Monday, September 25, 2006

Virgin Music Festival, 2006

I have a really sore neck this morning, from the Virgin Music Festival in Baltimore. My wonderful wife bought me two tickets for my birthday, so we found a kind hearted soul who wanted to play with my four kids for the day, and drove up the Beltway into Maryland.

After parking the car about three kilometers away, we walked in the direction of the pulsing drums up to the pimlico race track, where the event was held. I felt a little old, hanging out with these kids, but we managed to sort of fit in.. (maybe?) Twenty Dollars for two beers was a bit steep...Old guy whinging at the bar.

When I was a kid, me and my brothers would be driven around town in our big red family van, and Dad would blast The Who on the crappy cassette player. We grew up singing along to tunes like 'Boris the Spider', 'Magic Bus', and 'Can't Explain'. When I heard that The Who were re-forming and coming to town, I just had to go. To be honest, I thought they would probably suck. I mean, when half of your band is dead, maybe it might be time to pack it in...

Well, I was wrong. When Pete blared out the opening chords to 'Can't Explain', the whole crowd (Not just me) just went completely crazy. It was a pretty amazing show, and the band sounded great - with Zak Starkey (Ringo's son) on the drums, and Pino Palladino replacing John Entwhistle on bass. Sure, these guys looked grey, but they didn't sound it. Although it was a bit amusing hearing Roger Daltrey sing " I hope I die before I get old..."

But the real reason I was there in sunny, smog-ridden Baltimore, was to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers close the show.

Seeing this band live is the most joyous, soul-restoring, incredible thing I have ever experienced. It's better than any drug I've ever tried, and is right up there with the birth of my children for sheer levels of emotional intensity. These guys are some of the most intense, honest and talented musicians in the world today. From the onset, Flea, Chad and John began to carefully improvise and craft this tasty funky groove that rung out across the arena for a few minutes - it sort of reminded me of a jazz gig - and then suddenly they exploded into the killer funk opening of 'Can't Stop', and for the next two hours, I was gone...

The whole show was incredible, but the highlight for me was John's solo in 'Scar Tissue' - I have never heard a guitarist wrack so much emotion out of his instrument. The poignancy of his playing reached out to my very core - like every note was being played just to me. The man is the greatest living rock guitarist, bar none. He can move you to tears.

Some other great moments - Flea's baroque classical Bach piece that sounded like Jaco Pastorius was alive and well ...the bassline from Fugazi's Suggestion making a surprise appearance in the intro to 'Give it Away'...'Me and my Friends', (because all the straight college kids around me had never heard it before, while I just went crazy) and 'Give it Away' itself, because it reminded me of my brothers, (whom I love dearly and miss terribly), and our last adventure to see the band. "Feeling good my brother gonna hug me..."

At the close of the show, Flea walked off on his hands, and I slowly started returning to earth.
It will probably take me a good three or four days though...

The greatest living rock band in the world. Go and see them. Give yourself up to the funk and let the music run your body for a few hours. Just go. That is all.

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