This concert, on 14th December 1986, before eleven thousand people in the Sydney Entertainment Centre, was the last in a series of twenty seven performances covering all of Australia… You are joining the concert after the interval, just as the eighty eight-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is heard and seen for the first time on this, the last night of the tour…
There are absolutely no overdubs on this album.
Taken from the liner notes of the album, released in 1987.
Those words give this performance quite a build-up, don’t they? Twenty seven performances covering all of Australia, an eight eight-piece orchestra behind him, the last night of the tour. It was reportedly the first time anything like this had been attempted by a pop or rock artist and it took months and months of rehearsal, Elton himself paid a heavy price for this performance. During the tour, which began in in Brisbane on November 5th, specialists discovered nodules on his vocal cords, and he would go for surgery on them within a month of leaving this stage. Elton has since said that there was a very real fear that the last song he sang that night in December ’86, would be his last ever; Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was then, a rather fitting choice.
Brutal and Beautiful; John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band
As music goals go, John Lennon had it right; start a band, change the world, don’t hang around for people to get bored of you. It’s a simplistic way of looking at it of course, and it minimises the beautiful journey that everyone went on, the Beatles were after all the twentieth century’s greatest romance.
In 1970 John Lennon was not inviting passengers, he wasn’t even really looking to tell any stories aside from his own, he was stating his own truth. Plastic Ono Band, released in December of that year is his truth. It is harsh and brutal and beautiful all in one and the listener is meant to feel all the sharp edges because the man himself felt them all too. Plastic Ono Band isn’t for everyone, it’s almost as if the listener is a scruffy urchin, perhaps an Apple Scruffy urchin, standing on the roadside wanting to hitch a ride with the driver, and the driver has to pick us up because no one else will. We are merely catching a lift, it’s not our journey and we don’t have to go to his destination, but we are on the ride for the duration of this album at least, as uncomfortable as it may be.
When Queen took to the stage at Wembley Stadium, they were the biggest live attraction in Britain if not the world, Freddie Mercury was at the top of his form, and the crowd at Wembley roared in his hands. The Live at Wembley Stadium ’86 DVD and CD set is, without doubt, pure class and worthy of a place in anyone’s record collection; in terms of live recordings, this is historic.
I’ve been watching and listening to this event since I was a kid. My parents had videos full of music videos and concerts and I must have watched them all to the point of wearing them out when I was younger. Dad taped this one from the Channel Four broadcast, it was taped after David Hepworth talked to David Hepworth on the Born in the USA tour and before a Prince’s Trust concert but…I digress. The point is, I didn’t have to re-listen / re-watch this to write any words about it and I make no apologies for saying it’s the absolute bollocks of live documents.
We really should thank our sweet Lord that the song writing partnership of Lennon and McCartney frustrated George Harrison in the later, troubled years of that band they were in. You know that band; you’ve heard of them, I’m sure. There was John, Paul, George and that guy who voiced Thomas the Tank Engine and doesn’t do autographs anymore (peace and love, peace and love). The Beatles.
To quote Lennon, he and Paul “carved up the empire” between themselves because at first George wrote one throwaway song for each Beatle album and by the time he got good, the group was losing interest in being ‘fab’. This frustration at being overlooked is something that Harrison turned to his advantage. When the time came to deliver the statement that was his debut solo album; All Things Must Pass (1970), he had a huge backlog of songs to include.
I’d Have You Anytime was written whilst hanging around Bob Dylan after the unhappy White Album sessions with those Beatles. Whilst Dylan wrote some of the lyrics it’s perfect musical representation of Harrison because it features George’s favourite chords, or in Tom Petty’s words ‘the naughty chords’; diminished and augmented that just drip from the song beautifully.