Attending a concert in your senior years is not like your junior years.
I was fortunate to catch Earth Wind and Fire, who opened for Carlos Santana. An exceptional line-up. With the passing of time, the audience for Earth Wind and Fire had transcended into Earth, Flatulence and Heat.
The bands were stellar, keeping their timeless tunes blasting from the Budweiser Centre over a sea of individuals whose white and silver hair outshone the concert lanterns. The vocalist for Santana shouted for everyone to jump up and down to one of their many iconic tunes. After a few jumps, a third of the crowd sprinted to the washroom. When your bladder has mileage, bouncing at a concert isn’t recommended. Gone are the days of emulating an elephant housing a generous bladder. Throwing back a stream of beverages and not missing a second of the performance. We used to be able to chug fluids. Now, we’re chugging Pepto Bismol. One can’t even chance getting absorbed by a crowd, risking being unable to negotiate their way out fast enough to tinkle.
Standing up and sitting down repeatedly from the seats was fine for those with hip or knee replacements. Others, not so much, and the intoxicated patrons reminded me of concerts past where some arrived and continued to get wasted. Instead of sporting bandanas, they’re wearing bifocals. Dial it back, grandpa. The friends encircling these diehard partiers aren’t as agile as they once were. Maneuvering their canes and other special needs apparatuses while lugging their buddy back to the car.
The tickets weren’t cheap, but I didn’t have to ponder when next I would be able to capture these two iconic acts. Carlos Santana is not a man of many words, nor does he need to be. He allows his music to do all the heavy lifting while permitting himself to be the channel of that brilliance. He’s ripe for a pair of sandals and a monk’s robe and still be cool. A follower of “A Course In Miracles,” his message is simple. Love, unity and joy. What else is there? Here’s a 75-year-old rockstar whose delivery of music and images made for a spiritual concert. At one point, I leaned over to my husband and whispered that I felt like I was at a Church of Rock that welcomed and celebrated everyone.
The thread of images Santana used alongside his music spoke to the messaging of Love and humanity. It was impossible not to be moved. We are all born of light; we’ve just forgotten that fact. Our power is internal, and we need not search outside ourselves to find who we are—remembering we all possess that marvellous gift and corralling it to help ourselves and others.
Earth, Wind and Fire share in that spiritual sensibility recognizing each person in attendance as a “Shining Star” in the Universe who’s connected, bright and necessary. I believe it’s part of their longevity. Forget epidemics; our biggest one is our lack of Love towards each other. Once we extend Love and heal the Earth, pandemics won’t have a chance.
Carlo’s wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, is a gorgeous 62-year-old drummer for the band. All women going through menopause should consider getting a drum set. Irrelevant whether they can drum or not. The neighbourhood and their family may not appreciate it. But to beat the shit out of something is tribal and a soulful experience where you can release all that is pent up within you. Perhaps that’s her beauty secret. Cindy played the drums like they were her Stradivarius. Intuitively and sensually. Driving them to sing like other masterful drummers, of which she is one.
Earth, Wind and Fire’s music resonates all these decades later, and the energy they exude made me aware that aging doesn’t need to exist. We can challenge that time-space reality by eating well and looking after ourselves. To watch these musicians dance across the stage in their glistening silver encrusted jackets in their middle seventies, looking like they were forty while playing their bass, was life-affirming. Both acts are recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Centre Honors
Some things did piss me off. After submitting my credit card for the ticket purchase, a receipt was sent to me with a significantly augmented amount. Only then were the letters USD reflected in a tiny font similar to diamond dust.
It was unpleasant arriving on a scorching day at a crowded discombobulated entrance where security appeared to be training staff on the spot. As a sidebar, being lectured by an 18-year-old to remove all the little stuff I was wearing because they didn’t know how to use the metal detector wand didn’t fly. At our age, we have metal in our heads, legs, hips, and mouth; you name it. Learn to use the rod. And don’t consider lecturing a post-menopausal woman who’s been standing in the soaring heat. Her body already naturally ratchets temperatures that feel no different from the sun. Be grateful she didn’t take the wand and shove it where even security doesn’t permit it to go.
After finally entering, like an oasis fifty feet away, stood a lovely-looking lady our age who offered my little group ice-cold beers and coolers. The surprise was that one beer cost close to the price of six. I thought I heard wrong, but with each decade serving as an increment of rising event alcohol pricing, the cost reflected 2022. Gone are the days of Ontario Place, home to beer pavilions with cheap pitchers of beer and Sangria. They’re charging the same prices as a club, making it prohibitive to get a buzz. It would help if you explored other options, like missing a meal, so your blood sugars drop, your stomach is empty, and one beer can carry you the rest of the way. Alternatively, there’s pot, but I don’t know anyone who’s partaking. Besides, the grass we grew up with was gentle and mild. The stuff today is drug store quality. I want a buzz, not to be anesthetized for surgery. There was, however, a constant floating veil of hash in the warm evening breeze hoovering over the last section of the venue. An area with tides of white hair and tennis sweaters looking like it was cast with upper management types.
The seating was uncomfortable. When you’ve crossed into the pool of aches and pains like sciatica and suffer from restless leg syndrome, venue seating doesn’t have a chance. Those who sat in the lawn seating needed their friends to help them up following the concert, which looked like it would take hours for some to get vertical. Sitting for a long show can be torturous if you’re someone who experiences pins and needles after briefly sitting on the loo.
Dancing is another problem. How can you not with two stellar bands? You must ensure you’re not close to anyone where you’ll bump into them, break a bone, or damage a hip. Difficult when the music is contagious. Some danced entirely out of beat, which had its unique charm.
Then there’s the impact of loud music on your hearing. I was disappointed in the sound. I’m not hearing impaired, but I did listen to Sting play in the same venue, and the sound was crystal clear. This was static. The bass dominated the melody, which took the music at times from glorious to noise. I attribute that to the sound engineers unfamiliar with the artists. I wasn’t the only person experiencing that. Had I possessed hearing aids, I might’ve temporarily dialled them down during some tunes.
A friend of ours had scored a single seat closer to the stage and watched with ear plugs to protect her ears. It made me think about how we never protected ourselves at music venues as teenagers—positioning ourselves next to speakers the size of caskets with a dual purpose of being a great location to leave your beverage—having no concept of what we were doing to our hearing. We were indomitable. A time when most of our generation was high, and being responsible was incongruent with our non-existent concert protocol.
In the end, we lingered behind to let the crowds move ahead of us. I watched as people struggled with the stairs in the same way as when they entered the concert: negotiating chairs, canes and other apparatuses. There was a time I would look out at this sea of humanity and think they looked like my friend’s parents, only to now blink and realize this is my posse.
I did yawn at one point, and my husband, who’s an olympian in concert stamina, looked over at me with raised eyebrows. The Rambo of concert-goers, attending loads in his lifetime and partying hard at all, had a wife who had turned into Bambi.
I left sincerely wishing I could thank Carlos Santana and Earth Wind and Fire for using their music to remind us of a profound truth. That “Everybody’s Everything” because “That’s The Way Of The World.”