Be­fore you go . ..

Tony Red­man ex­pe­ri­ences his first pop con­cert

EADT Suffolk - - Inside - Tony Red­man

MY DAUGH­TER has re­cently helped me to knock an­other thing off my bucket list. I had al­ways wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence an open air rock con­cert. Glas­ton­bury be­ing too far away, and me think­ing that Lat­i­tude sounded too al­ter­na­tive for some­one of my age, I was pre­pared to set­tle for a sin­gle group event. So we chose the El­bow con­cert (other bands were also avail­able), held in the for­est on our north western bor­der with the neigh­bour­ing county we don’t men­tion here.

I had no pre­con­cep­tions about the event, and so wear­ing suit­able shoes and dressed for every even­tu­al­ity, es­pe­cially those of the pre­cip­i­ta­tion kind, we packed an­cient fold­ing chairs and headed for the for­est.

Now I have to say, sev­eral things shat­tered my ex­pec­ta­tions. To be­gin with, I was nowhere near the old­est per­son on the patch. Within the sea of peo­ple cover­ing the grass, I felt quite at home. There were clearly a fair few folk of ‘my gen­er­a­tion’, still suf­fi­ciently game and con­nected to en­joy such a con­cert as this. In­deed, there were groups of geri­atrics dot­ted about, dis­tin­guish­able by their choice of sen­si­ble cloth­ing and pic­nics in­clud­ing co­pi­ous quan­ti­ties of up-mar­ket al­co­hol. I don’t think the lo­cal geri­atric home had ar­ranged an out­ing, but if they had I would not have been sur­prised. Then there were the fam­i­lies with very young chil­dren, and folk in wheel­chairs. Ev­ery­one seemed to be catered for and up for a good night out.

“Where do you want to sit?” Daugh­ter asked me, rather as one might ask of an aged aunt be­ing taken to the sea­side for the day. Choos­ing a space dead cen­tre seemed sen­si­ble, close enough to the fast food and toi­lets, far enough away from the stage so as not to be deaf­ened by the vol­ume. Un­fold­ing slightly rick­ety chairs, we claimed a space, fac­ing the stage, and counted the speak­ers – 14 each side, lead­ing me to an­tic­i­pate with some dread a ca­coph­ony of sound when the band kicked off. In an at­tempt to over­come bore­dom we de­vised some sim­ple games fo­cused on the stream of peo­ple go­ing back­wards and for­wards in front of us to the toi­lets and food stalls. The first was a dare to dis­tract passers-by and re­move a chip or two from their take-aways. One point per item. We both scored ‘Nil point’ on that. The sec­ond was to count how many peo­ple you could def­i­nitely prove had been past more than twice. Some were eas­ier to spot than oth­ers. The heav­ily tat­tooed young lady, the weirdy beardy blokes, those with ex­ces­sive fa­cial met­al­work or a gar­ish taste in tee shirts, or with young chil­dren.

This moved onto footwear, which out of nowhere be­came a ma­jor rev­e­la­tion. Most men wore boots, clearly an­tic­i­pat­ing trou­ble­some ter­rain, while most women wore skimpy leather thongy sandals, or else went bare, clearly un­fazed by the size of wood­land ants.

Just in front of us, a group of forty-some­things were hav­ing a party. Next to them a hairy bloke and his tro­phy wife were drink­ing stand­ing up, neatly ob­scur­ing the stage from view. Im­me­di­ately in front of them, a group of six­tysome­things sat on a blan­ket and opened fizz and crisps, while next to them five girls were at­tempt­ing to take a selfie with both them­selves and the stage in view, ham­pered by the wear­ing of im­pos­si­bly high heels and the quan­tity of al­co­hol con­sumed. Be­hind us, a fam­ily spread out a sen­si­ble pic­nic, com­plete with home cut ham sand­wiches, jam tarts and flasks of steam­ing tea, for all the world look­ing as though they were spend­ing a day on the beach. Only this was the for­est, and it was get­ting dark, and the band were about to strike up.” Hello, Thet­ford!” we heard from some­one some­where in front of us. Ev­ery­one stood up, in­clud­ing the sixty-some­things, who de­cided the blan­ket dou­bled as a door mat. It quickly be­came ap­par­ent that none of th­ese se­date coun­try folk would be seden­tary for long, and soon we were sur­rounded by bounc­ing bod­ies. As the band got into their stride, the stream of peo­ple head­ing for the toi­lets sub­sided to a trickle, and we sat back to en­joy what I feared would be a very long, loud even­ing. But no sooner was I im­mersed in the at­mos­phere than the band was telling us it was their last num­ber. The light show in­ten­si­fied, peo­ple started to pack up their pic­nics, in­clud­ing Captain Sen­si­ble be­hind me, who had put every­thing away and was on his way back to the car park.

And be­fore you could say “that was fun”, we were in a queue, in the dark, head­ing back to­wards where we thought we might have aban­doned the car.

Now if some­one was to of­fer me a ticket to see Ed Sheeran . . .

El­bow per­form at For­est Live.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.