The sun is shining and summer’s nearly here so, as they inevitably do, thoughts turn to outdoor festivals and stadium gigs. Which means thoughts turn also to the entertainment on offer – and, as we cast our eyes over the menu, to a single fact which stands out clearly: the respective ages of the people providing that entertainment.

Sure, we’ve thrilled recently to outdoor performances by first Beyonce and then Harry Styles. Both have performed at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium within the last few weeks. Depending on the vagaries of the winds, many capital dwellers are still dealing with the neon-coloured feathers blowing around their gardens from the second of those shows. Cheers, Harry.

But at age 41 and 29 respectively neither of those artists is at legend status yet. Almost, in the case of Queen Bey, but not quite. At least not in the sense that there won’t be further opportunities to see either of them perform in years to come.

That may not be true, however, of a bevy of bona fide legends who are also gracing Scotland with their presence this summer, or who have recently done so.

Their presence, and the excitement around, it is testament to their drawing power. To extensive and much-loved back catalogues which have been smartly marketed and re-packaged for the digital era. And, in the case of one of them, to an Oscar and Golden Globe-winning biopic which has burnished their reputation as a music-maker and introduced their work to a new generation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has played a part too, as audiences emerge looking for big events which feel meaningful, which make them feel like congregants at a celebration of music which is time-honoured and classic.

But it’s also testament to the spirit of the musicians themselves. To their longevity and their doggedness. To their genuine and abiding love of doing something as simple as standing up in front of people, singing songs and playing their instruments.

If those people are paying £100 for the experience, well so be it. The performers can pick their philosophical approach to lucre by adhering to the spirit of whichever of these two Beatles songs suits them best: either the Fab Four’s 1963 cover of Berry Gordy’s self-explanatory Money (That’s What I Want) – or the track they recorded a year later and which bears the refrain “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”

Last Tuesday, Bruce Springsteen played a muscular three hour set at the same venue as Styles and Beyonce, running through a greatest hits package as well as performing songs from his 21st studio album, Only The Strong Survive.

It’s aptly named. “Age defies him,” one fan wrote on Twitter following the concert. Another praised the 73-year-old rocker for “running around the stage like a Duracell bunny for three hours.”

The Herald: Bruce Springsteen, performing at Murrayfield StadiumBruce Springsteen, performing at Murrayfield Stadium (Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

Springsteen, you may or may not know, is referred to as the Boss. Once upon a time it was partly ironic, I suppose, given his blue-collar credentials, as well as a nod to his position as a voice-of-a-generation songwriter. Now it seems appropriate in another way too, because at his age that’s exactly what he should be. A boss. Or, more likely, a retired one, sunning himself in whichever pleasant corner of the world well-heeled New Jersey bosses gather once their bossing days are behind them.

Instead he’s doing the opposite. He’s still, well, bossing it. Still running around like a Duracell bunny for three hours, and not because he needs to but because he wants to.


Nor is Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters about to swap his bass for a pair of elasticated trousers and a spot in the shade. There may be those who wish him on the dark side of the moon, but he still likes the spotlight, thank you very much, as shown by his headline-making performance in Germany recently.

After a concert in Berlin on May 17, Waters incurred the wrath of the authorities for a mid-set skit in which he donned a fascist-style uniform – black trench-coat, red arm band, crossed hammer emblem somewhat resembling a swastika – and shot a machine gun into the audience. He said afterwards that it was “quite clearly” a statement against fascism and demagoguery, adding: “Attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated.”

Yesterday, as part of the UK leg of his lengthy tour, he completed the second of two nights at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro. Reports of his antics were unavailable to your correspondent at the time of writing, but at the opening of Wednesday’s show in Birmingham fans were greeted with a pre-recorded announcement. “If you’re one of those ‘I love Pink Floyd, but I can’t stand Roger’s politics’ people,” it ran, “then you might do well to f*** off to the bar.”

A veritable iconoclast, then, as well as a genuine icon. Or just a sweary 79-year-old playing with guns? Whatever the truth of it, his is not typical behaviour for a man of nearly 80 – and more power to him for it. More power to him for keeping it ‘rock’, whatever it costs him in lost cultural capital with what he would doubtless call the ‘wokerati’.

In a week or so, another legend descends when Sir Elton John jets into Scotland for four concerts, two each in Aberdeen and Glasgow. It’s part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, and so far he has been averaging over 20 songs a show. Sir Elton is now 76 and limbered up for this tour by walking lengths sideways in his swimming pool, which just goes to show his level of dedication to the job. He’s also headlining Glastonbury later in the month, the latest icon to take the slot following appearances by the Rolling Stones in 2013, and Paul McCartney last year.

Who’s next? Fans of a certain 1960s supergroup will see what I did there and recognise the title of that band’s 1971 album, the one which shows them urinating against a large slab of concrete on a hillside somewhere. If not, it’s The Who.

Only two of the original members are still alive, sadly, but despite a combined age of 157 there is no stopping frontman Roger Daltrey and guitar-smashing strummer Pete Townshend. They will play two nights at Edinburgh Castle next month – immediately after a two-night stint by none other than Sir Rod Stewart. He’s now 78 and looking good on it.

The Herald: Sir Rod Stewart in concert in the USSir Rod Stewart in concert in the US (Image: Getty Images)

It’s notable that virtually all these musicians were born within a couple of years of each other, in the mid-1940s, and came of age in the mid- to late-1960s, when the UK was booming culturally and economically. Something energised them – something more than Duracell batteries.

Collectively they have survived drugs, punk rock, disco, the advent of the internet and the rise of streaming, sharing a tour bus with Keith Moon and appearing on The Muppet Show in a feathers and a sequinned swimming cap (guess who?).  In fact it’s hard to think of another generation of musicians which has made such a determined effort to continue recording and performing, or whose music has become so woven into the fabric of our culture.

Likewise it’s notable how many of the big acts who followed them in the 1980s and 1990s have fallen by the wayside. Sure, we can still listen to and be inspired by The Clash, The Police, REM, Oasis, The White Stripes, Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths, Stone Roses etc. But the iconic bands from that era who are still touring in some form – Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Guns N’ Roses, for example, both of whom touch down in Scotland in the coming weeks – are far and few between.

If Coldplay headline Glastonbury in 2053, Chris Martin will still be younger than Sir Elton John or Sir Paul McCartney when they did it. And what chance is there of Radiohead still performing when they’re pushing 80? Or even Harry Styles, God forbid?

Money can’t but you love. True. But 50 years soundtracking the lives of millions through life, love, Saturday night highs and Sunday morning heartaches most certainly can.