I went to a ‘gig’, a concert, a thing. I went to see a band, locally, at Carlisle Sands Centre. Thursday night was The Stranglers, Friday was Simple Minds, Saturday was Jake Bugg. So I had a choice. I had seen the Stranglers at a festival before and been underwhelmed, had seen Simple Minds many years ago. And as for Jake Bugg ? Who ? So It was a choice of one of the first two. My friend is a Stranglers fan so we chose that one. I cannot say I was particularly excited about a band from the 70’s who I knew about half a dozen songs from.
Nevertheless we arrived to a deserted centre just in time to see an angry lead singer of the support band The Godfathers start their set. It seemed momentarily he was directing his anger mainly at me as I was stood atop the disabled platform and at his level rather than the crowds,,,,,, cowering behind a wheelchair.
Now the Sands Centre is a Sports and 5 a side arena most of its life and it is criticised by some for its acoustics and this is where age is a bonus. The support was good, we imbibed a couple of beers in the break and waited. The centre was perhaps half full and there was the worry that the disappointing turnout may lead to a lack lustre show from a band I didn’t really choose to see. The audience was full of forty somethings like me and older and some newer converts. the lead singer wasn’t the original one so would it sound the same.
The countdown started on the stage as the lights came down and bass driven guitars and drum music kicked in. Have to admit it was bloody good, Extremely bloody good actually. They were infinitely better than I expected, and back to my age being a bonus I think the tweeters in my ears packed in many years ago, so I love a heavy sound. The intricate sounds of an orchestra and its arrangements are beyond my hearing and probably beyond my musical comprehension, I suppose a bit like fine wine, to appreciate classical music you have to study it. I never did, I think wine all tastes the same. I can however tell Coca Cola from any other type of drink…….
And my own musical tastes are based on my comprehension of guitar players and lyrics rather than the finer nuances of a violinist or string section playing a delicate quiet part of a concerto.I am too old to change that now.
But The Stranglers were fantastic, they were tight and the drummer and guitarist were loud. Carlisle got its usual ribbing off the lead singer, who told the audience ‘I have family in Carlisle, I never visit them though’. And they didn’t end the set as predictably as me with ‘Heroes’. Local centres like The Sands take a lot of stick over trying to cover all genres, by day people play sports, football, badminton and the likes, by night, a concert, a play, a Pantomime. The staff and management do a damn good job of attempting to satiate a wide spectrum of tastes.
I will be back at the Sands 3 days a week for the gym with my headphones on destroying whats left of the tweeters and high range hearing. I will be back in a couple of months to watch Blondie, and I will enjoy the acoustics too. Blondie herself is over 60 so I will choose not to watch from the very front so I can transport myself back to a pubescent schoolboy from the 80’s who had a severe crush on Debbie Harry and not the middle aged man I am now, and Debbie can still be 30 odd herself for an evening.