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the Pale

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Brooker / British Rock Symphony

11 March, Colnoial Stadium, Melbourne, Australia

The Ultimate Rock Symphony, Colonial Stadium, 11 March 2000 : Danny Katz

The Ultimate Rock Symphony is a monster rock concert featuring famous rock stars from the 60s and 70s; there're singers like Alice Cooper and Roger Daltrey and Peter Frampton and Billy Thorpe, all belting out songs from long ago; all struggling with the crappy acoustics of the new Colonial Stadium

The sound was no good: it was dull and muffled and boorny. Listening to this show was like listening to three hours of Gold FM with the volume pumped up till its distorted, and the radio tuned slightly off the station

But the performers made the most of the situation and the audience had a really good time; everyone enjoyed watching these guys prancing around the stage, screeching and swearing and sweating, doing their old-time rock'n'roll posturing, looking fit looking lively, LOOKING DAGGY in SOME PRETTY BAD FASHIONS loose-mesh T-shirts and too-tight denim jeans and lots and lots of black leather.

Paul Rogers from Free wore a complete leather ensemble: he had leather shoes and leather pants and a leather overcoat hanging all the way down to his knees - he looked like he'd just crawled up a cow's bum, climbed inside and stuck his head out of its mouth.

And it was great hearing them sing their big bits too: Alice Cooper sang School's Out and Roger Daltrey sang My Generation. The audience went nuts when Billy Thorpe came on and did Most People I know Think That I'm Crazy it was the highlight of the show. They were accompanied by a small symphony orchestra with strings and woodwind and brass. It was the first time I've ever been to a rock concert where the young guys in the audience didn't just play air guitar: they played air violin too . There was even one guy sitting down the front playing air French horn but he got a little self-conscious and he switched to air piccolo.

What the show ended up being was a kind of travelling rock'n'roll museum: it was an opportunity for young and old fans to go along and see what music was like back then - to see how electric guitars were slung low, and how bass-players played in that limp-wristed Toto-style, and how the mullet hairdo evolved from the frizzy-topped, shaggy look of the late 60s to The Golden Age of the Brush-Back in the mid-70s. And to check out a whole bunch of rock'n'roll legends on display, to see what they look like now. Peter Frampton's turned into a bald geeky guy with glasses - he looks like a whacky science teacher who plays a bit of guitar on Friday nights with his cover band.

And Gary Brooker of Procol Harum has gone all grey-haired and portly: he's like lovable old gramps from The Waltons with a Cockney accent. And Alice Cooper's more haggard then ever - he looks like your old mad aunt who lives on a commune in Lismore and collects bits of string.

The Ultimate Rock Symphony was entertaining: it was wild, it was funny, it was too long, it was weird, it was nostalgic.

But the let-down was the Colonial Stadium itself: sitting in the audience was like sitting in an enormous biscuit tin with someone banging on the lid with a stick. it was impossible for the performers to get a good sound out of the place and they were pretty pissed off about it. For that, they get my Ultimate Rock Sympathy.

Thanks, Chris Copping, for sending this to BtP

Gary Brooker's page at BtP

Rock Symphony programme with words and pictures

2000 Australia tour dates

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