Queen – Thirty Years : Sydney to Munich

Thirty years is a long time between fandangos.

Adam Lambert worships at the Church of May (photo: mlk.com)

The last time I saw Queen was 1985 in Sydney on the Australian leg of The Works tour.

I had followed their journey since my first purchase of a single — Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975, which still occupies the rockstar position in my record collection.

1985 seems like a lifetime ago, I was a fresh-faced twenty-year-old, but I remember the concert as though it was yesterday. “Spectacular” is merely one adjective.

Queen + Adam Lambert in Munich last Monday night was always going to be a different experience — Freddie Mercury’s absence, and John Deacon’s retirement from the band.

I was no stranger to Adam Lambert, having followed his 2009 American Idol journey, singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the audition, culminating in a performance with Brian May and Roger Taylor.

Lambert is no Freddie Mercury impersonator. A talented performer in his own right, possessing a rather insane vocal range and wonderful showmanship, he brought another dimension to the night.

It wasn’t Queen Karaoke — Lambert’s unique phrasing added another layer to the songs ingrained in music history. He brought a sense of playfulness — performing Killer Queen reclining on a chaise lounge, his powerful, arena-filling voice nailed Save Me and Who Wants to Live Forever, and he gave Queen’s time-honoured classics their due respect.

This wasn’t the Adam Lambert Show, he was the “plus” — it was all about Queen — Brian May and Roger Taylor were at the top of their game, enjoying performing to Queen fans and the new mix of “Glamberts” — deliciously indulgent solos demonstrating their extraordinary talent. The cliché “rock royalty” more than applies.

May mentioned recording in Munich — indeed,  One Vision (and the music video), Crazy Little Thing Called LoveAnother One Bites The Dust and Save Me among others were all recorded at Munich’s famed Musicland Studios.

Concert standouts? Hard to isolate one, but Freddie Mercury’s “duet” with Lambert on Bohemian Rhapsody had me back in 1985. Somewhat bizarrely, another of my favourite moments (or twenty two and a half minutes) was the background music playing before the band took the stage.
I always love that time — the audience is in place, the anticipation is building — everything is set. The piece of music was Queen’s atmospheric instrumental Track 13 off the Made in Heaven album.

It will be interesting to see how the fusion of Queen + Adam Lambert plays out.

Watch this space…

©Steve Williams 2015

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Down the drones

Remember those annoying radio-controlled model aircraft that were popular circa 1982?
Those whining, buzzing love children of a mosquito on steroids and the Red Baron that used to invade open spaces everywhere?

The ultimate drone-downing weapon

I remember playing club cricket many years ago and being continually buzzed by one of them.
Two blokes thought it would be hilarious to dive-bomb the batsmen. Hilarious until one of my (rarely) well-timed hook shots obliterated the flying bastard.

Drones are the new aerial annoyance.

I realise they do have benefits, taking out terrorist types, and the extreme opposite — so called “ambulance drones” providing oxygen to people caught in a fire, lifesavers using drones to spot sharks and rescue swimmers, to photographers shooting aerial photography and video.

That is potentially the problem.
Drones are like a flying version of Google Glass, with similar privacy issues.

An Australian woman sunbaking topless in her backyard was photographed by a drone operated by a real estate agent who plastered the photo on a billboard to sell the property of her neighbour. Noice.

There are many stories of privacy being breached, including a drone “pilot” being chased off a nude beach (for some reason I’m hearing the “Benny Hill” theme music.)

Enough. It’s time to take up arms against photography perverts, exercise our rights and our arms and down the drones.

The solution to these high-tech space invaders? A very low-tech weapon developed by the original Australians over 40,000 years ago: the humble, yet effective boomerang.

Think about it. Your boomerang will come back, and the drone won’t.

©Steve Williams 2015

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You’re un-Australian if…

To celebrate Australia Day, one gazillion rainforests have been slaughtered creating weighty tomes of “what it means to be Australian”. Bugger that.

As a Wattle-waving Aussie, I reckon you’re un-Australian if…

If you don’t know who this bloke is, you’re un-Australian

*You don’t use “yeah, nah” regularly in a sentence.

*You know the mysterious second verse of the Australian national anthem.

*You don’t return from a Bali holiday wearing a Bintang beer singlet and / or braided hair.

*You use the word “sheila”.

*You don’t know what Wattle is.

*You don’t know what “wanker” means.

*You don’t drown your meat pie in tomato sauce.

*You don’t eat meat pies.

*You prefer a Sauvignon Blanc with a melon and ripe gooseberry nose to a stubbie you’ve opened with your eye socket.

*You don’t know what a stubbie is.

*You don’t think Kylie is bunging on that pommie accent.

*You don’t know what “bunging on” means.

*You drink Foster’s beer.

*You call a “prawn” anything other than a “prawn”.

*You’ve never had a bindi stuck in your foot (not the Indian forehead decoration or Steve Irwin’s daughter).

*You like the song I Still Call Australia Home even with Peter Allen bunging on that crap American accent.

*You prefer to sit on the grass at the beach rather than the sand.

*You take a soccer ball to the beach.

*You call a soccer ball a “football”.

*You don’t think the lead singer of AC/DC is still “the new bloke”.

*You don’t return from overseas bitching about how everything is better / cheaper / tastier / bigger / less crowded / less smelly / less foreign than here at home.

*You don’t think Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh should be the national anthem.

*You respond when some bogan chants “Aussie!, Aussie!, Aussie!…”.

*You don’t know what a “bogan” is.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2015

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Christmas gifts that keep on giving (and other clichés*)

Left your Christmas shopping until the last minute? You slack bastard. Can’t think of what to get your annoying little nephew Trevor? (No, forget him, he’s a little shit.) Thank your invisible sky dweller of choice I’m here.

You won’t have to endure that stopping-at-the-bottom-of-shopping mall-escalators mass of humanity, and endless Christmas carols so bad you want to perforate your eardrum with a chicken skewer.

You’ll think all your Christmases have come at once with www.skymall.com – a vertiable one stop shop for all your Christmas needs.*

Always wanted a t-shirt that smells like bacon? Of course you have. Just stay away from rabid dogs.

Dress like a pig

Dress like a pig

Can’t say I’ve ever been tempted by time, whether Gothic, sexy, and / or crouching.
That definitely won’t change with The Gothic Temptress Calendar. Note the leather and S&M chains. Classy. Imagine having a meeting with some bloke with this on his desk. You would be tempted to ask if his views on women are still stuck in 1427.

Tempted? Er, no

Tempted? Er, no

I know what you’re thinking: “I wish some artisan would craft a bespoke Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculpture.” All that kneeling at the foot of your bed worked…

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln's lovechild

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln’s lovechild

Now, the piece of resistance. I give you The Zombie of Montclaire Moors as discussed on various late night TV shows. I assume the plan is you stick old mate in the ground next to your magnificent Double Delight roses and scare the bejesus out of young kiddies and get blank looks and eye rolls from adults. Go on, you know you want to, you always were the “wacky and zany” one.

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Go and sleigh him, Santa.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Phil Hughes – Forever 63 n.o.

Phil Hughes. What a wonderful story, other than the part after Tuesday afternoon.

image

The young cricket obsessed kid from northern New South Wales, moving down to the big smoke of Sydney to further his dream. And he did just that.

Phil crammed a hell of lot into his almost 26 years, living the dream of Australian kids to one day wear that baggy green cap.

I had that same dream, racing home from school, racing even faster through homework to get out to the backyard for imaginary test matches. “I’ll be Dennis Lillee!” The kids next door alternated between the Chappells. We’d play for a few hours then our mums would call us in for dinner. Stumps.

Great times. Then playing in a junior club team, getting a Stuart Surridge bat from Santa and a Kookaburra ball I would carry everywhere, polishing it to a mirror finish.

I spent many a summer as a kid watching my heroes at the SCG. I imagined walking off the ground, acknowledging the standing ovation from the crowd after a blazing century as the shadows lengthened from the Member’s Stand. Phil Hughes did that for real, five times.

Then life got in the way, for me, but not for Phil Hughes.

I obviously never had the relentless hunger, the burning desire and freakish talent that inhabited Phil Hughes. He made it.

All that work, those endless hours in the nets and countless pitches paid off. He earned the right to wear the baggy green and did it proud. The perfect fit.

This summer of cricket will sadly have a dark shadow, though Phil Hughes will forever be 63 n.o.

Vale.

©Steve Williams 2014

Gough Whitlam, Pauline Hanson and Me

I was only ten years old when former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unceremoniously dismissed from office in 1975, but his death last week had a profound impact
on me, as it did on so many other Australians.

Prime Ministerial amusement

I am not only sorry at his passing, he was such a towering presence — physically and politically.

Many in Australia mourn that Gough’s political legacy has been tragically trashed over the subsequent decades, by both sides of politics. I doubt we will see a return to those heady days.

I had the pleasure of meeting “The Great Man” years ago when writing radio commercials
at Sydney radio station 2KY, which at that time was owned by the Labor Council of New South Wales.

Former NSW premier Barrie Unsworth was the General Manager and was showing Gough around the palatial corporate edifice.

I was rather a fan of the Mambo clothing company. On the day in question, I was suitably attired in the standard creative uniform of a Mambo t-shirt, my wardrobe resembled a Mambo shop.

My selection that day was a satirical parody of the famous Australian match brand Redheads (apologies to Australian readers for getting the glove puppets of explanation out). In place of the flaming caricature redhead, my t-shirt depicted controversial (for want of an expletive) “politician” and all round embarrassment to Australia Pauline Hanson. The word “Redheads” had been brilliantly replaced by “Rednecks” with assorted contents and warnings as you can see.

After exchanging pleasantries with Gough, he looked down (quite literally) at my t-shirt,
smiled and said “Well done, Comrade.”

A memorable moment from an unforgettable man.

Vale, Gough.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Plane Genius – must have travel gadgets

Forget the Knee Defender – the boffins at Randomswill Laboratories have burst out of the shed brandishing these must-have airline travel gadgets. You’re welcome.

Armrest Arrester™ A small, surreptitious, skin-coloured taser that adheres to your elbow.
Bastard next to you tries to occupy your armrest? Hello 50,000 volts.
Ask our operator about the optional Fart Away™ attachment.

BO Blocker™ Say goodbye to gagging when Mr Businessman who reeks like he ate curry in a sewer sits next to you. BO Blocker™ is industrial strength deodorant you engage like capsicum spray on passengers who pong.
With BO Blocker™ their eyes may water for a bit, but they won’t stink.™

Sit The F*ck Down™ Cabin crew will love this. A magic lasso Wonder Woman style to rein in passengers who like to stand up and get their bags as the plane is landing.
“Hey! You in 24G! Sit The F*ck Down™.”

Luggage Lucifer™ A convenient, pocket-sized flamethrower that gives you the pleasure of setting on fire the luggage of the selfish a-hole in 14C who has crammed his extra luggage
in your overhead locker. Luggage Lucifer™ “Burn baggage, burn.”

Headrest Hero™  Don’t you hate those passengers who pull the back of your headrest every single time they get up? Hate no more. Headrest Hero™ is an adhesive velcro strip covered in thousands of tiny, barely-perceptible-to-the-eye razor-sharp needles. Headrest Hero™ “They’ll only do it once.”

Bogan Begone™ An ingenious ultrasonic Bluetooth device that repels singlet, shorts and thong (Australian footwear usage) wearing passengers who sport “mystical” Asian tattoos.
Narelle and Gavin will be instantly repelled, as will their bogan progeny Brihannna and Montannah.

©Steve Williams 2014

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A Fucking road trip (Fucking, Austria)

“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Fucking?”
(with apologies to that Bangor-loving band Fiddler’s Dram).

The very quaint Fucking village

Indeed we did. It is the first time I have typed the word “Fucking” into the car’s GPS system. Though I have directed that word towards it many times.

Setting out from Munich, myself and two esteemed media colleagues (let’s call them Jane and Phil) embarked on a day trip to Fucking, a village just four kilometres east of the German border.
Why? To quote Sir Edmund Hillary, (who possibly never went to Fucking), “because it is there.”
Also for the giggling, childish entertainment value. And the selfies.

Fucking is quiet, very quiet — it is a tiny, picturesque rural village, with only one hundred
Fucking residents.

I was expecting to see tourist coaches spewing out pissed Aussie bogans and English chavs,
intent on stealing the Fucking signs. Thankfully no.

There is not much in Fucking at all. There are no Fucking shops, no Fucking restaurants, not even
a Fucking hotel. The only Fucking living things we encountered were some Fucking cows,
one Fucking person and a Fucking dog, who was quite protective of the Fucking sign I was being photographed next to.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Gasthof Lindlbauer in the next village of Haid, with an interesting decor of former Fucking animals, though we still had a lovely Fucking view.
The very hospitable waitress asked if we’d come for the Fucking experience, and duly presented us with bottles of Fucking Hell beer. Prost!

On reflection, it was a truly Fucking memorable day.

The Fucking directions

This Fucking way

A former Fucking resident

Another Fucking sign

The Fucking end

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2014

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MH17 — Collateral Damage?

I’m lucky enough to travel quite a lot.
As a matter of fact, I’m writing this on an overnight international flight.

As I clicked my seatbelt in, my thoughts turned to the passengers and crew of MH17.

Like me, they would have settled in to their seats, had a drink or a coffee, watched a movie,
or caught up on some sleep. The crew going about their well-practiced routine of feeding and watering.

Some passengers would have been reliving memories of their holiday or business trip, thinking about what needed to be done once they got home. Those mundane things like the washing,
or back-to-back meetings. The kids looking forward to telling their friends all about their adventures, showing them the selfies they hadn’t posted on Facebook.

Then they were blown out of the sky by some lunatic bastards.

There but the grace of whichever mystical sky person of choice go I.

Was it the sick work of some random rebel nutjobs playing with a deadly new toy (“what does this button do?”) Hardly. The lives of 293 people obliterated in a war that had nothing to do with them and in a split second ripping apart those of friends and families on the ground, scattered around the globe.

The stories emerged of MH17, as they do, of the passengers, the chaos of the scene and reports of looting and bodies shown no respect, left for days in the sun.

Will the murder of all those on board make one iota of difference in Ukraine? Of course not.
It will be murder as usual. The victims of MH17 will merely be collateral damage.

To the passengers and crew of MH17, a Monty Python quote:
“What a senseless waste of human life.”

©Steve Williams 2014

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Rolf Harris: guilty of cultural cringe

I never liked Rolf Harris.

“When was the last time Rolf Harris actually went out here?”

Not quite true — as a young kid I liked his song The Court of King Caractacus. I’d enjoy the silly word play, giggling as the song sped up to its climax until I got the hiccups.

Now using the words “climax” and “Rolf Harris” in the same sentence conjures up disgust.

Many words have been written about his trial and conviction on indecent assault charges.
I’m not going to add to them, other than I hope his pathetically weak sentence is increased and the man rots in jail.

My dislike of Harris started long before his name was even linked to any wrongdoing.

Rolf Harris was too Australian, while simultaneously not Australian enough.
By that I mean he cashed in on and exploited his “Australian-ness”, though was too serious about it. He didn’t “take the piss out of himself” which would have endeared himself to the country he left, rarely returned to, yet made millions of pounds out of.

He was jingoistic at its worst — which didn’t go down too well with my fellow Australians.

It was so fake and as we say in Australia, “bunged on”. He was guilty of cultural cringe. I used to watch Harris painting his bog-standard landscape scenes of the Australian outback and the bush and wonder, “when was the last time you actually went out there?”

The Poms (and many Australians) lapped it up — this simple act of the misplaced Aussie overseas. Harris stuck to that act for over sixty years.

It turned out we couldn’t trust Harris, unlike British Paints that he flogged for years.

The sense of betrayal felt by English and Australian fans of Harris is quite palpable. Though this betrayal is obviously nothing compared to what his victims have and continue to endure.

©Steve Williams 2014

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