So, there we were driving down the Hagley road on a wet and windy Saturday night off to enjoy a well deserved Christmas present treat. Namely going to attend a gig at the, I have to say truly impressive Symphony hall, part of the International Convention Centre, nestling in the heart of Birmingham City Centre.
The band in question played a once pivotal role in my teenage memories, 10CC were one of those bands who knocked out some super pop ditties that have in fairness stood the test of time. My interest in the band was re-kindled when we watched a movie over the Christmas holidays where for some reason, the timeless Ballard “I’m not in love” made a guest appearance. It was one of the first singles that I ever brought (singles incidentally for any millennials reading this does not refer to single status, or indeed individual slices of cheese, no, the iconic single was a small record that rotated at 45rpm, on the record player and consisted of an A side and a B side).
Listening once again to its haunting melodic harmonies took me straight back to the last ten minutes of the school or indeed even worse, church youth club disco. Oh the horror…yes, anyone old enough to remember the timeless embarrassment of plucking up the super human courage required to ask a girl to dance when the slowey came on. Only to have the ritual humiliation of the girl sniggering a “no way thank you”, as her mates giggled on in mutual support of her wise decision to send you on the long walk of shame, back to your own collection of equally rejected mates. Leaving the cool guys to sweep the best looking girls off their feet, and you to skulk home to heal your pain.
So, we get to the gig, tickets are checked and directions given and we head to the bar, where much to my surprise I find I am transported into what appears to be a very busy nursing home. The place is full of old people, indeed I note that security are putting out extras seats as some people are clearly unable to stand and hold a drink. In fact I notice that in the centre of the bar there appears to be a circle of fans in wheelchairs, they have arranged themselves into a large circle. Not unlike in those cowboy films, where just before they get attacked by the about to be massacred native red indians, where the invading cowboys put their wagons in a protective circle. So, it was with these good folks, ironically their defensive circle blocked access to the very busily utilised toilets. Ironic really, given the adverts for motorists blocking pavements for people in wheelchairs.
Anyway, as I surveyed the scene it struck me that all these good folks, just like me had come to the gig to relive their youth, the only difference was that we had all grown old. Indeed I was half expecting a game of bingo to break out, it seemed fitting given the excited buzz, or maybe that was a bit strong, more like gentle hum of expectation. Before I knew it we were being summonsed to our seats, I partly expected matron to appear maybe Hattie Jaques from the Carry On films to gently usher folk to their seats, before the gig finished.
Anyway we ascended to our allocated seats located high up in the air traffic control tower, where we went through the delicate process of slowly squeezing past those already seated. This required them all standing up, where there was virtually no space to meander past the incumbents. Anybody vaguely large had a real challenge walking a very narrow plank, with an almost sheer drop on the left hand side and having imbibed alcohol made it a health and safety nightmare. Somehow no one fell to their death, and bang, the lights dimmed and the introductory video came on the big screen. Next thing out came the band, Graham Goldman, El Capitan as he is known lead the charge, and I have to say from the first chord, it was a class act.
These guys have been doing this since the early seventies, and they have a truly impressive back catalogue, truly tireless ease from masters of their craft. To be fair they are also mostly men in their sixties, so as you can imagine mobility was limited, but it did not matter, as it kind of reflected the immobility of the audience. As the night went on the performances just got better and better. True troubadours and consummate entertainers, the melodic wall of sound was uplifting, and everything sounded exactly as it did as if it was back in the day on the bedroom record player. The final half hour was super, the big classics were brought out, an encore was expected and given and a special ackapelo version of Donna, was performed. Finally a true rock and roll version of Rubber bullets was hammered out with dancing breaking out across the theatre. Dodgy hips and tickers were forgotten as the joy of movement made a rare but welcome appearance.
Overall, a great night out and all concerned had a great time, after all that is what it is all about. Enjoying the band, the songs, the memories, and of course the Lumbago….ouch, there it goes again, where is that Stannah remote when you need it?