Tag Archives: live music

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!

 

My Secret Chaperone….meet Cherry

cherry

Anyone who’s followed my blog musings here or on my music blog, The525To Glasgow ( https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/ ), knows I’m prone to escaping “out to play” on occasion.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been chaperoned by a variety of close friends, Facebook son, Boy Child’s friends, Boy Child, Girl Child and, on one memorable occasion, The Big Green Gummi bear even came out to play.

There’s been many an incredible night and countless precious memories created!

Throughout it all there’s been “someone” who’s been by my side every time. Someone who until now has remained anonymous. Someone who will remain silent and never tell tales (what happens at a gig stays at a gig!) Not once have they complained that it’s too hot, too crowded, too loud or that we’ve been out too late.

So who is this mystery chaperone?

Her name is Cherry. (I’m sure she’s a Black Stone Cherry fan as she’s now seen them play live four times!)

Cherry is the Kipling monkey who hangs from my “gig bag”.

Yes, the same handbag comes to every show. It’s a veritable tardis! It’s small and compact and is my own version of a “Hermione bag”. The back pocket can hold up to three t-shirts from the merchandise stall. The main pocket safeguards my purse, keys, phone, contact lens case etc. The long narrow front pocket hides the Dextro tablets and,of course, the “rock’n’roll” polo mints! It is the perfect gig bag!

When I first decided to take this bag with me I was worried that Cherry might get pulled off in the crowd. I considered removing her from the ring on the side of the bag for safe keeping (She is quite cute and I’d hate to lose her) but something made me leave her where she was.

She’s a lucky monkey! She’s seen many a great band plus a few dodgy support acts. She’s been faithfully by my side as I’ve queued outside venues in the freezing cold or the pouring rain or both without a murmur of complaint. She’s been doused in water and beer in the crowd.

She’s been lucky enough to meet a few rock stars too! (there is a certain star struck look to her wee face)

But, for now, she’s hanging quietly in the wardrobe, patiently waiting for our next date.

My gig calendar is currently empty- a tragic state of affairs that I intend to rectify as soon as I can! Once the next show arrives then Cherry and I plus human chaperones will be off out to play once more!

Rock’n’roll polo mint anyone?

Cherry collage

A Few Manners Go A Long Way…

Alvarado-Theater-Etiquette-

Call me old fashioned but manners cost nothing.

A few days ago a friend and I went to an all-seated show in Glasgow. Yes, it was a music event, an acoustic show, but the setting was most definitely more akin to a theatre setting than your standard rock venue.

Now let’s make something quite clear from the start here. I am not against folk against folk having a few drinks and a good time at a show. OK?

It was the lack of manners on several levels that quickly got under my relatively thick skin.

I have been in the habit of visiting theatres and concert halls and attending rock shows for over thirty years. (EEK!) I’ve always been taught that if a show is all-seated then there are some basic rules of etiquette to be followed. They’re not difficult!

The first is common courtesy – arrive on time!  (yes, I know folk get stuck in traffic etc. etc.) Please don’t arrive half an hour or, as was the case with several folk, an hour and a half late and expect to be shown straight to your seat, especially if said seat is in the middle of a row of folk who actually arrived on time and are enjoying the show. I’ve also a word of caution for the theatre staff here. Please be careful where you are pointing your torches as you escort latecomers to their seats. Repeatedly we were blinded by a member of staff pointing his Maglite torch in our faces as he walked to the front section of the stalls. Point the damn thing at the floor not the audience!

The second rule, especially when there’s clear signage on display, turn off your phone and don’t attempt to take photographs or record parts of the performance. If it’s the theatre’s policy, then please comply. There’s no one who enjoys capturing a few photographic or video memories than me but, if the venue says “No” then I’m happy to comply. The man with the torch was policing this by shining his torch directly on the offenders but yet again was blinding those in his path to the offending fan.

The third rule is around food and drink in the auditorium. I appreciate that this is a sensitive area and that I am in the minority as, in general, I don’t drink alcohol at a gig. Never have, never will. (Makes you need to pee and also leads to fuzzy photos!) If, however, you feel the need to bring drinks into the theatre then please do so at the start and during breaks in the show and not in the middle of the set. The traffic to and from the bar throughout the entire show was ridiculous and unnecessary! This behaviour also leads to two other issues. The first of these is spillage. From our elevated seats, I watched numerous music fans who were happily enjoying the show have to stand up to allow folk to return to their seats and who got slopped with beer for their courtesy. It kind of goes without saying, if you drink too much liquid then you need to pee so by the latter half of the show there was a constant stream of folk heading out of the auditorium towards the toilets, again disrupting the show for those around them. Now, if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go (as an IBS sufferer I totally get that) but in these surroundings be considerate to all concerned, including the performers on stage.

The fourth rule in my book is no talking during the performance. Now this one can be relaxed a little as singing along was most definitely called for throughout the night. However, among the worst offenders for talking loudly throughout the entire show were the two “mature” members of the theatre staff, who were manning the doors to our left. The music may not have been to their personal tastes but they of all people should know that you don’t carry on a full conversation at normal conversational levels during a performance. There were many,many other offenders throughout the evening. At one point, someone on their way back to their seat explained in no very direct terms that he hadn’t come there to listen to a particularly noisy group of music fans but had paid money to listen to the guy on the stage. The piece de resistance though was the guy seated diagonally behind me who either made a call or answered a call on his phone and sat having an entire lengthy conversation in the middle of the set.

The fifth rule links back to rule three. If you’ve got an allocated seat, sit in it! Again, it’s different if the show allows for the audience to be on their feet or if the performance has earned a standing ovation which this one did. Rule six links in here too. Keep your feet off the seats but also don’t interfere with someone else’s seat by leaning on it or kicking the back of it, even if you are kicking in time to the music!

I’d love to know what the performers on stage thought of this behaviour. These guys had travelled thousands of miles to bring this show to the stage and a large number of the audience didn’t even pay them the common courtesy of arriving on time and paying attention to the magic being spun on the stage.

It’s sad…..tragic almost.

One music fan caught my eye late on in the evening. He was seated in the stalls near the front and several seats in from the aisle. He waited for a lull between songs before leaving his seat, quietly slipping from the auditorium. Upon his return, he stayed at the back until the song in progress on the stage was over then walked back down the aisle towards his seat. The star on stage launched straight into the next song. Did this music fan barge his way back into his seat? No, he stood in the passageway until the song was over then re-took his seat. It was nice to see that not all manners had been lost.

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

Pause: Rewind: And Breathe!

Is it just me or has someone put the world into fast forward over the past couple of weeks?

I feel like I’ve blinked and lost a week!

So what’s been happening?

Quick whistle stop tour of the past couple of weeks coming up!

Mainly the “real world” has been taking more of my time.  No major dramas. Just busy busy!

On the creative front, Book Baby 2 has been monopolising my time in various guises.

The first draft is finally typed. Hallelujah! Now to start re-drafting and editing. Honestly, writing the story is proving yet again to be the easy bit.

I’ve also had the “torturous” task of sourcing an appropriate cover image/photo. I’ve finally agreed on one but I’m keeping it under wraps for now. I’m  confident the Jake Power fans among you won’t be disappointed.  😉

I have however come up with my “promo” shot for Book Baby 2. That I can share!

Impossible Depths promo shot.jpg

I also escaped  “out to play” last Thursday. The 149 day live music drought ended with a memorable night in The Cathouse watching Crobot.  Thanks, guys! Hurry back! My  ears were ringing, buzzing and hissing until Sunday.

I’ve already “blogged” about it on my other blog page The 525 To Glasgow. Here’s the link if you want to check it out –

(https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/a-night-with-the-necromancer-crobot-at-the-cathouse-Glasgow/)

So now it’s time to pause, rewind a bit on the Book Baby 2 front as I commence the re-drafting and editing process and to breathe!

Normal blog antics will resume when I’ve caught my breath!

 

 

 

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!

 tagged 20 tagged 21 tagged 15

Just How Many Clothes Do You Need At A Gig?

This week it was time to resume normal musical activities.

Rock Mum made her first appearance of 2015!

Chaperoned by Boy Child, we headed off to Glasgow last Wednesday.

Yes, usual train.

Yes, usual venue.

When we saw the lengthy queue outside the O2 ABC some forty minutes before the doors were due to open I was convinced to forego my usual caffeine fix to ensure a spot on the barrier.

Forty minutes is a long time to stand in the cold, staring across Sauchiehall Street at my missed coffee opportunity. (One more stamp on my loyalty card and I get a free fix!)

An hour later coffee was the last thing on my mind!

I had Crobot on my mind! Oh and headliners Black Label Society.

I was also beginning to feel like a clothes horse! Due to the cold weather, I had worn two thin hoodies and a long sleeved top over my Crobot t-shirt. Now as I stood on the barrier, I had the two hoodies, one inside the other, tied round my waist with the long sleeved top stuffed down the sleeve of the hoodies. In my trusty red “gig bag” I had another two Black Label Society t-shirts, procured from the merchandising stand (There was no one manning the Crobot stand at this point- return visit was already planned). Beside me Boy Child was grumbling about having to wear a hoodie and what was he meant to do with it.

The lights dimmed. Crobot hit the stage with all guns blazing! An awesome sight to behold!

I’ve been a huge fan of this band since being given their EP and subsequently their debut album to review last year.

I had the honour of seeing and meeting them last September in the smaller O2 ABC2. They were amazing that night, performing as if they were playing to a packed arena instead of to less than fifty folk.

This time round the room was much bigger and it was almost full. Result!

Watching Brandon, Jake, Chris and Paul give it their all made my heart sing.

How Chris manages to twirl that Fender Telecaster round his body the way he does I’ll never know. Neat trick!

All too soon their seven song set was over. (Please hurry back and headline a show, boys)

Time to go and say hello.

With Boy Child in tow, we surrendered our barrier spots and headed back across to the merchandising stand.

Front man, Brandon, was already there and deep in conversation with a fan. A part of me began to fret that I was being a bit presumptuous here. Would he recognise or remember me? After all, how many folk must these guys meet and greet?

I needn’t have worried. A huge smile, an interrupted conversation and an equally huge hug reassured me that I had been recognised. Cue one happy girl!

Politely I stepped aside and allowed the other fans to chat with him while I slipped past to buy two new Crobot t-shirts (one was stowed in the trusty handbag and the other went down the other sleeve of the hoodie)

When Brandon was finished chatting to the other fans, he turned back to Boy Child and I. More hugs and quick introductions to Boy Child then a couple of photos. Enter Jake, the bass player, from the right. More hugs and greetings and introductions. More photos! Love the face these boys pull!

We chatted briefly then they excused themselves (OK slipped out the back door for a sneaky smoke) while Boy Child and I wandered back over to watch the second band of the evening, Black Tusk. Great name. Pity about the noise they made. Wasn’t impressed. (Sorry, guys)

While the stage crew worked to clear the stage and set up for Black Label Society I headed for the little girl’s room and the bar (Diet Coke- honest!) I met Jake en route and we exchanged pleasantries. I also met a work colleague who seemed somewhat amused that I was happily camped out down at the front of the crowd – again!

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Black Label Society. On the other hand, Boy Child had been surveying the crowd and had his hopes set on a mosh pit.

Before the lights dimmed, he handed me his hoodie to look after. More clothes!

Hoodie number three was duly tied round my waist. This was getting silly, not to mention hot!

Let me attempt to set the scene with regards to the crowd here. Black Label Society fans appear to be almost “patched in” like a scene from Sons of Anarchy. Most fans had “cuts” on with Black Label Society emblazoned on the back and were sporting beanies on their heads. And I’ve never seen so much facial hair in one room before!

So how do you get everyone on side before you start? Playing a bagpipe rendition of “Flower of Scotland” was inspired. Everyone in the place was singing their hearts out. When “Flower of Scotland” was done, the lights remained dimmed and the Black Label Society curtain still hung over the front of the stage while a mash-up of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” blared out. Cue more enthusiastic singing.

The curtain dropped and Black Label Society stood on stage in their full glory, blasting out their opening number “In The Beginning…At last”

Cue second inspired move – Zakk Wyle was wearing a kilt! Brilliant!

I’ll be honest- I’m not overly familiar with their music but I do love some of the tracks off their last album. If you don’t like lengthy ego-massaging guitar solos, give these guys a miss.

Boy Child had darted off into the midst of the crowd as soon as they had started while I had slipped back down to the barrier at the corner of the stage. Perfect vantage point for my camera.

A few songs in and much moshing later, Boy Child appeared at my side, clutching his nose, muttering that he was OK and then thrust his sweaty t-shirt at me. It took me a moment or two to realise he’d been covered in blood, by which time, he was long gone back into the dark.

The “mother” in me twitched a bit but figured he’d be back if he was really hurt. I returned my attention to the stage.

Not however before I had stowed said sweaty t-shirt down the sleeve of his hoodie and re-tied it round my waist. Thank God it wasn’t overly hot in the venue!

This was the first night of Black Label Society’s European invasion…sorry, tour….so I’m possibly about to be a bit harsh. (If I am, I humbly apologise)

On stage at Zakk Wylde’s feet I had noticed a pile of A1 laminated sheets. Lyric sheets in large print. Everything about these guys is larger than life- even the cheat sheets!

I take my hat off to vocalists. I have no idea how they remember the lyrics to all their songs.

Highlight of their set for me was “Angel of Mercy”. Love that song.

It was followed by an impressive piano solo by Zakk Wylde and a song called “In This River”, sung in tribute to the late Dimebag Darrell.

Time was running away from them and curfew was fast approaching. Black Label Society declined to go off and return for an encore, electing instead to stay out on stage and just play the final couple of numbers.

As the last chords died away, the lights went up, roadies invaded the stage and I went in search of Boy Child, feeling somewhat weighed down by three hoodies with three t-shirts in their sleeves.

I found him. Hot, tired, sweaty, a bit battered and broken but grinning from ear to ear.

The “mum” in me was relieved to see him in one piece. Baby Boy Child was nursing a suspected broken nose, a punched face and some bashed ribs but he’d survived moshing with the big boys…just!

All in all, a successful night out. Wish Crobot had been able to play for longer. Wish Black Tusk hadn’t bothered to play at all!

And I wonder what Zakk Wylde was wearing under that kilt…………..

 BLS collage

Appearing For One Night Only….the Big Green Gummi Bear’s night out

It’s been forty five days since my last fix.

Withdrawal symptoms had long since set in and the depressing January weather among other things wasn’t helping. However Friday dawned bright and sunny, if a tad on the chilly side, and my fix was almost in sight.

This time there was to be a break in my usual routine. A different persona was about to emerge. One that I don’t think has ever been seen in public before – Rock Wife.

As I took my seat on the train to Glasgow to meet the Big Green Gummi Bear, I wracked my brain in an effort to remember the last rock/pop gig we’d been to together. There were a few memorable shows in the dim and distant past- Iron Maiden circa 1991, Def Leppard circa 1993 and a dodgy Bjorn Again gig circa 1994 (not my choice!) among others. I honestly couldn’t recall one that we had been to since we got married in 1995!

The Big Green Gummi Bear has a strict set criteria for going out to play that he rarely deviates from so I suspect I caught him in a weak moment when he agreed to attend this show. It did tick most of his boxes though –

It wasn’t on a school night.

It was part of Celtic Connections, the annual music festival held in Glasgow in January/February

It wasn’t “yicket” music as he phrases it (Hard rock/metal to the rest of us.)

The tickets were bought and paid for before he had time to have second thoughts!

My usual pre-gig routine slipped back into its normal pattern as, accompanied by the Big Green Gummi Bear, I headed for my favourite coffee shop for a much needed caffeine fix.

So where were we going?

The venue for the evening was Glasgow’s O2 ABC. (I love that venue!)

The band that were going to have the honour of being the first headliners the Big Green Gummi Bear had seen this millennium were Hayseed Dixie.

We were both about to be initiated in the delights of “rockgrass”!

Suitably caffeine fuelled, we joined the queue outside the venue shortly before the doors were due to open. (Cue much muttering about the cold and queuing)

Once inside the hall, the Big Green Gummi Bear insisted on putting his jacket in the cloakroom then, after a quick trip the merchandising stall (“Why do you need another black t-shirt with writing on it?”), we took our places right down on the barrier.

The Big Green Gummi Bear is a self-confessed snob. The look on his face as he glanced around was telling me that he was less than impressed so far. Hmm this could be a long night….

The support act were a band from Dublin called The Riptide Movement and they entertained the growing crowd admirably for around forty five minutes. A mental note was duly taken to add then to my ever increasing list of bands to check out further.

Up on stage everything bar four mic stands was cleared away. No drum kit?!

I nipped to the little girl’s room to powder my nose. By the time I returned another couple had come to stand beside us and the Big Green Gummi Bear was talking beards with the guy. No idea how that conversation started! Up on stage there was little activity. The girl enquired if we’d seen Hayseed Dixie before. Both of us confessed we hadn’t. She promised that we’d love them. The Big Green Gummi Bear had his cynical face on. Sensing his scepticism, the girl declared that if he didn’t enjoy the show she would buy him a drink at the bar at the end. Deal!

Hayseed Dixie duly came out on stage to rapturous cheers from the capacity crowd. Their show is very tongue in cheek. The name’s a play on ACDC and front man , John Wheeler, was sporting cut off denim dungarees and a tie-dye t-shirt (A kindergarten version of Angus Young?)

Within minutes of the start of their set the Big Green Gummi Bear was seen smiling.

Over the next two hours many rock classics were given the Hayseed Dixie treatment. Hearing songs like Highway to Hell, Ace of Spade and Bohemian Rhapsody played on acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo with the occasional fiddle thrown in was a thoroughly enjoyable if bizarre experience. John Wheeler’s rapport with the audience was fabulous and filled with amens and Hallelujahs. A man that‘s not taking himself too seriously. Amid the rock classics they played a few of their own tunes, most notably I’m Keeping Your Poop. Mandolin player Hippy Joe Hymas’s actions and antics throughout the entire set added to the humour. A hillbilly Gene Simmons!

Behind me a strange transformation was taking place. The Big Green Gummi Bear has graduated from smiling to laughing and was even heard singing along (never a good thing as he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!) However, he was having fun!

The show ended with a fifteen minute encore of Hotel California – another classic that will never be the same again!

When the lights went up the girl beside us asked if she needed to buy that drink. The answer was a resounding no.

Hayseed Dixie collage

Mental note to Rock Wife self- add another box to that tick list. Any future gigs with the Big Green Gummi Bear must be on warm dry days.

I almost froze to death outside on the pavement waiting on him collecting his jacket from the cloakroom!

Only nine days until my next fix!

Musical Reflections on 2014

It’s been quite some year for gigs around here, especially over the last three months, as some of you may have noticed.

Last night marked the last gig in my 2014 calendar.

In an almost ritualistic manner, I boarded the train to Glasgow, chaperoned by Boy Child, to head off to the O2 ABC (yes- there again!) to see Rival Sons.

The mother in me scolded Boy Child for coming out without a jacket. Who in their right mind goes out in t-shirt and jeans in Scotland in December? Oh, that’ll be my son! Yes, I stood shaking my head in disbelief at his stupidity, as he stood shivering in the queue outside the venue. Muppet!

Rival Sons were fabulous. I had no pre-conceptions as to what they would be like live. I’d been warned that their front man’s voice was beginning to suffer a little as they are nearing the end of their tour. The extra huskiness was evident but, on occasion, seemed to enhance the performance. It was a fantastic show.

If you’ve never heard of this band from California check them out. If you listen to nothing else that they’ve done, look up “Where I’ve Been” and “Jordan” online. Stunning songs.

Like all good things, the show came to an end and we headed out of the venue into the cold and back towards the station, via KFC, in time to catch the last train home. And, yes, Boy Child was shivering again!

At the last count, I think, I’ve been to eleven gigs this year and seen about twenty five bands/artists. Not many by some die hard fans’ standards but no mean feat for me.

Highs and lows then of the 2014 Gig Year? …. Ask me an easy one!

The highs have to be the two Slash shows. After waiting for twenty seven years to see him play live, to now have seen him play twice within a month is a dream come true (as I’ve blogged previously). You just can’t beat standing in that confetti shower while “Paradise City” plays!

The lows came at the first Slash show at the O2 Academy. Being swept off my feet and feeling flung about like a rag doll during the opening three numbers of Biffy Clyro’s set that night was far from enjoyable. Yes, I’ll admit to being too old for that carry on! Getting doused in a cup full of piss later on in the evening was simply disgusting. I get that folk need to pee during a gig, especially after a few beers. I get that some guys are too lazy to make it to the men’s room and choose to relieve themselves into their empty beer cups but what lowlifes then feel the need to fling the full cup into the crowd? It’s beyond revolting. (rant over)

A major high point of the year was taking my baby girl to her first gig. Watching her lap it all up and seeing the look on her face as Halestorm took to the stage was a beautiful sight.(Yes, it was the O2 ABC again) Precious memories. Move on a few months, and seeing her relaxed, happy and smiling in the company of The Conspirators back stage at the Hydro made my heart sing. In fact, seeing both my munchkins (and FB Son) behave impeccably while meeting The Conspirators and Myles Kennedy made me feel very proud to be their mum.

A few friends have shared this year’s musical journey with me and there are numerous memories from these shows that are special. I have to say though that the look on one particular friend’s face after seeing Airbourne play live, and their immediate reaction, was priceless and the memory of it still makes me giggle.

I’ve met some wonderful people through music this year. I’ve made a few friends along the way and yes, been fortunate enough to meet a few very talented musicians. Again, more memories that are oh so very special!

So, when does Rock Mum come back out to play? Not until mid-February next year – and, yes, it’s at the O2 ABC again! Oh, it seems a very LONG way away right now!

Before then though another persona is set to emerge at the end of January – Rock Wife.

The Big Green Gummi Bear’s going to a gig! It will be his first this century. In fact, the first this millennium!

The venue this time? Where else but the O2 ABC!

I can’t wait to see how that one pans out!

A Green Triangle To Paradise City – dreams do come true!

I’ve sat down several times over the past few days to pen this blog. The end result has been the same every time. As soon as I start to write, a smile creeps across my lips and all coherent thoughts vanish in a cloud of twinkly stars.

For several months, Thursday 4 Dec has been marked on my calendar- Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators (aka SMK&C) at the Hydro Glasgow. When the tickets were purchased, this show was scheduled to make the dream of finally seeing Slash play live come true. That dream magically became a reality on Nov 7th as I’ve blogged previously. Last Thursday, however, turned into a completely magical “once-in-a lifetime” experience.

Through the wonders of rock music and social media interaction, I’ve become friends with a lady from Indiana, USA. Over the past few months, we’ve chatted online and the friendship has grown. To cut a very long story, that is her’s to tell, short- HINT HINT about that journal, young lady!- the final stop on her European Tour 2014 was also to be the Hydro on Dec 4th. Finally, I was going to get the opportunity to meet my FB friend face-to-face!

There had been whispers of promises of great things for the evening that I hadn’t dared to get my hopes up about. Mid-afternoon, she confirmed she had a treat in store for us.

Chaperoned by my usual teenage minders – Boy Child, Girl Child and FB Son (Boy Child’s friend) – plus one of my Rock Chick friends, this Rock Mum headed out to play.

One minor issue – how do you find someone that you’ve never met in a crowd of circa 10 000? Easily as it turns out!

As we queued to gain entry to the arena’s bowl, I spotted her coming through the main door, looking all round her. Waving and calling out her name, I caught her attention and she came rushing over to greet us. With the hugs and introductions complete, she opened an envelope and passed me five green triangular stickers – one for each of us. Clearly written across the sticker it said   “Slash Aftershow TDK”!

With arrangements made as to where to meet after the show, we all headed into the arena. It was the rock show to end all rock shows! Despite sound quality issues the first support act, Twenty Two Hundred, did a stellar job in front of quite a small crowd for such a big room. As the rock fans piled in, the second band of the evening took to the stage. This was Glenn Hughes’ new band California Breed. He may be over sixty now but boy can that guy sing! Fabulous set! With the crowd roused to the brink of ecstasy, California Breed left the stage.

Shortly before nine, the house lights dimmed and the creepy clown freak show music began to filter out signalling the imminent arrival of SMK&C. For two hours, SMK&C ruled the stage and commanded the Glasgow crowd. The set ran to some twenty one songs and was a fantastic mix of new and old SMK&C material, classic Guns N Roses and a sprinkling of Velvet Revolver. They played almost all of my personal favourites. Throughout the entire set, I drank in every note, watched every movement and, to be honest, was completely and utterly mesmerised.

The band had a treat in store for the Scottish fans. At the start of their encore, they welcomed Glenn Hughes and Andrew Watt out on stage and played a fantastic rendition of the Deep Purple classic “Burn.” An incredible sight to behold!

As the confetti rained down (guess who forgot to close over her handbag- oops!) during the show closer “Paradise City”, I could feel my nervous excitement mounting.

If watching these guys rule the stage wasn’t enough of a dream-come-true moment, part two was about to commence.

As the rest of the audience trooped happily towards the exits, with trembling hands, we applied our magical “green triangles” to our shirts. Along with a couple of dozen other lucky fans, we were ushered through a door beside the stage and along a maze of backstage corridors into a very basic room, littered with tables and chairs and instructed to wait. While we waited, we all began to chat, introducing ourselves and forming friendships. After about an hour, the door opened and The Conspirators came quietly into the room. Well, two of them did. One definitely failed to slip in unnoticed! It was bassist Todd Dammit Kerns’ birthday and his arrival was met with a loud chorus of “Happy Birthday” that he lapped up with a huge grin.

The next forty five minutes were magically surreal. Even now, five days later, I have to pinch myself and look at the photos (any excuse!) to remind myself it actually happened. The content of our conversations will remain private as these few moments are treasured memories. I became a very proud Rock Mum as Boy Child and Girl Child politely chatted with these rock stars, neither of them the least bit fazed. Much to my great surprise, it was Rock Chick friend who was a tad shy and star struck – meeting Todd Kerns left her completely tongue tied!

I surprised myself, if I’m being honest. I joked and chatted to Todd Kerns, then with Frank Sidoris, who was particularly sweet with the kids, then Brent Fitz, who laughed when I confessed to having zero sense of rhythm. In some respects, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be doing late on a Thursday night/early Friday morning. In others, it was the most unbelievable few minutes.

The icing on the cake was still to come.

The door opened and a fourth rock star crept quietly into the room, all bundled up in hat, scarf and jacket in readiness for the cold December night air that awaited them all.

It was Myles Kennedy.

Yes, I met Myles! Yes, I spoke to Myles and even managed a brief but sensible conversation with him. Yes, I got my photo taken with him and got a hug into the bargain. Yes, it actually happened! Dream come true!

As the guys were ushered out to the waiting tour bus, I watched them depart, already thinking – did I just dream that?

There’s photos to prove that I didn’t!

I can’t find words to describe how grateful I am for the kindness and friendship shown to us by one wonderful lady from Indiana. If ever there was someone who truly lives the “pay-it-forward” ethos, it is this larger than life rock fan. She is an inspiration!

Thanks to her, many of us around the world have memories to treasure for a lifetime.

I’ve teased her relentlessly on FB over her dedication and devotion to SMK&C, particularly Todd Kerns, calling her their “Rock Mama”.

Last Thursday night, she was everyone’s Rock Mama and, I’m pretty sure I speak for all of us who were given the gift of a magical “green triangle”, when I say a HUGE thank you to the one and only, Janette Martin.

Rock Mama, you took us all to Paradise City!

SMK&C blog collage