Tuesday, 1 July 2014

a dangerous age in rock and roll

So as the last of the plastic bottles are gathered into the recycle skips at Glastonbury the weekend showstopper nominated by the press was not the so called "controversial" appearance of headliners Metallica but the Sunday afternoon appearance of Dolly Parton. Who actually had the largest crowd of the weekend with all the other venues on site emptying out leaving the performers wondering why they'd bothered showing up at all. Such is the fickle nature of an audience once they get the possible chance for a sighting of a legendary name.

Dolly had quite unexpectedly found herself crowned this years 'Queen of Glastonbury'.
She'd even written them a song especially for the occasion as she sat in the tour coach watching the thousands drag there way through the mud to the various stages scattered all over the site. The song was appropriately called "Mud", pronounced by Dolly as "Muurd". It had a chorus of "Muurd, Muurd, Muurd, Muurd, Muurd". And everyone joined in. "There you go.." she said "you've got your own song now".
With all the ease of a Las Vegas top bill she chatted with what she referred to as the "Glastonburr" audience and young and old were transfixed, singing along with anything they new the words to. Glastonbury had by now transformed into a holiday camp with Dolly as the head red coat with rhinestones. Glastonbury 2014 had found it's true soul.
So now Dolly's caravan rolls on, Glastonbury being just one more notch on her considerable hit list. It's "9 to 5" if you get the drift, and the 68 year old Dolly doesn't look like her country caravan will be stopping anytime soon.

Same with Robert Plant who played the day before, Saturday at a similar time of day, to a large crowd who'd gathered in anticipation of a set by his Shape Shifters. This audience were a more discerning bunch of hipsters, seeing themselves as the heart of the real Glastonbury audience. Not your crummy day trippers and pop pickers here.
And this lot got little chance to sing-a-long because Plant gave them little to recognise when the songs intro's began. So even when he did cover a Zeppelin classic he was part way into it before most spotted what it was. A masterful tactic. Plant was not going to have his set lost in thousands of voices bellowing over his band.
And the Shape Shifters were free flowing and superb musicians. The music sparked, they jammed occasionally and created some of the best moments of anyone there. Plants voice in fine form. It had a superb balance of ethnic diversity, blues and rock and roll. They all looked like they had a ball.
Why on earth would Robert Plant want to return to Led Zeppelin right now. The guy is 66 years old and surely wants to explore what he can because he probably well knows their may not be much time to do that. You just never know.

Like the news at the weekend, although not at Glastonbury, that Jeff Beck was admitted to hopital needing some serious care. So far no one has said what the ailment is. Surgery was mentioned. Ouch.
Jeff is 70. And 70 years old is appearing to be a very difficult age for the rock and rollers. The lifetime of road tours are taking it's toll and the body is beginning to scream back.

A recent interview with Eric Clapton in Uncut revealed a surprisingly forthcoming 'slowhand' on turning 70 next year. He admitted it could be the end of touring for him.

    "The road had become unbearable. It's unapproachable, because it takes so long to get anywhere, and it's hostile out there. Everywhere. Getting in and out of airports, getting on planes, travelling in cars. I like my life too much to have it ruined by other people's aggression..."
Later adding in the interview,
    "I've had posture problems playing heavy electric guitars on stage, one side of my body scrunches up, the lower gives me back problems from time to time. At the moment I've got tendanitis, which means that if I make a barre chord I get pain all the way up my arms into my neck and shoulder".
Blimey Eric that's a whole load of Ouch.

Curiously by Monday morning organiser of Glastonbury, Michael Eavis, said he thought he could keep the festival going until it reached it's 50th Anniversary in 10 years time. Wow. Maybe there was something in the air that weekend.

Then this morning news arrives that after 50 years a Farewell Tour of The Who is about to begin.
With Townshend now 69, and Daltry, 70, they too have declared life on the road is just too much. Daltry said about it being their last gigs -
    "It just has to be really. We can't go on touring for ever. As a singer, I don't know how long my voice will last. It will go. And the grind of the road.. it's incredibly tough on the body at this age"
The Farewell tour will be a short series of gigs in the UK and the USA. Nine being in the UK in November and December followed by the States later.

Over the weekend too, Bobby Womack had made it to 70, and now he's gone. One of the great soul voices and a life that was as hard as it was good. His resurgence in the last years of his life was a miracle and a delight. Bobby Womack left some genius moments in music.

It's been a strange few days.