Thursday, 31 December 2009

Sliding Out of the Noughties

The last day of 2009 already, and we are literally sliding towards 2010 - it's still icy outside and the best place to see the New Year in is at home with a good red wine and nibbles.  Don't know where the other 364 days of the year went, never mind the decade.  It seems only a short time ago that I was at a New Years party to herald in the new Millenium and now the Noughties are nearly gone.  I'm not doing a usual review, just a quick question and answer piece on things that pop into my head.  Here goes:

Nicest New Placed Visited - Sorry for the pun - Nice of course!

Fave Three Songs 
Uprising - Muse (Rocking, real class, must see them live in 2010)
Sometime After Midnight - The Airborne Toxic Event
Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap

Worst Buy - In Nice, a "cicada" that you hung on the wall and it chirped when you passed by (yeah I am a bit  eccentric, things like that amuse me).  It drove me mad and I threw it out, it got it's own back though, it was even chirping from inside the dustbin LOL!

Best buy -  My iTouch, an amazing little creation, I love it!

Most Amazing Day - 15th August, London.  Met Bono in the afternoon and then saw one of the most amazing U2 shows ever that night.  And sharing all that with wonderful friends.

Ambition Achieved - Visited Berlin, fabulous, moving, cold and unique.  Amazing to see U2 play in front of the Brandenburg Gate, something that will stay with me forever.

Scariest Thing - I've liked the last two Black-Eyed Peas singles!  There, I've come clean, can hardly believe it myself.

Surprising Thing - That I am working as a cleaner, I hate household chores, yet I really enjoy my little job!

U2 Status - Loved the new album, after two good but safe albums, this more daring creation brought me fully back to their music.  The romance was hot in the summer when they entertained magnificently (sorry I've done it again).  We had a bit of a row recently and I nearly fell out with them, but I've made up and am speaking to them again now.  So the relationship continues into its 27th year.....

So thanks to all who come to my blog, I've enjoyed sharing some of my life and thoughts with you.  Have a happy and healthy 2010.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Bono At Leopardstown Races

Bono and Ali were at the Leopardstown Races as usual on St Stephen's Day and the Irish Indpendent got a short interview with him and Paul McGuinness.  Both  talk a little about future plans. "We are working away and we have a couple of yearlings in the stables that could really turn out to be thoroughbreds in the future," said Bono.  Though McGuinness was "diplomatic"  in what he said, "I have heard some of the stuff the guys have played and, yeah, it is great. Bono is always an optimist but he seems confident of getting a new record out by the end of the next six months. They're talking about June. By that time we will be ready to go back on tour and I think that will give it a different flavour."

Mc Guinness also talks a little about Adam and the court case he has had to take out against his former housekeeper who has allegedly stolen a large amount of money from him.  Read the full article here .



Saturday, 26 December 2009

Oh To Be On Grafton Street on Christmas Eve!

Bono joined Glen Hansard, Damien Rice, Mundy, and others to busk on Grafton Street on Christmas Eve.  They played to raise money for the Dublin Simon Community, a group that works to prevent homelessness and help the homeless.

Bono sang "Stand By Me," "One," and "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"  with the others.  I just love it when he does things like this, especially in his home city.  Some videos have appeared on You Tube and you can watch the part of the performance in which Bono featured in below.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

We're going to be having a white Christmas for once here in Cumbria it is very rare for us.  The snow from the other day is still on the ground as it's remained cold.  On the pavements the snow has become impacted and as icy as a skating rink, I'm going out as little as possible, the dogs are getting short walks at the moment, thank heavens they don't need a lot of walking!

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas for you and yours, eat, drink and be merry!

Monday, 21 December 2009

U2 15th August at Wembley Highlights On BBC Radio 2

There I was, sitting warm and snug in my living room, curtains closed against the bitter cold and snow outside, as I listened to the highlights of U2's 15th August 360 Tour show at Wembley Stadium on Radio 2.  I was swept back to the blue skies and sunshine of that day in London - the day I saw one of the best U2 gigs of my life.  All the feelings came back and I had that silly grin on my face that I get when I am entranced with U2,  I felt the rollercoaster of emotions, the pride. 

It wasn't exactly a greatest hits set of highlights which surprised me, good to hear Magnificent, Crazy, there was no One, or Streets, and I would have loved to have heard No Line On The Horizon, Bad  and The Unforgettable Fire.  But that didn't really matter, as the atmosphere of the gig was what was most special about that show and I was able to relive it once more.  I remember well how the crowd spontaneously took over the singing on Still Haven't Found.... a magical moment amongst many special moments.

I've been a bit pissed off with U2 recently, but when I heard the highlights of that gig tonight it reminded me why I am a fan,  they are great live.  And, every now and then their music can take you to a place way beyond yourself, where you are at one with the rest of the audience and the band, and a stadium becomes as intimate as a small room.  That is special indeed....

Anyone who hasn't heard it yet can listen to it here

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Gig That Never Was .... For Us!

My friend Kath and I went to Newcastle yesterday to do some shopping and see the Scottish band Runrig.  I've seen them a few times in the past and always enjoyed their shows, for Kath it was going to be the first time, she'd had tickets to a gig of theirs once before but had been unable to go.

The weather hadn't been good over the previous 24 hours, with lots of snow in some parts of the country though none in our area, but it had snowed in Newcastle.  We were glad to see the road to Newcastle (55 miles from where we live) was fine and there was just a light dusting of snow over the countryside.

We found our hotel easily and soon were in Ikea shopping.  It was blissfully quiet in there - it's not the kind of place most people shop just before Christmas.  I only spent £25 but had a load of stuff, that's what I love about that shop!  We came out and were surprised to find the snow was falling heavily and had been for a while by the look of it.  We slithered on the roads in the car as we headed back to the hotel - England doens't often get snow and is always woefully unprepared and unable to cope with it. 

Our hotel was in Gateshead which was a few miles from the City Hall in Newcastle where the gig was being held. (That venue holds special memories for me because as a young teenager I went to some of my first gigs
there).  We decided to take a taxi into the city as the roads were lethal.  But try as we may we could not get a taxi, most firms didn't even answer their phones, reception staff at the hotel were very helpful and tried too but to no avail.   Kath and I had a discussion, our only option was to drive into the city in Kath's car and as the roads were so bad and it could keep snowing, we reluctantly decided to forgo the concert.  Luckily we had brought a bottle of wine and some nibbles with us so we ate, drank, chatted and watched TV and had a good evening. 

At least we could see the funny side of travelling 55 miles to see a gig and ending up only seeing the inside of Ikea and our hotel!  Seems Kath is doomed when it comes to seeing Runrig live, maybe it'll be third time lucky for her.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

U2 On BBC Radio 2

A one hour radio broadcast of highlights of U2's 360 Tour date at Wembley Stadium on 15th August 2009 will be aired on Monday 21st December at 7pm GMT.   You can hear it by clicking on "Listen live" on the top right of the page here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pf3tf

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Industrial Clingfilm

I was at my beauty salon getting eyebrow and lip waxing today (the joys of middle age eh? ) After the waxing I pondered on what treatment I would have next (I try to pamper myself once a month). A friend recently had a body vitamin moisturising treatment that she recommended so I asked about this. Kim, the beauty therapist, said that you get this lotion put on your body and then they cover it up with clingfilm - then she added, "..... Industrial sized clingfilm." Well I know I'm not exactly svelte, but industrial sized clingfilm!!! I just thought it was so funny and said. "I'll need that!" Kim was too polite and professional to agree LOL. So I booked an appointment next month to get wrapped in industrial sized clingfilm and be thoroughly moisturised and emerge a new woman!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bono Versus Morrissey

There was a good article in The Guardian today comparing Bono with Morrissey. I’ve always been baffled by the adoration heaped on Morrissey, as the article says, yes his music is ok, but why do people fawn over him yet rip Bono to pieces? Don’t get me wrong, I know Bono is his own worst enemy sometimes, but we all know his heart is in the right place when it comes to helping the disadvantaged and he gives the most precious thing he has to that cause – his time. He doesn’t whinge, he knows his celebrity is ridiculous sometimes, but he uses the publicity fame gives him to help others. Still people like Morrissey are lauded and Bono is viciously attacked, strange. I think the article is well written and gives a balanced view, and I wholehearedly agree with it. Read the article here .

Friday, 4 December 2009

Holidays and U2 in Q

I’m feeling good today, got my first payday for my job, great to have that extra money.  Also I’ve got a few trips planned for next year – I’m always a bit antsy when I’ve no holidays planned as has been for the last few months.  In February I’m off to Dublin for a few days with Debbi, it’s been quite a while since either of us has been there so it’ll be great to go to our fave haunts (mainly restaurants!!).  Then in April I’ve got a short trip to Iceland with my cousin Glenys.  We got a real bargain, and it was just one of those chances that was too good to miss, so I raided the savings and we’re going!  Iceland is on my “to do” list so that’s another ticked off (Berlin was one too).  Finally, in August we will be in Germany for a week seeing two U2 gigs and having a holiday too.

I’ve relaxed a little about U2, it wasn’t so much them not playing here on the tour, (after all we got shows last year when some fans so far haven’t seen U2 in their countries) it was moreso the way the whole thing has been handled and I still stand by what I wrote.   Anyway, U2 are in Q Magazine again, there are a few nice new photos and quite a funny and interesting question and answer interview (minus Larry).  My favourite quote is:

Q.  What is the thing Larry moaned about most this century?

B.   Trying to get a good cup of tea in America.  Wars could be fought over that.  Air hostesses have had their doors opened mid-flight.  He takes his tea very, very seriously.

(Larry I must agree with you on that one!) 

BEPhoto Q Magazine

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Learning a Lesson.....

I let my dogs out for a last pee last night and both dogs raced across the lawn, and came to an abrupt stop with a yelp from Pepsi. I went out to see what was going on and there, with the dogs hovering over it, was a little hedgehog curled into a ball! Weird that at the end of November a hedgehog is out and about, but the mild weather must have delayed its hibernation. Little Pepsi must have sniffed the hedgehog a bit too closely and got aquainted with it's spines LOL!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Losing U2?

I’ve given myself a few days to calm down after reading on U2.com that the only gig in the UK and Ireland U2 will be doing in 2010 is the Glastonbury festival. Now I’ve been a fan since 1983, I can read shite like this from Ian McCulloch and know it’s more sour grapes than truth, I’ve been angry with U2 over various things over the years but this has taken the biscuit for me (what a strange phrase that is!).

1. First off everyone was encouraged to re-subscribe early (five months early in my case) in order to get new presales for the 2010 tour. This made U2.com seems more like a ticket agency than anything else, I thought we paid a sub for the fan club of which a presale allocation was a possible perk? To me this was clearly a way to add to the coffers by getting expensive subscriptions early, and in a time of real financial hardship for most ordinary fans, I felt that was out of order. I didn’t re-sub and will not be doing so in March when it is due, bye bye U2.com.

2. So then there’s the announcement of Glastonbury, great (though I think it will be a tricky gig for them) but all the tickets sold out when released in October. So no U2 fans who didn’t already have Glasto tickets will be able to see U2 play there.

3. And then there’s the announcement that there will be no other gigs in the UK or Ireland. Some people say well we shouldn’t expect them to play, I don’t feel that way, I’ve always said I expect good albums and good gigs from U2, that’s their job. And when other countries the band played this year (Germany, Spain, France, USA, Canada) get more gigs in 2010 I expect that for the UK and Ireland too. They may go back on this and play at least in Ireland, I hope they do, Larry mentioned looking for somewhere in Northern Ireland to play and there were rumours of the tour finishing in Ireland. Bono often talks about his “tribe” being there, maybe the band should remember they are Irish a bit more often!

4. So what about all the fans in the UK and Ireland who resubscribed just so they would get presales for shows in their country? Well they are left pretty much high and dry, all presales for European shows except two have gone ahead and only a handful of dates have not sold out (and I’m pretty sure what’s left will be the most expensive tickets). So even if they were able to afford to travel, they are restricted to two gigs where they can use their presales to purchases tickets. Maybe more shows will be added to the tour, I hope so for the fans’ sakes.

5. A friend of mine has said she feels she is “losing” the U2 she’s loved for as long as I have and I know what she means. I’m still a fan, but my relationship with the band is being tested. I read this on @U2 and at times it touched on some of the things I feel too. I felt they were often speaking for me, they inspired me and I respected a lot of things they stood for. I still feel those things, but the latter is fast being eroded as the corporate side of U2 becomes ever more obvious.

6. The U2 Organisation has become all powerful and seems to be driven mainly by commercial values now. Don’t get me wrong the band needs to make money and profits, and needs an organisation behind them, but now that seems to be becoming more important than anything else. Bono once said that you have to be careful that in order to to defeat the monster you don’t become a monster. I think the U2 organisation (and by default U2 themselves as what it does is in their name) has now become that monster and there’s a danger that it will swallow U2 and all the special things that makes the band unique.

Monday, 23 November 2009

U2 For Glastonbury 2010

Well, well, well, after all the years of rumours that U2 would play at Glastonbury it is actually happening! They have been confirmed as playing at the festival next year. It's close shave, they are squeezing the gig in between shows in North America on the 3rd leg of the 360 Tour. I'll get to see it on TV anyway, so that's all the UK and Ireland is getting, I'm not happy. I sometimes think also that they have forgotten they are Irish! Read more here

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Floods in Cumbria

Cumbria is a rural county which rarely makes the national news, but this week we have made international news, and all because of freak weather. At the end of last week in some parts of the county twelve inches of rain fell in 24 hours, the highest rainfall ever in the UK.

Luckily for me where I live, it was wet but not to that degree, the worst rainfall was further west and south of the county. The towns of Workington and Cockermouth were worst hit, I could not believe the TV film of a raging torrent of water flowing through the main street of Cockermouth, usually a quiet, picturesque town on the edge of the beautiful Lake District. On the radio all I hear is news about closed roads, overflowing lakes, collapsing bridges. And worst of all the latter - collapsing bridges - claimed the life of policeman Bill Barker as he was helping others by stopping people crossing an unsafe bridge which gave way under his feet. My thoughts are with his family and all the people who have lost their homes in this terrible deluge. Despite our high tech society there is no power like Mother Nature unleashed.

Bill Barker, rest in peace.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Dog’s Revenge

I couldn’t stop laughing when I first saw this advertisement http://video.aol.co.uk/video-detail/pedigree-jumbone-advert/4139010538 on TV, any dog owner will relate to it I’m sure. They should make more funny ads, people remember them and it’s good to have a laugh!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Work and Concerts

Time has been flying by recently and I haven't had much time to write in my blog. I've started my job and am really enjoying my little job, who'd have thought it, my new career as a cleaner! It's totally stressfree, I just do my work and go home. I work in a lovely well loved primary school and the teachers I meet are really nice. It is two hours a day non-stop physical work and I am just getting used to it - the first week I had aching muscles in every part of my body! But now I can feel I am losing weight which can only be a good thing.

Still no UK/Irish dates. What's going on? My friends and I have bought tickets for German shows in Frankfurt and Hannover, we don't want to risk missing out on seeing U2 live next year. If it's just those two shows for me I'm ok with that, but maybe in time more dates will be announced.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Book Review: Power’s Garden, by Dianne Ebertt Beeaff

dianne bookI haven’t had much time for reading recently but I did get to read this book. It’s set in Arizona in the early part of the twentieth century and is a tale of a clash of cultures, love, death and dark family secrets. It is based around two families, the Mormon Beechams and the Texan Brennicks. There are lots of twists and turns in the storyline that keeps you hooked and wondering what will happen next.

The main characters are the gentle Malvina Beecham and the feisty Duett Brennick and, though they are very different characters, their friendship crosses the divide. They are also strong women (especially Duett who has an array of wonderful Texan phrases)who you come to admire.

The novel describes the harsh, unyielding landscape of Arizona and the difficulties early settlers had in surviving there well. I come from somewhere totally different but could easily picture the valley and homesteads in my mind from the descriptions.

Power’s Garden is good read, I would recommend it and hope that perhaps there will be a sequel in the future. You can read more about the book here www.powersgarden.com

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bono on Berlin, Germany and U2

Bono has written another guest column for the New York Times titled Five Scenes, One Theme: A True if Unlikely Story.  In this article – written in a different style from his usual - he weaves together the unity of Berlin and Germany, the fight against African poverty and the healing and rebirth of U2 through the creation of the song One.  I think it is a brilliant article, very well written with wisdom and humour. 

And I must say I think Angela Merkel’s father gave her very good advice in the words “Always be more than you appear and never appear to be more than you are.”

Read Bono’s column here

Monday, 9 November 2009

Berlin, The Brandenburg Gate, Reunification and U2

Berlin was wet, grey and very cold but I was still very excited to be there. I found the railway station at Schonefeld airport ok and got on the train that was supposed to go to a station where I could change for one near my hotel. But it didn’t go there and I had to hop off and get another train to the Ostbahnhof, but couldn’t find the train I needed so I hopped into a taxi. It was soooo cold and it was lovely to be whisked off to the hotel. The driver told me that they had their first snow today! That showed I was definitely in the east of Europe!

The hotel, Alt Berliner, was really unusual, you entered through huge, old, carved wooden doors into a gorgeous hallway with an original tiled floor. The wide flights of stairs had beautiful wooden banisters. There were various old household items in the hallway too, almost like stepping into the past. Reception was warm and cosy, the receptionist friendly. My third floor room was lovely and it looked out over an internal courtyard.

After settling in, I wrapped myself up in a warm jacket, scarf, hat and gloves and went out for walk. Potsdammer Platz, with it’s glimmering new buildings was ten minutes away. It was lively, with shops, swanky hotels, cinemas, a little market area with stalls selling food, Christmas decorations, hats and scarves, sweets, there was even a carousel for kids. I walked another five minutes and there I was on Unten den Linden (under the lindens, apparently the only trees that would grow on the street) And there on one side of the Pariser Platz was the famous Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of German reunification. Normally it stand there in the square in all it’s glory, but now all the preparations for the U2 concert filled the square, yet the Gate was still awe-inspiring even with the work going on around it.

I could hardly believe I was there, everything had happened so quickly, I’ve always wanted to go to Berlin ever since I was very young. My mother was German and when we used to go to visit relatives in Germany we got the ferry from the UK to Hook of Holland and then got the train to her home town in Westphalia in the then Western Germany. It always felt like an exciting adventure to me, I watched the station names pass by, Gouda - Utrecht – Amersfoort – Hengelo – Rheine – Osnabruck are some I remember, everything was so different. That train’s destination was sometimes Berlin, to me a mysterious place behind the Iron Curtain - in those days the Cold War was in full swing. It always fascinated me, it seemed in another world in my young mind, and in reality it was. And here I was standing at the Brandenburg gate in the now free city!

I heard lots of Irish voices around and a few fans stood by the hotel adjacent to the square, so U2 were probably staying there. It was too cold for me to hang around for them and I left and walked back to my hotel.

The next day I woke to very welcome blue skies and sunshine! After breakfast I walked to Potsdammer Platz once more to catch the sightseeing bus. I wasn’t going to be in Berlin long so I wanted to see what I could and I thought the best way to do that was to go on a tour.

One of the first things we saw was part of the Wall that remains, IMG_0839there are bits of it still around, there was also a small piece in situ in Potsdammer Platz. It looked really forbidding and to think there was twenty eight miles of that wall! Nearby was the well-known Checkpoint Charlie with tourists posing for photos with a “guard”.

We passed an area with lots of colourful Trabants. Berlin Cathedral was magnificent, strangely surrounded by a lot of open ground where building work was going on. This kind of thing was evident in many areas in the city, they are probably areas in the east that had decayed buildings now demolished and new ones will take their place. We passed the famous satellite-like TV tower, another symbol visible from many parts of the city.IMG_0840

We drove down Friedrich Strasse and the guide told us one of the U-bahn (underground) lines ran under the street, it stayed open after the division of the city and guards on the East side made sure no one got onto the trains. It was hard to imagine that this city so divided until just twenty years ago.

Then we turned into Unten den Linden, the guide mentioned the U2 concert and I could hear music, so I think the band were sound checking at that lime. We went on past the Reichstag, impressive with its glass dome representing the original cupola (the building was severely damaged by a fire in the 1930‘s and also during the war, and was not fully restored until after reunification).

IMG_0853We passed by the Tiergarten, a very large park. On a traffic island on a busy roundabout within the park was the column on top of which was the Siegessaule, the golden angel of victory, she glistened in the sunshine. Of course I was taken back to U2’s video for Stay which featured the statue.

We went on to a main shopping area of the city and I saw the famous KaDeWe store. Then shortly afterwards we were back at Potsdammer Platz where I’d joined the tour and I got off the bus. I really enjoyed the tour and it gave me a good snapshot of the city.

For my lunch I got a bratwurst at one of the market stalls, it was delicious. I walked back to my hotel in the sunshine. As I walked along I noticed how relatively litter-free the streets were. It also amused me how obedient most Germans were at pedestrian crossings, waiting for the green go symbol even if there is no traffic in sight! My friend Chris told me something interesting about the traffic lights. There were two kinds, one rather like what we have in the UK and other set featuring a red symbol of a man with a hat holdin180px-Ampelmann_svgg out his arms for stop and a walking man with a hat in green for go. The latter type (known as ampelmann) are the East German lights, one of the few things to remain intact from East in the modern city. They are quite cute!

At 2.30 I set off for the meeting point I’d arranged with Chris. On the way I passed the Holocaust Memorial, dozens and dozens of coffin-shaped black granite blocks of different sizes. It was moving in it’s simplicity and a beautiful memorial.

I met up with Chris at the hotel beside the Brandenburg Gate. It was lovely to see her again, we hadn’t managed to meet up during the tour earlier this year, so this unexpected opportunity to meet up was lovely. She introduced me to her friends, a lively bunch of people who were very friendly and kind to me. We all went to an outdoor café near the Gate for something to eat and drink. Tiny bottles of vodka shots appeared from everyone’s pockets and they generously shared then with me, they warmed me up! It was starting to get dark by now and the temperature was dropping rapidly.

At 5pm some of us went into the concert site leaving the other still hitting the shots and beer. My ticket was for a different area, so after arranging a meeting point for after the show, Chris and I went our separate ways.

I could have got fairly near the front but because I’m not very tall it was pointless staying there as I couldn’t see over people in front. So I went much further back and I could see the stage pretty well from there. Time dragged and the cold started to bite. The crowd was easy going and I heard quite a few languages around me, there was a tangible excitement in the air. Floodights shone into the sky their beams hitting the very low cloud peppering it with discs of light, giving the impression that there was a grey canopy overhead.

The gig was supposed to start at 6.30pm, but that came and went. I paced about to try to warm up, no U2, it started to rain, the drops sparkled like diamonds as they were illuminated in the beams of light.

IMG_0856

The rain didn’t last long thank heavens. Quarter to seven no U2. More pacing, I cursed Irish time, I was so cold. At last at 7pm U2 came came onstage to massive applause and cheers from the crowd. They went straight into One. As the music swept over me I suddenly felt really emotional, tears came to my eyes and I had a lump in my throat. I think it was a combination of seeing U2 again, being in Berlin, the significance of the event and the general emotional atmosphere within the crowd. I was so moved. Colourful graphics relating to the Wall were beamed onto the Brandenburg Gate during the song and it worked really well. Next was Magnificent which was wonderful, what a brilliant song that is! The third song was Sunday Bloody Sunday, a song I am really tired of in live shows, but for this occasion it was appropriate, Bono changed the lyrics too. Jay-Z joined the band on stage and rapped for a while, something I could have done without, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

Bono talked a little about Berlin and recalled the time the band spent there whilst recording Achtung Baby “wrote some tunes, met some beautiful spirits". Another time he said - in a strong southern US drawl - “swayin’ like a field of golden corn” (or something very similar) I’ve no idea what he was talking about!

Next was Beautiful Day another very appropriate song for the occasion, again I felt very emotional and I never normally feel like that during that song. I think it again was the atmosphere and the crowd singing on top of their voices, I could only imagine how special this occasion felt for native Berliners.

Vertigo rocked, and they closed with Moment of Surrender. Short but wonderful, U2 never disappoint live. For those who have read about U2 erecting a “wall” around the gig site that’s rubbish. There was a security fence around the site which I fully expected. There were rumours of up to 100,000 people coming to listen and they needed to have some safety measures in place. Also anything that was done at that gig was nothing to do with U2 anyway as it was an MTV production.

The crowd dispersed and I met up with Chris and we went back to the café to meet up with her friends. During the gig I hadn’t felt or thought of the cold, but now sitting in this outside café it really got to me. After a while I said I’d have to go as I was so cold. So I said my goodbyes to Chris and her friends and walked back. I passed the back entrance of the hotel and a handful of (hardy!) fans were waiting for the band. I walked past, no way was I going to join them, all I could think of was to get out of the cold!

At the hotel I had a hot coffee in the restaurant before going to my room. I was still cold, had a hot shower, slightly warmer, turned the heating up as high as it would go and after about twenty minutes I felt better (I am very cold-blooded!). How I suffer for U2!

Looking back now on the trip I almost find it hard to believe it happened! It was all so quick. Berlin is one of the most unusual cities I’ve visited and I find it hard to sum up how it felt for me. Berlin is a city that has risen up from the ashes twice in 45 years, it’s been ripped apart and is trying to heal itself. Much of the city I saw has re-grown into a vibrant modern place, but there are still scars of the past, maybe the Fall of the Wall celebrations will help them heal.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Brandenburg is GO!

Well, thanks to good friends in Germany who had a spare ticket for the U2 Brandenburg concert I am going to Berlin next week! Today (well yesterday now) I've been frantically making the travel arrangements inbetween events of an already busy day. But I got it sorted and will have a few days in Berlin to make the trip worth it. U2 alone are worth the trip but as I've written before, it's a city I've always wanted to visit so I have time to see some of the sights as well as U2!

Thanks a million Chris and Andy for thinking of me!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Brandenburg Concert-o!

Late last night U2.com announced that U2 were going to play in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on November 5th as part of the EMTV Awards Show. Their appearance also marks the beginning of the Fall of the Wall celebrations marking 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was re-united. I can hardly believe it was that long ago!

10,000 free tickets were up for grabs from 9am CET, I tried for them (though it would have been a bad time financially for me to go, I've always wanted to go to Berlin and some U2 things you just have to have a go for no matter what don't you?) but the site either froze or locked me out. Oh well, I never win anything anyway! The performance will be broadcast during the Awards show, the U2 set is supposed to be 20 minutes long, I hope they show all of it. At least I'll be warm and snug watching it on my TV, Berlin in November can be very chilly!

360 Ending and Coming Around Again

So tonight, in Vancouver, is the last gig of the 2nd leg of U2's 360 Tour. It's been a shorter tour than usual, but of course we have it all over again next year. Maybe the boys ar epacing themselves now they are hitting 50 LOL! I've enjoy the shows I saw in the summer, though am still not convinced that the claw actually does get the band nearer the audience. Though spectacular, it sometimes comes close to over shadowing the band, and the outer walkway if not utilised enough by the band members can seem like a barrier to those on the outside of it.

No UK or Irish announced yet either, and not that many places to fit any in. Surely they will play those countries again? My friend and I are nervously holding off buying gigs for other European countries (though we have been thinking of going for a couple of German gigs that still have tickets available) in the hope we'll know if we have gigs closer to home to work into the logistics! Please U2.com, let us know one way or another!

We have also been musing on seeing a show in the US again, namely in New York. Though I've been to the US a few times, I've never been to New York so I'd like to go there and take in a gig at the same time. I've been faithfully collecting Tesco points and converting them to airmile and I have quite a lot now which would pay for a big chunk of the airfare! We're going to decide one way or another when the New York gig goes on sale.

So, it's goodbye to one phase of U2 360 and planning for the next! Though it will drain the finances even more I can't wait for it all!

Friday, 23 October 2009

I ordered a foldable, soft dog crate on the Internet and it arrived today. I could not believe the size of the box and amount of packing there was for this relatively small item, in fact I thought they had sent me the wrong size crate! But they hadn't, below is a photo of the box and packaging and the crate, no wonder the forests are disappearing!!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Smile!

The Daily Mail has done it again with a great animal picture. This bull seal was obviously having a great day whilst lounging on a beach in Lincolnshire. How can you not smile along with him? Read all about him here


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Thankless Task....

I was sitting in a traffic jam today and saw a man doing what must be the most thanksless job ever - sweeping up leaves on a windy day. No sooner had he got a heap of leaves together than the wind blew them all away again. Yet he patiently plodded on with his work, sweeping another pile together and repating the process over and over. I think the City Council should be a bit more practical and get the poor man one of those leaf sucker machines (no idea what their proper name is)!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mission Control It's Bono and Edge!

Bono and his sons Eli and John and Edge visited Mission Control at NASA in Houston the other day and had a fifteen minute chat with astronauts on the International Space Station. Some lovely moments (Harold the giraffe!) and what an amazing experience for Bono's boys, something I'm sure they'll never forget.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Proclaimers Live

A while ago my cousin Glenys asked me if I fancied going to see The Proclaimers. I'm not a massive fan of theirs, but I have this thing now that if anyone asks me to do something and I can afford it and don't hate the thought of it I'll do it, so I said yes. Last night I went to the concert here in my home city.

The Proclaimers must be one of the strangest bands around, twin brothers with short, neat hair and geeky glasses, they sing in a Scottish accent instead of the usual mid-Atlantic drawl. They are not cool, but they are unique and certainly do have staying power. It is over twenty years since they had their hit records in the UK, though there has been a bit of a re-surgence in their popularity since "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was re-recorded with various famous people as part of Comic Releif in 2007 and released as a charity single.

The venue was full with young and old, after the gi-normous U2 set-up it felt strange to see a small gig like this. The Proclaimers' music is very Scottish, rousing, singalong, contemplative, the lyrics being of more substance than many people realise, moving personal words, biting political ones and all inbetween. A lot of their songs are well observed tableaux of ordinary life and I think this is one of the things that appeals to people, the Reid twins even look very ordinary, people can relate to them and their music.

The crowd had a whale of a time, it was all standing so there was a lot of dancing - I've never seen so many men bopping in my life, I think the beer they were consuming was part of it! But it was fun and there was a party atmosphere. Carlisle is on the border with Scotland so we are as much Scottish as English! The well known songs, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), "Letter From America" (about the clearances in the Highlands and subsequent emigration of many people) and "I'm On My Way" went down really well. But the other songs they played were well received too. Throughout, the singing was impeccable, with fabulous harmonies.
So, all in all a good night, the "ordinary" guys who are truly unique entertained us well - and ever since I've been singing:
"And I would walk 500 my-els
And then would walk 500 mo-or
Just to be the man who walks a thousand my-els
To fall doon at your do-wa
Da da da (da da da)
Da da da (da da da)........."

God it's a catchy tune!




Saturday, 3 October 2009

Tour Jitters!

More dates are coming onsale for the U2 360 2010 European Tour and I'm getting jittery! This time I think we will be approaching getting the tickets differently. I'm not re-subscribing to get a presale, I think it's disgusting that they are making fans do that when things are hard for ordinary people financially and I'm not going along with it. So, we'll probably be going the route of public sales and red zone. At the 2nd London and Glasgow you could buy tickets on the day at the stadiums, so I think we will be ok. It's just a bit weird doing it this way after all the years of getting most of our tickets via the fan club. But hey, who needs U2.com?!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Autumn Scene

I saw the photo below in the Daily Mail (which often has wonderful animal photos) the other day, it's Britain's smallest mammal, the harvest mouse. They are quite endangered and this fellow feasting on blackberries is one of a group of harvest mice released by the Secret World animal rescue centre in Somerset. It is hoped they will start to breed and establish a colony in that part of the country.
I thought, beside it being such a cute photo, it was really symbolic of Autumn. Good luck to the harvest mice, they are too gorgeous to lose from our countryside! You can read the full article here

Photo by Richard Austin, taken from the Daily Mail website

No Way!

Well U2.com is annoying me once again! I've been checking about presale codes for the 2010 European shows because (as usual with this pathetic site) it's not clear if current subscribers will get another code. It seems that in order to get another code you will have to re-subscribe before the presale date of the particular show you want to see. So, if I wanted to say, go for the presale for Vienna on the 29th September, I would have to re-subscribe now even though my present sub does not expire for over five months!

To my knowledge this is the earliest that tickets have ever gone on sale for a U2 tour, why should we re-subscribe early because of that and fill U2.com's coffers If you are a paid up subscriber you should get a presale code, simple. In my eyes this is a blatant money-grabbing venture, which I think is pretty awful considering how difficult times are for ordinary people in the recession at the moment. Fans are being forced into parting with a very expensive fanclub subscription early in irder to get presale codes. The only good thing about it is that the extra subscription is going to be added onto the current sub so you don't lose any months. This is the corporate monster of U2 which I hate, if they weren't so damed brilliant live I'd tell them to feck off! I just renewed my REM subscription for $12, you get a fabulous Christmas package, regular newsletters by post and I even got happy birthday email, a lovely personal touch. Now that's what I call a brilliant fanclub! I hate U2.com.

Sorry for ranting but I had to get that out of my system!

Friday, 25 September 2009

I've Got A Job!

Isn't life strange? I'd just started seriously looking for a job after a year of being retired, then a flyer pops through my letterbox advertising a cleaning job at a village primary school close to where I live. I phoned the contact person and today went for my interview at the school and was offered the job! Of course it is subject to references etc, but I don't think there will be any problems there.

The school is lovely, well looked after, a typical village school. I'll work ten hours a week, just a couple of hours a day and the good thing is during school holidays, though I still have to do my ten hours, I can do them anytime in the week, so could do a couple of days of five hours and have the rest of the week off.

So, in a small way I'm back into the world of the working person!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

2010 U2 360 European Tour Dates!

Yikes this caught me unawares, I'm all a-dither! I didn't think the big announcement on U2.com would be tour dates for next year. Some of the dates have presales (where are the codes then?) next Tuesday! Good way for the promoters to get lots of interest on our money for tickets bought a year in advance! Still, it is obviously definite that there will be a tour next year and there are a lot of long gaps so more dates will be added. Here are the dates (with presale/public sale dates in brackets):

10 August 2010: Commerzbank Arena, Frankfurt, Germany
12 August 2010: AWD Stadium, Hannover, Germany
15 August 2010: CASA Arena Horsens, Horsens, Denmark (29 September / 3 October)
20 August 2010: Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland (29 September / 5 October)
25 August 2010: Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia
30 August 2010: Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna, Austria (29 September / 3 October)
3 September 2010: Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece
6 September 2010: Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
15 September 2010: Olympic Stadium, Munich, Germany
18 September 2010: Stade De France, Paris, France
29 September 2010: Olympic Stadium, Seville, Spain
2 October 2010: Estádio Cidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A Year!

It was my birthday the other day (had a lovely time, thanks to everyone for the cards and gifts) and that meant that I have now been retired for a year! I can hardly believe it, it's flown by. Most of that year has been brilliant, lots of travelling, lots of U2, lots of time to do what I really want to do. I honestly wonder how I fitted everything in and worked as well, but that's what people do don't they?

The hardest thing about stopping work has been to adjust to living on less money, but I am managing. Don't get me wrong, I know I am very lucky to be able to retire at a relatively young age and still get a thrill when my work pension appears in my account and I haven't worked for it! But then, I earned it over 30 years for it really.....

Another thing that was surprisingly hard for me was to stop being a nurse, I hadn't realised just how much nursing had become a part of me. It was a stronger part of my identity than I ever thought. I had to renew my yearly nursing registration just before I retired and that registration ran out at the end of August. Part of me wanted to renew it so I was still, legally, a nurse, yet part of me knew I had to move on and leave that part of my life behind. And that's what I did, so now I cannot practice as a qualified nurse.

After my year off I am ready to find a part time job now. I'm not really bothered what, but I'm ready to move on to something new, so I'm out there looking.....

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Canadian Interview With Bono

I can't keep up with all the plethora of interviews, reviews etc about the North American leg of the 360 Tour, though it all seems to be going well. But here's one interview with Bono I did get to read, it's quite short but has a few interesting snippets for fans. Hope he isn't just waxing lyrical about the albums in them, you know what he's like! Also, I think that reporter should be grateful it wasn't Bono driving that SUV! Read the interview here

A Walk in Swineside (It's Nicer Than It Sounds!)

We've been enjoying an Indian Summer, the weather has been sunny and warm and I've been out and about a lot to make the most of it before the winter sets in. The other day I set off for Mungrisdale and Caldbeck Common close to the Lake District (but no where near as crowded!). I'd discovered this area by accident when my friend Dianne was staying with me and we took a shortcut home along a road I had never been on before. It was gorgeous there and we met the friendly little fell ponies that wander over the common for the first time.

My friend Kath had told me about a place very close by called Swineside, so I decided to go there and explore. I turned right in the village of Mosedale and drove along the narrow road into a valley flanked by Carrock on the right and Bowscale Fell on the left. The fledgling River Caldew (the source of which is Skiddaw mountain not far away) ran through the centre of the valley. The fells were just changing into their Autumn colours, the bracken was turning rust red and there was a whisper of lilac as the heather started to bloom - a couple of weeks later and the rust red and lilac would be stunning.


The road gently eased to the left still following the valley, and new mountains came into view -Coomb, Great Calva and the instantly recognisable Blencathra also known as Sabbleback. You can continue along the valley on foot along a very good bridleway. This is exactly what Pepsi, Max and I did. There were a few other people walking too, but not many and it was incredibly peaceful. I'm not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and I always feel a spirituality about places like this - nature to me is better than any church, and there is a permanence about places like this. I find it humbling to walk in such a beautiful place and know that I am following in the footsteps of generations of other people who saw the same river, mountains and fells. Some of these people will not have felt like me, these places were only really opened up and romanticised in the 19th Century, before that they were considered harsh and scary. The mountains can still be harsh and weather unpredictable, but in the modern world that has made places more accessible, we have learned to appreciate the powerful beauty of nature.

It was the perfect day weather-wise, warm and sunny, the Caldew bubbled over its rocky bed close by, otherwise there was no sound, so rare is our hectic world and I loved it! Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to live in an isolated place, but I love visiting them.



Afterwards I drove the short distance to Caldbeck Common as I had some apples for the ponies (last time they had nuzzled our pockets so they are used to being fed!) A few ambled across and let me stroke them and wolfed down the apples. They were very sweet and cute, short and stocky with rough haired coats and manes that hung over their eyes - they'll need that coat to protect them when the weather becomes colder, the common is very open and I'm sure the wind whistles through there at a pace. But those ponies may be little, but they look tough too!



So that was my day at Swineside (wonder how it got that name?). Simple, but very enjoyable, it's always good to discover places near to where you live that you fall in love with and will visit again and again.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dog Emergency!

Got up today, and as usual, I was my normal slow grumpy self (I'm not a morning person as people who know me well can attest to!) I was just about to give the dogs their breakfast when I noticed Pepsi had something in his basket. It was a sleeve of eight Paracetamol tablets and one was missing. Somehow Pepsi had opened my handbag and got it out and eaten one tablet. Well Paracetamol is a highly toxic painkiller, people have been known to die after relatively small overdoses and here was my 4.5 kilo dachshund having eaten a whole tablet! He hadn't had anything to eat either so it would get into his system faster. With my nursing experience I knew that you have a window of time when you can remedy the situation by giving an emetic and an antidote. I rang the vets and was told to bring him in as they would have to make him sick. So I flew up there and he was given the emetic.

I sat outside in the sunshine with him whilst he threw up over and over again. I felt so sorry for him, I could see he was distressed and not sure what was happening. Pepsi is always so bright and happy it was sad to see him like this, but it had to be done.

I went off with a dachshund feeling very sorry for himself, the antidote and a lot poorer - why are vets so expensive? Luckily I can get the nasty smelling antidote into Pepsi ok. The vet says because I got him there fast he will be ok, but it just shows you how easily disasters can happen. Needless to say I have taken the Paracetamol out of my handbag!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

A Midsummer Night's Dream has long been a favourite Shakespeare play of mine. My friend Kath and I went to the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick to see it a few days ago. On our way we had a lovely meal at the Troutbeck Inn which really made a night of it. Unfortunately it poured with rain all the way to Keswick and all the way back (and all the time inbetween I'm pretty sure!). The theatre is situated close to Derwent Water, such a lovely setting. It is small but comfortable and has had some wonderful productions.

Kath and I had good seats five rows back in the stalls and had a brilliant view. I was pleased to see it was a traditional production (I'm not that into modern adaptations, though they do sometimes work well.) The humans were dressed in Elizabethan-style costumes and the fairies floaty gossamer, flowers with ivy, Oberon and Puck more animal-like and earthy.

The thing I love about this play is it's contrasts, the human/fairy worlds, poles apart, yet drawn together that night. The raucous humour of the amateur actors doing their play for the nobles. Then there is the beautifully poetic language of the fairies, so much in touch with and a part of nature. I thought this production caught all this so well with the costumes and set. The set was simple but adaptable and worked very well. The acting was excellent. The photo in this article is taken from the Theatre by the Lake website, go here for more information.

I especially love some of Puck's lines, the likeable rogue has some of the best lines. Seeing this play made me realise once more what a genius Shakespeare was and how good he was at capturing a spirit that has never aged or become alien to generations. Hundreds of years after the play was written people can still laugh heartily, feel wonder at and love the words he created.

Let Puck finish this review for me:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Autumn

God it's September already, and don't I know it. There a nip of autumn in the air, winter clothes have replaced the tee shirts and sun dresses, the bright colours are muted, Christmas cards and displays are appearing, days are getting shorter.

It's not my favourite time of year but I'm determined not to get too down that winter is approaching, and I've got many projects on the go. The main ones being to look for a part time job and to - maybe - write a book.

The job firstly will be useful to help to pay off the credit card that got a lot of use during U2 360! Plus I need to save for the next round of the tour in 2010. I enjoyed this years gallivanting so much I want to do as much as am able to next year.

The thoughts about writing a book come from a trip I did with my friend Dianne when she was staying with me in August. We went to The Devil's Porridge exhibition not far from where I live. It is about a huge World War One munitions factory that stretched for nine miles and had thousands of workers making cordite. It was dangerous work mainly done by women. It was absolutely fascinating and as we were looking round the exhibition Dianne (who is a writer) said, "Now here's a novel waiting to be written, you should do it." And that got me thinking, maybe I could do it? So at present I'm just doing some research, I'm not sure I could write something as long as a novel, all my writing has been of relatively short articles, but I'll see!

In the meantime you can read a little about The Devil's Porridge exhibition here

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

U2 360 Ramblings.....

It's been over a week now since my last U2 360 show and I've had time to think back to the gigs, and look at them a bit more objectively than when I was in the midst of it all. I'm not going to go it too deeply (U2 gets analysed to death sometimes) but I'll just write about my personal feelings about the whole experience.

Overall I would say this is a great tour, though not truly 360 degrees, they would have to be in the centre of the stadiums to achieve that and boy that would be brilliant! The claw is best viewed from a distance, you missed lot of the lighting effects if you were close to it and sometimes they are really beautiful. Willie really is a genius with his lighting effects. U2 don't really need anything like the claw, the music speaks for itself, but these days concerts tend to need to be theatrical, the casual concert goer wants spectacle as well as good music and the claw certainly was stunning.

At present I feel they do not utilise the walkway enough, in fact in the early shows if you were not in the inner circle it felt almost like a barrier as it was used so little. But gradually they are using it more and that's something they need to keep working on, it's a large area to cover but between them they could manage it. Doing a set of songs there would be nice. Also they, and especially Bono, needs to give equal "viewing" to people on all sides, sometimes he favours one side far too much.

The band were very tight musically and Bono's voice fabulously strong, I love the way his voice sounds nowadays, it has matured well (like the man himself!). His energy simply amazing, I wish I had a quarter of it LOL!

No one was taken up on stage in any of the shows I saw, though I know it has happened occasionally on this tour. I missed that because it was always symbolic, Bono had each one of us on stage with him in that person. Maybe the band felt that was becoming a cliche or something, but for fans like me it is an integral part of what U2 are all about and was missed.

The repeated theme of the show is time, clocks in various forms appear on the video screens throughout the gig, even the robotic-voiced poem prior to Ultraviolet is called Stop All The Clocks.... Time has been mentioned a lot in their most recent lyrics too. Maybe it's inevitable that when the band is approaching 50, a major point in anyones life, their thoughts would turn to getting older, change, endings, new beginnings, different pathways. It's interesting for fans like me who are a similar age and are going through a lot of the life changes the band are, we can definitely relate to it.

Each show was different, but two stood out for me. The first Dublin one for the sheer, raw emotion. The crowd showed their love for the local lads and Bono was almost bursting with emotion at being back home. It created a powerful and electric atmosphere.

The second show was Wembley 2, which is without doubt my favourite show of the six I saw. It was one of those special u2 shows that takes you to another place. There was lots of fun and chat, lots of emotion and wave upon wave of energy sweeping back and forth between the band and audience. It was one of those emotional roller coaster gigs, that leaves you stunned at the end - we all could not talk for a while afterwards, you know it's a special show when that happens!

The best sound was in Nice, it was crystal clear there. I think that is because it was a stadium with a low tier of seats and so sound was able to drift away and not reverberate back from the building. The sound wasn't bad for any of the gigs I was at (maybe lucky in where I was) but in some places there was a slight echo.

Favourite songs? Simply love No Line On The Horizon, especially the bit when they all crash in at "Traffic cop"! I love the abandon of that song, there's a rawness about it that I always love in U2's music.

The other new song I love, grew to love, was Crazy. Initially I wasn't sure about the remix version but each time I heard it I loved it more and more. To me it seems like Bono is gradually creating a character in this song, a mad, almost out of control person, sleazy, dangerous to know. He's getting badder and badder.... maybe he'll have eyeliner on in the US? Love the bit where he screams, "RIOT!"

It's heaven to hear Bad again, what more can I say? Good to hear Ultraviolet too, not too sure about the "suit of lights" though.

I miss all the madness, the gigs, travelling, friends, pizza at 2am, going to bed at 5am, up at noon, queues a mile long, being with people who know what you mean when you say, "It's not a hill it's a mountain." But, hopefully, we'll be lucky enough to do it all again next year - just get that album out on time boys!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

U2 360 Tour - Glasgow 18th August - Our Last Show!

Monday morning (we were up in good time, having gone to bed at midnight, a record for us on this tour!)and we headed off to Liverpool Street station on the Tube - it seemed to take forever, and it was very warm. Once there we got our (expensive) tickets for the airport train to Stansted from where we were flying to Glasgow. Everything went smoothly and we stepped out of Glasgow airport to a cool and showery evening. We decided to get a taxi to our accommodation in the city centre. The driver asked if we were in town for the U2 concert and we said yes, he said he was surprised as we "Didn't look like U2 fans", he added that we looked, "Too classy"! A very diplomatic Glaswegian LOL.

We were renting an apartment near the Central Station which turned out to be absolutely lovely, large with everything we needed and very handy too. After a cup of tea we went out and got our shopping at a nearby Tesco's. It was spitting with rain and a lot nippier than in London, what a difference 400 miles makes! But I was glad to be in a city on a more human scale than London.

We then went to a Chinese restaurant called Ho Wong only a five minute walk away from the apartment that I had found on the Net. It was situated in a not too appealing area some of which seems to be getting demolished. Reviews had mentioned the area but said the restaurant was very good. This turned out to be true, the restaurant had a smart, modern decor and a relaxing atmosphere. The food was fabulous, full of delicate flavours that I had not encountered in other Chinese places. It was quite expensive, but worth every penny.

We went back to our apartment just in time for the arrival of our friend Alan, along with a friend of his called Doreen who we'd met briefly in London. It was especially nice to see Alan again, we don't see him very much now that the U2 tribute band he sang in has split up.

Next morning our friend Dawn arrived - Glasgow was to be her first U2 360 show and she was very excited about it. We got the train to Mount Florida from the Central Station close to our apartment. The journey to Hampden Park took ten minutes, then it was five minutes from the station to the stadium. The first thing we had to do was pick up our red zone tickets. Then we looked for where the band might arrive as we were going to wait for them as Dawn had never met any of them. She did know it was unlikely that would happen there, but there was no harm in trying.

The wind became quite strong and there were intermittent light showers. At one point the wind blew over part of a nearby merchandise stand, people tried to re-erect it in vain, the wild Scottish weather was the winner!

We had no luck seeing the band arrive, in fact they had not arrived (so no soundcheck) by time we were allowed into the red zone area. We got a really good place near the front end of the zone, just where we wanted to be. Dawn went to the toilet at 6.15pm and saw U2's cars arrive with a police escort, that's pretty last minute! The toilets, by the way, were lovely, no scummy portaloos in Glasgow. We had a portacabin with separate male/female toilets, and proper toilets too, with lots of toilet paper (VERY important!), nice handwash, and the best bit of all - it was deliciously warm! So we went along regularly to warm up as well as use the loo as it was a cool evening.

U2 hit the stage at around 8.20pm. After Magnificent Bono sang part of Flower Of Scotland which the whole audience joined in with patriotically. During Get On Your Boots Bono and Larry faced it other and belted out "Let me in the sound, let me in the sound" at each other. For some reason the screen stayed up during Vertigo and so the "spinning" effect wasn't as good.

The audience sang along to Still Haven't Found.... and Bono turned the mic to the crowd and said, "They can hear you at Celtic Park!" Referring to a football match with one of Glasgow's teams, Celtic, taking place the same evening.

Crazy was absolutely fabulous once more, think it's my fave song from the concerts (if Bad isn't played). The band used the walkway more than most shows I'd seen, but not as much as at Wembley 2. I feel that is something they need to work on, how to best utilise the walkway.

Once more Bono praised Great Britain saying that "What makes a country great is how it treats the poor and Great Britain treats them with respect."

During MLK things started to go wrong technically big time . For some reason the bass became almost unbearably loud and deep. It was actually physically uncomfortable where we stood, our bodies vibrated with each note, it felt horrible.

The next song was Walk On and the technical problem continued. The bass was still as painfully powerful and instruments kept cutting out and starting again, then finally there was no sound. Maybe Joe had turned the sound off as it was such a mess, I don't know. The band continued playing and singing and at first the audience sang along too, supporting the band. But as the silence went on and on and the band kept playing a the crowd started to jeer and whistle, which I felt was a shame as it wasn't the bands fault there was a problem like this. But maybe Bono should have used his front man skills and encouraged the crowd to keep singing, but he didn't, I think that was an error, but he was probably panicking inside so I'll forgive him that. It did seem a bit odd to have the band playing on like that as it lasted quite a while. But of course they don't know if the sound has come right again if they aren't playing do they, so maybe that's why they continued. At one point Bono looked round at Edge and didn't have a very happy expression on his face. Some people have written that the band didn't know the sound was off, but I'm sure they did, as when the sound came back on Bono punched the air with a fist and a big cheer rose up from the crowd.

The sound wasn't quite right for the rest of the show but at least the fillings weren't being rattled in our teeth anymore! In Ultraviolet the smoke machines went a bit mad, there was far too much smoke! There was a lot of emotion in With Or Without You, and, it seemed, also anger. Rather than the usual ending Bono added, "It's over, it's over" then adding vehemently, "It's not over". Not sure what he meant with that. As usual they ended with Moment of Surrender which I still think is not the ideal closing song.


It was a good show, not a great one. There were a few funny moments like when Bono, who had his glasses on top of his head for a long time, couldn't see and kept wiping the glasses on his tee shirt, then he pretended to be blind and staggered towards Edge with a grin. The technical mishap they couldn't help, I think Bono should have said something about it afterwards, but he never mentioned it at all, except saying "Let's hope they don't have a match the same night next time, we might have better luck." which could have referred to that or the fact they were so late arriving (probably stuck in traffic heading to the match and concert).

I was sad at the end of the gig, that was U2 360 over for me. But I also knew I was very lucky to have been able to see six gigs, visit three countries and even meet Bono during the five weeks I was on tour - and we might have it all over again next year if the guys get that album finished!

We headed for the train station and were diverted by the police to the biggest queue I have ever seen - it took fifteen minutes just to reach the end of it! The showers started once more, strangely it had stopped raining for all the time U2 were on and then started again after the show..... spooky! But, mercifully, the queue moved fast and we were at the Central Station in the city centre by midnight (passing a pair of incredibly high, black patent leather stiletto shoes whose owner had stepped out of and left behind on the concourse, on our way out! Her feet must have been kiling her LOL). We were back at our apartment five minutes later.

Our night was just beginning, we had decided to have a party and buffet, so we got that ready, we washed it down with wine and champagne. We also had a U2 quiz with questions we each had prepared, that was fun, Debbi won and I was second. It was nice to end our tour with a party and toast to U2 and the next tour! We rolled into bed at 5am once more.

So, looking back what was my favourite show? Well, it is a close run between Dublin 1 and Wembley 2. In the end I have to say the winner is Wembley 2, it was an absolutely stunning gig, one of those unique shows that transcends just being a concert and moves to another plane. So those of you who still have concerts ahead of you, enjoy, you'll have a ball!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

J W Waterhouse - The Modern Pre-Raphaelite

Sunday 16th August was our day off - no travelling and no U2 gig. We had intended to go to Hampton Court, but as we had pizza and wine at 2am (No more pizza pleeeeease!), went to bed at 4am and got up late morning we realised that we didn't have time to go to Hampton Court which really takes a full day to see. I'd noticed before heading to London that there was a J W Waterhouse exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts. Waterhouse has been a favourite of mine since I was a teenager when I had posters of Hylas And The Water Nymphs and Echo And Narcissus on my bedroom wall inbetween all the pop star posters.

Debbi and Dianne just wanted to chill that day, but Julie decided to come along with me. As it was Sunday the Tube wasn't too busy which was a relief, I'm really not a big city person. We got off at Piccadilly and walked the short distance to The Royal Academy. It was an amazing building, approached through ornate gates and a beautifully decorated archway. There was a internal courtyard, one side colonnaded, it reminded me a little of our favourite square in Nice. There were fountains and a cafe with seat outside. People were enjoying the beautiful sunny day there.

We entered the building which was fantastic in it's own right, highly decorated with marble steps. We got our tickets and made the mistake of taking the stairs to the Sackler Wing where the exhibition was being held - they seemed to last forever! The paintings were fabulous, there is something so awe-inspiring about seeing the actual brush strokes in a painting you love, it somehow brings you closer to the art and the person who produced it. I saw my two favourite Waterhouse paintings from my teenage years up close and it was such a thrill, they were as beautiful in real life as in the reproductions I'd had. I especially loved his chalk sketches of female heads for various paintings.

There was a first edition of Tennyson poems owned by Waterhouse in which he had done beautiful little sketches in. I knew he was influenced by the Greek myths, but learned from the exhibition that he was also influenced by contemporaries such as Tennyson and past poets like Shelly.

There were around 40 paintings, not too big an exhibition, and I just loved it! The pictures are very beautiful and well painted, Waterhouse's depiction of fabric of all kinds is stunning. It was such a treat to be able to see this exhibition, it's on until the 13th September, try and see it if you are in London, it's well worth the trip.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Photos On Flickr

I've put my U2-related photos from the 360 Tour up on Flickr go here to view them. Will be continuing my U2 Tour musings soon.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

U2 360 Tour - Wembley 2, 15th August ..... Magic!

Got up at noon, met up with Dianne and went to pick up our Red Zone tickets. We then decided to wait for the band arriving. Not many fans were waiting and it was pleasant in the warm sunshine. At 3.30 a silver people carrier came in, someone noticed Bono's security man in the front so we knew Bono was probably in the back but of course we could not see because of the blacked out windows. The car stopped a few yards down the entry road and out got Bono and headed towards us. That's always the moment your heart stops and you can't believe what you are seeing that's Bono walking towards us!


The fans were well behaved and formed a line which Bono went along chatting and shaking hands with people. He looked well, dressed in denim shirt and trousers and a black tee shirt. He stopped when he got to Debbi and I, he recognised us which was lovely to see. He said hello and shook our hands, his hand was warm and very soft, his eyes very blue through the gently shaded glasses (they look really dark in the photos).

Debbi said that his voice was really good at the moment to which he replied, (something like this
anyway)"Thanks, I thought I was singing good." He then asked us how the sound was "Because the sound was bouncing back at me". We told him that it was good where we sat. He asked whereabout we were, Debbi said that we were in seats to the side of the stage to which I added, "On Edge's side in the lower tier." Bono nodded and said he was glad the sound was ok for us because he "Was worried about that." He then shook Julie's hand and waved at people above who were shouting down at him, before going back inside.

I looked round at my friends and, like me, they all had big grins on their faces. It's amazing what an effect Bono has on people! We were thrilled to meet him again as it had been quite a while since our last meeting and there haven't been a lot of fan meetings so far on this tour, so we were very lucky too.

We went back to our hotel and had a meal, we were all giddy and over-chatty, I wonder why? LOL! Then we went back to the stadium to the red zone. We got on the barrier towards back of the side of the stage if that makes sense. It was a good position, no one in front to block the view as the security pit around the walkway was in front of us.

We had three hours to kill before U2 were on. We sat for a while, went to the toilets set aside for the red zone (two portaloos). We chatted and time passed. The support bands came on, first was The Hours who I really enjoyed. Then Glasvegas who sounded very like Elvis Costello and were not very impressive in my opinion.

Another early start - 8.15 - David Bowie's voice rang out and the show was blasting off. Being close to the stage in the red zone, we felt part of it as the dry ice flowed out of the claw's legs and from under the stage. Kingdom rang out, the green ticking clocks appeared on the video screens, Larry came on stage and sat at the drums, then played the intro to Breathe, Adam, Edge and Bono came onstage and the show was on!

Bono seemed very relaxed and talked quite a lot during this show. He told a story about Joe O'Herlihy visiting Wembley when the new stadium was being built, and while there he placed one of Edge's plectrums in the foundations. So now Edge is always part of Wembley. Sounds a bit of an Irish tall tale to me, but it got a good reaction from the crowd!

It was noticeable that the band used the walkway more tonight, which was exactly what we felt was needed. Hope they keep that up, that will stop it being a barrier to a "connection" between band and audience.

Bono sang much of The Unforgettable Fire on one of the bridges that was close to us. At the end he put one leg over the bridge as if he was going to jump over, but of course he didn't. At one point, as the bridge was moving he looked round for Edge who was a long way away on the other side of the walkway. Bono could not see him, he shaded his eyes and you could see him saying "Where is he?" as he peered round and laughing. He got off the bridge, took a deep breath and in his own ungainly style ran halfway around the walkway and hung onto Edge for a while before finishing the song. It was very funny and the look on both their faces was hilarious. That Edge is making Bono run for his money!

Actually when you are so close it does make you realise that the walkway is a very big area for a person to cover, and that could be one reason that it has been underused in the shows I had seen previously - except for this night. But it did mean the guys covering large areas.

Bono was very gracious towards Britain, saying we were a generous country, "You stand up for right things, you should be proud of it." It was nice to hear that for him, as in my experience any compliments he gives the UK are usually negated by some comment he adds on the end. But it is true that the UK has been generous in the fight against poverty and has been a pivotal force in leading that fight and influencing other countries. Good to see Bono acknowledge that, we need to hear something good about ourselves in these difficult times.

He also said that it just occurred to him that U2 was older than Wembley Stadium, "130 years or whatever it is...." He used the quip he had used in Dublin, only changed the wording slightly, in another statement "You're a good looking crowd - in your own way." Again he got a big laugh with that. There was a lot of fun in this show, a lot of energy, so powerful it swept over you in waves, it was amazing.

They played Bad, I have always wanted to hear Bad at Wembley because it was seeing that performed at Live Aid that captured me and put me under U2's spell. And here I was 24 years later hearing Bad being performed in the same place. The song was changed slightly, but it was as wonderful as ever. I felt really emotional I wanted to really cry, sob my heart out, but I just shed a few tears, why does that song make so many people cry? It's pure U2, no one else could ever sing that song. And even here, in London, the crowd sang each word along with Bono.

Vertigo was great, with the screen coming low and spinning relatively close to us, a great effect! It's not a particular fave of mine but this performance of it is stunning.

Where we were you could feel the bass in your chest, I haven't felt that anywhere else so far in this tour. Also it was great to be close and not in a crush, there was no shoving and pushing which was just wonderful!

Bono thanked the fans as usual for "Giving us a good life" and then thanked people in the U2 organisation. He also said that once the tour is over London could negotiate to buy the claw for the Olympics! LOL!

It was just one of those special shows that happen with U2 every now and then. It's a spiritual, emotional thing, beyond the music, it takes you to another plane, it's so hard to explain, but any of you U2 fans that read this will know what I mean if you've experienced the same magic. It left us emotionally drained, but happy, U2 at their best are simply THE best. Maybe they did come from another planet in the spaceship claw? They certainly take you somewhere out of this world with a show like this.

U2 360 Tour - Wembley 1, 14th August

I never look forward to going to London, it's so big, noisy, fast, but I was excited this time because I was off to see more U2 gigs! The Red Zone auction that we'd entered was finishing at noon that day and none of us was available to keep an eye on it so it was in the lap of the gods if we got it or not. I kept checking my emails on my mobile and at 1pm I got my confirmation I'd won my two tickets! Deb was bidding for three at the same price so I assumed she'd got them but then I got a frantic message that she was having a problem with her order! To keep it brief, for a while it looked like we might only have two tickets for five people. By time I got to London I nearly had no credit left on my phone as the texts had been flying to and fro.

I met up with Debbi at Euston station and was relieved to hear that it had been sorted, she'd been liaising with a very helpful Ticketmaster customer services person, phew big sighs of relief!
We got the Tube to Wembley Park. The trip took an hour because we had to travel to Waterloo south of the river to get to Wembley way north of the river! It takes so long to get everywhere in London. It was around 5pm by time we arrived at Wembley Park and a lot of people were around. We asked a policeman the way to our hotel, he directed us a way that avoided the crowds but it was a lot longer walk. It was hot and we were getting weary, but eventually we found the Wembley Plaza hotel which was right beside the stadium, perfect!

Julie was already there, and other friends Dianne and Sharon were in another place nearby. We left quite late for the stadium as we had seats, these turned out to be very similar to the Dublin 1 seats, so were really good. The new stadium is massive and very nice.

U2 came on at 8.15, very early, curfews are getting earlier and earlier nowadays! As usual the first four songs from the new album were brilliant, I just love No Line so much! During Still Haven't Found there was one of those magical moments that sometimes happen at a U2 concert. Bono sang the first line and a half with the crowd singing along, he stopped singing and the audience just kept singing at the top of its voice, it was beautiful and moving and you could see the band found it amazing too. It reinforced once more that special spirituality that comes from some of U2's music, a feeling that binds, warms and crosses barriers. Simply beautiful, and strangely not long before that moment Bono said he thought "Something special is going to happen tonight" - he must be psychic.

Crazy rocked, Edge pogo-ing as he played, just love that version now. They had changed it a little I thought, the chorus of the original was more obvious, which was an improvement. Bono was very strong vocally all night.


The claw and Wembley arch

Debbi amazingly sussed what is being said by the robotic voice at the beginning of Ultraviolet, it's the poem Stop All The Clocks, Cut Off The Telephone by W H Auden. Very in keeping with the theme of clocks/time that runs throughout the show. During Ultraviolet Bono was hanging onto the mic with one arm and walking along the very edge of the stage, then spinning on it like an acrobat.

Bono dedicated Moment of Surrender to Brian Eno, saying "Get well soon" and that he was a "National treasure."

I've read reviews that said the sound was really poor at this show. Well, where we were there was a slight echo, but no more than that, the sound was fine, seems it depended whereabouts you were sitting how you heard the gig.

We hung around for a while after the show, meeting up with other friends, but there was no sign of the band. It was great to walk just minutes along the road to our hotel! We ordered room service food - pizza - and washed it down with wine. Got to bed at 4am-ish.