Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When Stage Banter Attacks

Slate had an article this morning called "When Rock Show Banter Goes Wrong" and while it didn't include "pretty much anytime Axl Rose opens his mouth without the band playing" it did have a pretty interesting few examples, and of course being the intrepid researcher that I am I tried to look up all of them to bring them to you, oh ye mythic loyal reader.

As one of James Parker's first set of contrasting examples he takes the infamous case of Altamont (where I think the Hell's Angels beat to death some people, not really sure on the why.) Parker chooses the case of Jefferson Airplane, from I would guess according tot he clips was from early in the day, when they were playing Other Side of Life and the Hell's Angels started getting hellacious. Parker writes "

anyone who's seen the Maysles Bros. documentary Gimme Shelter knows that it was a shining rhetorical hour for Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner. As his lead singer falls beneath the blows of vigilante bikers, Kantner loses neither his head nor his sense of humor. "Hey man," he offers into the mic, his voice only slightly constricted by anxiety, "I'd like to mention that the Hells Angels just smashed Marty Balin in the face and knocked him out for a bit. I'd like to thank you for that." The Angels, for all their leather, are not impervious to Kantner's Shakespearean irony. "Is this thing on?" growls a biker brother, seizing a microphone. "You talking to me? I'm gonna talk to you."

I guess, but my favorite part is right at the end of this clip when Grace Slick says "so both sides are fucking up temporarily so LET'S NOT KEEP FUCKIN' UP!"

Parker contrast what he calls "a shining rhetorical hour" for Kantner with Mick and the Stones, and yeah the Rolling Stones may have been on top of their game musically but common sensically? Not so much. I'm sure he didn't think or suspect that someone was actually being beaten to death but he did appear a little weak and too much Summer of Love not enough...the opposite (woodstock '99?) First Keith Richards was probably zonked and had no idea what was going on, requiring Mick to call "Keith" three or four times just to get his attention so that Mick could tell him "to cool it and I'll try to stop it" at which point he implores "sisters, brothers COOL OUT" before relaunching Sympathy To The Devil and noting that funny things always happen when we start this number.

On a less serious note Parker brings up an incident taken from the Fugazi's dvd Instrument and, let's just say "Ice Cream Eating Motherf*cker" is pretty classic

Our final two is a pair of final performances, the first being from Elvis's last tour, in South Dakota in 1977 and his breakdown during the spoken word part of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and while i'm sure the audience may have thought he was just joking around a bit (I kinda got that vibe for a bit) I think the truth is more on the side of Parker's (overly melo)dramatic description "Elvis is in deep, deep trouble, dying on his feet. Fumbled jokes, an abortive sense of interior monologue—the colossal solitude of the man seems to thicken the air around him."

I can't imagine why anyone would've wanted the Fat Elvis stamp. ( I vaguely remember that decision being a huuge deal at the time, though back then I'm not sure that I knew exactly who Elvis was)
And last (but first in my heart) is the encore from the Sex Pistols last show in San Francisco (winterland 1978) and when Johhny Rotten is singing about "NO FUN" you can tell that truer words have never been spoken. Seriously though that's how I want to go out, when I retire or whatever from whatever ends up being my career. I just wanna snarl "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" and walk out:

Yeah. That's the way to go...

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