Sam Marzden’s History of Rock’n’Roll (1962-1989)
Sam Marzden @ Bakehouse Theatre – Studio
10:30pm, Mon 4 Mar 2013
Sure, I may be in the middle of a K-pop midlife crisis (new blog coming soon! …maybe), but I used to adore me some rock and metal. Even better is the almost infallible combination of rock’n’roll and comedy – sure, everyone knows of bands like Spinal Tap, but there’s also the far superior Bad News and comedians in the vein of Steve Hughes. So when Sam Marzden promised to reveal the sordid details behind the lives of some of rock’s greatest musicians, I was instantly onboard.
Marzden appears as quite the rock tragic: he carries himself with a confident swagger, and takes regular swigs from a litre-bottle of vodka throughout the show. He introduces himself as someone who hates rock stars… though, he freely admits, that hatred is mostly driven by jealousy. And he demonstrates that jealousy by opening with the story of one of the gigs where Keith Moon collapsed; that someone could be so talented and so irresponsibly self-destructive clearly irks Marzden.
Performed largely as stand-up rockumentary, History of Rock’n’Roll has an amazingly flab-free script; it’s effectively built around two Top Five lists that, whilst appearing depressing, were a goldmine of facts and comedic material. His Top Five Worst Gigs included the Rolling Stones headline performance at Altamont, a fantastic GG Allin sidetrack, and The Beatles at Shea Stadium… but that was just a warmup for his Top Five Worst Rock-Related Deaths.
Not only were the usual suspects mentioned – Black Sabbath’s Suicide Solution and Judas Priest’s Better By You, Better Than Me (and their corresponding court cases) – but there was a wealth of information that I hadn’t encountered before: the story behind Marvin Gaye’s death was fascinating (in a macabre way), and the Paul Is Dead conspiracy was discussed at enjoyable length.
Marzden is brilliant throughout: he knows his material well, and delivers it with the conviction of a true fan. The writing is immaculate – there’s a really lovely torrent of alliteration in the middle of the show that was a joy to behold – and I left the show convinced that I’d seen one of the highlights of the Fringe.
There’s a downside. Sure, Monday nights are usually pretty quiet, and the Bakehouse’s Studio is a small room, but there was only seven people at this performance. Worse still, those seven people consisted of two (rudely officious) media pass holders and one judge, their complimentary plus-ones, and myself. So I was the solitary paying punter in the house that night… and that saddens me no end, because this show deserved so much better.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 4, 2013