Van Morrisson – It wasn’t Rock and Roll but I liked it

Kenwood House Picnic Concert August 17th 2008

Kenwood House is a vast sprawling English Heritage mansion in Hampstead that is fairly inaccessible by road or public transport but is none the less worth the hike.

Kenwood House

The format of the picnic concerts is fairly easy to grasp. Food and then music. It’s all terribly English with wicker hampers, tartan rugs and lots and lots of M&S carrier bags bulging with the best that Hampstead High Street can offer.

The most amusing aspect are the concert goers themselves. I gave up pretending I was anything else but middle-aged a long time ago so I was very much part of the core demographic for this elderly rock fest. There was no one under 30 and the makers of Grecian 2000 probably would have called this a shareholders meeting.

There is nothing so charming as the pre-pensioner set letting their hair down in deck chairs.

“More taramasalata with some of these devine crudites, Trevor?”


“Thank you Daphnie but I’ll stick with this delicious goats cheese and tapenade filo parcel and this rather cheeky Merlot”

“Melissa, can I tempt you with this salmon pate with ciabatta?”

“Can’t refuse but I’m sure it’s packed with scrummy calories”

The other thing I saw, which could only have happened in a group of very late forties rock fans, was a security guard handing out ear plugs to those sitting next to the stage. Can you imaging the Grateful Dead announcing that ” Hey man, we’re going to turn the amps down to 5 so Daphnie and Claire in row A don’t get an earful”. I mean when did you last wear ear plugs to a rock concert.


Rockin' in sensible shoes

So apart from the homous and simply super dips, what was the music like? I’m not a Van Morrisson fan and know about 4 songs, luckily all of which he played. But Van may be the Man but he has the customer engagement skills of a $20 hooker. He arrived on stage sang his songs, never spoke to the band or introduced them, never spoke to the crowd or introduced a song and instead of an encore walked off stage and left the band to play themselves out.

For the final few songs the groovy older audience helped each other out of their deck chairs for some gentle bopping in sensible shoes and elasticated waste bands and as the last chord ended a few drops of rain produced a flurry of Pac-a-Macs. We may be old but we’re damned sensible.

It wasn’t sex and drugs and rock and roll but a nice picnic, half a bottle of chilled champagne and good music on a warn evening can’t be beaten.

Now time for a cup of cocoa and my most sensible slippers.


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