I observe, and discuss, the news regularly with friends.
Some have standard/linear/conservative thoughts about the content of the news; others (and the ones I prefer to listen to) often talk about, not the news itself, but the news behind the news.
Often, and particularly with my male friends, we talk about men in positions of power, and/or fame.
Often these discussions end up with opinions about the extremes which the media cast powerful males into- one minute they’re loved, the next they’re despised.
And often we end by agreeing that there is a typical arc of power/fame which intially propels males to glory before careening them downhill. Sometimes (but rarely) the momentum of the ‘careen’ is so strong that it ends by pushing the individual back into ‘glory’. What goes up, must come down (and then, sometimes, go back up again).
What odds would I have got five years ago (perhaps even a year ago) that Axl Rose would end up back in glory? His decline seemed almost Michael-Jacksonesque; a commercially ‘failed’ album, diminishing returns in concert tickets, an absurdly poor reputation for treating live shows like an Elizabeth Taylor tribute (late cancellations and walkoffs), regular changes in band line up, old band mates wanting little to do with him (slight exclusions here), a seeming snub to old friends at the rock and roll hall of fame, drunken meetings with fans and (some would say) a grow-old-disgracefully approach to his appearance.
And yet, here we are; just over the mid-point of the year with a seemingly reformed Axl; he’s made up with old friends, he’s redefined his public status, heavens above I even watched a recording of him being interviewed by an insurance company. This the man who caused a riot, and an airport security issue, just by being near to the press.
So what’s changed? I don’t suppose we’ll ever really know- but I’d guess that there has been something significant happen in the past couple of years; something which has made him really take stock of his life. Perhaps he’s found faith, or has new daily habits, or there’s been the death of a loved one.
Either way he does appear different. He des appear to have changed. It’s hard to imagine him now as the most dangerous element of the most dangerous rock band on the planet.
Looking at him on stage with AC/DC you can see a real warmth in him. He provides respect to
- the band (he’s on time, he sticks to singing the songs with minimal banter, he’s happy to take a back seat even as the front man)
- the fans (he’s on time, he sings brilliantly, he thanks them for their time, he does his best to not let his injury affect his performance)
- the songs (he’s on time… he nails the difficult vocals, he’s learnt the words).
I couldn’t be happier that Axl is being mentioned again as the ‘greatest frontman of our generation’ because he is. He changed music.
It’s such shame to only footnote the actual gig, but if you’ve ever seen ACDC then you don’t really need to read a review- you’ll know what they did; they rocked; they were soluted for it; and their guitarist played the most explosive style of blues since Eddie Cochrane. Brilliant.