19 February, 2006

Ventilator blues

Seriously, why did they bother?

They must have known they weren't going to break the world record for the largest audience, previously set - erk - by Rod Stewart. They don't need the money, the exposure or the coverage, and heaven knows they can't have thought it'd regain them any credibility, because they lost that once and for all in the early 80s when Mick used to go on stage sporting yellow tracksuits and pink leg-ins while Keith did all the riffs in the wrong octave.

Strolling to the gig via a specially constructed walkway from their hotel (a short car journey obviously being out of the question), what was there to prove about rattling through 20 or so songs, all of which they must have played over a thousand times, and all of which are now performed with dull mechanical precision by the anonymous rhythm section, bedecked with duelling guitar wankery courtesy of Messrs Richards and Wood, and topped off with Jagger shouting all the lyrics because he can't hold a tune anymore? Bugger all.

By all accounts most people couldn't see the band in the flesh, and amusingly some didn't even appear to know who the Rolling Stones were ("I've never heard their music but I had to come"). The selfless pride exuded on the part of the locals - "If they love our country, that's good" - contrasted utterly with the cynical machinations of the Stones's business empire, parcelling up and commodifying this gig so as to become a multi-media, multi-revenue generating cash cow.

As for the new songs, they have all sounded the same for the last 20 years, because that's the only way the remaining members will agree to work with each other. Musical eccentricities and diversity cannot be tolerated. The songs cannot be conceived on Keith or Mick's terms; they have to be anonymous and half-familiar, able to be traced back to a non-specific rocker or lazy ballad. This way avoids temper tantrums and hence the chance of losing out on another million or so tax-free earnings.

Ah well. It'd be laughable were it not so pitiful. This gig was nothing to do with music, just profit margins and tapping another world market. To hear they'd retired would be bliss indeed, not least so I never have to read another newspaper story which begins "Even though they've been rolling for over 40 years, the Stones still can't get no satisfaction..."


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