You are not alone. There are others like you out there. Men of a certain age who against there better judgment make their way through the night to see men often half their age perform on a dimly lit stage.
Yes I’m talking about the middle-aged pop concertgoer.
I count myself amongst their number and last Saturday I found myself at the ‘Music Hall of Williamsburg’ to see the rather more mature Paul Weller perform the last of three nights in NYC.
For those who don’t know Weller, he first came to fame with The Jam some 35 years ago. In the intervening years he has gone through a few incarnations to finally arrive at the wiry, graying geezer I saw before me on the Brooklyn stage.
For me there’s a whole lot of memory associated with Weller. Sitting round radios in rainy Britain waiting for the weekly chart countdown to discover who was Number One, walking to tiny pre-chain record stores to buy singles in limited edition colored vinyl or visiting the local youth center disco to do something that vaguely resembled dancing.
Things in short that seemed so contemporary and modern that we couldn’t imagine anything more evolved ever coming into existence.
And yet here we are on a hot East Coast night with iPods in our pockets standing with others who, looking at the state of their hairlines and bellies, will probably share my memories.
Why are we here? A sort of nostalgia maybe or perhaps a misguided loyalty like keeping up with an old friend even though all you have in common is childhood memories.
You couldn’t argue with the gusto of Weller’s stage performance or the quality of his back catalogue. ‘A Town Called Malice’, ‘My Ever Changing Moods’, ‘Wild Wood’, ‘Start’, ‘That’s entertainment’; songs that for a brief second make us feel something
Yet a moment after the last cord has faded so does the exhilaration and the awareness comes that yes, you are too old for this shit.
More accurately you’re too jaded for this shit. The untrammeled freshness and naivety of youth is no longer yours and neither is the uncritical and pure enjoyment in a thing.
Now you have too many comparisons whirring round your overheated brain to surrender to the moment for all but the length of a song, usually the song that was precisely the one you heard on a tinny transistor while lying in the back garden many years ago.
Maybe all this pilgrimage will turn out to be is a way to return, if just for the briefest of moments, to a lost place and time.
As the chorus rings out, for a second we are back there and the future rolls out before us like a promise, all the mistakes the wrong turns, the hunches, the dead ends are unknown to us and the possibility that life might turn out to be, well, as good as that of the man standing on the stage and taking his bow to rapturous applause.
As we file out, I am left to reflect on how those that create an impression on us in our youth never really leave us even as our own tastes change. Their influence remains undimmed even as we fade away into the uncertain night.