Tim Vine & Rock ‘n’ Roll

You might assume that seeing a 17 year-old teenager at a comedy show, where the vast majority of the audience are in their later 40’s, is a rare occurrence. Even more so in fact, that the next night the same teenager goes to see a retiring band where over 80% of the audience have little remaining hair. Or teeth.
The teenager in question is me; so why is it, that when I agreed on going with my parents to both of these events, I did not care about my age in the slightest?
For a starter, the comedy show was easy. I have been a big fan of Tim Vine for a good few years, having spent many nights crying with laughter about a song about a deep ocean and facetious one-liners. I have also been subjected to more adult jokes by a CBeebies presenter than I have been whilst watching his past shows on YouTube. Said comedy show was supposed to be a family show; if ‘Tim Vine’s Chat Show’ doesn’t shout ‘bring your kids’ then I don’t know what does. Unless there is a massive sign saying, ‘bring your kids’ of course.

But surprisingly, and somewhat frustratingly, over 70% of the seats were filled with middle-aged couples (by middle-aged, I mean men who boast more than just a receding hairline and women who boast more than a few hairs on the upper lip), who most likely had left their teenagers at home playing Call of Duty. My brother and I were clearly the youngest audience members attending the show, unless you count one of Tim’s first ‘guests’ who was supposedly 4 years-old, but I had my doubts.

It was the same story at the South Street Centre in Reading city centre the night after. After wolfing down a curry and a beverage or two at a local Indian with my dad and a few of his mates, we walked the streets of Reading. After passing a few nightclubs featuring some 20 year-olds throwing up, we finally arrived at the venue with 20 minutes to spare. You might imagine a large amount of surging forward towards the stage at a rock concert 20 minutes before a gig. The venue could well have held around 200 people; a control room at the back supporting a large mixing desk shouted ‘Rock n Roll’; and the stage was large enough to jump around and crowd-surf from.

However.

The band performing that night has created a following. A following that spans 25 years.
Upon entering, I realised that around 100 people had turned up, and they were all standing around sipping their beers as if they were all attending a fairly civilised social gathering. And half of them were queueing for the toilet! If that doesn’t shout ‘escape from my family for a few hours’ then you have permission to slap me in the face.

Then the band started. If you watched them with the sound stripped from their performance you’d think they were just about ready to hit the sack. But the sound this 3-piece group gave was absolutely electric.

The band, or ‘rock-machine’ shall I say, are called ‘The Hamsters’. A touring tribute band to ZZ Top and Hendrix, they have been travelling the country for 25 years and had not parted ways once.

Until a week ago today.

On April 1st, they played 2 farewell gigs marking the end of their Farewell tour and more significantly, their career as The Hamsters. I was fortunate to see a gig played two weeks prior to their retirement, honoured to hear their live set and entertained by the toy hamster running inside a little wheel for the entire set. But it wasn’t until the encore that a clear message came across.
The lead singer & guitarist, who calls himself ‘Slim’, gave a short speech about how he would be spending his retirement.
“I’ll be going back to a previous hobby of practising chemistry. I’ll be seeing how much alcohol I can process into urine.”
One-liners, it would seem, span professions and generations.

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