Random Play by Graham Reid


Following The Songlines

And so despite derision and disbelief from a few people, I went to Kylie last night. But I wanted to see a costume-change pop show and have lived with the disappointment of missing Cher twice.

We had tickets for Christina Aguilera (I think it was her) who cancelled at the last minute.

So Kylie it was -- and it was pretty good. It had to be: we‘d paid $140 each in what I think were the nose-bleed seats in what I am now calling the Northern Stand. (They should have put Beckham in the Vector come to think of it.)

Frankly I thought the choreography barely missed a cliché when it came to Vegas-style “boy dancers”: quite why they dressed like fencers in welder masks I don’t know; but the sequence of grid iron/cheerleaders was fun; and then came the dreadful navy uniform thing (what is it with these acts that they like uniforms so much?). At that point you get that hilarious sequence when gay men appear to whisper suggestively risqué things into the ears of girl dancers and they go coy and slightly shocked. Very funny, very Hollywood in the Forties.

But as to the music, it was a whole lot more interesting than I thought although I did say later “it was very Eighties” -- which seemed like stating the obvious, but not in that way.

In a show which I think we could charitably say enjoyed sound enhancement, the synth/programming at time referred more often to whooshing ambient German electronic outfits like Tangerine Dream and in the dance numbers even, at times, Kraftwerk. Kylie also borrows heavily from Giorgio Moroder. And that’s fine by me.

The big Indo-psychedelic electro-beat number towards the end (which I initially thought was Madonna’s Ray of Light) was terrific (anyone help an old man out on this one?) and when it wasn’t visually interesting there was enough great pop hookery going on to get me through.

I know very little of Kylie’s music. I do know that the Lola/showgirl number she did complete with ballet-disco dance visualisation was originally from that camp old trouper Barry Manilow -- and that just made me think very soon Kylie will be taking a trimmed back version of this to Vegas for a short season. Maybe.

The “lucky” one I do know because it is the line most favoured by headline writers, although I didn’t recognise it until she -- or more correctly we, who all sang along -- got to the chorus.

So that was Kylie, flat in spots, mostly fun -- and better visuals than Kraftwerk who a couple of weeks ago I thought exceedingly dull and not a patch on their energised appearance at the Big Day Out.

But what was of as much interest to me in the run-up to this concert was just how many people responded in a negative or dismissive way when I said I was going.

“What? You?” was a pretty common response -- or laughter until they realised I was serious.

There seemed an appalling musical snobbery at work of the kind which I cannot abide.

If going to the re-formed Headless Chickens and grooving gently to George or seeing a resurrected Kiwi punk band 30 years on to relive your musical youth is your thing that’s fine, but that doesn’t make you any better than someone who gets dollied up in stilettos and pink tank top and waves a light wand in the air when Kylie sings “I should be so lucky“.

Just different tastes that’s all.

And I believe it is actually possible to enjoy all kinds of music.

I noticed that no one among what I might call my “Kylie friends” said anything derisory about me going to Kraftwerk. Not one observed “boring German electro-rock from the Eighties”.

One acquaintance however, whom I have known for decades and was in alternative bands for a while, made some astonishingly derogatory comments about Kylie and her fans.

I told him he was a prick.

Then he made some aspersion along the lines of me not ever knowing much about good music and going to Kylie just proved it.

Oh well. He’s probably right, who would care to argue with someone like that?

Most music, whether we like to admit it or not, is at some level an entertainment: for some artists that means going the full Kylie.

I have seen more than my share of bands where its male members try to make themselves “dark and interesting” (as my mother used to say) and increasingly I look at them and think like Alan Partridge, “oh just get a girlfriend”.

Anyway. I thought Kylie was okay . . . And a joyful start to an interesting musical week for me.

This morning I am going to be on 95bFM with Charlotte talking about the Canadian indie-outfit Broken Social Scene and people like
Jason Collett who have come out of it.

I’ll also note that this is the anniversary of John Lennon’s death and be speaking about the new and I think very interesting biography of Lennon (reviewed at Elsewhere, and doubtless I’ll mention my recent interview with Yoko Ono (my fourth I think) about
the current Lennon art exhibition in Parnell. I got a (terse) comment out of her about this biography which she previously assisted with and now disapproves of.

So that’s new folk and old farts dealt with.

Then on Thursday I am on National Radio: Concert’s Upbeat programme talking about Leonard Cohen’s most recent (2004) album because in my experience very few people have any idea what he sounds like these days. (There’s a show I’d like to see, but cannot afford the whopping ticket price).

On my Sunday afternoon show on Kiwi FM (1pm) I have a mad special in which I am playing Christmas music from the likes of the D4, Deja Voodoo, Rainy Days, Spelling Mistakes and many many more.

I am hoping that by doing this gritty, noisy alt-indie show of Kiwi bands I can re-establish some real tough street-cred with my indie-rock mates who will take years to get over the fact that not only did I go to Kylie -- but actually thought it pretty good fun.

Whadda loser I must be.

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