I will just say this, I’m retired and a fine example of a grumpy old git. I say this to set the context for what is to follow. Last night we went to see The Eagles at the Leeds Arena. Isn’t it marvellous how, in old age, you can’t remember their names even though you have known them like your own for 40+ years, but that’s a bonus, back to the evening. Don Henley, a name that came to me after much thinking, was friendly, he had obviously been primed to say something nice about Yorkshire or Yarkshire as he pronounced it and came up with – the place where Yarkshire puddings come from – the audience laughed although they may have heard this before. Gratifyingly he had nothing good to say about their 4 days in London and then referred to Yorkshire as the ‘heartland’ which was nice.
I had been dreading this evening and it turns out I was right to. Let me try and explain this rather curious statement given that I am a huge fan of The Eagles and they were superb, skilled and note perfect as you would expect, enthusiastic, played all their old hits, I knew every song, all through their history, so what’s not to like? Well, everything else, really. I swore after going to see Neil Young in Sheffield that I would never go to another arena concert but of course time plays tricks and I had told myself that it couldn’t have been that bad and that these were better, or much more expensive, seats and that this would be different – it wasn’t.
Of course I admit I’m a funny old cove and that, going to a concert, for which I have paid £750 for six tickets – not sure how I ended up paying for them all but there we go, is pretty well guaranteed to bring out all my insecurities, my OCD, my being out of control anxieties, my developing sense of claustrophobia with a touch of agoraphobia thrown in and my fear of heights and so on, what a marvellous melting pot of negative fears and emotions. Of course my kids and their partners think I’m bonkers and I have no doubt that the right psychiatrist would happily give me that label if I went anywhere near them that is. Actually number one son showed some disturbing signs of following in his old man’s footsteps, in terms of the above insecurities. Nice to give something to your children as well as, of course, money. More of this in a moment. So that said let me tell you something about the evening.
Leeds Arena is the latest big arena and, I guess, in terms of economics it’s a good thing for the city. There are lots of concerts here, last night it had Eric Clapton, another hero of mine, and there have been many others. It makes a big play in its publicity of no seat being further than half a mile from the stage or some such. The distance from Neil Young was one thing that had finished me with arena gigs. Neil barely made a centimetre. But of course given that these tickets were £125 a piece, plus booking fees and other rip off additions, this would be much better, right? Well in a sense, Glen Frey was an inch tall, I measured him. Yes, I know that does make me some kind of sad bastard and one, you would argue, totally unsuited to the arena experience. There is definitely something wrong with a concert when you spend more time looking at the big screen than at the band itself. That’s all I’m saying.
The arena experience was as follows – it was hot, obviously air conditioning was thought unnecessary or hasn’t been invented yet, we were packed in like sardines ( they probably have more space in their tins), all my worries about going to the toilet and not being able to get out were allowed full rein. If you were not on the aisle then you might as well piss down your leg for all the chance of getting out. Which means don’t drink but then at the prices they charge (£6.50 for 3 waters and a coke) you wouldn’t want to. Mrs Summerhouse said she was surprised it was that cheap, I thought blimey love you’ve come a long way from your one bottle of pop between six of you in your council house, but said nothing. So you couldn’t afford to drink and of course you weren’t allowed to bring in so much as a bottle of your own water and no food either but that’s OK because there would have been no room to eat other than a small peppermint which is what we had. The brief to the ‘designers’ of this arena was obviously pack the fuckers in so tight that they are barely this side of breathing.
Not that you would want voluntarily to go to the toilet – over to the designers again – I know we’ve got 30,000 people whatever – I suppose I should check my facts here but bollocks to it I’m going to write it as I see it, so thousands of people let’s give them 6, yes, count them, 6 urinals on each level. I assume there were urinals on other levels I did not check. So, yes, urinals which meant a queue of 50 yards plus just for the men. It was like being a woman and, as we know, they are designed to suffer long queues at toilet time.
Which brings me to the best or worst bit – the people. Most of this audience were about the same age as us which was gratifying, they, like me, sat solidly in their Yorkshire seats expressing occasional under-stated bouts of pleasure. They, like me, had simply come to listen to the music, what an out-dated idea. A big guy in front of me was packed in so tight he couldn’t do anything other that sit solidly, but the younger generation – my party excepted of course – what a bunch of numb nuts many of these turned out to be, whooping and shouting out inane remarks; example of quality before they’d even started playing – ‘play us something we know’. Brilliant. How I laughed, I thought my trousers would never dry, no don’t go there. The young people and the mentally young left in the middle of songs pushing past us people who foolishly were trying to listen to the music, I mean where did we think we were – a concert? They came back with pint after pint of beer even though they were clearly pissed, sold to them by a bar staff anxious to extract every, last penny from the cattle. Some people should never have been served! Periodically they stood up waved their arms about in front of me and shouted out or whooped. One woman in front of me did all this in a sitting position. Her arms waving as if in an epileptic fit, she managed, as she was in my eye line, to enable me to have a strobe effect and at no extra charge.
Number one son had counselled me about staying calm throughout the evening knowing of my predilection to get tense. He fell out with the security man within 10 seconds of getting inside the building and ended the evening by threatening to deck the idiot in front of us but then went off to make an official complaint, the boy is maturing at a rate of knots. I spent the last 3 numbers outside of the arena because I wanted to beat the crowds to the toilet and couldn’t face barging my way past the seated people – the ones that were still breathing that is. Pathetic isn’t it, and although in large part down to my insecurities, my state of mind was definitely aided and abetted by The Leeds Arena. I hated it and loved The Eagles, hence the words of the title.
And that was that, we poured out into the cool night air, all of the kids raving about The Eagles, of whom they knew only a bit before, and fulsome in their praise of me for funding this whole ridiculous enterprise. So that was nice. And all I could say was thank God that’s over with, I will go home and listen to my LPs and watch the odd video in the peace and quiet of my own home with the civilised Mrs SH and no fucking idiots. This was not the blog I intended to publish today but topicality being all important for the blogging person here it is. The retirement years, The Eagles are still going, they even came out of retirement, so I suppose I’d better keep going with them, but it’s hard work sometimes.
I will finish with a photo of The Eagles, or as close as Leeds Arena would allow. Several times we were told in writing and by Eva Braun who patrolled our aisle – no photos – although the young people did of course, bless their selfish little hearts. I’m glad I’m retired at least my chances of coming across a young person are reduced.
The Eagles are the other side of these doors playing Hotel California
Incidentally there”s a part of the show where Glen Frey and Joe Walsh (below) have a little guitar licks competition and Joe insists on playing with his tongue out . Mrs SH said OMG he looks just like Archie (our dog). I couldn’t get a photo of Joe, did I mention taking photos was not allowed. This is the best I could do, judge for yourself. PS. only one of these photos is Archie.