When you get to a certain age, you still kid yourself that your peers are somehow older than you. After all, you are young. Nothing has changed despite the advancing years. You like the same things you always did – gossip, lipgloss, bags, jewellery (like Patsy, I seem to have forgotten the word accessories). Not to mention the things everyone else loves too, from family to theatre to music.
And it’s music, or at least live music, that does my head in. I made a private pact a few years ago only to see bands where I could either sit down, knew all the words – or preferably both. It generally means that the rest of the audience will be my age. Which means they are old. And I am not.
Last week we were at an excellent gig at Bush Hall. Green Gartside. Not an absolute favourite but a real love from my 19 year old self. I looked around at the grey beards, the tent dresses, the specs, the bald pates and tasteful earrings, and thought, dear God do we look like this? And yes, I guess we do.
And then I thought, everyone in this room has the best musical pedigree. They have probably seen the greats the first time round, as well as the second and third. They have experienced music in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 21st century. In real time. Not as back catalogue.
Yes, I realized, these guys are the original festival goers, as kids, as grown ups, and now with their own kids. Like me, they’ll have under their I-have-seen belt a selection of the following: Bowie, Lou Reed, Roxy Music, The Stiff. The Tubes, Two Tone. Springsteen. The Cure, The Flaming Lips, Primal Scream, Pulp. Kraftwerk. Dury, Dr Feelgood. The Stones, Sparks. Elton John, Joe Jackson, The Who. Not to mention the obscure bands that only you seemed to love, the flashes in the pan.
My kids and our younger friends drool at the idea of some of the things we have seen and again revisited. They are in awe of tales of the great venues – The Rainbow (Roxy supporting Bowie), Hammersmith Palais, The Music Machine (KOKO two brandings ago) where we saw Dexys Midnight Runners supporting the Clash. Even The Town and Country before it became The Forum.
Don’t get me wrong. I do ‘modern’ too. Sometimes I break my rule and go to see someone I don’t know well, a contemporary I have grown to love in the comfort of my home (thank you 6 Music).
This is where I encounter the opposite problem. The crowd are half our age. We have to stand and all the songs are unfamiliar. The performer gives a shout-out to their Mum and Dad, and eyes turn towards us before finding the other middle aged folk in the room with the proud smiles. But it’s still great.
So until the day comes when live music no longer appeals, I have to get over myself. Feel proud and privileged of my past and of present. Be dignified. And know that whoever is on stage, I am in the audience, a fan, and an integral part of the love in the room.
Words: Susie Innes
Why It Matters comes in association with Discount Insurance, whose big boss bloke Steve lives in NW5, so he’s offering Kentishtowner readers a £10 M&S voucher with every new policy. Which seems like quite a nice deal to us.