I don't remember not listening to hard rock or heavy metal as a kid. I was fortunate enough to have a brother 11 years older than me growing up in the 70’s. Damn that’s fairly scary when I think of it now....the seventies! Most guys, like me when they hit their late forties and are still listening to metal, never really grow up. I’m sure our wives and partners would agree with that, they gave up trying to understand the joy in our eyes as we gleefully cradled the new release from Slayer whilst oblivious to the needy child, animal or loved one. Sure we physically aged, we got grey, lost hair, gained a few pounds but mentally we are all still in our late twenties, a definite advantage over most other genres of music. Imagine a fifty year old over weight raver for example wearing flairs and trying the same dance moves he tried in his twenties on the dancefloor now and not looking ridiculous. Whereas there is no bullshit with us metallers, we all wear black, we either stand at the front, middle or back of the gig and try not to get in each other’s way. As I get older I’m seen less at the front, it obviously depends on the amount of Peroni I drink so if a pit starts up I’ll participate but assess the risks coldly. Like if its full of kids with their tops off I’m moving to the side of the fleshfest or big drunken lunatics with beers in their hands causing spillages and pile ups on the dancefloor is equally off putting and a right pain in the hole! Not to mention one night at the Academy where some weirdo dropped a load of Pistachio nuts he was gobbling and I could feel them through the soles of my Cons, the amount of guys that slid along them carrying beers was no ones business. Horrible just horrible! When us “metalheads” get together, it’s with youthful abandonment we approach gigs, we have the same conversations about bands, albums and t-shirts. There's no gossip exchanged only some nodding sympathy to the lastest aches or pains. So yes there is a downside of all this youthful exuberance back in the days of the stage diving and mosh pits because we now are all suffering with back, knee and neck problems. I remember a few years back going to the aptly titled Dr. Lim in The CUH Hospital in Cork on a referral from my local doctor as I was suffering neck pains, shooting pains from my elbows down to my hands and unable to sleep comfortably. He looked at my MRI results and sighed the sigh of a man that’s going to deliver the worse news possible. I folded my aching arms and waited for the inevitable outcome. Dr. Lim said that I had the neck of a seventy year old man, he showed me slide after slide of wear and tear on my cervical vertebrae. He leaned back and asked me what type of awful job I working in that could have caused this. I knew it wasn’t the current one for the last 17 years, where there is a small amount of manual handling but I still gave him answer after answer to which he continually shook his head until we had exhausted all options. He then asked did I play sports to which I repied I didn’t and then followed that up by asking about hobbies. So I told him that I loved going to gigs and music. He sat forward frowning and his eyes narrowed, “What type of gigs and music?” When I said heavy metal he slammed the pen down on the table and triumphantly announced that was the source of my neck degeneration. Forty years of head banging and there was no cure. He did suggest Botox injections four times yearly but the thoughts of me going full Klingon left me feeling numb. I manned up and the pains subsided….eventually.
Pic taken by Janer Ali at The Exploited in Voodoo Dublin 2018