Russell Baillie: Talking 'bout my degeneration

By Russell Baillie

I have been to a few concerts in my time. But The Who's show on Sunday proved there is a first time for everything.

Halfway through the set, the guy a couple of seats to my right - a stout fellow who looked like he'd present a challenge to the suspension of his Harley-Davidson undoubtedly parked outside - lurched over and shouted in my ear "doyaknowhereIcanbuyaneee?"

Er, Sorry mate, can't hear you.

"DoyaknowhereIcangetaneee?"

Er, sorry it's the Who. They're quite loud. You said?

"Do. You. Know. Where. I. Can. Get. An. E?"

Oh. I fought the temptation to answer "Wheel of Fortune?" Sorry, no mate I don't. But I silently thanked him for a) being the first person to ask me for drugs at a concert and b) confirming that I looked like I was having a very good time.

Actually it was probably that I was the shiftiest looking bloke in our row. I was occasionally pulling my notebook out for the review. Maybe he thought I was totting up sales. Lord knows this music reviewing lark doesn't pay that well but we're going to be a little further into the recession before we start dealing on the side.

I give it until August.

Anyway, I blame the Counting Crows.

Yeah, The Who were largely great but after those Californian folk rock saddos finished their support set, it was enough to drive anyone to a pharmaceutical mood lift.

Here's a theory. Bands of a certain vintage prefer crap support acts.

Not talking about the locals. But with those ones imported and billed as "special guests', they're basically saying "hasn't rock 'n' roll died a slow, painful death after you stopped buying our albums despite your lasting nostalgic affection for us?"

The Rolling Stones brought Nickelback the last time they were here, a band possibly half the Stones' age but somehow uglier and even more corporate than Jagger & Partners.

On the other hand, Coldplay last week brought Mercury Rev and took a risk by doing so.

Well, maybe not in the minds of Coldplay's rather larger following, many of whom, judging by the online feedback to the show, just didn't get the near-veteran American alt-rock outfit.

They have gone a little off the radar since the early noughties, having peaked on the great albums Deserter's Songs (1998) and All Is Dream (2001), but soundwise they shared the headliners' sense of grandeur, their enthusiasm for piano-driven songs and delicate falsetto tunes. The Coldplay show I saw on the Thursday was pretty wonderful - even The Who's Roger Daltrey was in the house and Chris Martin sang a couple of bars of Behind Blue Eyes to mark the occasion.

But the fact that Mercury Rev dished up a real fireworks display beforehand made it all the more special and possibly set the bar for the headliners.

But the Counting Crows? Might make sense bracketing them with The Who in the software of classic rock radio station playlistings. But live, it was the dull deathless lull before the storm.

Counting Crows? Seven. That's including the singer guy with the dreads who may once have looked like Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons but now seems to have gone more Homer from the neck down.

Other random memories from The Who - as they lurched into My Generation three boys, possibly brothers, the oldest in his early teens, there with their Dad, were able to sneak past the barrier near me to get a better look.

It's possible they were after Guitar Hero tips from Mr Townshend. But they sure looked like they were experiencing something momentous for the first time. Yep, the kids are alright.

And how nice it was that one kid had his Dad wait just outside North Harbour Stadium for the entire show in his flash car, which the nice policemen let him park in their spots.

Oh sorry, that's not his Dad, that's his ministerial chauffeur - it appears the man with the block-lettered parking pass of "Hon M. McCully" is a Who fan.

Wonder if he took notice of the new Baby Boomer motto the band added to the extended My Generation: "We broke it. You fix it ... We ****ed it up."

If he could just legislate against any more Counting Crows-like supports, he could fix the drugs problem too. Then he'd deserve the parking spot.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 29 Dec 2014 10:31:48 Processing Time: 943ms