Monday, January 19, 2009
The Needle and the Damage Done
It's that time of year when Sydney is flooded with crazy great gigs, and every time you speak to someone one of the first questions you have to contend with is 'what gigs are you going/been to'? Everyone's keen to compare notes, check who got tickets to the super sought after events and generally share the excitement of the combination of New Years Festivals [Field Day + Falls etc], Sydney Festival and Big Day Out touring rosters.
This year there were two surprises on the BDO lineup: Neil Young + The Prodigy. An unlikely combination. I'm not going to dwell on the BDO much - plenty of others will extensively deconstruct that one for you - but one of these artists has caused a lot of excitement, and it's not the Prodigy. Everyone seems to be loosing their shit over Mr Young. I mean, dude's done some amazing stuff in his time, he's created some seminal records, inspired countless people, he's sound-tracked some key moments in your life quite possibly. And by all accounts has created a solid gold playlist for this tour. That means all the hits. Everything from the Harvest and Crazy Horse years and his other key hits that you discover you know all the words to without even knowing that you did, like Hey Hey, My My, Cinnamon Girl, Rockin' in the Free World, Powderfinger... Everything you've grown up listening to. It's sure it be one of those spine-shivering experiences.
But I'm not going. Maybe I'll kick myself later but a few years ago he released a concept album 'Greendale' and toured the world in support of it. I went along to see him at the Entertainment Centre thinking he'd do a far chunk of the album but that he'd also colour the set with the crowd-pleasers. The party starters. I mean, that's what the folks had really paid for. It was one of those shows that everyone was giddy with excitement about. It was one of those rare music experiences that Mums and Dads could joyously share with their kids - and there were plenty of inter generational groups in the audience. It was beautiful to see.
So the lights went down and the show started. There was an elaborate set and then people came out with props and what happened next was some kind of horrific nightmare. It was a high-school Rock Eisteddfod musical show, with Neil Young as the lead. They ran through the album playing these little skits to literally illustrate the songs. After about 3 songs I turned around to see floods of people - pretty much everyone under the age of 30 - fleeing from the the audience. People weren't leaving quietly and politely, they were almost running to the exit. I suggested to the person I'd gone with that maybe we should leave, to which I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not an option. Instead I willed myself to sleep. I slept for probably close to 45 minutes - only to wake and discover the show was still very much continuing along in that concept amature musical theatre direction. It wasn't a bad dream. After about an hour and a half I was starting to get really edgy, this show was not only painfully frustrating but it was running really long, we were running the risk of missing the first ever show from a then little known but much anticipated band, The Presets. There was no way I was going to miss seeing their first show for this! Tears of rage filled my eyes.
Finally they reached the end. Before he could come out for the encore I was out of my seat and half way to the door. He came back on and started to launch into the hits. But by that stage it was too late. The damage had been done. I could never go back. I seriously considered writing a letter to him complaining and asking for compensation for the two perhaps two and a half hours of my life that I'd never get back. We made it to the second gig and they were great, which made the night worthwhile. Years later I can only just start to listen to his albums again and enjoy them.
He'll no doubt bust out and redeem himself, and I'll be the one wishing I could fill my heart with gold, or love, rather than hate. Maybe not hate but I haven't been able to forgive, you know the saying once bitten, twice shy.