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DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:21 am
by Garth Cartwright
A weekend of gigs went like this: I've never seen Dolly Parton before but always wanted to. Admittedly, I realised that the O2 Greenwich was not ideal but, still, my only opportunity so off I went. I've been to 3 previous gigs at the O2 - Rolling Stones who attempted to make some use of this huge (20,000 seats) concrete bunker but were defeated by age, material and a lack of ideas of what to do with such an unappetising venue. Neil Young who sucked 100% - made no effort to fill the space, played with a lack of any engagement or interest in his material and took things into Spinal Tap territory when his rhythm guitarist tried to get a crowd singalong to Fuckin Up and was met with silence from the pensioner audience ("We came for guitar solos - not singsongs!" you could almost hear them collectively mutter). Is Neil Young the most overrated of the A List classic rockers? I think so. Beyonce, on the other hand, has had a real think about what to do with such spaces and transforms them visually - lots of dancers and remarkable visual effects via lighting/video/screens - and her music, relying on big electronic beats, effectively echoes across the space. She was brilliant, easily the best stadium show I have ever seen.

Dolly has obviously not played a lot of stadium gigs in her life as her performance was still shaped by theatres and this meant her show quickly fell flat - so quiet was the volume (and then muddy because of the space) that I often could not make out her entertaining monologues. And when she picks up banjos and zithers and such the effect is lost when you are hundreds of metres away. Aware she was struggling Dolly bought on some turd from Bon Jovi and he played wretched guitar solos. I bid the Nashville Barbie adieu and left early.

Aerosmith surely know how to rock stadiums and in Clapham Common they had the stage extending well into the audience. Steve Tyler - like Dolly - benefits from a good plastic surgeon thus looks remarkable. And moves with an energy that belies his 66 years. He also shares with Dolly a droll, ribald humour - she describes herself as coming from a bunch of horny hillbillies while he is never one to let a lewd lyric or gesture rest. Aerosmith were, across the 1970s, a phenomenally good r&r band - smart, funny songs with huge riffs and a real feeling for funky grooves. Their post-rehab rehabilitation in the late-1980s as AOR cheese is what broke them internationally and took them from merely wealthy to mega=rich. But the music largely sucked, made by committee as it was. On Saturday they played through their back catalogue with all the big UK hits ie post 80s getting the largest cheers while the likes of me got all excited about stuff like Lost Child and Mama Kin. They move well and play with admirable taughtness, a better stadium band than the Stones. I don't need to see them again but there were enough moments here to remind me why I fell in love with rock n roll as a kid, ridiculous as it may seem.

TV Smith - never thought of the 2 Smiths connection, just need The Smiths to reform to have a trilogy - turned up with his acoustic guitar, even thinner than Steve Tyler but no visits to the surgeon, he looks his 58 years. He played solo for almost 90 minutes, doing fine versions of old Adverts songs and then more contemporary and even brand new songs. Many of which sounded fabulous. And what passion he played with! Where Dolly and Aerosmith deliver a "show" TV Smith sang as if his very life depended on it. Which it may well do so. An entertaining weekend with only the disappointment of Dolly being lost in the stadium wastelands stopping it from being a musical classic. And better than Glastonbury.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:14 pm
by will vine
It's interesting, Garth, that you should fall upon this topic of the spaces that need filling musically and visually. I've been thinking about the very same thing today. Clearly there is an optimum space wherein things work. We need to design a space that expands or contracts according to requirements. Despite some wonderful outdoor moments at Hyde Park (sixties), South Hill Park (Bracknell Jazz), and a few Womads, I think I'm looking for enclosure.

Those O2 and Wembley Stadium gigs are simply money trawlers; A take-it-or-leave-it chance to see legends who are now too expensive to put on in intimate venues. Rock'n' roll needs to be witnessed close up...not more than thirty feet away, I'd suggest.

I don't want to be churlish about it because I can see the absurd leviathan appeal of Glastonbury. It's just that when I go to those things that offer so many stages I end up confused, indecisive and unable to focus.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:01 am
by Garth Cartwright
Agreed, Will. Festivals with multiple stages tend to end up baffling and underwhelming - a bit like going into a food smorgasbord and not knowing what to cuisine to sample, too much is on offer but none of it looks that appealing. I tend to drop in on Womad for a day simply cos i get free tix but it's never that engaging as a musical experience. You can occasionally find a real gem - Danyel Waro for example - but often its just musicians being shoveled on and off stages that don't have very good sound while bovine audiences stand around. I think the whole appeal of festivals is the collective coming together under the banner of popular music rather than music fans gathering to experience music.

As for the concrete sheds - yes, they are abysmal and should be avoided, Unless its Beyonce. Who really is fabulous. And once in the early 90s I saw John Mellencamp play Wembley's shed and he did a great great show. Like Beyonce he had worked out how to bring the experience to the shed.That said, live music is best experienced in small venues - some of the best performances I've ever seen have involved Errol Linton, Adam Blake, Little George etc, Just magic!

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:05 am
by will vine
will vine wrote:Those O2 and Wembley Stadium gigs are simply money trawlers;


Interesting that the Monty Python reunion is being marketed, or at least described, as simply this. All the participants admitting they're going to the well one more time, with no great enthusiasm, hawking round old material to gather up shedloads of cash from a gullible public. The temptation is just too much.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 10:30 am
by Garth Cartwright
Will, wealth is the most admired quality in contemporary society - West and East - and greed is seen as good so it's no surprise that old comedians, rockers, pop stars, actors etc reunite for shows in sheds. I mean the price of Dolly's merchandise was astonishing - and for tat! While these days with effective management you can negotiate for a % of parking, bar and food sales etc. There are a few old entertainers who seem immune to going for the quickest buck - Robert Plant and Paul McCartney spring to mind, but both are so immensely wealthy they don't need to be bothered with a few extra million made from playing sheds. The commodification of our culture continues at high speed.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:36 am
by Adam Blake
Garth Cartwright wrote:Robert Plant and Paul McCartney spring to mind, but both are so immensely wealthy they don't need to be bothered with a few extra million made from playing sheds.


Good point, Garth, but I think they deserve a bit more kudos than that for being noticeably LESS greedy than their peers! (Actually, as a very hardened pro muso friend of mine pointed out, Plant always sings Zeppelin numbers in his set so what's the big deal about reforming Zeppelin? "He's just playing hard to get", is her take.)

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:49 pm
by alister prince
Will and Garth, I agree about the venue size. I've long worked on the basis that I won't go unless I can see the singer's lips move. Yes I know my sight's not exactly 20/20, but you get my drift. On the money front, yes Macca and Plant have a couple of bob, but I doubt Jagger and co are claiming pension credit (wonder if Keith's got a bus pass? It'd be fun falling over him on the 52). What gives me heart is that Nick Cave and a mate often do free pop-up gigs in Brighton pubs. If the management let on in advance, they won't play.

Aly

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:46 am
by AndyM
If I was enjoying a drink in a pub and droney moany Cave started up, I'd leave (after asking for a refund).

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:19 am
by will vine
They're all at it.

http://youtu.be/jcsVz6jo5MM

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:45 am
by NormanD
Charlie Watts has the best lines here.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:46 pm
by alister prince
Andy, I agree Mr Cave could never be described as full of humour and the joys of spring. More a deep mid-winter, cold, cloudy, damp, grey day sort of fella. But hey, at least he doesn't look to his wallet when making your pint of Harvey's go flat, (ref N Young)!
Aly

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:17 pm
by Adam Blake
I saw Nick Cave perform in a pub in West Hampstead in 1980. It left me with an abiding loathing which sustaineth even unto this day and for all time alway.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:49 pm
by alister prince
Phew Adam, sounds like me and Jamie Cullem, and I've never seen him live!
Aly

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:31 pm
by Adam Blake
Ah, but nobody has ever tried to convince me that Jamie Cullem was a Serious Artist.

Re: DOLLY PARTON/AEROSMITH/TV SMITH

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:22 pm
by Rob Hall
I wandered into Ray's Jazz at Foyles one afternoon some years ago, and they were setting up for a live gig so I hung around to listen. It was Jamie Cullum doing a promo freebie gig. He was obviously a very good player and he had a good sense of swing. He ticked the boxes but I didn't really feel compelled to hang around; after a few numbers I moved on. Since he's become a big star, my thoughts have been along the lines of "well done sunshine, go for it". It's obvious (to me at least) that he knows his stuff, he has a passion for jazz, and he does what he does with a degree of professionalism, so I don't understand why people have a problem with him. But then again, on the other hand, I hate him because he's married to the magnificent Sophie Dahl. I have a similar problem with Taylor Hackford.