Tag Archives: concert

When The Planets Align…..The Nightmare Before Christmas

Sometimes the planets align and you are lucky enough to experience something magical – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I experienced one such moment earlier this week thanks entirely to a special friend. (You know who you are)

Christmas came early and I was fortunate enough to find myself seated next to my friend in the SSE Hydro preparing to watch the Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 25th Anniversary concert. Not only that but Danny Elfman, the composer, was about to reprise his role as the singing voice of Jack Skellington alongside other original cast members.

the_nightmare_before_Christmas_lj_031218

Now, I appreciate that not all of you may be Tim Burton or Danny Elfman fans….oh…you don’t know what you’re missing!

Ok, I’ll calm the enthusiasm for a second.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated dark musical fantasy film conceived and produced by Tim Burton. The film is based on a poem written by Tim Burton when he worked as an animator for Disney

 

It was late one fall in Halloweenland,
And the air had quite a chill.
Against the moon a skeleton sat,
Alone upon a hill.

He was tall and thin with a bat bow tie;
Jack Skellington was his name.
He was tired and bored in Halloweenland –
Everything was always the same.

I’m sick of the scaring, the terror, the fright.
I’m tired of being something that goes bump in the night.
I’m bored with leering my horrible glances,
And my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances.
I don’t like graveyards, and I need something new.
There must be more to life than just yelling, ‘Boo!'”

Then out from a grave, with a curl and a twist,
Came a whimpering, whining, spectral mist.

It was a little ghost dog, with a faint little bark,
And a jack-o’-lantern nose that glowed in the dark.

It was Jack’s dog, Zero, the best friend he had,
But Jack hardly noticed, which made Zero sad.

All that night and through the next day,
Jack wandered and walked.
He was filled with dismay.

Then deep in the forest, just before night,
Jack came upon an amazing sight.

Not twenty feet from the spot where he stood
Were three massive doorways carved in wood.

He stood before them, completely in awe,
His gaze transfixed by one special door.

Entranced and excited, with a slight sense of worry,

Jack opened the door to a white, windy flurry.

Jack didn’t know it, but he’d fallen down
In the middle of a place called Christmas Town!

Immersed in the light, Jack was no longer haunted.
He had finally found the feeling he wanted.
And so that his friends wouldn’t think him a liar,
He took the present filled stockings that hung by the fire.
He took candy and toys that were stacked on the shelves,
And a picture of Santa with all of his elves.
He took lights and ornaments and the star from the tree,
And from the Christmas Town sign, he took the big letter C.

He picked up everything that sparkled or glowed.
He even picked up a handful of snow.
He grabbed it all and without being seen,
He took it all back to Halloween.

Back in Halloween, a group of Jack’s peers
Stared in amazement at his Christmas souvenirs.
For this wondrous vision none were prepared.
Most were excited, though a few were quite scared!

For the next few days, while it lightninged and thundered,
Jack sat alone and obsessively wondered.
“Why is it they get to spread laughter and cheer
While we stalk the graveyards, spreading panic and fear?
Well, I could be Santa, and I could spread cheer!
Why does he get to do it year after year?”
Outraged by injustice, Jack thought and he thought.
Then he got an idea. “Yes…yes…why not!”

In Christmas Town, Santa was making some toys
When through the din he heard a soft noise.
He answered the door, and to his surprise,
He saw weird little creatures in strange disguise.
They were altogether ugly and rather petite.
As they opened their sacks, they yelled, “Trick or treat!”
Then a confused Santa was shoved into a sack
And taken to Halloween to see mastermind Jack.

In Halloween everyone gathered once more,
For they’d never seen a Santa before
And as they cautiously gazed at this strange old man,
Jack related to Santa his masterful plan:

My dear Mr. Claus, I think it’s a crime
That you’ve got to be Santa all of the time!
But now I will give presents, and I will spread cheer.
We’re changing places I’m Santa this year.
It is I who will say Merry Christmas to you!
So you may lie in my coffin, creak doors, and yell, ‘Boo!’
And please, Mr. Claus, don’t think ill of my plan.
For I’ll do the best Santa job that I can.”

And though Jack and his friends thought they’d do a good job,
Their idea of Christmas was still quite macabre.

They were packed up and ready on Christmas Eve day
When Jack hitched his reindeer to his sleek coffin sleigh.
But on Christmas Eve, as they were about to begin,
A Halloween fog slowly rolled in.

Jack said, “We can’t leave; this fog’s just too thick.
There will be no Christmas, and I can’t be St. Nick.”
Then a small glowing light pierced through the fog,
What could it be?…It was Zero, Jack’s dog!

Jack said, “Zero, with your nose so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

And to be so needed was Zero’s great dream,
So he joyously flew to the head of the team.

And as the skeletal sleigh started its ghostly flight,
Jack cackled, “Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a good night!”

Twas the nightmare before Christmas, and all though the house,
Not a creature was peaceful, not even a mouse.
The stockings all hung by the chimney with care,
When opened that morning would cause quite a scare!
The children, all nestled so snug in their beds,
Would have nightmares of monsters and skeleton heads.
The moon that hung over the new-fallen snow
Cast an eerie pall over the city below,
And Santa Claus’s laughter now sounded like groans,
And the jingling bells like chattering bones.
And what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a coffin sleigh with skeleton deer.
And a skeletal driver so ugly and sick,
They knew in a moment, this can’t be St. Nick!

From house to house, with a true sense of joy,
Jack happily issued each present and toy.
From rooftop to rooftop he jumped and he skipped,
Leaving presents that seemed to be straight from a crypt!
Unaware that the world was in panic and fear,
Jack merrily spread his own brand of cheer.

He visited the house of
Susie and Dave;
They got a Gumby and Pokey
From the grave.
Then on to the home of
Little Jane Neeman;
She got a baby doll
Possessed by a demon.

A monstrous train with tentacle tracks,
A ghoulish puppet wielding an ax,
A man-eating plant
Disguised as a wreath,
And a vampire teddy bear
With very sharp teeth.

There were screams of terror, but Jack didn’t hear it,
He was much too involved with his own Christmas spirit!
Jack finally looked down from his dark, starry frights
And saw the commotion, the noise, and the light.
“Why, they’re celebrating, it looks like such fun!
They’re thanking me for the good job that I’ve done.”
But what he thought were fireworks meant as goodwill,
Were bullets and missiles intended to kill.
Then amidst the barrage of artillery fire,
Jack urged Zero to go higher and higher.
And away they all flew like the storm of a thistle,
Until they were hit by a well guided missile.
And as they fell on the cemetery, way out of sight,
Was heard, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Jack pulled himself up on a large stone cross,
And from there he reviewed his incredible loss.
“I thought I could be Santa, I had such belief…”
Jack was confused and filled with great grief.
Not knowing where to turn, he looked toward the sky,
Then he slumped on the grave and he started to cry.
And as Zero and Jack lay crumpled on the ground,
They suddenly heard a familiar sound….

My dear Jack,” said Santa, “I applaud your intent.
I know wreaking such havoc was not what you meant.
And so you are sad, and feeling quite blue,
But taking over Christmas was the wrong thing to do.
I hope you realize Halloween’s the right place for you.
There’s a lot more, Jack, that I’d like to say,
But now I must hurry, for it’s almost Christmas Day.”
Then he jumped in his sleigh, and with a wink of an eye,
He said, “Merry Christmas!”, and he bid them good-bye.

Back home, Jack was sad, but then, like a dream,
Santa brought Christmas to the land of Halloween.

The END

 

(credits to the owner Tim Burton – copy sourced via Google)

 

I love Tim Burton films!

I love Danny Elfman music!

 

This was sure to be a night to remember – and it was!

 

Both my friend and I were a little unsure of what to expect…..

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Below us the stage was prepared for the arrival of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. There were three video screens above the vast stage.

It struck me that I was more accustomed to standing on the rail in front of the stage….not tonight though. This was an entirely seated event. Very civilised.

The show opened with the RSNO playing The Nightmare Before Christmas overture while the screen showed a selection of Tim Burton’s original drawings.

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To cut a long story short, we then watched the film but, when it reached a musical number, this was performed live on stage. Aside from the incredibly talented and animated Danny Elfman, we were entertained by Catherine O’Hara as Sally and Ken Page as Oogie Boogie plus five other vocalists who included comedian Greg Proops (remember him from Whose Line Is it Anyway?)

thCTDE8GBOoharaken page

Like all theatrical performances, there was a short interval at an appropriate moment in the film.

Following the intermission, acclaimed violinist Sandy Cameron was invited on stage to perform the Elfman Violin Concerto. WOW! That’s all I can say…WOW!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35jRufnM-Kg

(credits to the owner via YouTube)

sandy cameron

When the film ended to rapturous applause, the various performers took their bows then Danny Elfman returned to the stage to treat us to one final number. He performed Oogie Boogie’s song as he’d originally envisaged it in a Cab Calloway style. This performance above all others showcases just what an outstandingly talented entertainer he truly is. Loved it!

 

Sadly, all good things have to come to an end….

 

How many sleeps till Sandy Claws comes?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry7PcYtKPhA

(credits to the owner via You Tube)

 

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

 

As Staycation 2016 draws to a close….time to reflect

BeFunky Collage 1

OK a bit of a cheat’s post but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

The above collage sums up Staycation 2016 – bare feet, coffee, cinnamon bagels, writing, some typing (yes, I’ve begun the typing marathon that will become Bonded Souls …eventually!), a couple of cocktails, some photography, some great live music and , of course, several pairs of Converse!

 

Happy First Birthday, Book Baby

“Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday dear Book Baby

Happy Birthday to you!”

 Trendy girl first birthday cake with first birthday cupcakes pictures

Scary to believe but my Book Baby aka Stronger Within celebrates its first birthday this Friday, 15th April. Can it really be a whole year since I unleashed it on an unsuspecting world?

Apparently it is and what a year it’s been!

As I realised that this anniversary was approaching, I began to reflect on the last twelve months. It’s been a creative roller coaster ride!

If I’m being totally honest, it still all feels surreal and I don’t know if it will ever really sink in that I’ve actually made one of my lifelong dreams come true not once but twice in twelve short months.

As a little girl, I was always writing stories and plays and dreaming of growing up to be a writer. I’d use my pocket money to buy a new notebook and pen then come home and curl up in corner to write. (not much has changed there- I’m still usually in a corner of the house!) Some of these stories were written. Others were barely started.

An English teacher at school almost put me off writing forever but, after reassurance from another teacher, I picked up my notebook and pen again. For several years, as a teenager, I wrote furiously, filling notebook after notebook with a family saga that spanned three generations of strong female role models. Looking back, the first incarnation of Jake Power is probably lurking among those pages. (I still have all of those reporter notebooks in the wardrobe. Who knows, maybe someday in the future I may re-visit that first “book”)

In some ways not a lot has changed over the years in my approach to writing. My handwriting has got a hell of a lot worse, I’ll say that much! As I’ve said before, I can write faster than I can type so all first drafts, blogs, music reviews included are handwritten.

I remember deciding to start Book Baby partly on a whim but the time felt right to bring the characters that had been living in my imagination to life. In true Coral fashion, I bought a couple of new A4 notebooks and some colourful pens. Those first few words were penned sitting on my front doorstep in the early evening sun on 8 May 2013. And, as time went by over the weeks and months, the words continued to flow.

By the time Book Baby aka Stronger Within was published last April, Book Baby 2  aka Impossible Depths had also been written in its first raw, naked state. (Yes, that required more new notebooks and pens. If I’m honest, one is written in pink notebooks, the other in blue so I guess you could say one’s a boy and the other’s a girl!)

Something I’ve not revealed before is that Book Baby 3 was already a work in progress this time last year. One pivotal scene from it was actually written in Dec 2013 but I began the main body of the tale in June 2014. All hasn’t run smoothly with this third book baby. It’s been a stop-start/love-hate affair ever since…until recently.

I’ve made some major changes to it, re-written some parts and I’m now feeling the love for it again. Perhaps It’s suffered a little from “third child syndrome” but I’ve collected my thoughts, given it some much needed TLC and am now working hard to nurture it to its final chapter. (Don’t get too excited! It won’t be ready for publication until 2017 at some point.)

I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself at this point in time. (I still work full time, write two blogs, admin two rock star fan pages and run a family.) I want to enjoy writing Book Baby 3 as, at this point in time, it is the last planned book in the Silver Lake series. But, hey, never say never, so who knows where my characters may lead me by the end of it.

A few days after the launch of Stronger Within, I posted a blog on here about the first few days of Book Baby Motherhood (https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/the-first-few-days-of-book-baby-motherhood) I drew up a short list of things to try to overcome about becoming a published author (eek! – I’ve finally said it out loud!)

First on the list was to stop feeling so self- conscious and allow myself to feel proud of my achievement. I’ve partly succeeded. I still feel very self-conscious and awkward when people ask me about the books. Inwardly though, I am proud of the achievement. I honestly don’t know how many copies have been sold  in either format or downloaded via Kindle giveaways or read via Kindle Unlimited. I did a rough count a while ago and it was into four figures. What makes me feel proud is the lovely feedback and reviews that the books are earning. Seeing other people love my characters as much as I do makes me feel proud. And each twinkly star makes all the long hours of typing, editing, proofreading and panic worthwhile.

Second on the list was to relax and let things take their course. Confession – I’ve failed miserably here. I can’t do relax. Fact!

Third was to re-connect with my characters and storylines. I’ve definitely re-connected with my main characters, I’ve created a few new ones and the storyline is evolving. I’m very much a “go with the flow” writer and don’t meticulously plan. I do plan the salient points of the outline but occasionally my characters detour on their journey between these. There is no paragraph or chapter plan for any of the books in the series. It’s all in my head or the odd bit is on a post it stuck in the notebook. (I suspect several writer friends have just thrown their hands up and shrieked in horror at this revelation.)

And the final challenge was to learn how to stop blushing when anyone speaks to me about the books. A physical impossibility! I am now an expert at turning 50 Shades of Red in the blink of an eye!

So all that’s left to say is a HUGE thank you to each and every one of you who have shown me your love and support of the past year. There’s a few of you that I couldn’t do this without (you all know who you are) and I’d like to add an extra thank you to these people for putting up with me. I know I must be a royal pain in the ass at times. (I hope you’re all ready for round three when the time comes though.)

So, how do I plan to celebrate Book Baby’s first birthday?

A few months after it was published someone said to me that they’d read it, quite enjoyed it but it wasn’t their kind of book. I admired their honesty. They then went on to say that by reading it, I had encouraged them to read other books. That statement alone struck a chord with me and made all the hard work worthwhile.

To celebrate Stronger Within’s first year, I’ve set up a FREE download day on 15 April on Amazon’s kindle store worldwide. Yes, the best way to celebrate it is to share it with as many people as possible. If it encourages just one person to discover the pleasure to be found in a book then it will be a very happy birthday indeed.

SW page1

( The first page of the first draft of Stronger Within)

 On Friday 15th April , Stronger Within can be downloaded for FREE via this link –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stronger-Within-Silver-Lake-Series-ebook/dp/B00VXDSC1M?ie=UTF8&keywords=stronger%20within&qid=1460582354&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

 

Book 2 in the series, Impossible Depths, can be found here –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-Impossible-Depths-Silver-Lake-Book-ebook/dp/B01C0GS30K/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51WJPFtx6TL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_OU02_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=09P4V527TV80BES9NRE9

SW & ID

The Final UK Carnival of Madness show- memorable to say the least!

 

 

My Carnival of Madness adventure part two began with trains, buses, trains and eventually a taxi to our hotel for the night, handily situated right beside the arena.

Girl Child and I were off on a mother/daughter trip to Manchester!

The first train to Glasgow was uneventful. It was the slow train so it stopped at every lamppost but we got there. Girl Child decided she REALLY needed something from Burger King for second breakfast so by 9.30am she was happily scoffing a Chicken Royale burger …BLEURGH!

Stage two of the journey was a two-hour bus ride to Carlisle. I don’t normally travel well on buses and turn fifty shades of green within a short period of time however I survived this trip intact. We found ourselves in a very cold Carlisle station. Us and the rest of the population of Carlisle! Some steam train (I think it was the Flying Scotsman – I’m no train spotter) was due to pass through and stop at the station. In all the confusion we missed our train.

I’m too polite to repeat what my Girl Child had to say about that!

If in doubt, find some caffeine! We parked ourselves at a small platform-side café that was equally cold for lunch.

Our second attempt at catching the Trans-pennine Express was more successful and we were soon on our way, albeit an hour behind schedule.

I had booked first class seats so the journey was quite calm and pleasant and included free coffee! Never a bad thing.

We arrived at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station around 3.30pm. It was a zoo!! Eventually we found the correct exit and a taxi rank.  The late afternoon traffic was bedlam and it was just after 4pm before we finally arrived at our hotel.

Our fifth floor room was nothing fancy. It was clean. You know what to expect from a Travel Lodge room. Girl Child promptly claimed the double bed as hers….guess the single would have to do me.

We snacked on the juice, popcorn and biscuits that I had in my bag while we got ready to head out to the show.

The arena was only a short walk from the hotel but finding the way was like walking through a labyrinth. First time I’ve entered a gig via a railway station!

We made our usual pilgrimage to the merchandise stall (yes, Four, I was a naughty girl and bought more shirts and, no, I’m not telling you how many), had a quick comfort stop then made our way into the standing arena.

Another first here- the standing arena is accessed from the top level of the hall and down through all the seats. Following the queue, we zig-zagged our way down to the arena floor. The event staff were collecting in the tickets. I queried if we could keep them as souvenirs (I have every ticket from every show I’ve been to) The guy assured me we would get a ticket back on the way out at the end…oh….ok….

It was decision time- right or left hand side of the stage? We went right.

Manchester Arena is huge in comparison to others I’ve been in. (I believe it can hold around 21000) and the standing arena was sold out. By some small miracle we found ourselves a spot three or four rows off the barrier among reasonably short people and with a good view of the stage. Happy days!

Highly Suspect came on stage at 6.15, launching straight into a raucous set. There was a different energy about them compared with the Glasgow show and the Manchester crowd appeared to be enjoying them more than the Scottish rock fans had. I guess I enjoyed their performance a lot more too as I was finally getting to hear the entire short set…..that was until their front man “gobbed” on stage again Twice! Bleurgh! Would I still like to see them play a smaller show? Hmmm…the jury is currently out on that thought.

Next up were Halestorm who were in storming form! Lzzy was most definitely commanding this crowd. Mid-set Black Stone Cherry appeared on stage to do a meet and greet (was that Zach Myers in the midst of it?) then John Fred Young and the drummer from Highly Suspect stayed on stage to “assist” Arejay with his drum solo. Good hearted end of UK tour antics that the fans were loving. The set hadn’t altered much from Monday night’s show. Mayhem, Freak Like Me and I Miss The Misery rounded things off in raucous RnFnR style.

One of the best Halestorm performances that I’ve seen.

I had warned Girl Child about the tape that would play in between Halestorm and Shinedown’s sets. Yes, Manchester too was treated to the fifteen minute meditation tape. What the hell was all that about, boys?

The energy in the room evaporated rapidly.

Girl Child loves Shinedown so they were to be the highlight of her evening as it was her first experience of seeing them play live. They didn’t disappoint. Yes, Brent Smith wasted time talking too much and by going for a saunter through the arena but, in general, he seemed back on his game. I was enjoying seeing more of Zach Myers this time round. Love him to bits!

My heart swelled as I watched Girl Child sing and cheer, horns up, with a wide grin on her pretty wee face. I love to see her happy and enjoying herself.

Shinedown’s set was identical to Monday night’s with one addition. Brent Smith declared that as they were in Manchester they had better play something to keep the locals happy. They did just that by playing Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger before moving on to play Simple Man. Have I said how much I love that song?

Set closer Sound Of Madness nearly lifted the roof off the arena.

Manchester loves Shinedown!

Our long day of travel and rock music was starting to take it’s toll. Both Girl Child and I were wilting a little. Our backs were in agony and she was complaining her feet were sore from standing. My shoulders were aching. Cue the entry of the “rock’n’roll polo mints” and a Dextro tablet each. Gig survival kit!

We were both very thirsty by this point though.  We’d been there for about four hours by this time.

Manchester, you could learn a lot about passing back water to thirsty fans from your colleagues at the SSE Hydro!!!!

Not a drop of water was to be had. (Once, the security staff passed a large sports bottle along the very front row but nothing was offered beyond that) Very poor show, Manchester.

The curtain had again been raised to hide the stage changeover but from our vantage point we could see the stage crew working hard. Although why they were burning an incense stick in the machine heads on one of the guitars is beyond me….

Shortly before show time, the tape being played to keep the crowd amused played Slipknot’s Psychosocial. The crowd around us went wild and were in fine voice! We were revved up and ready to rock once more!

A few moments later than scheduled the lights went out, Black Stone Cherry began Me And Mary Jane. The curtain fell and the front of the stage exploded with jets from a row of air cannons blasting skywards. Rain Wizard and Blind Man followed. Explosive start to the show!

Like Halestorm and Shinedown before them, the boys from Kentucky were on fire tonight!

 

(I had started to write this on the train journey home on Sunday – my train of thought was de-railed by more unexpected travel issues – but more of that shortly)

 

Now where was i?

 

Holding On To Letting Go almost raised the roof! Awesome!

I loved the snatch of Roadhouse Blues in Yeah Man…..and then the evening took a downward spiral.

I noticed that Girl Child had gone kind of quiet. I asked her if she was ok and got a mumbled response. I put my arm around her waist and she didn’t immediately protest. She was on the point of collapse.

With my arm securely round her, I half dragged her to the side and signalled to one of the security staff, indicating that we needed water quick. She was given a few squirts from the communal sports bottle.

It didn’t help.

A few feet to our left Arejay Hale and Josh Hottinger from Halestorm stood watching the show – Girl Child never even saw them.

The security girl let us through the barrier and a supervisor directed us up the entire length of the arena to a corridor where there were toilets and a “bar hatch”. Manchester Arena isn’t the most modern or luxurious. I sat Girl Child down on the floor, propping her up against the wall and ran to fetch her a Coke in an attempt to get some sweet liquid into her.

It had a little effect but she was still not really with me.

An annoying little drunk came over to chat. Instantly the security supervisor was at my side chasing him. With the drunk duly despatched, the supervisor suggested we head to the first aid station.

In the background, I could hear Black Stone Cherry playing The Rambler – I could’ve cared less! My baby girl was my focus.

The first aid room was on the opposite side of the arena. I half carried her across the back of the hall as Black Stone Cherry belted out Peace Is Free (or was that Pizzas Free) accompanied by Lzzy Hale and other members of Halestorm.

The first aid room was basic beyond belief. The first aiders, although very pleasant, had basic knowledge and little in the way of help to offer me. I explained what had happened etc etc then asked if Girl Child could lie down for a few minutes with her legs raised. After about ten minutes (it felt like forever) she began to feel a little better and began to talk to us again.

I then began to fret about how I was going to get her back to the hotel. Was I going to have to drag her up all those stairs through the seating area again?

The first aider put my fears at ease and said, as we were staying at the Travel Lodge, he would bend the rules and let us leave by the “back door.”

To the strains of White Trash Millionaire, I helped Girl Child along the corridor and out into the secure yard where the tour buses were parked.

When we exited the gate I discovered the hotel was only about 100 yards away.

Once safely back in the hotel I ordered some food and drinks from the bar and eventually we took them up to the room with us. A combination of Irn Bru, Coke and fresh air had revived Girl Child and she managed to eat her meal.

My nerves were shot!

While she slept all night, I lay awake worrying about her.

Next morning, she was more or less back to normal. I was shattered!

When we went down for breakfast, the dining room was a sea of exhausted, hungover rock fans all wearing new band merch. I’d had one beer and about three hours sleep at best and I felt as rough as they looked!

Bags packed, we checked out and headed out into the sunshine in search of some retail therapy at the Arndale Centre.

After a medicinal stop at Starbucks for caffeine and a whirlwind shopping trip, it was time to head back for the train to Carlisle.

I’d spoken to the Big Green Gummi Bear earlier on and he’d very kindly offered to meet us in Carlisle and save us the two hour bus trip and forty minute train ride.

The train left on time. We had the entire first class carriage to ourselves. Bliss!

A bout an hour and three quarters later the train stopped at Penrith. The service was terminating there. Some poor individual had jumped under the train that had been in front of ours. Icy shivers ran down my spine.

A quick call to the Big Green Gummi Bear caught him before he turned off for Carlisle and he agreed to drive the extra few miles to fetch us at Penrith.

I don’t know when I was last so glad to see him!

As he drove us home, Girl Child chattered away. In the passenger seat, I finally relaxed.

We’d survived. From listening to Girl Child, I gathered that despite everything, she’d enjoyed her trip. Despite all the dramas, we’d both enjoyed a memorable weekend.

Perhaps not the mother/daughter weekend I’d envisaged in my head but most definitely one to remember.

Wonder where we can go next?

Man CofMManchester

Blue Jeans and White T-shirt….there’s a song in there!

It had been six weeks and two days since my last fix. A long six weeks!

Last Tuesday night I boarded the 5:25 train to Glasgow, praying that Boy Child and his friend would catch the train a few stations further up the track. They did! Whew!

We were heading for Glasgow’s art deco O2 Academy to see The Gaslight Anthem in concert.

The boys hadn’t eaten so when we pulled into Glasgow they went off in their separate directions in search of food with strict instructions to meet back under the clock in the station. Boy Child arrived back first with his Burger King bag. No sign of his friend.

Great! We weren’t even out of the station and I’d lost one of them! Teenagers are worse than small children at times.

“Has anyone seen a lost teenager in blue jeans and white t-shirt?”

Boy Child’s phone rattled. The missing wean was in McDonalds more than a block away! I’ve yet to figure out why he went there instead of Burger King but at least he hadn’t reappeared with a loaf of bread.

It is worth pointing out that this “wean” is apparently highly intelligent…..hmmm….

We found him a few minutes later and I watched as he practically juggled his drink and burger box, refusing all offers of assistance, as he attempted to eat his dinner.

I had a sneaky suspicion that his white t-shirt wasn’t going to stay white for long

By some miracle he managed to consume his meal without wearing any of it. Moral victory!

The walk down to the O2 Academy was  quite pleasant. The weather was warm and sunny making a welcome change from the last time’s pouring rain and howling wind.

Once inside the venue, after a trip to the merch stall, the boys abandoned me, heading off to find their spot centre front. Boy Child was hoping for some moshing; the other wean looked slightly less convinced. I took up position two rows off the barrier over to the left of the room. Looking round at the fans who were rapidly filling the venue, they didn’t look like a moshing crowd.

First band on stage were The Scandals from New Jersey. They played a solid fifty minute set and did their job perfectly. Despite sounding at times like a Gaslight Anthem tribute act, they won the crowd over and had them suitably wound into a frenzy for the headliners. Job done!

The Gaslight Anthem didn’t blast onto the stage as I’d expected. They started off very quietly with Have Mercy then blasted into Handwritten, one of my favourites.

Front man, Brian Fallon, explained a few songs in that there would be no encore, they would rather just play straight through and not waste time going off to come back on again. He then went on to say that they based the set around fan requests and songs they felt like playing. Sounds fair enough.

What a set it was! A full two hours and some 28 songs long!!

It didn’t escape my attention that as the evening wore on the crowd in the centre were beginning to mosh. Boy Child would be happy.

By the time The Gaslight Anthem reached the back end of their set, they were playing their harder, faster numbers and the mosh pit was rapidly spreading across the width of the room.

“Mummy Mode” was engaged as I tried to spot Boy Child in the mayhem. Occasional glimpses of him kept me calm enough to return my attention to the stage. A couple of songs before the end, a rather dishevelled older man appeared through the crowd to stand beside me. I’m guessing but he looked to be in his late 50’s/early 60’s and looked as though he had been dragged through a hedge backwards. I suspect he may have “enjoyed” his first and last mosh pit experience. Poor guy!

The Gaslight Anthem ended their epic set with four of their finest numbers (and were joined by the front man from The Scandals for one). Their set ended with The 59 Sound, American Slang, The Backseat and We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner.

With minimal fuss they left the stage. Boy Child and the wean appeared out of the crowd. They looked intact then I spotted blood on Boy Child’s face. Nose bleed! He’d tripped and smacked his nose off his friend’s shoulder.

A small spray of blood was splattered across his friend’s white t-shirt.

I knew a white t-shirt to a gig was a bad idea!

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Rock Chicks Night Out ..In Theory

After the safe arrival of Book Baby and of surviving the first few surreal days of Book Baby motherhood, it was time for some normality – I use the term loosely- to be restored to my world.

It was time for a post-Book Baby night out!

No, Rock Mum was not out to play. ALL children were left at home. Rock Friend was out though!

In chilly, but glorious, sunshine I headed off mid-afternoon for Rock Chicks Night Out.

Breaking with my usual pre-gig routine, I had arranged to meet up with my fellow Rock Chick writer friend, Karen Soutar,  for an early dinner then we were heading off to see Theory of a Deadman at my favourite venue. Yes, you’ve guessed it – the O2 ABC. Well, I’ve not been there since mid- February! Withdrawal symptoms were setting in!

I had just settled into my seat on the train when my phone buzzed. Voicemail! It was a panicky message from the restaurant to say their gas was off and they could only offer a restricted menu, did I still want the table at 4.30? Before the train plunged into the lengthy tunnel that runs under Greenock (it used to be Europe’s longest at one point in time) I called them back. Yes, pizza was still available. Whew! Panic over.

It was only a short walk from the station to the restaurant and I’d  just taken my seat (too cold to wait outside!) when Karen arrived, equally frozen.

Cue two hours of girlie chat as we caught up on several month worth of news and gossip all washed down with pizza and beer!

Having paid the bill, we meandered our way up to the venue debating whether or not we had time for coffee or not. (Really RnFnR I know but I had to be safe to drive home from the station so no more beer allowed.)

As we approached the O2 ABC, the caffeine fix got cancelled. A lengthy queue was already snaking up the hill beside the venue. We hiked up the vertical slope to join the end of it- oxygen required!

I’d seen Theory of a Deadman last October when they were the first support act for Black Stone Cherry. I think it’s fair to say that wasn’t their best night on stage. The half hour slot felt too short for them and they were plagued with sound issues. Karen had them before too, a few years back,  as a support act so we were both curious to experience their full set.

After the obligatory trip to the merchandise stall for another black t-shirt ( a girl can never have too many), we took up our positions for the evening near the front, about 5 or 6 rows off the barrier.

There was only one support act for the evening- Beasts. They were a three piece band and were OK. Good, entertaining but not brilliant. There is definite potential there. After their short half hour set , we both agreed that their energetic bass player needed to bulk up on the muscle front a bit, lose the scoop neck t-shirt from under the leather biker jacket and ultimately go for a more “stripped back” look!

Now, I have an uncanny knack at gig for ending up behind the tallest and usually widest person in the room. This was no exception, except on the width front! I ended up behind two students who could have passed for Ents! They towered over little 5’ 3” me. C’est la vie.

I find Theory of a Deadman a hard band to categorise- a bit of rock, a bit of grunge, a bit tongue in cheek, a bit of country and a lot of “break up” songs. How about some “make up” songs, guys?

Loved their ninety minute set. They played most of my favourites –Lowlife, Panic Room, The Bitch Came Back, Santa Monica and I Hate My Life. I’d have liked to have seen World War Me on the set list but, hey ho, you can’t have them all. The crowd lapped it up, And, I even managed to get a few photos in between the branches- sorry, arms- of the Ents. Happy days!

All too soon it was over, ending with Bad Bad Girlfriend. Ending on a high.

Karen and I made our weary way back down Sauchiehall St then said our farewells as we headed home from different stations.

A great Rock Chick night out. Need to do it again soon – but can we make it a warmer night! Nearly froze my ass off waiting for the train!

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Drookit But Still Smiling

Anyone who follows my activities can probably guess what’s coming next…..

Rock Mum was out to play again last night.

After a mad dash home from the Salt Mine, a quick change of clothes and a much needed bacon sandwich, I rushed off to catch the 5:25 train to Glasgow, ably chaperoned by Boy Child.

Our destination this time was the O2 Academy in Glasgow. (Boy Child’s favourite venue) We were off to see Rival Sons.

The only drawback – the weather. It was pouring with rain, there was an icy wind howling and it was Baltic! Just how far did we Spring forward when the clocks changed last weekend? To Winter? Brrr

For once even Boy Child had dressed for the elements – confirmation of just how awful it was if the teenager was feeling it!

As we stood outside the venue in the growing but shivering, damp queue (no coffee shops next to the venue so no caffeine fix- BOO!) I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of an evening we were in for.

We’d seen Rival Sons back in December and much as I’d loved their set, there was something not quite right about it. Don’t get me wrong, they were brilliant but that little je ne sais quoi was missing.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to see a venue’s doors open so we could scurry in out of the rain.

Dripping, we stopped off at the merchandise stall to purchase the obligatory t-shirts. Moral victory- we managed to agree on two different designs so no mother/son t-shirt clash to mark this occasion. I also treated myself to a canvas tote bag. (Beats paying 5p a bag in the shops and it’s small enough to fold up and fit in the back pocket of my tardis-like handbag.) Result all round!

There is only one spot to stand at a Rival Sons show – especially if you are with Boy Child. Right in front of Scott Holiday. We found ourselves among the same group of die-hards that we had been beside back in December. See we’re not the only looney tunes happy to see these guys again so soon.

Much to my surprise there was only one support act lined up for the show, New York duo, The London Souls. I’ll be honest – I’d never heard of them. This two piece band, comprising of guitar and drums, transported the Glasgow crowd back in time by about forty five years and played a short but solid soulful set, heavily influence by 1960’s/70’s icons. Worth checking this band out when their debut album is released later this year.

The intro tape played the theme from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. As it rang out over the expectant fans, Rival Sons appeared out on stage.

Glasgow was in for a treat! The boys from California were all dressed in kilts. While frontman Jay Buchanan had gone for a more traditional look, guitarist Scott Holiday was rocking his pointed toe boots and leather jacket with his black kilt. Hot Hot Hot

Their set started with the incredible Electric Man and over the next ninety odd minutes they powered their way through a further seventeen songs, including a short five song acoustic set in the middle of proceedings.

Cue clothing issue as Scott Holiday realised the fans on the rail were seeing a bit more of him than usual when he sat down to play. Thank God he’s not a true Scot!

Highlight of the night for me was their performance of Where I’ve Been. I LOVE that song!

This time the whole set shone- sparkled even. I realised what had been missing from December – smiles.

All of them looked more relaxed and seemed to be genuinely enjoying playing this iconic art deco venue. There was even a hint of mischief from Jay Buchanan as he flicked up the back of Scott Holiday’s kilt during the encore.

It was a joy to see them having fun.

When we emerged into the dark, I  was relieved to find that the rain had eased up. After a short sprint towards the station, with a brief pit stop at KFC (Boy Child was hungry) we boarded the train home. Both of us tired but happy.

We may not have done the mother/son t-shirt thing but it was a cracking mother/son night out.

As Boy Child prepares to leave high school and move on to university, I can’t help but wonder how many more gigs will he will be content to enjoy with his Rock Mum?

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