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Feeling ancient in the pop crowd

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:05 22 October 2010

As I fast approach 43, more and more aspects of life remind me that I am no longer the sprightly, youthful chap of days gone by and must act my age accordingly.

As I fast approach 43, more and more aspects of life remind me that I am no longer the sprightly, youthful chap of days gone by and must act my age accordingly. The latest such reminder came as I attempted to whoop, whistle and hurl myself heftily into the air amid a crowd of skinny young people at a recent pop concert.

The “gig”, if I may use such trendy parlance, was at the UEA and the performer was Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Powter. The name might not be familiar to every EDP reader and I hadn't heard of Daniel either until our family camping holiday in Brittany last July when his infectious hit single, Bad Day, was played almost non-stop on French radio stations.

Bad Day and the soulful falsetto of James Blunt's You're Beautiful dominated the Euro-airwaves during our trip and became the most memorable songs of summer 2005.

Back home in Blighty, I quickly invested in a copy of Daniel's debut album and have been hooked ever since. But consider this, pop-pickers - am I the only person to have noticed how much his blend of plinky-plonky keyboard melodies and cerebral lyrics invokes the golden years of hippy rockers Supertramp?

Give it some thought when you next retrieve your dusty vinyl copies of Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America from the attic for a wide-flared stroll down Memory Lane.

Having spent £14 on a ticket for Daniel's concert, I felt quietly confident that he would perform a strong repertoire - and, as it turned out, the UEA audience was not disappointed.

Provincial gigs by established artistes, let's face it, can be annoyingly unpredictable. Some deliberately refuse to play the majority of their hit songs, opting instead to churn out new material mixed with uninspiring rehashes of less significant moments from their back catalogues.

Others shout “Goodnight Norwich - you've been great!” after an all-too-brief performance, only to return to the stage moments later for their well-rehearsed “surprise encore”.

I still have painful memories of a dreadfully dire evening with the Pet Shop Boys in 2002, who delivered precious few of their famous synth-driven hits in favour of some dreary guitar strumming.

That said, UEA concerts by Soft Cell and former Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley were both first-class. The Human League, too, were captivating - even though singer Phil Oakey had lost his voice and struggled throughout the show as Phil Croakey.

Being the sensible, middle-aged dad that I've become, I insisted on arriving well before the doors opened at 7.30pm for Daniel Powter's gig. If I'd dashed in slightly late - at 7.35pm - would the punctual Mr Powter have already performed Bad Day and the bulk of his best material?

Of course not - but it felt right and proper to be there on time. So I grabbed a lager and stood just a few yards from the stage in excited anticipation. And I stood. And stood. And stood.

Indeed, we were all on our feet for what seemed an eternity: waiting and watching as an odd-looking team of roadies wandered on and off the stage, checked sound levels and twiddled with instruments.

Hadn't they had all afternoon to carry out such tedious tasks? They were wasting my precious time when I could have been at home with Desperate Housewives. It was beginning to feel like a Bad Day.

While I yawned and stooped to massage my poor old aching knees, everyone else seemed to be either texting or snogging…and sometimes both. But the natives were also getting restless.

“He's only had one hit so I reckon he's trying to spin the evening out,” grumbled a David Beckham lookalike nearby, a touch unfairly perhaps.

Eventually an affable young vocalist called Cass Fox appeared in the spotlight, complete with a bare midriff and impossibly low-slung hipsters. Accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, she warmed us up as the support act with some heartfelt songs delivered with great clarity.

But the incessant standing and the stuffiness of the concert hall made my mind begin to drift and I found myself captivated by foxy Cass's belly-button instead of her music. Goodness me, I've never seen such a top-notch navel.

Finally, after two long hours, Daniel came on stage and his hard-working, charismatic performance proved a resounding hit with the Norwich audience.

By the end of the evening, however, I had been standing for almost three and a half hours and was feeling distinctly ancient. Next time I'd better take a comfy chair - complete with pipe and slippers.


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