|Do you think you could have made it on the CBGB stage?|
An Ideal Venue
by Jo Michelmore
I know, I know, there you are, happily thinking away to yourself, "Now, if I was a pop superstar, or a rock god, where would I like to play most? Let's see, would I play a huge arena to thousands of people or would I play an intimate club to only my most devoted of fans?" It's a question you ask yourself all the time isn't it? Along with; "What is it with that Sheeran guy?", "What to have on my toast?" and "Which Gaga costume is actually my favourite?" The big question running around your head is about your ideal venue. Don't worry, you're not alone, I think about it all the time too. That and "When is Coldplay going to just stop?" Since its Vintage Thursday, let's have a look at some of the great venues some of the greatest peeps of our times have played and maybe you can answer one of those questions you're always asking yourself.
CBGB's, New York
Your fantasy self starts dirty. It's just the way it is. You know, you've got to have a story to become fantasy famous, so you start somewhere. You picked right. CBGB's was legendary in certain circles. It was originally named after the artists that were going to play there: country, bluegrass and blues artists, but what it turned into was far from those genres. In its day, it hosted some of the greats of punk and new wave; we're talking Blondie, The Ramones (I know! Guess what? They were a band, not just a t-shirt!), The Misfits, The Cramps, Talking Heads, then later on people like The Police and Pearl Jam played there. Legend says the bathrooms were awful, the neighbours were homeless and the sound system terrible, but that's all part of what made it such a haven for the musicians and punks of the day. It (sadly) closed in 2006, but there's a movie in production about the legend of it and Taylor Hawkins (of the Foo Fighters) will play Iggy Pop in it, which I'm kind of excited about. So there you are, your punk fantasy self, I can see you now, in your ripped t-shirt and your messed up hair and covered in band aids and sticky tape. We're going to have to find you some fantasy punk band members. Sid Vicious anyone?
Carnegie Hall, New York
Just for something completely different, your fantasy self changes career dramatically and starts dreaming about Carnegie Hall. No one saw it coming, but amazingly your fantasy self is not only a big fan of punk, but also a really good jazz singer. Crazy! Of course, you have to play Carnegie Hall, built in the 1890's (wow, we're talking serious vintage here now, aren't we?), it originally hosted orchestra's until the 30’s, 40's and 50's when things got good. Really good. We're talking people like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, appearing on the elaborate and stunning stage. Can you imagine her amazing voice echoing around the hall; "make it one for my baby and one more for the road", just phenomenal. Don't know Billie Holiday? Ok, think Beyonce, think Christina, think any current r'n'b singer with the remotest amount of credibility, they've all had some Billie influence. 1930's too vintage for you? Ok, how about Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige even Jay-Z? They've all played there too. So your fantasy self plays Carnegie. You're fantasy self is going to have to get some credibility and some serious soul and maybe some voice coaching too. Oh no wait, you were born with that talent weren't you? Yes, fantasy self, of course. You are going to have to find something fabulous to wear though. We're talking serious fabulous and get your hair cut. A venue built in the 1800's demands you look classier than ever before, alright?
Royal Albert Hall, London
You've played the US, so your fantasy self heads on over to the UK for a bit of loving for your English fans. Wherever do you play? Of course, since you've just come from Carnegie, you want somewhere just as divine; let's hit the stage at the Royal Albert. Opened in the 1870's, this one is going to demand another fabulous outfit, ok? What will you play? Well, it seems it's genre of your choice really, considering who has played here before you. You know, only people like Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Who and more recently, Adele and Jay-Z. Why is your fantasy self following Jay-Z around? You're going to get yourself a fantasy restraining order at this rate.
Wembley Stadium, London
Royal Albert was nice and all, but while you're in London, you may as well just play a giant gig to please all your fans at once, instead of just 8000 or so at the Royal. You know, with your fantasy popularity you'd have to play night after night after night anyway, so just play a couple of gigs at Wembley instead, yeah? Get it all out of the way quicker and there's nothing like playing the stadium gig anyway. Even though it's a new stadium now, built on the site of the old Wembley, the grounds have still held the music of so many amazing acts. Some awesome vintage (and not so vintage) names like Madonna, Oasis, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, INXS, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Queen, Johnny Cash, Foo Fighters and you know what? Apparently they even play some sport sometimes there too. Weird. Your fantasy self is walking in the footsteps of some pretty impressive acts there. Can you handle it? Of course you can. You can also wear whatever you want at this venue. Anything you want. Your image will be splashed across some giant screens though, so your fantasy audience can see you from waaaaaaaaaay up the back. Make it impressive.
Right, so your fantasy self has played all sorts of places then. Where to next? That’s up to you, isn’t it? Tokyo Dome, Slane Castle, The Ritz, Élysée Montmartre, The Sydney Opera House; it’s your fantasy self, you can play anywhere you want can’t you? My fantasy self? I’m going to Germany to Batschkapp to play where The Pogues and PJ Harvey have been. I’m going to play on a random night in September and I’m going to have special guests Amy Winehouse, Shirley Manson and Johnny Depp sing backing vocals for me. Johnny Depp, I know. It’s my fantasy, alright? Johnny Depp appears in all my fantasies. What of it?