Friday, 21 August 2009

getting at a baby sweetcorn...

...isn't so easy when it's fresh off the plant!

But very yummy when finally unwrapped.

Monday, 17 August 2009

U2 360 tour hits Wembley

Sing your heart out, sing my heart out – Breathe

So long ago now I can’t remember I bought two tickets to see U2 play at Wembley Stadium on 14th August. This concert, four years, two months and two days after their Twickenham concert for the Vertigo tour couldn’t come soon enough.

The first thing that struck me as I walked through the doors to find my seat was the stage. I’m not entirely sure how you could miss it to be honest, it’s huge, almost monstrous but utterly beautiful, and the kind of thing only U2 could get away with. The fact that you could sit in your seat at one end of the stadium and see the fans sitting in their seats on the other side, through the stage was quite wonderful. What better backdrop to a concert could there be? People just as excited as you are, there for the same reason, all facing the object of everyone’s attention. Four men just doing the thing they’re best at.

Not that I’m waxing poetic or anything.

There’s a wonderful thing that happens when the support acts have had their moment, and the stadium is finally filled up with all 88,000 people (holy mutha!). Suddenly the background music kicks up a notch and Bowie’s voice lets us know that something special is about to begin, even if he doesn’t actually say so. Then there they are. The gigantic claw comes to beautiful life as, led by Larry, the band stride into the welcoming arms of each and every one of us. The drummer, looking as ageless as ever. Adam, striding around with his bass with the authority of a man who knows his place in the world. Edge, weaving magic in his special Edge way. And finally, a playful Bono, keen to merge with the crowd and bring that invisible fourth wall down once and for all.

Breathe is first up, followed swiftly by No Line on the Horizon, Get on Your Boots, and Magnificent. What do I spend the first few songs thinking? The bridges between the main stage and B stage move. They freaking move. Edge and Adam doing their thing in the middle of the two bridges as they rotate around the circle. I watch the lucky ones in the inner circle go mad as they feed directly from the energy of the band and the band feed right back. That was me four years, two months and two days ago. I love being in the seats seeing everything that happens but a large part of me wishes fervently to be down there, hurling every ounce of emotion I have within me towards those four men who make such good rock music.

Beautiful Day, I get up despite the people resolutely sitting around me, and I begin hurling that emotion. I am here and am damn well going to enjoy myself. Elevation is next and I do enjoy being Bono’s echo once again. I had not forgotten how good this felt, but it is great to refresh the feeling.

When the band starts playing I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, I was waiting for this since the walk to the stadium listening to the soundcheck. Bono got us started off on the first verse and then we got a little carried away and he just let us have at it. Good man, that was a nice moment. I wonder sometimes what he must feel having so many thousands of people singing his words to him. The expression on his face suggests he gets a big kick out of it!!

Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of is one of my favourite songs and I will never tire of hearing Bono sing it live. I’m unsure at this point if I’m spending more time watching the stage than the band! I love the spike through the middle and I noticed before the show started the shiny teardrop at the top, can’t wait to see what happens with that!

To my, and everyone eles's amazement the screens start to pull apart. The whole thing is expanding, bloody hell. Things really are happening here! The spike lights up, the stage changes colour, the whole thing looks like it could take off at any moment. I idly wonder if the designer had watched Stargate Atlantis. When the city takes flight…

Unknown Caller bleeds into The Unforgettable Fire, heavily remixed to the point that it takes me longer than usual to work out what I’m listening to. I feel in the middle of a huge party and my mind thinks PopMart. My musings on Atlantis and the stage come back to me during City of Blinding Lights and searchlight bright lights shoot straight up into the sky. I’m convinced at this point the whole thing will just uproot itself and head into the stratosphere.

I do enjoy Vertigo live, it’s a lot of fun. I spend some time watching Adam and Edge prowl around the stage. I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight surprises me with how well it plays live.

The stage suddenly turns green for Sunday Bloody Sunday, somehow things heat up even more. Pride, so good live, so very good live. I always think Rattle and Hum when Pride comes along. I get terribly excited when MLK follows and I get to have a moment to let my body recover even though I don’t let up with the vocal chords. I can be quite tomorrow, right?!

Sticking with the political theme Bono reminds us all of Aung San Suu Kyi and volunteers wearing masks of her face come onto the B stage while the band plays Walk On. Where the Streets Have No Name gets a huge cheer from all around the stadium.

Bono praises the successes of the One campaign, as he rightly should before One gets yet another huge cheer.

I get my excitement on again for Mysterious Ways, just a couple of weeks earlier I’d been hoping this would make it onto the setlist along with…

…The first of the Encore Ultraviolet (Light My Way), how I have wanted to hear this live. And, no U2 concert would be complete without With or Without You and we’re not disappointed. This song never gets old. At least not for me. That is a mirror ball up there. Brilliant!

The lights go down and come back up for Moment of Surrender, my favourite song from the new album. A nice way to end the show.

Suddenly it’s over. Twenty-three songs? Felt more like thirteen. And that’s all I can remember at three in the morning when I sit down to see how many I can list. I’m sure I would have done better if my mind wasn’t quickly shutting down requesting sleep.

Sleep, sleep tonight and may your dreams be realised - MLK

Yes, I forgot a lot of stuff. I left out a lot of stuff. You had to be there, really. If you want all the details then buy the DVD when it comes out.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Modern Life is Rubbish. Part 4: Roadkill

Okay, so I’m stretching this with the modern I know. There have been roads for a bloody long time, but there haven’t been super speedy motors tearing about the countryside for a bloody long time, so it evens out.

I have never killed anything on the roads, primarily because I don’t drive and therefore am never in charge of anything that goes fast enough to cause a poor little critter to get dead. I do, however, get rather upset when I see ex-critters littering the sides of the roads. Especially if said dead things used to be precious, red squirrels for example. And deer, though they don’t appear to be precious to everyone, but I love deer, and I particularly like seeing them alive, not mortally wounded by some stupid 4x4 driven by someone who probably wouldn’t even consider going ‘off-road’. But, my dislike of pointless cars can wait for another day.

Roadkill is on my mind today because a friend hit a rabbit last night. He’s a little upset and while some people don’t seem to have the compassion to care, I do and I would be upset too if I had been in his place. It’s not pleasant to be driving along, minding your own business when suddenly your wheel thumps over a poor little critter that had really bad timing. I was in a car a while back when it ran over a small mammal, we could have swerved to avoid it, but as there was another car coming the other way squishing the animal seemed preferable to squishing ourselves. Apparently these are the decisions we have to make when we take on the responsibility of four wheels and a motor.

Anyway, I got to thinking about that little rabbit that kicked the bucket last night, I don’t think it died for nothing. Think about it, rabbits breed like there’s no tomorrow, and for a lot of them there really is no tomorrow. How many of them die from myxomatosis? I don’t know the exact number, something like half of infected rabbits die. Pretty grim figures, but they still seem to thrive, so it’s all good. A stoat can wipe out an entire nest of baby rabbits to feed her family. Still, the rabbits keep going.

I appear to have digressed. This is my take on last night’s events…

There’s a fox, or another carnivorous creature, and he’s got a family, he can’t reproduce in the numbers rabbits manage and back home he’s got a vixen caring for two little cubs. It’s been a hot couple of weeks, he’s been having a hard time finding food and his family is threatened. He’s out one night, feeling hungry and sniffing the air hopefully. Then he catches a scent, there’s blood on the air. Bounding up to the side of the road he discovers a slightly flattened rabbit just waiting to be taken back to his vixen. He snatches it up, leaps back into the undergrowth and disappears. The fox family eat well tonight.

Something good comes of something bad. Sure, it sucks to be the cause of something cute and fluffy coming to a sticky end, but nature has a way of making up for these things. Why do you think kestrels can be seen hovering above motorways? Roadkill. It’s an all you can eat buffet for our wildlife.

And sometimes, when your tyre kicks as you drive over something small and brown in the road, it is just a shoe!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Queen's inspired poetry

Wrote this little poem while waiting for Andy Roddick play his quarter final match and thought it would be nice to share it. It's about Roddick, if you hadn't already guessed.

The Sharpshooter

A four-time champion
Here at Queen's.
Going for a fifth
By any means.
How many aces will there be?
I'll just have to wait and see.

Modern Life is Rubbish. Part 3: TV Audiences

Apparently they let any old moron into a studio for a live recording. While watching a US rerun the other day the host asked the audience to call out things they liked about the modern world. One idiot shouted out “beer” while the slightly clever masses yelled things like “TV” or “computers”.

If you’re going to shout something out to the whole world “I am a moron” isn’t usually on people’s short list. If you want to call out something modern trying an item that wasn’t invented thousands of years ago. There isn’t much that’s been around longer than beer. As long as humans have had spare time on their hands they have played around with fermented crops. So, pretty much all the while there has been agriculture there has been alcohol. And beer. All throughout history there have been records of beer consumption. Hell, even the ancient Egyptians had beer. Sure, it was lumpy, had to be strained before drinking and barely resembled the hop and barley mixture we have these days, but it was beer nonetheless. They even had beer festivals. Nothing really changes, does it?

So, if someone ever asks you to shout out something you like about the modern world, think carefully. A lot of what we enjoy these days has been around for centuries, even millennia.

Here are some handy suggestions…
The Internet
High Definition TV/DVD/etc
Film merchandise
iPod Touch

And some things that would make you look silly if you suggested…
Books (they’ve been around in some form or another for donkeys years)
Wall art (cave paintings anyone?)
Tattoos and body piercing (the good old Egyptians and many other ancient cultures started that trend)
Boats (how d’ya think we spread so far over the world?!)

I’m gonna shut up now and go enjoy something modern…

Monday, 8 June 2009


Woken out of slumber,
By a massive clap of thunder.
Would I get to sleep again?
I was left to wonder.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

...the invisible man

Or so he would have you believe.