15 February 2008
By R. B. STUART
In an attempt to recapture my beloved 20's through the music of the 80's, while in NH the summer of 2004 I was compelled to see a concert at the Manchester Verizon Arena. The Rock n' Soul Review listed Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald and The Average White Band. I was so captivated by the line up---I decided to go alone.
I guess at 44 years-old one hopes to be grounded enough in who he is to solitarily entertain oneself. Without any conversational distractions; being solo allows you to immerse yourself in the situation, even if that means consciously observing yourself within the event, by allowing discoveries about how you view yourself to gurgle upward like heartburn in the aging world of baby boomers.
As I entered the brightly lit arena I was startled by the sea of leisure wear, Hawaiian print shirts, receding hairlines, eyeglasses and over weight balding men neatly tucked into their seats. Had I stumbled into a Wayne Newton concert, or could they really be my peers? No one was even wearing black (blame it on the region), even Michael McDonald was dressed as if he was jamming at home.
Everyone was sitting in a civil manner, not one stood on their chair and the only bottle seen swigging was that of Aqua. Where was the smuggling of liquor in your soda can, or bottle of beer wrapped in two fists with a cigarette hanging off your lips? The 50 year-olds had become music aficionados---simply there to listen, spouse by their side.
Had things changed that drastically in 10 years? The last concert I think I went to see was Alice Cooper in San Diego or was it Bowie and Tin Machine in NYC? I was in my mid 30's then, but now I'm closer to 50 than 20. I found myself rejecting the notion I was amongst my generation. All these old fogies around me must have chaperoned their rockin' 20 something children---for why would they like this type of music? I sat stoically dismissing the idea that they were there as I---for the sweetened music of the past.
Attending concerts in my 20's, I recall seeing U2 in Boston, standing on my seat gyrating, singing and crying with excitement from the intensity of their music. Flash forward twenty years and I find myself sitting motionless listening to Michael McDonald sing a Stevie Wonder song---weeping from the feelings of loss experienced in my life.
While listening to my favorite music at home or in the car---it seems to retain the fantasy of my youth. But the ebb and flow of time smacks me with the reality of aging. Now I sit amongst the other 40, 50 and 60 year-olds bobbing my head and reminiscing bits of my life woven into each song---remembering the loves gone by.
I realize that I may have been traumatized by this event---but when Hall & Oates trotted on stage---I jumped to my feet and burst out hollering, slapping my eyeglass case against my palm like a make shift tambourine, singing in a transfixed state as if I was at a Christian Revival. I saw them as vibrant, ageless, artists capable of stopping time for an hour---so that I too could feel, ageless once again.
Copyright July 18, 2004, R. B. STUART All rights reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.