27 Jun 2011

Post 295: Hard Rock Calling makes me write too much

This post is going to be a bit long, sorry.
It's going to be another one of those weeks where I do a lot of talking both on and offline about recovery but get no closer to working out what the future holds, well at least it's warm. At least on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week (it's Thursday today) I'm planning to go to Hyde Park for Hard Rock Calling to see the Kings of Leon today, the Killers tomorrow and Bon Jovi on Saturday so something to look forward to which is a bit of a rarity although the weather better hold. I went to this last year and have to say it was pretty good I can't say I know much about the Kings of Leon apart from one of the rehab assistants in hospital (a guy called Leon) saying they were the best thing ever for no other reason that I could work out than they had the word Leon in their name, so I did a bit of digging and it turns out they're three brothers and a cousin from Tennessee, doesn't that just scream four inbred hicks? But it's a live concert in Hyde Park – there must be something to it? I also love the Killers since seeing them at the Albert Hall a couple of years ago
I may think the lead singer, Brandon Flowers, is a religious nutjob for his Mormonism and his weird lyrics when he went solo last year, he looks like he joined the army! But as a band they've got some tunes. It's small wonder that 'Mr Brightside' was voted tune of the decade on Xfm last year, although I prefer human for the way it makes crowds go mental. Observe. so lets hope this festival lives up to the hype. My neighbours, Ian and Tracy, are taking me today and tomorrow as the KoL and the Killers are Ian's favourite bands and it is my mission in life to take those who have to suffer me to things that they'll love. To me, the acceptable face of religion, my friend Richard Lloyd, the vicar of the neighbouring town, Claygate – took me out to lunch on Tuesday. Despite his vocation he doesn't talk religion at all to people like me, which shows that he understands people so well, he is also an hilarious raconteur and is full of amusing stories – they don't make 'em like Richard anymore – him and his lovely wife Vicky have just had their first, a boy called Barnabas. To quote that bumbling idiot Hugh Grant, 'I am in bewildered awe' of the way my friends have so unselfishly brought so much new life into the world, it was best summed up for me at Mern and Alisdairs wedding in September last year where they had perhaps by accident had baby Harry before they were married. Anyone who remotely has a problem with this is a boil on the arsehole of humanity. Alasdair said in his speech that 'without a doubt the best thing that had come of all this had been Harry', I think the whole room gulped as one when he said that. I must say that without exception I really can't think of one and much less would I say it here, I can't think of a single one of my friends kids that inspire dread in me although I did get told off by my mother for suggesting my sisters kids were anything less than angels. It's my fault apparently that my sister doesn't bring them over from America more often. B*llocks to that. I reckon she comes over here without them sometimes just to get a rest from the noise!
On the domestic front it makes such a difference to have reliable carers. I don't live in fear of being abandoned or of having a poisonous atmosphere to have to tolerate. To be fair I haven't had this problem for a while Well, since March. I now slowly feel like I'm getting some control back in my life, if not my health and normality! Two things that I still need to get off my chest
1.I refuse just to automatically be nice to people who I don't think are nice. Apparently, now that I'm disabled, I should just be nice to everyone no matter what I think of them! What is this – Childrens TV? Perhaps we should wrap everything in Candyfloss too? I'm sorry, that's not going to Happen – some people are just dicks – crikey, I'm probably one -I reserve the right to try and run my f*cked up life the way I like.
2.Despite being close to it I have never given up my quest to find the girl who makes this a happy home. It will have to be someone special who loves Red Wine, dining out but is able to drive me there and back, laughing at good comedy on TV and taking me to concerts, who doesn't mind that I might be slightly above average maintenance, who has a can-do attitude to things, and isn't precious about stupid little things. I want to look after someone and spoil them rotten – but they have to be prepared to look after me. Worst sales pitch ever: OVER.

Since I wrote all that I have been to see the Kings of Leon in Hyde Park and surprise, surprise it was an amazing show but I still can't put my finger on why they're so popular, apparently only in this country too. It's the type of music I could only ever enjoy live, Ian and Tracey loved it too which is one of the most important things but as Alex James (Blurs former bassist) observed the magic ingredient at live shows is pretty girls, I would go further, it is scantily clad pretty girls, and the real magic is when the music makes them dance, seeing as I just watched the brilliant 'Boat that rocked' – it is entirely consistent that making girls dance makes the world a better place, in fact being like Bill Nighy's character must have been awesome – the sort of posh old dude that asks everyone whether they've met them before because there was a 'lost decade' .Back on Track, The Kings of Leon are masters of this higher artform that is making girls dance. As a man who has been in love and fears it will never happen again seeing this is intoxicating and gives the atmosphere a charge that putting on a CD never could. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, anyway, despite the odd downpour which flew in to freeze everyone it stayed mercifully dry and only started getting a bit chilly in the twilight and rather than admiring the long tanned legs sported by a few girls we started saying 'ooooo, she must be cold', Musically, it was a good day, by 4pm when we got there the Zac Brown band was playing some country music which was tolerable, but they wrapped up by blasting out a brilliant cover of 'killing in the name of' by 'Rage against the machine', a song that made it to christmas No.1 a few years ago after an anti x-factor and Simon Cowell facebook campaign, I also remember the song made my niece cry accompanied by her bawling 'why's this no.1?' -well I thought this was hilarious, the irony of course being that I would be the one crying if Leona Lewis had been No. 1. Anyway, my point is that 'killing in the name of' is a great live song and it really woke the crowd up. Next were the awesome 'white lies' who on paper I should have seen twice – first when they were supporting U2 at Wembley and the traffic conspired to make us arrive after they'd finished and more recently turning up to see them play at the Shepherds Bush Empire wher they'd managed to lose my booking. Fools! Anyway, they were ace, reminiscent of the Editors and Joy Division. Next up was a man who's name we all knew but we knew less about his music, Paul Weller – giving a pretty polished performance – he's clearly comfortable playing on such a massive stage to such a huge crowd, I think rockstars are now realising that being in your 50s (like Weller) or even 60s (look at the Rolling Stones) is no obstacle to 'living the dream' speaking of which, the Kings of Leon are clearly right at home at such a massive gig, they mix things up, playing a bit of country rock, soulful sounding Nashville sawdust on the floor stuff as well as the traditional guitar driven rock song, each deriving it's energy from a relentless kickdrum but it's the singers voice that brings their sound to life, which was crystal clear on the huge Hyde Park soundsystem. The only slight irritation was that nature called just before they played signature tune 'Sex on fire' Being stuck in the lav when you can hear 50,000 people singing along is infuriating.
Since I wrote all that it is now Sunday and I saw the Killers on Friday and Bon Jovi last night and in a minute my parents are taking me to a classical concert at the Albert Hall. Because I plan so far in advance, I often forget how tired I'm going to be. I suspect I'll be absorbing the beautiful music of Smetana, Grieg and Orff through closed eyes. More on that next week! As it was, I went to see Bon Jovi in Hyde Park yesterday and it just goes to show how at an outdoor event the weather is easily the most important thing because on friday I'd been to see the Killers, who are arguably the best band in the world -it was raining when we got there at 4pm, and it didn't stop all day. It meant that it didn't matter to me how good the Killers were, it was all about staying dry and keeping warm and I cannot stress enough how hard this is in a wheelchair when you don't have the use of both arms and you can't jump up and down, I have Ian and Tracey to thank completely for doing so well
Despite the pisspoor weather we were treated to what must be the best line-up in festival history. From 4-5 it was James, who in my view are one of the finest live bands ever. I have been to see them twice since my stroke, I think of the two times, the time at the Albert Hall back in April 2010 was probably the best. In the 90s the lead singer had hair – he's now shaved it off and he's one of the few lucky people it suits, although I do think the beard he's now grown makes him look a bit evil, anyway the whole crowd seemed to enjoy their set despite the fact that the rain was really starting to set in, the second sort of surprise was on the running order as a late addition were the excellent Kaiser Chiefs, a band I've only seen once in Nov 2009 at a charity event at Brixton Academy where they had rocked. Since then, their cheeky chappy singer Ricky Wilson looks to have followed the Ian Astbury diet and moved next to a Greggs. Maybe it's part of getting older, maybe he's boshing less drugs and boshing more pies! Their biggest tune was predictably 'I predict a riot' which got the sodden fed-up crowd jumping and then it was time for the Killers and the messianic return of Brandon Flowers. I was doing my impression of the most exhausted, miserable person in the world,swearing not to come back the next day if they were forecasting a single drop of rain. Anyway, despite the Kaisers vacating the stage well on time, the Killers kept us waiting for 30 minutes. I don't get this at all. They owe their success to their fans so what's the point of keeping us waiting? Especially when we've been pissed on for four hours. I just think that's rude. Anticipation's one thing, freezing our arses off waiting is another.
When they finally appeared they were great in the circumstances and Ian proved to me what a Killers fan he is, by knowing all the words to even the more obscure songs. Religious nutjob or not, Brandon Flowers has a brilliant voice and their repertoire is difficult to better. Sadly it was more about struggling to stay warm than 'soaking' up the subdued atmosphere. I didn't even have to ask Ian and Tracey for help – they were always one step ahead with their ides for keeping the rain off so despite the struggle we did pretty well at appreciating what was going on onstage. After milking out the encores for a while we called it a day at~11pmish. I knew going to Bon Jovi was going to be an, ahem, challenge.
I had a slight change of personnel for saturday. For a start casual inspection of the forecast looked like it would be cloudy all day without rain so things were on. My consorts for the day were to be Karen and Toby who have taken me to things in the past. Sadly, unlike on the previous days we weren't able to Jazz things so I could get two carers up onto the disabled platform because it was so full, the sun being shining and it being Saturday, so Toby went and did some exploring of the huge event which we were informed might have had 80,000 attendees that day compared to a mere 50,000 when the Kings of Leon played on Thursday. Karen and Toby were very cool about only being able to get one of them on the platform. They got married a couple of weeks ago, and despite the party being in a couple of weeks I think not having to discuss wedmin made a nice change – reiterating my point about aging rockers first up at 5ish was former Kinks frontman Ray Davies who must be knocking on the door of 70 (he's 67 by my arithmetic), who warmed us up nicely with a few of his creations like 'summer afternoon' and 'girl, I want to be with you' -clearly a legend, when 'Jonathan Bon Jovi as Ray called him came on at about 7, it was the most perfect summer evening with barely a wisp of a cloud. JBJ, clearly used to these occasions looked great – the spitting image of iceman from Top Gun – he'd clearly done this somewhere before. I can see why he's such a hit with the ladies. He's quite good looking and the songs not about cowboys are the sort of thing girls love – crooning about how he'll be 'there for you'. I love the loud rock sound and the guitar sounds that being in such a huge outdoor arena generates plus the sight of 80,000 people on a sunny summer evening, it's almost worth the exhaustion but taking friends who enjoy it is where it's at. Right, a lie down is in order! Actually before I go I must mention Cherise, the lovely girl from Manchester who gave me the time of day after I'd guessed she was from Leeds. I'll see you for Arcade Fire on Thursday

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