Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Rock and rules

I hate it when I hear people going on about how things were better in their day. "Oh, kids today have no respect", "you don't get comedy on TV like that anymore", "music isn't what it was when I was growing up". What a load of boring and inaccurate tosh, it really is. Generalisation was certainly more insightful when I were a lad.

People believe such tripe because a) they have short memories, b) unlike when they were growing up their identity is now no longer defined by music, comedy & TV, and c) they are now adults being shown little respect from kids rather than the other way around.

It's rare that you get the chance to do something you used to do as a kid that you haven't done for years. But this happened the Friday before last when I was at a rock club in Derby celebrating my oldest mate Andy Larkum's stag do. By oldest mate I don't mean he's approaching eighty I just mean I've known him longer than I've known anyone else. Thirty years and counting to be precise. Here, look, it's a picture of the back of Andy's head in the moshpit.


There once was a day when I would have been in there with him singing along, throwing my elbows about & avoiding the large, aged, skinhead nutter in the middle. Like many who grew up in London during the early 90's I crowd surfed my teenage years away at Brixton Academy, raided Army Surplus stores the length and breadth of Croydon and broke my arm stage diving off my parents sofa to 'Love Your Money' by Daisy Chainsaw after they went away for the weekend. I told them I fell down the stairs.

But due to suffering the after effects of being elbowed in the ribs during footy the week earlier (and the fact I unwittingly chose the start of 'Teen Spirit' to go to the gents) I settled for an armchair view where I soon realised Andy had turned into that token, aged skinhead nutter.

Whilst spending an enjoyable evening listening to old tunes and new & watching the different characters interact & the action unfold I realised that a few things had changed from my day. Not got worse, not got better, just changed. These are as follows.

1. It's now acceptable to strum the air guitar whilst moshing. I would suggest that this is a bad thing.

2. Where Anthrax v Public Enemy was once a celebrated one off collaboration, rap entwined with rock is now standard fare. I would also suggest that this is a bad thing.

3. Iron Maiden are cool again. Definitely a bad thing although 'Aces High' was a good tune.

4. Very little army surplus on show. This does not concern me.

5. Blokes standing in a circle singing every word to every song. When I was at school it was only the girls who knew the words to every song. That is a fact.

These things are the same

1. Long hair
2. Large men
3. Black t-shirts
4. Infected piercings
5. Crap tattoos
6. Acne
7. Shouting
8. Sweaty group hugs between blokes that make the women present feel awkward and unsure about what to do with themselves

I also noticed that the newer music seemed overly produced and synthetic when put up against the old classics 'Welcome to the Jungle', 'Smells like Teen Spirit' and 'Killing in the Name of'. I'd like to think that maybe this was reflected in the reaction when these songs came on. Songs written by truly angry, dysfunctional scoundrels with pain to express.

For when these three songs came on people immediately stopped hugging each other, ceased singing along and the air guitars were put firmly to the side. Instead I watched with a smile on my face as the frenzy took hold and those present began throwing themselves around like madmen during a full moon, beer glasses starting crashing against the wall and only the most sturdy of female remained. Now all of that certainly would have happened in my day.