Concert: Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows
I don't go to rock concerts much any more. I love the music but my ears can no longer stand modern amplification. I thought a Daryl Braithwaite concert last year had finished me off for good; great music, energetic performance, but ultra-killer amplification just about shattered my eardrums. So I was very wary when a friend asked if I was interested to see Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows recently on a Sunday afternoon at my local RSL club, here in Brisbane's bayside. I said yes, but with diffidence. Another rock music disaster in the making? This time, however, I went prepared: I took along a pair of industrial-strength ear muffs, as worn by jackhammer operators and leaf-blower owners. Would they work?
Joe and the Sorrows have, of course, been Aussie rock legends for yonks. Joe himself has been performing since the 1960s and is still going strong. A little older maybe (he is in his late 60s), much less hair, and probably more portly than he'd like to be, but boy, does he have the energy! Sometimes singing, sometimes playing guitar or his signature saxophone, he bounced around the stage like a 20-something rocker and had the audience, some 150 strong, in the palm of his hand. Gee, he worked hard. The Black Sorrows, four of them, were sedate by comparison, but know how to grind out the hard rock to fire up an audience. Great music from them all.
Sometimes, rock bands annoy audiences by only, or mainly, playing unknown songs from a new album they are plugging, while neglecting their old standards that the audience really want to hear. Not so with Joe and the Black Sorrows. Sure, there was some new material, but they also delighted one and all with many of their old classics – "Chained to the Wheel", "Harley and Rose", and "Shape I'm In", to name some. To shake up the mix a bit, they also threw in a few covers of other people's songs; Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" set the place on fire, while their last number, their encore, was the Rolling Stones' "I Can't Get No Satisfaction". All in all, a great selection.
Audiences at rock concerts are always interesting psychological studies. One half dances, the other half just sit and drink. One guy next to me didn't stir, or tap his feet, or do anything much throughout the entire concert, except drink. A couple, presumably husband-and-wife, on the other side of me, were a study in contrasts: he didn't move once, while she tapped her feet through the whole performance. She probably would have got up and danced if he had asked her, but he never did. Oh well, “there's nowt so queer as folk”, as my dear, late mother used to say.
Time is money, I guess, even in the rock industry. The show was advertised as starting at 4:30 PM and finishing at 6 PM. Joe and the boys started smack bang on 4-30 and concluded their one-and-only encore precisely at six o'clock. A punctual rock legend is, I imagine, a reliable rock legend, especially from the point of view of venue managers. It would never have happened like that back in the 1960s and 1970s, but I suppose things are different now in the cash-conscious, time-poor 2000s. Although I'm an old rocker, I rather like this change. It probably just shows I've become a BOF! (Work it out ...)
And as for my ear muffs? They reduced the killer bass amplification to a background rumble, while I could follow the rest of the music, and at least some of the lyrics, in relative comfort. I emerged from the concert with my hearing intact. So, they were a great success!
Maybe my live rock concert-going career is not yet quite over.