Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Whatever You Want

It must have been 1975. There was a concert at university. Some got very excited about it. I didn't. Indeed I got decidedly hacked off with it, especially when I was asked to prove my age in one of the campus bars by a zealous steward aghast at the early adolescents attempting to purchase pints of McEwan's. The campus was full of townie young hippiette types or townie young rockerettes, all greatcoats, brushing hair from their cheeks and walking in that earnest and headlocked fashion that was once affected by those of a long-hair disposition. Perhaps they still walk that way, the new generation that is, the neck tight and the head staccato as though it were in time with a slow drum beat. The group was big back then. Massive in fact. One of the country's foremost rock acts. They were taken seriously then, not by a few but by a great number. That great number in their greatcoats.

I had always found it difficult to apprehend the transition from "Pictures of Matchstick Men", all phasing and jangling post-Byrds guitars, to heavy rockers. Though whether Status Quo were ever really heavy rockers is open to some question. They were more an elevated pub-rock band, the Chas and Daves of the electric guitar. Even then they were becoming outmoded. Dr. Feelgood and Eddie and the Hot Rods were in the vanguard of pub rock, and it was they who, in part, blazed the trail for punk. Status Quo had sailed into rock leviathan deep water. Simple and basic was their music, but it tended to be lumped in with monstrosities of rock such as Emerson Lake and Palmer; well, by Fluff Freeman anyway.

Turn the clock forward some 35 years, and what does one have? The Quo playing the Palma arena. On 8th September to be precise. Recently, Leonard Cohen took Palma as well: together with Messrs Rossi and Parfitt, some two hundred years worth of ancient rock iconicity, assuming one can permit such a description of the Quo, which is doubtful. Icons of rock would not have been booted out of Radio 1 and consigned to the outer limits of obscure music channels, there to be interviewed by faded former Radio 1 or Capitol DJs, amidst the prehistoric jingles and playing snooker on the radio, in a reunion of musical decrepitude.

Palma is a repository of the relics of rock. Only, if memory serves, has one international act of relative youth - The Corrs - taken to a Palma stage these past few years. They tried internationalising the San Sebastià music stages and ended up with some version of ELO and a debacle surrounding what may or may not have been Earth Wind and Fire. They didn't bother trying a repetition this year. Otherwise there has been Joe Cocker warbling and jerking like a puppet from "Watch With Mother" and the one-time de rigueur act on the in-car entertainment systems of professional footballers, the "Stars" era Simply Red whose star did shine brightly for as long as it took their first album to fade from the memory, to be replaced by the cabaret slick Mick. And now the Quo-sters.

There has been some late-in-life credibility given back to the Quo by their appearing at Glastonbury albeit that Glastonbury has a strong line in post-modern irony by re-creating "Top Of The Pops" circa the seventies with the Quos and Shakin' Stevenses. Not everyone is impressed by this, such as "Tree Badger": "The heavens will open, rain and displeasure will lash down upon them, and luck willing some part of the rig will give way while they play ‘Whatever You Want’, crushing them and electrocuting any hapless roadies that may happen to be in the surrounding area" (

But of course the mere presence of Rick and Francis will allow for some island-media photo opps for the cliquish celebrity cadre of southern Mallorca and for the non- or wannabe celebs, also of the south, and will cause some to announce that Palma and therefore Mallorca has much to offer by way of entertainment and as an entertainment location and, by extension, something to do with tourism, whatever that might be. Just that this entertainment tends to be old. Very, very old. There is one saving grace. At least it's not a tribute band.

Yesterday's title - Frank Sinatra.


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