When The Wheels Touch Ground

It is an obvious truth that none of us has ever been older than we are today. But do we always feel our age? Over recent months I’ve been ill a fair bit, and have been feeling way short of my best, but that had never made me feel old. But, last Friday, I did. The reason for that is shown in this post from my Instagram that evening:

For anyone who doesn’t know of it, Glastonbury is the biggest music festival in the UK. It began in 1970, when it was more of a hippy trip than a fully blown extravaganza, but has grown to the point where it sells out 200,000 tickets at around £200 each, within hours, and without having announced any of the acts who will be playing. I guess the punters want to be there so much that they’re happy to take the risk that over six stages and four days there will be something to make the financial investment worthwhile, not to mention the privations of living in a tent in what are usually fields of mud – though not this year, as the weather gods smiled.

In all honesty, I’ve never really been a fan of music in the open air. Call me a boring old traditionalist, but there is something about an indoor venue with good acoustics which I find unbeatable – for me, it isn’t the same when the music just wafts away into the air. The nearest I’ve ever got to a festival was the Isle of Wight in 1970 – the UK’s answer to Woodstock from the previous year. A group of us had planned to ride our motor scooters to the festival but in the end it didn’t happen. I think it was something to do with our mums finding out! In the mid 70s the local council in Harlow, where I lived at the time, ran several free concerts in the Town Park. I remember seeing Thin Lizzy there in 1975, Fairport Convention and (ahem) Mud in 1976 – we only went to see Mud as the DJ between acts was the guy who we’d had at our wedding the previous year, honest! After that, memory is a little hazier, though I think we saw the Glitter Band (without the disgraced one) and the Real Thing, amongst others – my ex-wife’s musical taste was a lot more pop-oriented than mine! There were also rumours that an up and coming band called AC/DC were going to play, but that may be apocryphal and they didn’t show up anyway. It may have been the acts we saw, but for most of the shows I found myself people watching, and as the music was far from memorable my view of open air concerts had been set in stone in the canyons of my mind (bonus points if you get that reference!)

But I digress. Back to Glastonbury last weekend. Although I’ve long felt that the festival has moved miles from its roots and is now no more than a giant moneymaker, paying the bands far less than they would get elsewhere because they know it looks good on their CV, the television coverage by the BBC has expanded too, and I usually enjoy some of what they offer. So, as usual, I tuned in last Friday. My first thought was that the presenters were awful. Firstly, there was Jo Whiley, who was wearing a dress made out of those silver wraps they give marathon runners after a race, set off by a pair of off-white baseball boots and black ankle socks. She’s only 51 after all, so maybe she hasn’t fully developed dress sense yet. And I found her giggly school kid act too much to bear. With her was a guy who looked like the love child of Julianne Moore and Mick Hucknall – to my eyes he was a bearded hipster twat. I couldn’t find a sick bag, but was relieved when they actually stopped gushing and telling us how ‘awesome’ everyone was (how I hate that word!) and played some music. Firstly, Kris Kristoffersen, whose songs I’ve enjoyed for many years. Sadly, he was showing every one of his 81 years, and looked and sounded awful. I tried their other channel, which was showing the band Elbow. To be fair, I’ve never understood their popularity, and this performance did nothing to change that: feeble vocals, over tuneless dirges which all sounded the same and dragged interminably. But Jo and the Bearded Twat told me that Elbow were, you guessed it, awesome – so I began thinking that maybe it was me. It was at that point that I took to Instagram. Maybe you can see how I felt, and there were still two days of potential disappointment to come!

I know, I can hear you saying it was my choice to watch and I could have switched over, but the event promised so much and there is that feeling of not wanting to miss out on the good bits. So, like a hapless victim, I tuned in again on Saturday. I saw some of the sets by the Kaiser Chiefs – always fun – and Katy Perry – one of those pop acts that I think shouldn’t be there. Not really my cup of tea, and not a patch on Lady Gaga when she played there some years ago – she really does know how to put on a show wearing silly clothes! For me, the main attraction was always going to be the Saturday headliners: the Foo Fighters. They aren’t to everyone’s taste, and you need to switch off the swearometer when Dave Grohl speaks, but boy do they put on a show! Two hours twenty minutes flew by in a flash, and suddenly all was right in my Glastonbury world again. Sunday was a bit of a let down, though – Barry Gibb was passable, the Killers a little off par, and as for the headline act – Ed Sheeran – sorry, but I just found him incredibly tedious.

I’ve looked at the BBC’s website to catch up on acts I missed, but there was nothing that really took my fancy. So, that looks like that for another year – well, two actually, as 2018 is one of their ‘fallow’ years when they give the Worthy Farm cows a chance to recover from their deafness. But at least I have the memories of Saturday night. They even played this one, which they don’t always do, and as it is my favourite of theirs that was a real bonus:

As the man says, ‘when the wheels touch ground’ you’re ready for another round in life. And as I’ve often said that music possesses restorative powers, I’m happy to confirm that I’m not feeling quite so old any more 😊

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25 thoughts on “When The Wheels Touch Ground

  1. Clive, Music always brings me back to places where I felt comfortable.My Dad had a band and he played on the weekends. Saturday nights he would go to the cellar and polish his shoes with boot black. I love that smell. It reminds me of him. And Old Spice, too. He would take out a reed and wet it and place it into his saxophone and play some scales. They came drifting upstairs where I was taking my weekly bath. I grew up with music and went to lots of concerts. And yes, I was at Woodstock. Music is such a large part of all of our lives. I’m glad it has made you feel better and if I were there with you, I’d sing you a lullaby. Sleep tight my friend.

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    • Those are lovely memories of your father. My mum played the piano but only for fun, not on stage. She used to get me to sing with her till my boy treble broke and I lost the ability to hold a tune! I’m very jealous of you going to Woodstock. The closest I’ve got to that is the DVD. The lullaby is a lovely idea, thank you. Have a lovely Sunday 😊

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      • Clive, I know you’ll forgive me for answering this a week later, but you know why. I’m so glad I can find out what your about on Face Book. I hope to start blogging again this week. I’m trying to imagine your boy treble but it just doesn’t go with your photo.

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      • I know how busy you’ve been and I’m pleased the book launch went so well. I look forward to seeing your blog about it. I lost the boy treble over 50 years ago – I’ve changed a bit since then!

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  2. Back in the ’90s when I lived in Yorkshire I attended a couple of classical music and Jazz concerts at open air venues. The atmosphere, especially Fountains Abbey, always trumped the music.
    Never been to Glasto, but son has been several years recently though he missed out on tickets this year. He’s got ticket instead to Ireland’s equivalent which takes place within a mile of my home. It also sells out (though capacity is only 50k) within minutes of tickets going on sale. Elbow happens to have been announced within the last few days as one of the headliners, joining DuranDuran, Chaka Khan and Madness among many others. (check it out here: https://www.electricpicnic.ie/)
    But, like Glasto, it’s a festival with a lot more to offer, including many music genres, drama, dance and literature alongside the pop and rock. Yes, I’ve been – we get heavily discounted tickets as compensation for living so close to it. Lately I’ve been passing them on to my grand daughter – wandering around a field for hours on end makes my feet and legs hurt which is when I begin to feel my age.
    Thanks, Clive, for an entertaining read.

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    • Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing on Twitter. I take your point about Fountains Abbey, but I’m not sure I’d want to enjoy the atmosphere more than the music! One place I’d consider is the Minack in Cornwall, with a suitable folk band playing. And at least there wouldn’t be a need for wandering around muddy fields either! I hope you aren’t too inconvenienced by your Glasto equivalent – I can’t say your selection from the line up enthrals me but I’ll look it up to find out more. Thanks for reading, Frank.

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  3. I never really enjoyed the outdoor music thing and I’m way past wanting to bathe in mud to see a performance. Just me and if people enjoy it good luck to them. Several friends went and I had no envy at all not did I mind a jot that I couldn’t see it in the telly here. In stark contrast this morning I woke to a barrage of video clips from my daughter who had last minute tickets to see Adele at Wembley … all proceeds to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Now THAT I would have loved to be part of xx

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  4. I have great memories of outdoor concerts in my hometown, Adelaide – Beach Boys on a stunning hot day, ELO, Dylan, Simon and Garfunket. Something about the big crowd and atmosphere. I saw the Foo Fighters at an indoor arena – one of the great concerts I have ever been too and more recently Springsteen who I know I’d like in any venue!

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  5. I’ve never been a Foo Fighters fan but I too was looking around trying to find someone I liked and found myself turning the volume up and up and really getting into them! The energy was astounding – I heard the drummer say he’d only had 2 hours’ sleep! I love The Killers and was so pleased to come across their set – I hadn’t heard the rumours of their appearance – and I think they always give a good performance. This time I knew all the words and was hollering till I was hoarse 😂 I like Jo Whiley too, she knows her stuff and the artists know her and are relaxed with her. I usually find someone I like that I hadn’t heard before and buy their album, but not this year. I think my husband would take a dim view f Foo Fighters blasting out just as I do Leonard Cohen 😄 I hope your health is on the up 💐

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    • Glad you enjoyed them, they saved the festival for me. I have all their albums, and they always put on a great show. I’m glad you enjoyed the Killers too – as I said, I was a little underwhelmed. I’ve seen them live before and they weren’t as good this time, in my view. There’s a place in every home for both the Foo Fighters and Leonard Cohen – well, there is in mine 😊 I’ve never been that impressed by Jo Whiley, sorry. Such a shame John Peel isn’t with us any longer, he was the best by far. Whispering Bob would be good too, though old enough to be grandfather to most of this year’s presenters! Health is very slowly improving, thank you 😊

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