Opinion

Gerding: Rocking with the boomer pension crowd at Prospera Place

It was geriatric night at Prospera Place last Saturday night as three musical blasts from the past took the stage “for one last time,” to quote a lyric from one of the band’s hit songs.

Journey was the headliner, backed up by Loverboy and Night Ranger, and there wasn’t a person in the house under the age of 25, except for the odd youngster there with their parents.

The aging baby boomers on the audience were closer to being pensioned off than to the era when those bands dominated the FM airwaves.

That’s not a knock on Kelowna audiences, just a reflection of the demographics here. For the last decade, classic rock bands and singers performing at Prospera Place have included the likes of Rod Stewart, Moody Blues, Elton John, Def Leppard, Journey, Billy Idol, John Cougar Mellencamp, John Fogerty, etc.

They make a point of stopping for concert gigs in the Okanagan to help top up their retirement incomes on their old hits. And it’s not much different in Vancouver, either. I was at a Madonna concert in Vancouver at Rogers Arena, and the old folks were dominant in the crowd that night as well.

She made us wait for two hours from her scheduled 8 p.m. show time start, effectively zapping the energy out of her older audience. Many people were checking their watch as it neared 11 p.m. Thinking it was time to get home to bed.

Fortunately last Saturday, all the bands hit their time marks, so the evening didn’t drag on, although a few audience members tried to slip out early, I guess to beat the traffic. Night Ranger was the opening act, and they actually started early as we could hear their opening song while walking down Ellis towards the arena.

But as you gazed around at the audience on Saturday, it reminded me of what a unique musical generation we oldtimers, whether genuine or living in denial, have been fortunate to live through. The music survives.

To put that in perspective, think of older teenagers or those in their 20s, what they have to listen to now. Will any of that music still be prevalent in their lives when they are in their 50s or 60s. Does anyone remember ‘Hammer time” in the early ’90s? Do you think a concert promoter today could assemble MC Hammer and two or three other music stars from that era and put together a 40-plus date tour and charge $99 a ticket to see them? Not likely.

There were some magical moments on Saturday when the audience in helping the band sing some of the popular tune choruses. Still, I wondered about those enthusiastic boyfriends/husbands who stood up, pounding their fist in the air, singing to Loverboy’s signature hit Turn Me Loose, if their wives/girlfriends actually stopped to think what the lyrics to that song actually mean.

Or using a cell phone instead of a lighter when the arena is darkened for the power ballad numbers.

Still, make fun of us if you will, but my generation really is the lucky one.

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