Catherine Wheel in concert this weekend. Forgive the repetition if you’ve heard this from me before, but Catherine Wheel were one of the game-changer bands for me in the early 90s.
If memory serves, it was during this tour in 1993 that I saw them open for The Charlatans at The Hollywood Palladium. Both Catherine Wheel and The Charlatans completely turned my head around as to the state of live Pop Music in the early 1990s. Prior to that, in fact almost the entire decade of the 80s for me, was taken over by Music Videos and the majority of what I was working on constituted mainstream Rock – there were a number of exceptions, but for the most part, MTV became the standard of the industry and I felt music itself was suffering from it. It had become about image, rather than music – at least from the mainstream. There was a lot going on in other areas, but I wasn’t made as aware of it as I would have liked, being stuck on a soundstage all day, doing Loverboy and Styx videos.
So I was thinking music had, for the most part, stopped being vital and fresh – that it sank into a kind of doldrums, borrowing from itself to the point of diminishing returns.
When I stopped doing videos in 1990, I was left to catch up on what I had missed that wasn’t chart-oriented. So when I stumbled into The Palladium to see these two bands, I was immediately taken back by just how different things really were out in the real world. Everything about this concert reminded me exactly of the concerts I went to in the late 60s at the Shrine Expo Hall – all the way down to the phantom clouds of marijuana smoke wafting through the crowd and people sprawled out on the floor, absorbed by the sounds. They were here for the music, just as it had been in 1967.
It was at that point where I realized the timeless nature of music when it’s good – how the urge to create something meaningful and moving is just the same as it had been decades before. I felt as though I was time-traveling, but I knew the vast majority of this crowd never went to see Traffic or Cream or Hendrix – they were making their own set of indelible impressions because in 1967 they hadn’t been born yet.
It was at that point where I also realized it was crucial to keep an open mind about art and performance and the creative spirit. Because those things are constants – the approach to music changes, as it always has, but the intent; the spirit and the urge to get the message out are the same. And that’s why it’s been imperative that I cannot judge a band from 2018 based on my perception of a band from 1967 – just as I realized I couldn’t judge a band from 1993 the same as I had during the 1980s.
It still boils down to this: There are only two kinds of Music; Good music and Bad music.
However you feel about Catherine Wheel – and truths to tell, the mix on this show it a bit vocal-heavy, they were part of the wave of music that mattered in the 90s and a renewed interest and faith in the notes.