Arts Centre Gold Coast
Saturday 19 April
Surfers Paradise on a Saturday night. The Easter crowd has descended upon Cavil. Bright lights and crowds are about as warming to me as freshly picked cherry tomatoes. Everybody else seems to love them. I would rather slam my fingers in a draw to the beat of Britney Spears pop.
Tonight is registering a distinctly different emotive response. I am calm in this zone. I am excited. Helped along by stuffing myself with sugar-dense and caffeinated treats. There is a legend in town and I would rather give myself diabetes thAn fall asleep in his presence. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Mr Kris Kristofferson.
A quick google search of this man is simply not possible. His legacy is enormous. Kristofferson’s accomplishments are probably unmatched by any other man in the business of music. I spent just brief minutes surfing the web before taking off for the big event. Most of this knowledge had been passed down to me by my father during many a boozy music education session.
A Rhodes Scholar, a helicopter pilot for the US armed forces, actor, music hall of fame inductee and … the lover of Janis Joplin upon her untimely death. Even with this resume, few people jump out of their seats when I mention taking on the privilege of sharing his performance with Blank. So how about this perspective… You know Johnny Cash? Willie Nelson? Yes… well Kris Kristofferson LED these men in the 80s country music supergroup HighwayMen. Like the Captain America equivalent for music gods hailing from the legendary post-Vietnam Era. Are we awwwing yet?
Back to the gig. With all young people distracted by some sort of Bluesfest down south, it is myself and a couple hundred senior citizens bothering the friendly staff of the Arts Centre. I can feel the stares of disdain as I pounce up the steps. A careless display of youth which comes with being the only attendee with both original hips. Just kidding. My experience with such crowds is the overwhelming positive encouragement for celebrating what a lot of youth are missing today. Talented performers free of hubris. Most likely why most people kinda, sorta but don’t really recognise the name or face of this giant.
I claim the ticket and scour the crowds for a character who looks a bit like Santa on a summer holiday. My old man is by the bar with his partner in crime. Bob and Bill. Both with scotch in hand. Perfect! I had purchased tickets for these fine gentlemen as a Christmas present. Upon greeting I am lifted by their spirits. Not the spirits in hand, the type hidden in the eyes. A school boy type anticipation is stirring.
We exchange all the usual banter. Weather, Gold Coast chicks, motor-boating is even discussed. I am both proud and ashamed to be with these old trouble-makers. The Kristofferson facts and figures are thrown about. My old man even recollects the specific moment he first heard the man’s poetic voice. A Gene Hackman film of old. I can’t recall the title. I am quivering with excitement. I wonder what I have done right in my life to be on the cusp of witnessing this event. OMG, I need to pee.
Once inside, I find myself seated next to a friendly younger couple. Sixty years young to be exact. More Kristofferson gossips are exchanged. The word privilege is used over and over again. Right up to the moment the lights are dimmed. As he walks out, I am enthralled by the power of audience response. Kristofferson waves it away, stands up to the mic and begins immediately. The crowd goes wild. Seriously wild. It’s awesome! How are they making so much noise?!
My head races with words to capture this moment. I am desperate to share the enormity of this one man show. Harmonica, acoustic guitar and a soothing poetic song. Wait, how old is this dude? The thoughts are incessant, repetitive. It’s at least three songs deep in the set before I am able to settle and absorb this atmosphere. Another two songs before I can calm enough to hear his words. Before I know it, he has announced intermission. More a necessity for the gushing light-headed crowd. Kristofferson has probably gone back stage to do push-ups and finish solving the challenge of world peace.
As I exit, I summon the attention of a professional looking lady with a walkie talkie. I swallow my juvenile squeals and fake a professional demeanour. “Excuse me, I am a one man reviewer without photographer. Is it possible for me to get a photo of Mr Kristofferson on my phone?” She talks to her talkie. Within seconds a large man is schooling me on the photographer’s etiquette. I look stupid and honest enough to be given a second chance. He leads me to the front of the room to meet security. “This man will come down to get photos during the first song”. Security shakes my hand and I run out to share the news with Bob and Bill.
Outside, the crowd is pulsing. Bob and Bill look high. The schoolboy glean is so bright I genuinely feel like I’m talking to teenagers. Very fat, very old, very grey teenagers. There is no lingering doubt about the quality of this spectacle. The genius title is thrown about and agreed upon by all. I run away again, I gotta pee. In minutes I will need to stand up front and get photos of this man without passing out from awe.
So the rest of the night… well, sitting front row for the second half is a phenomenon too powerful for meagre words. I could see the pattern in his boots, hear it tap as he worked through the remainder of his enormous playlist. I believe this tour was to celebrate his 253rd album. Well, a mild exaggeration, 23rd perhaps? Check it out for yourself at kriskristofferson.com. There is also a movie recently released which he stars in. Check the preview for The Motel Life.
A big shout out required for all the accommodating staff at the Gold Coast Arts Centre. The crew at Blank for helping me get to this show and all residents who attended. What an honour it was to share this moment in time with ya’all. Peace out from Blankman.