Aging Rocker Chick Sees Concert

When people ask what kind of music I like, I always answer that it depends on my mood. Sometimes, classical does the trick, sometimes world music, sometimes ABBA (yes, really. There is no better music when you need to clean). But my first love is rock. This past weekend I got to immerse myself in the music of an artist whom I’ve loved for decades.

My first exposure to JohnMellencamp was in the early 1980s, back in the days he was John Cougar Mellencamp. More specifically, when my friend Michele introduced me to the Uh Huh album . The rebel howl of the music and the lyrics spoke to me, creating an instant connection. And the Authority Song became Our Song, the song of our friendship.

The last time Michele and I saw John Mellencamp was 20 years ago. That was at the CNE Stadium. This weekend, we saw him play the Sony Centre, a much smaller venue, but it worked to our advantage. Even though we were in rear orchestra, we had an excellent view (when people in front weren’t standing up, that is) and the Sony Centre is known for its good acoustics. The music was loud, but not so loud it ruined the music and make you partially deaf (see: every single stadium show I’ve ever attended).

Friday’s show was fantastic. Carlene Carter opened and boy, what a voice! It was just her and a guitar and she fully held our attention. 

John Mellencamp remains in excellent form, singing with conviction, his raspy voice making it all seems so true, and backed by musicians who've been with him for decades. It was seamless and perfect, and joyful.

There were songs that we didn’t know and they were excellent and then there were songs that everyone knew. There is something truly magical about being at a concert where the audience sings every word of a song. The energy and the connection between the person on the stage and the several thousand people watching (and singing) is nothing but extraordinary.

Friday’s show was illuminating in a sense that if we hadn’t realized it before, it’s now obvious that we are middle-aged. To wit, here are a few of the comments we made to each other:

I’d forgotten how loud a rock concert is.

It’s 7:30 PM, Carlene Carter is on stage. Why don’t they close the doors?

$40 for a T-shirt? Naaah… Too much.

Really? Half the audience wonders in between 7:30 and 8:30? Would it kill you to be on time?

Would it be wrong to throw spitballs at those two girls sitting with their noses in their phones while there’s an artist singing on stage?

We got our copies of Carter Girl signed! And met Carlene Carter! She’s so nice!!

Wow. That’s an interesting choice of outfit.


No, really. Shhhhh. If you had wanted to have a loud conversation, you could have stayed home and listened to the CD.


Why is everyone streaming between the seat and the lobby? To get beer? More beer? To get rid of all the beer? What’s next — smoking weed in the aisles?

It takes talent to dance along with a cup of beer in each hand. Oh, she’s switching out. Now it’s a beer in one hand and a phone in the other.

Really? It’s the end of the show and he’s singing the classics easily for another 20 minutes. You have to leave now?

And then, there were moments when something else altogether happened and you left middle age behind in the dust.

When the first cords of the Authority Song rang through the hall, everyone jumped to their feet and whooped and started dancing. Mellencamp mentioned he'd written the song at 26, but that "tonight I feel just like I did back then." And he was not alone. For the chorus, we all sang along, Michele and I looking at each other, singing at the top of our lungs. And 30 years fell away and we were back in the cab of the truck, the Authority Song blaring from the stereo, the two of us singing and bobbing along, while Michele’s then-boyfriend and my parents stood outside, shaking their heads.

Middle aged we may be, tamed, and grown responsible we may be, but the young rocker chicks still live inside of us, ready to break out.

Crank this to 11 and start your week right.



Kaz said…
When Simon and Garfunkle did their last tour, we got premier tickets via a friend in the industry. Clearly, however, there were a LOT of sweet young things who'd dressed for a nightclub sitting in nearby seats who were there to be seen, rather than for the artists (who, BTW were AWESOME), given that their faces were buried in their phones for the entire concert - I kid you not. Clearly they'd had their seats paid for - they were far from cheap in that area - or they'd have been paying attention...because it beats me why someone would pay hundreds of dollars to not watch and engage with the event...
My reaction was similar to yours - welcome to the age of reason - bugger it being middle age!
Full Tilt said…
I've almost given up on being an aging rocker chick...The last time I went to a concert, a stranger dropped beer in my lap...the bottle broke and the glass wasn't particularly good for my wheels...
Nowadays, I stick to the occasional symphony in the park...more family friendly and polite.
It's the one time you want those yakkers at shows, movies, performances, weddings and funerals (nothing is sacred) to text!

Despite it all, I'm glad you enjoyed the show!

One of my favourite JCM songs is, well, all of them!