A weekend to remember


I wouldn’t say I’m a massively outgoing person as far as venturing far and wide, but in recent years I’ve tried to broaden my horizons, at least when opportunities arise.  Two such opportunities arrived the weekend just gone, not entirely planned as such but I jumped at the chance to go and see my favourite band once again … and then another opportunity came around to see a personal favourite TV sketch show’s live tour.

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Probably over a year ago I booked tickets to see Garbage again in London as well as meet up with a friend I’d made last time I went.  Some months later VIP meet & Greets were announced, and so yeah, once again I was going to meet the band and get a photo taken.  The whole experience this time around was even better than I’d experienced in 2016 at The Troxy.  For starters at Brixton Academy, the meet & greet q&a part of the VIP experience was in the same room where the photos were to be taken and it was a small, intimate affair with me sitting amongst 50+ fans within touching distance of the band (!!).  It was so surreal as it wasn’t as if I was sitting before my favourite band, but almost like old friends … it all felt so nice and relaxed and really f’ing cool.  I didn’t say much, as I knew I’d clam up (again) but did get a chance to say how fantastic I thought they were and that Version 2.0 (of which the tour was celebrating it’s 20th anniversary) was my favourite album of all time, by any artist.  I got my photo taken which turned out to be more of a fun thing, with me posing with the band and all pretending to be zombies, with outstretched arms etc. lol.

The VIP experience also meant early entry so I was pretty much at the front (one short girl in front of me, so I had an awesome view) and what was the actual concert like?  In short Garbage (Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker) were on electrifying form, belting out the hits as well as more obscure b-sides both word-perfect and with an energetic response from a sold-out Brixton Academy crowd.  It was intense, heart-pounding, utterly feel good and the best I’ve seen them perform.  Garbage are such a skilled and talented band and once again delivered an evening of rockin’ good entertainment that didn’t disappoint.

LoG

Two night’s later I was heading off to Liverpool to see The League of Gentlemen at the Echo Arena and this British sketch comedy four-piece that started out on radio before creating a cult TV show of the same name were utterly brilliant.  They went through a plethora of their most famous sketches and iconic characters to deliver a 2hr+ show of bonkers humour, one-liners, political satire and toilet humour with no end of imagination and charisma.  Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Mark Gattis and (behind the scenes / co-writer) Jeremy Dyson are one of the best comedy groups Britain has spawned since Monty Python and that … is not said lightly.  Translating the sketch-based comedy of the show worked well on stage and the sets and costumes were all very well done and seemed to go off without a hitch, aided by what appeared to be some funny ad-libbing and natural glimpses of the guy’s personalities.  This show was partly a celebration of their 20th anniversary as well as a hinted at farewell to the characters unless this talented four-piece find a way to work together again at some stage … we’ll see.  For now though, me and a couple of friends as well as the sold out crowd had a ball.

As far as my usual weekends go, this was pretty intense, rather exhausting but utterly fulfilling, creating memories I’ll look back on for years to come.  So a big shout-out to Garbage and to The League of Gentlemen for making the past few days so very special.

Craig.

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Update


The first thing I wanted to write about was a little game I’ve been playing lately called ‘Life Is Strange’ a game that has garnered good reviews and a bit of a cult following.  As a change from what has become the norm in gaming for a while now (let’s be honest if you’re not killing ‘something’ it’s not a game in most regards) so sitting down to play this narrative-driven adventure was refreshing.  You play the role of Maxine, a girl who returns to the home she grew up in to attend a prestigious academy.  However whilst there she discovers all is not well in Arcadia Bay and after getting re-acquainted with her childhood friend ‘Chloe’ she begins to unravel a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local student.

max_and_chloe__life_is_strangeI liked the writing here, the well-defined characters, a few bitchy stereotypes and shifty villain-types but not everyone is what they appear to be on the surface.  Add to this clever gameplay mechanics that include time travel and as the game progressed in it’s episodic chapter structure, I found myself thoroughly absorbed.  This game has made me feel things only a good TV show or movie has and it felt totally alien to the hobby but very welcome.  I felt sadness and excitement and wonder, and it’s all done so well.  If you are yearning for a break from all the violence or button-bashing thrills and want something to really make you think and feel, I highly recommend you give Life Is Strange a go.

Garbage 2018

In other news, guess what?  I’m gearing up to go and see my favourite band ‘Garbage’ again and will be heading to Brixton Academy this month. The last time I saw them at the Troxy in London I did the whole VIP meet & greet thing and got to meet the one and only Shirley Manson!  Well, I am doing it all again; meet & greet, early entry, watch them rehearse, q&a etc. and I’m so excited.  The concert is part of a tour Garbage are embarking on that begins this weekend (first date: the Electric Picnic festival in Ireland) which celebrates the 20th anniversary of arguably their finest album ‘Version 2.0’ which personally is my favourite album of all time by any artist.  To hear certain tracks live is going to be such a treat and one of those once-in-a-life-time experiences.  As you can tell I’m totally looking forward to this and will undoubtedly report back on it all once I’m back home.

That’s all for me for the time being.  Please check back again for more reviews and stuff soon.

Craig.

Garbage and a dream realised


garbagebrixtondatesWell, it was a long time coming but on Monday the 9th of November 2015, I finally got to see my favourite band Garbage in concert at Brixton Academy, London.  The near-sold out show was such an incredible experience that putting it into words isn’t easy.  I had a long wait, queuing up for a few hours before finally finding my seat and waiting again.  There was a long wait until the support act The Dutch Uncles came on, who were enjoyable even if their music seemed a bit ‘samey’.  However it was a good indication of the decibels I was about to be assaulted with.

Video courtesy of Youtuber eStorm

Following this was a really cool intro, that involved a white sheet dropping to cover the stage and surrounding area entirely, then an archival video to the tune of Garbage b-side Alien Sex Fiend showed footage of the band back in ’95 along with a commentary on their origins in Madison, Wisconsin along with news footage of Princess Diana, OJ Simpson and the beginnings of the Internet.  This all then built up to the four members being presented in tall large images one after the other.  Then it was time for the first song, Subhuman which was performed entirely behind the sheet with the members only visible as silhouettes.  Very bold and utterly ingenious.  As this occurred I recalled actually shaking with excitement, an overload of emotions and feelings that I’ll admit brought tears to my eyes.

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A picture taken by my brother from where we were seated

I won’t go into too much detail of the show which spanned almost two hours and covered approximately 23 tracks spanning the entire first album and nine b-sides – topped off with an encore that threw in a couple of tracks off other albums which were Cherry Lips and Push It.  Throughout the guys and Shirley were on fine form – for a 49 year old Shirley Manson’s energy was intoxicating – she jumped and danced and head-banged around the stage like a woman half her age, and it was incredible to witness.  In between some songs she told stories, such as her strong feelings regarding the LGBT community as well as funny anecdotes like how cold she was walking to Smart studios to do some recording, and the frozen hairs in her nose inspired her to write the song Driving Lesson (because she wished at that moment she could drive).  Little moments like that and the rather emotional story of Kick My Ass detailing the tragic suicide of song writer Vic Chestnut made the night even more special.

garbage-by-frank-mojica-08Highlights for me musically were performances of Not My Idea (really got the crowd going that one), Fix Me Now (sounded amazing), Only Happy When It Rains, Stupid Girl (excellent light show), Kick My Ass (a beautiful song that again got me very emotional) and also Cherry Lips (a real crowd participation anthem).  Less effective, due to the immense sound and volume were As Heaven Is Wide (Shirley seemed to get drowned out by the guitars and drums) and to an extent Vow which felt too harsh and intense to completely appreciate.    But I’m a concert novice and it probably was too loud and over-powering at times for me … yet the good seriously outweighed the not so good, and the high production values, that glorious intro, Shirley’s sheer exuberance and various brilliantly delivered songs overshadowed any quibbles.

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Garbage blew the roof off Brixton on Monday and the whole event won’t be something I’ll get over for a very long time.  So thank you Garbage – you made this long-time fan very happy indeed.

Darkling4Life.