Friday, 10 June 2011

I Want to Know What the Words Are

Here’s a thing, 47 years old and never seen stadium rock. This was not deliberate as such, it just never occurred to me to do so. In fact, going to see three ‘80s bands at Newcastle’s arena the other day turned out to be the first gig outside of a pub that I’d been to in something like fifteen years if not more. It was like realising how long it is since you last saw a dentist.

Anyway, thanks to the generosity of an old friend, I found myself at said arena to watch the rock stylings of the bands Styx, Foreigner and Journey in that order. It was all a bit odd as I could not bring to mind a single song any of them had done. I listened to bit of Styx and Foreigner on spotify but never got round to Journey so that was going to be a new discovery for me. People I mentioned this to would say ‘Journey? They’re the ones who did…’ and sing a few bars which, I’m sorry to say, was not as helpful as they intended but did leave me in a state of pleasurable uncertainty.

So what was it like? Well, Styx were on first and it quickly became apparent that either they had not seen This Is Spinal Tap, or – and this is my hope – they had but were damned if they were going to change their act as a result. We had the three guitarists lined up front stage phallicly sticking the necks of their guitars at us while they grimaced musically. We had a plethora of ‘Hullo Newcastle’ and ‘Whoo Newcastle’ shouted at random. The keyboardist had a habit of showing off by playing solos with one arm held up in the air behind him thereby demonstrating that there are at least two things he can do one-handedly. Every now and again a slightly shy bookish looking man with a bass guitar would come on and join in. Much was made of this and it turned out that he was the bassist from the original band which raised the question of how authentic were this lot? How many original members were left or were we getting some kind of homeopathic Styx? My companion noted that the difference between the original and the tribute bands is becoming increasingly blurred. But all in all, they were good fun, got the audience on their side and did what they had been paid to do. I thought they were rather sweet.

Next were Foreigner who endeared themselves to the audience after a couple of songs by stating bluntly that they didn’t have much time so from now on in they were going to be only doing their big hits. Which they did. And the crowd loved it, even if the lead singer did over-estimate the geordie audience's capacity for remembering the lyrics to the chorus of ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ and ended up having to shout out the line in advance like a rock pantomime*. Again, highly professional and like Styx, pronounced Newcastle correctly with the short ‘a’ and the stress on the second syllable.

*A cheap and cheerful form of rock opera which I for one would pay good money to see

Finally we had Journey, the headline act and as such on for 90 minutes as opposed to the mere hour the other two had been granted each. Their arrival on stage was greeted with great enthusiasm by the audience which slowly dribbled away as the lead singer kept announcing those words nostalgia soaked concert goers of a certain age both loath and fear: ‘And here’s one from our new album.’ One of these appeared to be called 'Spunky Love' though I really hope it wasn't. We left before the end and so I never did get to hear their version of that song people sang at me. Never shall now I suppose.

My companion, who was stopping off in the North East of England on her way to somewhere else, had obtained the tickets because a Foreigner tribute band are playing at her holiday destination. I must ask her which was better.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.