What I’ve Learnt This Year

This little post right here, yes this one, is my 100th post on this blog – 100 times I’ve sat down and emptied my head of some such nonsense for your reading pleasure (hopefully…).  Thank you for reading and visiting and commenting – it means a lot and if you’re a regular reader or a 1 time reader, thank you for taking a bit of time out to choose to spend with me.

Ok, so, I thought I’d use this post to have a little look back over this year and look forward to next year.  A kind of to-do list for 2014 that I might do – or not…let’s not be too rigid on this eh?!

There were some pretty great albums this year, I managed 6 gigs and 1 festival.

Tickets Please!

Tickets Please!


Our home for the weekend

Our home for the weekend


Image from QOTSA Facebook page

Image from QOTSA Facebook page

Too much music to mention without you all nodding off so I’ll just give you a few highlights

  • The Joy Formidable
  • Alt-J
  • Haim
  • Lucy Rose
  • Atoms For Peace
  • Jagwar Ma
  • Foals
  • Palma Violets
  • Peace
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Daft Punk
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Disclosure
  • Sigur Ros
  • Chvrches
  • Deltron 3030

etc etc – just too much…

I’m looking forward to spending summer solstice with Kasabian next year and I really hope that Foo Fighters release something…

Vampire Weekend Where can I get this fabric?!

Vampire Weekend
Where can I get this fabric?!

My to-do for 2014

  • Write more
  • Focus on quality over quantity (not too much of a contradiction of the above I hope)
  • Try to have less ‘stuff’ both physical and mental
  • Spend more time with family and friends – that’s important
  • Go slower, have experiences and enjoy the everyday
  • Make time – there’s always a way and most things will wait – unless you’re a brain surgeon or something
  • Be kinder – to both others and my-self
  • Take time to smell the flowers and listen to the music – always listen to the music

What were your best bits?  What are you planning and looking forward to?  Do please share…

Thanks for stopping by  – have a Merry Christmas and here’s to an awesome 2014 xx

A Hom(me)age to the Stone Age

Image from QOTSA Facebook page

Image from QOTSA Facebook page

It was up to the NIA in Birmingham again on Thursday. We’re old hands at this game now and having spent what has felt like DAYS queuing to get out of the carpark on several previous occasions, it was time to get tactical. Reader. It Worked. We parked up an extra level to get near the exit ramp and we (I’m a little bashful about this) ran into the carpark at the end of the gig. I realise this makes me sound a little odd but I’m 38 now and need all the sleep I can cram in on a school night!

This was my first time seeing Queens of the Stone Age and I have to say, they did not disappoint. At. All. We were seated this time (the only tickets left when I booked) and both of us really wished we were standing. The mosh pit looked epic from where I was and at several points it looked like a tropical storm forming with various little whirlpools. The most amount of crowd surfers too – the stewards earned their money!

I have to say that I was mesmerised by the whole set. Josh Homme came on and said that he wasn’t feeling 100%, well, I have to admit that if that was the performance with him not feeling well, I’d LOVE to see him on top form!

It was everything I wanted, great music and lots of it. A music loving friend of mine was trying to describe to her non gig going husband what she loves about it and she said it was when you can feel the music reverberating in your ribcage. I agree, and on thursday night, I felt it from head to toe… There’s nothing better than the all encompassing goose bump moment and being part of that moment with a whole room full of people who are there for the same reason.

You can find a setlist here

I’ve struggled to come up with my favourite song but will leave you with this one – a live acoustic version…

Vampire (But Not At The) Weekend

Vampire Weekend Where can I get this fabric?!

Vampire Weekend
Where can I get this fabric?!

It was date night *shudders at the word* last night and after a hectic afternoon of homework, reading diaries, supper, bath and bed for the children…we were finally ready to leave the house. On. Our. Own.  On a school night!

We drove up the motorway to the NIA in Birmingham and managed to miss the whole of the support act bar the last song.  Apologies Noah and the Whale, I’m sure you were very good and I enjoyed 5 Years Time…

The venue was actually quite empty and it transpired that this was the opening night of the tour.  I’ll admit this to you, because we’re friends, I wasn’t really a massive fan of Vampire Weekend until last night.  I’d purposely not listened to much before I went as I didn’t want to be one of those music fans who religiously ‘learns’ the most current album 3 days before the gig *it happens*.  It turns out that I actually knew loads of their songs!  Hardly surprising really considering they’ve been about since 2006.

From the girlie point of view, the set was quite lovely.  Lots of greek columns and an ornate mirror and when the white background dropped to reveal a lovely little floral number – you can imagine what I said to my husband!  He just rolled his eyes..

The setlist can be found here.   It was a great gig with a really great atmosphere considering it wasn’t rammed full.  They sound just like they do on their records which is pretty fantastic.   Again though, and I’ve spoken about it in this post, people still insist on watching through their phone screen. WHY PEOPLE WHY?    To quote the man from last year “Please don’t spend the gig looking through a screen, use your eyes and commit it to memory.  No performance, ever has looked better on YouTube..”  For me, the whole point is to be there and engage with the band and other people around you.  Are you really going to re-watch that footage with the distorted sound and the back of someone’s head obscuring the view?   You’re there, so be there.  It’s also mighty annoying when you shove your screen in front of my face so that I have to watch through it too.  *breathes deeply* Sorry for the rant there…

I’ll leave you with this, my favourite from last night and because who doesn’t love a bit of slide guitar?  Enjoy..

The Reading Room

Reading, Reading, Reading – you will always hold a special place in my heart as you were my first.  Twice.  My first festival experience as a wide eyed 17 year old and then 20 years later you were my first festival experience as, well, a wiser but ultimately still 17 year old in a 37 year old body.

Tickets Please!

Tickets Please!

My girls spent the week with my Mum & Dad so off we went on Friday morning – I missed not going down on the thursday but that extra full night of sleep was appreciated!  As last year we booked a tent that was already up and ready for us. What I didn’t know was that my husband had booked us a slightly different one this year, not for us the 2 man tent, no, no, no – we had this little beauty from podpads.

Our home for the weekend

Our home for the weekend

There was room to stash our stuff under our little camp bed and (joy of joys) I could stand up to get dressed!  Free tea, coffee and biscuits and there was somewhere to charge your phone too – handy, as mine ran out of battery on fri night!  Super friendly and helpful guys and gals running it all too.  We had this rather pretty looking van selling breakfast too – the best egg & bacon roll I’ve had in a long time!

A welcome addition

A welcome addition

My favourite thing about a festival, or indeed gig for that matter, is that all the baggage, bulls**t and ego get left at the front gate, everyone is there on equal terms for the same reason.  You can forget about responsibilities of the outside world and just be…  That, and it’s the only time bar stag & hen do’s that it’s acceptable to have alcohol for breakfast!

This is not going to be a blow by blow review of every act we saw but just an outline with highlights and surprises…

Friday – Bastille on the BBCR1 Introducing stage doing a 3 song “secret” set *winks and taps nose*, Night Engine, Kodaline, Parquet Courts, Shappi Khorsandi, Peace, Frank Turner, couldn’t get into Bastille, The Strypes, what appeared to be a twerking contest, Fenech-Soler, Chvrches, a bit of Green day then off to our tent – managed to miss Skrillex *sad face* – highlights for me were Fenech-Soler, Peace & Frank Turner.

Saturday – “Secret” set from The 1975, Willy Moon, Jagwa Ma, Johnny Marr, Foals, Chase & Status, Tim Burgess, Lucy Rose, Jake Bugg, 1 or 2 from Eminem, Alt-J.  Lots of running from stage to stage and still managed to miss out on Palma Violets, Imagine Dragons and British Sea Power – highlights were Jagwa Ma, Tim Burgess doing the most beautiful stripped down version of The Only One I Know, the size of the crowd for Eminem and getting kudos from some young dude for our proximity to the front! Lucy Rose was magical but top prize goes to Alt-J.

Sunday – Wretch 32 on the “secret” stage, Alunageorge, Stephen K Amos, Editors, Haim, a film of Nirvana live at the Paramount, Nine Inch Nails, Biffy Clyro, Phoenix and then back to Biffy Clyro.  I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t really too familiar with NiN but the tracks he did at the beginning really appealed to me, quite trance-y and not at all what I was expecting.  Haim were better than their records which I love, Phoenix impressed and Biffy Clyro were as expected and a great end to another great weekend.

Festival Essentials

Once again, this year I’m off to Reading Festival with my husband.  It’ll be just the 2 of us (yay!) and it’s the most full-on, crazy but, weirdly at the same time, relaxing weekend we have all year.  We use it as our little holiday away from the real world and all the pressures that go with real life.

I’m not always known for my capability to rough it, despite having backpacked round South East Asia in 1998 in sometimes less than sanitary conditions.  I’m all for getting stuck in and adapting to my surroundings but have learnt to take a few luxury items to make the experience a nice one.

I’m not going to state the obvious *wellies, loo roll, ibuprofen etc* but a couple of little things that take up no room in your bag and will make you feel nice..

My Essentials

My Essentials

First and foremost I’m packing these lovely facial wipes from Neal’s Yard Remedies – a quick flick with these bad boys and your face is clean even if the rest of you isn’t!  I always follow this by a serum and this one (again from NYR) will make sure that I look like I’ve had a full nights sleep, when we both know that won’t happen!

Ear plugs and an eye mask are the other essentials that I didn’t take last year but will be for sure this time.

Ooh, one final thing that will be popped into the rucksack is the discovery that my favourite leading supermarket now stock a pre-mixed can of Jack Daniels and Ginger – how refreshing does that sound?!

*DISCLAIMER* – this is not a sponsored post but I feel that I should share that I am an Independent Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic.

Bloomin’ love all the products – just so as you know!

A Wave of Awesomeness and No Jam

This is a very long overdue post.  Waaaay back at the beginning of May, myself and the husband tootled up the motorway to Birmingham O2 to see Alt-J ∆ – (if you’re interested, the setlist can be found here).  There were 2 support bands, Hundred Waters (who we pretty much missed but the last track was good with Bjork style breathy vocals and synths) and Princess Chelsea ( I was taught that if you have nothing good to say then don’t say anything……….)

Alt-J themselves were just as I had expected and it was a joy to hear the album live, although due to the amount of background chatter it was hard to hear much.  I don’t understand why people pay to go and see a band and then stand and chat all the way through, just stick the album on at home people! *eye-roll*

My favourite track of the night was one of the cover tracks which is a mash up of Kylie and Dr Dre – no, really – it happened.

At the end of May we popped up to Birmingham again, this time to see Lucy Rose at the tiny venue that is the Library at The Institute – I think it was about 300 capacity and as always was such a privilege to see live music at such close quarters. Lucy has such a beautiful voice (you may have heard her backing vocals on Bombay Bicycle Club albums) and her band are amazing.  There was a much more funky feel to the gig than on the album and she played some new tracks which sounded great. She had some really good banter with us all too.

At both these gigs, it was rare that there was no tall or wide people in front of me *nod of approval* but the thing that struck me was that no-one danced or even jigged along.  I did at Alt-J but there was literally no-one near me even nodding in time at Lucy Rose so I refrained.  Maybe it stems back to my old skool raving days but music of any kind just makes me want to move…just me?…OK then….

This was my favourite track

You might be wondering what the No Jam in the title could possibly refer to… At her gigs, Lucy sells the usual t-shirts and bags and also her own blend of tea called Builders Grey (2 parts English Breakfast and 1 part Earl Grey) and homemade jam. Those of you who know me will know that this really appealed to me so, I queued up but there was only the large t-shirts left, and no jam…

Joy All Around

The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable

 

It’s not often that I am rendered speechless, but last night I had to take a moment for my head to compute what I had just experienced.

Last night, myself and my fellow gig buddies went to The Roundhouse.  I think I may have uttered the word ‘Wow’ walking into the room – if you get the chance, please go – it’s a phenomenal venue.  *Here’s the history bit* It was built in 1846 and was originally an engine repair shed hence the roundness – I’ll be honest, I’m using Chuggington as my point of reference here – if you have small children, you’ll know!

We were there to see The Joy Formidable.  More on them in a minute, firstly I need to tell you about the support bands.  Night Engine and Kill It Kid.  Boy, were we spoiled by these two bands.  The former had heavy Bowie influences with their own twist and the latter a really interesting blues rock sound.  Their name suited them well, they killed it *there was no killing of kids – just to clarify*  Check them both out if you get the chance…

Then Matt, Rhydian and Ritzy took to the stage with an infectious burst of energy.  I loved the sideways facing drum kit – complete with gong and I really love Ritzy’s style – would love to take a shopping trip with her!  She has a lovely way of interacting with the crowd.  The said crowd was really up for it and needless to say, the tallest man in the room made a beeline to stand in front of me *every goddam time*.  It was the most hectic and beautiful hour and a half (ish) – we had made it to the front and were right in the centre of the pit – I emerged covered in beer and the sweat of young men feeling ever-so slightly battered and bruised but the most exhilarated I’ve felt in a while.  On the tube, all 3 of us sat in silence just slowing working through the brilliance of the evening – I’d like to say thank you…

The setlist is here if you’re into that sort of thing.

I leave you with this, my favourite track of the night.

This Ladder Is Ours

The Joy Formidable – C’est Formidable!  *I’m sorry, couldn’t help myself*