Last night’s feeble, geriatric, reverse mortgage ‘Concert for 12-12-12′ should galvanize all to overthrow the Boomers’ tyrannical claim to pop culture relevance.
Consider the bloated, self-satisfied pricing of tickets themselves: an actual event in Madison Square Garden selling tickets for $25,000 at the box office, no scalpers. One can only imagine the Boomers’ orgasms (without their pills, mostly psychic) induced by their Amex Black invoices. Telling that media focused on scalpers’ Craigslist prices, not the underlying rapacity itself.
Consider the hollow rationalizations to justify onanistic consumerism: only Boomers can afford $25,000 ticket, ergo a 1960s nostalgia concert bill. This ‘concert’ was a pretext for a celebration by the 1% for the 1%. Only cloaked. And the 99% rubes have some vague trickle down role to play – call now.
Too cynical? Some major American cities no longer support a broad-based rock radio station. Even abhorrent ‘classic rock’ is a dying niche. The non-Boomer vote with their radio dial dispatches rock and especially ‘classic rock’ to crawl off and die.
The cold calculation of forward brand positioning also stands out. It’s no accident, as the Sovs used to say, that we see Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder paired with a 69 year-old Brit, or shoe gazing darling Nirvana’s shards together with a wizened McCartney. Gen-X, stand at attention. You soon will be cogs in the nostalgia-celebration-exploitation machine. You’re just not liquid enough yet.
Springsteen and his now amorphous E-Street Band wobbled out first. Now largely immobile, Bruce tried projecting ‘sincerity’ and ‘presence’ to evoke when they truly, briefly led rock and pop culture. Seeing the comparatively limber 50-year old Bon Jovi on stage in juxtapose sent a powerful, but unintended statement.
If you remember the 1970s, local FM stations bleated about Pink Floyd laser shows in some planetarium. Roger Waters’ few Pink Floyd stoner classics doubtlessly launched thousands of reminiscences about Boomers’ favorite college bongs. Musically tight but a Pink Floyd concert never was really about music at all. As the kidz say, meh.
Bon Jovi’s set already fades from memory. Mercifully. He is not really for the $25,000 ticket class. But someone has to play to the $150 nose (noise) bleed seats. Chris Christie’s real home. You know?
Clapton, looking surprisingly spry, wisely avoided “Let It Rain”. His blues turgid yet too energetic to rekindle memories of quaaludes, heroin chic and stoned immobility.
Then the Stones. We’ve always said – back when it happened, not now when it’s ‘so obvious’ – that the Stones ceased to be a *good* rock band circa 1973 and the last Mick Taylor shows in Europe. For a while in the 1970s they were blatantly mediocre – something Jagger cops to now and then.
As we all know, Jagger and then the other Stones switched gears with the 1981 “Tattoo You” tour. Jagger decided if they couldn’t play reliably, they’d overwhelm with spectacle. And they got very rich.
No surprise their two lackluster songs offered good visuals. “You Got Me Rockin” remains an embarrassment as when foisted on us in 1994. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” even more shambolic and anemic than usual. Still, Jagger’s supranatural gyrations ensured an arcane, creaky spectacle. Appalling.
Alicia Keys gets the Billy Ocean award. You remember him? In 1985 when it was pointed out that Live Aid had no black artists at all, promoters glommed Billy Ocean to the setlist. He pathetically lip sync’d his then pop hit alone in front of the JFK multitudes.
Alicia as token woman underscored promoters’ original sin. Minor kudos for not choosing Betty White. Boomers might be puzzled at her brief and musically out of context set. How many watching thought “Oh, so that’s what I heard in Starbucks”? Or worse, remembered an Amex commercial.
Then The Who. Their incendiary, eruptive prime with Keith Moon continues to haunt them. Musically, this ensemble remains tight – perhaps the evening’s best. Daltrey’s voice is gone and Townshend’s low-volume Strat noodling glaringly far removed from halcyon days. The NYT loved it all.
Fellas, retire. You’ve nothing left to prove.
And so on through Kanye and Billy Joel. Kanye seemed defiantly gleeful as The Other Token Act, happy to contend with Alicia Keys for the Billy Ocean award. Billy Joel’s interminable set lulled Boomers to that special Hell when ‘Piano Man’ was as ubiquitous as ‘Stairway to Heaven’. For everyone else, it must have seemed inexplicable.
Next, Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband’s uniquely ball-less stylings added to the bizarre. Ordinarily, Chris Martin’s Cold Play John Tesh-isms should be banned from joining these bands, debilitated or not. Martin was perfect. Somehow, like Fellini-via-Simon Cowell, after everything before, the absurdity of it all invoked a certain manic, indiscriminate aesthetic abandon. Aural vandalism if you will.
Finally, McCartney. What better closing to the lunacy than a creepy, crinkled vampire trying to feast off of Nirvana’s remnants and rejuvenate his relevancy. And seduce them and their followers. Couldn’t they see his fangs?
His vampirism a warning and vision for the Gen X, Seattle shoe gazing alt rock fans. Macca’s siren call is to embrace affluence and self-absorbed nostalgia that keeps him alive. Become the new Boomers.
It won’t be easy for Sir Paul’s victims. The old mono culture is gone. Plus, Boomers’ bubble economies are toast. But kids, you can still focus on 401-ks and equity portfolios. Because, in the words of Monty Python, “One day lad, all this could be yours.” For now, it’s sufficient to follow wrinkled Uncle Paul and join in “Helter Skelter” — unironically, please.
Will any of the Gen-Xers on stage last night aspire to mince in their 70s? Inspiring their equally aged cohorts to shell out staggering sums for tickets? A huge industry is betting on it.
As grooming exercises go, surely last night’s concert marks a fine start.