Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Day I Was The Opening Act For Eric Burdon & The Animals

When I was presented with the possibility of being the opening act for Eric Burdon & The Animals, I had to pinch myself. The hard part was going to convince the venue and the management that a couple of DJs on stage could be as entertaining as a live band. Not an easy task.

Let's be honest, the abilities of a Mod DJ doesn't rely on his technical prowess. It has mainly to do with his record collection, his ability to read a crowd and one often overlooked factor, his attitude. That all sounds good but when you have 1200 people sitting in front of you, waiting, you better put on a show. And that's exactly what I promised the people in charge I was going to do.

DJs opening for bands on stage is something that I have only recently started seeing on a regular basis. When I attended a Vintage Trouble concert, a few months ago, DJ Tom Papa Ray was on stage warming up the crowd with his mix of Blues, Soul and RnB. My DJ partner, Ben Shulman, recently did a wonderful job opening for Ronnie Spector.

Speaking of my mate Ben, we decided to team up for this one. We like to feed off of each other. We devised this plan a while back where we play 3 tracks each. One will cue the record while the other introduces the track. While one is selecting the next track, the other one dances like a mad man all over the stage. You know, a Sam & Dave type of thing.

This time was no different. Except I was determined to get the grey haired masses that composed 90% of the audience look like they had a pulse. I was going wild: screaming, dancing, hand clapping and making myself look like an amphetamine fuelled 60s Mod on a Saturday night at the Flamingo Club. I have to admit, I enjoyed every minute of our hour and half set.

Now, there's this little matter about the one and only Eric Burdon I must address. Full disclosure, I reviewed his show on this very blog a few years ago. You can read all about it here. In more than 140 posts, I only made one negative review and that was the one. I have a simple philosophy. If you don't like it, don't write about it. I made one exception to date. Now I was ready to give the man a second chance. This time was going to be different. I was going to be backstage.

First of all, our set-up was right after the band's soundcheck. I was rather disappointed to find out that Mister Burdon didn't even show up for it. In fact, he wasn't even present for a single second of our act. I asked the technical team where we should exit when we were finished. He told us that we could go backstage, pack our stuff and leave. We would have to go in the audience to watch the show because M. Burdon had given specific instructions to close the stage to anybody but the band. Are these commun practices? It might be for certain big names. But what do I know, I'm just a Mod DJ. 

I might seem overly sensitive but I don't remember a single time when a band I went to see didn't thank the opening act. There's a first for everything I guess. But I still kept an open mind. The man did once sing with Otis Redding after all. He did play a part in the British Invasion. My parents slow danced to House of the Rising Sun for crying out loud!

Sorry, it didn't get any better. I'll bet you the most expensive record I played that night that he didn't even know the city he was in. He thanked Canada at what point. And if you know the slightest thing about living in Quebec, thanking Canada is not necessarily your best move. He also gave the crowd the finger towards the end. I believe he did that to a women in the front row that insisted on giving him gifts. 

Alright, let's put aside a few faux-pas. How about his performance? Let me sum it up in one word. Crap. I'm sorry. The poor man didn't hit all his notes. The only saving grace was the keyboard player. I was quite impressed with him.

On a more positive note, my wife, my good friend Daniel, his girlfriend and I didn't have to pay for tickets. One more thing, the staff and crew at l'Olympia were phenomenal. You guys can have me back anytime!

If you want to hear part of my set, I invite you to check out a special Parka Avenue mix, right here on Mixcloud.


  1. Mod djs dancing about the stage emulating Sam And Dave? So far away from mod as you could possibly get. Of ccourse old Eric didnt wanna know you. How embarrassing for him

    1. It's always easy to write a comment like this from an anonymous account when you weren't actually there to witness a second of it.

      FYI, Eric got in the building 5 minutes before he got on stage. He wasn't even aware of who the first act was. That was the whole point of this post.

      And if you base yourself on the comments on social media the next day comparing our performance to his, you're right, he's probably very embarrassed.

    2. Eric was a bit of a rebel in the 60's and had little time for what was even then just showbiz,he was unesay with it. If you'd have seen him at the Club A GoGo like my brother in law did in his early days , virtually weekly with Shorty & Them ,he was just one of the lads,his bitterness probably came from his House Of the Rising Sun incident and Alan Price , he still occasionally say's 'f'**k the 1000 quid I have to pay every time I sing it' ! . Eric is an old man and like many his best days are gone , he was never a mod or a rocker,no commercial groups were at the time,it was just business and I imagine after all these years,one of Britain's most iconic 'voices' probably has little time for somebody who plays records to fill the gap rt middle aged blokes dressed up as people he had absolutely nothing in common with.. Disc Jockeys had little importance in the 60's,they were presenters of dodgy pop TV shows and have shown their true colors over the past few years ,even less to a mod because it was just music to dance to, so it's not unreasonable to assume he had the same opinion most people had back then.It wouldn't be unfair to assume that after all this time it's just another sycophantic gig and our generation were taught that Quebec was in Canada , nobody told us it had moved.Eric is old , just like we are,we had little time for the pretense ,that's what made him popular amongst the unpopular.

  2. Fair analysis and assessment.

    I won't get into the whole Quebec vs Canada thing because it would take too long. Let's just say that if he had been playing a gig in Northern Ireland for instance, he would be sensitive (I hope) to the way he would address the crowd. Every live act I've seen in the past 20 years have at least known what city they were playing in.

    And again, I have a thick skin. I don't really care what he thinks of me. I wasn't expecting anything because I'm not that big of a fan. As I said, I'm certain he had no clue what the first act was. It's the way that he treated his own fans, the people that paid to see him, that I found the most offensive.

    1. Like Errol said , it's just show biz,it always was,it's only since the eighties that a different generation of people have seen old pop stars as legendary and to be fair there are plenty of 'has beens' that have had their careers restarted or categorized as important,such as the Small Faces and Chris Farlowe ,journeymen and women such as Billy Davies etc. were all finished by the late 60's or they'd moved on,their importance was amplified in a different decade , certainly not by us.Girls were the ones with the real passion for pop acts and to be honest that's all they were , artists that were working to make themselves a good living if they broke through. I liked Eric Burdon and the Animals,Yardies etc.....for a period of time , would I go and see them now,the answer would be no,it's on a par with watching a 68 year footballer trying to dazzle you with his speed and agility. Fans who bought records and turned up at gigs were owed nothing , personally that's what I'd expect now if I could even be bothered to go and see one. The word 'fan' itself says alot about the people that want to associate with 'the biz' and the past , it's likely that Eric had as much respect as I would've done and it was just another earner , we didn't care about being PC back then and probably don't now either,would I respond to people dressed like Windsor dandies in 1966 ?.....unlikely,but I'd be very happy to take their money.