As my role as a blogger for Relentless energy drink I am often lead to ponder the music that matters to me and why. But when I am asked to recall the moment that drew me in to music I find it impossible to remember one significant day. To be honest I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a part of my daily life in some respect. As a very young child I remember my heart racing with joy when I unwrapped my bright blue Disney Banjo, spending time making various percussive instruments out of cups and various cereal grains and seeds, playing a rather wobbly version Frere Jacques in primary school recorder group, and making up my own cheekier lyrics to those pat a cake clap games.
But as I have found from interviewing musicians, of all genres, early listening seems to be largely dictated by parents or grandparents tastes - the records being played shaping the offspring’s future musical outputs and playlists, or one way or another pushing them to discover their own preferences. When I was young we didn’t have access to the likes of YouTube to trawl for new talents. I also wasn’t yet experiencing bands live via festivals. So aside from the chart selections shown on Top of The Pops, my musical osmosis was predominantly courtesy of family car journeys to see my grandparents. Both sets lived two hours away in Weymouth and Leicester, so many weekends were spent in the back of the car, which seemed an eternity as a youngster with a nervous bladder and in aggravating confinement with a jibing older brother .
Although there were some questionable tapes in my Dads glove box, ‘Manilow Magic’ may or may not fall into this category, there were many albums that I still listen to and enjoy today - and not just for their nostalgic credentials. Fleetwood Mac and Eurythmics encouraged car sing-a-longs, Dire Straights and Queen’s Greatest Hits even stirred my first instinctive air guitar. Some of these tapes also provoked challenging conversations when my parents shared stories about the lives of the performers, some which shocked, some which surprised, and others that saddened. But one of my favourite albums from the hit and miss pick ‘n’ mix of Dad’s glovebox, was a Motown compilation, featuring the likes of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. This album would be my introduction to the young vocals of Michael Jackson. As well as the Jackson Five song ‘I’ll Be There’ an extremely tender track called Ben by a solo14 years old Michael also featured. At the time I thought it was the most touching of songs, Michaels tone and words of camaraderie utterly heart-wrenching. The realization that the subject of the song was in fact a Rat slightly detracted. In spite of this my love for Michael Jackson was cemented
So, my first proper concert set the bar high. Not only was it in the vast space of the old Wembley Stadium, it was the man-boy himself, Michael Jackson. I was on the cusp of that difficult hormonal age where my parents every move would make me grind me teeth and get flushed with fury and embarrassment. However, the thrill of the occasion, was on the whole, raging enough to override the cringe factor. My parents relentlessly shooting disapproving looks to the nearby concert goers that ‘dared’ to stand in the seated area definitely irked enough that I can feel my internal eye roll till this day.
Although I can’t remember all of the finer details of the concert I remember how big a deal it was and the feeling I had when Michael arrived after the oddly low rent support act. I can still hear the crescendo of the crowds when he emerged in his various outlandish outfits, like that now iconic gold and silver metallic suit. And let’s face it, it isn't every day you see someone appear out of a space rocket.
His unrivaled ability to fuse genres, his stage-man-ship and star quality, his amazing riffs and dance inducing beats, his lyrical messages and tear inducing vulnerability, are just some of the things that lifted him to legendary status. And while his influence on artists like Justin Timberlake is transparent, there are no genre limits when it comes to his appeal and impact (only last week he was brought up in my interview with Bring Me The Horizon). I am confident he will remain an unreachable benchmark, and continue to play a part in the foundations of musicians for decades to come.
Although many are far too quick to tell me that History wasn’t his best tour or musical era (I think this mainly comes from bitterness), and although I can’t pick out this concert purely on the merit of its stage theatrics when considering that productions are common and probably technically superior now, my ticket stub from the 1997 show is the one I still look at now and think how very lucky I was to have been there. Some artists are just special, that's it.