Tonight, for the first time in a while, Travelling Companion and I went to a rock gig. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Rock music is odd, it turns out, mannered. Visceral.
Mannered: Handclaps. The tuning of the guitars (Rateliff would throw his white guitar to the roadie far across the stage, playfully). Each song of similar length. Introducing the band. The encore.
Visceral: The blues – tension – 4:4 – the backbeat – sax.
These are songs. They have words. The singer is the star. Unless you know the songs, you can’t hear the words.
I love it of course. As Thomas Beecham said, The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes.
Physically, Rateliff as a rock star offers hope. But I wanted to be the bass player, skittering cat steps across the stage in black drainpipes and pointed shoes.
Visceral means simple. It doesn’t mean easy. I was thrown out of the last band I was in in 2010 for not being good enough. Fair enough. I could manage the bassline of Another brick in the wall. I didn’t mind not being able to manage The show must go on (not simple) but I did mind that I couldn’t play, remotely fast enough, the bassline of Can’t stop loving you (gloriously simple).