As I sit here writing, I have a cornucopia of various maladies besmirch me. Both my back and my right shoulder are complaining in somewhat strenuous terms about the punishment they both endured last night at The Alarm, the concert I was at with my friend Ian.
The concert itself was a good one, and I came out way more of an Alarm fan than I was when I went in. A good couple of hours of good music, a band who were clearly enjoying themselves on stage, and a crowd who were very much into it. It was this enthusiasm which has led to my somewhat compromised physical state this morning, for lo, I did venture into the pit. For those of you who are unaware of what a 'pit' is at a concert, it's an area, usually at the front, near the crush barrier where the assembled throng jump about, heave back and forth, and generally have a good time.
I wrote on FB a couple of days ago that I'd seen a Hassidic Jewish moshpit on a documentary and thought I'd seen it all. Well, until last night that was true, for last night I had the dubious pleasure of being heavily involved in what must have been the most middle-aged mosh pit I've ever seen. The dearth of hair was matched only by the fecundity of beer-bellies and t-shirts stretched near to the point of no return over those same corpulent torsos. It was a sign that this particular pit was of a certain vintage when the primary action of many in between songs was to pause of breath (not me, nor Ian I hasten to add. Well, not as bad as the rest. Ok, as some) and then furiously clean the lenses of their glasses in preparation for the next song (ok, that was me).
At one point the band's drummer launched into a little drum solo, at least that is what it sounded like, although there is an even chance that the drummer was augmented by the clicking of rheumatic joints and the frenzied wheezing of those who remembered the band from their first tour some 30 years ago. When you look around a pit and figure out that you are probably at the younger end of the age spectrum, you to tend to stop and think!
The demographic of the gig as a whole was skewed toward people of what could euphemistically called 'a certain age', and there were some fairly dubious sartorial decisions in evidence. Such as the fairly rotund gentleman (yes, I know, pots and kettles – the way I look at it, I am a gentleman who has a certain physical gravitas, shall we say, thus allowing me to speak with the wisdom of experience in matters such as girth) sporting a decidedly 'Brian May' hairdo, and a sleeveless t-shirt. Had he not looked like he was approaching 50 from the wrong side, and not had the beer-belly, which he had clearly nurtured lovingly for an extended period, and had his sleeveless t-shirt exposed guns, rather than whatever the male equivalent of bingo-wings is, he may have just been able to pull it off. Sadly for him, one is left with the feeling that a very different definition of 'pulling it off' will undoubtedly form a large part of his free time. Yes, I know, pots and kettles again.
Ultimately though, as well as the gig itself being way more enjoyable than I was anticipating, it actually made me feel fairly positive, having looked around at others who were also having a great time. Music, as I have written before, is a powerful thing. That a band of 50-somethings, with a lead singer/guitarist who has battled cancer and won, can still run about on stage for the best part of 2 hours, can still motivate a decidedly mature audience into jumping about like they were teenagers again, and can still leave several hundred people leave the venue with big smiles on their faces, that's impressive.
I'll stop short of saying it reaffirms your faith in the human race, but it certainly makes you look at things in a slightly different way, at least for a while. Take the guy I described in the previous stanza, he didn't care what anyone else thought, and nor should he, he was out to see a band he liked, and have a good time. The same could be said for all the other fashion disasters we saw, and indeed, could be said for myself and Ian, we were, of course, the epitome of style and elegance (even if we did both wind up wearing checked shirts – actually, there probably hasn't been as many checked shirts gathered together since Courtney Love got Kurt's laundry back). We went, we saw, we had a great time, did we stop to contemplate what anyone else was thinking about us? Not even for a second. It does the soul good to experience events like last night. Good music, decent (if overpriced) beer, good friends, and lots of laughs.
A large part of the success of this gig, at least for me anyway, was the band themselves, quite obviously having a blast. The drummer did not stop laughing and smiling all night, and that alone made the gig so much better. Here's a bunch of guys getting paid to do something they clearly love, something that they'd do for free, and that sort of positivity can't help but be infectious. Too many bands stand up on the stage, looking all serious and earnest, and some of my favourite bands are guilty of just that, but The Alarm reminded me of something important, which will be the now legendary 'Springer Moment' for this entry. Life, as they say, is short (although there is a certain irony in that statement as, after all, life by it's very nature is the longest thing we will ever do!), and there's a big bad world out there. Enjoy what you can, go see the bands you like, and regardless of your age, waistline, lack of hair (or a hairstyle which hasn't changed much since 1982), and caring not a jot what others think, don't be afraid to get in the pit and, to use another hackneyed cliché, dance like no one is looking. You may be sore the next day, but it will be totally worth it.
Until next time...