Too old to Rock and Roll, too young to die, that great dry cynical album title from Jethro Tull. Yeah some of us are near or past that stage in life. There was a UK minor hit, ‘The Oldest Swinger in Town’, that with wry humour captures that moment of still wanting to party, but your classmates have moved on with their lives. I’m sure we’ve all felt it at times, out with friends, school reunions, surfing on-line, wherever and then suddenly seeing that Wishbone Ash are STILL touring… I finding ourselves standing at tram stop, next tram for the coast 10 mins, tram stops, Covid19 emptied, rain in the air, gulls on the wing, poster for Theatre Royal Swan lake – Covidaxed. Crumpled poster for Kings Grammar School, slipped, crumpled, thrown, yesterday’s algorithm. Eyes drift, purple and black splurge “Woosh!” zooming above straggled bedraggled hair and cowboy hats, “New Album” “21st” and then slack jawed amazement
D E E P P U R P L E.
Amazed they were still going, shocked and stunned.
“The next train at Platform 2 is for the Coast”, announcer. Still poster fixed, masked and train seated, curious when a ghost drifts into view, pocket, mobile, google, taps, milliseconds, WIKKIED, and purpled, yeup they really do have a 21st Album just out. Scrolling through the names in and out, now THREE of the band I saw in 1973 at Coventry Theatre were still there,‘Space Trucking’, ‘Smoking on the Water’, ‘Fireball’ in a ‘Black Knight’ for a moment, I was a ‘Child in Time’.
The tram trundled on towards the coast, the local free sheet, finger on the pulse, talked concerts rearranged for next year, leaping out at me, on Tour, Yeup ON – TOUR – Stadium Rock. CHER. Yeup that one, paradoxically If I could turn back time popped into my head, a song about regrets, but remembering a notification for a Moody Blues Tour, and coming to a major venue near me, Yes, no idea how are ‘Close to the edge’ on a ‘roundabout’ of albums and gigs, but ‘yours is no disgrace’ in what they do now. Good luck to them all.
I want to be clear I am not ageist, nor am I anti-pensioner, I’ll be one myself by the time the next UK election is planned, but it got me thinking, not too much, just enough to look at myself and those around me, and think about age and it’s later stages.
In the UK -
Johnny Rotten, past 60 that free medicine nationally, and free train and buses in London.
Ozzy Osboune past 65 that’s pension age, free buses in UK, stores pensioner discount at some shops
Cher – same age as Donald Trump, if she lived in the UK, she’d be reaching the Holy Grail of Pensioner benefits – Free TV licence.
Of course in the ultimately delicious moment of artistic Irony, Pete “Hope I Die Before I get Old” is there already watching all of the UK terrestrial TV on all us youngsters, yes he gets his FREE TV licence.
Don’t get me wrong I want to get there myself, one day, some day soon, and I have no problem with people working into their 60s and 70s. But it must be their choice. Clearly talking to friends who saw The Stones on their last UK Tour, “Sir” Mick 74, a ‘Street Fighting Man’ in ‘Sympathy with the devil’ still there movin’ and a-groovin’, and wigglin’ and a gigglin’ probably, and still keeping the audience in his palm.
Is it us wanting memories to be real, or Mick and the boys Jumping Jack Flash, believing and encouraging us to believe ‘time is on my side’. Perhaps we all are ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’.
I remember seeing the “The Boss” a few years ago, he’d have been a sprightly 62, and it was fantastic, possibly one the few stadia gigs I thought was worth even chasing tickets for, this century. But sat here in Toon, rain hammering on the widows trying to get out of the wind, I am wondering, pondering, reflecting, as a Bruce song, Glory Days, pops into my head, not all the lyrics, not all the references, all too Yankee for me, throwing balls, and quarterbacks, no, the memories, youthful and exuberant, Glory days, when hearts hoped, and souls sang and feet danced.
Seeing Old heroes still close to those memories, is it comfort in a whirlwind of change? Is it fear that all that’s ahead of us are losses? John Mayer sang ‘Stop This Train I Want To Get Off’. There are all the fears, and the losses we’ve suffered and will continue to suffer.
I’m wondering what we expect at these gigs? If it’s reliving memories, no one is ‘forever young’, and our memories play tricks, our anticipation of the big bands, their gigs, releases, songs, what we see and expect got me reflecting when we go and see these bands, Deep Purple, Rolling Stones, Cher, Yes, are they performers, or artists. The dichotomy best summed up in Spinal Tap, two scenes, the band heritage revival - Stonehenge - second scene, band split, school sports ground gig Spinal Tap a Jazz Rock Band. For me that sums up the Performer-Artist balance, and what we expect as we all grow old, we want more and more to stay the same, and that’s all too true most of the music we love is preserved ‘larks tongue in aspic like’.
I am intrigued as to what people expect from these rock revival shows. Is it a revival? The Glory Days of yesteryear, or the reassurance of borrowed time of John Lennon or the doubt and fear of seeing the band like you, maybe like the Ramones, yelling, petulantly defiantly, inside ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow up’ .