If you haven’t been to a gig since your 20s but you’re keen to see your favourite bands before they retire from live performing – fear not – rock concerts aren’t the endurance test they used to be and it’s all perfectly doable for late bloomers.
But let’s be honest, attending a rock concert in your 50s requires a slightly different approach than in your younger days.
My 17-year-old daughter is an avid concertgoer. She’d queue for hours to see her favourite bands, bursting into floods of emotional tears as Harry Styles or Shawn Mendes take to the stage. She thinks about what to wear when queuing for the best seats and how to survive the hours of standing around and waiting for them to appear. It all sounds like a complete nightmare to me, a mum in her fifties whose bedtime doesn’t extend much beyond 10 pm and with dodgy knees to boot.
When she saw some of my 80s favourites were playing in London – Blondie, with Iggy Pop – she insisted I get tickets as she was sure I’d have fun. I was not sure at all, harbouring memories of sleeping in a train station at 4 am, unable to get home from a Bowie concert in the 1980s.
But I was persuaded to buy 2 tickets and promptly forgot about it as it was months ahead. After all, it began at 1 pm so how long could it go on for? I was sure I’d be home in time for bed!
The Crystal Palace Park Rock Concert
The Crystal Palace Park gig in London came around far too quickly for my liking. I was getting reminders to do this and that and decided I wouldn’t engage till nearer the time.
I was pleasantly surprised with the app I was eventually obliged to download worked smoothly and loaded my tickets into its wallet so they could be scanned at the entrance. On the day, I persuaded my husband to join me and he reluctantly packed some food and drink for the day, and armed with a brolly and a raincoat we took public transport to Crystal Palace Park on the other side of town.
It couldn’t have been smoother. As we neared the venue, a number of late bloomers boarded the train, faded rock t-shirts from concerts enjoyed aeons ago stretched over expanding bellies – some carrying small folding camping chairs for good measure. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot. Not a raindrop in sight either. Perfect for midlife people on a long day out.
The queue moved swiftly and after the ticket was scanned on our mobile phones and our bags checked, we entered the park smoothly and efficiently. Marshals ensured we were all admitted in a calm and civilised manner.
Scanning the park for public toilets, we were relieved to see hundreds of porta-loos in a field and piles of loo paper on hand. They were spotlessly clean inside and remained so for most of the day.
Dozens of food tents around the venue offered a bewildering array of international street food dishes. Beer, wine and soft drinks were not in short supply. It was lovely to see a tent and staff available if you weren’t feeling well, either physically or mentally. Things have certainly moved on from when we were in our 20s and not much thought was given to mental health.
Never Too Old For Rock Concerts: the 80s Nostalgia
When you enter your 50s, you may have concerns about fitting in with a younger crowd. But here’s the thing – age is just a number: Rock concerts are a celebration of music and unity, and everyone is welcome.
As we wandered around exploring the venue, 80s music was being pumped out and it made us feel right at home. Middle-aged rockers attended in their finest regalia.
Carefully curated Mohican hairstyles were discernible in the crowd and I couldn’t help wondering whether these rockers had maintained their styles over decades. People continued arriving, but there was always room to move, sit, relax and lie down and just soak up the atmosphere.
People-watching became my favourite pastime as I sat and listened to the familiar tunes from my youth. Feelings of nostalgia overwhelmed me as memories flooded back from earlier rock concerts.
Here today, the concertgoers were mostly middle-aged like me, but just as enthusiastic as they were decades ago, dressing like rockstars. Leather studded jackets had been dusted off, coloured kilts, age-old doc marten boots pulled on for good measure, together with brightly coloured socks and beer in hand. The stage was set.
Keeping the Beat at Rock Concerts
As I had refused to research or check the line-up, we were surprised and excited to be treated to the likes of the Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers and Billy Idol before the queen herself, Blondie appeared in the late afternoon.
I found myself dancing to old favourites and when she arrived a frisson of excitement made me break out in goosebumps and up I jumped ready to dance. She was sublime as always and played all the familiar hits. I remembered all the words and sang along tunelessly and enthusiastically all the way. The atmosphere throughout remained relaxed, people were kind and friendly and yes, I would do it all again next time.
I have to say though, that after eight hours out in a field we did sneak home before Iggy Pop and hopped on a train home in time for bed!
Sometimes you have to draw the line and admit that you’ve had enough. And that’s the beauty of being a midlife bloomer. You can do what you want without caring what anyone else is thinking or doing. Bliss. You really ought to try it!
Music Festivals: Your Essential Kit List
Knowing what to bring to a concert will help you get the most out of your favourite music festival or rock concert. Having a positive attitude and a cool vibe will guarantee you’ll have a great time and being prepared sets the tone for an incredible, stress-free event.