tom briggs

Lieve and I witnessed a dazzling, glittering, hopelessly kitschy spectacle at the Marina last night. Johnny Kool, Johnny Soul, Johnny Rock, Johnny Rhythm, Johnny Be Good, otherwise known as Johnny Vegas (and his band) put on a hell-of-a-show. The very alter-image of the French legend Johnny Hollyday, Monsieur Vegas, in full Post-Elvis-Post Hollyday, Post-Authentic regalia was the sublime affectation of the Real Thing that the crowd was waiting for.

One could reasonably conclude that this latest incarnation slowly morphed into the Legend, never to return to his former self, or that he was born with sideburns, swaggered before he could walk and donned a leather jacket at least a few months before he first sat on a toilet. He threw away the rattler and the bottle for sequins and a mike at six months.

Amid the multi-coloured puffed steam that swirled through the warm June night air while his  wax-like glossy face and shoe-polished black hair glistened in the  bright overhead lights, Johnny and his band wailed away through one electrically charged pop hit rendition after another. Included in the medley were the inevitable Elvis, Neil Diamond, and  CCR hits. The appreciative Marina throng consisted of those standing shoulder to shoulder twelve deep around the platform and hundreds who were seated on the Parthenon-like stairs of the Commodore-Ducal entrance way. You couldn’t slide a Visa card between them.

During intermission the crowd was treated to a Theater of the Absurd-like exercise disguised as group dance performance. Dozens of seniors, attired in colourful dress, were energetically lost in a kind of Arkansas barn or line dance –  amazingly to the music of Stevie Wonder’s “superstitious” I scored the intermission show nine of ten on the Fellini scale and still cannot determine if it was the highlight or the lowlight of the evening.

Halfway through the second half I did a double-take as Jimi Hendrix tapped me on the shoulder. Convinced  that I was on something I didn’t know about or dead, I stupidly blurted out: “Are you a Jimi Woodstock like Vegas is a Hollyday” He snapped back with “What you on, dude? I play real music. Where can I get some rock candy, some base, some nuggets?”  He then disappeared as quickly as he had appeared, while the air still hung heavy with vapors of the joint he was smoking. Naturally, Lieve didn’t see or smell anything, though she admonished me in no uncertain terms for talking to myself. But we both agreed that Spikey was barking and Pepie was growling.

Other band members included an utterly miscast grey-haired 50ish guy who played the sweetest delta blues harmonica. He looked like he belonged behind a desk of an insurance company. Then there was a twenty-something long haired shirtless leather-vested electric guitarist, the type that keeps reappearing in untold numbers of rock bands down through the ages. He was real good. A sax player and a drummer offered their soul, skill and considerable energy to the two hour gig to round out the ensemble.

I  must say that the show was well worth the price of admission which was free. Wise cracks aside,it was a great show!

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