Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bloatermog oN gnikomS Just Aint Rock 'n' Roll: Last evening was spent at Mr. Kyps in nearby Parkstone seeing the Jimi Hendrix / ZZ Top tribute band, The Hamsters. They are a favourite, of course, and as far as Jimi is concerned, the closest we can get to the real thing in the live auditorium. We can, of course, enjoy watching ZZ Top 'in the flesh' should a tour be there to do so; but for Jimi, it's the records and DVD's, or The Hamsters.
This is the umpteenth gig I have attended since the smoking ban, and although a reluctant non-smoker myself since the heart op in '06; a gig just isn't the same without that fag smoke in the air. Yes, it's all fine and dandy, and we go home and our clothes and hair don't smell like an ash tray, but a lot of people, including me, share the same equation: heat + sweat + beer + cigarettes = a good gig.
Now, due to our Government and their smoking ban, (how did this get through as a Law? We weren't asked what we thought, were we!), a gig just aint a gig any more in the old sense of the word. It's just far too sterile. Rock 'n' roll has never been sterile; until now. Rock 'n' roll was having one hell of a good night out, drinking too much, smoking too much, possibly throwing up; and having a quick knee trembler with some bird you'd never seen before and would probably never see again around the back amongst the beer crates; and not remembering very much about it the morning after. Now, it's just about the beer, having the back of your hand stamped with an inky smudge so that you can get back in, and a quick fag under an outdoor lean-to which isn't that far away from the school bike sheds where it all started for most of us.
And in the days before the ban when I did still smoke, on a couple of occasions people approached and asked to buy just ONE ciggie, (offering 50 pence for it), because they had given it up but needed "just the one to make the gig a proper gig." Now there are no more 'proper' gigs, and outdoor summer festivals can't be counted because it really doesn't matter whether you smoke there or not.
And after being a smoker for 38 years and a gig-goer for 43, I must say I really miss that wonderful 'smog' which permeated the venues when a band was up there on stage giving it their all. And even they can't have a quick drag on stage any more, but they've probably got their own private bike shed outside the dressing rooms.
But the Law is now the Law, and with the smokers of the UK not bothering to rally around together and protest en-masse in Trafalgar Square and chaining themselves to the railings in protest; it went through and was passed as quickly as eating the proverbial tin of prunes. So, now we must put up and shut up and be content with the adrenaline rush we enjoy from the music, which, when all is said and done is the best drug in the world.
Perhaps we reluctant non-smokers are looking for a bit of passive whenever we can get it, but even the opportunities of that are dwindling by the day.

Hi to Barb Vowles who's company I enjoyed at The Hamster's gig.