I wish I hadn’t seen that: Ripper got old. Pips, Chips and Videoclips frontman, the Croatian version of Liam Gallagher, the guy us girls had a crush on in the 1990s, now sports wrinkles and a beer belly. And he’s no longer Ripper at all. The official band site now lists him as “Daddy”.
If Ripper looks like that, I’m afraid to even think how we look, but even under all that soft lighting you could see wrinkles and sagging face lines that no make up can hide. It’s tough when the heroes of your youth grow old.
Last time I saw the band, I was with Alana, I think at ‘Zagreb Gori’ (Zagreb Burns) one-day festival. I remember us singing a song about breaking up. She was doing it with a huge zeal and it was obvious it was meant for her back-then boyfriend and a good friend of mine. Soon, they had indeed broken up and I had since introduced him to another friend, whom he stood up almost in front of the altar (OK, two weeks before the wedding) twice (don’t ask), and in the meantime they both found other people, got married and got two kids each.
It was that long ago.
This time, on a Friday evening at the beginning of March, the Pips were playing a no-alcohol all-ages gig. (May I mention that there’s no such thing as ‘all-ages gig’ and definitely no no-alcohol gigs in Croatia, though I suspect that the elementary-school girls in the front row must have been Ripper’s daughter and her friends. It is so uncommon that when I asked a security guy if it was possible they had only water and soda, he seemed quite amused).
The band were filming a live DVD and a friend, a member of the fan club, got us tickets number 1, 2 and 3, which was kind of cool. But for me it was a night of magic and disappointment, a kind of nostalgia for times long past, when everything seemed simpler, even music. The Pips’ first hit was “Ja volim Dinamo”, which became an anthem of Dinamo football club, but was a literal rip-off of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. “Poštar lakog sna”, another hit, was a cover of the Pogues’ “Rainy Night in Soho”. It didn’t matter back then, but now – and maybe just because these songs have been with us for decades – we kind of wondered whether each of the songs was a rip-off.
Ripper’s annoyance with the audience didn’t help either. He thought we were too polite, not enough into it. Too old maybe? Almost like an offended diva, he kept saying we should forget that they were filming a DVD (I actually think no one cared) and that it was all rubbish.
I guess the easiest thing is to blame the audience.
But he was right, the chemistry just wasn’t there. The whole place looked did look like pure magic, the lighting was perfect, but there was something wrong with the sound – it was perhaps a bit too low, good for recording but not loud enough to make your skin tinge. And there was also a problem with the band – they were just too perfect, it was like there was nothing left of the rock band, like you were listening to a CD and not to the band in flesh and blood. Maybe that’s why the best moment of the show was when the keyboard player got to sing my favorite Pips song, Nogomet. It was the only moment when the show was not perfect, and when someone on the stage showed real emotion. He got ovations, and Ripper looked a little bit annoyed.
* Sorry, this had partly been written months ago, but it took me forever to come back to it.