome, Melbourne, December, 2005

My daughter Beks and I were frantic with excitement in the weeks leading up to this gig. Me being a Green Day fan from way back, and her being a recent convert, we gave the Bullet in a Bible CD a massive workover in anticipation. The concert was my Christmas present to Beks that year and judging by her screams, I think she was pretty happy with it.

Wakes came along too, and she had a neat time, apart from us giving her grief about being the only person in the whole stadium that refused to participate in any of the usual lame crowd participation exercises. “After me, 1…2…1,2,3,4”

As usual for a stadium gig, the acoustics were crappy and not loud enough (I wanted my ears to bleed, dammit) and we were sitting in the gods (Beks was a bit too young for the mosh pit – next time GD come to Oz we’re definitely going to be down in the fun zone) – but the boys put on a memorable show nonetheless. Pretty impressive given it was the last leg of a gruelling tour for them.

Hurry back boys.

AC/DC & Angels, Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, February, 1981

Me and my High School buddy Paul Kelly took our pimply 17 year-old faces to the Myer Music Bowl to experience the raw power and energy of AC/DC, backed up by the magnificent Angels.

Doc Neeson and the boys wound up the crowd with a massive set of their favourite tunes (personally I thought they were better than accadacca), then out came AC/DC, fronted by Brian Johnson, Bon Scott having died the year before. (I just looked it up – did you know Bon Scott was christened Ronald Belford Scott. Belford???)

The concert was memorable not only for Angus Young’s endless power riffs, but also for the crowd carnage that night. It seemed as everyone in Melbourne under 40 years old was at the Bowl that night, ripping out trees, brawling, vomiting, pissing in people’s lawns and keeping the nearby hospital patients awake. The Sun newspaper had a field day with its usual indignant outrage. Paul and I refrained from any hooliganism of course (the only goody goodies there that night).

Fuck it was fun.

U2, Unforgettable Fire tour, Melbourne Sports & Entertainment Centre, September, 1984

I’m not sure if this was U2’s first visit to Australia but I know I only bought a ticket on the strength of ‘New Years Day’ which I loved at the time and still think is a cracker of a song.

I wasn’t expecting that much from U2, and I always found the MSEC a shithouse venue, so when Bono came walzing out and almost physically grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and DEMANDED they get out of their seats, I was blown away.

You know what it’s usually like at those venues. If someone stands up and starts to dance, the middle-aged farts sitting behind them ’tisk’ and tap them on the shoulder and tell them to sit down. Not at this gig. Bono urged the crowd to GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! until everyone was on their feet, having a grouse time. Even the middle aged farts.

It shits me that I can’t get anywhere near a U2 ticket now.

Neil Young, Festival Hall, Melbourne, July, 1985

Details are a bit sketchy. A whole crew of us met up in a pub in North Melbourne and had copious quantities of beer beforehand. Lurch was definitely there. And Baz Boy. People around us were smoking funny smelling cigarettes. (I tried not to inhale). I think someone had a hip flask.

I do remember being absolutely in awe of seeing the great man, Neil Young on stage. One of my great buddies, Lurch was a lifelong fan, responsible for brainwashing the rest of us younger ones. Live Rust was played at every party, every night, every morning after. (Lurch also had a thing for Stevie Nicks, but that’s another story).

I remember The Needle and the Damage Done. I remember Cinnamon Girl. I remember Cortez the Killer. And check out the last 4 songs of the night (a lazy 28 song play list on the night, how’s that for value?):

  • Hey Hey, My My
  • Tonight’s The Night
  • Like A Hurricane
  • Powderfinger

Check out the full play list – AWESOME!

Neil Young, you rock.

Violent Femmes, The Palace, Melbourne, August, 1990

“It’s one, one, one for the money…”

I think I was a bit pished at this gig as well. What I do remember is that the Femmes really turned it on.And lots of crowd surfing and mosh-pit action.

Oh, and the crowd were really, really weird (at least for a normal suburban guy like me).

You know, piercings, gelled hair, tats, that type of thing.

Over to you readers. Did you go to any of these gigs? Have you been to better ones?


Movie Review – Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

22 September, 2007


I have to confess I was eagerly awaiting the release of this bio on The Clash frontman Joe Strummer. Even though ‘London Calling’ is one of my top five ‘Desert Island Discs’, I knew surprisingly little about the life and times of the enigmatic Strummer.

I wasn’t disappointed – in a word, the film is brilliant.

Director Julien Temple has made skilful use of a variety of material, including archival cradle-to-grave footage, photographs, movie excerpts, and reflective interviews with the key players in Strummer’s life, to create a fascinating and compelling film.

The early scenes cover Strummer’s childhood and private school upbringing – quite ironic given the man’s future penchant for rocking the establishment (not to mention The Kasbah) – before moving on to his days as an art school dropout and layabout London squatter. The squat sequences are quite powerful, as is the footage depicting the growing social agitation in London immediately prior to the emergence of the punk movement.

The energy levels pick up with Strummer’s transformation to musician, first with squat band The 101s, and then more famously with punk legends, The Clash. Some of the featured early Clash tunes are excruciating, however as the film progresses, the music improves noticeably. As well as covering many Clash classics, the soundtrack features some of Strummer’s favourite musical influences, along with commentaries on these taken from his popular BBC World Service program, London Calling.

Temple captures perfectly the frenetic energy that accompanied the punk movement, showcasing some amazing crowd scenes in dingy London nightclubs. These are in stark contrast to shots of the band several years later playing packed out stadium shows in America, separated from the crowd by large barriers and acting like the prima donna rock stars they once scorned.

The sudden and inevitable demise of the band follows soon after, with the last portion of the movie tracing Strummer’s subsequent battles with depression, and his mildly successful attempts to reinvent himself, including one incredible foray into the world of techno.

Temple’s portrayal of Strummer is reverential but objective; he is shown to be not only a flawed genius, brilliant lyricist, outspoken social critic and loving father, but also self-serving, ruthless, and not particularly loyal to friends or band members. Still Strummer comes across as a likeable and personable person, particularly in his later life.

The reflective interviews with Strummer’s family and friends, conducted at urban bonfires around the world, were particularly enjoyable and insightful, however it was not always apparent who the speakers were or what part they played in Strummer’s life. Some subtle captions would have been useful in putting their recollections into context.

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten is a must-see movie for fans of The Clash, and well worth the admission price for non-fans as well.

Rating: 4 stars

Green Day vs John Lennon

16 June, 2007

Have you heard the new Green Day cover of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero?

Looks like it’s been out in the States for a while but I haven’t heard it on Australian radio yet. (What a surprise.)

If you want to check it out, you can play it directly from the Boxnet widget on my sidebar, otherwise you can see the video clip over here at The Covers Project.

The song will be included in a forthcoming CD, Instant Karma: The Campaign To Save Darfur, proceeds from which will help support Amnesty International’s campaign to focus attention on the urgent catastrophe in Darfur, Sudan. More information here.

Lennon and Green Day, two of my all-time favourites.

I reckon John would have been stoked with this version.

Music Trivia Tag

7 June, 2007

The Rules:

1. Answer the question (no cheating with search engines)

2. Submit a new question for others to answer.

Question 1 – Which song is this line from? And who sings it?

“She told me that her dad was loaded – I said ‘In that case I’ll have rum and coca-cola”‘