Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Greater Expense

Isn’t it funny how you can write about something and then just two short days later things can be completely different? Perhaps it would be better to say that things aren’t completely different but thought processes have changed and thoughts previously expressed may now be different. This is in relation to my “50 word preview” that I did in the last post. I had a fantastic plan all laid out for my trip to Milton Keynes to see Foo Fighters. I had the hotel sorted and the trains planned. I even had started to work out the cheapest way to get to and from London. And then shit hit the fan. I should have realised this would happen but for some reason I didn’t. The hotel price doubled. This meant that my costs went to this:

Ticket: £46.50 (+fees so probably £55-56)
Hotel Room: £60
Train between MK and London: £10 (possibly £7 but for sake of maths, £10)
Travel between Portsmouth and London: £5 (at least)
Travel between Waterloo & Euston: £4-8

So suddenly my plan had an extra £30 tacked onto it which in itself isn’t a massive amount of money but it just made this trip somehow not seem worth it. The worst case scenario of what I’ve listed above costs £155.30. It cost me £162.50 to go to Sonisphere this year without travel. Seriously, I’d love to see Foo Fighters, but even if the trip cost £120, I could save a little more and go to a festival (or spend £25 less and go to Bloodstock). There is a lifeline for me seeing Foos, but it’s still being discussed (sort of). If it happens it happens, if not then it doesn’t (same with anything really). It just occurred to me if I spent £80 more I could go to, and fly to Wacken. That is just nuts. I really want to go to Wacken again but I’m cautious about going to a festival by myself, especially a foreign one! I am facing the prospect of a festival alone next year but I’d like to dip my toe in the water and go to a UK festival alone first I think. Sonisphere sounds good again but obviously everything is hanging on a good lineup. Speaking of festivals, the first announcement was made for Hard Rock Calling 2011. Bon Jovi is headlining the Saturday night which is an awesome announcement. I fully intend to go sit in Hyde Park (not spending £60+) and listening to Bon Jovi. They’ve not announced any other bands but I fully expect them to announce Elton John as the Friday headliner (he’s doing 2 shows at the end of June which take over the Saturday/Sunday of that weekend, so if he wants to do 3 dates in a row, it could work).

Few small thoughts

• Sticking on the theme of music, I first heard of a CD that is due out in just over a week which seemed interesting. Ray Davies is re-releasing a number of The Kinks songs with help from some other bands. I first heard about this CD because Metallica put it on their mailing list that they’d done the song. I didn’t know it was for the CD but I figured that they’d release the single and that would be that. But they’ve done a whole series of these CDs and by the sounds of it, it seems really good. The bits of the song Metallica did (“you really got me”) sounds great as well which does help.

See Album Cover here!

• The black cloud of betting has lifted ever so briefly and allowed me to win a £15 bet and a £2 bet. That was nice because both bets won as a result of Portsmouth beating Nottingham Forest. All in all, that was a win moment. However, it could be back in place if Blackpool can’t beat West Brom. Come on Blackpool!

• “Lebanon has claimed the record for the world’s biggest wine glass, which can hold an incredible one hundred bottles. (Sky News)” I have one question – why?

• A US college will offer a full-time course studying Lady GaGa, it has been revealed. Students at the University of South Carolina will be able to take 'Lady GaGa and the Sociology of Fame' next semester, The New York Times reports. It focuses on what makes someone famous and what it means in today's culture. (Digital Spy). I have one question – why? In a slight extension of that thought, I feel that the “Sociology of Fame” could have the potential to be a fascinating unit of study if handled correctly – but focusing this course on Lady Gaga just puts it in the category of stupid degree and college courses. I still talk about the UK University that offered a degree in the study of David Beckham – I mean just saying it (or typing it in this case) makes me think “what the fuck!” I struggled to find a job in this country and I have a sensible degree. I’d said disparaging remarks about other courses but in all seriousness – if I was interviewing someone and saw they had a degree where one of the units was this one in question that would be a deal breaker for me. Am I alone in thinking that?

I have no 50 word Previews or Reviews for this post. I also have no quotes either. So I’ll start doing Soundtrack of the Post.

Soundtrack of the Post – Metallica – Load. (would Unload be a good name for a Metallica album?)

Friday, 29 October 2010

Hallowhat?

Before starting on the topic of this blog, I’d just like to say I have renewed the domain for this site for the next two years. 2 more years of talking, ranting and reviewing – won’t that be fun for you all? Wait, please don’t leave! Anyway...

Maybe I just don’t get it? Maybe I have almost reached the age of 24 and have lost the ability to embrace the concept of other people seeking fun from something of which I’ve never really understood. No, I’m not talking about X Factor this time, but I am talking about Halloween. Halloween is fast turning into Christmas in this country. No, not a day off work but a weekend sometimes a week of people dressing up like tits proclaiming to be children of a fictitious devil (ok there are some differences between Halloween and Christmas). I guess what I’m getting at is that Halloween seems to get longer every year. You can buy Halloween stuff at the end of September, club nights run Halloween nights on nights that aren’t Halloween and people have house parties all around Halloween. Speaking of club nights, one I used to go to called Chaos takes advantage of this time of year. They make no changes to the actual club other than maybe putting different shit on the walls and change the music ever so slightly. But they charge £6 to get in as opposed to £5 and drinks are still £3. Being charged more for seemingly no benefit seems like a rip off (if anything, it would be negative for me because I’d either have to dress up and look a tit or deal with people asking “hey man, why aren’t you dressed up?” all fucking night!)

I just do not get the need for Halloween. Christmas is one of the last remnants of Christianity in UK society (that and Sunday Trading Laws) but there is no reason for this country to do anything when it comes to Halloween. Yes, there is some historical basis to the festival but spending a fair amount of money to dress up differently on 3 different nights of the weekend just to celebrate a day which means nothing just doesn’t make sense to me. If someone can clear up why you should dress up then please tell me because I just don’t know if there’s a reason (I would say there is no reason but I don’t know for sure). Shops have to put up signs saying they won’t sell eggs and flour to people under 16 over Halloween – the same under 16yr olds which if the media is to be believed, are all carrying knives anyway! I’d rather face a 15yr old who had eggs than one who had a knife (just saying....). I’ve also never got trick or treating. This thought process might just be an extension of my upbringing but I never went trick or treating, and my parents used to tape the letterbox up just in case. I just don’t see the point in dressing up like a zombie clown and walking door to door asking for shit from people you don’t know. One day it’ll end up badly and you’ll knock on the wrong door and the person will give you something you don’t want – a raping. Now I don’t know the etiquette of trick or treat...but I’m prepared to wager that wouldn’t be either!

Halloween for me is a waste of time. So what is the answer? Do we just ignore it and pretend like it never happened or do we start a counter movement? I think it’s time to start the Anti-Halloween movement. By movement, it takes no work to support it. An Anti-Halloween party is a party. Nothing special, no real effort required for it. You don’t stand in a house looking like a cunt which surely is a plus! Maybe I’m a killjoy – I dunno

50 word preview: Foo Fighters have announced dates at Milton Keynes Bowl. Fantastic news for me! I haven’t managed to see them yet so this will be good. It also provides the chance for me to do something cool next year. Just got to book ticket, hotel and travel etc- could be win!

50 word review: Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster was really quite boring. The music was good but it was very samey. It was also not good for people such as me, who don’t really know much about the band. Also, go take more drugs before a show because that probably helps. They looked fucked!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Pompey Pains, Hangovers and Capital Trips

Oh Portsmouth,
My only Portsmouth,
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know just how much I love you
Please don’t take my Portsmouth away...

This was a concept which as a Pompey fan was in a very small place in our minds. If I’m honest with myself, the thought that Pompey could go out of business was a small thought in the back of my mind but never really given any serious considerations. There was even talk that a deal was in place and just needed signing off to take Pompey out of administration and into the ownership of Chanrai. And then on the eve of Friday, 22nd October, a press release was released (that seems a strange thing to say) saying that Portsmouth FC was to be liquidated. Suddenly this little thought given no serious thought became the main thing I was thinking of. Seriously consideration now had to be given to a life without Portsmouth FC (or rather, a life of speaking about PFC in the past tense). It’s hard to describe to non-football fans what it would be like to lose your club – hell it’s even hard to explain it to football fans of clubs that are not and will never be in trouble. The best way to put it would be like losing a loved one (either a family member or a partner). You have a relationship with a club and when that relationship comes to an ugly end, it’s going to hurt. This is where I would go into my thought process of my Friday evening when I found out about the liquidation plans – however these next two photos will explain why that just isn’t possible...

Picture One: http://twitpic.com/1xbegz

Picture Two: http://twitpic.com/2zw1sb

That is not a 100% accurate representation of my Friday evening on the grounds the bottle wasn’t brand new. But it had about 500ml in there. That was quite something and forgetting the next day involved many a train journey and screaming teenagers, the whiskey flowed. Pompey FC was going out of business and I was determined to toast its downfall along with the downfall of my sobriety.

Morning came, and the sun rose. This was something I didn’t think would be possible in a world without Pompey FC (despite the fact that the club still existed but essentially were on death row). I heard news that the administrator of PFC was saying there was nothing to be worried about. I dismissed this as the word “liquidation” is a word to be concerned with. Anyway, this morning was now filled with sadness, unease and of course, a hangover. I had a train journey to make with the promise of fried foods at the end of it, courtesy of Wetherspoons (well, they were gonna cook it, I still paid for it). Me and Dave (who was not hungover) heard news of promise on the journey to London but again, could not be sure. How can anyone be sure until the paperwork declaring that the club is not going out of business is signed, sealed delivered and yours (hang on, that last bit is from a Stevie Wonder song). Signed, sealed and delivered at least! This news came through thick and fast a few minutes before kickoff. The deal was done – so the weight was off the shoulders, and the hangover was for nothing (which I must confess, did wind me up somewhat). What can be drawn from this? Scaremongering and playing with people’s emotions works; what a fucking horrible message to draw from this situation. But that is the message it would seem. Still, I can proudly sing that I am Portsmouth Till I Die! I know I discussed the virtues of short blogs, and they are easier on the fingers. But this is gonna be a long one. As I’ve now discussed up until the moment we arrived in London, but why were we in London this Saturday? Speaking of which, how did the Tuesday London adventure go? Read on...

Ok, so we arrived in London and the journey there was fairly painless (well, as painless as a train journey with a hangover can be). We had decided to come up slightly earlier than we needed to and visit random tube stops with no real purpose. There is still a mission both me and Dave have and that is to find a Wetherspoons which we visited on a previous London weekender – but that mission failed again on this trip (all the information I have on it is that the ‘spoons in question is literally next door to a major station’s exit, or one of its exits, and it is huge!) Anyway, we did pop by Leicester Square which led to an impromptu walk down Whitehall to the Palace of Westminster and around the general area before strolling back to LS. KFC was the food of choice before heading to the tube to head to Hammersmith. Who would have thought the Leicester Square tube at around 6pm on a Saturday would be busy when it is raining? Anyway, got to Hammersmith after Dave was almost killed by a couple who were essentially using him as a standing mattress (which I thought was hilarious) and then decided to cave. It was near 7pm and my hangover was still going strong as ever. I relented and dropped by a Boots and bought some aspirin. On reflection, they did very little to help me but you know, when you pay 40p for aspirin – you get what you pay for. I paid 40p for aspirin and refused to pay 50p to use a toilet; got to love London at times. After a fair bit of time outside Hammersmith Apollo looking at the queue and thinking: “fuck that” we decided that a trip to a nearby pub made sense. We found a nearby Wetherspoons and sat down for a drink (non-alcoholic for me, the hangover might have disagreed with me drinking alcohol). Anyway, killing time in the Wetherspoons was cool (it was either that or seeing Twin Atlantic). Having successfully avoided TA, we headed back to the venue. There were about 6 people outside smoking which I observed were all the adults who were at the gig taking a break (I’m quite hilarious at times). The reason for the journey was here.

I truly did not know what to expect from a live My Chemical Romance show. I’ve been very outspoken about them in the past and a lot of that was due to having not listened to that much of the music and joining the hate emo brigade. When I matured somewhat, it occurred to me that MCR are actually a really good band. Anyway, someone played with the lights before MCR came on and the crowd screamed. My hungover head disagreed with the high pitched nature of the scream – especially knowing that this was just a lights test. I now dreaded the band coming on stage. Sure enough when they did the screams were deafening which hurt. The actual show was really bloody good. All the songs I knew really well from MCR were played which was nice (right now I can’t single out one highlight because honestly there were so many). There were some others I recognised as well and the new stuff sounded really good (with an honourable mention going to Planetary (Go!)). In an old school moment – when the band played Welcome to the Black Parade, I was stood saluting (this will make no sense whatsoever if you didn’t come to route/chaos in 06/07 and spent time with the friends that I did). The gig was just awesome and a solid 10/10 for their performance. One thing which I do honestly believe is that I’ve never seen a band do what MCR do to a crowd. I’ve seen bands like Metallica/Iron Maiden come really close with people clapping, cheering and signing along (thinking about it, Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark is probably the closest I’ve seen to whole crowd participation). But MCR did something to that crowd which I’ve never witnessed a band do before. From front row to back, there were people singing, dancing, clapping and (unfortunately for me) screaming. Would this be the same in the o2 arena? Hard to know truthfully – but the atmosphere was electric just like the performance. One of the best live bands I’ve seen (I’ve been to fewer gigs in 2010 but pretty much all of them have had bands that are great live). The journey home was fairly painless aside from how long the fecking train took to get from London to Portsmouth. I’ve been on trains from London to Manchester that were quicker! Some of the stops are stupid. However what was entertaining was if one of these pointless little stations would come up, me and Dave would make jokes about it and someone sitting right near us would get off there. Always awkward, but pretty damn funny at the same time. My Chemical Romance is a great live band and the trip was well worth it. Would I go to see them again? Definitely.

So that is the second London trip of last week discussed. Seems strange to work backwards but now I’m going to review the first one. This trip was the first midweek London trip I’ve done without taking holiday from work since early 2009 when I did it twice in 2 weeks. Slight bit of context for this trip – 1) We knew just over a week before doing it that we were going; and 2) I worked 7.15am-5.15pm the day before travelling up to London. Surely there had to be a good reason for this? The reason was to see Stone Sour – a band I’d not seen since 2007 and didn’t think I’d get the chance to see this year (I love SS but not enough to pay £30+ to see them + A7x who I don’t like). They then announced they were doing a tiny show in London in a room that holds 490 people for MTV and that tickets cost £14 (with fees). This gig was worth the pain of working a 10 hour day, then travelling 90mins and tubing across London and back with the end result being not getting home until gone 1am. Anyway, this gig fell on a Tuesday which isn’t exactly a fun day at work to begin with but with the good grace of the other decontamination tech, I was able to escape slightly early so I could get sorted and make the train station for the desired train, which I did. Journey up to London was fairly smooth (thinking about it I’ve said that twice in this blog – I don’t recall any journeys where the outbound leg has been a bastard). Anyway, the travelling to Camden went by fairly painlessly as well (the tube was surprisingly quiet but I guess most of the work traffic will have dispersed by 7.30pm). We had a slight issue in that we got to Camden town station and had no bloody clue which way to go then. After a quick check with Google Maps, we were sorted and on the way. The venue, Dingwalls, is a decent distance from the tube station which is good to know for any future gigs that I happen to go to there. Got to the venue and there was a bastard of a queue (always the way with ticketless gigs). The actual venue in itself is very strange in that it’s all standing but it is on different levels. We got as close as we could and waited for SS. All I can say is holy fucking shit! The gig was superb. Again, another example of a very tight live band with the ability to take over the entire venue (granted not as impressive as the earlier example due to the size) but the atmosphere was much the same as the MCR gig I discussed earlier. This gig had more of a party atmosphere about it and is up there as one of my top gigs of all time. The setlist was near perfect for me (almost everything I like from Audio Secrecy, and the best of their first two albums). There is no song I’d lose from the setlist, but I could easily add 3 or 4 more. The gig was just everything I hoped for and more! The journey back from this one was a bit of a bugger as there was a replacement bus service from Havant which was due to make 3 stops which ended up making about 9. One of those did end up benefiting me somewhat but still, annoying. As I said in the previous posting Wednesday morning was not a work morning for me so everything ended nicely. Two awesome London trips and another two awesome gigs this year. These gigs rank in this year’s chart at 2 (for Stone Sour) and 3 (for MCR) which is quite something. Both fantastic gigs but Rammstein @ the MEN arena is still the best one so far. Next up, Thursday night and the 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Axe Shall Fall

A country sits, waiting and wondering how different life will become. How much harder will things be? How much will this week change their lives? For this week comes the official announcement of where the spending cuts will come. I find myself wondering if this will affect me probably like most people. I don’t support unnecessary cuts to the government budget but I understand the mess this country is in. I also understand that what is coming this week is unavoidable. We’ve had a high tax/high spend government during the good times who overspent and borrowed instead of saved. When things started to go bad, they refused to cut – fearing losing power. What winds me up is this series of spending cuts – known as the Spending Review – was originally scheduled under the last Government. It was due to take place before the last general election, but for this very reason they decided to delay it. I know it’s simply them playing politics by delaying it but they are attacking the current government for having it. What a bag of wank. This is tough medicine, but when the disease is a £150b + budget deficit – sometimes it’s better to take tough medicine, rather than the more popular but inevitably more ineffective medicine which really won’t help matters

I have other thoughts as well

• I’ve just started re-watching Blackadder and it amuses me how I always forget how good it is. I have forgotten so many moments from Gone Forth (It is where I am up to at the moment). I am half way through the final series and it’s already been great to revisit them. I’ll leave this thought alone with this quote. “The only impression he can do is of the man with no talent”.

• In just under 48 hours of writing this very sentence (2 mins to be exact), Stone Sour will have taken to the stage in the Dingwalls. I am really very excited about this. I haven’t seen this band for over 3 years and the new album is really good. I’ve come to the conclusion that Audio Secrecy is a damn fine album. It is not as good as their previous offering, Come What(ever) May but that’s nothing to be ashamed of because that album is phenomenal. I tell you what I am not excited about though – waking up at 5.20am that day and working a really long bloody day. I cannot be arsed with that day before travelling to London but such is the life for someone who hasn’t won the lottery

• I was in Chichester earlier today. I sometimes find myself killing time looking into estate agent windows and day dreaming about the day when you can own a house. Anyway, in Chi they have an estate agent (just one though) which had properties worth a lot of money. Quite a few over £1mil. There was one with house with 5 smaller places to live on its land. That would be win; instead of having a guest room, having a guest house.

Thats all I’ve got for now. This smaller blog thing is easier on my fingers!


"How much money a person has does not define what class they are, you know"
"It does in a brothel. If you pay top whack they'll give you a monocle"

- Johnny Vegas and Marcus Brigstocke debating class

Monday, 11 October 2010

Reviews and Forecasts

I mentioned before that I’d bought a ticket to see Jason Manford very early on this year. I’m not 100% how early on in the year it was but I’d happily guess February. Which means since then, I’ve seen Skindred, Trivium, Jeff Dunham, RATM, Bill Bailey (x2), Airbourne and been to Sonisphere! That is a lot to get excited about before Jason Manford. But I was still; whenever it came up in conversation (whether it was talking about his DVD or the show itself) me and the others who were going would talk about how awesome it should be. Interestingly he had no support. Now I’ve been to comedy shows before in big rooms such as Guildhall and there was no support, but it still seems strange. Anyway, the night before Manford came to Portsmouth – the dinosaur which inhabited a place on Southsea common burned (or was burned) down. This led to some early jokes about that. The show was very good. One of the main highlights for me was him taking a stab at Southampton and admitting he will do the same to Portsmouth when he plays in Southampton (got to admire his honesty). I don’t honesty recall an awful lot of his material right now but it was a good show. I’d definitely recommend going to see him live if you get the chance. He did about 2.5hrs in Portsmouth. It is quite funny because he has a joke on the DVD about someone from the city at a show letting the city down (I made sure to wear shoes just to ensure it wasn’t me). Some of the conversations with the crowd were really quite funny but some were plain weird. I don’t recall the context but someone shouted out about Coco Pops. This might be creative license, but I think it confused Jason slightly before he retorted “COCO POPS, THEY TURN THE MILK CHOCOLATEY!” Not to be outdone, during the Q&A, the coco pops man decided to have another go at being funny and asked him if he preferred werewolves or vampires (a clear Twilight reference). The response was funny (“neither really. If I had to choice a mate I’d prefer a milkman. I’m always low on milk!”) The purpose of highlighting that was that I thought it was funny a previous joke of Jason Manford’s was about someone letting the city down, and this man acting like a complete knob-head – letting the city down. Anyway, it was a really good show and well worth the wait. We discussed going again the next night but money got in the way and also I think it was sold out. Shame – still, Soton next year is a possibility (not actually discussed this with anyone!)

Comedy is all well and good (very good actually) but I hadn’t seen any live music since Sonisphere until last week. Bill Bailey has music in his act but I consider that as a part of the stand up show rather than seeing live music. Anyway, one of the bands I thought I’d definitely see at Sonisphere was Lacuna Coil. Before Soni, they had announced a Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms date but I thought I’d give that a miss as I’d be seeing them at Soni and I’d seen them at the Wedge at the tail end of 2008. However, then stage times were announced and they clashed with Evile. This was tough because I loved both bands. I opted for Evile as I hadn’t seen them since the passing of Mike Alexander (which has just passed its one year anniversary – RIP Mike!) This worked out quite nicely for me because it meant I could justify spending the money going to see Lacuna Coil. However Chimaira were due to play the Wedge the day after LC. My original thought process was that gig takes priority as I’d not seen them do a headline show (just a support and festival slot) where with LC; I’d seen them 3 times previous. Anyway, long story long, Chimaira cancelled their tour so LC became top priority again. I’d like to take this time to thank Chimaira for cancelling their tour as LC were fantastic! I cannot believe I even second guessed myself about going. They released an album in 2009 called Shallow Life which not only did I not know about, I only heard it in July for the first time. The album is superb, probably their best yet. There are a few fantastic songs on the album which come across great live. I’m Not Afraid; Survive; I Won’t Tell You; Underdog; and Spellbound – all fantastic songs. They played a fair whack off Karmacode which is by no means a bad thing! Slaves to Gravity supported and they seemed cool as well.

I said in a previous blog that I am aiming to squeeze one more London trip out of this year. I then managed that and am going to see MCR later this month (in less than 2 weeks to be exact). I somehow managed to squeeze in another. I love Stone Sour. They have released 2 awesome albums (I’m still unsure on Audio Secrecy. It’s a good album certainly but the jury is still out on whether it’s awesome). I really hoped they would tour post Download 2010 as I was unable to get there to see them (and actually I’d probably have missed them in favour of Aerosmith had I gone). They announced an arena co-headlining tour which sounded good aside from one major elephant in the room....AVENGED SEVENFOLD AS THE OTHER HEADLINER?! As a famous dragon from the Den would say: “A’m OOT!” (How lame, I do apologise). Anyway, I have no desire to see A7x again after their “performances” at Twickenham and Wacken supporting Iron Maiden. I was never that much of a fan anyway, but the self titled album just turned me off them completely. I haven’t listened to the new album truth be told but I’m just not interested. Anyway, I had resigned myself to another Stone Sour-less year. Haven’t seen them since Download 2007 and it appeared this streak would continue. BUT! They announced a special headline set for a show at a venue called Dingwalls in Camden. In a nutshell, this band that are touring arenas, are playing in a little room in London just a touch bigger than the Wedgewood Rooms (487 capacity!) Oh how win. I arranged to have a week on Wednesday morning off work as well which is nice. So Stone Sour and MCR make up the London trips this month with a little 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster thrown in at the end of the month for good measure. Excellent!

Final unrelated thought – Am I alone in hating X-Factor? I know this is something I’ve probably spoken about before. And this might seem somewhat surprising as I did mention a previous contestant from the show on the last blog (I was criticised for writing about that, but I see that as more of an immigration and hypocrisy issue than one which relates directly to X-Factor). I’m not going to waste my time on this too much but I really don’t see the draw of this show but the social networks become seriously bogged down with people expressing surprise, or their joy/dismay at picks. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t fucking matter. They’ll pick who will make them the most money, regardless of singing ability. Is the contest fixed? There’s a good chance it is – who cares though? If it is, stop giving them your money, simple!

I’ll do my best not to give them a mention again but my word bookface and twitter were overtaken with this bollocks over the weekend!