22 September 2012

Aging Bodies, Aging Minds, Aging Bands

The inspiration for this piece of writing comes from a brief twitter chat I had with a dear “under-web ally” of mine (i.e. an online yet still underground co-defender of the Rock) @RockCyprus. Chatting about the recent Download 2013 line-up announcements, our conversation went something like this:

@Tzellofouska Rammstein & Maiden in one go? Surely, you don't wanna miss that! 

@RockCyprus It's been Maiden and Metallica from the 1st row in the last 2 years. Hard to beat that I'll have to have a break ;) [plus the prized possession of Kirk Hammett's guitar pick! ;)]

@Tzellofouska Metallica...Second most disappointing live band after Megadeth. And am a keen thrasher; just 20 yrs too late [ 90s vs 00s.... The price to pay for my age!]

@RockCyprus It's a big discussion, but surely Hetfield or Araya can never be 20 and alcoholics ever again ;) :D

And it went on for a few more tweets. Now, just to clarify, my aim is not to get into a discussion about disappointing live shows from [previously great yet still legendary] bands. I will only pose a few of my contemplations in the hope of initiating a healthy exchange of opinions.  

It all started with me seeing Metallica live for the first time. Then it happened again when I saw what Axl calls Guns N’ Roses nowadays. And it all happened for the third time when I saw Megadeth at this year’s Download. What a disappointment it was, I cannot emphasize enough! Performance-, passion-, stage presence-wise, you name it. 

At the time, I used to say to myself and others equally disappointed as me, that you wouldn’t expect these bands to perform to the same level as 20 years ago for example. It is of course a valid point. Or perhaps a good rationalisation of why I spent £60 on a gig that hasn’t changed me in the least. Because, you see, I only appreciate gigs that change my life, even a tiny bit at a time. I shall elaborate... 

Every band or artist has what I call a pre-defined persona. Meaning, they are known for specific elements of their live shows. Take Rammstein, for example, known for their extreme pyro shows complemented by heavy German rumblings [which I love by the way!]; or Iron Maiden with Eddie and an over-enthusiastic Mr. Dickinson; or Motörhead with their deafening decibels and a Lemmy; or even Kiss with their outdated yet oh-so-entertaining outfits; or Black Sabbath with a playful Ozzy and a quiet Iommi that communicates through the riffs. ALL bands have their pre-defined persona; from the time of their conception to today.

Now, when I go to a live show, I expect to see, feel, and experience that persona. I am easily satisfied though. Just having the opportunity to see legendary bands is an excitement on its own, considering most are at the end of the “road”. I surely don’t expect to see the SAME level of energy and passion as I see in videos of their earlier shows. Or should I?

Having been to so many gigs in the past decade alone means that I saw many of these “dinosaur” bands as people call them but not in their prime years. From this experience alone I realised that while there might be an expiration date on creativity for making good albums, passion is meant to stay put. Aging is not an excuse for a bad live for me anymore. 

If you can’t support that pre-defined persona of the band with the same level of passion anymore, just don’t bother touring; because then it shows that you are doing it purely for the cash. I’m sure Alice Cooper will retire once he’s not able to hold that boa on stage anymore. There were a few gigs that made an impact and changed me the way I wanted; Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Anthrax, Motörhead, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Kiss, Rammstein, and even the remaining of The Who! One can see that age is not the point here; some of these guys get a social security check at the end of each month! 

I would love, and I’m sure I’ll have more opportunities, to see Metallica or Megadeth again so that I prove myself wrong. But in the meantime, yawning at a gig, where one of your favourites is performing, is not a very good sign. Either love what you do or quit while you can. Performing is just another job you have to enjoy doing in order to survive in this business. I will repeat: there is no such thing as aging bodies; just aging minds.

You may follow @RockCyprus  on twitter for updates on upcoming shows in Cyprus. Otherwise, just follow him anyway because he's got some great tweets!
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