Sunday, 31 August 2014

Still rocking

This week saw the return to the touring stage of one of my favourite artists, or should I say artistes, after an inconsequentially short gap of thirty-five years. Unable to afford (with any genuine justification) the several hundreds of pounds that would have been necessary for me to purchase a ticket to the event, never mind the MS-related agonies that attending might actually bring, I was left to read up on all of the rave reviews that Kate Bush received and to dive into her back catalogue.

It occurred to me that my son is now twenty seven - some eight and a half years older than me when I saw Ms Bush when she last took to the touring stage. Now that's what I call a shocking statistic...

I was discussing music with a number of colleagues at work and it occurred to us all (some more than others) that at fifty-three I'm something of a dinosaur compared to the rest of them, although I'm happy to report my levels of disdain for some modern performers is no higher than theirs. Apparently One Direction and Justin Bieber are not at all popular with everyone under the age of twenty-five. More surprisingly, many of the musical heroes of my youth - you know, when the year started with a one - are almost as popular today with the younger generations. My teenage adoration of the Electric Light Orchestra, for example, was well received and understood, and my attendance at their Out of the Blue live show at Wembley Arena back in 1978 was positively envied. Now if they could only find me tickets to Jeft Lynne's return to the stage with the group at the Hyde Park concert in a fortnight...

Seriously though, it emphasises something about the ageing and debilitating processes that is well worth remembering - true quality will rock on across the generations. In the weirdest of ways, such brilliance as is demonstrated by musicians such as Kate Bush and Jeff Lynne, in their very different styles, is something that we can aspire to when we are not born with such divine talents.

We get older, we learn - or at least we should, to excuse Nigel Farage - and even though we start out a country mile, talent-wise, behind such natural talents as these rock stars for example, we can still begin to learn how they operated (and still operate, I'm glad to say). It might, in extreme cases, even lead to people in their sixth decade finally being able to demonstrate or understand at least a fraction of the natural talent displayed by the likes of Kate and Jeff. (And yes, I feel as if I can use their first names on the grounds that I paid good money to go and see them perform live four decades ago).

Of course there are those brilliantly talented individuals who are no longer with us and while I get some relatively blank looks when I mention my adoration of the voice of Roy Orbison who died in 1988, when I say I saw Queen in concert several times in the seventies and eighties even the youngest discussion member displays the sort of levels of jealousy that I find, probably rather naughtily, rewarding. When I mention that Freddie Mercury died less than three years after the Big O - and that this was twenty-three years ago in November - the look of surprise on many faces is rather shocking.

In any case, the music of those still with us and those who left us shocked and lonely about a quarter of a century ago, serves as a reminder that true quality never dies.

It's a lesson for all of us, no matter who we are, how old we are, or even when when a debilitating condition is affecting us. We might never have been born with the sheer brilliance of people like Kate Bush, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison or Freddie Mercury - to name just four of the myriad rockers who entertained and entertain us so wonderfully - but we can and should still strive to learn just how they become such iconic figures, and in time we should achieve at least an understanding, even if we never create anything ourselves.

It's not Only the Lonely who have the Wow factor to produce brilliant tracks Out of the Blue which continue to make us Want to Break Free.

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