Tag Archives: concerts

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 Pile Of Ironing Or Is It?…..

tshirt3

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding doing the household ironing a chore.

If I had a £1 for every time I’ve declared that we should all join a nudist colony or surmised that half of the neighbours in the street must be putting their laundry in my basket, then I’d be a rich girl!

Let’s be honest – ironing is not the most scintillating of tasks.

I’ll confess to being more than a little OCD about the weekly mountain of creased clothing.

Household rule is that “if it isn’t ironed on Sunday then it can wait until next week”.

Yes, unless by rare exception, I only iron once a week.

I’m beyond fussy when it comes to what order things get ironed in, what hanger they get hung on and about the way T-shirts are folded.

OK – I’m a nightmare and a tad on the weird side of normal about it all. I know! I know!

However, last Sunday, as I was ironing one of Boy Child’s favourite band T-shirts, for at least the hundredth time, I realised that the weekly ironing marathon can actually be a pleasant trip down memory lane.

The T-shirt that triggered this thought was Boy Child’s Alter Bridge shirt. He got it when we went to see them in Oct 2013 when they played the newly opened SSE Hydro. It was an amazing show. The first time I was fortunate enough to hear Myles Kennedy sing live and, yes, I saw that “infamous bee attack” (although I still think it was big fly or a blue bottle).

As I ironed Boy Child’s Black Label Society shirt a smile crept across my lips as I remembered watching Zack Wylde on stage in Glasgow’s O2 ABC in his kilt! What a sight!!

A similar thought was triggered as I ironed Boy Child’s Rival Sons shirt from their 2015 show at Glasgow’s O2 Academy. They too wore kilts. Scott Holiday knows how to rock a kilt and a leather jacket! They too played a blinding set that night. Love to listen to the Jay-bird sing.

I ironed Girl Child’s Slash T-shirt and recalled how happy she had looked posing for photos backstage at the SSE Hydro in Dec 2014 when we were lucky enough to meet the Conspirators and Myles Kennedy. She was glowing with happiness that night, especially when she met Frank Sidoris. What’s not to like? He’s cute and adorable and that hair of his smelled amazing! Happy and oh so precious memories!

I ironed Boy Child’s Ghost shirt and yet again marvelled at the fact I’d taken “communion” on the rail at a rock show. Bizarre memories!

Girl Child’s Nothing More shirt resurrected bittersweet memories. I originally bought the shirt for myself but gave it to Girl Child to try to compensate for two drunk female rock fans ruining an otherwise fantastic night for her. Nothing More were incredible that night in Barrowlands and played one of the most energetic sets I’ve seen.

I ironed my own Black Stone Cherry shirt from the recent Carnival of Madness show in Glasgow. More happy memories of a brilliant show and of a hilarious drive home.

It wasn’t just band merchandise that caused me to reminisce. Boy Child’s now very worn and slightly holey white Aeropostale shirt brought back holiday memories of time spent in the USA with family. Precious memories on many levels.

I could go on but I’ll spare you the rest of my laundry list but you get the idea.

I’d like to say, as the pile grows steadily again, that I’m looking forward to another trip down memory lane next Sunday but that might just be stretching a point.

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

The Opening Night of Gig Season 2016 – the Carnival of Madness pt 1

 

 

Well it had to happen at some point soon – gig season  has begun and I headed out to play once more!

No train to Glasgow this time though. I got to enjoy the luxury of being chauffeured and chaperoned by a friend, who for the purposes of this tale, we’ll call Four.

Our destination for the evening?

 We were heading for the Carnival of Madness at the SSE Hydro.

The plan was that we would drive to Glasgow’s Science Centre, meet up with Boy Child and Facebook Son then walk over to the venue.

Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts as Storm Henry battered Scotland, we made it to the Science Centre on time, found the two boys, who had made a mad dash across Glasgow from uni, and headed across the footbridge towards the Hydro.

The wind whistling up the River Clyde would’ve cut you in two and it was a chilly few minutes as we queued to get in. Colder for the two boys who were out in t-shirts! Weans!

It was a relief to finally get inside and out of the icy wind.

Cue a whirlwind search for “dinner” for Four (I’m not convinced a bag of Kettle chips qualifies as dinner) and a quick trip to the merchandise stall for me.( Yes I know I didn’t need another shirt) Boy Child and Facebook Son prepared to abandon us once more as they went off  in search of two of their friends (Bread Boy and his long suffering girlfriend). With a rendezvous point agreed for later, we left them to it and headed into the bowl.

Opening band Highly Suspect were already on stage. I had really been looking forward to hearing them as I love their debut album. (I’ve already reviewed this show on my music blog https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com  but perhaps can be a little more candid here among friends) We’d missed two out of Highly Suspect’s six songs but, from what I heard, I was bitterly disappointed. They looked and sounded way out of their depth. I enjoyed their performance of Lydia but it fell flat with the small crowd. A Glasgow audience is a tough gig in itself. During their final song, the lead singer “gobbed” on stage. My stomach heaved! That’s a pet hate of mine and is quite simply a disgusting thing to do, especially on stage. Totally anti-social!

During the interval, I spotted Boy Child over to my right and the “mummy” in me relaxed a bit. (He’s not got a good track record of coming out of shows intact) Four and I were safely positioned to the left hand side as you looked up at the stage and were about three rows off the barrier. Perfect.

As ever though, my record for being beside the extra wide or extra tall rock fans remained intact. Before Halestorm took to the stage Mr Short and Wide moved out, heading for the bar, and never to return, much to the annoyance of the two girls who were waiting for the drink he had promised to bring back. I wasn’t complaining.

Halestorm are one of my favourite live bands and this was the fifth time that I’d been fortunate enough to see them live. They delivered a fantastic forty-five minute set, cramming in nine songs plus Arejay’s shortened acrobatic drum solo. The sound wasn’t perfect and it blighted a couple of songs but, as ever, Lzzy owned the stage and had the swelling crowd hanging on her every note.

Next up were Shinedown, another band close to my heart. I’ve seen them twice before and have been listening to them for the better part of ten years. If there’s one band that re-ignited my love of rock music, it was these guys. Through them I discovered Alter Bridge and Myles Kennedy and the rest, as they say, is history…..

Shinedown’s stage crew set up the stage as though they were to headline the show. Also cue the most bizarre PA tape being played between sets that I’ve ever heard- fifteen minutes of a meditation tape. It killed the energy in the room that’s for sure!

To my immediate right, I now had possibly the tallest guy in the entire venue. I kid you not, the top of my head barely reached his shoulders and my nose was level with his elbow.  No, I’m not a total midget. I’m 5’ 3” but this guy had to be at least 6’ 6” or taller!

Finally, the lights dimmed and Shinedown were in the room. Like Halestorm, they too had forty five minutes or thereabouts to entertain and woo the fans. There is no doubting that Brent Smith is a charismatic front man and an incredible vocalist but something was just a bit “off”.  There’s been criticism online that he’s resorting to auto tune to support his live performances and open accusations of miming. I’ll refrain from commenting and reserve judgement but something didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps it was the “new look” with the baseball cap and shades. That cap never left his head and his face was constantly shielded by it. Oh, I can’t put my finger on it but it’s bugging me!

They played a fantastic set. I love watching bass player, Eric Bass. That guy’s insane! Zach Myers is cute and adorable and talented but he spent most of his time on the far side of the stage from where we were standing. Barry Kerch on drums was presiding from on high, dreads flowing freely.

Mid-set Brent instructed the crowd to part in the middle, creating a path for him and Zach Myers to walk through. The crowd split to our right but all I actually saw was the tops of their heads as they made their way front to back, shaking hands. A nice gesture if you’re the headliners; a waste of precious time if you only have less than an hour to shine.

For me the crowd shuffle resulted in Mr 6’ 6” moving in front of me. My view of the stage diminished for the remainder of the set. Typical!

All in all, I love Shinedown, really enjoyed their performance and would be front of the queue to see them headline a show. As a support act, they frustrate the hell out of me! They played Simple Man, one of my all-time favourite songs and somewhat redeemed themselves …..until next time.

By now it was about 8:50pm. Headliners Black Stone Cherry were due out at 9:25pm. Plenty of time for a comfort break…or so I thought! Four darted off, promising to return shortly and he assured me before he left that he knew where we were standing. The minutes ticked by…

Like most of the other folk around me I checked my phone for messages and updates.

Randomly Girl Child was messaging me wanting me to make her a cup of tea….strange child!

Time ticked on… No sign of Four returning. Hmmmm…..

Suddenly, in front of me, Mr 6’ 6” began to wobble then collapsed, out cold, in a heap on the floor. He’d fainted! Security staff and the surrounding fans swiftly lifted him over the barrier and he was carried off for medical attention. I hope the guy was ok but his sudden departure meant I could actually see the stage again. Then it dawned on me…if Four had been using him as a landmark he was now somewhat stuffed.

Eventually I messaged him to see if he’d got lost. I was relieved when he replied, explaining though that he was stuck some ten feet behind me. He couldn’t find a way through and, in fairness, the standing arena was tightly packed near the front. At least I knew he was ok so I could relax a bit. (Yes, I’m a serial worrier and the “mummy” in me feels responsible for the entire group when we are out, regardless of their age.)

Right on time, the lights dimmed, the curtain fell and Black Stone Cherry were live on stage. They delivered an incredible set! This was the fourth time I’d seen them and I think it was best I’ve seen them play so far. Ben Wells is an incredibly energetic guitarist, barely staying still for a second. This energy is rubbing off on bassist Jon Lawhorn, who was also covering a lot of ground on stage.

About twenty minutes in, a white spotlight was trained on the crowd about ten feet directly behind me. Something had happened in the crowd. I’m not sure if it was another fainter or if it was a scuffle. Chris Robertson commented from the stage that he hoped the guy was ok.

Cue another few moments of irrational panic as I fretted whether it was Boy Child, Facebook Son or Four who had been involved. (I know, several thousand folk to choose from etc etc…it’s the mummy in me!) A wave of calm washed over me as I reasoned there was nothing I could about it as I was well and truly stuck where I was.

Every time I’ve seen these boys from Kentucky, Chris Robertson has sung straight from the heart. This show was no exception.

After John Fred’s amazingly mind blowing drum solo (he is probably my favourite drummer), Chris stepped out on stage alone to perform a solo acoustic version of Things My Father Said. He openly confessed to being scared. The audience took him to their hearts and sang proudly along with him. A beautiful, raw, honest and powerful performance. Love love loved it!

A second acoustic song, The Rambler, followed with Ben Wells joining Chris on stage. Stunning song that has stirred my excitement about their forthcoming album, Kentucky.

The fabulous Lzzy Hale joined them for Peace Is free a few minutes later. It was great to see the band all looking as though they were enjoying themselves as much as the fans.

 Blame It On The Boom Boom rounded off the main body of the set and Black Stone Cherry left the stage.

Within seconds, the capacity crowd was begging for “one more f*%king song”

The boys from Kentucky didn’t disappoint. They played two!

A Black Stone Cherry show always ends with Lonely Train. The fans lapped it up! This was followed by a colossal version of Ace of Spades, a touching tribute to the late great Lemmy.

And that was it. Ninety minutes gone in the blink of an eye. Picks were flicked out into the crowd. John Fred hurled a handful of sticks to the fans. The lights came up and the fans began to troop out of the arena.

I was extremely relieved to locate the AWOL Four within a minute or two. One down, two to go.

As arranged we met Boy Child and Facebook Son at the door (and I finally got that comfort break!) then as a group we headed back to the car.

The storm hadn’t abated so “blown back to the car” may be more appropriate but at least it wasn’t raining…yet. After the heat of the venue the cool air was most welcome for the first minute or two.

By the time we were driving out of the car park the heavens had opened.

Judging by the buzz and hilarity during the blustery journey home, I guess the night had been a success all round. There’s a whole other story that could be told here about that journey back but I’ll save it to spare any blushes….but I really didn’t fancy a late night detour via Kilmarnock!

Me – I was tired and happy. Happy to see the others happy but also happy that it had been a fantastic night. Gig season 2016 has certainly opened in style.

And inwardly, I was smiling that I get to do it all again in a few days, in another city, with Girl Child…..but that’s a tale for next week.

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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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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!

To Go Or Not To Go? – There She Goes Again!

To go or not to go – that was the question trundling through my head at the start of last week.

None of my usual partners in crime were showing the slightest sniff of interest.

If I went, I’d have to go alone. Was that even “normal”? (That particular thought lasted a split second as normal doesn’t usually apply!)

Logic – if I didn’t go then I would spend Thursday evening sulking and wishing I had. If I did go and it didn’t turn out too well then I’d wasted my money and given my detractors ammunition to last until Christmas.

Well, you only live once. So I decided to go!

Those of you who have been following my posts should’ve figured out by now where this is heading.

The cause of my great deliberation was, of course, another gig. This time it was The Quireboys 30th Anniversary gig at The Garage, Glasgow.

I loved their first album – still do – and have loved their last two but I have never seen them live. The latest CD came with a live CD and a DVD. Both of these are great but did leave me slightly concerned that this 30th Anniversary tour may involve just too much beer, if you catch my drift.

At the end of the day, there was only one way to find out. Cue another log in to Ticketmaster and Hey Presto once more I held a concert ticket in my hands.

This was going to be a first on two levels. First Quireboys show but also the first gig I’d gone to on my own – unchaperoned!

As I boarded the train, I have to admit it felt a little odd heading off into the darkness without at least one of my usual chaperones. Being the creature of habit that I am, once off the train, I set off in search of caffeine to fuel me for the evening. Sitting in iCafe on Sauchiehall St on my own, I watched the world go by as I topped up my caffeine levels. It was beautifully peaceful and relaxed.

Outside the venue, shortly before seven, I joined the end of the short queue that had formed. There were a couple of familiar faces ahead of me that I recognised from other recent gigs. Once inside, and after a quick stop at the merchandising stall to purchase the obligatory t-shirt (slightly disappointed at the lack of choice and that the only shirt on sale didn’t have the tour dates on the back), I headed into the hall and wandered leisurely up to the barrier. Standing there with no concert buddy beside me felt weird but then the first band stepped out on stage and all thoughts of being unchaperoned vanished. I was soon lost in the brilliant opening set by Irish band Preachers Son- highly recommend them!

Behind me the hall was filling up nicely.

The Vargas Blues Band were on next and I have to slip into “girlie mode” for a moment. I’d kill for their lead singer’s hair! Long thick blonde curls. Why do the guys always get the best hair? He was a blur of hair for most of their set as he lost himself in their music and danced in his own hair encased world. Another really great band worth checking out.

By the end of their set, the hall was suitably filled. It wasn’t getting any warmer, mind you! The hall was decidedly chilly- another first for a gig!

As the earlier caffeine had worked its way through the system, I abandoned my barrier position and made my way through the crowd to the ladies room, bumping into two colleagues from work en route. Surprisingly, I was able to return to my previous vantage point with no problems. Now, however, there was a familiar face standing behind me. A FB friend and Scotland’s biggest Massive fan had arrived with his friend. It was great to meet them both and to have some company for The Quireboys set.

Shortly before nine The Quireboys took to the stage. And so began an hour and three quarters of good fun RnFnR J

Yes, Spike had his pint of beer to hand on occasion but, from the spark of mischief in his eyes, he was having as much fun as the crowd were. He sang. We sang. He forgot the lyrics at one point. We sang the correct lyrics back – much to his great amusement.

Hearing “7 O’clock” round off their main set made me regret never having been to a Quireboys show before.

Their encore ended with a rousing rendition of “Sex Party” and, with an anxious glance at my watch, I realised I was tight for time to get back to the station to catch the train home. With a hurried farewell to my fellow Massive fan, I shot off through the crowd and into the night. (Not quite Cinderella trying to beat the stroke of midnight as I kept both Converse on but you get the picture!)

With my mother’s words of warning about staying away from dimly lit streets and not talking to strangers echoing through my head, I trotted briskly back to the sanctuary of the Central Station, catching the train home with time to spare to buy a much needed bottle of water and a cereal bar aka dinner.

As I sat on the train flicking through the photos from the evening, I reflected on my deliberations of earlier in the week.

To go or not to go? Hell, yes! And I can’t wait to go back again when they return next year!

Quireboys collage

The Night That Was Meant To Be

Ever get the feeling that some things are just meant to be? Perhaps it’s fate. Perhaps it’s luck.

A few months back I secured tickets to a concert that I felt sure was going to be “the one” that would realise a lifelong dream for me. (Well, twenty seven years long to be exact so not quite lifelong)

I was wrong.

A little over two weeks ago, a show was announced that was to be held in a small Glasgow venue on 7th November and would be for fans only. Pre-registration via the artist’s website was required in order to qualify for a code that would then allow you to attempt to purchase a maximum of two tickets. In my excitement and haste, I screwed up my registration. I realised my error less than thirty minutes before registration closed. Too late.

The lack of an email landing with a mythical code confirmed my error.

Gutted doesn’t begin to cover it.

Tickets went on sale the next day at 10am. From reports online there were technical glitches with the codes and subsequent sales. Lacking the necessary code I could only sit back and watch my fellow fans try to secure their golden tickets.

Ok , let’s be honest here, I sat back and sulked quietly, trying to console myself that I would get to realise the dream on 4th Dec.

Tickets were duly snapped up and I genuinely thought that was an end to it.

A glimmer of hope emerged around Tuesday lunchtime when a fellow fan hooked me up with another fan who had details of an unused code. There were rumours of balcony seats still being available. However, despite my best efforts online and via phone, I failed to secure tickets.

Gutted for a second time in five days.

Still sulking (big time by now) I was watching TV on Tuesday night, idly playing around on social media on my phone. A post by the artist caught my eye. There were limited tickets left! All I had to do was email the address quoted in the post. You’ve never seen an email sent so fast in your life!

Lady Luck was smiling on me and within ten minutes, amidst much screaming for joy, I held two tickets for the 7th November show in my trembling hands.

All day Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, I silently fretted that perhaps it had been a hoax. Worried that the tickets were fake and I’d been de-frauded out of my £20 and my credit card details. (Blame the paranoia on all the years spent working in a fraud team)

Even on the Friday evening on the train, chaperoned by Boy Child, I was doubting that this was real.

As I stood in the lengthening queue outside the venue, watching Boy Child chitter with cold in his t-shirt and jeans (yes, bad rock mum let him out without a jacket), I doubted that it was really real.

It was only once we’d cleared security (Boy was it tight!), entered the hall and I was standing in front of the merchandising stall that I allowed myself to believe that it might actually be happening.

Lady Luck was still keeping an eye on me as we took our places, two rows off the barrier slightly to the left of centre stage. Almost my ideal spot in the hall.

So who was I there to see? Who had I waited all these years to see play live?

The one and only – Slash.

Ever since I bought “Appetite For Destruction” on vinyl when it was first released, I’ve wanted to see him in concert.

I guess everything does come to she who waits. And, in true recent concert going for, shows are like buses – two have come along at once!

After a fabulous ninety minute set from Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro, which literally saw me swept off my feet by the crush in the crowd, my dream was only thirty short minutes away.

Boy Child had his eyes set on the mayhem that lies in front of centre stage and, with my nervous blessing, disappeared off into the crowd in the hope of finding a mosh pit. He did.

Standing in front of me was a young man in a checked shirt, who turned round and said, “If I stand here you’re not going to be able to see, are you?”

My reply was, “No and I’ve waited twenty seven years to see this guy live.”

His face was a picture and, in the perfect act of chivalry, he gave up his spot for me. Thank you, young sir!

Now I was one row off the barrier with a perfect view of the stage.

A creepy freak show intro played, closely followed by a blaze of lights, then there he was. Dream come true – Slash was on stage in full view playing “You’re A Lie”.

And the icing on the cake was that Myles Kennedy was out on stage doing the vocal chores! The cherries on this particular “rock” cake were, of course, the Conspirators themselves – Todd Kerns, Frank Sidoris and Brent Fitz.

For ninety minutes, I was held utterly spellbound as my dream became a beautiful reality. The mother in me did start to fret a little as the crowd surfing began and, with my heart in my mouth, I watched for Boy Child appearing over the crowd. Whew!-he didn’t…this time.

Hearing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” played live for the first time was incredible. A moment that will live with me for a long time. That song is possibly my all-time favourite song). Seeing Slash coax his numerous solos out of his guitar was stunning. Watching Myles strut his stuff alongside the super talented Conspirators was breath taking.

Only as the show came to a close with the wonderful “Paradise City” and I, along with everyone and everything in the building, was showered in confetti did I truly believe that all around me was real.

The dream had come true.

And, to return to the cake analogy, this rock chick is allowed, on this one occasion, to have her cake and eat it, as I am now counting down the days until 4th December when I get to live the dream all over again.

Some nights are just meant to be.

SMKC collage

A Smokin’ Girls Night Out

This week the third bus – sorry concert- came along and in its own way this one was extra special.

This one fell the day after one of my best friend’s birthdays. Over the years (almost forty of them) we’ve laughed together,cried together, got drunk together and worked together  many times but, apart from a few musical evenings in the local pub way back in the day pre-children, we’ve never been to a gig together. I’ll be honest, it’s never crossed my mind to suggest it before now. However this one came along at an opportune time and seemed to be the perfect solution to the annual birthday present dilemma. (This particular friend has a habit of saying “I don’t know” when you ask what she would like as a gift. A habit that earned her a gift of a small box with “I don’t know” neatly written on a piece of paper inside it on one occasion)

I was secretly thrilled when she said she’d like to come along.

And the band of choice? – Blackberry Smoke, a southern/country rock band from Atlanta, Georgia.

Thursday, concert day, was one of those days where anything that could go wrong did. All thoughts of a relaxing day off work before heading out for the evening went up in smoke! By the time I picked my friend up, I was a frazzled wreck, running late (which for those who know me is a rarity and a national disaster in my book) and completely and utterly harassed. Somehow we made it to the station in time for our train and I collapsed into the seat with a sigh of relief.

As the train pulled out of the station we both left the stresses and strains of our real lives behind us for a few hours.

The venue for the evening yet again was Glasgow’s O2 ABC (think I’ve got a season ticket for it!) and, after a very welcome, very strong caffeine fix at my usual haunt across the street, we joined a very long queue to get in.  One that snaked up one of the steepest streets in Glasgow. The show was Sold Out. A beautiful thing.

As we climbed the stairs to the larger of the two halls, I debated silently with myself about where we should aim to stand. Near the front? (Neither of us are particularly tall so front is good) Near the back? (Perhaps less crowded and more personal space)

Over our coffees, my friend had confessed to never having stood at a rock show before and to never really having been to one either. Her education has been sadly lacking in this area but I’ll take some of the blame for that.

I guided her over to the merchandising stall and treated her to a purple Blackberry Smoke T-shirt to celebrate the loss of her concert virginity!

There was still space just off the barrier, so in for a penny in for a pound as they say, and we took our places.

The support act for the evening totally blew me away. It was Aaron Keylock, an extremely talented young blues guitarist. He’s been on the professional blues circuit for about four years according to his website bio. Doubly impressive when you realise he’s only 16 years old. Jimmy Page, watch your back! Dressed in vibrant purple corduroy flares and with a body like the gable end of a £5 pound note, this talented young man had me mesmerised for his entire half hour set. I only wish I’d bought his CD at the merchandise stall. Next time!

Bang on eight thirty, and after a mad dash through the 1300 strong crowd to the little girl’s room (sorry to anyone I may have trodden on or elbowed) I re-took my place beside my friend. The lights dimmed. The curtains glided back. Cue the start of ninety minutes of high class southern rock. We sang. We clapped along (well, as best as I could considering I have precious little sense of rhythm!) Both of us loved every minute of it, as did the other 1300 folk around us.

When the evening came to an end, as all good things must, the lights came up and we began to make our way to the exit. Everyone around us seemed relaxed and smiling. It really had been a great feel good show.

When we were almost at the door I found myself behind two concert-goers who had obviously enjoyed themselves. In front of me, along with their humans, were two guide dogs. From the tail whipping that my knees took, those pooches had enjoyed Blackberry Smoke as much as everyone else. Humbling.

I wonder if their favourite song of the night was “Sleepin’ Dogs”?

Blackberry Smoke collage