My brother very kindly took me to Cork to see The 4 of Us this weekend. The timing could have been better – the gig coincided with the worst flooding in living memory, with damages estimated at some 300 million Euros, the equivalent of two pints of lager in one of Cork’s many hostelries – but the gig was ace.

Which is just as well, really, as I’ve been a fan of the band since the early 1990s and it’s always been an ambition of mine to see them live.

The 4 of Us, Cyprus Avenue, Cork, November 09. Photo by David Marshall.

It’s interesting, though, because with the exception of the bands that become juggernauts, propelled by their own momentum until they die – your U2s, your Rolling Stones – most bands eventually end up in the anorak phase of their careers. I’ve experienced it myself as a musician, supporting reasonably famous musicians long past their sell-by date, the audience consisting of tubby, tired and emotional men in their late thirties wearing anoraks. And this weekend I experienced it as a punter, one of the tubby, tired and emotional men in their late thirties wearing anoraks. The fact it was a rather nice and quite expensive anorak doesn’t matter. It was still an anorak.

I can’t help but wonder, what do the musicians feel like when they look out and see all the sensible rainwear? I remember one casualty who, I’m sure, looked out and saw Wembley Stadium, but I don’t think that’s the norm. Are musicians just grateful that they can still persuade people to pay, still excited about playing new stuff? That certainly seemed to be the case with The 4 of Us – singer Brendan Murphy beamed his way through the gig, clearly delighted – but I still have a mental image of him returning to his hotel and sticking huge pins into a voodoo doll of Bono.

Anyone spent enough time with ageing rockers to comment?





0 responses to “Anorak’n’roll”

  1. mupwangle

    I was reading something the other day that suggested that the Foos could’ve been U2 scale but didn’t bother trying. Didn’t want to do the big tours, abandoned the 3rd album as they didn’t like it, released their “comeback” single to radio but didn’t try selling it (Sunshine) for a year and even then it was never a single. Even now they only do a handful of gigs, barely update their website and manage to keep a very low profile.

    It’s not far off what you said you wanted to do – do enough to make a living from playing music but not enough to become some sort of celebrity.

  2. Yes, I have spent time with ageing rockers in a professional capacity (doing promo, backstage during shows, PR, etc) and the answer to your question is not worth wasting my breath on.

  3. Sorry, let me enunciate on that. I now know how my mother must have felt chaperoning my Gifted & Talented class field trips.

  4. Gary

    Oh dear.