Friday, 13 January 2017

Never Too Old To Rock ’n’ Roll (by Emma Prew)

I feel like I’ve mentioned quite a few times (in various blog posts) that my parents have had a huge influence on my music taste over the years. They’ve always been huge music fans – and very much still are – both in terms of buying albums and going to live shows. Their music taste(s) varies from folk and Americana to 80s hair metal and classic rock, as well as modern rock and even some punk bands.

Now, more than ever, they are discovering lots of new bands and, particularly in recent years, they have started going to more and more ‘smaller’ gigs. I feel like most people their age, and indeed their friends and peers, probably only go to the odd stadium or arena shows – if that. Last year (2016) they went to more gigs than any year previously – including ‘back in the day’ – and, although they have decided that this year they probably won’t do quite so many, they’ve got plenty more planned for 2017.

Although my parents are not strictly punk fans, I think that live music is an integral part of the punk scene and I am proud that my parents love going to gigs – almost as much as I do. As this is a blog post about them, but neither actually wanted to write a guest post for me, I thought this was best composed as a sort of interview.

How did you get into rock music?
Mum: My older brother’s influence. 
Dad: Listening to John Peel’s show on Radio One, 10pm–midnight.

When did you go to your first gig? Who was it and where was it?
M: At age 12 I saw a pop group called Marmalade at the Embassy theatre in Peterborough. When I was about 15 or 16 I went with my brother and his friends to see prog-rock acts such as Curved Air, Atomic Rooster and Yes at Boston Gliderdrome – which was quite an iconic music venue of the East Anglia area.
D: It was probably Steeleye Span at the Embassy in Peterborough in about 1975. I wasn’t able to go to gigs until I could drive as in King’s Lynn [where he lived] there wasn’t much in the way of modern live music. 

What do you enjoy about live music?
Both: The sound is different to on recording and there is more of a sense of atmosphere. You can’t compare it to recorded music.
M: Sometimes you get really good support acts that you’ve perhaps never heard of before and could become new favourites. For example, my brother and I went to see a band called Golden Earring and (the original) Lynyrd Skynyrd were supporting. He’d heard of them but I hadn’t!

What were some of the best gigs you went to ‘back in the day’?
Both: In the late 70s we went to De Montford Hall in Leicester and saw the likes of Peter Gabriel, Supertramp and Rush, among others. In 1981 we moved to Milton Keynes which was (or is) home to the National Bowl. This massive outdoor venue had artists such as David Bowie, Guns N Roses, Queen, U2 and Bruce Springsteen play there but we didn’t go to a lot there – mostly because it was all outdoors!

And how about more recently?
D: In 2015, you [Emma] invited me along to see Chuck Ragan at the Scala in London. I’d previously seen one of his Revival Tour shows and agreed to go again. Nearer the date, mum decided to join us as well. We were all so impressed by the whole show – including support acts Skinny Lister and Tim Vantol – that we wanted to go to more gigs.
M: At the end of 2015, we began to look at what gigs were on locally and ended up booking to go to three different shows at The Stables in Milton Keynes in the early part of 2016. We had been to a handful of shows the previous year, big and small, in London and more locally, and felt the need for more live music. One of the bands we went to see were called Hunter & The Bear, an unsigned London-based rock band. We were so impressed by their energy, enthusiasm and musicianship that we have been to see them three more times. Through them we have also discovered other artists that we wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

You’ve started discovering smaller bands and going to smaller shows, do you prefer these?
M: Yes, I suppose. I think we’ve realised that the bigger shows are a lot of money and you can’t very often even see anything. The sound in a lot of those venues isn’t as good as it should be. Money-wise the smaller shows are much better value and you definitely don’t lack in musical quality. We saw an artist called Luke Tuchscherer in Bedford last year and he played for about 2 hours – it was brilliant.

Why do you think you’ve rekindled your love for live music and music in general?
Both: I think we’ve probably answered this in our previous answers but it helps that we are both now retired and have more time for music. We can go to gigs on weeknights if we want to and not have to worry about getting up for work the next day!

What’s changed since the first gigs you went to?
D: Ticket prices have gone up a lot! There weren’t any booking fees in those days. We used to send a stamped addressed envelope to the ticket office and they’d post the tickets back to you. Or you had to phone up to order them. On a more positive note, there are a lot more music venues now.

Do your friends think it’s weird that you go to so many gigs (and probably bands that they’ve never heard of too)?
M: Probably! Some people that don’t know us so well are surprised as we’re maybe not the typical gig-goers. I think the others that do know us well probably think we’re a bit odd!
D: Most certainly!

In the punk scene there is generally a sense of everyone being welcome, regardless of age or anything else. Do you ever feel that you’re ‘too old’ at the gigs you go to? If so, why?
D: At most gigs we go to there are older people, even if the majority of the crowd is younger. It depends on the band or artist and venue really.
M: I don’t think we’ve ever been to anything and felt really out of place. Sometimes at a gig, for example, when we saw Skinny Lister at the Monarch in Camden the younger people in the crowd can be quite lively and we have to take a step back away from them. But it doesn’t affect our enjoyment of the gig.

When do you think you will actually stop going to gigs?
D: Not any time soon.
M: I think they will just get fewer and we will become more selective. We won’t stop going to The Stables in Milton Keynes as that is a sit-down theatre venue.

Is live music the best kind of music?
Both: Yes!
M: And if we physically can’t go to gigs anymore, there’s always YouTube.