|T-shirt at the ready....ladies and gentleman, The Rolling Stones|
I've seen The Stones on a previous seven occasions. I think. But not for ten years. This year I hadn't seriously considered going to see them again. Expensive tickets being high up on the list of reasons that stood in the way of me rekindling my Glimmer Twins romance. That and no real desire to go much further than 30 miles down the M62 for the pleasure. A day in a field fighting 30 degrees with nowhere to hide - that was a bit of a turn off too. I don't do heat.
So what changed my mind? What ever changes your mind? Your kids. In my case a 15 year daughter. My music kinda vaguely interests her. But vaguely with a capital 'V'. I've forced Led Zeppelin down her throat with limited success for years. I made her go and see Robert Plant with me on the basis of 'you'll thank me one day'. So, I had no reason to believe that she'd be gripped with enthusiasm for seeing The Stones. But I was wrong. Very wrong. 'If I can get tickets do you fancy seeing The Stones in Hyde Park?' was greeted with unparallelled enthusiasm. The mission was on. I now had to get tickets.
And you know what? I was excited. Excited about the trip - even if it did mean trekking from Liverpool to London. Even if it did mean sitting out in the blistering sunshine all day -wilting as I would in the searing heat. Why? Because Kate was so up for it. I was excited because she liked something I did. Excited because the generation gap was being breached. Excited because with every advancing year it's bloody exciting when your kids think something you grew up with is cool. And that thing is guys in their 60's and 70's. The realisation that old isn't uncool by definition was such a relief. That and yes, I selfishly wanted my (exquisite) taste and the things that make me tick to have some resonance with her. I don't just want to be dad. I want to be the ageing sage, fountain of wisdom type bloke who passes on the baton of knowledge. Not just the every day sensible advice like 'don't eat too much salt.' No. I want to be remembered as a cultural guru of epic proportions.
|The Stones in the park, 2013 style|
But just weeks before the gig, my chance of immortality was delivered a severe blow. 'The girl' - as Kate is known in a kind of pseudo Bart Simpson type way - went and broke her ankle. Not good. What if it rained? And remember this is England. We get a lot of the stuff. How would she stand all day? How would she be able to stand at all in a sea of mud? The problem was solved with the arrival of summer. Unbroken sunshine. Not two words that we use too often in this country. I can't believe that I was praying for sunshine. Lots of it. Scorching hot, not a cloud in the sky sunshine. It's what I wanted. It's what I got. That and a wheelchair. That's all I needed. You can always get what you want.
No sooner than the tickets were booked than the day arrived. Up early. Out early. On the motorway by not long after six, we ditched the car in Watford. Okay it was sensibly parked and not remotely ditched. But, give me a break. I'm trying to be all rock n roll here. Moving swiftly on, we hit Hyde Park by 12.30. Just in time to bake, fry, roast or any other synonym cum adjective you care to think of that describes being cooked alive. The wheelchair weaved it's magic. Otherwise distracted tourists got out the way. People offered to help. My faith in humanity was restored.
|Kate, me, mission accomplished|
Better than Glastonbury
The set was better than the previous week at Hyde Park, and better than Glastonbury. I know that's subjective, but look at the changes. Compared to the previous gig in the park out went Bitch, Before They Make Me Run, All Down The Line and Beast Of Burden. In came Ruby Tuesday, Street Fighting Man, Happy, and Emotional Rescue - with the latter really showing that Jagger can push the limits of his vocals, even now. It was a belting set. Yeah we were miles from the stage, but the crowd were loving it. And more importantly, so was Kate.
|Miles from the stage, but who cares? We didn't|
We'd had a magic moment. Kate's first huge outdoor gig. She'd seen The Stones for the first time. I think I may have seen them for the last. She might have too. As the last night of the '50 & Counting' tour there is a chance that this could have been the last ever Stones gig. Hard to imagine after all these years. So many tours have been labelled as perhaps their last. But things are different now. And you can listen to my take on that right here -
The Last Time? I reported on the gig for Dee 106.3 and Silk 106.9
Reading on your smartphone? Download the audio here
The trip to London I'd planned with Kate was meant to be more than just The Stones. If that's possible. The Stones was achieved against the odds and with a bit of luck. But the trip was going to be a 60's pilgrimage. Going to Abbey Road. Finding Jimi Hendrix's house. Standing on the steps of the only house The Beatles all called home.
Could any of that be achieved this weekend? With Kate plastered to her knee? Well, this weekend anything was possible......
|Jimi Hendrix's flat...in the bag|
|The only home shared by all The Beatles...57 Green Street....and our mini rock n roll landmark tour complete|
And since I wrote this article I've completed a mini video documentary to accompany this piece.