Friday, 23 October 2015


In 2010 I went to a Simply Red concert that was heralded as their farewell tour. I had been a fan since the start and as a poor student I saved up my pennies to buy their tapes. Their music was entwined with so many stories of my life and the memories that I had created over time. I was really excited to see these songs performed live.

I remember being at that concert and thinking that the other people there were all older than me. Upon reflection, they weren't. I was just in denial. It was the music that made me feel ever-young.
(Incidentally, they lied about it being a farewell tour, but I have sort of forgiven them for that...)

Last weekend I went to see Robbie Williams perform in Brisbane and the same thing happened again. I was with a friend some years younger than me and she mentioned that there were many more older people there than she expected. I didn't even consider that I was one of them!! (How conceited of me.)

You see, in my mind Robbie and I are still oh so young! I still think of him as a fresh faced prankster youngster and I'm just a few years ahead of him! (Although I have to say that close up he's not ageing quite so well....!

I lived and worked in his home town of Stoke on Trent when he was just starting out with his music career. It was when the rest of the world didn't know who he was. He was Robert back then, or Rob if you really knew him well. He was the local boy that had just signed this big record deal and was about to become famous.

It was a time when I was also starting out on my career path. I had just completed some post graduate study and I was spending a year putting into practise all the theory that I had learnt during the previous 12 months. It was my first ever regular and real paycheck job. The first time I lived totally alone in a little house in Stoke and then in a flat on the top floor of a lovely old terrace in Wolstanton in Newcastle-under Lyme. It was my year of finding resilience...making it up as I went along all by myself. More memories...

I think that this tentative connection is why I feel such a soft spot for anything Robbie Williams.
He's one of a few artists that I might have bought everything that he's released. I've just felt the need to support his success.

Like many other performers his music seems to hold me in the past. Not necessarily back to my time in The Potteries, but just over the years since then. I know that it's your sense of smell that is the most powerful in provoking memories but I can catch a bit of a song and I'm instantly transported back in time.

For me, a song or a piece of music can define an era, a year, an occasion or just a moment.

I hear Madonna's 'Crazy for you' and I'm in the little cafe in Ystalyfera drinking milky coffee...
"Sunday, Bloody Sunday" and it's a seventeenth birthday party...
 Bronski Beat's "Why?" and I'm in Dan-y-Coed on a drama residential course...
Anybody who's a Welsh speaker and who's ever been to Llangrannog will understand if I just say "Nefol Dad" and "Pan ddaw yfory"?

There's countless more that I could list but that would just be self indulgent and I wouldn't know where to stop! The power that a tune has to draw me back to another time is quite a pull.

So music is good for my soul - it makes me feel like a younger version of myself.

Thank you Robbie Williams for bouncing around on stage and belting out hits from a couple of decades ago. Thank you for taking me (and most of the crowd in Brisbane on Saturday night) back to a bit of our past.
The days after the concert I revisited so many tunes that have shaped my life, and I danced like a crazy woman in the privacy of my own kitchen....!

What songs would make it onto the playlist of your life?

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2 Comments and thoughts:

  1. Great post!
    As someone who ended up in Stone, from Tredegar, I understand Stoke and Wolstanton!!

    I'm a bit older than you, Beth. Songs would definitely be Born to Run, Hotel California and Dylan's Forever Young. There are so many more...

    1. I remember Stone Gaynor - it was a bit South from where I lived. I also know all the songs that you mention and I love the lyrics in Bob Dylan's Forever Young.