I’ve not fully thought this through (I do intend to sometime) but I have a theory that the rise of social media has played a direct correlation in the recent behaviour of rock stars.
Think about it, in an age where most of us are all careful of the virtual avatar we create, and the content we like and re-share, god only knows how hard it must be for any rock performer to traverse the minefield of popular opinion and the reality that ‘in the moment’ performances will often be scrutinised years after the event on social media.
Whereas once we lauded rock stars for a certain style of behaviour (opening show hours later than they were scheduled to start, spouting controversial opinions, being drunk at 9 am) now we’re quick to judge/comment/share.
Certain behaviours, of course, have no place in today’s day and age; but what is it we expect from today’s rock stars; smiles and toeing the corporate message?
Regardless of the answer, it’s always nice to see some rock stars still living up to the rock mould; brave, self-righteous and utterly full of self-confidence.
Stepping up first is Alex Henry Foster, who’s performance (aided by the superb six-piece that is the Long Shadows) is filled with huge risks and significant determination. Playing only three songs in their 40-minute set, The Long Shadows music is brave, elongated and filled with progressive rock twists and turns; ‘The Hunter’ stealing the show with its huge rock riffs and progress into a double-drumming groove which stays with itself until a huge climax. Leading the show as if his life depended on it, Foster puts everything he has into the evening; challenging the audience to be a part of the show, not just viewers. Fearless and confronting, he is a true rock star and may well struggle for that very reason.
And just when you think you’ve seen the first rock star for some time, you end up on a rock star safari with ‘And you will know us’ all playing their reverb-heavy, highly-emotive, standards as if it was their last ever show. Driven by the determined guitar playing, and Northern Soul dance moves, of Conrad Keely, tonight ‘And you will’ are on superb form; soaring highest with intense performances of ‘Cauterwaul’, ‘Mistakes and Regrets’ and ‘It was there that I saw you’.
Led by heavy, shoegazing, soundscapes ‘And you will’ play what they want, how they want; with that very manifesto being the core reason to their success tonight. As we note, Rock stars, when they know what they want and they go after it fully, can perform magic.
If we’re not careful, we may be in danger of losing bands, and artists, like this who play and protect their art as if their lives depend on it. And we’re all winners when that happens.