Skirting the Issue - My tragic musical past unveiled

I was sitting in a staff training session this week when my phone beeped to life with a text message. Lifting it and having a sneaky peak I saw it was a message from one of my oldest friends telling me she had been having a clear out and had come across something from our past.

She had sent a picture of it - of an old photo of Matt Goss which she had taken while at a Bros concert when we were both 12.

I was always completely and utterly jealous of that picture. She had got to the concert and I hadn’t - having missed the boat. I remember almost crying with jealousy when she brought the photos into school. One of them (the one she sent me the picture of this week) was so clear, so up close and personal that I imagined she would have felt a drop of sweat fly at her from the stage as the Bros jumped and gyrated along to one of their bubble-gum pop classics.

I went home and begged my mother to buy me a ticket for a concert when Bros toured again and that I would forgo a birthday present that year in lieu of same.

Just my luck they broke up before they began touring again and I’m pretty sure to this day my mother still owes me a birthday present for my 13th birthday...

And so it has been that I have had an atrocious track record with concerts ever since. So much so that this week when I was interviewed for a national newspaper and asked what my most memorable gig was, I pretended to lie.

The truth is, cool is not my middle name. Cool is not actually anywhere in my name. In fact as I responded to the question I felt myself fluster and blush. Erm, there was Westlife. And that Bryan Adams gig at Prehen. And I saw John Denver once when I was 20...and there was Keith Harris and Orville at St. Columb’s Hall (they had a number one record... so it counts).

My mind ran wild trying to think of one semi cool gig I ever attended and all it kept screaming back at me was the Radio One Roadshow with Dannii Minogue and I felt like crying. There is no cache in my musical past.

Thankfully at the last minute I recalled a gig with Foy Vance (cool Belfast singer) who I was friends with back in my uni days. He happened to be gigging in Derry on my 20th birthday and myself an a friend were hauled on stage to do backing vocals to ‘Mustang Sally’.

It was painfully bad on our part, but as his songs have appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and the Denny ads since I figured telling that story earned me some kudos. And of course I may have embellished a little - leaving out the part where I was woefully out of tune and a wee bit tipsy.

The fact is having reached a certain age (*cough* 36 *cough*) I have come to accept that the day I stood in Mrs O’Kane’s Home Economics room at Thornhill looking at the picture of a sweat coated Matt Goss was probably about as close to being cool as I was ever going to be.

My concert going these days is worse than it ever was. Being a mammy means I have had to sit through some terrible, terrible musical toot. (And the first person who mentions Westlife or John Denver gets a thump).

I’ve sat through High School Musical more times than I care to remember. I’ve been to see the Fimbles and the Tweenies and Thomas the Tank Engine sing their happy clappy songs. I’ve been to the X-Factor - with Wagner for the love of God (but at least there was One Direction and Matt Cardle to break the monotony) and my daughter is now currently mildly obsessed with putting on her own concerts and treating me to rendition after rendition of her own take on the classics.

The boy has even copped on to my uncoolness - asking me not to take him to the recent Undertones gig as “it wouldn’t be your kind of music, mammy” and asking his daddy to take him instead.

Given a choice he will travel everywhere in his daddy’s car so they can listen to music by bands I vaguely recognise while avoiding all attempts from me to listen to the latest Glee/ Smash/ That’s What I Call Cheesy CD in my car.

I don’t think it is likely my coolness will ever improve at this stage. Not unless Foy Vance makes a return to visit to Derry and wants to relive the night that should be never spoken of again with me on backing vocals.

I’m not going to be one of those cool pensioners who recalls being at the great Stone Roses gig of 2012, or who recalls when Bruce Springsteen played Slane, or a great U2 concert.

I’m not going to have tales of crowd surfing and watching some cool band making an important statement about the state of the world. I won’t have raucous stories to tell.

I suppose I’ll have be cool with that. But I’ll always have my memories... John Denver’s old guitar, Shane Phelan’s toothy grin, Harry Styles’ curly hair and Orville’s sweet quack. And I’ll always be able to tell my grandchildren how I once held a real life photograph of Matt Goss in my hand. And should Bros ever, ever reform (almost 25 years since their demise) my mother still owes me a concert ticket, so maybe, just maybe I’m still in with a chance.