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Saturday, May 18, 2019





Of course, what with me being under my usual brain-crushing weekly deadline, I plumb forgot to list two additional concerts which shoulda made my Top Ten list last week but didn’t. So here they are in all their unabashed glory for your reading and dancing pleasure:


KraftwerkMassey Hall (1975) :: As indicated last week, David von Bowie tried to be quite the innovating avant garde artiste with his Krautverkian Station To Station presentation, but he was a minor league penne ante piker compared to the band that provided his original aesthetic influence.


So Bowie’s idea of an opening act was to run a silent surrealistic film before he took the stage? Big deal. When Kraftwerk played Massey Hall on their Autobahn tour, they had no opening act. Instead, the house lights stayed up for almost two hours past the starting time while the audience amused themselves by reading rock magazines and throwing a Frisbee back and forth between the first balcony and the ground floor.


That is, what little audience there was because nobody had heard of these guys except for a scant few hundred of the die hard Krautrock contingency who got their education by faithfully buying both Ralf & Florian and Autobahn as a high priced import—and even then not all of them could afford the $6.60 ducat price after that. As such, the venerable old hall was only a quarter to half full, if that.


As for the two hour wait time it took for the group to take the stage, that’s because when Kraftwerk left their hotel to walk to the gig, they took a wrong toin at Albuquerque and promptly got lost in the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto whereupon they wandered around aimlessly until they ended up inadvertently sightseeing in Chinatown.


So Bowie’s idea being visually innovating was to use nothing but arcs of white light to illuminate his stage? Big deal. Kraftwerk went him one better by using no stage lights whatsoever. No spot lights, no foot lights, no nothing but those four dinky little plastic boxes that spelt their first names out in neon; you know, the ones on the back cover of the Ralf & Florian album. That and a few pin lights shining on their keyboards and drum pads. I tell ya, a Halloween pumpkin woulda provided more luminosity.


Meanwhile, Bowie’s idea of being musically innovative was to perform music off his most recent album. How daring. Kraftwerk, on the other hand, cleaned his conceptual clock by performing “Trans Europa Express” in its full-length entirety—two long years before it would appear on any album.


Now that’s German efficiency.


John Entwistle’s OxMassey Hall (1975) :: Exactly three months earlier, The Who’s bassist stormed the same stage for what was truly one of the most legendary nights in rock history—for all the wrong reasons. This time there was an opening act and, if there ever was a night when there shouldn’t have been one, this was that night.


The place was packed to capacity and the poor no-name schlubs who opened for Entwistle had to suffer through a non-stop barrage of torrential abuse from a crowd of hardcore Who fans who were there for one reason and one reason only—and it sure wasn’t the opening act.


“GET OFF THE FUCKING STAGE!” some callous brute yelled before the hapless group had even plugged in and things only got worse after that. “This is from our new album,” a band member helpfully explained at one point. “DELETE THE FUCKING ALBUM!” came the immediate screamed reply. No matter what they tried to play, dozens of unsolicited requests for “BORIS THE FUCKING SPIDER!” would rain down upon them. Indeed, the only applause they received was when they haplessly announced that the next song would be their last number of the night.


Finally the headliners came on and it only took a few songs, if that, for me to realize, even with my Norton Sonic 2 earplugs securely screwed in, that the volume seemed to be a tad on the loud side. A few songs later, I was morbidly worried that my ears would start bleeding if I didn’t immediately get up and leave. I didn’t, but any thoughts that I was simply imagining things were quickly dispelled upon seeing the next morning’s newspaper headline:




A few weeks later I found out that, because his regular band wasn’t touring at the time, Entwistle had hired The Who’s sound man to mix the shows for his solo tour. And of course, because the guy’s as deaf as a post, he automatically used the same volume settings to mix the sound for a 2,000 seat hall as he would to mix The Who in a 20,000 seat arena.


Now that’s rock ’n’ roll.


Be seeing you!

Sat, May 18, 2019 | link 

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