A Grand Day Out.

I can't remember exactly when it was. It could have been the summer of '95. Or maybe it was earlier than that. '94 perhaps. But it was definitely summer, and the sun shone brightly on us as we (me and two other friends from university) went to see R.E.M. in concert at the Milton Keynes Bowl. I had first travelled to London to meet up with my friends, who were also big fans, like me, of Michael Stipe and his band. As so many people that day were travelling from London to see the concert, the journey by train to Milton Keynes took longer and was more arduous than expected. There was much queueing and waiting around. So much so that my feet began to ache even before we got to our destination, due to a lack of available seats.
When we finally arrived, though, the day turned out to be worth all the trouble. I can't really believe now the bands that we saw who played in support of the main act. Radiohead, then not nearly as big as they later became, played a brilliant set before the appearance of our favourite band. I think that it was then that I became an instant fan of Radiohead, and it was kind of nice to newly discover their music before they became the hugely popular outfit of later years. In fact, I think they were still playing their hit, "Creep", as part of their act, a song which must still appeal to every disaffected teenager on the block, with lyrics like, "I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo, What the hell am I doing here, I don't belong here".
So, it was almost dusk, and the brilliant sun was beginning to set, before R.E.M. appeared on stage. They played all our favourite songs, and the ever-eccentric Stipe danced around on stage with almost alarming vigour, his eyes covered in what appeared to be blue make-up. Indeed, the lead singer and our hero of that time was said to be becoming increasingly eccentric in his ways, while the other members of the band, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry, simply looked on, playing their instruments to blistering effect.
Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M.
It was well into the night before the set was finished, but it soon became clear to me that the sun was setting on more than just a grand day out. Indeed, what I remember most from that day was the atmosphere generated by all the young people who had turned up to see the band play. There was a veritable buzz of enthusiasm, joy and hope in the air, as we watched the sea of heads in front of us bob up and down to the beat of every song. And, whenever I watch other bands play now on the TV at live gigs, what tends to grab my attention is the great wave of young people- happy, smiling, having fun.
So, as we exited the concert, it now seems to me that it was a symbolic exiting of sorts. I had now finished university and my youthful idealism was still (almost) intact, yet to be ravaged by the vagaries of experience. But I was going to leave all that behind. I had already experienced depression in my first year at university, which now seemed to be developing more into a schizophrenic type of flattening of emotion. As I left the gig, then, I was shutting the door on something very important, and opening the door to something else.
So, now I'm older, I sometimes wonder what happened to that former self. Am I a better person now? Has experience made me a wiser and more humane person, or has it just, as it seems to do with so many, left me jaded? Reading a book recently I was drawn, then, to one character who, as he remembers his long lost youth and the idealism of it all, asks the question, "what the hell happened to me?" To which his friend replies, "You grew up, just like everybody else."
Needless to say that day retains a special place in my memory. It was the day I started to really grow up. It was the day I think I began to lose something special, and for a while there I didn't think I'd get over it. It's always good to remember though, that just as the sun sets, it also rises.


klahanie said…
Dear David,
I think you are even more of a shiny, happy type guy. I quote from that song 'Creep' by Radiohead. "You're so f*cking special"
Yes, embrace that memory and know that as you become older and dare I say, wiser, realise that there will be even more special times ahead.
In kindness and why am I awake at such a ridiculous hour,
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for your kind remarks. I suppose I am a "shiny, happy" person these days, but 'twas not always so, Gare, and the memory which I expound in this post was perhaps just on the cusp of me having my first manic/psychotic episode.
Still, all is well now, and I hope that I'm no longer either a creep or a weirdo and I do look forward to more special times, especially if they can be shared with friends like your good self. Ah.
With Very Best Wishes,
dcrelief said…
Hi David!
I find the flow of generations to be remarkable. While one age is hopeful, another is seriously busy. One age is concerned about retiring and another is beginning piano lessons.

Where I often get into trouble is wishing I could be all in every generation. I'm learning to enjoy the space I'm in... the age I am.

In the early 1960's I saw opening acts... Chicago, Billy Preston, and Jimi Hendrix! I'm sure I stood there with my jaw slack, totally wowed by the talent. Others were laid back with quieter manners.

What I hope is that, no matter what age, or what affects us, we find something to enjoy. It may not be easy to keep that shiny happy person around all of the time. Then again, some days I have business priorities! On those days it's a choice.(right)

Nice read; thank you,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Wow! You actually saw Jimi Hendrix on stage. 'Nuff said, dc. I'm awe-struck.
Wihing you all the best,
bazza said…
When I saw Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at the Albert Hall Jimi Hendrix (and his trio)was sitting in the row behind me eating from a huge bag of buns!
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
David said…
Dear bazza,
OK, now you've got to be kidding.
My friend at the Pathways Group is a big Zappa fan, although I have not listened to much of his music, but have liked what I have heard.
Are you sure you weren't hallucinating this, bazza, or perhaps someone had slippped something into your drink?
Anyway, I am once again heartily impressed, and you seem to have one-upped Dixie, above.
With Very Best Wishes,
GEM said…
Hi David
I'm sure you were never creepy or a weirdo...That is just a perception made by an ignorant society. In the eyes of God "You're so f*cking special" always have been and always will be.

I maybe can't top Dixie or Bazza but I did get to see Black Sabbath in concert. It was around 1998 or 1999 not long after they reformed.It was the original line up except Bill Ward had been ill so couldn't perform. They were supported by an up and coming Fu Fighters. Happy Days!

Take Care

David said…
Dear Gem,
Thanks for your kind remarks.
And once again I am impressed by the bands you have seen in concert. I have to say that "Paranoid" is my fave "Black Sabbath" song, and also, I believe, they come from the Black Country, a district where I went to University. I was also a big fan of the later "Osbournes" TV series, in which I found Ossie's swearing to be both big and clever. Good that you managed to see "The Fu Fighters" too.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,

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