James Brown tribute

posted by Nick Hornby June 19, 2008 at 3:21 pm Music

There were people in their 60s at the James Brown tribute, some of them sitting directly in front of a couple in their twenties who danced manically (and, it has to be said, annoyingly) right from the opening bars.  Those who grew up with funk are more or less of pensionable age now: if you were twenty-one when James Brown released ‘Cold Sweat’, often cited as the first funk record, then you celebrated your sixtieth birthday a couple of years ago. I was glad to see the older people at the gig, because by being there, they were demonstrating a lifelong commitment to something that has meant a lot to them – after all these years, they want to drag themselves out on a Saturday night to see Fred Wesley and Pee-Wee Ellis in the flesh. Meanwhile, there is every chance that the ostentatiously exuberant young couple will not be listening to music much, if at all, in ten years’ time. I know from my own experience that people who seemed consumed by music and literature at college let it all slip with scarcely a backward glance once they reach their thirties. Maybe it is time to turn conventional wisdom – or at least, the conventional broadsheet columnist’s gripe – on its head and demand that only old people should be allowed to go to concerts. They are, after all, the only people who have been able to demonstrate that their love for music is not just a passing fad, a response to boredom and peer-group pressure.