Ok, it’s like this.
When I was 17, it was a very good year (© F. A. Sinatra). It was a very good year for AOR. In fact, the only thing I have in common with Kurt Cobain is the fact that our favourite album of 1980 was ‘Departure’ by Journey. Goddamn that guy, he was always ripping me off…. Yeah I was a teenage AOR nerd. I loved it all, from the big (REO, Loverboy) to the small (Coney Hatch, Kim Mitchell). I paid a lot of money for
US import LPs by bands no-one outside of Tinygulch had ever heard of. And I loved them all. Don’t get sniffy with me Mr RockSnob, I wore my animal print, cap sleeve T Shirt with pride and Je ne regrette rien. And then along came The Smiths and, in particular, REM and my little world went topsy turvy. Occasionally, in an unguarded moment, I would confess to my former sins and accept the howls of derision from my learned muso mates. It used to hurt. It doesn’t anymore. Arkansas
Tons of albums by leather-trousered, pointy guitar toting Rock’n’Rollers were sold to pay the rent in my darker days. Some I don’t miss. Some I bought again, on CD, when no one was looking.
When I saw that lineup at the top of the page boys and girls, there was no way I could not go. The 17 year old Rushbo that lingers within just would not let me walk away. So I went.
The result - Here are two words I haven’t uttered since 1983: ‘STYX RULE!’
|This is STYX - don't pretend you don't recognise them...|
(one of these men is wearing off-white cuban heels)
Say what you like about this genre of music (and I am braced for the brickbats in the comments section…in fact, I’ve started you off), last night at the LG Arena, I was E.N.T.E.R.T.A.I.N.E.D. The best performances were tight, concise, beautifully played and full of energy. Men of a certain age (some with suspiciously luxurious hair) racing around a huge stage and working a crowd up from polite to uproarious in about 35 minutes. Contrast this with the last time I saw REM at the same venue a few years back when it was all I co do to stop myself from playing solitaire on my ‘phone. Yeah, it was cheesy, but the
Styx demographic DEMANDS cheese. And bombast. And audience participation. And loads of other stuff that readers of Mojo Magazine would find offensive. I grinned like an idiot throughout a mini ‘greatest hits’ set with NO filler, NO extraneous noodly crap and NO pretentions whatsoever. Pantomime? Hell yeah…but who doesn’t love Pantomime?
(Foreigner were decent when they played the songs without pulling them out into Black Crowesy workouts. ‘Cold As Ice’ was fab. Journey played great, but were WAY TOO LOUD. And I say that not as a 47 year old geezer, but a bloke who has been to about 1000 concerts. They were still ace, tho…)
At the risk of repeating myself (!), there are two sorts of music: Music you like and Music you don’t like. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are way too subjective. To illustrate my point, here’s a true story:
A guy comes into my record shop and pre-orders a CD. Not a new one – a cheap re-issue. He’s super-excited. On the day of its release, he’s outside the store when I arrive, almost hyperventilating with excitement. I open up and dutifully trudge to the back of the store (slightly peeved that this guy has delayed my morning coffee by 10 minutes) to retrieve his disc. He rips off the cellophane. His hands are trembling. And then he bursts into tears. Unselfconsciously, a grown man is so happy to purchase this music that he is weeping in front of a sales assistant. Being an Englishman, I have NO CLUE what to do in this situation, so I go to the other end of the counter and avoid eye contact while he gets it out of his system. Eventually (10-15 minutes later) he is composed enough to pay me and leave.
The music that reduced him to tears was...
‘The Very Best of a Flock of Seagulls’.
…A Flock of Seagulls. Jeez.
I have sold thousands of releases by ‘Good’ artists - everyone from Nick Drake to Radiohead, from Bach to Coltrane, but the only person who ever wept for joy on purchasing a recording was the guy who bought ‘The Very Best of a Flock of Seagulls’. I dare you to tell him he's wrong.
So what’s my point? Guilty pleasures are OK? Don’t be ashamed of liking what you like, whatever it is? Sometimes, cheeseburgers taste nicer than Pate De Foie Gras? I don’t know. But I know one thing:
(For Pete Lutwyche...'I love you man!')