Tag Archives: Black & White America

“Are you gonna go my way?…”

Where have I been? On faraway travels, loves lost, loves found, saudades killed, new music discovered, bassists pursued and dreams uncovered. But first I need to bring you up to speed, on the last couple of months..

Think of a band or artist that you love that has been with you since puberty. That holds a special place in your heart and was one of the soundtracks to your existence. That for me was Lenny Kravitz. Living in England, during my teen years and suffering with a room covered in wallpaper I wasn’t allowed to surround myself with images of the bands that turned me on and rocked my world. The only sacred space was the back of the door and there, among few others, hung my poster of Lenny Kravitz. This poster:

God. Damn. He wasn’t the first to introduce me to the connection between music, sex and fantasy but he was a key player and his albums were on constant rotation. So imagine my excitement when I discovered Lenny was touring Australia (barely) for the first time in EIGHTEEN years. Slightly offensive though, I mean Australia isn’t that far away when you have your own private jet I’m sure you can do more than five shows in a country so large.

So I flew to Melbourne. On a weekend that crammed the city with less desirable folk (St Patrick’s Day and the Formula 1) and room rates inflated higher than Kanye’s ego – even hostels weren’t accepting anyone for less than two nights – I decided that being on a tight budget I would pull an all-nighter. No friends to fall back on, no lovers to use I was a girl alone with no real idea of Melbourne nightlife and hoping to make one-night friends or at least meet a few people who could help me stay awake. Flying to Melbourne solo on the earliest flight possible on a Saturday I wanted to make the most of a full day of shopping and sightseeing before going to see my teenage dream. In hindsight it wasn’t the smartest idea going to sleep on Friday midnight and waking up at 4am on the eve of an all-nighter. But I’m always one for learning the hard way.

Putting everything into a locker at the train station and putting on my dancing shoes…

These bad boys. The perfect girl-alone-in-a-big-city shoes. UNIF Hell raisers.

Being alone, means if you want prime position and you want to drink, you need to get your booze (four can maximums suck) and then stay put. Unless you came prepared and brought a flask – which I didn’t. But you then run the risk of needing the toilet an hour in and having to hold on for over five hours. Yes, this is extent of my dedication when flying solo…

Wolfmother. I saw them 3 maybe 4 years ago when they were an awesome three piece in one of the dodgiest neighbourhoods in Lisbon in a rundown club with a crowd so into it that there were arms and legs everywhere as people were hanging off of the rafters. I’m not exaggerating it was epic. The keyboardist and bassist at the time Chris Ross was at one point bent over at the waist, keyboard on a precarious lean so sharp it was almost sideways, playing a keys solo and picking the frenetic bass at the same time, sporadically slugging his beer when he could. EPIC.

This show, with a whole new cast of members – minus good-old Andrew – was more tame…

My fellow comrades. Note the immense distance separating the fan-poor from the fan-elite. In the right side of the photo you can sort-of see a bit of white amongst the black showing the back of the elite seating section. No-one respected any kind of seating arrangement so the minute the bands started all of those who could afford it ran to the front leaving us at the barriers a good 30 metres away from anyone. If they were worried we’d be throwing bottles or attempting a jump-over there were plenty of vigilant security and they still could have moved the barrier a good 10-15 metres forward. Just saying, I couldn’t have felt more isolated, distrusted, cold and slightly left out, as those at the front were really rocking it at the front of the stage and we, at the back with such a huge gap away from it all. If the pictures look quite close might I mention I have x18 zoom on my camera and it was at it’s limit. Alas no close-ups…

   

The gig was good. Not epic. They have this hairy, seventies rock aesthetic with the majority of the band, but then their drummer Hamish (from band The Vines) looks like the guy from My Name Is Earl.. if you’re going for a “look” it should be cohesive – not relevant you say? What incredibly successful band had everyone look cut from the same cloth bar one person? If you’re trying to sell me something be cohesive is all I’m saying. Andrew, Vin, Elliott and Ian had a look; long hair, flares, porno-tash, velvet and florals, looking like a band. Hamish; jeans and tee, looked like the fill-in drummer. Your killing the visual.

About the gig? They are better suited to smaller venues. Not tiny clubs but not so open, I know bands reach a level where you can never really capture that same magic as before they go popular, but definitely not a venue where the crowd is cut up. Their enthusiasm and charisma that they took a few songs to really reveal, didn’t carry very far unless you’d happen to be right in-front of them. The crowd around me didn’t really get into it. Andrew Stockdale seems more at ease onstage as a frontman but it’s not ‘Andrew S and the groovy 4’ it’s Wolfmother, I should be vibing off of everyone.

The Cranberries. Not gonna lie I didn’t get many great shots due piss-poor low light conditions and being completely captivated by Dolores’ voice…

They were, she was, The Cranberries are amazing. I may have teared up for Linger. She was captivating all in black but midway through she changed her shoes to some sparkly, sequinned cons as she boogied/slid along the stage. Zombie conjured up a spine-tingling sing-a-long as Irish flags were procured from somewhere and swung about.

Ok. So this looks a lot further back than we were. BUT you can still see how separated the crowd was from each other. Booo music is supposed to bring people together…

And then, there was light…

Lenny FUCKING Kravitz. In the flesh, breathing the same air, looking at me… (not really). But total charming, smooth-suave-criminal, badass, sex ba-bomb. What a performer.

Let Love Rule. Mr Cab Driver. Always On The Run. Stand By My Woman. It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over. Are You Gonna Go My Way. Believe. Rock and Roll is Dead. Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind.

Fly Away. Black Velveteen. American Woman. Again. Where Are We Runnin. Calling All Angels. I’m sure I’m leaving a whole bunch of newer songs out but all I cared about that night where highlights from ‘Mama Said’, ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ and ‘5’.

He was incredible, such an amazing performer who really connects with the audience and makes you want to jump the barrier and mad dash to be closer to him. I managed to refrain myself.

^^ Same picture. One illuminated with camera phones, the second with them removed. Which do you prefer? I prefer the latter.

Being such a fan of Kravitz but not someone who really delves too much into a singers personal life (I’m all about the music) I had no idea his father was white-Russian-Jew and his mum black-American-Bahamian-African. Before the song Black & White America he spoke out about his family and his life, and against racial prejudice stating that his mother was black and his father was white and even though they faced violence and prejudice they loved each other and fought hard against the world to be with each other. During the song he had a photo montage playing of his family and himself as a kid and it was really, really awesome…

I felt really connected to the song even though my fathers not black but Moreno and my mother’s white, primary school wasn’t the funnest place to be for me when I first started and ignorant little girls are confronted with someone different. It was cool to see him be so passionate about something and really sharing with the crowd.

During the end of the set, while singing ‘Let Love Rule’ Kravitz got the crowd chanting “LEEEEEEEETTTTT LOOOOOOOVVVVEEE RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULLEE” over and over and he jumped off the stage and – surrounded by security – proceeded to walk up to where I was…

You can imagine my excitement, being right up on the barrier as he got, closer and closer…

..And then I got absolutely crushed. I don’t know how many people jumped on my back and all heaved forward, while (what felt like) a hundred hands shot forward around my body and face and I got enveloped in the rush. Not only did I not get to high 5 him but was incapacitated to take a decent photo of him being less than a metre infront of me. I was crushed physically and mentally, it was so upsetting. A moment you wait for, for eighteen years and then glory hounds who hadn’t had the patience or the dedication to camp at the front of the barrier gang-rush you and take away your moment. Next time I’m wearing spikes on more than my feet, I’ll be head to toe punked-out so no-one escapes injury before they try that again. I was undoubtedly upset. Here’s my last shot before nearly being cut in half by the barrier…

The End. My one bug-bear was that he didn’t sing one of my teenage favourites ‘I Belong To You’… I know shocking.

After an exhilarating three band show and being only 11pm at night I then had to face reality that my night wasn’t over. I had to go out and party till the sun came up and kill time till my flight at 3pm in the afternoon. Another “in hindsight” moment is that if you pull an all-nighter it’s probably a better idea to get the first plane back. Because not only did I party as hard as I could solo in Melbourne meeting many men who were happy to keep me awake and dance and chat but also gained the affection of one man that had every one of my nerves on end and my women’s intuition screaming to get away from. Think Christian Bale in American Psycho. A suit-man with a lot of money, who claimed to know what I’m all about, talking absolute tosh and upon learning I was pulling an all-nighter offered his south bank apartment to me. Doesn’t sound very creepy but this guy was extremely intense. Needless to say I ran away to an R’n’B club – that almost didn’t let me in, as my shoes were considered a deadly weapon – and spent the last two hours sitting on a leather couch watching people grind up against each other and trying not to fall asleep. Come daylight I realised that in booking my afternoon flight I had failed to factor in that it was a Sunday and nothing was open till 11am. This meant more wandering the streets for hours and when I finally managed to sit down at a decent cafe for some coffee and breakfast, nearly head slammed the table as the 4 hours sleep in two days was catching up with me and I was doing that embarrassing startled-snapping awake thing.

My bed had never, ever, ever felt so good when I finally got in it. Needless to say though it was totally worth it, I had one of the most adventurous nights in a long time and I proved to myself that I’ve still got it in me to test my physical limits and party very hard on minimal sleep.

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