Ignoring great trowels-full of abuse and patronising looks I pressed on regardless and attended a Take That concert last night (Tuesday).
Many of my male friends could not understand nor accept this. It is just not what a man my age is supposed to be doing. I should apparently be listening to Pink Floyd or Kings Of Leon, not people who harmonise. How can I rate anyone who doesn't play their own instruments? It's so uncool.
Sitting in a wheelchair is uncool. Being bald is uncool. Being overweight is uncool. I'm uncool. Get over it. A refusal to appreciate something like Take That because it is not specifically aimed at your gender and age group is, to my mind, nothing but dullard pseudo-machoism. Besides, you can like Take That ASWELL as the things that your socialisation has pre-ordained for you. It's not a choice between Pink Floyd and Take That, between David Bowie and Robbie Williams. You can enjoy all of these things and the sky will still not fall in.
But Take That are so commercial. Christ's Arse, they are a pop act. They dance. And men really shouldn't dance. Well yes, they are commercially successful, dare I even say massively popular. This in itself is a crime some people can't forgive. These are the people who are willing to ditch their favourite bands as soon as they start to enjoy a wider appeal. Muttering 'sell out' darkly under their breaths, they forfeit their passions because the rest of the population has caught up. Months earlier, the cool people had been scoffing at the failure of the majority to 'get' the music. It's hard to placate these people.
Fortunately I am quite easy to placate, and this spectacular extravaganza at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium did the job expertly. What was not to like? Opening with a rousing rendition of 'Rule The World', Take That rattled through their now extensive and impressive repertoire with not inconsiderable brilliance. Performing Robbie-less for the first few numbers was a shrewd move, a deserved nod to what they have achieved in his absence. When he finally arrived for a breathtaking solo set, Williams was every bit the showman he has always been. In terms of live pop music, there can't be much better than witnessing his performances of 'Come Undone' and 'Angels' in particular. These tunes are the soundtrack to the lives of a generation of people. For every thirty-something bloke sitting in his black-walled room ranting about Williams' populism and the demise of The Smiths, surely there is one who can do nothing but sit back and admire Williams' achievements. He's pure entertainment. Pure Box Office. The lad is rock and indeed roll. I should very much like to be him when I grow up.
There were some low points that the show could have done without, but at over two hours in length it is difficult to provide total consistency. Rudebox should have been dumped into the trash years ago, while one would think that a group of men approaching middle age would have moved on from the comic dance routine which accompanies 'Pray'. Yet these seem churlish complaints given the quality elsewhere. The atmosphere during 'Never Forget' was something that is difficult for a small-time hack such as myself to describe, for example, while failing to enjoy 'Back For Good' and 'Greatest Day' among 65,000 people requires a level of moribund grumpiness that even I can't muster.
How very uncool of me.
The Things Kids Say
Just as a little footnote to all of this, my 12-year-old nephew came round to my house to watch Saints on Sunday night. He was telling me about how his mum went to see Take That the previous night;
"I know, I'm going on Tuesday." I said;
"What?" he said, as outraged as any thirtysomething Pink Floyd fan;
"Even though they're Tories?"
I'm suitably ashamed, of course.