I have recently taken in a few ‘oldie’ concerts. First of all, let me clarify what ‘oldie’ is since it can mean different things to different people. The problem with getting older is that a song that you don’t consider to be that old is met with a blank stare from someone younger than you. In this case, ‘oldie’ refers to a couple of artists who were chart toppers in the 1980’s, but whose chart topping days are well behind them. Most of the younger kids today would not have heard of them. Both appeared regularly on television and their songs can be heard even today on the radio. Despite not having hit the charts in quite some time, the fans that came to the concerts were loyal and enthusiastic. There is nothing that quite has the same magic as music to help us re-live the old days. We can listen to a song now and be instantly transported to a summer night long ago with our first special someone or feel intimacy again with some other moment good or even not so good.
Getting back to the concerts, both these artists have undoubtedly sang their hits thousands of times and can probably do so in their sleep. I’ll keep their names private as this isn’t so much about them personally as it is about a certain feeling I had while watching them. One artist smiled, was engaged with the audience, and genuinely looked as he was really enjoying performing his old hits for his fans. The fans didn’t seem to mind if he didn’t quite hit the high notes that he once did. They danced and sang. After the show, he lingered and shook hands with some members of the audience and seemed truly grateful that they had come to his show. The other artist looked genuinely bored, rarely spoke to the audience, and seemed to be on stage only for the purpose of a money grab from his nostalgic fans. The fans generally sat on their hands and I saw some leaving early. After the show, he beat a hasty retreat from the stage. Both were playing this particular week for ‘free’ to fans; that is fans who had bought theme park tickets. The concert was included in the price of the ticket. That doesn’t make it ‘free’, but it’s nice to think that it is.
Both these artists have gone through similar career waves. Unknown, to up and coming star, to star, to fading star, to playing smaller venues with smaller audiences and helping their fans recall a younger and maybe happier time. Both artists are now faced with this reality and just like us they have a choice of how they want to go about their lives. One artist chooses to enjoy what they do (or at least put on a good act) about it while another artist seems resigned to a plodding career fade out. I can only judge them by the one time I personally saw them perform, so I can’t say for certain that they are the same way night after night, but after doing a little research and reading different reviews about them at different venues from concert goers; it seems to be the case. As I watched them, I couldn’t help but feel one was definitely enjoying his last act more than the other and one artist’s fans were getting a better trip down memory lane.