Sunday, 18 August 2013

Too old to rock and roll? Well, maybe.

As Prince once said, there comes a time in every man’s life… when you should stop trying to understand modern pop music.

Jessie J: huh? (Image: InStyle Magazine)

It’s a serious question for someone who loves music as much as me: ‘Am I too old too rock and roll?’

I’ll clarify: am I too old to watch music festivals on the telly and understand what’s going on?

What a difference a few months makes. I thoroughly enjoyed Glastonbury. But there I was, after a lively night out which involved copious amounts of Old Speckled Hen, a pickled ham and Tommy Cooper, after which I should be more receptive to the Devil’s music, and I turn on the V Festival and think: What the ****?

The Script: don’t get it, but there’s a twenty-something audience singing their heart out to their insipid lyrics. Jessie J: fair enough, the nation’s alternative sweet heart. But: why? Her lyrics register a ‘9’ on the blandometer. She might have done better stuff, but I wasn’t struck with what I heard.

Before I get accusations of ‘it was all proper bands round here when I was a lad’, Two Door Cinema Club are served up, who, according to the professional Welshman acting as compere, are ‘underrated’. Would that be because they’re not X-Factor photogenic and their lyrics are actually about something? One song and then off.

Some interminable, indecipherable DJ comes on and all I can think about is that I should probably cut my nasal hair before work on Monday.

There is hope, though. The lovely Edith Bowman, bless her, was practically melting in front of The Coolest Man In The WorldTM Idris Elba (c.f. Stringer Bell and Luther). This man is a smart 43 and still DJing at all the trendiest spots on the globe. I think Luther has got as much to do with modern policing as a turnip knows about the architecture of the Arc de Triomphe, but this man doesn’t let age hinder his hipness. Offered Doctor Who and turned it down. You can’t get cooler than that.

So there you are: some of us can ride it out, but, on the whole – and as far as I’m concerned – I’m happy in my middle-aged music ghetto with my Skids and Pogues LPs. I should have gone to a punk weekender last week but funds didn’t permit. Don’t care what anyone says, but the punk generation, who are now collecting their bus passes, can still rock. Pick at random any average 1970s’ punk band’s song and the lyrics are about something, no matter how naïve they might look written down.

Don’t want to get into the pointless ‘pop music was better when I were a lad’ thing, but even a song by the Leyton Buzzards tapped into something about the state of Britain when I was 17. Thing is, if you believe a lot of the antiseptic bilge produced by today’s music industry, Britain’s is now a blander, less polarised and less dangerous place. As if.

I’m out of touch musically – I stopped buying the NME years ago – but I think I can still spot the talent amongst the dreck. Step forward Miles Kane and the Arctic Monkeys, who, as I’ve said before, can write songs in the fine tradition of social-observation-with-a-tune practised by Ray Davies and Paul Weller. And, crucially, they also know the value of bespoke tailoring and a choice haircut. And look at Anthony and the Johnsons – not really my thing, but bloody individual nonetheless.

Apart from that… ****ed off I missed the B52s this week and I’m looking forward to the next Inspiral Carpets tour.

This is how it feels, indeed.

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