Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Anybody who has ever been to a gig or a concert will tell you that there's something special about hearing music live. On a good night, the audience and the artist feed off of each others energy, charging the atmosphere, creating a unique and often life-affirming experience. No matter how good a recording is it cannot match the power and spontaneity of a great live performance.
I'm too old!
Now I have always enjoyed live music, and when I was younger I was a regular concert-goer. As I have got older I seemed to lose the habit. By the time I reached 50plus I had almost stopped going to gigs altogether. Oh, I had lots of excuses, I'm too old! It's too late! It's too crowded! It's too expensive! I need to sit down! I don't know today's artists! and the ever-faithful, they don't make good music any more. And maybe when I said these things I believed them, but when it comes down to it I didn't go because I had forgotten just how much fun live music could be. I was reminded of this simple fact when I discovered that Chris one of my best friends and a man who is 50plus, went to live gigs almost every week.
This is Chris's story
I am a self-confessed live music enthusiast. I can't help it. I have to get my music fix where I can and when I can. The problem is if you're over a certain age people expect you to restrict your live music experiences to the musician's of your own generation. Don't get me wrong I love the music of my youth, and I certainly enjoy the occasional nostalgia fest. But I don't limit myself to the acts of yesteryear. I love going to see live music of all kinds. You get a chance to experience music in a way that is different from a recording.
The audience, the energy, the connection with the artist, for me it takes music to a new elevated level. It's a strange but true fact that I will listen to music live, that I would never choose to listen to as a recording. It's that live experience, for me it simply changes the effect that music has. As a card-carrying Soul-boy, my guilty pleasures have included musical theatre, heavy metal, punk, rock, pop and pretty much everything in between.
In 2019 I went to over 50 gigs and saw 100 plus acts. Of the acts I've seen and in no particular order, here are 10 that I hope to see again in 2020. Enjoy and live your best life!!
1. Joel Culpepper is soulful, but has a hard edge feel reminiscent of a combination of Prince and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. His energy on stage, along with dance moves and customary disrobing make him a must-watch for me in 2020.
2. Mildlife are a quartet from Australia who bring a jazzy euro funk vibe that has caught fire in London. I loved their cool laid back performance at the Jazz Café, which was reminiscent of Daft Punk in their early days. Catch these guys live, you won’t be disappointed.
3. Santino Le Saint is a South London kid who has a young and growing following. Yes I was probably the oldest person in the venue but his millennial’s take on relationships and feel-good vibes had me nodding my head and young women throwing items of clothing onto stage to get his attention. He could explode in 2020 catch him before he starts to do stadium venues only.
4. Judi Jackson is for me, this lady will be the next great Jazz vocal artist. Cool, ethereal, soulful. She mixed her compositions with classics by Nina Simone and Erica Badu and had me enthralled. Her gigs at Ronnie Scotts are already sold out, but I’m sure she’ll be back; she currently lives in London!!
5. Stone Foundation is a soul band with a very British accent. They set my feet and those of hundreds of other patrons tapping at the Shepherds Bush O2. They’ve been around since the 90s and have developed a cult following after being supported by the likes of Paul Weller, John Bradbury of the Specials and Carleen Anderson. If you want to enjoy a gig with people of a similar age to yourself, check them out.
6. The Bad Plus are jazz trio who mesmerised me with their virtuoso playing at the Jazz Café. If you want to be beguiled by some serious jazz playing watch these guys.
7. Dele Sosimi. I saw him a couple of times in 2019, once at the Jazz café where he was on the bill with Lokkhi Terra and once at the O2 indigo for the Fela Kuti tribute (Felabration) with his Afrobeat Orchestra. I love his energy and versatility. If you’ve never done “Afrobeat” before Dele is the perfect introduction as he was Fela Kuti's keyboard player in Egypt 80. For me, no one is doing it better in the UK than this guy.
8. Thievery Corporation are a band so versatile with their musical mix that includes rap, jazz, rock, EDM, reggae, Bossa and Indian genres that it's almost impossible to pigeon hole them. I love the vibe they bring that perfectly captures the various moods I go through with different types of music. Miss these guys and their guests at your peril.
9. Gilberto Gil is living his best life as the 78-year-old. The Brazilian singer-songwriter and guitarist, still carries that folky vibe to great effect. It’s only a matter of time before he stops touring. I saw him at Shepherd's Bush with this band which included his wife, sons and granddaughter. They delivered a wonderful night of music that set up happy memories of my time in Brazil. But you don’t have to go to Brazil to enjoy his mix of rock, samba, African music, and reggae. I’m sure he’ll be back in 2020.
10. Gentlemen's Dub Club is a band I discovered for the first time last year, but they have been going since 2007 I think and have been endorsed by no less than reggae DJ legend David Rodigan. I was initially thrown by this band because they came on stage dressed in black suits, white shirts and ties but soon they had me nodding my head and skanking in the isles as their own brand of Jamaica’s best export filled the concert hall. If you like reggae and like to dance these guys are worth catching.
Ready to try something new?
How many concerts have you been to in the last year? One, two, five, none. If the answer to this question is none then hopefully after listening to Chris's selection that's going to change. Whatever you listen to at home whether it's classical, jazz, soul, pop, punk, reggae or rock it's out there somewhere being played live now.
photo by Chris
With prices from £100plus a ticket down to a couple of quid and drink there is something for everybody at every price point. You're never too old to have a good time. You're never too old to have fun. So what are you waiting for? Go online punch in live music in your area and see what comes up. Get out there and explore.
If you do have a disability most of the venues in the UK will have the facilities to meet your needs.
Chris will be regaling us from time to time with more news and reviews of the London music scene. If you're a member of 50plus4men.com and have a music venue or performer that you'd like to recommend write something in the comments below.