The Critic Flings
Silk capes, waving hands and the little corporal of music
22nd June, 2004
Last week, I declared my sudden urge to become a music critic. Not only would I have even more chances talk big, I would also
have something to do with my hands.
Hands puzzle me. Yes, the're a miracle of evolution, and Yes I'd rather not be loping around on all
fours being eaten by speedy trolls, but, hands, sometimes I just don't know where to stick 'em. There I am, standing around, I don't need to eat
or pee or climb a tree at that moment, so what to do with my hands? They just flop around my waistline somewhere, hanging
like embarrassed fish just south of my arms. They get in the way. They fit nowhere - not in my armpits, not in
my jeans pockets, and not, like a surprise present, in anyone else's pocket either.
Nor can I fling them around, willy-nilly, in the air to either side. I'm not some bloody Frenchman, you know, gesticulating
and weeping because his asparagus wasn't cooked right.
I noticed all this in recent weeks.
I've reached a certain age where I hang out in bars like a hidden pervert.
It's awkward. A pub used to be a place of fun and adventure. Now
I stand at the bar, and hope none of these lanky haired young people ask me for help with their homework. I keep my
back straight, shift one leg in front of the other, smile in a way that looks unconcerned rather than worried for my hairline.
Now, hoping that I am in a cool poise, I try to hold it till I think my hip bone is about to shear off.
With luck the music will start first.
My old friend Julien has re-invented himself as a glamour photographer. He's going to make it big taking shots of young Australian
bands just before they explode into the world scene. Then he will ride the wave as his pictures are snapped up.
I ask him, why can't you make it big as a glamour photographer of a more accessible subject, say bathtubs of naughty student nurses.
But he's adamant. Soapsuds are expensive.
So I go along to watch the bands. I am impressed. They play well. Not only do they write good songs, but they perform them
with mastery too. I went to see a lot of bands when I lived in Dublin for whom the difference between one note and another
was a matter of wishful thinking.
My hands fly around in time to the music. I grasp a beer and try to hold on.
And a Monocle
Now that I'm an international music critic all this has changed, of course.
I sweep into a venue like a fresh breeze of common sense, my seering glance and knowing sneer
cutting through the lanky-haired youth and all their affectation. Accountants in the making, every one of them.
I have no time for cool posturing. My hands have a purpose. I wait, a tiger. Ha ha, I love myself. I shall buy an important hat, and a cape.
Lined with silk. Red silk.
I don't like most critics. They do not do justice to their subject. Most reviewers become lost in thier own cleverness,
and more time in their review trying to show off than find a useful view of the artist in question.
Most of these young Ozzie singers have spent far more time on their music than I shall. I will try to be fair. Until I become
jaded, that is. Or someone offers me a bribe. Or...
There's a little tyrant in everyone.
I sat in the front row, looking up at the young woman with the guitar. Laura Imbruglia. I wrote notes. I looked tigerish.
I leaned back. I frowned in concentration. I needed red silk.
After her set, I wandered to the bar. She came down and started talking to Julien, Glamour Photographer. She asked
who I was. He told me about it later.
"And then I said, oh, he writes reviews. And she immediately froze. Looked frightened - and drew away!"
Power. Heh heh.
It felt good.
(My first two music event reviews are here and