Don’t Stop Them Now, They’re Still Having A Good Time

Queen co-founder and guitarist Brian May still rocking in his 70s.

Every generation believes their music is the best that’s ever been made.

In the case of the Baby Boomers though, it’s actually true.

Of course that’s my opinion, but many of my millennial friends agree.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been seeing more than a few 20-somethings singing along to the anthems created by the slew of icons coming through South Florida recently.

Sadly, most of these generation defining stars are on farewell tours but what’s astounding is how good they still sound and how well the music stands up 40 and 50 plus years since it was released.

Queen was the latest classic rock band to come to town.

The British band– which includes two original members guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor– is now fronted by former American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, a talented performer who somehow pulls off the unenviable task of standing in for the late Freddie Mercury who has been gone but not forgotten since 1991.

It’s not an easy task because Freddie was larger than life. A true icon whose legend only grew after the release of last year’s hit film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

I attended the show with a group of childhood friends and some of their 20 something kids who came in from Los Angeles, New York and Pittsburgh to experience Queen live and up close.

We got our money’s worth and that’s saying a lot because the tickets weren’t cheap.

Queen followed Paul Simon, David Byrne (Talking Heads), Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel and a few other 60s and 70s legends who have toured these parts recently. Of course, the Rolling Stones are still out there playing to huge crowds and rave reviews.

The movies are also full of classic rock fare these days—”Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Rocketman”, “Echo in the Canyon”, “Remember my Name: David Crosby”, “Yesterday” and the recently released “Blinded by the Light” which celebrates my hero, the boss.

Turn on the TV and you’re sure to run into a Woodstock retrospective, a PBS pledge drive featuring classic rock or an ad for a new drug featuring a song from a bygone era.

Some of this phenomena may be the sheer size of the Baby Boomer generation and their refusal to fade away.

I just finished a book on demography and the Boomers are expected to impact society and industry for many years to come. Florida is poised to feel the impact with a “tsunami (to quote the author) of  Boomers flocking to the Sunshine State eager to flee harsh winters and high taxation in the northeast.

So if that prognosis is correct, we can expect that our neck of the woods will continue to be a great place for classic rockers to perform—at least those who choose not to retire.

Which brings me back to Queen.

I went to the show after receiving a series of texts from my long time buddy Howard Cohn and his sister Linda. You may know Linda as a long time anchor on ESPN’s Sports Center. She’s an icon for female broadcasters, a true pioneer and legend in her field.

I know her as the “cool” slightly older sister who was able to drive me, her brother and our friends Scott and Dave to concerts and amusement parks. If I remember correctly, we made her laugh.

Five years ago, when we turned 50, she arranged for a sports weekend celebration in NYC. We went to the U.S. Open, a Mets game and roamed the sidelines at a Giants vs. Patriots pre-season game thanks to her connections in the world of sports. We created lifelong memories. We just made another.

This weekend, we recalled seeing a bunch of other shows together—Billy Joel, The Doobie Brothers, Styx, Foreigner and Beatlemania on Broadway.

It was nice to continue the old tradition and to add some family members—another sister and Linda’s kids who love the classics.

I was also thrilled that my friend Marisa Herman and her husband Lyle found a way to get last minute tickets. Marisa runs the Delray Newspaper and Boca Newspaper and while still very young she is what I would consider an old soul. We saw Paul Simon and Elton John together and she has also attended Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel and Eagles concerts. I know she loves the Bee Gees and Beatles too.

One could say she has odd tastes for a 20-something. But I just think she gets great music.

And that makes this old guy happy, because it means the music will live on and on. As it should.

 

 

 

Elvis Said Don’t Be Cruel; Don’t Be Rude Either

Warning: this is a rant.

Some of you may know that we’ve been on a little bit of a concert binge in recent months checking out favorites ranging from Bruce Springsteen (on Broadway) and Paul Simon to David Byrne and in November Elton John.

Many of these shows are part of “farewell tours” which has played havoc with our psyches because our favorites are getting old—and I guess that means we are too.

But as a glass half full optimist I’m also happy to report that these “oldsters” still sound amazing and in my generationally biased opinion run circles around much of what passes for music these days.

So while we are all getting older, it’s also comforting to know that there is gas in the tank, which means we still have an ability to make some noise even as we age.

But I also have to say that some of these shows also have a troubling aspect and it’s not the artists—it’s the audience.

 

So here’s my rant: people are so rude at these shows that we are actively contemplating our retirement from attending concerts. (We will however see Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and Marty Stuart at the Parker Playhouse and hopefully the Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward at the Crest Theatre). But after those shows and Elton, it may be over with the notable exception of Bruce Springsteen whose audiences tend to be pretty good. Oh and we’d probably see U2 and Bob Seger as well.

We went to see David Byrne recently at the Fillmore in Miami Beach. We had the tickets for months and we were excited to see the critically acclaimed “American Utopia” tour in a historic venue. We’ve enjoyed Byrne’s music for decades, first with the Talking Heads and later as a solo act.

He’s a true artist and the show itself was remarkable with a band that never sat, choreography that was endlessly interesting and visuals that were unlike anything we had ever seen. In a word it was: awesome.

The crowd: not so much.

The doors opened at 7:30 and the opening act was how I should say it….challenging. Which meant that people hit the bars. Hard. For two hours before Byrne took the stage.

What followed was endless talking through the music (take it outside if you must), spilling of beer and a near fist fight that almost broke out in front of us.

Now since David Byrne is 66 years old, most of the crowd was in their 50s and 60s—surely old enough to know better.

We are all about dancing and enjoying the show, but screaming at friends, yakking endlessly and throwing beer is a little much. It mars the experience. And since tickets these days are an arm and a leg….well…it makes one think about going again.

But it’s not really the money. Frankly, if the event was free audiences should be able to enjoy shows without feeling like they are in a middle age mosh pit amidst a mob of morons.

I had a similar experience at an Eagles concert in Miami a few years back. A drunken slob was loud and a women next to me politely asked him to refrain from talking. She was threatened as a result.

Nice.

That the show turned out to be one of Glenn Frey’s last before his untimely passing a few months later makes the whole experience poignant. These amazing artists are not here forever…and so our ability to enjoy them live and in person is also passing.

Is it too much to ask someone to be quiet? To not be a belligerent drunk?
We know local sports fans who have given up tickets to football and baseball because of similar experiences.

It’s sad and it’s maddening. In case you’re wondering, we leaned over and told the well-oiled crew in front of us to be courteous—twice. A third time would have been taking it to the limit, if you know the old Eagles hit.

You can have a good time without being discourteous to others.

That should be obvious or as David Byrne might say: “once in a lifetime” it would be nice to the listen to the music without making those around you want to “burn down the house.”