Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Man Review: Alan Vega

Alan Vega is like a coked up Elvis impersonator dressed in clothes taken from the set of The Warriors. He has the temperament of a pampered, fancy breed cat - one of those ones whose eyes bulge dumb like a goldfish’s, whilst communicating the cold, murderous instincts of a sea snake - and a mouth turned permanently down at the corners in contempt - like Robert De Niro’s mouth when he’s acting... no matter what the role or situation is.

I recall seeing him live in Madrid in 1983; I was -2 years old. He rolled on stage in the Technodrome, which he had hired for the Saturn Strip tour under the false impression that it was a giant Faberge egg. A metal gangway flopped out, pinning a steward’s hand to the stage. We all heard the bones crack.

Vega appeared in the doorway of the Technodrome shrouded in a thick backlit fog. He paused there for a moment, then pranced down the gangway, stopping at the end to put down the injured, screaming man with a clumsily aimed luger shot to the neck. Before anyone could react, he started singing his first song: Ghost Rider. It was pretty good.

All through the performance, Vega was given to sudden fits of yelping, barking. It was as though he was experiencing random low level electric shocks. He apologised to the crowd, saying that he was being overcome by 'the cosmic rays', that they were pinching his spinal cord. But who knows? Sometimes the fits and ejaculations blurred together into more sustained seizures, where any reasonable man would have believed he had been possessed by the soul of the Kraken, or had scorpions running underneath his skin.

Over the next half hour, he crooned softly for us to follow our dreams and spat insults at us for not following our dreams properly in equal measure. I had the feeling that when he looked out out, he saw not fans, but a festering congregation of mud monsters.

As American Dreamer stated, I found myself at the front of the crowd, almost slipping in the pool of blood that had oozed from the bullet hole in the dead steward. I looked down at my shoes; Vega must have seen me frowning because he stopped singing and came over.

‘Give me your watch,’ he said, 'I want to look at your watch.’ I just smiled, never having met an American before. 'Come on. I just want to look at it.’
‘Hahah-- Oh, what? No, I err…’

The music was still playing. He should have been singing over this bit. ‘Look at me… LOOK AT ME,' he said, 'give me that fucking watch.’

The crowd was becoming restless at my rear. ‘Give him the watch,‘ someone shouted. Vega agreed emphatically, ’YEAH, GIVE ME THE WATCH.’

‘No, I-- it’s my watch…’ I was being shoved and jabbed at now from behind. Those who couldn't reach to shove me, booed and whistled. Finally I unfastened the strap and held it up to him, shrinking back slightly as he grabbed for it.

He presented the watch to the crowd. They cheered. Then he pulled his upside-down Robert De Niro mouth and threw it down on the floor. He stamped on it repeatedly with his over-sized Cuban heels, at the same time locking me with a frightening kind of eye contact. Over the microphone he said: ‘that’s what you get for not trusting me right away.’ The crowd cheered and I heard the people behind me saying things like: ‘Alan Vega is one cool cat,’ and, ’I like his behaviour.’

Then Alan Vega finished American Dreamer. It was pretty good.

Here is a video of that, what I just described (most of my story seems to have been lost in the edit):

You should listen to Saturn Strip and all the Suicide albums.

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