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Recently some friends of ours asked us if we’d like to join them at this event. They are maximum fun so we said yes without giving it much more thought than that. It was a music event at Wembley all good. As the day approached we checked the line-up and discovered there were 20 acts that divided up roughly as follows:

  • 60% of which we’d never heard
  • 30% of which we’d vaguely heard
  • 10% we knew (that was Craig David and Will-i-am)

*Note: the above may not be totally mathematically correct – it’s directional.

Still, this didn’t faze me (it did Colin a little who did some murmuring about some football match that I stopped listening to after the word foot). I decided to frame it as a great chance to get back into the popular music scene having spent 3 years in KL and a further 3 years before that immersed in only Monkey Music, Gymboree and with songs formed of animal noises and the tapping of body parts. My plan was to soak it up, to remain objective and open to new things and to not be the clichéd parent for whom music was not like that in their day.

The experience I’m happy to say was indeed enriching. I found I knew about 1 in 3 of the songs and really liked about 1 in every other batch of 3 (see asterisk above). I found a wholesome youthfulness to the acts that was both nice and troubling that a very high percentage were of viable age to be my child – other than Craig David maybe (he could be the father by Wednesday)

As I expressed earlier, mathematically I can’t say I really loved the bulk of the Capital music gig but I enjoyed it all and I totally loved watching the people that did love it. The row in front of us was a perfect example.   They were an absolute delight to watch – pure unselfconscious immersion in every second of every song. I suspect the mums had each been serious Ibiza standard clubbers in their day. As I wiggled awkwardly in my seat, they had leapt up and were screaming the lyrics back to the acts, jabbing a pointed finger towards the sky. This was the vibe for most of the audience as far as I can tell.

I felt quite envious but so happy for them. Before writing this post I made a list of all the live music events I’d been to in order to try and identify times I had felt like that row in front of us. When were the times I had just cut loose and why? I had a long list and I isolated these:

  1. Every time I’ve ever seen The Pogues (approx. 5, 4 at Brixton Academy)
  2. The Specials at Brixton Academy
  3. Faithless (especially the opening to Insomnia at sundown) at a V Festival
  4. Super Furry Animals at a V Festival where they were joined spontaneously and unexpectedly by Goldie Lookin Chain
  5. The Zutons at Brixton Academy
  6. The Fratellis at Brixton Academy
  7. An ADCD tribute band at Mr Kyps in Poole (Dirty DC?)
  8. My friend Carly singing at The Bee in KL
  9. The Sultans of Ping at some dingy basement in Camden
  10. Duffy at V Festival

I’ve gone through this list and there isn’t one single recurring theme. There is a high propensity for extreme happiness to occur at the Brixton Academy or at a V Festival. There’s some indie Britpop. There’s a cover band and a friend. All of them are standing gigs. Some are based on pure physical response to the vocals and there is a high correlation with being merrily and happily intoxicated.

The notable thing is that these are special yet represent about 5% of all live music I’ve seen. The cool row in front of us at Wembley appeared to feel like this for 7 hours – genuinely, no faking. And that is special.

And so my conclusion is this. I am happy this music exists. I also have these key findings:

  • Little Mix are a right sassy bunch. I intend to download one of their songs for my running playlist
  • That guy who sings the “once I was 7 years old” song is ADORABLE
  • Jess Glynne is not the X Factor style ballad crooner I had anticipated but a club anthem belter that I instantly googled and am now slightly in awe (despite songs probably not making the running playlist)
  • Years and Years are more interesting than I thought they’d be
  • Craig David STILL wants his crowd to say BO while bragging about bonking a girl by mid-week but it works

I liked my 7 hours of finding out about pop music in 2016 Britain. I liked the row in front of us. I didn’t feel old. I didn’t think the music was better in my day because I still don’t believe my day has come. I believe more than ever that music has power.

Nothing from the Capital Summertime ball made my top 10 live music experiences but those were pretty special eh and other than The Pogues I didn’t see them coming at the time. And that’s the beauty isn’t it? We should always remain open to music because you just never know. BO!

(Selecta)

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