Tim Rogers responds to bizarre Townsville review

A few weeks ago intrepid reporter Amanda Gray of Townsville Bulletin headed along to see Barnsey in the flesh on Cold Chisel’s comeback tour. She was really, really excited giddily telling her readers – “I’ll tell you how excited … almost wet my pants excited!” She enjoyed Chisel’s set but felt the need to call out the support band, You Am I, who were the “only disappointing thing about the evening”

After acknowledging that “diehard fans” would probably bombard her email with “don’t you know who they think they are?” rants, Gray felt the need to list the crimes of Tim Rogers and You Am I.

Can I just say if a band is truly driven on talent alone none of the following is required:

1. Spruiking one’s delusional belief of a high level of attractiveness to the opposite sex

2. Heckling the same crowd with jeers of “I’ll be the one your girlfriend is thinking about later on tonight, buddy”.

3. And worse, feeling the need to “F-bomb” your way through your set to distract us from the fact you really do sound so bad live.

I don’t want to be 100 per cent anti-”You Am I” – Tim Rogers can play a mean guitar and I used to love their song Berlin Chair … used to being the operative wording here.

But when Jimmy himself brought old mate out and said how great he was and how ecstatic he was to have him on the road with him, I seriously had to wonder if JB was back on the vodka again.

Sorry, Tim.

Tim Rogers’ very amusing response to the review/opinion piece was published as a letter to the editor in the paper shortly after Gray’s review and although that was a few weeks back (sorry, we don’t read the Townsville Bulletin all that often at FL HQ) we think it’s well worth a read.

MS Gray,

I was enjoying a good strong coffee whilst reading your editorial Friday (TB, Oct 21) lambasting my performance with our band You Am I, supporting Cold Chisel in Townsville. The timing was unfortunate for me because I found great coffee on tour (never particularly easy) and the folks giggling opposite the table from me had obviously read it too.

Times like this I wish I had a thicker skin however, I need to make clear to you my writing to you has nothing at all to do with whether you think our band is rubbish or that I am a complete tool.

Our band has, as our heroes, acts that were never universally loved, and at times, or for their entire “careers’’, exist somewhere on the fringes of popular taste, and we accept gladly that occasionally sloppy rock’n’roll with a questionable singer won’t be to most people’s tastes. However, we do adore making this racket and have toured the world for 22 years with this humble self-satisfaction intact.

My concern is that your editorial could be read that I don’t appreciate our very fortunate position, and that I’m abusive to crowds.The gentleman who was shouting out to me and I responded with the line about “paying attention or else his partner . . . etc’’ is pure hokum from Entertainment 101, and if I thought the people involved would take “real’’ offence I’d watch my words more carefully. Possibly.

To my mind, going on stage and resuscitating standard stage banter like “you guys are great’’ is dull and condescending. Because I look like I fell out of a garbage truck, backwards, to talk with sexual bravado is a surreal little windup I presumed that most folks would understand. If I had the chiselled looks and complexion of many of my contemporaries, the chutzpah wouldn’t at all be an in-joke between myself and the crowd, just dull.

I furthermore have no interest in pursuing someone’s partner. If that is not obvious to an audience maybe I’m better looking than I think, and will just have to reappraise my position.

My favourite memory of Townsville is flying in on a small plane (the roads were flooded) to play a show post-floods, late ‘90s. The crowd was so appreciative and, after an obviously heartbreaking week for the town, ready to let off some steam and enjoy this racket that we make. We’ve always looked forward to the possibility of coming back.

Maybe that’s why your editorial affected me. As I’ve said, we understand we’re never going to “win over’’ many people because the men and women we look up to could barely fill a bathroom with their fans. But they play beyond their limitations and extol the virtues of sin and salvation.

The bad language I let fly is a result of complete rejoice. It is so bewilderingly exciting at times to play this music. I agree with you, f*** so often is not intelligent, and tiring, and I’ve really gotta make up some new words to promote how f***in great it feels most nights to play.

Lastly, any inference that my great friend and mentor Jimmy Barnes is slamming down alcohol right now is quite irresponsible. No man I know has worked harder to get himself to a point like this where he’s healthy, happy, and giving more than 110 per cent every night. It fascinates me and he’s rightly proud.

He is a whip-smart man who has made judgments and decisions about who he spends his time with sagely. Once again it was an enormous pleasure to play Townsville. In between the good coffee, great lil’ bookstore (Mary Who’s?) and everyone we ran into in pubs or on the street just solidifies my opinions on why our band feel privileged to play there.

Despite wanting half your money back I think it was entirely worth the money just for Cold Chisel. And I have to say, lastly, that I’m very glad music is being discussed in editorials in newspapers! But please there is no reason to “feel sorry’’ for me, because I’m doing, and have done for 22 years, music For which I consider myself the luckiest tool around.

My best to you.