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Lady Ga Ga versus the African Soul Rebels

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:16 pm
by Gordon Neill
OK, I admit, Lady Ga Ga wasn’t actually playing on the African Soul Rebels tour. But I saw them both within a couple of days and couldn’t help comparing and contrasting. Here's my assessments, based on the six most important criteria:

Number of performers
There were three bands on this year’s African Soul Rebels tour: Orchestre PolyRytmo, the Kalahari Surfers, and Oumou Sangare and her band.

Lady Ga Ga had two support acts: something called Semi-Precious something-or-others (they did keep repeating their name at regular intervals but, unlike throwing shit at a wall, it didn’t stick to my mind), and Alphabeat. I’d never heard of Alphabeat of them but my daughter solemnly assured me that they're dead famous as they’ve been on the radio. The Semi-Precious something-or-others were about as bad an act as I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few. Alphabeat, on the other hand, were bright and full of catchy pop songs. A tough act to follow, I felt. Or was it just that they followed the Semi-Precious something-or-others?

Verdict: 3 each, a score draw.

Rebellious attitude
Despite their name, none of the African Soul rebels seemed to be rebelling against much of anything. Apart from, possibly, the need to play any catchy tunes. Or, in the case of the Kalahari Surfers, making eye-contact with the audience. Like so many young people nowadays, they seem to spend too much time playing on their computers. Oumou Sangare did introduce a song as being against forced marriages but, as far as I could tell, no-one in the hall or, indeed, the country, was for them. It was about as rebellious as saying ‘you’re such a lovely audience’. Also, it wasn’t clear if it was the men or the women that were being forced. I felt that I needed more information before committing myself one way or the other.

Lady Ga Ga was clearly rebelling against being confused with other pop stars. But, in my book, a desire not to be Britney counts more as niche marketing than genuine rebellion. So null points there, I’m afraid.

But Mrs Ga Ga’s backing band, the Semi-Precious something-or-others, made a determined effort at winning the coveted Rebel-Without-A-Clue award. They’d clearly attended the rock’n’rawl Fame school, graduating with honours in Rebellious Punk Rockah (foundation level, module 1). Every second word appeared to be ‘muthafuckah’. The other word was usually ‘nooyoksittee’. It wasn’t clear why.

Acting as a sort of panto-rock villain, the lead singer loudly declared that everyone in the hall was to get ‘laid tonite!’ ‘Muthafuckahs’. If he’d been sporting a moustache, I’m sure he would have paused to twirl it and leer at the audience. Waiting only to allow the various 12-year olds in the audience to look puzzled (‘mummy, is it something to with Easter eggs?’), he then repeated his stated belief that they should all get laid, ‘tonite!’ Despite being several seconds older, the gathered tots still didn’t seem much wiser, and their parents had probably forgotten what it meant as it was all such a long time ago. For some reason, I started to hum a Gary Glitter song.

By default, the Semi-Precious something-or-others were still on course to win the Rebel-Without-A-Clue award, but the lead shouter then blew it with a costume change after two songs. Two songs! A man that is never far from a mirror, I felt. But I’m not sure what he sees in himself.

Verdict: this round was declared void as all the rebellion on display was extremely compliant.

Costume changes
Frankly, this was a non-contest. At no point, did anyone from African Soul Rebels even think of changing their socks.

Lady Ga Ga, on the other hand, constantly changed her outfits. In fact she was a blur of frenzied activity, like a WAG at a Marks & Spencer’s 10% off sale. I felt she must have got through thousands of costumes during her two-hour show (as we left the car park, I noticed a fleet of enormous lorries pulling out, with the first one having the word ‘pants’ on its side). Highlights for me were a pair of six-foot shoulder pads, a one-piece outfit that made her look like a hairy mushroom, and a white-fairy thing with a battery-powered hat.

Verdict: A change is a gonna come for Ga Ga.

Band introductions
Towards the end of their set, each member of both Orchestre PolyRytmo and Oumou Sangare’s band was introduced to the audience and allowed to perform a (thankfully) short solo to prove that they really could play their instruments and weren’t just miming to a tape. Tellingly, the Kalahari Surfers didn’t do this at all and just kept staring at their computer screens. Indeed, I wasn’t convinced that they’d actually met each other before. I had prepared a short resume of my career in public sector accountancy, but this proved to be a wasted effort as none of the audience was required to introduce themselves to the bands.

Lady Ga Ga made no introductions to any of the band. Partly, I suspect, as young people nowadays lack certain social graces. Partly also, as no one was in the least bit interested.

Verdict: African Soul Rebels scored heavily in this category. Sadly, however, silence is golden in this category. Well done Ga Ga.

Musical instruments on fire
Possibly in homage to Jimi Hendrix, possibly in another bout of attention-seeking, Miss Ga Ga’s set fire to her baby grand piano. It was during one of her more tedious numbers, some dirge called Brown Eyes, I think. Sadly, the piano remained fully functional throughout the recital. On reflection, I think it was just some sort of stage prop. Still, she’s game.

Disappointingly, none of the African Soul Rebels set fire to any of their instruments, despite members of the audience offering up matches and jerry-cans of petrol.

Verdict: I’m warming to Ga Ga.

Rambling chat
Given that English is not their first language, the African Soul Rebels had an unfair advantage. But they blew it by being surprisingly coherent. As already mentioned, Oumou Sangare did have a go at rambling on about forced marriages. But she was disappointingly long-winded. At no point, did I feel like laughing. I had already finished humming Roy C’s ‘Shotgun Wedding’ by the time she was done.

In contrast, Ms Ga Ga was a hoot. I’m not sure if she was pretending to be nuts or really is nuts but, in the final analysis, who cares? Whether I was laughing at her or with her, the main thing is, she made me laugh. Sometimes I had no idea what she was going on about. I don't suppose she knew what she was going on about, either. But I was startled to hear her urging the audience that getting drunk was a Good Thing. Did she have no idea that she was in Glasgow, world leader in piss-heads? Talk about preaching to the converted. Later on, she mysteriously announced that she wasn’t keen on the truth. I couldn’t help wondering if that was true. But then, sure enough, a few costume changes later her pants went on fire.

Verdict: Completely Ga Ga.

Re: Lady Ga Ga versus the African Soul Rebels

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:41 pm
by NormanD
Another good one, Gordon.

Ian - BRING HIM BACK! please

Re: Lady Ga Ga versus the African Soul Rebels

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:15 pm
by Des
Gordon Neill wrote:Disappointingly, none of the African Soul Rebels set fire to any of their instruments, despite members of the audience offering up matches and jerry-cans of petrol.

...sheer class!

Re: Lady Ga Ga versus the African Soul Rebels

PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:35 pm
by Tonie
Gordon, thanks for a laugh when I sorely needed one (and was suffering through "popopopoker face" on the radio)! More, please!
PS: Alphabeat are Danish and therefore qualify as "world music"... or not...