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Saturday, July 25, 2009
Clap your hands: say no...
Jane Graham cheers Liam Gallagher's zero tolerance approach to clapping
"Get your hands down. This is Oasis, not fucking Simple Minds," snapped Liam Gallagher at a Coventry audience this month, briefly stunning the happy clappers into a confused silence, as if a shotgun-toting Omar Little had just stormed the stage at a John Barrowman show.
It could be noted that Liam's a bit late to insist on Oasis's bad-ass credentials; the horse hasn't so much bolted as trotted off for a Pimm's and a Cath Kidston picnic blanket. It was his brother who recognised years ago that success meant "squares" showing up at your gigs. Noel himself said he found Liam's latest outburst "hilarious but undignified ... You pay £70 for a ticket to be told what to do by the singer. He seemed determined no one was gonna enjoy themselves. Strange."
Noel is too soft on his lighter-waving, Cliff-tastic fans. In fact Liam's insolence places him in the rock pantheon right up with other contrary bastards like Kurt Cobain, Alan Vega and Bob Dylan. Liam's firm belief that he knows best what his band really represent, that he's striving for identity and integrity in a sea of fools might seem delusional or wildly egocentric, but his refusal to kowtow to his own fans is in line with an attitude that has long given rock music its edge.
With hindsight we can now see that the Jesus And Mary Chain secured their spot in rock history by bleeding audiences' ears then walking offstage to a wall of boos after 20 minutes. My Bloody Valentine still have a similar philosophy - the earth-quaking basslines known to have induced vomiting and fainting at their gigs enraged one health and safety-conscious reviewer in Toronto so much last year he concluded his review with "Fuck you My Bloody Valentine".
Kurt Cobain's disdain for the large chunk of his fans he found undesirable was well known; he told homophobes, racists and misogynists not to show up at gigs. And Cobain was warm compared to the hate-hate thing Billy Corgan has going on with his fee-paying customers, whom he likes to compare to blood-sucking ex-girlfriends.
Of course Corgan is a pussy compared to Suicide's Alan Vega. In the late-70s the bike chain-brandishing Vega was known to jump offstage and block the exit when people who weren't enjoying the ear-splitting maelstrom of feedback tried to leave. Touring Britain, he had his nose broken by one enraged skinhead, and narrowly missed a flying axe in Scotland. As for Dylan, it's pretty clear he got a buzz from transforming that famously decorous folk audience into an enraged electrified rabble. When his next generation of fans got too reverential he turned on them too, eschewing his cool reputation by preaching born-again Christianity from the stage.
Rock stars aren't there to provide a reliable, value-for-money service. Plumbers provide a service; rock stars are accountable only to their muse, their demons or their hearts. So next time Liam flips the bird, refuses to get on a plane or walks offstage, thank your celebrity stars that someone still has the spark to piss off his manager and leave his PR mopping her brow.
via L4e / guardian.co.uk
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