Too Old to Rock’n’Roll?

Seeing Jackson Browne (acoustic) at the State Theater May 29 completes my recent trifecta of Aging Rocker Concerts that started with David Crosby and Graham Nash (both age 69) at the Arlington in Santa Barbara and included Bob Seger (66) and the Silver Bullet Band at the Xcel Center. I have previously commented on the staying power of rock’n’roll in Seger’s case, and that comments holds true for all these performers. None of their work sounded dated in the least, and their performances sounded fresh and true, even though they must have sung some songs thousands and thousands of times.
On the other hand, my enjoyment of each show was less than total, not because of the performers but, perhaps, because of my aging. I loved the music, but petty annoyances at each venue distracted me and kept me from being fully engaged. At the Crosby/Nash concert, two women sat next to me and proceeded to chat with each other during the numbers. When they weren’t talking, the women to my left was on her iPhone, reading and sending messages. When I asked her to please be quiet, she and her friend got huffy, and suggested I stay home and listen to a CD instead of coming to a rock concert, where apparently their behavior was to be expected.
At the Seger show, I had a ticket on the main floor, which meant I was close to the action, but also meant I had a terrible sightline to the stage. When the audience stood, as it did most of the show, the short woman in front of me had no view of the proceedings at all. For Jackson Browne (62), I could see perfectly well, but the man in the adjoining seat was a beefy 300-pounder, whose arm rested fully in my space, and whose time-keeping thigh reverberated through my leg. At intermission I changed seats so I could be next to his wife, a mere 200-pounder, but he changed seats and was next to me again. Moreover, he had this piercing voice that yelled out a request before each number.
Jackson Browne’s set itself was all I could ask for, with favorites from almost every album. The depth of his repertoire was typified when he came out for his encore: “I could do The Load-Out, For A Dancer, or Late for the Sky,” he offered, before settling on the first. Nevertheless, I will say that either his voice was horribly overamped, or it just isn’t sweet anymore. He has always been a greater songwriter than singer, but here it was slightly painful. I eventually discovered that if I covered my ears, the songs came through cleaner.
Of course, the rest of the audience was delirious throughout, which leaves me to wonder if the fault is not mine. Should I, rather, stay home and listen to the stereo.
As a postscript, I should probably add the Bruce Cockburn concert I attended two weeks at the Cedar Cultural Center in the West Bank area of the U. Arriving 15 minutes early, I picked up a general admission ticket for $20. The first problem was that Cockburn (age 65) had decided to start at 8, instead of 7:30, which gave me 45 minutes to wait around – not my strength. The “Cedar” is a small hall, so every seat is fine for looking and listening. The problem is they are not so good for sitting. They use folding chairs, and for a sold-out show, I was crammed among the people next to and in front of me. Maybe I’m spoiled by the luxury you get in most movie theaters these days. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

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