Thursday, 12 April 2007

Rocking Reminiscence

Back in work this week, I was trawling through my Lotus Notes e -mail software, and came across this account of parenting that I had forgotten I had shared with colleagues some time ago. In lieu of being alert and pain-free enough to be creative, I've reproduced it here. I suppose it is tenuously relevant because Life On Mars and my sons' eighteenth birthdays has made me reminisce about music, gigs and such, so here it is:

'Last Friday was my 42nd birthday; we had a pleasant weekend, enjoyed a meal and glass of real ale at a local country pub and generally relaxed in the manner of a man in his 'Radio 2 Years'; until Sunday evening. My son Tom is fifteen years old and is a fan of some of the more extreme types of rock music. It transpired that the lead singer of one of his favourite bands was doing a solo tour and was to be on at Manchester University on Sunday night.

"Can I go Mum, can I can I can I can I can I pleeeeeeeze"
asked Tom,
"No way are you going down there on your own with your mad mates in Manchester where people get robbed and all manner of nasty things happen"
was his loving mother's reply.

"What if Dad came, it's only a tenner to get in"
was Tom's
cunningly worded response; having no ready riposte, Val acceded and I was dispatched to Manchester University.

I pride myself on being a veteran
gig goer; I've seen 'em all Rush, Led Zepp.Whitesnake and am no stranger to the sweaty, small venue, live band scene, so was brimming with confidence at the prospect of some good old fashioned rock and roll. We had a bit of a clothing crisis in the run up to the event because Tom said that people tend to dress up for this sort of gig and he didn't want to be seen with 'Man at Marks and Spencer' . So I found a suitable black top, a pair of jeans and managed to dust off my body piercing to complete the ensemble (well alright, it's only my earlobe that was pierced when I was seventeen, but I felt it gave me credibility!). At this stage Val felt she ought to say something and suggested that in view of my recent birthday I was having a mid life crisis and trying to relive my youth. I parried that my ear stud (or to be more precise Val's ear stud) was a damn sight cheaper than having a tattoo or buying a motorcycle which seem to be the usual testosterone laced answers to the male menopause. Arriving at Oxford St we found found a safe parking space and made for the venue. It appeared, when we got there, that there was a performance of the Rocky Horror Show on in one of the other Union Building rooms; I began to feel a little uneasy when I learnt that this was actually the queue for the gig we were attending: 'Wednesday 13'. Perhaps, on reflection, I should have suspected something when Tom told me that Wednesday's former bands were the Murder Dolls and Frankenstein Drag Queens.

There was a variety of gothic looking creatures
all eagerly awaiting Wednesday's performance but I felt better when we met Tom's mates and I realised that I knew some of them. "Hi Steve"
Said someone wearing a pair of Frankenstein boots,
black ripped jeans, a black string vest, white make-up, black lip stick, deathly eye make-up, black nail polish and sufficient hair products to make their black hair to all stand on end as if in horror. I looked closer and realised it was young Darren from church. It was at this stage that Tom's parental embarrasment gene kicked in and I was made to go and stand near the back while they stayed at the front in the Mosh Pit. I found a position directly in front of the mixing desk, reasoning that the best sound quality would be heard there, and awaited the support band. Taking the oppertunity to scan the scene I found it an enlightening experience, there was most of the cast of the Adams Family and a woman who looked exactly like 'Scary Mary' off the recent mobile phone commercial. I was also relieved to find that there were quite a number of parents escorting apprentice rock fans and I ended up stood next to other people of about my age. The one stood to my left, however, made my piercing feel very inferior: he had a silver bone through his nose and a green mohican to go with it, he was also wearing a Sex Pistols 'Never Mind the Bollocks' tour tee-sirt. Feeling the generation gap narrow I commented, "You here with you kids too?.." "Whatever" he replied sneeringly, which seemed to nicely conclude our conversation.
Eventually the support band took to the stage, at
first I thought they were the roadies, they looked like a cross between beer-swilling, post grad science students and 'The Darkness'. Their actual music was a treat: they pumped out some excellent 'Beer and Blokes Rock' reminiscent of Guns and Roses, AC/DC et al. I thoroughly enjoyed their set as they whipped the crowd into a frenzy with such classics as 'I'm A Heavy Drinking Heavy Metal Psycho Sex Machine', posturing and posing as all the best Stadium Rock Gods do. They managed to transport us twenty years into the past and I realised that the only thing between these guys and stardom was their looks.
"Are you ready for Wednesday?" screamed the lead singer "Yeah" screamed the crowd I couldn't resist a quip and turned to my punk peer and said "What's happening on Wednesday?" "Piss off" He replied. The band crashed and ground to a rock star finish: "Thank you Manchester, you've been great. We are Viking Skull" They left the stage amidst the echoes of smashing power chords and I smiled to myself as I thought they were almost a parody of themselves, very nearly modelled on Jack Black's caricature of rock music in the film 'School Of Rock'. The star image was spoilt slightly when, having no roadies, the band had to sneak back on to the stage to retrieve their gear, ready for 'Wednesday 13'. You could tell the crowd were building up to a frenzy as some of the more tough looking members did their macho mosh pit stuff: pushing, shoving and punching to the rock disco (this included many female mosh pit members who were indeed macho). Finally the set for the main act was revealed and looked like the inside of the ghost train at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, quaintly arrayed with a selection of skulls, dismembered limbs and bloody severed heads. Finally Wednesday and his musical combo took to the stage and launched into their gig. I wasn't fazed by them at all - I'd seen Kiss, Alice Cooper and Ozzie Osbourne - however being a veteran of rock gigs I quickly realised that there was something wrong with the sound system. All I could hear was a wall of white noise interspersed with the screams of someone falling victim to a very violent crime. I turned questioningly to the men behind the sound desk who looked remarkably unconcerned. Indeed I seemed to be the only one who had noticed, the crowd were going wild and seemed to be mouthing some form of lyric along with the shrieking skulls on stage. It transpires that this was what it was supposed to sound like and as events progressed I began to be able to decipher the lyrics and appreciate the qualities of what, it has to be admitted, was an excellently staged production.

Wednesday really knew how to work the crowd
and soon there were pint pots flying (plastic fortunately) , fighting, crowd surfing, girls crying, men shouting and all manner of rock gig activities going on. As the set progressed I was able to decipher some of the lyrics with lines of poetic beauty such as.... 'Mum and dad I am sorry, for putting holes in your body...' and crowd favourites such as 'Your Mum ***** **** In Hell'
(I really could not share the full
title of that song) and the real crowd pleaser: 'We Just Love to Say F***'
this fave was the climax of the gig and
Wednesday had lathered up the crowd to hysteria as he went through the classic 'Rock Gig Pantomime' routine: "Everyone raise your right hand in the air" Everyone did "Now make a fist" Everyone did "Now raise your middle finger and shout F***, F***, F***......." and amazingly, everyone (except me who resolutely refused) did!! At this point I resisted the temptation to check to see if Tom was engaged in this questionable activity on the grounds that if I couldn't see I wouldn't have tell his mum.
The gig rocked on through the statutory 2 song encore and I somehow found
myself jumping around with the rest of the crowd at to a ballad about a youth who killed his brother by smothering him with a pillow and finally suffering from a degree of tinitus we all made our happy way home. The car was unmolested and I had plenty of time in which to brief Tom on what and what not to tell his mum.
Hey Ho, back to Classic Fm.

2 comments:

Tracey said...

What a blog post!

I greatly enjoyed reading your gigging exploits! Lol. Was really good of you to take him! I really hope my girls don`t get into heavy stuff like that and want to go to a gig! I might have to lock them in their rooms.. lol

I was a goth at school, but back then it just meant long hair and long black clothes and a liking for The Cure and The Mission! I can`t seem to remember any body piercing and nasty attitudes in the songs or the fans. Blimey!

I guess things were different in my day :)

Crofty said...

Thanks for the comment Tracey, I still laugh when I think about it. I wish the lads were still of an age when they needed an adult to go to gigs with them; it's a great excuse to go!