I look back now at how lucky I was to live in the music era I did.
I saw a strong local music industry where venues competed against one another to have the best play on the prime nights.
As a result, the different acts we were able to see (soloists, duos and bands) were polished and put on a show – otherwise they didn’t get the prime city gigs.
At the same time, Australian music was really hitting its straps. Take a glance back to the 80’s and 90’s and the mind boggles with the quality and quantity of musicians and acts that filled our venues and airwaves.
So last Saturday night I went with my beautiful wife to see Pink perform and yes, she was fabulous. What an entertainer!
But that’s not what I want to talk about.
The pre-show entertainment was to start with DJ Cutup. Now, yes I’m a grumpy old man (freely admit it) but explain to me why they find it necessary to add thumps, screeches and ridididit stuff into what some person has sweated their life’s blood into creating?
I can understand cutting the song off early (sort of). I can forgive underlying the music with a constant beat but this other stuff they’re adding in does nothing to enhance the music. It seems more like trying to justify a presence.
That aside, he was received well by the mob on the floor that was groovily staggering about waiting for the main act.
Next up, thank the Lord, we had some live music – a bunch of fellas called The Rubens that played a few songs which sounded vaguely familiar to me and had the old toes tapping.
Thing was the crowd had definitely eased back a bit and it wasn’t until the DJ came back on for his second go that the crowd lifted again.
Part of me was gutted. Here was an Aussie band playing to a good-sized audience that was not reaching the crowd as well as a DJ.
It has to be said though the DJ had it real easy. He’s taking music proven by virtue of previous popularity, songs that have achieved world-wide recognition, and fiddling with it to make it “modern”, plagiarising works of art so to speak but making changes in an attempt to be original.
I wondered, then, if Pink hadn’t had at her disposal the props, wardrobe, pyrotechnics and acrobatics she did, if she fronted the audience with just herself, her band and whatever performance she could achieve on her own, would the crowd have been as enthusiastic as it was?
The years and substances between then and now may possibly have put a shine on something more than what really was true at the time but I distinctly remember the person, man or woman, that fronted the band had to work, really work, to get the audience engaged and they were equally backed up by the musicians behind them. It was a team effort with all players working a part.
Newcastle punters worked hard for their money and, as a musician, you had to work equally hard to get them to give you their support.
Newcastle has produced its rock stars but not one of them got it without leaving pints of sweat and sometimes blood on the stage and I wonder if that’s what is different about today.