A few words about pop after last night's appalling tragedy.
I've never been to Manchester Arena but just over 20 years ago I did go to London Arena to interview Pulp. It was a pop awards ceremony and also featured a bunch of the boy bands doing the rounds back then, including Take That.
I'll never forget the sheer, keening, screaming torrent of white noise sustained by the crowd of teens. My Bloody Valentine had nothing on this. It was awesome, a Niagra and not to be denied in any way.
I was in the habit of complaining, then as now, that pop was an exhausted medium, long since departed from the ideals of my own 70s/80s heyday. However, that day, I realised something perfectly obvious really - my discernment and qualms meant next to nothing in the face of this, and rightly so.
Pop is a barely adequate word for the life force unleashed at a huge concert hall full of kids. The Beatles complained that when they played Shea Stadium, they couldn't make themselves heard, that nobody was listening to them play; as if it had been better if the fans had sat quietly and attentively. Great as they were, they were actually wrong. It was the crowd, not them, who were making the noise that truly mattered that day.
There's an undifferentiated, torrential essence to pop as a live spectacle. It's capitalist, socialist, liberal. It's about joy and sex, sweat and glow, catharsis and cheer, plumage and confidence in numbers; euphoria. It's a temporary excess, a respite from the drudgery that is being imposed if anything to more pernicious excess on this generation than my own - more homework, longer hours, bleaker prospects. If anyone deserves pop, it's this generation. It's brilliant, it's rubbish, it's innocent and guilty pleasure, it's everything, really, except death. It's anti-death.
Pop, whatever state it's in, isn't a symptom of social decay but sheer, ongoing vitality. Anyone who has the chance to experience it, in a dome, stadium, arena should do so, regardless of the critical write-up. Alisha has already been to several gigs, dolled up in ways that would make her Dad cringe and is the better for it. Dara in years to come will doubtless have the time of his life to some sonic mutation which would probably make me despair. I can only hope.
My heart goes out to those who died and their loved ones who have suffered irreparable grief. But any sick, seething individual, any belief system, any society which seeks to repress the ultimately irrepressible, is doomed. Yesterday's events will never be forgotten but the torrent of life goes on. Stay safe, everyone and find happiness without fear or shame.