YOU know you’re forever a teen of the 80s when you whack up the sound to A Flock of Seagulls on the car radio. Mouthing the synth-pop melancholy of their hit Wishing the other day, I was 14 again.

I still love the stuff I listened to back then - Blondie, Duran Duran, Soft Cell, Talk Talk, OMD, the first band I saw live - because it comes from a time of life when possibilities were endless.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that, according to the Music & Science Journal, our favourite pop songs are likely to have been in the charts when we were 14. Research found a ‘reminiscence bump’ in adolescence for songs we knew then; suggesting that “memories central to our sense of identity are inextricably associated with music”. And a New York Times analysis of Spotify data found that songs we listen to in our teenage years set our musical taste as adults.

Recently I posted an article online about an exhibition celebrating youth culture in the 1970s and 80s. Photos of punks, Mods, sound system DJs, suedeheads and Northern Soulies prompted hundreds of people to wistfully recall teenage years during those vibrant music scenes, and a long-cherished sense of“belonging” in a youth tribe. Music, and crucially live music, shaped their lives, just as it did for the rock ‘n’ rollers and Merseybeat generation of the 50s and 60s.

Read about Being Young in Bradford here

There are many casualties of this virus that rules these times but the ones I feel for most are teenagers whose rites of passage have been snatched away, never to be re-claimed. Today my youngest nephew, Jack, turns 18 and instead of having a party or heading to the pub with his mates he’s stuck at home. He misses his Saturday job, waiting tables in a bistro, he misses playing in a band and going to gigs. It’s low down the pecking order of woes, at a time when life is so desperate for so many, but when you’re a teenager stuff like Saturday jobs and gigs and going out with your mates matters. It’s over in a blink, but it stays with you forever. Jack has the rest of his life to live, but he’ll never be 18 again.

Looking at the images of Mods and ‘soulies’ of the 80s, when I was a teenager, and reading the comments that convey so much love for that time, I thought about the freedom we had, to be young and foolish and thrash around a crowded, sweaty dance floor to a live band. We didn’t have to stay at home by law.

I hope Jack and his mates get to a festival this year, before their teenage life is gone for good. I hope so too for the sake of the UK live music landscape, which festival organisers warn faces a grave future if the 2021 season is cancelled.

As well as generating £1.76 billion in gross value added last year, festivals are an essential stepping stone for artists of tomorrow. The DCMS is looking at how Government policy could support festivals due to take place this summer, and the potential impact of them collapsing, on communities, ticket-holders, suppliers and workforce. Sacha Lord, co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife, says mass testing and vaccination is the only way forward because “social distancing doesn’t work” at festivals. Steve Heap of the Association of Festival Organisers says: “If we get as far as Easter and still don’t know that crowds can gather”...”we’re in a catastrophic situation with this year’s season.” Unless the Government follows countries like Germany, which has in place cancellation funds and measures to encourage festivals, a ‘talent transfer’ could see musicians look to Europe for work in 2021 and beyond. And with that goes any ‘reminiscence bump’ of home-grown music in the future.