Ok…now that I have your attention.
I traveled up to Sydney yesterday arvo, in preparation for the Velvet Revolver gig at the Hordern Pavilion last night.
My neighbour and I met up with our friend at his place and we got ready and jumped on a train into the city.
I love trains. Growing up in Sydney, I have fond memories of riding a train into the city, from Richmond, or Liverpool. All the way into Manly to go to the beach, or Central to visit the shops. In my experience they have always been clean, fast and easy to ride, but that’s coming from a irregular patron. Not someone who uses it everyday and probably hates it!
So we arrived at Central and decided that we would do a pub crawl to the Hordern because we had a couple of hours to spare. So off we trotted, during the home-time of many Sydney workers. We grabbed an outside table at our first pub (on Park Street. The Windsor I think it was?), and we proceeded to watch all the ‘beautiful’ people of Sydney. It’s a fun pastime doing this in Sydney because there is such a huge array of humans to look at. Not like in Canberra where it seems that everyone looks pretty much the same. Boring-arse bums that we are 😉
We finished our drinks and walked on down and towards the next drinking establishment. We found a small bar that our Sydney friend (a NSW Policeman) described as a ‘cop bar’. It was small and clean and we grabbed a window table and discussed women, high school and work. The 3 of us have been friends for a long time and this pub crawl proved to be a great way to catch up and discuss our respective lives.
So we downed our cold ones, stood up and off we went to the next pub. We walked down Oxford Street and gawked at some of the lovely dancing clubs and the eclectic mix of people in the bars and cafes along the way. We avoided most of the pubs on this street until we got closer to the Supreme Courthouse and went into a bar that is apparently used for post-judgment parties quite often.
This was a real old fashioned pub. A guy with a handle-bar moustache behind the bar, and the Sky Racing on the big screen gave that away. No Stella Artois on tap either so we all had our Carlton Draughts, discussed the craziness of Queenslanders and moved on.
As we neared Moore Park, and the lights of the SCG and SFS, we stepped into the Captain Cook Hotel for one last beer before we did the final leg. This was my favourite bar, mostly because of the cricket memorabilia on the walls, and the Rugby League flickering on the TV’s. It’s a bar that is often packed before a big game of cricket of league because it’s so close to the stadiums. We chatted about old friends, and sport and after one of my mates ‘destroyed’ the seal, we continued on through Moore Park and towards our final destination.
This walk, and the beers and the mates was a highlight of the day, but I was yet to see the band…..
As we got closer to the Hordern we noticed a smattering of people, mostly wearing black t-shirts and drinking some sort of grog. This was all we saw when we finally walked into Fox Studios and looked around. Firstly, there was a huge line-up of punters waiting to get in and there was a huge array of people. Most were wearing a band t-shirt of some sort. We saw Metallica, Pantera, Stone Temple Pilots, Motorhead, Slipknot, Rolling Stones (???), Rage against the Machine (like me) and of course lots and lots of Guns n’ Roses shirts. (seeing as though 3 members of VR are former members of GNR). We grabbed a feed at a quality Italian restaurant as the time drew closer to the start of the gig. I was keen as….very very keen and my anticipation grew at the sight of all the like minded Aussie rockers around me.
We paid for our meal and handed our tickets over as we entered the Hordern area. There was a big tent outside the pavilion itself and we walked through to the merchandise area just outside the entrance. My cop mate bought a VR t-shirt and the 2 of us Canberra boys a sticker. (we are poor) Just as he did, we heard the strains of the Screaming Jets starting inside.
I am a long time ‘Jets’ fan and I had been anticipating their performance almost as much as the major act. It was great to see Dave Gleeson running around on stage, whilst pumping out a selection of their classic songs. The guitarist sculled a beer as he prepared to play their ‘token’ slow song, ‘October Grey’. Then they belted into ‘Better’ and the crowd, who had been very quiet and still up until then, finally got in the mood and started to move. They powered through their most popular track and then finished off with ‘C’mon’ (one of my favourites) and the crowd was abuzz. They were great. I have seen the Jets play a few times and I had missed them. Will definitely have to catch them next time they are in town.
During the Jets, the 3 of us had been slowly but surely making our way deeper into the crowd and towards the front and centre area. When ‘Better’ hit, the crowd started to move and it was easier for us to move closer until we were about 5 rows back from the front, right in the middle. When the Jets finished, the crowd was noisy, excited and already very hot. There were all sorts of chants as we watched the roadies set up the stage.
There were chants of:
“Guns N’ Roses”
“We want Slash!”
“We want Duff!” (i tried to start this one)
There were even chants for Axl, but they didn’t last long…
The crowd was singing and revving up and then finally the house lights were cut and the concert began…..
The moment that Slash and Duff hit the stage, the crowd went crazy. That’s who most of us were there to see. The 2 original members of Guns N’ Roses that we had seen 12 years before at Eastern Creek, were back. They looked basically the same, but Duff was ripped and looking very fit. Slash had his trademark hair and ‘Jack Daniels’ singlet on. He always looks the same, but that’s the great thing about him.
Scott Weiland, (former front man for Stone Template Pilots and chronic drug rehabber) had an awesome stage presence. He came out with a german WWII style hat on and he was moving around the stage with a lot of energy and at times seemed to be almost mimicking Axl Rose in the way he pranced around stage. They kicked into Sucker Train Blues (the opening track on the album, ‘Contraband’) and they were rocking. I mean really ROCKING.
The crowd was intense. So much movement from side to side and front to back. It’s like being in a really hot, really sweaty washing machine with the lid down and no freaking air. The Hordern Pavilion is called ‘The Boiler Room’ during the Big Day Out, and that is exactly how it felt in there last night. SO hot. SO boiling and SO hard to breathe. Whatever it was, about 6 songs in (during Fall to Pieces) I was spent.
I have handled a lot of mosh pits in my day. Living Colour in 1993, at the same venue was one intense mosh. Last night overtook that. It was crazy. Maybe I’m just getting too old, and soft. But I scrambled my way back through the wall of people to the bathroom and just threw water on my face and down my throat trying to get some air and to catch my breath. It was hard. Even the bathroom was hot, sticky and hard to breathe in (for other reasons!)
But like the Rocker I am, I headed back to the pit, slowly making my way through the squash of people as a few more songs played.
And then Duff stood on the feedback speaker….and started the bass riff to ‘It’s so Easy’. Yessssss. I knew they were going to play some Gunners stuff and that was my cue to get back in there. So as the crowd went apeshit to the rendition of Guns n’ Roses material by this hybrid band, I was ducking, weaving, jumping and lurching back into the middle of the mosh, where I was before. Nevermind the dickhead crowd surfers, or the elbows to the head or the sweaty half naked guys. I was determined to experience the show and that means being in the thick of it. There’s something about being in a mosh pit that just makes the whole concert experience worthwhile. I mean, if I was just there for the music, I could play the CD really loud at home. I go to a concert to experience the music AND the crowd AND the atmosphere.
So I stayed in the middle of the pit as they continued their set, which included 2 encores, 2 Stone Temple Pilots songs, and of course, ‘Mr. Brownstone’. Brownstone went OFF. The crowd was getting tired, and the shirts were coming off, and Slash was on fire as they ripped through the classic Gunners track.
They finished off with ‘Slither’, with the crowd yelling the ‘Yeah’s’ in unison at the right moments, and Scott seemed quite impressed. The show wound up. The picks and drumsticks were flung out. (I was THIS close to getting Duff’s pick TWICE. Dammit!) Slash had already said we were the loudest crowd he’d seen, and Velvet Revolver were gone. And the crowd was left, a stinky, sweaty, hot mess on the floor of the Hordern.
My Rage Against the Machine shirt had a rip in it. I pulled it off as I staggered towards the exit and wrung it out. A flow of sweat, water and beer (splashed on me during the show) splashed onto the floor as some random chick watched me. I grinned at her as she screwed her face up with an “Ewww”.
Comments of “Awesome show” and “Best rock show ever” and “OMG, I just saw Slash on stage” and “I can’t believe I saw Guns n’ Roses members on stage!” (from a teenager) were heard as I walked out and met up with my mates at the designated tree meeting place. My neighbour’s Metallica shirt had been ripped straight through, and my cop-mate looked bone dry.
We staggered back over Moore Park and towards the city, stopping at a servo for bottles of Gatorade. We swilled them down, replenishing our fluids and feeling a little more human, and then cabbed it on home.
Not a bad effort for a bunch of nearly 30 yr olds, but I am still feeling trashed tonight, I tell you what.
So it was a great day and night, and a concert I won’t forget in a hurry. The ringing ears, the bruises and the headaches are just temporary pains. They are just little things to remind me that I had a great night…