Music: A Right of Passage


When I was 16, I went to my first concert. I saved up my money, bought my ticket and went with a friend.  I loved it.

A few months later, I asked permission to go to another concert, this time for my favourite band. I had saved my money for the ticket, the concert was (fairly) local and so I expected that permission would be a formality.  So I was surprised my Mum said I couldn’t go; I’d been to a concert just a few months before, so why did I need to go to another? I was flabbergasted; didn’t she understand that this was a different band, and not just that but my favourite band. Had I known that I would only be allowed to go to one, I would never have chosen the first one in a million years. We went back and forward on this for weeks, and I don’t remember how we reached resolution, but we did. And I went.

And it was a right of passage, the battle to be able to see one’s favourite band live, without parental supervision (though we were driven to and collected from the venue).  Just as it was a right of passage to years later when my friends and I meticulously planned a trip to London to see the same band at Wembley, booking concert and train tickets (and saving numerous vouchers to get the best deal), and hotel rooms. I was really surprised to be allowed to go on that trip, and really enjoyed the planning of it. We lived in the North East of England so London was a bit of a trek.

It surprises me these days when 11 year olds are taken to concerts; it seems so young to me, but maybe I am out of touch.

£330 bought this pair 20 seconds and a photoWhen Justin Bieber disappointed fans by arriving on stage very late this month, I wasn’t shocked. There are reports of sets starting late all the time. What surprised me most was the comments from the people attending.  There were reports that people didn’t get home until 1am, and the 6 year olds they had taken to the concert were worn out when they got home. Well, I’m not surprised, frankly. The show wasn’t due to start until 9pm, so their 6 year olds would have been worn out no matter what.

Six years old? Really? They weren’t the only ones, there were numerous comments from parents who had taken children aged 8 and under to his concerts.  Where’s the right of passage in this?

There was a comment on a local news site from a disgruntled parent who had taken her 14 year old. She was upset because the “meet and greet” she had paid £330 for only lasted 20 seconds and her daughter was upset. Maybe it’s me, but that seems like an awful lot of money to spend on a 14 year old. Where do you go from there?

My son is very into One Direction at the moment, much to my amusement (and shame). I agreed to let him have a poster for his room, which he spent his own money on (and all the while I wondered if he was too young, at seven, to start idolising pop bands).  When he suggested that we could get it signed by the band, I gently explained that we couldn’t do that, and he understood, and was happy with his poster.  I didn’t, for example, shell out £300 so he could meet them and get the flipping thing signed.

It for the same reasons that I have been uneasy when, over the past couple of years, my son has been invited to birthday parties that were discos.  When he went to the first one, I imagined it would be a child-friendly affair, with kids’ music and annoying novelty songs like the Birdie Song and Superman and the like. I was surprised to hear none of that, but plenty of current music, some of which I considered to be highly unsuitable for five year olds to be listening to, given the lyrics.  I was also shocked to see five year old girls knowing the dances that went with these songs.

Am I out of step on this?

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