One thing I have to admit is good about London is the quality and range of live acts that come through town, and perhaps because there's so much going on, getting your hands on tickets is generally pretty easy. As an example, the past week saw me take in two very different gigs, and I think I'm showing my age when I admit that I loved one, and would have gladly missed the other.
Jack Johnson and friends (namely G-Love, Special Sauce, and Ben Harper) came to London to do their bit for (or should that be against?) global warming and injustice in the world by putting on a one day 'festival' in Hyde Park. I dunno about you, but in my mind, 2 support acts and a headline on one stage does not a festival make... normally that's called a gig. Outdoor gig, I'll grant you, but gig nonetheless. Despite the fact that the sun made an appearance, and the fact that I normally enjoy a bit of harmless surfer/slacker guitar based music, the gigteval left me cold. In fact, the longer it went, the less I enjoyed it: G-Love was pretty damn good as an opener, Harper started to drag on a bit, and by the time John Jackson got on stage I was ready to go. I have to admit I arrived in a foul mood, but normally the first blast from the speakers is enough to make me forget my cares... I guess paying to watch a bunch of guys who travel the world surfing and playing music to legions of adoring female fans just wasn't going to cheer me up that day.
A few days later, still feeling mighty pissed off at the world, I dragged myself out to see another band: The Hoodoo Gurus. (Other Aussie bands of yesteryear to tour through London recently include Weddings, Parties, Anything, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, although they never really went away). No self-aggrandising, save-the-world, outdoor festival for the gurus, just a simple ol' fashioned rocking out gig at The Forum. Faulkner and co still had the moves, if not the hair, and definitely still had the energy to blast out the crowd faves (which was, well, all of them) and blow away the cobwebs of a horror week stuck in the office.
Sure, I'm showing my age, but I think rock improves with the passing of the years. Or at least you can appreciate it more as you get older: you can afford to go to the gig for a start, you can enjoy it with fellow fans, not just band-wagon hopping chart followers, and you get to see the band in a much more intimate venue than you could have in their hey-day. Sure, I can hear a few of you saying: "I'm glad I spent a fortune to go see a stadium gig when I was a kid - it's an experience that can never be repeated because the band doesn't exist any more," but that just shows you had bad taste in music if your favourite band couldn't last a few measly decades.