Rolling Stones

Each week there is a meeting where we debate and decide the topic for next week’s Blog. Over the last few weeks we have found ourselves talking about all the awful things happening in our shared world. Indeed, there is little happy to talk about. So this week we wanted to try something that seems… normal. But it all seems so out of place. Please feel free to comment below about these articles.

Roger Bara

Not too difficult a task for me, as I’ve only ever been to three. Yes I know, for someone who has performed in so many concerts around Europe, including countless theatres and clubs, I have only experienced three concerts myself as part of an audience. Put it down to me preferring to perform rather than sit for hours just listening – (and fidgeting).

So, I can describe my entire lifetime concert experiences in one short blog, 

I was just 13 years-old when I was taken to see one of Britain’s most famous instrumentalists, and one of the greatest of all time, the cellist Jacqueline du Pre. Having been studying the cello myself for a few years, I was simply mesmerised at how someone could make the instrument sound so utterly beautiful; both joyous and soulful, indeed every emotion can be exquisitely accomplished, (if you have the talent!)

Three years later, while studying music A-level, my tutor took our class (all four of us) to the Royal Albert Hall for a night at the famous Proms. Beethoven, Stockhausen and Mozart I recall, with me following every note in a conductors score that I had in my possession. Interesting programme with two classical giants and one extremely avant-garde 20th century composer. Loved it.

Fast-forward to 1977, and to a John Miles concert at Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall. At that time, my resident band, (Live Connection, cool name, eh?) had just started covering his best-selling hit “Music”, and I simply loved his debut album Rebel. That night, his band played all the contents of the album and it was scintillating stuff. The sound quality was, like so many rock and pop occasions in the seventies, not what we would expect today, but neither was the entrance fee. A mere £3.00 if my memory serves me correctly. 

In more recent years, John Miles upgraded “Music” to include a massive orchestra and huge choir to great effect.

My favourite of those three occasions? It has to go to that first concert experience. It was in a small hall in Cambridge University, with barely 100 people attending. I didn’t know it then of course, but Jacqueline du Pre’s career was to be tragically cut short at the age of 28; she contracted Multiple Sclerosis, and never played again. But I saw her in the flesh at that concert, and will never forget the extraordinary unblemished sound emanating from her cello, while she was at the peak of her powers.

Just to prove how good she was, here’s her playing Elgar’s Cello Concerto back in the early 1960s.

It still sends shivers through me when I listen to this, and brings back memories of my unforgettable first concert experience.

The Concert 

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

I haven’t been to too many gigs in my life, I think, the overall number doesn’t exceed ten concerts. Most of the bands or performers were Western, some were Russian. 

If we talk about names, I’d mention Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patricia Kaas, DDT (a famous Russian rock band), plus somebody else I don’t remember. 

Of course, there’s one concert that stands out from this list, and this is the one and only Rolling Stones concert in Russia. 

Rolling Stones Lips

It took place on August 11, 1998, at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. The venue was full. The event was huge. I was 23 back then. Mick was 55, and his age at that moment to me was something like… too old. 

They performed all their hits according to the playlist, starting with ‘Paint It Black’ as it was voted by the Russian audience before the concert (I know that the German audience voted for ‘Angie’ and it, in my opinion, reflected the mood of Russians and Germans at the time).

It was a wonderful time, I was in the company of male and female friends, and it lasted for more than two hours. In the end, it started to rain but the Stones continued to perform. Even when it got stronger, Mick continued to sing. This was cool. 

My overall impression was overwhelming. I felt like I touched something big… Probably even bigger than life. 

P.S. The coolest thing is that two days before this happened, knowing already that I was going to the concert, I saw Mick and Charlie coming out of the Pushkin Art museum with some entourage around them. There were reporters, some bodyguards, and some crowd, too. I saw Mick from a distance of around two metres passing me by and getting to the minivan. He was smiling, looking downwards, and wearing a blue shirt. Charlie was in a suit. But that is a completely different story…

My Favourite Concert

Photograph of Dean Lewis

If you are regularly exposed to my putrid & decomposing articles, you already know I spent sixteen years in radio. Turns out you can be putrid on the radio too. There are a few benefits of working in radio and one is tickets to any concert you want to see. I can say I saw almost every major act from the 80s and 90s. Once I started to think about, it’s an impressive list. I was lucky to get to meet a number of artistes. Michael Jackson or the Bee Gees didn’t really need to speak to me. Remember, all the headliners had opening acts so I’ve seen many of the smaller acts too. I never got to see Roger play. My loss.

So now I’m supposed to pick one? Seriously? 

This is sooo subjective. It occurs to me that if I had a bad day before going, that concert would not be a favorite, even if it was great. There are a few moments that stand out:

  • I have seen Hall & Oates four times. I remember once going to the Men’s Room at intermission and coming out completely stoned. I wasn’t toking, but I might as well have been.
  • I went to see Chicago and some stupid teenage boy jumps on stage and hit Peter Cetera – hard. I have no clue why. Fortunately, the lead singer seemed mostly unhurt and the punk was quickly subdued by security.

It’s funny, now that I’m all old and pitiful, I remember these concerts in little, twenty second clips. Like a video highlight reel. Well, except for getting wasted at Hall and Oates. I really don’t remember that one.

I think the coolest special effects would have to go to the Stones at RFK (The Washington, DC American football stadium). For one song, they had these giant, blow-up balloon women above each side of the stage; these things must have been three stories high. Now that I think about it, if your SFX were as good as the Jackson-5, you pulled some deep dookie right there.

Maybe I should tell you about the one that sorta’ kinda’ disappointed me? That dubious prize would have to go to Bob Dylan. Now, now, I’m not dissin’ the greatest poet/lyricist of our time. But that’s exactly the problem; he comes out and does this quiet, thoughtful show filled with lyrics you need to listen too. Think about Dylan’s music: this is earbuds and eyes closed music that speaks to the soul; not a party in a big arena. You can see the problem; I came out the Restroom completely sober.

Sir Elton John

I think the show that I was most surprised by was Sir Elton. This was in the mid- 2000’s and he still has it! He could no longer hit the highest notes but nobody cared. The energy was still there and he could rock a party, even Crocodile Rock. He was in the middle of yet another iconic hit and was absolutely smoking the piano. He’s standing over the keyboard and kicks the piano bench behind him so hard it flew half-way across the stage and the entire arena leaped to its feet. 

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s my favourite concert. Not because it was the best but because it took me back to my school boy years. Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the soundtrack for my entire generation.