One Direction At The Rose Bowl

It was incomprehensible.

Furthermore, if you weren’t there you probably didn’t know it happened, despite the act selling out two dates and nearly a third, on a Thursday, a school night.

And that was who were there. Students. Girls. Wanna get laid? Go to a 1D show. You won’t see odds this good at the prison of “Orange Is The New Black.” An endless sea of barely pubescent girls, screaming their heads off. You’d think it was the new Beatles.

Only it wasn’t.

Maybe these kids know the Beatles. But they’ve got no idea who U2 is, never mind want to hear their music. And U2 didn’t sell as many tickets in Pasadena. Because the generations have changed and those in charge don’t want to admit it.

You’re done. History. Kaput. Your children have replaced you. Because they’ve got one thing you do not, PASSION!

There wasn’t the endless stream to the bathroom. The constant walla-walla. The girls were paying attention. Because they needed to. This was everything to them.

The opening act was Five Seconds Of Summer, and I kept listening for the hard drives, but there were none. Yes, the popsters faking it should be very afraid, because 5SOS could actually play! And sing! And harmonize! I was nearly flabbergasted. This is not how it’s supposed to be!

But they’re Australian. The Aussie acts have always been superior players. Because down under you earn your stripes gig by gig, if you don’t deliver live, you’ve got no chance.

But 5SOS were not the Beatles. That’s the problem with both the youngsters and the oldsters, there’s nothing new. That’s why there’s hysteria for the iPhone 6 and shrugs for so much music. So you can replicate what’s been done before…once upon a time music was about pushing the envelope! There was no Jethro Tull before Jethro Tull, never mind the Ramones!

But 5SOS delivered. In front of a set particularized to them. Yup, open for a monster rock act and they’ll ask you to beg for the privilege, treat you badly, keep the sound down. But 5SOS had their own backdrop.

As for 1D…

Here you’ve got an act with just a few hits selling beaucoup tickets. And you may think you’ve seen it before, but New Kids On The Block was not this big.

I started asking questions. Lisa told me that she’d worked both, and in the case of 1D all the members were appealing, every fan had her favorite.

And sure, Harry Styles is an international icon…

But what did impress me about Harry was how nonchalant he was. Just before he went on he was offering us cupcakes. Isn’t he supposed to be in his dressing room, angsting away?

Cynics might say it’s because he doesn’t play an instrument.

But that’s part of the act’s success. That it’s kind of a lark. And they and the audience are all in it together.

And the production was spectacular. And the girls knew every word and sang them. And if you’re somebody who lives in Ferrari/gated community culture you’d be completely flummoxed. As you would be if you’re into retro vinyl, if you haunt club gigs, if you listen to people with bad voices sing their plaintive songs and then bitch that they can’t make any money.

Money? One Direction does over $20 a head in merch. And if you don’t know merch numbers, that’s like someone in major league baseball hitting .650. Positively unheard of.

So I’m not sure what it all means.

I will tell you that radio is not as powerful as it keeps saying it is. Because 1D has not dominated radio. This is the power of the Internet, where kids can discover acts and interact with and talk about them and feel connected in a way we never did when we were addicted to the transistor.

And with music so available, even if you don’t own the album you can play. It’s extremely democratic. Sure, you can beg your parents for the download souvenir, but you can play these tracks on YouTube to your heart’s content. You can sing cover versions that you post on the same service. You can own the act, you can participate.

And you can fantasize about one of the five.

Let me tell you, despite being one of the lone males in a sea of tens of thousands of females, what stunned me is nobody was radiating any sexuality, nobody was dressed like a slut, nobody was making eyes trying to get ahead. This was more like puppy love, even if dirty old men would say some of these girls were fully grown.

1D were their hope and dream. Seeing them completed a circle. And how momentary can it be when tickets went on sale a full year before the performances?

So these girls will grow up and…

I don’t know. I don’t see them just jumping into the usual pop arena.

And look at Five Seconds Of Summer, they’re nothing if not a band. Makes you want to go into the garage and practice.

And the girls got all this. They were not complaining.

And believe me, those backstage weren’t either.

Because the truth is it’s a new music business. And the only way to get ahead is to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Like One Direction and Simon Cowell and Modest Management.

Credit Cowell for having the vision to put this together. Forget criticizing his on screen personality, that’s faded in the U.S. anyway. Cowell might have been caustic, but first and foremost he was smart.

And Modest is run by those who’ve lived through the years you reflect upon so fondly. But wanting to continue in this business Richard Griffiths and Harry Magee are not wedded to the past. And let’s also credit their partner Steve Barnett, who helped make both acts big in the U.S. Barnett and Griffiths go way back.

So in some ways it’s no different. It’s about relationships. It’s about experience. It’s about mania. It’s about music.

But I still can’t wrap my head around it. Exactly why were all those girls there? Exactly why were they all so rabid? 1D is cute and the songs are catchy but does that equal three stadium dates?

Today it does.

Sunday Thought

Why is everybody a scumbag?

I think it started with Bill Clinton, who lied under oath. If the President doesn’t care about the truth, why should I?

But a good case can be made for going back to Reagan, who legitimized greed. The baby boomers went from love one another to screw one another over the course of his Presidency, and our society has never been the same since. Income inequality began with his tenure, and now the gulf between rich and poor is so deep, those on the wrong end have no hope, they don’t believe they can get to the other side.

But the 2008 economic crash put a stake in the middle class’s heart, well, what was left of it. Not only did the bankers rape and pillage, they got off scot-free. Financiers encouraged falsehoods in order to get rich, that’s what the mortgage crisis was all about, and the working man who was blamed ended up upside down in his house, if he still had one at all.

So no one wants to pay taxes. You see fat cats like Mitt Romney paying less than you do and you have no desire to contribute to the coffer. People flee to other states to avoid sales taxes and Amazon fights paying them at all. And you want me to do the right thing?

Doing the right thing. That’s what the so-called “Greatest Generation” was all about. Even if it delivered no riches, even if it granted no fame, even if no one was paying attention, character counted, you had to live up to a moral code, which also included taking care of your brother.

That was the ethos of the sixties. Don’t be too hard on the baby boomers. Yup, they broke away from their parents who they considered to be old-fashioned and hopelessly out of touch, but they instituted hippie culture, which was based on the precept that we were all in it together, that we had to look after each other, that we had to love each other. The older generation was stunned when there were no deaths at Woodstock.

But then the elixir that drove the movement succumbed to greed. Yup, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were all about giving back, Led Zeppelin was all about lining its pockets. And corporations bought the labels. And music became first and foremost a business, until it was eclipsed by tech and ran out of gas, because the best and the brightest abandoned it the same way white people flee when African-Americans move into their neighborhood.

Now the rich have flown. Literally in their own private jets, but they also reside behind gates or doormen and even vacation at different spots.

But what bothers me is the way lying has been legitimized. We throw our hands up at e-mail spam, it’s something we have to live with. We’re stunned when Target loses our credit cards. We never turn the spotlight upon ourselves, ask ourselves about our behavior, what we can do to make things better. And primarily we don’t do this because it doesn’t pay. In today’s society, if there’s no economic benefit, people are out.

The same way they refuse to sacrifice. That was another tenet of the Greatest Generation handed down to their children. You had to sacrifice for the greater good. But today no one can lose their job, no one can lose a step in order to help those at the rear. It’s like people want to live in a museum, populated by record stores and book stores. As if they hadn’t studied the Middle Ages and were unaware of the penalties of stagnation.

And even the states are in on the act. Not only do they refuse to provide infrastructure, with Chris Christie dooming a tunnel into New York, but they compete against each other to bring corporations to their states with tax incentives. Hollywood is no longer a hotbed of filmmaking, producers go wherever it’s cheapest, bitching about piracy all the while. Huh?

And Elon Musk builds his battery factory in Nevada because that state gives more incentives than Tesla’s home base of California. Screw what’s good for workers, for my home economy. Hell, didn’t that Facebook guy move to Singapore to avoid paying taxes?

Give Paul McCartney credit. Unlike the Stones and U2, he stayed in England, he paid, because he realized that without your homeland and your friends, wealth is nothing.

But the shenanigans of the rich and powerful have infected the rank and file. People feel fine having handicapped placards, even though they’re fully ambulatory. They feel no duty to fill out forms accurately. And then, without million dollar lawyers, they’re the ones who go to jail, because they don’t understand culpability and intent.

And the goal is to sell out to the corporation, as if it were your rich dad, as opposed to a soulless entity looking to merge with a foreign enterprise to avoid paying corporate taxes all together.

And public schools often suck, so you lie to get your kid into a better one, saying they live with a relative, or you work the angles to get into a private one.

And once you’ve got it rigged, you want to shut the door. Pull the plug on public schools you’ve left behind.

Acts scalp their own tickets.

Legislators care about lobbyists, not constituents.

Political campaigns are about disinformation, who can yell inaccuracies loudest.

It’s every man for himself in America today. And since those lauded in the media are shaving points, those further down the economic totem pole believe this is legitimate and do so themselves.

So today life is a pinball machine wherein you must be fully aware, recover from being banged around by the bumpers, and avoid falling into holes and tilting.

We’ve got no leaders, no one speaking to the regular people telling them to do the right thing.

Jay Z sells out to Samsung. U2 sells out to Apple, and then forces its wares upon us. And we’re powerless, we’ve got no choice and no rights.

So when these fat cats screw us do you really expect us to be honorable? Even though Samsung never knocks on your door, even though the corporation doesn’t want to sponsor you?

Of course not.

So it’s the same as it always was…

Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parking meters

Yup, Bob Dylan told us to wake up and reject those in power.

Today we emulate them, they’re just like us. Out for themselves.

And the parking meters expire when one car leaves, another doesn’t get the benefit of the overtime, the city sold out to the man who guaranteed revenue, and you’re furiously pumping in quarters, knowing that if you don’t keep it up, not only are you gonna fall behind, you’re going to be kicked out of your spot, your home, your school. In a land of desperation, everybody’s desperate.

Welcome to the club.

Rhinofy-Bob Marley and the Wailers Live! Primer

Peter Frampton was not the only unheralded rock star to break through with a live album in 1976. But unlike “Frampton Comes Alive,” Bob Marley and the Wailers’ live LP was a single disc and it had little initial impact, it was not the end of the band’s career, but only the beginning.

You’ve got to understand, Chris Blackwell did an incredible job of beating the reggae drum, in the press that is. Not an outlet extant did not do a story on “Catch A Fire.”

But it didn’t.

Nor did its two follow-ups, “Burnin'” and “Natty Dread.” It seemed as if the gravy train of stardom was passing Bob Marley by.

Johnny Nash had the biggest reggae hit, with the indelible and incredible “I Can See Clearly Now.”

And Marley was nowhere to be seen on authentic reggae’s breakout film, “The Harder They Come.” That was Jimmy Cliff’s moment, not only on screen but on wax. Even Toots and the Maytals were bigger than Marley.

But then Eric Clapton cut his execrable cover of “I Shot The Sheriff.” If you were familiar with the original, you cringed when you heard Clapton’s comeback hit. It was white reggae at its worst. But the public ate it up. Proving once again that authentic reggae had no place in the mainstream, not in the USA.

But in the U.K?

It was making inroads there, although it was the English ska bands that ultimately crossed over to America.

But Marley played in England. And with the Rolling truck Stones mobile parked just outside the Lyceum, Danny Holloway caught the band’s July 19, 1975 performance on tape.

And when you dropped the needle…

Now the release was akin to an afterthought, no one in the press would buy the hype, it was just a routine release that the faithful purchased and couldn’t stop playing and talking about, because when you heard what came out of the speakers your jaw dropped.

ALL THE WAY FROM TRENCHTOWN JAMAICA, BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS, COME ON!

Is there a more memorable intro? Not if you know this album.

Then the music lays down in that reggae groove, subtle, not overpowering, just right, and you’re locked right in.

And then Bob utters those magical words…

One good thing about music
When it hits you feel no pain

Dedicated fans knew the song, but this live version swings in a heretofore unknown way, you’re utterly entranced. It’s like being initiated into a secret society, one that anybody can join if they’ve got the LP and an open mind.

Suddenly, anybody could get it. Instantly. If Bob Marley were still alive and played this at the Apple iPhone/Watch introduction everybody would have been on their feet moving back and forth. Yup, you cannot listen to “Trenchtown Rock” without moving your body.

And there’s not a bummer on the album, but the next absolute killer closes the first side, “Lively Up Yourself.”

You’re already in the groove, and then Bob and the band levitate the entire venue. You’re staring at the speakers with the simple desire to jump inside, you want to get closer to this music.

And on the second side, there is a good version of “I Shot The Sheriff,” with all the gravitas lacking from the Clapton cover.

But the piece-de-resistance opens side two, the single best recorded performance of Bob Marley and the Wailers, “No Woman, No Cry.”

Sure, the version on “Natty Dread” was good, but the live take, although the same song, is a completely different performance. It’s slowed down, it’s smoky, it’s as if everybody’s so high they’ve lost touch with the outside world and only inhabit this song, it’s church, even for nonbelievers.

I defy any music fan of any genre to not be hooked. “No Woman, No Cry” is just that powerful, just that right.

That’s what we’re looking for in our performances, a religious soul that we can embed ourselves in and let the velvet goodness wash over us.

And suddenly, Bob Marley was a star.

No, it didn’t really happen that way at all. It didn’t happen overnight. But over the course of a year everyone agreed that the hype was real, that reggae was a new sound here to stay, and that the apotheosis was Bob Marley and the Wailers.

And Marley is one of those few performers whose legend would endure even if he hadn’t died prematurely, because Marley was so much himself, he brought people to him, not the opposite. He was not a player in the game, he was the game itself.

And you might know what I’m talking about. You may be throwing your hands in the air right now, crying hallelujah!

Or maybe you’re a casual reggae fan, you know some Marley, but you’ve never actually heard this live album.

Or maybe you’re someone who grew up on boy bands and melisma mamas, and you’re positively clueless.

Well, be prepared to have your mind opened.

This is everything music is supposed to be. Catchy and unique and demanding of constant play.

This is what made Marley a legend.

But he would have become one anyway. Because you can’t keep someone this great down.

Rhinofy-Bob Marley and the Wailers Live! Primer

Hysteria

I gotta know tonight
If you’re alone tonight

I wanted to hear “Hysteria” in hi-def. So I fired up my Wimp app and searched, but didn’t find it, other than in its live iteration.

That’s right, Def Leppard is at war with Universal.

Can’t stop this feeling
Can’t stop this fire

The album is twenty seven years old, the band’s barely had a hit since.¬†They’re too young for classic rock and they’re too young to die. But if you were there, back before the internet, back before MTV became all pop, you remember the utter joy of listening to this album.

I too lament the passing of the good old days. The at least weekly journey to the record store to finger the new releases, planning what to buy based on what I could afford. Replacing key albums with CDs, and then doing it again with remasters. Being able to comprehend the music scene. Buying the latest release by your favorite because you believed they had something to say, and that they would deliver, when the bands were unique and the producers were secondary.

Then again, here we’re talking about mid-period Mutt.

He’s not in the R&RHOF, but he’s more worthy than most of the recent inductees. Because he could not only twirl the knobs, but play and write. He put his heart and soul into these records, when music was a calling, when it wasn’t just a vehicle to become rich.

Oh, don’t protest. You’re not in that slot. You don’t have major label support, you’re not on the radio, you don’t have eight figures of YouTube views. Because up there the air is rarefied and the game is completely different. Inequality reigns in music as it does in economics. You’re either a winner or a loser. Some cross over. But most are kept down. But an exalted few ascend into the stratosphere, and are hated for it, just listen to Taylor Swift, but when you get up there it’s all about lifestyle, who you hang with, where you vacation, when it used to be about…

Better drugs. Better sex. Multiple partners. More frequent sex. Remove sex from the equation and almost nobody wanted to be a rock star. Yup, you could be homely, you could barely be able to have a conversation, but if you were responsible for a chart topper the world was your oyster. And there were no cameras. At best your behaviors were a rumor.

And we all truly wanted some of that.

And in the late eighties, fresh-faced Def Leppard was at the peak, they were the apotheosis, the biggest rock band in the world, and they partook of all the warm and moist goodness.

That’s one thing we loved about them, they didn’t deny it, they were in it for the perks.

And those perks were nothing without the music.

And the music was great.

Sure, it all started with “Photograph.” The “Royals” of its day. Something so indelible you couldn’t wait to hear it again. Melding metal with the Beach Boys? Who came up with that?

And “Pyromania” was huge, seven times platinum in the U.S., a peak neither Adele nor Ms. Swift can reach today. And sure, the game was different, today we stream, but with so much less music at our fingertips we spun it again and again.

And then came “Hysteria.”

Fraught with trouble, going through multiple iterations, at first listeners were nonplussed, there was no obvious hit, no “Photograph.”

But then you played it.

And the first cut that stuck out for me was “Animal.” And then came “Armageddon It” and “Rocket,” but after I knew the album by heart the one I always came back to, the one that became my favorite, was the title track.

The intro is like a walk in the park, with a bounce in your step.

And then Mutt adds accents in each speaker.

And then Joe starts to sing:

Out of touch, out of reach, yeah
You could try to get closer to me

And there you have it. The rock star giving the green light.

I’m in luck, I’m in deep, yeah
Hypnotized, I’m shakin’ to my knees

Where his pants were.

“Hysteria” is like sex. Intercourse doesn’t work unless you build up a rhythm, get in the groove and sustain. And that’s what so special about this track, it locks on and keeps going. More like a ship than a freight train, with no system sticking out, but all firing together, sliding together, through the water, up the canal.

Oh, I get hysterical, hysteria
Oh can you feel it, do you believe it?

That’s what it was, hysteria, and we were all hysterical, music ruled the world, you just had to tune in to Live Aid for proof, sound ruled.

When you get that feelin’, better start believin’
‘Cos it’s a miracle, oh say you will

Belief. We believed that music could change our lives, if not the world. That if we just cranked the tunes up loud enough not only would we squeeze out the rest of the universe, our lives would work while we bonded with the sound. That’s why we wanted to meet our heroes, that’s why we wanted to screw them, because they were the makers of the magical mysteria, the elixir that thrilled us and made our lives complete.

So, say you will. Buy my record. Not because I told you but because it’s irresistible, because you heard one track and needed to hear more, because without it not only would you not be a member of the group, you’d be incomplete.

Hysteria when you’re near

That’s what we’re all searching for. Used to be you had to go outside to get it, preferably to the gig. But now technology has put the world at our fingertips, music is not the only connection, everybody with a device is a star, of their own movie even if they’re not internationally famous, and the people who make music are trying to compete. But that’s a fool’s game. Anybody will tell you you get attention by following your dream, by being yourself, by being unique. It was what drew us to not only the Beatles, but Bowie, never mind Def Leppard.

Out of me, into you, yeah

Out of their mouths, into your…

Open wide, that’s right, dream me off my feet
Oh, believe in me

That’s why Justin Bieber was so successful, people believed in him. Unfortunately, he believed in himself. And then the public turned against him. The truth is he was just a vessel. A channel to our hopes and dreams.

But Justin was more about image than music, one step away from the Kardashians.

But Def Leppard was different.

An average band without Mutt Lange, they were the best in the world with him.

So I gotta know…

Are you alone tonight?

You know loneliness, don’t you? The incredible urge to connect? To feel part of humanity, to hopefully be listened to and be rubbed up against.

Can’t stop that feeling of loneliness easily. It builds into a fire.

And said combustion is the opposite of connection. That’s life, it’s all about the yin and the yang. You can’t be happy without being sad, you can’t be fulfilled without desire.

And in the interim, you put on a record. To get you through.

And if you’re lucky, and we all get there, just wait, you’ll get older, you’ll get wiser, you’ll learn how to play the game, you’ll bump into someone who gets it, who understands you, who feels the power too. And just like a rock star, you’ll strip down to your skivvies, you’ll put your hands on them and then…

You get that feelin’, better start believin’

Don’t stop. The world’s a crazy confusing place. But there are some constants. These tracks may be decades old, but that does not mean they’ve lost their power.

‘Cos it’s a miracle, oh say you will

Say yes! Not to Bono and the money machine, but to that exquisite feeling of having your favorite track playing not only through your earbuds, but your mind.

Because at the end of the day that’s what it comes down to, the hysteria of listening.

You remember listening, don’t you?

Close your eyes. Picture it in your mind. It’s built into your DNA. Let the blood rush. Feel your power. Come together. In and out.

Ooh babe
Hysteria when you’re near
COME ON!