Tuesday, 8 May 2012

'Ultimate Power': A whole lot of leather, leopard print and (Meat)loaf

Life in the small village in the Midlands where I grew up was not very rock and roll.  Not counting the five village pubs, nightlife options were a bit thin on the ground.  Fortunately by the time I was old enough to be interested in such things as bars and nightclubs I was at school or university in sizeable towns or cities which could usually stump up an appropriate place to throw some shapes of a late evening.   But from the age I was old enough to operate a record player (probably making a godawful scratchy mess of my parents' LPs, sorry guys!) I was hooked on music.  An Accidental Family anecdote details my first attempt at swearing, when I was not yet three years old, on being denied music to listen to in the car on a family holiday.  I would spend afternoons flicking through my parents' record collection, flicking over most of it (having little interest in Gilbert and Sullivan or Olivia Newton-John; what was she doing in there, parents?!) but playing to death a handful of vinyl.  There were two ABBA albums which got a pretty thorough listening, but my favourite of the lot was a black-covered album, with bright yellow lettering spelling out the name: Life in the Fast Lane - 16 Classic Rock Tracks.  And my, but they were classic!

From the minute the claps pounded out of my parents' old B&O speakers and John Farnham began to sing 'You're The Voice', I was blissfully happy.  REO Speedwagon, Heart, John Parr, Bon Jovi, Huey Lewis & The News; the gang was all there.  I would dance like a maniac to Kenny Loggins' 'Footloose', my favourite track on the album, right in front of the record player so that I could reset the needle the second the music stopped.  And even when I grew up, left home and I moved to London, my love for American power rock persisted.  Whitesnake thrashed through the headphones of my iPod as I commuted.  Billy Idol became the soundtrack to my runs through Regents Park.  One of the Flouffes (the ex-Accidental housemates) and I used to enjoy flat-cleaning sessions - glass of wine in hand - to the strains of Celine Dion's fiercest power ballads.  And many of these nights spent hoovering and scrubbing to Celine were as much fun as some of our nights out spent boogieing to Eurotrash dance beats.

Recently lamenting a lack of rock and roll in our nights out (and frankly our lack of nights out in general of late) my ex-housemate and I resolved to remedy this sad, sad situation.  And so off we went to 'Ultimate Power' at Camden's Electric Ballroom - London's remedy for the power ballad deprived.  Having booked our tickets horribly early - the event sells out swiftly - we then spent two whole months planning our outfits.  Unlike many venues or events in London, Ultimate Power positively encourages the donning of ridiculous costumes; the bigger the inflatable instrument, the higher the hair, the blonder the mullet wig, the better!  We stocked up on neon, faux leather and hair-spray.  We donned leopard-print and leggings, and applied lashings of eye-liner.  We were ready to rock.  As were our fellow Ultimate Power goers.  Rock band t-shirts abounded (although I wondered how many Rolling Stones songs many of those claiming allegiance to the band could actually name), rhinestones glittered, and ludicrously skin-tight clothing hugged the bodies of the crowd that filled the Electric Ballroom.
On our way to Camden, an Accidental friend had confessed she was worried she wouldn't recognise all of the songs that would feature during the night ahead.  But once inside, as she instantly recognised the familiar strains of 'Love Is A Battlefield', such fears were allayed.  On a raised stage at one end of the Ballroom, DJs cranked out rock anthem after rock anthem, each new song being greeted with a crazed scream of 'Ohmygodilovethissong!'.  Either side of the decks scruffy guys in t-shirts and jeans air-guitared and head-banged furiously to Queen, Foreigner, Alice Cooper and Meatloaf, whilst a third hurled inflatable microphones and guitars into the bouncing crowd yelling along below.  Within an hour we were stationed right in front of the stage, hot and sweaty from busting our best rock moves, sticky from spilled drinks, and loving it!  Confetti canons were wheeled out and fired at strategic key changes, and smoke machines shrouded us in so much atmospheric fog we might have been in a Bonnie Tyler music video.

We rocked until 3am, but could easily have gone for more.  As most of the Accidental friends headed back to their homes in South-West London, I alone headed up the road towards North London.  Home was a mere ten minutes away and as I attempted to hail a cab, my ears ringing from dancing a little too close to the speakers, I looked around me at Camden; the streets I travel through every day, the places I do my shopping, my part of London.  In my shiny leggings, with my vast, fluorescent earrings and heavy make-up, I did not look all that out of place amidst the late-night revellers and goths who wander the streets whatever time of day it is here.  For a rock fan there are few places better to be in this city than Camden.  And then I did the most rock and roll thing ever; I hopped on the night-bus, with the drunk and those who work night-shifts, and rode home.

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  1. OMG I am so jealous! I haven't done this for ages -I am feeling really old right now. The whole evening was very rock'n'roll. I miss having such fun!

    1. Sounds like you'd have loved it, Muriel. You'd better get your tickets for the next one!


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