Thursday, May 31, 2007

Concert Review: DMB is back again and heavy on my mind

Els sent me a forwarded email early yesterday morning from one of her colleagues advertising extra Dave Matthews Band concert tickets and my reply of YES YES PLEASE ME!!! probably scared the living daylights out of her (and the score of trainees copied on the email!). After sending my over enthusiastic written out yell, I quickly spoke to heron the phone and she said I had sent the most promising reply, as a lot of people just went "errrr alright then". We decided that even though we didn't know any of the new music they'd be playing to promote the new album, we should go as old time fans together, a flatmate bonding thing with some good music we both knew...

I've been a fan of Dave (and the rest of the band, of course) for just over 10 years now (which is a little scary) and I've never seen them live... When I say "fan" I mean I'm still listening to all the live versions of his older songs on my iPod which have been downloaded over the years, and since I have "all the good stuff" on my playlists, I guess that constitutes me as one... I was speaking to the Mr. last week when he told me his friends were going to see DMB in Dublin and I was a little jealous. "Maybe we can go when they come to London? I heard they're going to Wembley?" he suggested at the time and I dismissed it as one of those things that just never happens - I guess I was wrong - thanks to my over enthusiasm and a genius stroke of luck credited by a colleague of my flatmate who bought 4 tickets instead of 2, I was going to see DMB.

We got to Wembley with the rest of the late-20s/30-something crowds... Basically, anyone who went to college in the noughties was there ready to hear some music that reminded them of that one time in their dorm room when they were hungover some girl or guy and Dave was playing on the radio... I thought we'd look silly in our suits but as it was a mid-week concert geared to an older audience, a lot of people showed up after work and hung outside the arena chatting away. It almost felt as if everyone knew eachother in a strange way and were all retelling stories of "this song reminds me of when..." It was pretty cool and Dave did not let us down...

They were spectacular to say the least... They started off slow but not too slow, with Dreamgirl and warmed the audience up with some of their new stuff. Tom Morello came on and Dave busted out # 41 and Satellite and the crowd went crazy - they were excellent and picked two great songs to play live with an awesome guitarist. Dave also did a bit of acoustics and played new songs called Sisters and the Idea of You which were both beautiful and got the suckers in the audience, yours truly, welling up with emotion. Of course sole credit doesn't go to Dave's rusty voice and squeaky guitar - the instrumental solos were fantastic, I've never seen a violinist go that crazy on a stage before... The pianist, brass players, drummer, the band was incredible... As on all their live shows they would go off on long and beautiful riffs and the crowd loved it, we danced away with the silhouettes of the other hundreds of fans in the arena and we ate it all up...

They ended the show with Ants Marching which got the whole arena up on their feet dancing... It was magical and when they said their goodbyes we stomped our feet for more until they came out to an encore of Two Step, my favourite ever DMB song... Of course I was chanting along the words and waving my arms as the music pumped my blood into my body - it was an amazing feeling that made me fall in love with Dave all over again, time and time again.

A lot of credit has to go to the lights & sound technicians - the way the band glowed of pinks and blues made them stand out as the glowing crowd of yellow and orange moved with the music... I am a sucker, I will always be a sucker, and the whole collaboration of sound, lights and atmosphere kicked me in my spine and made me choke up with a couple of tears... It was special, call me whatever you want but it was pretty damn special...

I am a sucker and I will say it: There was magic in that arena last night and I'm so glad I got to see them live... There was a lad infront of us who was at his 7th DMB concert and was telling us that this was the best he's ever seen... As we took the train home late last night I didn't doubt it - I think everyone was in awe of the performance. Rather than your usual rowdy post-gig crowd, there was happy nostalgic buzz in the tiny compartments of the tube on our way home and it was a nice feeling. His voice was still in my ears and around my neck this morning when I woke up - the live show will never compare to my measly playlist so I will commit to my memory for how great they still are.

Dave Matthews Band ended their European Tour in London last night at the Wembley Arena. Their new album will be out this summer.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Summertime Brings More Crazy People

I don't know what it is, but summertime brings a lot more crazies in London.

So many crazy people, so little pavement space... Exiting the tube station this morning, there was a guy wearing spandex flexing his muscles for the grim group of lawyers trying to get to their even more grim offices (all dressed in black, of course). Everyone was trying to move around his bright yellow body suit and his purple Y-fronts as he growled a couple of "HUWAAAA"s in our faces. Some of the students in the group cracked smiles, all the lawyers just hissed and moved away. This has been going on for a couple of days, I'm waiting for the day one of the Slaughter & May trainees who hasn't slept in 4 nights punches him in the face.

There is also an increase of volunteers from Amnesty International/PETA/Stop Abusing Kite Flyers and other silly groups that need attention (or so they say). There's no rain or hail to stop them from trying to pull their charms as you stroll down the street - this is what they've got to do and the sunshine only makes them stay out for longer... And with the sunshine, they pull out all their cute smiles and chat up lines "Come on, you know you've got a minute for me and all the Orphans in Guatemala love..." Grrrr... No I don't but if you grin at me like that I'll give in for the orphans... Some of them follow you and do a little dance, step in your way, and there are no puddles from the rain to stop them so you'd be surprised as to how far they'd go just to get your attention... The problem with this group is that you feel bad when you snap your "no thank you" to them on the street because you know you will walk 10 feet to a park bench and sit down to have your lunch in the sunshine. They know you're not busy. They know you've got money to spare. They even probably want a bite of your M&S sandwich (and you will feel guilty for it, even if you don't like to share food). It's hard not to give when the weather is so nice and you're in such a good mood (and Oxfam hires some pretty charismatic buggers to follow you around).

You know, it's not the heat that drives people crazy (this is a nice 16 degrees not the smouldering 46 that makes you want to kill an arab on a beach with a gun* double points for guessing the lit reference) - it's the fact that the weather is nice so you can stand outside and shout out whatever you want all day. There's no piercing winds to push you down the street and indoors, so why don't you pull out your hair in minimal clothing and dance around in the streets? It's okay, it's sunny, no one minds... Go on... wanna grab a tambourine and shake it in my face? Sure, go for it! It's sunny, I don't care!

Of course, summer brings two groups of people I just can't stand: Christian Winner/Sinner Preachers and the Hare Krishna. Those "Don't be a sinner, be a winner" stand-arounds who shout out abuse when all you want to do is get into Topshop really piss you off... and you know what? Tourists love them... Don't ask me why, but they find them hilarious... They applaud them, they take pictures of them, I once saw a Japanese couple videotape one... I just don't' see it, some crusty guy standing around with a megaphone (as if we need the extra noise pollution) shouting out abuse to all the shoppers and trying to convert them all... Aurgh... Slap them with an ASBO I say and move on...

And as for the Hare Krishna Hare Rama: Don't even get me started. Please, please, please, someone send a super tornado and whisk them away to Everest and away from my sight.

Point is, summertime brings the crazies, so watch out as you're walking down the streets in your flippers, minding your own business... and watch out for when you start to get them... Hey, me and my friends get it, we go a little loco when the sun comes out too... but you know what we do? We don't harass people in the streets, we just go to the park and run around like a bunch of monkeys amongst ourselves and capture it on camera, and that's okay...

Trafalgar Square becomes one big park today and there's a mini festival in Victoria Park with lot's of cotton candy & outdoor fun stuff. Oh, and I know David Duchovny isn't in London in the picture, but someone needs to tell him grey shorties are soo winter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Lyrics... # 4

Remind You Of Your Best Friend?

"I'll say "I think he likes you"
You'll say "I think he do, too"
I'll say "Go and get 'em girl -
before he gets you...
I'll be watching you from the window,
I'll come to your rescue,
if he tries anything..."

If He tries Anything - Ani Difranco

Monday, May 21, 2007

Simple Pleasures

  1. Finding that one empty seat on an early morning train to work
  2. Watching sail boats swim with swans while I have my Saturday morning tea.
  3. Finishing work on time and leaving when it's still light outside.
  4. Hugs from Papaya.
  5. Clean Sheets & PJs and falling asleep to the smell of comfort (in so many ways).
  6. Manicures.
  7. Finishing a good book.
  8. BBQs and not having to "man the grill" because the "men" will do it.
  9. Hand Cream.
  10. Damn Good Music.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Michael Buble may have a funny name but he just wants to go home.

June 8th. My sister-in-law's birthday, also, my last day at work.

I handed in my resignation last Friday, right before going out to a big dinner with my colleagues to celebrate my engagement.

I didn't tell any of my colleagues, instead I just watched them all have a good time while three of my managers cornered me throughout the night and tried to convince me to stay. It was strange. My colleagues managed to sober up by Monday morning and corner me then after I told them. That was pretty strange too.

"Why" was the big question, so I had to pull out a couple of "excuses" if you'd like to call them that. Engagement. Family. Living alone is lonely (no shit). London's too expensive (give me a huge pay rise). London isn't home (I should go back to Bahrain). The last one got them nodding their heads in approval and they all told me they understand and wished me luck, so whatever my real "excuse" is, I'll let that be my "excuse" for now.

I say it but I have to admit, I feel a little uneasy about going back to Bahrain, whenever it is I do. I mean, I love Bahrain, my family lives there, you can get cocktail juice from practically anywhere, it's fantastic. But I have been away for a long time and I'm definitely a little nervous about moving back, whenever it is I move back. It could be on June the 9th, it could be 3 months from then, at this moment, I don't really know.

A year ago, when my future was uncertain and everything was pretty much a bitch, I was chatting with a friend and she asked me if I liked Bahrain. She asked because at the time, she saw me as a city girl and she thought London suited me perfectly. This could have been because a black cab had just splashed water all over us on the street and I shouted out "W*****!" She said she thought London was a good home for me and luckily I found a job so I made it my home for a while.

"Home is where your heart is, it's where you hang your hat" See, my heart is in Bahrain, but I don't hang my hat there just yet. I don't even wear hats in Bahrain. I've been hanging my hat here for so long that I don't mind it, I'm okay about it. I go about, do my thing, never once think of myself as a stranger but just another face in the crowd. And honestly? In a lot of respects, I've been alright...

But sometimes, sometimes, when it's cold (a lot) and grey (all the time), and when I take my long journey home from work alone (every single night), I think of what it would be like to just get in my car, go to my real home and see my parents hanging out or meet up with my man for dinner and talk about stuff in person and not over the phone... I wonder what it would be like to see my siblings on a daily basis (and not yearly) or go over to an old friend's house by not having to travel for 45 minutes to get there with dead skin cells and mice (even though we live in the same city)... Sometimes I get home and it's that meal for one on that empty dining table that really gets to me and I just feel like crawling into bed and pretending that "coming home" bit was all a bad dream, and that really, everyone's waiting for me in my real home back in Bahrain.

I've made a decision and "going home" it is, along with many other things that I am still sorting out (career, relationship, get-fitter-than-my-dad plan). For a little bit, anyway. Some people have told me to come back and that it's time, others are urging me to stick out and stay abroad, but I think I'm making the right decision somehow. Minus all the panic attacks and "this is all for you!" tantrums, I'm excited about being back home. Home where hugs are frequent and there's no need to vacuum, and the fridge is always filled with chocolate milk. So I'm in, for now, and I'm excited.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Demise of the Cassette Tape

Take me back to 1994: I'm 11 years old and I'm going through a shoebox of cassette tapes my siblings have for me to rummage through in our play room. That was all I needed on an afternoon indoors, a box of tapes and a cassette player (our beloved Robo-Disco) and I was set. My fingers were imprinted with little square shapes from pressing the rewind-stop-play buttons so many times and I didn't mind - this was music to me. This was how it was supposed to be, you and your cassettes.

Tapes were all we had, stacked in neat little piles with their boxes and tiny pictures of the artists whose music they blared on our players - they were cool. As school kids, we'd hop into whatever car and pull out our tapes from our book bags and pass them to the front seat. "Side A, first song" - I laugh now when I remember how many times I must have said "press play press play! I'll miss the song!" Oh my...

Then there were the cherished Mix-Tapes. Mix tapes were the coolest - if you got a mix-tape from someone, well, we all knew what that meant... I remember sticking stickers on mine to my girlfriends, spending hours trying to make the perfect tape with the perfect pauses between songs and well timed to fill a whole tape and not over run (such amateurs, whoever overran with their mix-tapes). Telling someone you'd make them a tape was a commitment, hours dedicated to producing something the perfect tape for someone. There was no imaginary database filled with music and a cutesy little program let you click all your choices onto a list and ta da, it all happened... oh no Sir, there was a shoebox filled with cassettes that you had to rummage though. If you were organized (which you never were), you'd have them all laid out infront of you, with a list of songs... Then you'd go through them, listening to each whole song before pausing, putting in another tape, pressing record & play and then rummaging for another... Kids nowadays probably laugh at our ghetto ways, but ghetto is that who does not know the tape, I say... Ghet-to...

But Alas, no more... No more tapes, we then took on MD players and CDs... and from CDs we moved on to the electronic age where mp3s and iPods and compact nice BOSE speakers for our MP3 players came about... and now no one punches "stop" or "play" on a stubborn button, we all pull out our super flash, super small and super sexy gadgets and twirl our fingers around to play 18 hours of non-stop music. Sorry Maxwell, your 90 minutes mean nothing anymore...

When was the last time anyone bought a tape? I can shamelessly tell you now that the last tape I bought was Norah Jones in the summer of 2003 from Dubai for my car (which did not have a CD player, "Ghetto" I hear you kids taunting!)... I don't know if that's what's funny or that I had to explain to a friend why I was buying a tape and not a CD (not so shamelessly, I tell ya)...

The last mix-tape I received? Now this I know for a FACT: Summer of 2001 from my good friend Mai - a tape that had Side A filled with cool music at the time (whatever dance/R&B was big) and then Side B which was filled with more geeky acoustic stuff for me (shameless, I am shameless!). The tape was, again, for my car when I first got my licence and the only tape I not only took with me to college, but I listened to that Side B for 3 years... Thanks Mimi, that tape you made for the Opel was far more valued than you thought it was...!

Last Tape I heard? Funny enough, walking around my flat a couple of weeks ago, I stopped when I heard a familiar click I haven't heard in a while... I turned to look at my flatmate, who was lounging on the couch reading a book, and asked her what it was... She merely muttered "Music", nodding her head towards the stereo system.

"Are you listening to a Tape?" I asked, astonished, as the music continued (It's one of those "smart" systems, as my flatmate calls it... the type that has a car-style 6-CD changer and flips tapes when it gets to the end of the side). I stopped in my tracks and in my fluffy house socks.

"Yup" nose still buried in her book.

"Really??!?!!" She put her book down and turned to me

"Yeah, really? Why?" She was confused and so was I. I shook my head and walked away... Who still listens to tapes?

Find out how to revive your old tapes here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It's a beautiful May Day

—French for “Help me,” which is pronounced in English like “Mayday,” a universal radio code indicating extreme distress.

Taken from Margret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, I remember the story of M'Aidez/Mayday every year today. While protestors are shouting abuse towards Blair and the Labour Party (ha ha), I sit inside my office and remembers stories we read in high school that scared us of Big Brother and whether we'd all become Handmaid's one day.

May Day in England is a bit of an anti-capitalist day (it isn't referred to as Labour Day here as fondly as it is in other parts of the world) and as today isn't an official holiday, I don't see how this is a national workers' holiday. May Day grants us a "Bank Holiday" on the first Monday of May - also, not the 1st of May - so really none of it makes any sense.

Well, tying it back into The Handmaid's Tale it does. "It's a Beautiful May Day" is what Ofglen tells Offred while walking in a garden (*I really don't remember all the details, but bear with me), a hint at a secret revolutionist group in the Brave New World. And although it refers to that and all the symbolism that my perverted highschool English teacher drilled into us poor kids, my favourite part (probably in the whole book) is Offred remembering a conversation with her husband Luke about the word itself "Mayday" - a deviation from the french "M'Aidez" (or "help me"), which was adopted in World War II from all the french fighter pilots.

"M'Aidez" she remembers, and I remember, every 1st of May. As a student, it meant nothing to me as today would have been any other day in the past. But today, as I sit in an artificially lit office and I think of May Day. As much as I try to think of it as a holiday, I just whistfully think "M'Aidez"...

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