Oh Danny boy, the pipes (and guitars) still call me

SOMETIMES I think radio presenter Danny Baker must be my alter-ego. But then I guess that's the thing about Danny Baker, the thing that makes him successful.

Aidan Semmens

SOMETIMES I think radio presenter Danny Baker must be my alter-ego. But then I guess that's the thing about Danny Baker, the thing that makes him successful.

Seeming to be the alter-ego of every one of us who loves football and music. Which is rather a lot of us, after all.

In my case, his age helps. Being just a few weeks older than me, he remembers the same black-and-white kids' TV shows, the same 1960s sweet-wrappers and playground crazes, the same inane advertising jingles.

The same knobbly-kneed footballers, the same spiky-haired punk bands.

Except that on the subject of music, I have discovered a horrifying flaw. A personality defect that proves DB cannot be my alter-ego after all.

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A flaw even worse than his support for Millwall FC, which is perhaps understandable, even forgivable, in a boy from Deptford.

What is much harder to comprehend is that the boy Baker, former record-shop assistant and fanzine writer, doesn't like new music.

In fact, unless my ears totally deceived me while listening to a recent show, he thinks we have almost a moral obligation to like only the music that was around when we were young.

So Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, X-Ray Spex, The Cure, fine. Culture Club, New Order, Sade, probably borderline. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Chemical Brothers, far too modern and new-fangled.

Which is plainly daft. A pointless, self-denying prejudice.

Sure, there have been some rubbish records put out since 1980. There was plenty of rubbish around in the 60s and 70s too.

But to stop listening to anything new, to put your musical collection in aspic at age 25, say - well, why do it?

Yes, I still like Led Zep and the Dan, and plenty of other artists I was listening to in the mid-70s. But I'd be a sadder, duller person if I wallowed in nostalgia to the exclusion of anything more recent.

Danny Baker admits that his musical horizons have expanded - backwards. Which is fine.

In fact, if he's only just discovered the riches to be found among the works of Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, the early Miles Davis, blues masters such as Tampa Red or Sonny Boy Williamson, or the searing folk songs of Woody Guthrie, he's two or three decades behind me.

But enjoying a disc cut by Leadbelly in 1941 doesn't disqualify you from appreciating Elton John or The Clash.

Equally, having danced the night away to the Bee Gees in 1978 shouldn't prevent anyone from loving the latest download from Paramore.

Back in the 1970s - that decade Baker would have me still live in - I saw lots of top acts at the grubby old Cambridge Corn Exchange. Curved Air, Barclays James Harvest, Elvis Costello, The Jam are just the first that spring to mind.

Maybe Baker was there himself. I wouldn't mind betting he saw them all somewhere on the same tour.

I bet he wasn't there this week - but I was back to see The Lostprophets, a moptop bunch from Wales who were born about the time Baker and I were pogoing to the Pistols.

This is not because I'm sad, an old git making a pathetic effort to be hip and trendy, attempting to deny the passing years.

It's because I'm prepared to admit the value of new stuff without imagining that doing so in any way devalues the old.

If the young Baker, the one who hadn't yet stopped up his ears, were to listen - really listen - to the Lostprophets album Liberation Transmission, he'd hear a band who combine the energy of punk with rather greater musical sophistication. A bit like The Stranglers, but with much better songwriting.

Their latest CD, The Betrayed, isn't quite so good, but is still enjoyable enough.

Which made their Cambridge gig a disappointing experience.

Not because most of those leaping about in the hall I once leaped about in were young enough to be my kids. Or, in a few cases, my grand-kids.

Looking around the seated area, I was pretty sure I wasn't actually the oldest there. Mine certainly wasn't the only grizzled beard.

I didn't too much mind that the grime has been cleaned from the Corn Exchange walls, the old beer-and-fag-stained floor replaced.

No, what saddened me was the poor quality of the entertainment.

Not that those in the mosh-pit cared. They appeared to love it. They probably don't know how much better it could have been.

Nothing wrong with the songs, or the playing. Nothing wrong with Ian Watkins as a front man or - I think - with his singing.

But the sound quality was so dreadful you couldn't make out the words even when he was speaking.

Not too loud - though it was close - just dreadful, dominated by a bass roar that buried lead guitar and vocals and made the building shake.

The lighting was also the worst I have seen in all my decades of gig-going. Dazzling the audience instead of lighting the band.

Ah, the emo kids at the front might say, you're just too old to enjoy rock concerts any more. And Danny Baker might agree.

But I tell you what. I'd still love to see System Of A Down or Bullet For My Valentive live. And I'm really looking forward to P!nk at Portman Road this summer.