Saturday: Newcastle to see Madness. My 8 year old son’s first ever gig. I was 18 before I managed that (I think it may have been Suzanne Vega- also in Newcastle).
Gigs- something I have taken for granted; I know the routines, I know the rituals. Trying to explain to my son things I love and which are part of me and I just assume people know (Guess many life long church goers struggle in the same way; or at least I have noticed that it is so. Gig going for many gig goers is like church). I think I managed it….. teaching an 8 year old that the wait is part of the enjoyment and anticipation (I think I feel an Advent parallel coming on) was not as hard as I imagined.
I could not have chosen a better introduction to a new world. When you love music, you fear that your children will be seduced by ersatz Cowell-esqe pastiche in some plastic enormodome; it sounds like music, but it is in fact ‘music-lite’. Even the venue was great for that: the O2 Academy in Newcastle- the kind of music venue that I thought had long gone…. a bit scuzzy, not small, but not huge and (apart from the name) corporate free.
There are particular songs, by particular groups that make the hairs rise on the back of my neck. A concert opener, when you have been waiting, watching roadies move across the stage, hearing the crowd whoop and roar as they anticipate arrival….. ‘One Step Beyond’ is such a song. I looked atÂ my son’sÂ face as the words rang out ‘Hey you, don’t watch that, watch this; this is the heavy heavy monster song…’ and I was deleriously happy and proud: ‘The Force is strong in this one.’ It just got better and better and better; an endless succesion of crowd pleasers.
(forgive me- it is the first time I have tried to take photos at a gig….)
It is refreshing to watch a band that tight live. Refreshing too to watch a group of people who have not just become a tribute act, but are still trying new things and acknowledging that they are ageing and not denying it. Plus lots of top quality banter and story between the songs. Memo to live acts-learn from Madness: look like you are enjoying it and that it is a privilege to be there.
I am not good at concert reviews, but there were so many highlights…’Embarrasment’, ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ (complete with karaoke), ‘My girl’, ‘Baggy Trousers’- but not ‘that’ dance- the knees are not the same, ‘House of Fun’ (I’ll leave explaining that till he is older) ‘Forever Young’ and ‘My Girl’. I so wished I was in the moshpit and not sat in the balcony: I had a rare urge to pogo….maybe next time my son will be up to that…
And then into Newcastle with my friend and his son and me and my son to find something to eat. Saying as we left the restaurant: ‘You are going to see something you have never seen or experienced in your life: Newcastle City Centre on a Saturday night’. It was only 7.30pm- the city centre had not yet become, as one of my old friends said ‘Like Sodom and Gomorrah without the flames’.
A great day in a city where 4 generations (now) of my family have either grown up in or know from childhood….
Once again, as Van Morrison intoned ‘You must remember there will be days like this’.