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It was 2004 when I glimpsed that rock 'n' roll had changed.

My wife and I were at a Sting concert at Philips Arena in expensive main floor seats when I glanced down the aisle and saw what looked to be Dick Cheney in a blue blazer. Moments later, I glanced back at another fan who resembled CNN's Larry King.

While coming up, my experience at rock shows had been nodding my mop of hair to Black Sabbath or violently slamming into other bodies in a pit in front of The Ramones in a cathartic release of energy.

I mention this because recently I went to see the Electric Light Orchestra, 43 years after I last saw them. By "them," I mean Jeff Lynne, founder of the band and the only one of the 13 people onstage that Friday night who had also performed during the August 1976 show.

You've got to hand it to Lynne, who at 71 is six years' north of Social Security age, yet is still banging out a nice living. Atlantans were eager to revisit his string of 1970s' hits and packed the 20,000-seat State Farm Arena.

Main floor seats hit the $300 range online. Now, I like ELO and all, but 300 bucks?!? C'mon! We went with the "cheaper" $95 upper-deck seats.

It's a far cry from the $6.50 I paid to see them in 1976, as I got ready for freshman year in college and made $2.50 an hour at Montgomery Ward. Please, get off my lawn!

The extortionate prices for concerts, especially "top tier" golden oldies, is merely a sign of the times. Back in the day, bands toured--and lost money--to sell albums. Today, they make their cash from the gate.

People going to "classic" rock shows have disposable income: The kids are raised, the mortgage paid. And we baby boomers want to rekindle fond memories from a time when life was uncomplicated. It's like musical comfort food.

The whole phenomenon is a bit odd. I cannot see myself and my dad in 1976 heading to a Tommy Dorsey show. Actually, the big-band leader died in 1956, but you get my point. Musical concerts just weren't our parents' bag.

And so you have a legion of gray-haired boomers squeezing into expensive seats wearing KISS concert T-shirts or some other relic of our younger selves.

In September, Atlantans can unearth their raggedy Who garb and head down to the State Farm Arena to watch two of the surviving four band members for anywhere from $21 to $2,964, depending on your station in life.

The Rolling Stones, too, have dusted off their guitars and are again on the road, that is after surgeons tuned up Mick Jagger's 76-year-old ticker.

Sure, Jagger once said, "I'd rather be dead than sing 'Satisfaction' when I'm 45."

Well, he's three decades past that milestone and still belting it out as septuagenarian fans scream the lyrics while standing on their seats.

Editorial on 07/12/2019

Print Headline: Rockin' with the oldies

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