As you read this, the economist and I will be winging our way to Auckland to attend his first ever rock concert. “Yes,” he says, speaking slowly to display reluctance, “A. Rock. Concert. The Food Fighters, have you heard of them?” He is not looking forward to it in the extreme, hating in equal measures large groups of people and loudness. “The things you do for love,” he sighs. A birthday is the occasion for this enforced musical appreciation, a pugnacious lawyer friend turning 50 has bought 80 tickets to the gig at Mt Smart Stadium. “I actually hate you a little right now,” said daughter Sophia when I told her. Ah, the envy of your children. Is there anything sweeter?
Obviously a man of grand gestures, and mule-stubborn, our benefactor once painted his Dunedin chambers a non-heritage-specific blue (first re-naming the building after himself), telling the council to get knotted when they tried to make him change it. “You think I'll stop?” he said of the ensuing and protracted legal wrangle. “I'll never stop. I love this.” You guessed it, the building is still non-regulation blue. Its quite nice.
However, let us leave architecture, shall we? And turn to music.
In an almost scientific example of opposites attracting, as well as pillows and candles, the economist has long loathed my preferred listening pleasures, declaring my favorite rockers the sort of sounds, “favored by people who kick each others' heads in at three o'clock in the morning.” Tsking, as he does, every time he gets in the Camry and finds the station changed from Radio New Zealand National (“How will we know what the drachma's doing?!”) I thought it best to acclimatise him – rather the way divers gradually get accustomed to deeper and deeper water, thus avoiding the bends – by playing nothing but non-stop rock at home over the last two months.
“Is this the Food Fighters?” he asked.
“Foo Fighters. No, its Rage Against the Machine.”
“He's a rather angry chap,” he said, of Queens of the
Stone Age front man Josh Homme. “And I can't hear or understand the lyrics. Would it kill these people to enunciate?”
The Foo Fighters proper left him cold. “WHY doesn't he want to be your monkey wrench?” Horse to water and all that, I wasn't getting anywhere. Plus, the economist has severe personal space issues (unusual for man who takes up so much of it). “I hope its not too noisy and I can find a little area where I'm not squished up against strangers,” he said. “The foyer, maybe.”
Because I am a serious journalist with impeccable credentials, I naturally contacted Foo Fighters' management, SAM, or Silva Artist Management of California, in the hopes of organizing an interview while we were in the land of Sky City overspends and million-dollar state houses. Nothing. Undaunted, I emailed New Zealand's preeminent musicologist, Grant Smithies, asked for tips, and followed them religiously. Zip.
I called Frontier Touring. Friendly as she was, there was a wary note in the voice of their marketing manger. Perhaps she sensed a lusty undercurrent? An air of impropriety? I'll be honest, I am a completely in love with Dave Grohl. I almost wasn't after watching the documentary about the making of their latest album, Sonic Highways, where he comes across as a bit of a mild-mannered librarian. Still, if he would just stick to drumming and playing guitar and screaming into a microphone, I would marry him in a heartbeat, provided the economist died suddenly and tragically (and hopefully painlessly).
My interview dreams transparently an excuse to get up and close with the only man in history to make leather wrist bands sexy, just so, my untrammeled imaginary wedlock must have oozed down the phone line. “Sorry,” said the tour promoter.
I promised not to lick him.
Oh well, it takes the pressure off, leaving me to enjoy the economist's loss of innocence. “Rock. Concert.” he repeats, at intervals, like one stunned, as our departure date draws closer. Picture him, if you will, wincing at the mayhem, the sole Hawaiian shirt in a sea of black, holding his phone's assisted light aloft and pretending to know the words to Everlong. “Rock. Concert.”