Steppin’ Out or Stoppin’ Put


I made a brief reference recently to Mr Greedy’s enquiry about Barrance Whitfield – would people turn out to see him? It led me to think more generally about going out to live gigs which I must confess I hardly ever do these days. The main exception is when I’m playing but there’s a clue there, in that the last half-dozen gigs I’ve done have all been lunchtimes or afternoons.

At my great age I must confess it needs to be something a bit special to drag me out of the house, especially at this time of year in the dark. It’s partly that my life has been so full of gigging for 50 years that there is little magical or mysterious about it now.

Generally speaking, by something ‘special’ I might simply mean an event where I expect to see some pals (eg Joe Jackson last year), or more probably something that has a real impact on me musically – which these days is very rare. There are some top players out there, often doing gigs in pretty small venues but how often do they offer something that changes ideas about music? Again, at my great age, I struggle to find much live stuff that I expect to have that kind of impact.

I don’t drink these days, so it’s sometimes a bit odd to devote 4/5 hours to a licensed premises with nothing to do but wait for the band to come on and I’m certainly happy to go home by 11pm, whereas many gigs (eg this Saturday at the Wedgewood Rooms) are advertised as running until 2am. Once upon a time I’d have loved that and the bar, but now I fancy neither, which is why I’m not much use to a promoter like Mr Greedy. The final issue for me is the travelling. Since I don’t drink, I could drive but parking around Albert Road (or the RMA/Cellars) ain’t straightforward to say the least.

For about 40 years, none of those issues bothered me at all but increasingly I don’t make the effort and I don’t feel I’m missing anything I haven’t experienced before. But that’s all about me, and one less punter doesn’t matter in the slightest so I wonder how typical any or all of that is?


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

8 thoughts on “Steppin’ Out or Stoppin’ Put

  1. I sometimes think the reverse Dave – if older people didn’t go out some excellent younger artists wouldn’t have an audience at all. On the other hand how depressing for a young artist to have an audience made up of old people! Although I’m also conscious that artists I regard as young are often not so regarded by others… Certainly the more mature audience contributes a lot by still buying recorded music and going out – and that is desperately needed these days.

    • It’s a fine thing to support young musicians and I’m happy to keep doing that in other ways (eg teaching, sponsorship) but I’m not sure I want to be going out from a sense of social obligation – I want some fun! I still purchase plenty of music to listen to, although I’d be kidding if I claimed much of that was by youngsters.

  2. Dr. Dave your spot on I’m sorry to say. When I make the effort it’s usually worth while and I enjoy the event. Just the thought of parking in Portsmouth tends to be the final straw when it comes to going out.

  3. Well Dave I also think that the dark evenings also contribute to a certain reluctance to venture out. Maybe also there is an inbuilt self preservation element that kicks in as one ages. Gray haired older folks are much easier targets for the opportunists on the city streets at any time and midnight in Albert Rd….Well it strikes me as a bit “dodgy” even in the daytime. We don’t get out much these days. I think after so many years of performing there is not so much enjoyment just watching. For me anyway as I always hear the bum notes and slightly sour vocals. I do like to watch the performers just starting out though. Also these days I want a bit of comfort so a reserved seat in the local center for performing arts is our thing. Parking is no issue either and is free,but lazy us we prepay $8 and that gets us right up by the doors. Jostling around in a mosh pit with a bunch of drunks is not my thing. At least the drunks are sitting down where we go. Actually we do have some good local venues all bars and restaurants but the bands they have all seem to play the same song list. Never mind. Summer is coming with light evenings and all sorts of happenings on Southsea common. The parking will still be crap though

    • Albert Road ‘dodgy’ even in the daytime-you’re having a laugh!!!
      Why do people believe all the media scare stories?
      You’re either old before your time or are applying American standards and attitudes to this country
      As you may or may not know I am promoting a gig at the Wedgewood tomorrow night to an audience with probably an average age of 50 and expect a sell out being a Saturday night

  4. Cheers Pete – I hesitate to open old wounds but I’ve been fond of outdoor festivals/events since my first one – Windsor Jazz & Blues 1967, the Hyde Park Pink Floyd 1968. Victorious is a particular delight for me because it uses some of my favourite spaces in the whole world to good effect and I think it’s ‘Pompey at its Best’ not because of any dealings between promoters/agents/bands but because thousands of my fellow citizens of all ages get out-and-about for a couple of days and appear simply to enjoy themselves.

    It suits me as a punter these days precisely because there is so much choice, I can move about at will and occasionally find real treasures (eg Laura Mvula in 2015) but as much as anything because (a) the parking isn’t an issue for me as I can and do, walk or cycle, (b) I can stay as long into the evening as I wish and (c) because MRA and I frequently go home for a cup of tea and go back. It suits this old bugger perfectly!

  5. Spoken like a true Pompey Popster, well done Dave ! What do these Floridians know about the “scene” anyway ??

  6. Bugger all actually but what I see on-line. And I must say I think you have a very thriving scene that appears to have all genres and ages covered. It is indeed a totally different scene than we have here. I always refer to our area (The Space coast) as the cultural armpit of Florida. But then we are a pretty small community. Go South, West or North and it is indeed better but then you have the big city traffic and parking etc so you can’t have it all so I am not complaining. I think that the concerts that they have on the common are really great. People of all ages seem to attend and there seems to have been some really cool acts. So I am with Dave on thinking it is a great use of the space. Plus having musicians of all levels and genres is really good. Sad to say when we were over last summer there was nothing going on out there while we were visiting.
    SO here is a question that puzzles me that maybe you can answer. On all the footage I see of UK concerts in the open why are people flying all these banners and flags that don’t seem to relate to any of the bands or the music. Looks like a battle scene from Braveheart and effectively blocks the view of the crowd behind them. I know I have been gone for over 40 years now but that scene I don’t remember from the 70s.

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