Timeless qualities

Published

Gerry McKeever

During the Smashing Pumpkins SECC show last year, notoriously onerous front-man Billy Corgan responded characteristically bluntly to the crowd’s light-hearted boos.  Glasgow’s finest had ‘feigned’ offence at the mere mention of England, through a reference to Manchester’s legendary Joy Division.  Corgan responded by questioning the proliferation of worthy musical talent hailing from Glasgow, with the exception of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

In the barrage of suggestions that followed, one particular offering from a booming lager-soaked voice to my right struck me as unusual, prompting a quick check on t’interweb the next day. Yes, it was revealed, AC/DC are from Glasgow!

Well, at least a little bit.  Brother’s Angus and Malcolm Young were born and lived in Glasgow until they emigrated to Australia at ages eight and ten respectively.  So we can lay claim to at least a bit of the band’s sizeable musical heritage, now stretched to 15 studio albums, with the release of the chart-topping ‘Black Ice’.

This does, however, yet again raise the now-familiar question of ‘should old men play rock n roll music?’

Back out on tour to promote this new album, apparently AC/DC still put on a pretty bloody good show — Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene described their live performance as “so amazing”. Doubtless they do still obliterate ass, and given they are still producing new material, having always refused to release a Greatest Hits cash-in, perhaps AC/DC should be excused from the ‘give it up’ treatment.

Can the same really be said for all the bus-ticket headbangers still grinding out the tours?  If Keith Richard’s jowls get any less gravity-resistant he’s surely going to need to train a Shetland pony to carry them around stage.

Some of these ‘zimmer-frame’ performances incite a form of quiet pity in the audience, probably not the intended reaction.

The absolutely shameless Rock n roll sexual self-aggrandisement that does, and should go with the territory, usually comes across as virile, heroic and comic with a twenty-something tattooed guitar-god. But when the tattoos begin to creep further and further into the haggard flaps of wrinkly flab, this attitude begins to seem a little inappropriate, if not desperate.

Whether they are still genuinely fresh, exiting and cool, or just capable of decent self-karaoke, maybe older bands have just as much right to be part of the rock image as anyone. Given ‘Black Ice’ is flying off the record store shelves, having debuted at number one in twenty nine countries and having sold 1,762,000 copies in its first week of sales, it would appear that a pretty enormous portion of the music loving community certainly think so.