In my last missive, this curmudgeon related the sorry tale of a venue sorely underprepared for a rock concert. If you haven’t read it yet go read it now – I promise I’ll wait. If you have read it then let’s press on.
The venue may have run out of food but it didn’t run out of beer thus proving that the management weren’t stupid. The amber fluid flowed as the first act – New Zealand’s Ben Merito – took to the stage. Ben’s act is a fusion of reggae and…errr…something else which has the ability to get the feet moving. In between songs he engaged the audience with some chatter. I wish I could tell you what he talked about but I couldn’t understand a word he said. Whatever he did say was accompanied by a huge grin so he was either very happy or he was telling us to bugger off through gritted teeth.
The second act – Lior – wasn’t quite as engaging. He seemed to glare at the crowd and eventually looked like he was ignoring anything and anyone off stage. In fact he seemed to pay little attention to anything that was not him and his guitar; not even his string quartet. That’s right, he had a string quartet which ranked high on my puzzlement scale. I’m not sure if the four ladies of the quartet were there merely to add some beauty to the proceedings or if they actually contributed to the music. All I could see was the occasional sweep of a bow here and there followed by long periods of inactivity. Curios! At least I had something to look at (for the first time in my life I wished I could have been a cello.)
The main intermission arrived and the ol’ bladder urged me to find an appropriate building. Having completed that chore I headed back to the stage only to find that the front of the venue had magically sprouted a horde of people. I got some dark looks as I pushed my way to the front – try explaining that you actually have a spot at the front, “wife’s up there, honest” to the inebriated, angry ladies who think you are robbing them of their vantage point. Luckily, not one of the tattooed hulks (the men with the ladies, not the ladies themselves, although there was one…) decided to “smash” and I was soon back at my spot next to the Librarian.
Paul Kelly was about to open his act and the crowd was buzzing. Someone stumbled against my back and I turned around to see a young lady craning her neck to look over my shoulder. She apologized profusely and seemed to be so excited about seeing Kelly and Finn that I just had to offer her my spot at the rail. She was equally profuse in her thanks and explained that she was part of a musical duo that played a lot of Kelly and Finn music. She was filled with excitement when Paul Kelly finally began his set.
I have never seen Paul Kelly in concert before and I must say I have missed out. It was magical. Paul was joined by his nephew, Dan, (I’ve seen Dan in concert a couple of times already but not his uncle) who provided guitar and high voice (courtesy of extremely tight trousers) accompaniment. The duo became a trio when Neil Finn joined them for a song towards the end of the set. The magic was so palpable it sizzled.
A short break followed the Kelly set and I became an unwitting participant in some crowd theatre. The principle actor in this play was a woman (Ms Drunk Twit) who decided that the musical gods owed her a spot at the front of the venue. She had fought her way past the couple behind me in spite of their protests that they had been waiting for hours to get that spot. Ms Drunk Twit answered that she’d been waiting for six years. Hey, don’t look at me, it was Ms Drunk Twit that said it. I hope her retort was a result of the amber fluid and not a reflection of her intellectual capacity.
The play continued as she found her path to the fence blocked by yours truly. She started whining about how much she needed to get to the front and how I was mean to block her way. Whining like that merely steels my resolve so she switched gears and whined that it was her birthday and I should let her push in as a present. Her whining continued to have no affect on me but it irritated a very young lady who turned around and asked Ms Drunk Twit to shut up. Unfortunately, Ms Irritated had dyed her hair blue and was on the rubenesque side so she became fodder for Ms Drunk Twit’s vitriol. She and her partner (Mr Moron) launched into a diatribe against Ms Irritated before turning back to me again.
“He won’t let me in,” began the whine and Mr Moron poked me between the shoulders saying, “who? You mean this guy?”
Let’s just say that she stopped her loud whining shortly thereafter. Let’s just move on to the final act of the night instead.
Mr Neil Finn looked tired, sounded tired and was tired. He had very recently been on a plane from London. Those of you have done the London-Perth plane trip know how much fun that is. So how did he manage to produce one of the best concerts I have seen? It was just him on stage and he owned us all.
Neil Finn would have to be one of the greatest song writers to have walked this planet and his live performances are worth every cent of hard earned cash. Words fail me so let me paint you a couple of thousand instead:
At one point Neil flouted the security setup and asked for a member of the audience to join him on stage. The first one over the fence and onto the stage would win the right to play guitar with him. A mad scramble ensued while security looked on in dismay and, no doubt, a few choice words directed at Neil Finn.
The lucky winner was none other than the lady to whom I gave up my spot. She launched herself over the fence and ran onto the stage while others were falling over the fence (bloody Finn said security and management under their breath.) The lucky lady said that her name was Sue Johnson and that she plays guitar with a duo called Juliet’s Diary. Then she tuned up with Neil and accompanied him on a song:
Sue was the envy of many a woman, and some men if I heard the comments correctly. I know I would have loved to play guitar with Neil Finn. Unfortunately the only instrument I can play is the CD player.
So another night of musical magic ended. Thanks to Neil, Paul, Dan, Ben and … the girl with the cello for a wonderful night. The Librarian and I sat in our car waiting for the car park to clear. A few other people also found the idea of waiting awhile a lot more palatable than fighting the traffic. The view across the hills was breathtaking and we took it all in as we recalled the event we’d just seen. At least the Librarian was enjoying the view across the hills. I was enjoying a totally different view. Thank you to the couple in the red car parked a few meters from us.