A couple of years ago I was chatting with a young IT Technician in the staff room at work and mentioned that I had been to a gig the previous night. His eyebrows shot up with surprise as he asked who I had been to see?
When I told him it was New Jersey punk band The Gaslight Anthem his eyebrows disappeared into his hairline completely. “But I’m going to see them on Saturday night!” he stammered as if it were totally inconceivable that a woman his mother’s age listened to rock music, let alone went to a gig!
Never judge a book by its cover I warned him before sweeping out of the staff room, hoping that my cool rating had just gone up a notch or two.
Is there a popular perception that older people are too old to rock? Or that they stick to their old favourites who are still touring later in life such as Dylan or The Rolling Stones? True the audience at a Springsteen gig is often a sea of silver – where there’s hair at all that is – but only a few weeks ago I saw the amazing Jason Isbell at a venue in London’s Kentish Town. Isbell, a talented singer-song writer, is only a couple of years older than my own children yet his audience was an eclectic mix of young and old, most of whom sang along enthusiastically knowing all the lyrics regardless of age.
As for The Gaslight Anthem, I stumbled upon them at a festival in the early stages of their career and have followed them ever since. Plenty of my friends still regularly attend festivals but are not too proud to admit that they like their creature comforts and these days prefer not to wade through mud or queue to use a shit hole (quite literally). The camper van is their salvation meaning that at the end of a long day crammed with musical adventure, a half decent bed and flushing loo awaits them. But is festival going in comfort less of a valid experience?
It could be said that us baby boomers invented popular music and we are certainly not ready to hand it over without a fight!