At this weekend’s Hard Rock Calling gig the headline act, Bruce Springsteen, had bought Sir Paul McCartney on stage for a gig-goers dream of an encore. Alas, the entertainment was cut short 😦 The 10.30pm curfew for the event had been breached and the police pulled the plugs. The crowd streamed home, somewhat miffed.
“It made for a slightly bizarre, anti-climactic end to what had been a fantastic show” said the BBC reporter.
Would never have happened back in the 70s!
December 1973 saw an infamous and much chronicled gig at Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo) from Mott the Hoople (supported by an up and coming glam metal band called Queen) for which high ticket demand had led to the staging of a second show. Touring schedules being what they were then there was no alternative date, so two shows were scheduled for the same night. The second show started late – the police and venue security eventually pulling the plugs (literally) at 12.15 am precipitating a near riot…whilst the final trains of the night waited patiently at Hammersmith station for the crowd to empty out!
Would that happen now? Clearly not! (Even though the Bruce Springsteen fan demographic would indicate that there may well have been people in Hyde Park on Saturday night who had been at the Mott the Hoople gig!)
Just contrast with today’s gig going…tickets bought up to a year in advance, set lists pre-publicised, a running order on the door as you arrive – with a curfew! Hell, even Led Zeppelin in their heyday were known to come back for one last encore to satiate the demands of a few hundred fans who wouldn’t leave!
Coincidentally I’ve recently been catching up on the Dominic Sandbrook documentary series on the 70s and the BBC4 series Punk Britannia. When the latter was first aired it lit up the post Jubilee blogosphere with chat of youth anger, rebellions and the tepid conformity that many old punks see in today’s yoof. I was debating this over a few beers with FlipChartRick a few weeks ago, just after he had published a blog which in turn had been inspired by one from Chris Dillow.
Rick felt that the some of the perceived anger and rebellion was largely misty eyed nostalgia…
“Are today’s youngsters any less rebellious than we were in the late 70s and early 80s? Perhaps but, then again, I’m not altogether sure that we were really that rebellious anyway. We did a lot of things that shook people up but that’s because our easily identifiable youth tribes made it look as though we were hell-bent on a single cause. Most of the time, though, we were just doing what teenagers have always done; seeing how far we could push things without getting into serious trouble”.
Whilst Chris Dillow was in little doubt that Punk offered anger that shocked their elders…
“Punk was more rebellious and more disquieting to the establishment than anything we see today. Nobody of my generation is as appalled by dubstep as 40-somethings were by punk. It’s unlikely that a single today would be banned for political reasons and get to number one, as God Save the Queen did. And try as I might, I can’t imagine Rizzle Kicks doing to Alex Jones what the Sex Pistols did to Bill Grundy. In this, music reflects a wider social fact – that today’s young people are much less gobby than we were.”
During the ale-fuelled conversation Rick encouraged me to record my thoughts, something I haven’t got round to…but last night’s mild mannered frustration at the early concert curtailment gave me a good example of how things have changed since those romanticised 70s days. I guess I wanted to see the full Punk Britannia series first, and I think that watching them in conjunction with the 70s documentaries gave a context that the music programmes alone may not have reflected.
I could have started a blog on the difference between the mid-70s and now with a question. If you are a parent, when we you last really shocked by something that your children did, liked, watched or said?
I remember an op-ed piece by a female journalist a few years ago (can’t remember who I’m afraid) in which she accompanied her teenage daughter to a boy band concert. She was appalled. Appalled by the conformity and niceness of it all. At the same age her band were The Rolling Stones – their primeval, sexual and narcotic take on pop blues horrifying her parents…yet here she was consumed with boredom. She was shocked…but the shock was at the conformity and mawkishness of what she was seeing. Continue reading “There’s No Riot Goin’ On”