The sheer excitement of just who is going to be the next headliner to be unveiled at Glastonbury has completely underwhelmed my senses. Will it be Coldplay, Muse or even a nostalgia set from the Stone Roses? One thing is for sure: I’ll be scanning through the BBC channels to find something at least slightly more cutting edge, like Jeff Lynne’s ELO.
Oh, I’m just joshing really. What right has someone whose idea of fun listening can range from Frank Sinatra through to Toto all the way along to Here We Go magic to criticise the taste of others? Absolutely none at all. Anyway, the music scene, as we used to call it, has changed beyond all recognition. When I was young (old age alert), artists toured to promote a new album. Now, when no one except me buys albums, artists release new music to promote a new tour because touring is where the money is.
I certainly can’t criticise someone who goes to a Stone Roses gig because I’ve done the nostalgia kick before with numerous artists and still do. And, lest we forget, the Roses made some of the best music ever. They are not alone in going out to tour and so top up the pension a little. So everyone’s happy.
Let’s face it, the vast majority of established artists are not touring out of the kindness of their hearts. If they were touring for musical reasons, they’d look for smaller, more atmospheric venues. Stadia, arenas and festivals are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I hate nearly all of them.
This is me, the old fashioned music fan. One of the few stadium gigs I did was in 1975 and it featured, from the bottom of the bill upwards, Stackridge, Rufus ft Chaka Khan, Joe Walsh, The Eagles, The Beach Boys and Elton John, all for a fiver. We were probably as far from the stage as you could get at pitch level. It was sunny, it was hot, a very attractive young lady danced topless next to us, so it was not all bad, but we could barely see a thing, there being no big screens in those days and the sound was poor at best. It turned me off stadium shows forever. If anything, I learned to hate them even more. And arenas – don’t start me on arenas. With the exception of Cardiff’s arena, they are as atmospheric as a portakabin and as conducive to easy listening as being in an aircraft hangar. Or indeed somewhere like the Stafford Bingley Hall, the venue for cattle auctions and boy it smelled like it when we saw the Eagles Hotel California tour there in the late 1970s. “Welcome to the Hotel California – Christ have you farted?”
Give me the Hammersmith Odeon/Apollo/Eventim any day of the week, or even the Bristol Colston Hall. You can see the artists from anywhere in either venue, it actually feels like they are playing for you and the sound systems are so much better.
Basically, the big shows are not for me. I don’t want to stand around in a large football stadium looking at giant screens, most folk do. Fair enough. The Bristol Arena will certainly attract all the types of acts I don’t want to see when it’s finally built sometime in the next decade I’d imagine, but the city probably needs one if folk are going to get their fix of the X Factor Live, Simply Mick and One Direction. Meanwhile, I’ll be somewhere like the Fleece, surrounded by my fellow balding and greying ex hippies, going on about how much better things were in the old days and what a scandal it is that the band I am watching never made it.
Of courser, things weren’t really better in the old days. The charts still included dross like Grandad, Paddy McGinty’s Goat and who can forget Shaddup You Face (which at least has the credit for keeping the dreadfully pretentious Vienna from the once coveted number one spot)?
And my music collection is as dubious as anyone else’s, I can assure you.