Now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

I’m at the Albert Hall, for a rock gala. The Prince of Wales is here. It’s his night. The stage is filled with people from the past – Clapton, May, the bloke from Level 42. The Tories are in power, there’s a ‘feel good’ royal wedding coming up, rock dinosaurs are trading licks on stage and I’m thinking, what’s happened, has nothing changed?
And I look around and the whole audience is middle class and white and yes, this is England, and in the minds of these people it may be the real England, but it’s only a thin slice of our island life. It’s a small group who happen to still have a lot of the money and a great deal of power, but, like a giant wireless permanently glued to Radio 2, it does not reflect what our country is really like.
Where are the new sounds? Where are the young? The black, the asian, anybody who is not white? Outside in the rain, or just at another venue enjoying some other music, without the prince and the sense of entitlement.
And maybe this lot feel privileged as another ageing star is wheeled out to do a turn, but really what they want to see is Queen (with Freddie) at their peak in the 70s; Clapton in his pomp playing Layla with the Dominoes; Ultravox when Midge Ure had hair and a moody raincoat. What they really want is for things to be like they think they used to be. And despite appearances here, they’re not.
The coming wedding will not bring the nation together, cuddled up in some warm tweed jacket of Englishness, because that sort of Englishness is only part of what living here is about, because so many people are too involved with other cultural pursuits and ideas, or just too busy living their own lives to ever care about some people who happen to be the relatives of some other people who have got a big house and jewels and stuff getting married; to care about some bloke who used to be in a band who were good playing the guitar on stage; for any of it to make the sort of impact that the people in power would like.
So, rant over, time to sit back and enjoy the still silky voice of Tom Jones and sing along to Paloma. Nice.