#1 From the Moshpits of Megadeth
Kasabian, BabyShambles, Goldie Looking Chain
and Snoop Dogg
Megadeth were part of that huge Eighties sea change within metal which discredited a bad rawk music scene which promoted notions of man-machine omnipotence, a scene avidly supported by stupid guys with big hair and small cocks. Along with the likes of the Chilli Peppers and Guns N'Roses, Dave Mustaine's crew suggested that heavy metal could once again become a music enjoyed by collegiate types or by those who knew a thing or two about politics, punk rock, heroin, real women, or funky black music.
Up to a point. For sure those bands were willing to express solidarity with the likes of the Sex Pistols or The Ramones but, while the Chilli Peppers proved to be fine fellows, while G N'R turned out to be punky fuck-ups, Metallica and Megadeth (brother bands) pandered to the same old cock rock macho fantasies beloved of small town jerks everywhere with sexuality problems. Missing in action since Mustaine injured his arm in 2002, Megadeth are out touring again in support of a comprehensive program of repackaged CDs, DVDs, and live albums. Mustaine now fronts a session band made up of longhaired hired guns and has signed the band to Sanctuary, a label that specialises in picking up Old Guy acts who still appeal to niche nostalgic markets.
London's Astoria is one of the moshing capitals of the world and Megadeth were back there on February 9, 2005. There was a lot of frantically furious music but there was no moshing. The audience was a mixture of grizzled morons reliving the halcyon days of heavy metal thunder and nice, pretty kids well educated in the roots of nu-metal and hardcore. Mustaine announced that he was going to play for at least two hours and, true to form, was back in his dressing room after seventy minutes. For all the mock heroics and bombast, the music was great. The morons cowered at the back of the hall - out of time and out of condition - while the kids down the front sort of stood and stared. This audience had way too much respect for what is essentially an enjoyable circus act.
Kasabian, BabyShambles, Goldie Looking Chain
February 10th I went transmetropolitan to the Brixton Academy, the place where I've had more fun that it's decent to have anywhere except in the bedroom, to see Kasabian, Pete Doherty's Babyshambles, and Goldie Lookin' Chain. Doherty is the best thing to emerge out of the U.K. scene since Shane MacGowan or The Stone Roses but he didn't make it to Brixton because he was either in jail or in rehab - I can't remember which. Last time I saw him, his music broke my heart and the Babyshambles show after that - at the Astoria - resulted in a full blown riot because Pete didn't show. He is the ultimate 2005 London zeitgeist.
In his absence the other bands entertained a crowd of student yokels being groomed for suburban life by the lethal cocktail of reading the NME and listening to the faux-indie radio station, XFM. Kasabian sound a bit like Genesis with a mellow hip-hop beat. The yokels when crazy for them - it was just like a trip to IKEA. There was loads of hopping and jumping from bourgeoisie on a spree. Goldie Lookin' Chain look like provincial rent boys and provincial dope dealers. Like much of what passes for British hip-hop, they're a total disgrace, Beastie Boys meets Benny Hill. London is, for the first time ever, giving rise to interesting urban music right now, the hugely creative Grime of Kano and Dizzee Rascal. The likes of GLC will hoover up money from the pockets of the protoplasm who surrounded me in Brixton, people so dysfunctional in the live music environment that they passed their time, while their band was on stage, sending text messages to one another or staring glumly at their phones. I was lucky to escape with my life.
Snoop Dogg brought two uncles, one nephew, a live rhythm section, and enough attitude to light a cigarette to the Hammersmith Apollo on the 11th. I'd been going to shows for three nights solid so I needed some fresh inspiration. I'd come to the right place. With his smoking habits reduced to two ounces a day, Snoop promoted his new album and played all his old school hits like the incomparable master musician that he is. He no longer serves up perfect replicas of his old tunes - now they get a good trashing from the heavy-on-the-snare drummer and are delivered with no particular reverence or delicacy. He is moving on and up and in and out. The crowd was vaguely multiracial. Lots of Nike-ed up white homies, prosperous looking well fed black kids, and a fair smattering of lonesome Pakistani boys. One of them couldn't understand why I wanted to see Snoop again since I'd already caught him four times in concert. "It's the occasion of a lifetime for me," he said. "A one off." I reckoned this was an interesting and truly hip-hop attitude. "Well," I explained, "It's the occasion of a lifetime for me, too."
I told no lie.
Joe Ambroses's book, Moshpit Culture, extreme travel writing from within the moshing subculture, is published by Omnibus Press.
Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.