Monday, 21 September 2015


Rock of Aged

The Who have postponed their October 3rd 50th anniversary concert here in Edmonton until sometime next spring. Singer Roger Daltrey who did not die before he got old is recovering from a viral illness. We bought our tickets almost exactly one year ago, gambling really that all of us would be good to go 12 months’ hence. Though interest rates are at an historic low, the fact remains that the oldies band is holding onto a lot of unfulfilled boomers’ gold for a heck of a long time. For fans of touring senior citizens, expensive delays might be the new normal.

When rock ruled the 70s, there were other questions and risks associated with attending concerts. Are there better odds of getting tickets at the Montreal Forum box office or from the Ticketron outlet at Montreal Trust in Place Ville-Marie? Is the hash I just scored from a complete stranger at the drug bazaar in Cabot Square across the street from the Forum any good? Will the security monkeys beat the shit out of me just because they can? Will someone else beat the shit out of me? Since the start time printed on the ticket is only a suggestion, will the headliner be too wasted to perform when they eventually come on? Have they been arrested? Will there be a riot? Will I pass out? And what about homework and school tomorrow?

My 21st century concert question is a simple one: ‘Will my bladder hold for the duration of the set if I have a beer?’ Personal physiology becomes academic if an aging act reschedules or cancels for health reasons; reasons unrelated to the side effects of substance abuse they assuredly experienced in their rock ‘n’ roll primes. Waiting a few more months to see The Who (or Who’s Left, more legacy brand than recording band now as they, like the Stones, have submerged their grizzled faces within an immersive graphic identity) for a third time is disappointing, but at least the venue was and will be only a public transit train ride away.

When the Rolling Stones announced their June 2015 Zip Code tour we studied its itinerary. The exchange rate of the Canadian dollar was a concern. What ultimately held us back were doubts about the reliability of performing grandfathers and travelling. My days of sleeping rough in the back of a friend’s van or contemplating suicide in a smelly, chartered motor coach’s chemical toilet are done. Hotels cost money. Indirect flights and layovers cost money and time. Were there any Zip Code cities aside from Quebec City and Nashville we’d enjoy visiting regardless? What would we do in Columbus if our raison d’etre suddenly decided their show could not go on?

Anyway, I’d convinced myself that the Stones would extend their summer tour of North American secondary markets and that they must eventually land in Edmonton as they hadn’t played Alberta’s capital since 1998 or ’99. I neglected to factor in the FIFA Women’s World Cup which effectively occupied our Stones-worthy stadium throughout the entire month of July - so much for my rock ‘n’ roll attempt at informed and sensible risk management.

Perhaps the ethos of rock, now a minor sub-genre of music, has remained the same: ‘You pay your money and you take your chances.’ We never knew what we were maybe going to get back then, and it seems much the same now, only different.

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