Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Everything in its Right Place

Live: Radiohead / Modeselektor
Osaka Municipal Gymnasium

They arrive in their thousands, crammed into air-conditioned train carriages, conveyed by escalator and elevator to the arena concourse.

Approaching the auditorium they form lines to purchase souvenir products embossed with slogans and logos which celebrate their heroes. Vendors stand to attention, expressionless and mute.

Buyers watch with self-conscious anticipation as barcodes are scanned and purchases placed into souvenir bags. Later the shrink-wrap will be torn away as t-shirts and compact discs are removed for inspection. They give off a reassuringly familiar aroma which proclaims a synthetic modernity.

At the entrance to the arena NPO stalls promote environmental causes. Keen-eyed young women seize the opportunity to press reading materials into the hands of concert-goers who have strayed in their direction. But mostly they stand gazing in resigned envy at the busy souvenir stands.

As they enter the arena, audience members are swallowed by the vastness of a space which drowns them in sublime anonymity. The dim lights on the ceiling far above resemble a spaceship from a Hollywood film. It threatens to touch down at any moment, engulfing and consuming the tiny individuals below.

The respectful silence of the crowd is broken by polite scattered applause as the opening act - a duo of German electronic musicians - approach their finale. A perceptible wave of excitement takes hold as the crowd anticipates the main attraction.

Sequestered backstage, the headliners complete their preparation ritual, mentally compartmentalizing familiar sensations of nervous excitement and ennui. When they finally appear they are dwarfed by their hyper-modern stage set.

Fluorescent tubes of white light reach down from the sky. Paneled video screens erected far above display multi-angle monochrome images of the performers' faces and instruments. Artful and precisely composed, they affirm the group’s sense of artistic experimentation, simultaneously proclaiming and - in their obtuseness - distorting the musicians’ celebrity status.

Digitized, assimilated, stored and adored on a million disk drives, the music begins. Yearning anthems contrast with the band's gorgeously combative avante-gardeisms. As the momentum builds, observers slowly enter a state of contented stupefaction.

The singer - a stubborn, uneasy star - remains tightlipped between songs. When he finally murmurs a brief “Arigato”, his cursory utterance is welcomed by a thunderous roar of approval from a sea of faces whose eyes are fixed on his every gesture.

He has accepted long ago the contradictions inherent in his position. He has embraced the freedom and limitations which adulation has conferred upon him.

The artistic explorings which have led him here tonight are beyond the wildest imaginings of those present. But none doubt the sincerity, the reaching for of their idol. He reflects the hopes, fears and insecurities they have projected upon him.

The pristine, numbing perfection leaves no room for surprises. None, in any case, are expected. Everything is in its right place. All that remains is a hushed, orderly migration toward the EXIT signs.


Anonymous said...

That is what it was like.

Anonymous said...

I mean he got the atmosphere of this type of a Japanese concert right.