15 Jul 2011

My summer holiday 2011

So it's the time of year of BBQ's, shorts & jango's (& general sweatiness) so it's either April still, or finally the summer time! This year, there seems to be a distinct lack of my having a long summer break scheduled for fun & frolics in some foreign (or domestic) land - I've got no MWCC camp this year, no trip to France or anything in its place...so what's going on?

Well if you had forgotten, I'm getting married this year & therefore pretty much all of my holiday is going to be taken up with a week before (sorting everything out) & afterwards (that's would be the honeymoon then!). This leaves a vitally short amount of time for anything resembling a 'proper' holiday outside of the honeymoon, apart from Easter & Christmas & a couple of days for the stag weekend.
However, I did take off an extra 2 days for something rather special - a gig, which then became 2 in the same small period of time!

The first was in Hyde Park & featured the delightful Arcade Fire, supported by Mumford & Sons. Now each of these bands I would say I am a big fan of - since I first heard the Arcade Fire on Neon Bible (their 2nd album) I have wanted to see them live & after getting tickets & finding out that Mumford were supporting - this was a pretty immense & became a must-see for me.

On the day, there was a real party & & almost festival-type atmosphere. This meant it was all very relaxed & things ran smoothly. The warm up bands were fairly forgettable until Mumford who sounded simply amazing! They ran through most of their debut album (Sigh No More) & even dropped in a couple of new songs as well & definitely got the crowd going.

Eventually it was time for the main even - Arcade Fire. Now I have heard that people have complained about the sound, but I didn't notice a problem. But that aside, they played a really good set, mixing songs from all 3 studio albums & gave a great representation of their music. I just think that with large outside gigs you do lose the intimacy of a smaller venue. That said - it was a brilliant day & well worth the money (about £50 a ticket!).

Next was some band started by that drummer from that "that pretty famous grungy band from the 90's" - some Fighters of Foo!! The living legends that they are - Dave, Nate, Chris, Taylor & (officially back again) Pat forming the mighty Foo Fighters!

They're a band I've been a fan of for a very long time - since I first heard their 'Down in the Park' cover (originally by Gary Numan) from some random X-Files Album from way back 1996! I have every album, most B-Sides & have seen them live 3 times previously - Birmingham NIC & Hyde Park for their 'In Your Honour Tour' & Wembly Stadium for their 'Echoes Silence Patience & Grace Tour'. To say that I'm a bit of a fan is a mild understatement!

But even when I heard they were playing a stadium tour in 2011 I thought (with saving for a wedding etc.) that I might just give this one a miss. However, I then heard the new album - Wasting Light (available at all good record stores...wait there's only HMV left now!) & thought...nuts - I really gotta see them live again! So when one of my Foo's buddies had a spare ticket, I initially seriously contemplated, but refused. But then it became apparent that it was so spare that I was offered it at half price(!) so I couldn't refuse!
 Anyways, enough of my backstory - it was a new place for me - the legendary Milton Keynes Bowl - which although not having the greatest layout I've ever seen - it's literally a bowl shaped bowl, but with the toilets & food vans outside & the music inside. However, the track running round the outside very thin, & when you get 65'000 trying to use the...facilities simultaneously it really gets too busy for me. That aside, there were some sound issues, where if you were at the bottom of the bowl the sound was alright, but as soon as you went up the sides, it was dramatically better - highly unusual, but that would explain why people were trying to get to...the back!

Right so on to the music - the support acts - 'Lame Impala' - grungy but didn't really care & 'Death Cab for Cutie' better, but still don't care. Then a bigger band - Biffy Clyro...I've seen them 3 times now & haven't cared any time I've seen them! The crowd loved it & went totally mad for it...but not me! Even the guys who I was there with stared at me like a madman - why don't you like it? It's unexplainable really, but they just don't float my boat - I liked 'Machines', but that's about it.

Finally it was time for the Foos to get on stage. Their setlist was massive - but what do you expect from a band who have made 6 albums with such great songs on each! So how about this for a playlist:

Bridge Burning
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn to Fly
White Limo
Cold Day in the Sun (with Roger Taylor of Queen)
Long Road to Ruin
Stacked Actors
Dear Rosemary (with Bob Mould of Husker Du)
Monkey Wrench
Let It Die
Best of You
Skin and Bones
All My Life
Wheels (Dave solo)
Times Like These (Dave solo for the start)
Young Man Blues (Mose Allison cover)
School's Out (Alice Cooper cover) (with Alice Cooper!)
I'm Eighteen (Alice Cooper cover) (with Alice Cooper)

& that list is even songs that I thought were missing - I should have known, This is a Call, Weenie Beenie, For all the Cows, In Your Honour, DOA, Hell, Hey Johnny Park, Low!

Mr Grohl is a master of playing to the crowd & did everything right - good banter, great humour & made the whole crowd feel like they were special - he really is a great performer! Overall then a brilliant show - top tunes & a superb atmosphere - if you haven't see them before - I recommend the Foos in the strongest possible way!

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