Thursday night, I went to Kew the Music and spent the evening watching Paul Weller. I don’t know any Paul Weller songs, unfortunately. I actually turned up, with my ticket to this event, full well knowing that I knew none of his repertoire.
There are several questions you might ask as to why I even went to an event, where tickets are pushing £50 (and I am an impoverished student) , to sit and watch an ageing rocker play a few hours of music I don’t know. Well, I have several answers. Firstly, I didn’t pay for my ticket, it was a very generous gift. And secondly, because I am a member of the middle class and this was quite possibly one of the most middle class events I have ever attended. Obviously I would be inclined to love every minute of it.
What makes Kew the Music more middle class than anything I think I have ever attended before? Firstly the venue. I don’t think I have been positioned on a picnic blanket, overlooking an absolutely glorious botanical greenhouse, in sunshine, listening to a very melancholic rocky guitar ‘indie’ support band. At an event in partnership with John Lewis. I mean, I think that is a dead giveaway.
The picnic spreads were another spectacle all in themselves. Many a wicker picnic basket lined with floral, Cath Kidston style fabric were opening around me. I would put good money on the fact that sales of cous cous, houmous, artisan loaves, pinot grigio, olives and parma ham rocketed about 400% in the Kew area. And only from Marks and Spencers and Waitrose, obviously. There were some simply sensational smorgasboards of meats and breads around, and luckily, I myself indulged in a variety of baked vegetable crisps (beetroot and parsnip) and not one, not two but three varieties of houmous. Jealous? I bet you are.
As for people watching, an avid spectator such as myself had plenty to revel in. One extraordinary sight was a very tanned gentleman, wearing cream loafers, cream chinos, a white shirt and a very bold striped navy blazer whip out and start puffing away on the most enormous cigar I have ever seen. Cigars?! When did a cigar become quite so… casual? I thought they were reserved for wealthy men to enjoy in peace in their mahogany lined studies, yet they were everywhere! Left, right and centre I was seeing cigars! It put the lady next to me, who was chaining Marlboro lights to shame, I can tell you that. She looked like a pauper in comparison.
This was just the setting, which would have rivalled a pub garden in the home counties when the rugger is on. Turning to Mr Weller himself, the concert was … pleasant. I really enjoyed myself: the mellow-soft-rock, which Paul supplied us with, served as excellent ambiance for some scintillating conversation (and people watching, of course). I found myself swaying along and doing some serious shoulder dancing. Annoyingly, I sat through two and a half hours of songs which I didn’t know, yet the minute I had to scarper for the tube in order to make my last connecting train, he only goes and plays A Town Called Malice. Also known as the song I had waited for all evening, also known as the single Paul Weller song I had ever heard before (probably because it is actually The Jam and not even Paul Weller…)
Would I recommend Kew the Music as a live music event? If you have the money and really love a good Waitrose picnic spread then absolutely. It’s a great atmosphere of middle class camaraderie. One of the boys described it as ‘a very pleasant rock concert’, and I think this is the most accurate description. Most definitely not a ‘gig’. One hundred percent a ‘concert’. Just that touch more class than a sweating, raucous, mosh pit situation. I had a brilliant time, but clearly because of my inherent love of anything middle class – ‘slumming’ it on a picnic rug, with my cous cous and houmous. Yes please, sounds fab. Better get some tickets for next year.