I knew it was going to be a massive gamble with my two club feet and arthritic knees and left ankle, but I did it anyway. I fulfilled my long-held ambition to see Australian protest rockers Midnight Oil live.
Despite being Australian and living in my country of birth for most of my first 29 years, somehow getting to an Oils gig had passed me by. But – better late than never – my friend Andy and I got tickets to their last-ever UK gig on a warm night at the Camden Roundhouse.
“Of course I’ll be fine with standing tickets!” I had told myself. The next day, my decrepit joints told me otherwise as I limped out of bed and clung to the banister as I descended the stairs like an upright crab. But things could have been worse, largely because of the first two tips in the list below.
Here are my top tips for gigging when your heart and soul want to rock out, but your bones want to go to bed with a hot water bottle.
1 Comfortable shoes
It should be obvious, but for many live music fans, a gig is an opportunity to wear shoes that are spike-heeled, platformed, or otherwise bunion-inducing. Come on, people, trainers are the answer. If you can’t walk a mile in your gig shoes without wincing, they are not gig shoes. Save them for a sit-down dinner.
2 Shameless sit-downs
The older I get, the more I appreciate a good sit-down. Even if my ticket says standing and, true to the venue’s word, there is not a seat to be seen, I will sit down if need be. This means finding a discreet spot near the wall and sitting on the floor. I might say, “OOOOF!” as I stand up. Hey, I might need someone to PULL me up, but carefully timed sit-downs provide much-needed respite.
3 Strap up
There is nothing remotely sexy about strapping any joint. But a stretchy sock-style bandage will buy my troublesome left ankle a bit more time on the dancefloor, while strapping my knees ensures they will survive the gig and the public transport odyssey home. I write this as someone whose knees once gave out on the stairs at Pimlico tube station.
4 Cool water
Speaking of scents that were big back in the day, a little cool water on your achy spots can be an alternative to ice packs, which are not exactly practical at gigs. I have been known to soak my socks in cold water from the sink at the venue’s loo and pop them back on. The best loos are self-contained cubicles where you can lock the door and douse your aching body parts in water from the little sink with impunity – this is one of many reasons why I’ll happily campaign for these loos at all gig venues.
5 Stick it to the man
If you need a stick for mobility, for Heaven’s sake, take your stick. Gigs are usually crowded, dark, noisy, and full of people who are not fit to operate heavy machinery. Most people won’t even notice if you’ve accessorised with a stick. There are plenty of foldable walking sticks that fit nicely in a bag if you’re not sure if you’ll need one, but don’t want to risk leaving the house without it.
If you’re not as agile on the dance floor as you used to be, that’s fine. Nobody is at the gig to see you perform, so thrash about as much or as little as you like. If there are seated tickets available and you’re tempted, that’s fine too. Nobody will care if you buy a seated ticket and get involved with a bit of chair dancing. The fine art of not giving a damn means you can go to a gig, take whatever measures you need to take to be comfortable without worrying about what others might think and – most importantly – enjoy the show!