OnBlackheath felt different to other festivals and concerts I have been to, I think it was because it seemed like the first real post-parenting one – the older children were both away and our youngest was out with friends, and, at 16 going on 17 and sufficiently ‘older and wiser’ to safely make her own way home in the early evening ( yes, I know that should be 17 going on 18).
An excellent prelude to Madness had been provided by David Rodigan’s DJ mix of reggae and ska classics which warmed up the chilly early evening in a way none of the earlier acts on the main stage had managed before.
Madness was J’s musical past rather than mine really – I was much less into ska than she was in her youth, but Madness, collectively and individually, are national treasures, everyone knows their music, everyone can sing along (even if I didn’t know all the words of every verse…)
The age of the audience told though – maybe a decade ago, certainly two decades ago, we would all have been bouncing/dancing throughout the set – but it was only for 30 seconds after each song was recognised and started, followed by 3 minutes of shuffling (out of time in my case) we just can’t keep up with the frenetic activity that we used to.
Almost predictably, the evening brought a few tears for me – it was one of the ‘times’ that Melody Gardot sung of which I wrote about a month or so ago. The trigger was about being still able to be there and being in love.
The Blackheath Society, amongst others, had forced the organisers to finish the set at 9:30 (and had set up a sound monitoring van between the festival site and the Village). Twenty five years ago I would have been outraged at this, but now, I was secretly quite happy – I was home before 10, sitting in a comfy chair with a glass of red wine. It seemed perfect – my younger self would have been quite depressed by the thought I would hazard.