I dropped my daughter off outside the Manchester Apollo last week and watched her, and her giddy friends, go on their way to see Katy Perry. It brought back memories, I wasn't much older than her when I went to see my first ever concert, The Teardrop Explodes, at the same venue.Up until then I was an avid watcher of Top of the Pops and looked forward to Sunday nights when my brother and I would listen to the Top Twenty Show on the radio and wait with increasing excitement to see what was number one. I made dozens of tapes, complete with sudden song endings to cut out the DJ's chat. Seeing a band live for the first time was utterly brilliant, I recall what I was wearing with clarity and how I thought Julien Cope was a genius ( forgive me, I was a child).
Not too long afterwards I heard the first few chords of "This Charming Man" by The Smiths and I fell in love instantly. I was almost incandescent with joy that this wonderful band were from my home town. I wrote "Meat Is Murder" on my bag and became a vegetarian. This lasted about two days. My friends and I travelled the country to see bands like REM and U2 and proudly spoke Mancunian with exaggerated accents. We made Liam Gallagher sound posh.
I saw The Smiths in Manchester in the mid 1980s and it was one of the best gigs ever. Entering my twenties, the Madchester scene was in full swing; New Order, the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays then Oasis, it was a great time to live in the city. I never really liked the Hacienda though, it was full of people trying too hard to be cool. We went next door, to The Venue, or usually The Continental. When the DJ played James, we sat down en masse, usually into puddles of cider.
And then...and then. The wilderness years. I settled down, got a job, bought a house, got married, had a child. Music wasn't the important force it once was. I still went to gigs occasionally, but to bands I would have once written off as hopelessly uncool.I listened mostly to singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell (or St Joni as she is known in this house), James Taylor and Nick Drake. I liked women artists such as Natalie Merchant, Alison Krauss and Stevie Nicks. I tended not to listen to much modern stuff anymore, nothing excited me.
Then, a couple of years ago, I was watching Jools Holland and a band came on. They were from Tennesse and had bad hair and bad beards. They played a song, I think it was "Fans" and call it a mid-life crisis if you like, but Kings of Leon awoke me from my musical torpor. I bought their albums and played them non-stop. I dragged my poor daughter to see them twice ( my husband had lost interest in music the day Hall and Oates split up).
Since then I have fallen in love with music all over again. Laura Marling, The Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists and the list is growing.
My daughter shakes her head and calls it my "freaky music" but I don't care. What is great about getting older, is that you can like or dislike anything without worrying if it's cool or not.
To prove life always comes full circle, I now make compilations again. Not terribly edited tapes, but cds for the car. I have finally got my music mojo back.