The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


What do The Rolling Stones today and a lion taming act in a circus have in common ? Quite alot actually. Let me explain. When you see the lion taming you have to understand that, great act though it is, the lions and their tamer are pure artifice. The lion is portrayed as the king of the jungle, a fearsome man eating beast. The tamer is portrayed as brave hero, gallantly holding back the lion with nothing more than a whip and a chair, making this terrifying creature submit to his or her will and encouraging the deadly big cat to perform a series of dainty tricks. The problem is; both the lions and their tamers are in on the act. The lion is usually a hand reared pet who in the golden age of the circus often slept in the tamer's caravan. The tamer on the other hand knows that if the lion was really wild and ferocious a whip and a chair would be as much use as a feather duster. So what you have is a show, primarily for children, where real danger and pure emotion have been replaced with amused guffaws and theatrical flourish.

Nowadays, The Rolling Stones are alot like those circus lions, as far removed from the dark mystique of Altamont as our tame lions are from their forebears in the Coliseum; where they happily munched on Christians for the amusement of the Emperor Nero and his blood thirsty Roman subjects. For example, when Keith Richards stumbled on stage solo in the middle of the concert at Slane to mumble winningly, the audience happily remarked to each other, "Ooh, there's Johnny Depp's dad from Pirates of the Carribean 3'. See what I mean?

The band that played Slane last weekend wasn't THE ROLLING STONES, of myth and legend, it was a bunch of canny old men with one eye on the clock and the other on the money. A savvy bunch of pensioners who long ago realised that nostalgia and a well tended brand name can keep you going long after passion and sincerity have disappeared along with your natural hair colour. I admire them in much the same way as I admire those toothless lions and their beloved tamers, I even applaud them and when they have gone the way of the traditional circus I'm sure that the world will be a less colourful place but, do I feel anything inside when I watch them play ? Nope.

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Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.