online: 29 june 2004
modified: 28, 29 june, 7 july 2004

27 june 2004 a rock festival

21:39 I arrive by semi-accident at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London... there is a rock concert being shown on large screen in the foyer/ballroom beneath the concert hall. It's for the audience who have just come down from a performance of Henryk Gorecki and Arvo Part's music by the London Sinfonietta - chosen by Morrissey as the finale to his week-long 'meltdown' (at the Festival Hall)...

[28 fragments, written hurriedly on paper - too dark and too fast to write on the handheld - so far I've transcribed and expanded 14, randomly chosen... I hope to add more later...]

Morrissey, probably live from Glastonbury now (or earlier this evening). There are surely about 100,000 people - endless faces to the horizon of the cameras.

The huge scale of it, and this immediacy at a distance - impossible without electronics - and without the tents, and tension structures, to the horizon... a mobile city of music.

'Wherever you are' - a favourite... a spontaneous cry from everyone as soon as it is announced...

Cost of such a performance?... say 100,000 people paying say 20 pounds (I believe Glastonbury is no longer free*) = 2 million total (or that order of magnitude - enough to finance all this expensive construction and electronics, and the music industry - it's become part of the system despite the integrity of Morrissey and other musicians...).

He closes his eyes when really into the sound (as do all real singers - they listen, rather than project)...

During each song the audience here in London stands, enraptured, while coloured lights sweep over us...

After each song he politely says 'thank you, thank you'... (several times)...

At one point he puts fingers into his ears and sticks out his tongue... (bad sound?)...

They know him, some sing along, with eyes closed... is that the social continuity, the essential reality, the collective memory of this vast event?)

He suddenly changes his jacket (but retains the same red shirt, wet with sweat, with open collar)... his new jacket is dark grey Paisley pattern, on black (is it silk?)... He even buttons it... (and he has no beer belly - seems to take care of his health)...

I notice few non-white faces at Glastonbury - but surely rock music is appropriated from black people, their musical and emotional response to slavery - now become the primary music culture of this troubled world... some may deny this but I think it is true, sad, and yet magnificent...

Brief view of a paraglider descending above the audience...

He scratches his chin, rapidly and compulsively, for about 10 seconds between songs... [disregards conventions of 'professional finish']

Huge gong (a tam tam?) to end something...

I've stood for 45 minutes - need to rest legs (I see an empty stool and go to sit there, closer to the screen).

Suddenly we see a transmission line tower planted in the midst of the Glastonbury audience... I have an immediate sense of economic compromise, of 'engineering before people'.

He sings (in) surges of emotion - while the instrumentalists pour our crashing streams and blasts of sound and percussion

In an instrumental passage he just walks about, swinging his arms...

to 28, plus a few notes written afterwards...

I hope to add more later - 'a significant part of the culture' and suchlike thoughts, huh?... as I read some of the websites about Morrissey I can feel myself becoming a fan!

*Kass Schmitt wrote to tell me that to go to Glastonbury now costs 110 pounds for several days - so 20 pounds per concert is perhaps a fair estimate if we assume that most people attend about five concerts.

She also tells me of Morrissey's unwillingness to share royalties with his co-musicians. Yes, money conflicts are no doubt frequent in the music business but nevertheless Morrissey is of a long tradition of musicians trying, and often failing, to attain a non-commercial integrity. I see no such attempt among engineers, lawyers, stock brokers, or of any of us in less well-paid professions and jobs... But what of teachers, doctors, nurses etc?... This is a difficult question and I hope to return to it elsewhere... Perhaps in the future only robots need be paid and people will be free to act without money and commercial limitations. A realisable utopia?

Thank you Kass! I await any further comment you may make.

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