Justin Bieber At The MSG & No Stomach AcheSaturday, February 19, 2011
|With my grandmother Lolita|
But all the above was kids stuff in comparison to a concert that I had to shoot for a CBC Records in the late 80s. Dave Chesney, the record rep got me the gig and even drove me to Tacoma. It was there that I first met the New Kids on the Block. Anything that I might experienced (and I did) back in Vancouver the night that the Bay City Rollers took over the bowels of the CBC on Hamilton Street (and they trashed their sumptuous room) was nothing in comparison to this band that features five boys that I could have personally throttled one at a time. The only thing that might have prevented me from actually going through that operation of elimination was the fact that their fans, howling female tweens and teens were a lot worse.
I was in a pit between the band and the howlers. The music and the howling was so loud (and I find it difficult to explain here) that I could not re-load my cameras (I used film then as I do now) because of the dim. I managed to re-load because of my pride. I could not fail Chesney who had praised me to the management. After it was all over I knew I would never have to face anything like that again. And I haven’t.
Sometime around 1950 (I was 8) my grandmother Lolita took me to see the 15 episodes of Superman with Kirk Alyn. I do not remember if I begged and nagged until she relented or if she simply volunteered to take me as she had a liking for, pirate, cowboy and war movies. All I remember of the marathon is being on the train with her on our way back home. I had one of the worst stomach aches of my life.
It is perhaps this unpaid debt to my grandmohter that led me twice to do something I really did not want to do. One was to take my granddaughter Rebecca to the first screening of Twilight in Vancouver and I followed that with taking her this afternoon to see Justin Bieber’s documentary film Never Say Never.
After having read the glowing (can you imagine that?) review of the film by the NY Times I immediately volunteered to take Rebecca. But she had made plans to go with her friends. When those plans all fell through, her other grandmother volunteered to take her to a multiplex where both would see individual films not accompanied by the other. I stepped in as I believe that nobody should go to the movies alone unless one is suffering from a sentimental dumping (to use the modern term for it) or one wants privacy for the silent acts that may accompany an “adult” film.
My sacrifice was no sacrifice at all and I knew this from the beginning. The only way I was going to get a first look at the Bieber phenomenon was to see the film by myself or with someone I liked I could share it with.
I can report that thanks to the fact that most American families video-digitize their offspring from birth (but there were none of those!) we saw all kinds of cute shots of the cute kid banging on toy drum kits, strumming guitars, rapping on them rather artistically, and showing somehow that the boy’s talent is not entirely just marketing savvy.
I have read often how the Beatles were not able to perform in later years as their albums (?) could not be replicated on any sound stage of any arena in the world. I can safely say with some gusto that if you pulled the plug on any of Bieber’s concerts, he could hold his own with an acoustic guitar or piano. And he could play a mean set of drums. There is talent there and, my granddaughter who ranted and raved in the back of my friend’s truck back in Austin, Texas in July 2010 that Bieber was the greatest (and had my friend’s daughter agreeing) has been proven right. Both Mike O’Connell and I will have to eat our metaphorical hats and I will have to buy Rebecca both the Vanity Fair and the forthcoming Rolling Stone. I do believe that if my granddaughter is going to read crap it should be first class crap!
I wanted to see Never Say Never because I wanted to know how it was that Rebecca had been exposed to the phenomenon. It was some 6 years ago that I took a course in Photoshop, not so much as to learn to use it, as to get into the mind of the teacher who was around 29. I wanted to know how my young competition thought and worked.
In Never Say Never I learned plenty and on top of that I was wowed by the almost unseen heroes of this film. It is the camera work that is fantastic as is the incredible crane shots used to take those 3-D takes that had me trying to push heads in front of me out of the way even though we were sitting in seats that had a very wide row in front. The heads were that real and right there. Then there were cameras that just out from the ledge of the stage that took skimming shots that were like none I have ever seen before. My friend Michael Varga, a CBC cameraman of note would be just as amazed, I am sure.
In all that I have read of the talented 16-year-old I have not read what I will write now. I don’t think it has anything to do with political correctness as the American press has no compunctions on the subject.
To me Justin Bieber is the white boy that Michael Jackson tried to become and never managed to be. “Corrective” surgery was simply not there yet. It is perhaps an example on how globalization has affected the melding of styles that you may have Japanese hip-hop sounding no different from the Mexican Variety. In isolation (it was hard to ignore the explosions and the 3-D lasers) watching Bieber is like watching a white boy dance black. In Bieber’s stage shows I saw black dancers doing black style dancing (with all the trademark handshakes and hugs) and the whole show had that hip-hop-R&B look that would make many an Alabaman and Mississippian (of the white variety) cringe. But not so! Once you saw the lithe and white Bieber in the middle. He could saddle up to Miley Cyrus (wearing a tight black mini that left little to the imagination in the 3-D closeups) and look comfortable or do the same with his idol Usher. It seems that Bieber is able to cross all colour “barriers”.
Yet most of the fan girls featured were pretty blondes and many of them had expensive braces on teeth.
I saw girls crying and I watched Rebecca just smile. I wonder what she would have done in an actual concert. Would she have cried too? Would she have held both her hands making a heart with thumbs and index fingers? If anything I noted that and audience of 50,000 will be wielding 50,000 glowing cell phones!
Rebecca asked me if I had liked it. Not wanting to seem to encouraging I answered, “I kind of liked it.” To which she said, “That means you liked it!” I guess she is right. She has many years ahead of her to choose, time and place, when she will see a film all by herself.
I wonder what Elvis would have made of Scooter? And what would have Scooter made of Elvis?