Saturday, November 5, 2016


Its been a little while now since Desert Trip.  Back home in Bermuda we had 2 hurricanes that knocked out power temporarily but most annoyingly the internet which is why I hadn't posted the photos before now -- apologies for that.  However the time has provided perspective.

It isn't very likely that three of the greatest bands of all time (Macca, Stones, Who) will ever play on the same bill again.  Macca is 75 like Dylan whose set I panned but whom I really did want to see just in case.  For who will take the place of these guys in the future?  I just don't see it.  Likely my parents said the same thing as I did but I just don't see Katy Perry or Justin Bieber in the same frame as these guys much in the same way as there wasn't much of anyone to compete with Mozart and Beethoven, genii of a different era.

Viv and I had a blast, no question about that and for that thanks do go to Stu who emailed me when we were in Amalfi in May about the tickets.  

Biggest thrill was being there and seeing these legends.  Biggest annoyance was... really well nothing.  OK Dylan was a pain in the ass but whatever, he's deserved it.  His songs and back catalogue are some of the best ever.  I was listening to the Eagles Greatest Hits in the car today and thought realistically their first 3 albums was just about all they did.  The rest was top 10 singles and Hotel California.  How can that compete with Dylan's 50 year career?  OK his voice was terrible as was his attitude but he rearranged everything whilst towards the end the Eagles just replicated the studio albums.  

At the time I thought The Who were the best act of the six and I still haven't changed my mind on that. What I like the most is the way all of them continuously keep doing something different, even Macca.  Their back catalogues in each case are beyond formidable.  None need the money or prestige.  I really hope they are doing this because they like it and they want to give pleasure to the fans that have supported them for 50 years.  Thing is of all of them I don't believe Roger Waters is in that category even though I and many others like me have paid him really well over the years for the privilege of getting his political views rammed down my throat.  Why isn't it that entertainers just realise we love what you do, just don't give us your opinions.  They probably aren't the same as mine.  I made the choice with your music but not your opinions. I just don't care what you think.

Trouble with this is that people like me are gullible and predictable.  I met a guy years ago that managed a British band called Tears for Fears.  I asked him why he and people like him didn't canvass people like me for my opinions.  He told me that I was a given.  I loved music and would do whatever I needed to to get it, listen to it and own it.  It was was to people who didn't love music that he was appealing to.  That really annoyed me but from his perspective, he's right.  Why waste time on someone like me who will always buy the records and go to the concerts?  It's the guys that don't are the ones he wants to convert.

Aaaagghh!  Isn't that irritating?

At times like this I tend to listen to music to solve my problems and make me understand.  This is 'Careful with that axe, Eugene'.  Once you listen to it, you'll understand.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Desert and dust

Even though it was a few days over a weekend, our trip to Palm Springs was really nice.  It was good that we had a car not just for the concerts but also because this area is massive.  No walking possible at all.  And my goodness was it dusty too?  I had a dry throat pretty much the entire time but I suppose it is a desert and it hasn't rained probably for 100 years.

We stayed at the Hilton in Palm Springs, just short of downtown which turned out to be an inspired choice.  For sure it was pretty much at the other end of the valley (if that's what you call it) to Indio where the polo fields were so a 40 minute drive at the best of times, but at least in downtown we could walk out from the hotel into an area of bars and restaurants.  Some pretty nice ones too.

Really affluent too.  We met a couple of Stu's friends who had a second home in the area -- not Palm Springs, but in one of the communities whose name has escaped me for the moment.  They bought their place at the depths of the recession in 2009 and where it is is near to some of the ultra swankiest resorts around.  Some are so swanky that their gated community has no name -- well it does but it is not shown on the entry/exit so as to maintain its privacy.  The billionaires that live there visit by helicopter or other private means not involving anything to do with the public.  Bill Gates, for example, is in one community whose entrance is within 1/2 mile of Stu's friends place -- of course one never knows how far back it extends as this is a BIG area.

The house itself is really nice too, good and modern.  It was part of Bing Crosby's old ranch which has now been developed.  History has it that it was there that JFK met Marilyn Monroe for specific assignations as their originally proposed meeting place at Frank Sinatra's had apparently been compromised to the paparazzi of the time.  We of course saw no evidence of this but it is nice to know that there is at least some sort of story about the place.

I liked the area.  It feels clean... I know it isn't but pretty well nothing grows there other than cacti and as it is so hot in much of the year apparently, nobody dares to go outside during the day so the trash is manageable.

Palm Springs is not an area for full time residents.  Apparently the entire area of cities has a standing population of 300,000 which triples during the winter when the weather becomes more amenable -- when we visited it was in the 90's during the daytime falling to the high 70's at night.  It falls further to a comfortable 80 in the winter when of course the evenings become a lot cooler too.  So during the summer, nobody goes out much after 9 am as it is simply too hot.  Certainly no golf or tennis, etc.  That would be a killer.  When it is dark or just about dawn are the going out times to do things.

Nice but certainly a curiosity!

Pigs Can Fly

The final show of the Desert Trip spectacular was Roger Waters' new Pink Floyd tribute band delving deep into the repertoire and bringing out a monster show... spiced of course with plenty of political angst.

RW was effectively kicked out of the Pink Floyd because he became overbearingly focused on war and alienation from his audience.  His dad had been killed at Anzio in WWII and he forever dug it up from about Wish You Were Here onwards.  The madness and alienation bit came I suppose from PF founder member Syd Barrett and was taken onwards to the point where RW combined the two in The Wall -- building a wall between the band and audience.  I'd seen RW's production of The Wall in 2011 on a couple of occasions and the political posturing and nonsense almost overturned the terrific show and one thing I do have to say is that his shows were/are/will be terrific.

As a random choice, here is the original band doing Green is the Colour, a lovely tune from More.

I'd seen the PF for the first time in I think 1972 or 1973 at the Empire Pool Wembley, a concert the music reviewers of the time really had little positive to say other than talk about Dave Gilmour's split ends ("for goodness sake, he could have washed his hair at least") but like so many others I didn't care about any of that, I just thought the music was fantastic -- this show was Dark Side and earlier tunes finishing with an immense version of Echoes.  Later shows I went to showcased the 3 core tunes that made up Wish You Were Here and Animals and of course all the later shows too up to and including The Wall when really annoyingly I lost by damn ticket a couple of days before the show at Earls Court and found it 2 days later!!  Aaagh!  Cost me 3 quid as well.

So all this said, I am a big fan.  I don't much care that they all fell out and went their own separate ways.  I also don't much care if they subsequently said they thought Atom Heart Mother and Umma Gumma were terrible albums too -- I loved them both as most likely did their army of fans many of whom were at Desert Trip tonight.  It was the music I was there for and not the other nonsense and I think that was what all real fans felt.

I was reading an article the other day that related that at the Live8 show when the originals reunited briefly that the PF were the only band to not be specifically announced.  The pulsing sound of 'Speak to Me' was all that was needed.  So it was here at Desert Trip although it was accompanied by a light and sound show...
The big question was what would the setlist look like?  How much attention would be paid to Rick Wright, the keyboard player, who RW fired for not pulling his weight given that it was very much Rick Wright's keyboard noodlings that started it all off back in the late 1960's?

Homage to the original Fab 5 -- including Syd, briefly
The answer was in the setlist and what a setlist it was.

1. Speak to me
2. Breathe
3. Set the controls for the heart of the sun
4. Time
5. Great gig in the sky
6. Money
7. Us and them
8. Fearless (Whoa!)
9. Shine on you crazy diamond
10. Welcome to the machine
11. Have a cigar
12. Wish you were here
13. Pigs on the wing
14. Dogs
15. Pigs
16. The happiest days of our lives
17. Another brick in the wall
18. Mother
19. Run like hell
20. Brain Damage
21. Eclipse
22. Poem by RW (that didn’t rhyme)
23. Vera
24. Bring the boys back home
25. Comfortably numb

Essentially 3/4 of the set was laced with keyboard intense stuff that Rick Wright was so good at which was very nice to see and hear.  I was really happy to hear Set the Controls played live and also surprised to see Fearless -- not one I expected at all.  This setlist was copied from but I don't think it is completely correct as I am pretty sure they also played One of These Days I'm Going to Cut You Into Little Pieces, an instrumental off Meddle.  But maybe that was my faulty memory.

For the Animals section, the backdrop was an awesome version of Battersea Power Station and the famous pig flew that night too (not the next week apparently as it was too windy) with a happy little honorific for Donald Trump painted on the side.  From this part on the politics stuff started.

The image of Battersea Power Station was fantastic.  One of the reviews didn't know what that industrial building was and had to be informed by a PF nerd... such is the quality of journalism these days.

Here comes the pig!

As I said before I'm not a fan of all that nonsense.  Why stuff your views down other people's throats... particularly when you are not a citizen of that country too?  Why should I care what you do and don't believe?  Why should you take this forum when the audience have paid a total fortune for their tickets to drone on and on and on about something that bugs you... particularly since in return you want to build a wall between yourself and your audience and thereby prevent them from reciprocating?  That's incredibly arrogant and presumptuous, but having said that the pig was pretty cool! And the music was great.  Not too much improvisation though. 

It was a long show and given that the Who started earlier than expected around 6.15 pm, this was another late one!  

I did say 'Cool Pig' earlier, didn't I?  Great show though.

As a footnote, since returning home all I have been listening to is The Who and PF in all their various incarnations!

How could they open?

I don't think its possible to say you have a soft spot for The Who as they aren't that kind of band.  They are an in your face, 'Yer What?' kind of band.  As soft and cuddly as a crocodile really doesn't cut it but whatever expression it is, I do like them.  I like them a lot.  I'd bought tickets for their New York show last year at Madison Square Garden which they cancelled as Roger Daltrey had meningitis as given that he represents 50% of the remaining original members above ground, that particular show could not go on.  However they had taken the $7 million on offer to appear at Desert Trip and were placed on the final day -- so far so good -- but they were to open for Roger Waters and his Pink Floyd wannabes!!

The Who don't open for anyone!

Really?  These guys opening for someone else...???
Back in 1968, the Rolling Stones invited a bunch of different musicians and bands to their great Rock and Roll Circus.  Nobody wanted to follow The Who.  Same with Hendrix at Monterey in 1967 who supposedly tossed a coin with the Who to see who would go on first.  The Who went on first and the performance that followed included the famous stage destruction during "My Generation" which prompted Jimi to use lighter fluid on his favourite Fender Stratocaster later on.  (Take a look at the boys and Jimi in action below.  It's the disbelieving faces of the love children in the audience that get me!).

Amazing what you can do in 3 minutes!

Now that's pyrotechnics!

However I suppose that Roger Waters' show would be heavy on the lighting and effects so would be more likely to need darkness than the Who.... which was the case.

Pete said in between tunes that this was one of the most amazingly beautiful sights he'd seen on stage... and he wasn't talking about us old codgers but the lovely sunset
1. I can’t explain
2. The Seeker
3. Who are you?
4. The kids are alright
5. I can see for miles
6. My g-g-g-generation
7. Behind blue eyes
8. Bargain
9. Join together
10. You better, you bet
11. 5.15
12. I’m one
13. The rock
14. Love, reign o’er me
15. Eminence front
16. Amazing journey
17. Sparks
18. The acid queen
19. Pinball wizard
20. I’m Free with segue into the usual ending bits
21. Baba O’Riley
22. Won’t get fooled again

The setlist was of course a cracker!  All the big ones.  Lots of Who's Next, Quadrophenia and Tommy which was nice.  Rog's voice hung in well and Pete was his usual engaging self.  The reviews of the night were big on the political commentary during the evening, but that wasn't the Who.  It was Roger Waters later on.  All Pete said was "Interesting election campaign you're having".  Scarcely deep political commentary.  In England this is called irony!

Love the Quadrophenia film at the back.  Viv and I had walked along the top of Beachy Head last year.  Great view, wonderful music, terrific movie too. OK you need to be a Who fan ...
What a show though!  The Stones, Neil Young and Macca all had segments during which they improvised and improvised beautifully.  Pete did the same in this set showing that you don't have to faithfully reproduce what happens on the album to make a show great.  It has been a few years since I've seen the Who and I think that it is either my memory playing tricks or that they have held up remarkably well and in my book take #1 spot for performance of the week (I know I haven't written my blog yet on RW's set but whilst it was terrific, it wasn't as good as this one).

Backdrops for Behind Blue Eyes and Love Reign O'er Me
And of course they didn't do an encore.  They never do.  At least this audience wasn't as disappointed as the Charlton audience in 1974 when after 10 minutes of screaming, every can and bottle consumed that day by the 90,000+ attendees was thrown on stage.  Different time and place of course.

The team.  One old guy, one popsie and a young gun!  The Who were THE BEST!! Don't believe anyone else.