Friday, 31 December 2010

The conclusion of 2010 - The beginning of 2011

So, another New Year is upon us and it is a time for reflection. It is also apparently a time for me to question a lot of things. This blog will contain some questions about optimism as well as this question – why do people still say “happy holidays” after Christmas? The holiday is Christmas; New Year is just a bank holiday. As we get closer to another New Year’s Eve, I remember writing a blog for this page about 2010 and optimism that comes with New Years Eve. I talked about how I didn’t understand why people get optimistic at this time of year but yet find myself falling into this trap. I mentioned a number of things about 2010 which could happen and I thought I’d just go over them now and see what has happened and what hasn’t.

2010 thought 1 – New Job – Leave Iceland and get a new job.
Achieved? Yes
Outcome – I left Iceland and got a job working for Portsmouth University as a decontamination technician

2010 thought 2 – New Government – Labour lose the 2010 Election to the Conservatives – a fear that BNP would enter UK Parliament.
Achieved? Partially
Outcome – Labour lost power at the 2010 general election and the Conservatives became the biggest party in the House of Commons but they are not completely in power as they are in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The BNP got nowhere near winning a seat in Parliament.

2010 thought 3 – See friend who I hadn’t seen for years – See Avatar
Achieved? Yes
Outcome – I did see the friend who I talked about seeing Avatar with. We saw Avatar (that’s a shit film right there). We also saw Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3. Both very good films! I am trying to think if there had been others but I can’t remember.

Okay, those objectives were completed for the most part so 2010 was a good year on that front. There were other things which were good about 2010 including:

• Seeing Rammstein finally.
• Going to a festival for the weekend having not done so in 2009
• Quitting smoking for 3 months
• Continuing my mobile phone relationship with Apple and getting an iPhone 4

So this year was quite a good one for me in many respects. It has not been perfect I accept but no year can be I feel. So because of the various little good aspects of last year, I have a few hopes for 2011. I know optimism is easily wasted so some of these things I am going to have to be really tough about. In 2011, I want:

• To lose weight – It is about time I got serious about this issue. I have said many times that I am going to do it and then don’t. I actually find myself with the correct mindset to do it this time (other times when I’ve said this, there has always been an acceptance of inevitable failure as well as cynicism). Right now, I am committed to this desire.
• To quit smoking – as I type this, I have no real NYE plans. Regardless of location, I intend to smoke a cigar at midnight of the change to 2011 and then quit smoking. I am dealing with cravings so much better than I was and I feel again my mindset is in the right place to try it. We shall see.
• To continue using the iPhone. My contract expires in December. I intend to stick with Apple, whether they release a new handset or not. I love my iPhone 4 and can’t see why I wouldn’t love the iPhone 5 or whatever it is. This might be achieved in 2012 but that is ok.
• See SOAD. I have a ticket to Sonisphere to see Metallica and Slipknot. I really want to see SOAD as well so in some shape or form, I want to be at Download for the Saturday when SOAD play so I can finally cross them off my bucket list of bands.
• To continue career progression – either advance in my current job or change jobs so I am building a career.

These things will not come easily to me and therefore a lot of work is required next year to achieve these goals. I should point out that I will review these when I do the “hey its 2012 blog” and we’ll see what sort of year I’ve had. I was going to finish it here but I have decided to add a little bit extra one and talk about my favourite gigs of 2010 as a big part of this blog is about live music. 2010 has been a good year for me on all live music fronts aside from one and that is no Metallica this year. This will be sorted out in 2011 I guarantee it!

Best Gigs of 2010 – I’m going to talk about all the gigs that make the list in some detail and basically relive them. First the ones that didn’t make the top 5, and then somewhat appropriately, the top 5! I will not be including festival slots in this list. If I was, Alice Cooper would be in the top 5 as would Rammstein’s Sonisphere set. Anyway, here we go.

Honourable Mentions – For sake of ease, I’ll cover these with old words where possible.
• Bill Bailey – Leicester Square Theatre x2. Both shows were hilarious and had their own moments of win. When thinking of the two shows I think of the 2nd more fondly because more happened musically and the fact Bill being ill made some of the show funnier than I thought possible. Sorry, did you say Oud?
• Skindred @ Wedgewood Rooms. They “were just something special though. The atmosphere was incredible. The set list was genius. There's very little I can say because there aren’t enough superlatives I can throw at this band to accurately describe them. Fantastic gig and I can’t wait until I get the chance to see them live again”
• Airbourne @ Portsmouth Guildhall. They “were fantastic. The set list was superb, the band were great live (as per) and there was even the obligatory moment of craziness. The lead singer went through the crowd to play on the sound desk. Damn.”
• Lacuna Coil @ Wedgewood Rooms. They “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!”
• Motorhead @ Southampton Guildhall. “Then it was time for Motorhead – and it started with the iconic declaration from Lemmy – “We are Motorhead, and we play Rock and Roll!” Awesome performance from a band celebrating their 35th year. This show had it all – awesome music, Lemmy telling a bottle thrower he’d knock them the fuck out, a band playing louder than anything else. Oh, did I mention the awesome music? Just in case I didn’t, the setlist was fantastic. There we go”

So these are the gigs that were all very awesome. However, they were just bettered by these next 5. Starting with no.5 it is:

Number 5 – Rage against the Machine – Finsbury Park, London.

The effort that went into this gig was quite something. It all started from the race for Christmas No1 in 2009; would it be X-Factor or RATM? Well, as we all know it was RATM that won the day in the end. They announced during the campaign that should they win, they would hold a victory party in London which included them playing a gig. Now, I’d have been up for this anyway because I love RATM, but it was also free. Now not only did this spark my interest but also seemingly most of the damn country! Getting tickets was a thankless two hour epic but we got there in the end. The actual gig was awesome in that there were loads of people outside asking if they can “buy tickets” for this gig that’s a) free; and b) has tickets that have individual photos of the ticket holder on.

Anyway! We arrived in time to see Gogol Bordello. They were pretty damn good actually – a very fun band. If memory serves, I remember thinking their set got a bit long after a while. They were good but it was a touch repetitive by the end. Annoyingly, I can’t accurately confirm what I thought at the time because apparently I didn’t review the gig, oh well. RATM were superb though which made everything good. The pre-show cartoon introduction from Simon Cowell was hilarious. Testify is such a good song for them to open with. The set was quite different to the one I saw in Germany as well so that was quite cool. I now love White Riot by The Clash because of this gig. Before the last song (Killing in the Name – like I really needed to type that), they played a clip of McElderrys song which got heavily booed. The song purchasing statistics came up which showed that not only did RATM win, they won by a wide margin. With the words “YOU MADE HISTORY!” on the big screens, Killing in the Name started. Excellent

Number 4 – My Chemical Romance – Hammersmith Apollo, London.

Children, let this be a lesson to you. If you are going to a gig where the majority of the crowd is a) children; and b) female, then it might be advisable to not turn up at said gig with a hangover. I did this, and it hurt. The night before this gig, I was staring at the possibility of my beloved football club going out of business. Imagine how happy I was in the morning when I found out that this was just a bartering tool used by the administrators and that the club won’t go out of business. A massive hangover, for nothing! Anyways, London was cool. Strolled up Whitehall and by the Commons which to me is always fun because I am interested in politics.

The gig! Well we ignored going in straight away because the first “band” on, well the least said the better. We went in just after they finished and two things of note occurred before the gig. The first was a guy really throwing up, which was fun to listen to while queuing. The second was me saying to Dave “I hope they don’t test the lights because this crowd will scream and that will hurt my head”. Sure enough... *Lights Drop* *Girls Scream* *Lights Come Back on* - THANKS LIGHTING TECH!

The set they played was pretty much a best of with new album stuff included which for me couldn’t be topped. I actually can only think of one song which would have made it the perfect setlist for me which is Headfirst for Halos. Highlights of this set for me are not possible to do because everything I heard was awesome. We did leave slightly early to make sure we got the train but it was a fantastic gig and fully deserves the no.4 spot from 2010 gigs.

Number 3 – Ginger and Friends – Talking Heads, Southampton.

This is what I wrote yesterday which also appears on this blog. “This gig was the 2nd I’ve seen in the format of the headline act supporting themselves with a band in the middle. Ginger and Hot Steve did an acoustic set before the gig. This was very good – awesome music and fun crowd interactions. Highlights of this set for me (aside from being down the front) were Loveshit, This Is Only a Problem and Geordie in Wonderland. Geordie in Wonderland being the best I’d say purely due to the fact the crowd took over vocals and did a massive sing-along which was just awesome. After Oaf, Ginger and Friends came out and played what can only be described as an awesome set. If you love Wildhearts/Ginger music, then this set had it all. Usually I would say the highlights of a set at this stage but it isn’t possible because it was all awesome.” However my personal favourite songs of the night for me are My Baby Is a Headfuck and Vanilla Radio. Everything else is in a very close 2nd tie. I’d love to say what songs I’d have like to have heard as well but I fear I’ll write a near 4 hour setlist and as awesome as that would be, it’s never going to happen! Sorry for copy/pasting that review and reusing old material again, but it’s very hard to find fresh words to review something you’ve just reviewed.

Number 2 – Stone Sour – Dingwalls, London.

Having never been to Camden before, this was going to tick that off the list of things to do. It was also going to be pretty high on the “Win!” list as I love Stone Sour, and really did not want to see their show with A7X because it might have meant actually listening to A7X. If you like them, then fair enough but they just aren’t for me. Anyway, what was also going to be win was seeing Stone Sour in a room the size of the Dingwalls. This room can hold 487 people which considering they were playing rooms than can hold over 10000 on this tour meant we were in for something special. The only thing really I wish from this gig I had was a ticket but it was a ticketless affair, no matter! There was no support band which meant the entire night was all about Stone Sour which I’m fine with! I remember walking in, seeing the stage and being shocked at how small it was. The Dingwalls is a dark venue anyway, so it was hard to tell when the house lights went off/on.

When Stone Sour came out, the crowd just blew up. It was unbelievably loud from a crowd as small as it was. SS have always been a good live band (well in my experience of them) so I knew we were in for something special, even if the gig was just a warm up for the big shows. I was exactly right as they played for just over an hour and were phenomenal from start to finish. It is another one of those situations where I’d love to see them add more but the set would become inhumanly long. One highlight I do want to mention is a song which wasn’t planned on being played and comes with its own dance and that is Idle Hands. I think it was Jim Root who played the intro riff and Corey Taylor said “shall we play that? Fuck it, do you want to hear that?” which of course, yes we did! One of the best gigs of the year by far and confirms that Stone Sour is one of my favourite bands.

Number 1 – Rammstein – Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester.

Firstly, that photo is from Sonisphere, but it’s far better than anything I took at the MEN so deal with it! Rammstein are one of those bands that were on my bucket list of bands that I need to see live. It is a very short list now which is quite nice but when I found out they were touring, I had to go. Granted, Manchester was a bit long winded about doing it but I went there because I love the MEN arena. I saw NIN there mid-2009 so it’s always going to have a special place in my heart (the NIN-fan boy bit). The journey there was very smooth and short of getting lost on the way to the hotel, everything went swimmingly really. The hotel this time gave us a much bigger room which was awesome. Ancoats Travelodge is in an awesome place to stay for a MEN gig because it’s about a 15min walk away.

I had listened to the support band, Combichrist, before travelling to Manchester and was not enamoured at all. Therefore I had advised arriving late enough to miss them but not miss any Rammstein. Well, we failed at that task but it was awesome that we did because I was completely wrong. Combichrist were immense live and I’m really glad we got there when we did. However, no matter how good they were, in my mind I remember thinking they will never top Rammstein and I was right. Rammstein were just mind-blowing, in both performance and stage show. The set was great and the atmosphere was just awesome. This is my gig of 2010 because everything was just right – and again short of increasing the setlist I can’t think of a way to improve this gig. One personal highlight was simply being in awe at the flaming angel wings during Engel. Rammstein top my gig list of 2010 and their Sonisphere set would have come in at no.3 if I was covering festival sets as well.

Well, that covers 2010 for me. It wasn’t a terrible year for me and I have high hopes for 2011. Will things be better? There is only one way to find out. Have a good new years eve to whoever reads this today. For those who read this next year (weird just typing that) then I hope you have a good one. As for this website, I’m sure I’ll be back in a week or so. Look out in the New Year for a review of Sonisphere 2011, Skindred @ Pyramids, Biohazard @ Wedgewood rooms and many more. That is all I have to say, so to close it out – happy New Year y’all. Have a great and prosperous 2011 – whatever you get out of it.

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