Recently my wife and I attended one the best concerts we've ever seen. The band had the sold-out crowd constantly leaping to its feet, singing along. The rafters shook.
Are we talking BeyoncĂ©, Arcade Fire, or Coldplay? Nope. They were Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, and Steely Dan's Donald Fagen touring together as the Dukes of September. By all rights, these 60-plus guys should be enjoying their grandchildren, playing bocce ball, or scribing memoirs. Instead they are deftly ripping off guitar solos, wailing at the top of their lungs, and rocking out like there's no tomorrow. They've been crisscrossing North America in a bus all summer long and having the time of their lives.
And they're not alone. Perhaps it's time to concede that the clock cannot stop the rock. Just look who was out on the road this summer playing sold-out shows, thrilling old fans, making new ones, and raking in the big bucks coast to coast.
Who, you ask? Exactly â€“ The Who are kicking off yet another North American tour in November with an ambitious 37 shows in all. They're hoping their exposure at the London Olympics closing ceremony will remind the world that they can still bring it with the best of them. Down to just two original members, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, both in their late 60s, they'll be playing their acclaimed "Quadrophenia" double album live, supplemented by a crack band including Ringo's eldest son, Zak Starkey, on drums. The Stones keep on rolling, celebrating 50 years since their first gig, and teasing a world tour in 2013. But of all the "geezers" on the road, Leonard Cohen takes the (birthday) cake. He's 77 and still selling out venues wherever he performs.
The band Chicago (all in their late 60s) is out there with the Doobie Brothers (in their mid-60s), Boston bad boys Aerosmith have managed to sublimate inner turmoil for a summer tour at least, and unless you've been hiding under the bed you know that the Beach Boys (all pushing 70 and not exactly the best of friends) are on a massive 50th anniversary celebration tour. The reviews have been nearly unanimous â€“ they've still got it. And have you seen a Paul McCartney (71) concert lately? There must be a portrait decaying in an attic somewhere.
Whatever the reason â€“ nostalgia, boomers' disposable income, chronic Peter Pan syndrome, or the sheer quality of the music itself â€“ audiences can't seem to get enough. Seven of the top 10 grossing summer tours in 2011 were acts with performers over 60. This summer will tell the same story. Perhaps Detroit rocker Bob Seger (67) captured it best when he sang "rock and roll never forgets."