Big Audio Dynamite
Aug. 11, 2011
City National Grove of Anaheim
How do you know you're in the presence of greatness? That's a tough question to answer, especially when you're watching a front man who has been part of two majorly influential musical acts. The thing about watching Big Audio Dynamite's Mick Jones is that no matter what medium you see or hear him in, you're still somehow secretly thinking, OMG I'm watching one-fourth of the Clash!
Which makes you guilty, kind of, because B.A.D was hugely influential and definitely seminal (you hear traces of their work in songs by the Gorillaz to LCD Soundsystem) and Mick Jones spent more years in B.A.D than he ever did with the Clash.
It's possible that I was the only person who felt that way at the show, anyway. While the Grove was barely full last night (maybe half-full, I don't know), everyone who was there seemed like a die-hard fan. Mick Jones--with his thinning hair, wonky eyes and slightly stooped frame--is 56, and his band and most of his fans definitely were in that age range, but that didn't stop people from bouncing up and down in anticipation when Jones walked onto the stage in a suit and aviator shades.
With his signature slink-slide-shuffle on the stage, he seemed more hip grandpa than punk hero (he removed his cuff links to fold up his shirtsleeves, for chrissakes), but the first strains of "Medicine Show" came on and blew everyone away. Yup, the scintillating sci-fi samples were still there, the rolling bass, the reggae grooves and the devil-may-care delivery from Jones. It didn't hurt that the Grove has a stellar sound system, and the music sounded good from every spot in the room.
Most of the set list was composed of the 1980s material from BAD I, and for a group that's been broken up since 1997 (they only reunited this year) it was fantastic. No one missed a beat. When B.A.D (and various incarnations thereof) broke up in 1997 it didn't seem like there was going to be a chance in hell that they would ever tour again, but this year, they came out with the news that there was a new album (of which they played some new tunes last night).
They played "C'Mon Every Beatbox," and "BAD," among others, and then walked off the stage with everyone cheering loud enough for a crowd double our size. When they returned, the requisite hits were played: "Bottomline" and "E=MC2." And then they left again--but we knew, when the crowd roared its approval, that they were coming back with "Rush," possibly their most famous song.
Most every song B.A.D played last night made me think of my prepubescent past ("Rush" was one of my favorite songs as a 10 year old!), but that didn't mean Jones and company only traded on nostalgia. Every song they played held up, 25 years later, and made me look forward to revisiting them as an adult, rather than just reminiscing about the past. So how do you know you're in the presence of greatness? It's when their performance doesn't just bring you back, it moves you forward.
Random Notebook Dump: I heard Tony Kanal was at the Club Nokia show last night, but I didn't spot any celebrities in Anaheim.
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The Crowd: I may have been the youngest person there--and I am in my early 30s!
Overheard in the crowd: A fight between a dude who wanted to start a moshpit and a couple. And yes, they all looked like they were in their 50s.
Play Some Music
Rob Peter Pay Paul
Everybody Needs A Holiday
C'Mon Every Beatbox
The Battle of All Saints Road
The Bottom Line
Encore 2: Rush