Friday, October 27, 2006

Describe The Best Concert You've Ever Seen? Bloody Hell!

Trying to describe the best concert I've ever seen is virtually impossible. I've seen some great acts over the years, both huge and small. I have fond memories of seeing Strange Tenants doing a blistering ska set just across the road from where I live at the Norwood Town Hall back in 1988. I fondly remember The Bodgies cleaning up everything before them at the Semaphore on New Years Eve 1989, same as I remember The Cure at the Entertainment Centre in 2001, or was it 2000? The days are a blur now. Garbage were brilliant, both times, as were Kiss and U2, as was pretty much all of the local acts I've seen - Mark of Cain tore paint from the walls, The Hard Ons with Jerry A blew me away, as did the Disposable Heroes Of HipHopcrisy, as did Iggy Pop. Nick Cave has always made me cry live and made me violent at the same time - go figure. But I've narrowed down the best concert to two acts, two very different gigs, but both had one thing in common - loss and pain.

U2, ZooTV, November 16, 1993.

This was a stunning gig all round. I'd seen the videos of the previous concerts and I thought I knew what to expect, but the sheer size of the screens and the power of the music took me aback. Because I knew a local idiot I managed to scam my way onto the mixing desk viewing area and settled back to watch, only to realise that none other than Mick Jones (ex Clash, B.A.D.) was my listening/viewing partner. That blew me away. The show was great from start to finish, the perfect blend of sound and vision really. The screens flashed their messages at the audience at a blinding speed and at times (read: the entire performance of The Fly) I felt I needed a seat belt in order to stay focuses and keep up. It was a great gig, but what made it special?

The religious experience.

By now I imagine a few of you are thinking, "Jeez, what a maroon!" but seriously, this was the first of two concerts where I had an experience that bordered on being a religious epithany. You see before I left home my (now ex) wife of the past seven years (we got married very young) had told me that she didn't want me in the house anymore. I'd spent the past two months setting up a shop in the centre of Adelaide and this was going to be my day off, a day to relax and chill. Wasn't to be. I'd come home, gathered my stuff together and was told that's it - don't come round here no more. I was bewildered and offered to stay home to work this out, to no avail. Begone. So I left home and went to a concert hoping I'd lose myself there.

Fat chance Harry. All was well, until the second last song. I'd done very well up to that point but the lights went out and on the massive screens a cityscape slowly ran by, disguised as a star field. The music, droning with a church like organ began. Then I felt I was the only one in the entire stadium as Bono sang.
"Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my heart
Love is blindness

In a parked car
In a crowded street
You see your love
Made complete
Thread is ripping
The knot is slipping
Love is blindness

Love is clockworks
And cold steel
Fingers too numb to feel
Squeeze the handle
Blow out the candle
Love is blindness

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my love
Blindness

A little death
Without mourning
No call
And no warning
Baby...a dangerous idea
That almost makes sense

Love is drowning
In a deep well
All the secrets
And no one to tell
Take the money
Honey
Blindness

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my love
Blindness"

The bastard. I broke down and wept. I wept for years of marriage that was now wasted. I wept for the breakdown of my family, the family I'd helped make. It was all gone. I felt numb. But once that'd washed over me I felt renewed. I felt that it was a setback, and I'd make it temporary. It didn't quite work out that way, but it helped me deal with the pain I knew was to come, to a point, and when it happened again I knew I'd deal with it better. And it did happen again.

JEFF BUCKLEY. February 22, 1996.

Jeff Buckley was a revelation. This was a guy who had the most pure voice I'd ever heard. I was set to go on my own when my very off again/on again girlfriend phoned me up and asked what I was doing that night. I said I was busy, she seemed relieved at that and asked where was I going. I said, "I'm off to see Jeff Buckley," and she went quiet. "So am I," she said, "wanna go together?" Why not, I thought, why not indeed.

Now I'd been the tool of this one, as I said, off and on since mid 1994. She had her quirks but as a whole she was fairly alright. She'd treat me like crap (one of her favourite tricks was to break up with me before my birthday and call me up a few days later) but there were times when she was capable of doing the sweetest things ever. By this time though the gloss was gone. I knew it was coming but, like an idiot, I was hanging onto something that just wasn't there anymore, I'm an idiot like that. I was being used and everyone around me knew it, but, well, as the previous song says, love is blindness. So off we went.

Buckley came out to a silent stage and played about three songs, just himself and his guitar. By the time he sang Corpus Christi Carol I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. His voice...that voice. I doubt anyone who heard that voice live (and we were right at the front) will ever forget it. It sent chills up the spine and made the goosebumps rise. No man should have been blessed with a voice that pure, that good. It brought tears to the eyes. Still, as Buckley went through his music I composed myself and started to really enjoy the set. I'm sure the set as I remember it wasn't the same as has been officially recorded, but who cares? The memories are what I carry in these cases. Then it happened. He did the intro to the song Last Goodbye.

As the song started I turned to face my girlfriend - to this day I have no idea why I did. I have no idea why we did this at the same time, but as the song kicked in we both lifted, embraced each other and sang, only instead of singing like the rest of the crowd (singing because they were drunk on either booze or the atmosphere) we sang only to each other, without any of the exuberance or joy that people usually sing with at concerts. It was an embrace devoid of warmth, yet charged with emotion. I'd never had that before and I've never had it since.

"This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it's over
Just hear this and then I'll go
You gave me more to live for
More than you'll ever know

This is our last embrace
Must I dream and always see your face
Why can't we overcome this wall
Well, maybe it's just because I didn't know you at all

Kiss me, please kiss me
But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation
You know it makes me so angry cause I know that in time
I'll only make you cry, this is our last goodbye

Did you say no, this can't happen to me,
And did you rush to the phone to call
Was there a voice unkind in the back of your mind
Saying maybe you didn't know him at all
You didn't know him at all, oh, you didn't know

Well, the bells out in the church tower chime
Burning clues into this heart of mine
Thinking so hard on her soft eyes and the memories
Offer signs that it's over... it's over"

And it was. We dragged the limping dog out, off and on, more off than on, hurting each other through infidelity, deception, aggression and physical damage (culminating in her getting into her car one night, driving up the road, turning around and aiming straight at me and managing to knock me down - hilarious really) for another year. Like an aging football player we played a year too long. Looking back it'd have been perfect if we'd just left the concert that night and walked away from each other. I know my memories of her would be that much better, and I'm sure she'd not hate me as much as I expect she does. The funny thing is, when I bought the Legacy Edition of Grace and heard the song Forget Her I instantly remembered her. How odd is that? But then go and buy the set (hey - it's well worth it anyway) and have a listen to that song - it's the perfect follow up to Last Goodbye.

So, for those two very similar reasons, that's why U2 in 1993 and Jeff Buckley in 1996 are above all the other concerts I've been to. I've had a lot of fun at concerts - watching the Ramones bring the roof down - literally - getting drunk with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, seeing David Bowie from the first row, participating in a riot during a T.I.S.M. gig, getting drunk with The Bodgies, getting drunk and stoned with Jamiroquai, laughing at Radiohead, seeing the Church rip shreds off Icehouse and then, of course, there was that incident at that Stryper concert that saw me banned from pretty much every church in Melbourne back in the mid 1980s. Hey - it wasn't my fault. I was young, bored and looking for action, she was young, pretty and bored as well. I guess she wasn't as religious as she might have made herself out to be. In fact it's damn hard to pick the best concert I've ever seen because they've all been more than memorable for their own reasons. However the two I've cited, well for those reasons they stay in the memory.

5 comments:

B. Clay Moore said...

One of my great regrets is passing up a chance to see Buckley when he came to Lawrence, Kansas in the mid-nineties.

I remember saying, "Ah, he'll be back again."

Needless to say, he never made it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan! It's chew! And i cant believe that i found this site! And to that your still alive n kickin.....DUDE! God i miss the "love" that you have given me! Oh, yeah...The Living End! I pulled a sickie from work, went and (being my first) got drunk after. And then 3 days later my boss asked howed the concert went? (not knowing that i have a pic in one of the local papers) At first i wanted to lie but said that it was great! Said my sorry and still working at the same place i always worked till one day i'll get a better one. Then one of my friends tells me that im in the paper! Bloody little $h!t!! That was Great!

By the way, here's me E-mail address: evolve.or.die@hotmail.com

Have a nice one! Chew

Anonymous said...

Here's a shocking idea Danny...
I've seen Dylan in concert 8 times
...and once he looked like Frankie Howard!
Last time he looked like
...Vincent Price!!!
First time he looked like a cool dude
(At the Isle of Wight).
Every time he was WONDERFUL.
I guess you had to be there.

I've only been on the internet for about 6 months...but recently they (SONY) sent some 70 minutes of BOBSTUFF...Johnny Cash Show, Series of Dreams...Isis...Don't Look Back Outtakes...all Googlefree...You can have them too by just asking for them.
Don't tell me that you don't like 'em.
If you say so ...I will reply:
"I Don't believe You!!"

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Danny...That last thing was from me ...Paul Saether.
I'm not very good at this internet stuff.


By the way - Anyone who likes '60s comics,Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and John Prine and Mervyn Peake (Especially Mervyn Peake) ...aint doing anything too bad.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan !!!!!!!!! Vaffancannnnnn !!!!!