Last Night

Stood in the queue, we feel old.  Out of place.  Amused, but close to embarrassed. Surrounded by kids, wearing their trends. It’s all long hair and floppy fringes, and tiny shorts and leggings, and lots and lots of stripes.  They are all clutching their mobiles and smartphones, seems like they were born with them in their hands, born with a build in knowledge of all technology. While we will always be scrabbling to catch up, but I fear I will never get there, I will always be one step behind.  We try to join in.  Send photos and status updates to facebook. What is all this?  This social networking, this sharing of every little detail in our lives.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s attention seeking, hunting approval from people we barely even know. From people we have never even met. Then I think what it really is, it’s like we are talking to ourselves.  Running a commentary with added images inside our own heads, and reflecting it back on ourselves.  Does it define us or make us real? Did we exist before we could tell the world what we just ate for lunch?  We are older, we look back on a time when this was all new.  These kids were born into it, holding their tablets aloft at the gig, sliding their well practiced thumbs across the screen to zoom in on the singer. (I thought tablets were pills?) Tapping, tapping, sliding, flicking the screen up and down.  Recording and sharing every breath of their lives.

I try to decide if its a bad thing, or a good thing, or both?  Why does it make us feel better to tell the world we’ve had a shit day and have lots of people we don’t know send us virtual hugs?  Are we that lacking in attention in real life that we feel the need to foster it on line?  But then I think, hold on, maybe these people, these’ ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, are just a bonus, an extra, something more.  Maybe they add to us, enrich us and inspire us just as equally as the people we can actually touch and speak to.  Maybe they even see more of us, and know us in ways that our loved ones do not? Does the internet allow us a kind of anonymity and a freedom to say and share things that would shock the ones who surround us in real life?

Inside the gig, it is dark and cold. We shuffle up to the bar to get the drinks in.  I eye the young ones flocking in, I examine my reflection in the mirror behind the bar.  I look short and cautious.  Yes, finally, a man with white hair has just walked in.  Two middle aged women with middle aged spreads have come up to the bar.  Yes, yes, fucking yes.  I look back at my reflection and see a youth that is mine to bask in for now.  A man with a bald patch.  Oh yes.  Come on in.  We’re all here.  We’re all out! Still feeling it in our bones…

Two pints later and I’m full of love and enthusiasms.  People watching.  Mind spinning.  Thoughts rolling and crashing.  Legs twitching, feet tapping, head nodding.  Let it fill my veins.  Being alive.  I sneak to the toilet, dread the face in the mirror amongst the girls with their messy up-do’s and snug shorts, but she smiles back at me and tells me not to give a shit. Oh yeah, that’s right. Fuck it.  I’m me and I belong wherever the fuck I want to belong, and on top of that, I feel it, I feel my presence and it propels me forward, and that my friends is called drunk-confidence. Reminds me of so many times.  Makes me smile, but I am not living in the past right now, right now I am here! Still feeling it…

We sit through the support acts.  Not bad.  I watch them with narrow eyes and ponder the lowly position of the support acts. The place is still half empty.  People clustered together with drinks in hand, conversation murmuring everywhere. Ah the support acts, you never remember them and you can’t hear a word they are saying.  Is that because they are new, because you have never heard them before, because you do not have their album and the lyric sheet?  Give em a chance.  The singer is gorgeous, reminds me of Fleetwood Mac.  The sound pulls us in.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  All our favourite bands were support acts once!  I think about people in a dark place like this, chatting and drinking and ignoring a band called Oasis who weren’t even supposed to be there.  I think even Oasis were ignored and talked over once.  (Not by me though, not if I’d been there, I fucking know that…)

I scratch my neck.  I scratch harder because I am drunk.  Pain is muffled by drink.  Awakes a curiosity in pain and a feeling of lighting up inside, of glowing brighter, simply because I am alive and I can feel it. Sometimes moments are nothing less than electric.  And we all shine. 

We move forward when the band come on.  Like the rest of the crowd I take photos and send them to facebook, like anyone cares. I remember a time when we didn’t even have mobile phones to take to gigs. We had our hands free and our memories inside our heads only.  The crowd surge forward, the hands fling into the air.  I watch the singer and wonder how it must feel.  Spewing out what you have created, what’s yours, what’s come from inside you, sharing it with that lot, and that lot, lapping it up, shouting it back, jumping up and down, higher and higher, stronger and stronger.  I stand on the edge, on the perimeter, as is right, and I am smiling as I watch them in the middle.  The shoving, the leaping, the swinging hair, the thick stench of sweat as it gathers and rises.  Smells like onions.  I am watching a human burger bar sweat passion through their skin.  

I smile because this is their time.  This is their music.  This is their band.  This belongs to them.  They are young, and going crazy, pumping their fists, clapping their hands in the air, singing the words out loud, calling out for more.  I stand on the edge and remember how it felt.  And I think, none of it matters now, all of the fidgety embarrassment outside.  It is dark and no one can see.  It does not matter if you are young or old, if you are fat or thin, if your clothes are right or wrong, because no one can see and no one cares.  Everyone is here for this.

When it’s over we hurry out before the crowd, before their flushed and vibrant youth catches up and shames us again, and we scurry off down the road, back to the car, joking that most of them are probably too young to drive. We talk about our times.  We talk about our music.  We talk about standing in a field and necking vodka and screaming out don’t look back in anger….

We talk about going to see our music now.  We’re older, but so are they.  So is everyone.  But when you are all there, and it’s all kicking off again, then it’s like a reunion.  You don’t know them, but they know you.  You see yourself in their faces.  When they throw back their heads and belt out the lyrics to a song that raged in their blood when they got ready for a night out, up in their teenage bedroom, surrounded by posters and downing white lightning.  They know it and you know it, and them up on the stage, the magicians, the music makers, the ones who tie it all together, everything you think and feel and hope for, everything you fear, everything you are, they fucking know it better than anyone.  They know it, and they make it, and they give it to you and they’ve got it right, because it stays with you forever.  It soundtracks your life, your days, your time, it clings to every memory and image and when you hear it again, then you are right back there, you are young again, you are still you.

So we look back and we look forward and we take it all with us.  The chords of a guitar stirring a thousand things inside you.  You’ll be part of that crowd again, you’ll look into their eyes and you’ll all feel the same, you’ll all feel the love, you’ll all rise up.  

So we go home.  Fucking Stone Roses here we fucking come.

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