Sunday, June 24, 2007

Nostalgia Making a Comeback

Dry Glastonbury
A slightly idealised view
For once I come to praise the Mother Ship, not to bury it. Faced with a rather empty bar last night, Shrek decided to crank up the volume and put the live Glastonbury coverage. It was a welcome change from the regular rota of American Pro-wrestling, Poker and minor Snooker and Golf tournaments that usually fill the screens there later in the evening, ever since Sky were forced out of the market for better 'filler' material like the Australian Rugby League due to their need to pay even more for Premier League football.

I could point out that this was the result of a typically retarded bit of EU interventionism in what was a pretty functional market, but I won't; there is no need as this ridiculous organisation has spent the last few months making a fool of itself, culminating in a massive self inflicted wound in the early hours of Saturday morning. As usual the supporters of the EU have done the work of their opponents with welcome efficiency, so we can put our feet up and watch it haemorrhage goodwill by its own actions. Even its dwindling band of supporters from the authoritarian left of the newspaper spectrum like the Independent seem to have woken up to the fact that another chance has passed to turn around the current inevitable decline of the EU; it's welcome, but sorry, you're too late.

The inevitability of the way proceedings progressed was so well trailed by the likes of Dan Hannan, that despite the denials of the EUrofanatics, I really would have been better off at Glastonbury. I don't know if you're allowed to be nostalgic about something you've never done, but I was anyway. For all the mud, and the rip-offs led in no small part by the TUC owned "Worker's Beer Co-operative" charging £4 for a flimsy plastic beaker of even weaker beer, I really want to go next year. There have been some good overseas offerings televised this year but the backbone has remained strongly domestic, and nobody would expect anything different. There are many things that the UK still leads the world in, but, at least in my opinion the only claim that stands almost unchallenged is its leadership in today's music. Even America doesn't come close, and mainland Europe, yes, well the less said about that the better. Ireland and Australia come close, but the size of the respective populations means that the Britain, and it is very much a strength in all constituent nations, does still rule the airwaves.

I would have to admit though that I did enjoy last night's wrap up by a non-Brit, Iggy Pop, not someone, Passenger aside, that would be in my personal playlist. There was high quality mayhem as the stewards seemed forced into a role reversal, trying to keep the veteran performer out of the crowd, rather than keeping the crowd away from the stage. For all the chaos, mud, filth and expensive beer the crowd on both sides of the Day-Glo barrier were lapping up every moment.

Wet Glastonbury
Hmm...the grim reality?
OK, I will have to fork out some serious money to get living conditions that will allow me to avoid contracting trench foot, but I am going to do it. There isn't actually a great rush though as one of the great features of the British music scene is its almost complete lack of ageism. It's an area where society has undergone a quiet, but very significant, cultural revolution. The musical overlap between myself and my parent's generation is wafer thin, but that between even those who spent a little more than my ten months in the sixties and the vast majority of this weekend's mud dwellers is almost complete.

Yes, crap music is churned out today, but during my lifetime there always has been and my reject to respect ratio hasn't really changed as long as I've been interested in music. The majority of gigs I go to have representatives from those, at a guess in their late forties or early fifties, right down to those still getting ID checked at the bar. The ratios change a bit from concert to concert, but nothing is the domain of only a single generation today. We are no longer defined in the same way by the music of the prevailing generation.

It wasn't always the case; my parents are only separated by four years in age, but music, other than golf, is the only fault line between them, my father being very much Bill Haley, my mother engaged in the never ending debate of her musical generation between the Stones and the Beatles. My mother can even, reasonably comfortably identify with the more digestible offerings of today, while dad finds his parents swing bands easier going despite being on every other measure more the thoroughly modern pensioner; he's the silver surfer who sorts out pub arrangements by e-mail and even entered the world of Stalkerbook before I did. He is taking it a little far these days, throwing away years of being a prohibitionist headmaster when it comes to soft drugs by enjoying the odd spliff in a friend's greenhouse now and again, but I still don't see him buying even a Hendrix CD.

It's hard to identify what is different today; perhaps it's just a market that is becoming more sophisticated as new entrants look more positively on classic acts of a slightly earlier age, while we early adopters look with more open minds at newer offerings.

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