Last night I was hussled into taking my 12 year old son to the Hammersmith Apollo to see Ne-Yo (a slick RnB idol).
I first went there in 1977 (to see the Clash I think). In those days the air was heavy with nicotine and ganja and latent violence. Young men wore leather, black kids meant trouble, there was a lot of sweat-a lot of police outside. We still had the SUS laws, the riots were starting, we knew nothing about Asian kids.
Things have moved on. I didn’t see an angry face all night, 90% of the audience were female, black and white mingled together as Londoners on a good night out.
There were no police nor need there have been.
We sat with a group of black girls from Stoke Newington. They laughed with us and sang every word (MP3s have given kids such understanding of what they listen to).
Downstairs 3000 people danced and shared their water bottles and went wild for Ne-Yo.
When the DJ asked for a shout from the over 25s, I shouted- people looked round- I think I was on my own.
As I walked back across Hammersmith Bridge at midnight, Olly and I talked about Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Mary J Blige and we talked about JLS ,Alexander Burke and Leona Lewis and we talked about Ne-Yo.
Things have moved on a long way from my days as a 12 year old. London is a safer, kinder more tolerant place and while there is still bad stuff, I’m proud and happy for this town and pleased that my kid is growing up to enjoy its many delights in the right way.