Never Too Old to Rock and Roll

Sir Paul looked great, sounded great and brought down the house. Note the guitar that Rusty Anderson is playing. Only 335 to make it to the stage (OK, Grohl's "new" Trini, too)

Last night’s 121212 Concert was a master class for aging (and aged) rockers. How do you get up there in front of a few billion people and try to be the guy you were 40 or more years ago? There is no right answer but the musicians who made it to the stage each had their own way of getting it done. The age range is pretty small for the over 60 set with Springsteen and Billy Joel coming in a 63 and Charlie Watts at 71. I don’t count Jon Bon Jovi because, first of all, he made a pact with the devil to stay that young looking and second, he’s only 50. I still looked pretty good at 50 but not my hair. My hair didn’t look that good at 19. What seemed consistent is that all of them could still perform although some were a bit more spry than others. Keith and Mick (both born in 1943) were a study in contrasts. Mick could still jump around like he did at 30 and was amazingly fit-looking for a 69 year old but his face gave away the years. It was a little scary, actually. Keith simply looked embalmed but then he’s looked like that for years. Last night he seemed even more worse for wear, if that’s possible. The quiet dignity of Charlie Watts is the same quiet dignity he showed 50 years ago and it still works.

OK, not exactly a sixpack but for 69 years old, still a pretty good bod. I look better with my shirt off but he has 9 years on me. No photo available of me, however.

Roger and Pete were another example of how aging isn’t fair. Even though Roger’s hair makes him look like your Aunt Bertie, he’s still able to unbutton his shirt without totally  embarrassing himself. Pete, wisely, kept his on. Roger’s voice improved dramatically as the show went on showing us he can still share the stage with a much younger (and much deader) Keith Moon. Pete was still Pete but the energy seemed a bit forced and possibly a bit painful. You try windmills when you’re 67. I get bursitis just watching him. Roger Waters (69) looked positively ancient (when are rockers going to abandon the black t-shirt?) but the set was great and the addition of Eddie Vedder was a real treat. I was ready to bet on whether Roger Waters would break a hip by the last number. The younger guys (in the old guy category) were Springsteen (and Little Steven) and Billy Joel. At 63, they showed that they can still perform at a very high level but Billy Joel, who never really looked the part of a rocker, looks a lot like my tailor. He looked like he could be Springsteen’s uncle. Steven Van Zandt, at 62, barely older than I am, looked like Steven Van Zandt playing Sylvio Dante, imitating Steven Van Zandt. Clapton was simply marvelous. He’s never been a big showman, preferring to let his guitar do the talking. At 67, he looks fit and healthy. Considering his somewhat dissolute history, it just goes to show that you can come back from bad rock star behavior and thrive. No histrionics necessary-the man just went out there and put his talent on display. Nice. We’ll not talk about Kanye West wearing a skirt-we’re talking about age here and not fashion. Finally Sir Paul, at 70 showed us how its done. If anybody proved that age is just a number, it was Paul. I don’t know how he manages to still appear boyish after all he has been through. Yeah, he’s a little jowly and I’m sure his hair is “enhanced” but still, the man can put on a show and not look like like a geezer doing it. His set, while no “better” than Clapton’s certainly had the edge in energy and showmanship. And he looked like he was having fun-something shared by most of the acts.  I suppose it’s no surprise that these guys can get pretty jaded over so many years of performing (and adulation and yes men and other perks of rock stardom) but not last night. Whether it was the cause or sharing the stage with other legends that did it, they all came out to play and play they did. It seems that our generation-rockers who got their start in the 60’s-don’t know when to quit and, happily, neither do we.

Is it me or is this more than a little scary? Keith bears a more than passing resemblance to Queen Elizabeth when she first gets up in the morning or so I would imagine.

2 Responses to “Never Too Old to Rock and Roll”

  1. rob says:

    By sheer chance I ended up at the Beattles and Stones concerts in Philadelphia in early 1964 when I was 17. I missed the Stones at Altamont on a last minute decision not to go. Caught both Cream and Cream of Mountain (Clapton and Leslie West) in San Diego in ’68. Glad to see some of them still rocking and hopefully raising the boatload of money needed by you victims of the storm. I have to say, though, that I agree with Ed Roman about Clapton and coffee.

  2. RAB says:

    Keith is scary looking for sure…he should invest some of his extensive fortune in a makeover consultant!

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