John Mayall – The Academy (21/7/09)

You can't see it in this picture, but he did look astonishingly like a cross between Rolf Harris and Joel from Late Night With Conan O'Brien

So, on Tuesday night, myself and the wonderful Amy saw the living legend John Mayall playing in the Academy. I enjoyed it, because it was a stunning display of musical virtuosity. She hated it, because it was a stunningly self-indulgent display of musical virtuosity. Such is life. My review, fittingly enough, is a stunningly self-indulgent display of narcissistic nonsense.

My one presiding memory of visiting my granddad when I was knee high to a shepherd’s pie is, of all things, screwing around with the old man’s stair lift. Utterly lost on me and my brother was the importance of the machine for allowing my granddad easy ascent – all we saw was a hilarious toy that distracted us from the boring grown-up talk that was going on around us. I’m fairly certain we broke it at least twice, but hey, boys will be boys. Or, in this case, boys will be annoying little brats.

I’d like to think that, years from now, as I progress into bitterly cynical old age, beset by rare liver diseases and with limited vision out of my one remaining good eye, as long as I have a stair lift, I’ll still have the capacity to feel like a demented four year old kid, taking innocent delight in the simple act of gliding up and down a banister. Hell, maybe it’ll be even easier, thanks to the senility and all.

It’s doubtful that 75-year-old John Mayall requires a stair lift – not even for simple-minded giddy thrills. In fact, judging from his very infectious, copious energy as he commanded the stage at the Academy on Tuesday, it’s music that’s keeping the man young, and it seemed to rejuvenate the crowd as much as it did Mayall himself. It was immediately obvious that a large portion of the crowd had grown old along with Mayall, and each pounded piano chord was a glorious sonic bridge back into their collective youths.

Still, you could do worse things with your time than reading it. Poking yourself in the ribs with a sharpened splinter, for instance. (Also, if you don’t read it, I’m going to poke you in the ribs with a sharpened splinter.)


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