Download 2015: Day 2: Muse, Apocalyptica and Marilyn Manson

I awoke early to the sound of it raining inside the tent.  The water was dripping on my face.  I wrung everything out and carefully placed it all in the centre of the tent – the only place that wasn’t submerged.  My friend appeared and we held a conference.  We would sleep in her tent and try and move anything water-sensitive in there, because hers was considerably less wet than mine.
Download 2015 Review Day 1: Slipknot can be found here.

Apocalyptica.
Apocalyptica.  Sorry about the stupid date stamp on all the pix; I only found out about it when I got home.

We went to see Apocalyptica around lunchtime.  We got there just as they were starting and got a place reasonably towards the front, where we could see what was going on quite well.  They played their cellos, got to the end of their set, then said “well, we were only supposed to be on for half an hour but f**k it; we want to play another song” and they proceeded to do so.  It was awesome.  I think there were more than a few people in the crowd who didn’t know who they were, so it was nice to see people discovering awesome electric cello industrial music.  They also played our national anthem which was amusing because half the people in the crowd started singing (myself included) and half of them kind of mumbled and blustered like they were in a school assembly.   It was hilarious to think that we must be the only nation in the world where we don’t all know every word to our national anthem, but it doesn’t get taught in many schools and is distinctly lacking from the national curriculum – as a child, I didn’t know what the words were until I was about fourteen after reading an article that is sadly not findable on the internet, which basically showed that in a random survey of 500 people, something like 25% didn’t know what our national anthem was (it’s God Save The Queen, natch), and only 46% knew any of the words!  But Finnish band Apocalyptica can play it on the cello and it sounds awesome (like all their music does).  I was particularly interested to read that they started out as a Metallica tribute band, and later branched into their own music.    I was very impressed by how much music they managed to cram into their half hour slot whilst at the same time talking to the audience, not long conversations, but just enough little snippets so you knew what they were playing and that they had noticed a rather large crowd had gathered in front of their stage.

Apocalyptica playing download 2015
Apocalyptica.

Later in the day (I’ll spare you the day), we got back very late, and had a few minutes to find a spot so we could watch some of Marilyn Manson before we went to see Muse.  Unfortunately, my friend wanted food, so we went to get her some food instead of getting a good spot, and while we were waiting for the food to appear, Marilyn Manson started.  We stood at the top of the hill and watched from a distance, we got two songs in, Mobscene and Disposable Teens (both excellent tracks) but then I dragged us away to see Muse, because from our vantage point, I could hear the bass lines from Chris Wolstenholme’s bass guitar and they were calling to me, compelling me, dragging me away from the spectacle of Marilyn to observe the performance of the masters.

All I got from Marilyn Manson due to distance.
All I got from Marilyn Manson due to distance.

Muse were as technically accomplished as you would expect (probably the only way they could be more accomplished at playing music is if they hired Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page on second and third guitars), and I think a lot of the reason for their credible, un-astonishing but significant popularity is because of their ability to play their instruments.  Oh God, they can play their instruments.  And the time flew by as they played a nice selection of their songs (and they have so many to choose from).

I didn't get any good pictures of Muse playing because my camera couldn't focus past the lights.
I didn’t get any good pictures of Muse playing because my camera couldn’t focus past the lights.

However, I felt that both Marilyn Manson and Muse were distinctly lacking in the kind of showmanship and character that I’d been expecting.  Particularly Marilyn Manson, although I don’t know if his show got better after I left, so I can’t say as much about it.

This could be an album cover...
This could be an album cover…
Silver balls released over the crowd.
Silver balls released over the crowd.
Fireworks.
Fireworks.
Fireworks were part of Muse's performance
Fireworks were part of Muse’s performance
Streamers accompanied some pyrotechnics.
Streamers accompanied some pyrotechnics.

Muse had some incredible pyrotechnics and the giant silver balloons they released into the audience were really fun and cool, but they barely said hello, and didn’t really interact (apart from the perfunctory ‘I can identify which venue I’m playing’ greeting) and this created a distinct distance between performers and audience that directly contradicted the song lyrics for the setlist and made their lyrical persona feel hollow and pretentious.  I would hope it’s just the kind of stage fright that comes with playing for such a crowd.  Still, they put on a damn good show and they really can play their instruments, so I know I’m being over-analytical.

Marilyn Manson also felt hollow for the same reason – as the founder of the performance theory that states the artists’ existence is the performance, I expected more.  A grand entrance that never came.  A stage with some sort of a set.  Backing dancers.  I probably should keep all these notes to myself for if I ever play in my own band because I’ve learned so much about performance from watching all the great masters at work on my quest to fulfil my bands bucket list.

Day two ended after a spectacular firework display courtesy of Muse.  They are clearly trying to establish themselves as an “alternative rock” band (a la their Wikipedia page), and they certainly deserve to transcend Britpop (where they languished for most of the 2000s, as far as most people were concerned – Blur met the same fate in the ’90s, it was terribly sad), but I feel they need to shake off the performance nuances that make you seem awesome in a pop performance but in alternative rock, just don’t fly.  Alt fans want interaction, they want to know that the words of the songs have a wider meaning and significance.  They want to feel that you care about the fact that they’ve driven hundreds of miles, put up with awful weather, slept in puddles of water, not to mention spent a lot of money, just to see you.  And while I don’t think bands necessarily owe their fans anything, at the same time, it’s polite to acknowledge the people who are paying for you to do what you love full-time rather than put up that wall of idolatry.  It’s clearly a trade-off between talking too much (so you don’t get to play as many songs) and not talking enough, but they could definitely have stood to spend 60 more seconds chatting to the crowd, to tear down that barrier that they put up when they went into their musical trance and played their songs.  They had all the other elements of being the best band in the world ever, but the distance between performer and observer was profound, although I only think it was noticeable when compared to Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Who.  If I hadn’t gone to so many concerts recently I don’t think I would have seen it, I would have just been left with a feeling of isolation.

Apocalyptica, then, won the day for their stage presence, performance skills and musical talent, all of which they had in buckets, and for 2016, I would like to see Apocalyptica headlining or co-headlining at either Download, Sonisphere or Bloodstock, because they deserve a lot more accolade for their work and I do think they would draw the same size crowd as Slayer, Within Temptation or Slipknot; I hope the half-hour slot was due to scheduling conflicts rather than because the organizers didn’t know how awesome they were, and I for one would love to see them do a longer set.  I was just glad we didn’t miss Apocalyptica, because they really made my Saturday.

The first part of Download 2015 Day 3 can be found here.

See what’s on the rest of my Bands Bucket list
Other concerts I’ve reviewed.

Blue Circles? How to get rid of under eye blueness, purple circles, and veins.

So you tried Googling “how to get rid of blue circles” and read a bunch of articles about how to get rid of DARK circles, and are feeling pretty disillusioned?  I’ve been there.  I’ve had them as long as I can remember and have tried every concealer to no avail.  Then I did some scholarly research and found the answers.  Now I will share with you what to do and what not to do to get rid of the blue circles you get under your eyes. Some people’s blue circles show up more purple; the solutions here will also work for purple circles where the root cause is the same.  Note this won’t work for those brown ones you get with age, this is just for blue circles or purple ones!  Most of the stuff about dark circles is really talking about brown circles, and they tack “and blue circles” (or “and purple circles”) onto their generic articles just to drive you nuts in your quest for answers.  Why don’t they differentiate?  Well, that would mean you wouldn’t keep buying products that won’t work, then they’d be making less money!  Let me start by stating I have no interest in discussing make-up because it’s not an option for many people, and it won’t address the root cause of the problem, which with blue veins and blue circles is almost always your first task.  To use an analogy, why put a rug over a cracked floorboard when you can just fix the floor instead? Having said that, at some point I will do an article about color correcting with make-up because it’s worth knowing about, if you can wear make-up. I will link here once I’ve written about color-correctors.

What Causes Blue or Purple Circles?

Really the key to killing them is to work out what actually causes them in the first place.  Basically, the blue circles are caused by the veins standing out and becoming visible through the skin.  So two things are contributing to blue circles:  Enlarged veins, and thin under-eye skin.

Enlarged under-eye veins are caused by:

Caffeine (including those under-eye caffeine treatments that are marketed at getting rid of the other type of dark circle), and other stimulants such as energy drinks and certain medications – they dilate blood vessels.  In brown circles, this improves blood flow (and oxygen) to the under eye area, which helps.  In blue circles, it makes the problem worse.  Solve it: To really reduce those blue circles, cutting out coffee is number one.  This will, after a couple of months, allow the veins to go back to normal, eliminating those pesky under eye blue circles.

Allergies – Not the sort that put you in hospital, the sort that make your eyes feel sleepy, runny nose, itchy eyes, or a feeling of being gunked up inside.  When we are allergic to something, the immune system produces histamines to try and fight it.  These histamines make blood vessels swell.  This puts a lot of pressure on your under eye area, especially when you blow your nose, which increases physical blood pressure to the face.  This all causes blue circles under the eye area to look far worse than they would otherwise.  Solve it: Take an antihistamine, if you’ve never used them before, start with Loratadine or Cetirizine (the cheaper of the two – that’s $8-ish for 100 cetirizine pills vs $7-ish for 30 loratadines), and work your way through the others until you find the best one for you (they put strain on your liver so go with the lowest one available, usually the two I just mentioned are safest especially for long term use e.g. if you’ve a dust allergy and work anywhere with dust), and pinpoint and remove the source of the allergy as much as you can.  Hayfever typically strikes when flower pollen is at its height, but tree pollen can also be a cause and it’s found earlier in the year (March to May in the UK, this varies by plant succession and climate around the world).  Dust allergy is most commonly associated with year-round rhinitis (snot) and “hayfever relief” tablets work well for dust allergies too.  Move onto Benadryl only if you’re having no luck with loratadine or cetirizine (in England, Benadryl’s active ingredient diphenhydramine is used in sleeping pills). If none of the over-the-counter allergy tablets work, it’s time to pull out the big guns and ask your doctor to prescribe you the prescription strength ones, but only go for these if you really need them, as they will take a toll on your liver.  The clue about whether this is the cause is that you will have the other symptoms of allergy such as runny nose, hives etc, not just blue circles.

Iron Deficiency or Anaemia – If you can’t see any blue veins through the skin, just more of a continuous blueness radiating from the tear ducts, your blue circles are probably down to an iron deficiency.  This can occur in meat eaters and vegans, and can be associated with heavy blood loss e.g. due to your period.  Solve it:  Get some iron tablets, I’ve discussed which are best in this article.  Continuous use of iron tablets has side effects.  To determine whether your blue circles are down to iron deficiency, get a blood test done at the doctor’s, and check whether you have any other symptoms such as fatigue or poor concentration.  Consult your pharmacist to check if you can take iron, some people can’t.  Pharmacists always know best about these things, they are a cove of free knowledge.

Vitamin K deficiency – This goes hand-in-hand with iron deficiency, as vitamin K deficiency causes you to have increased blood loss, and it will cause the rest of your face to have redness as well as those blue circles from blood deposits as vitamin K makes your blood clot and without it, it doesn’t clot properly (it also helps you absorb calcium).  Many iron-rich vegetables are also great sources of vitamin K – such as kale or broccoli, or other dark green leafy things.  Solve it:  Vitamin K supplements.  Read my article on Vitamin K for advice on all things Vitamin K related, as well as the other effects of vitamin K deficiency and the interaction (bad) between Vitamin E and Vitamin K (always leave some hours between taking E and K supplements and buy them as separate supplements or they cancel each other out).  Avoid Vitamin K supplements if you have thrombosis or are taking anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin) as they cause problems, although if you think your blue circles are down to thinning of the blood, it is worth seeing your doctor if you’re on anticoagulants/blood thinners as they may need to adjust the dosage.  Consult your pharmacist before taking Vitamin K if you need to; their advice is always free and while they can’t generally advise on the effect a vitamin will have on you, they can definitely ask the right questions and tell you whether there is any reason you shouldn’t take it. Many pharmacies don’t actually stock Vitamin K because so many people don’t understand its benefits, I buy mine from Amazon; here’s a link to the Vitamin K I’ve been buying (it’s vegan, they’ve changed the ingredients which is why I’ve changed to this one; the quality is better than some of the more expensive ones). If you’re in the UK, you can get it here although if you’re on a budget, I recommend the (not available in the US) Pure Nature Vitamin K; the packaging’s a bit weird but I tried it this month and I’m halfway through my first pack and the quality of the supplement is nearly as good as the first one I linked; get it here (UK only)
(I only recommend things I’ve bought myself).

Thin Skin under eyes:  This can be something you were born with, sometimes it’s caused by a broken nose (it stretches and thins the under-eye skin) or it can just be a natural sign of ageing. If you’re really unlucky, it’s all three. When the skin under the eyes is too thin and pale, the blood vessels underneath will shine through like a shadow puppet show making delightful dark circles under the eyes. Luckily, some anti-ageing creams can help (even if you’re not ageing).  Solve it:  Creams marketed as “anti-ageing” are not created equal, but look for one with the ingredient Matrixyl in – this has been shown in double blind independent testing by the University of Reading (no pharma connections here, this is an unbiased study) to solve this problem.  Common products include Olay Regenerist 3 Point (has to say 3 point on it) Age Defying Moisturiser (this is the exact one: I’ve found it to be more expensive in shops than on Amazon); Sanctuary Covent Garden Spa Power Peptide Protect Day Cream SPF 20 (NOW DISCONTINUED as of December 2016).  Just Google Matrixyl Cream to see what comes up if you want to browse all the options, there’s loads, and they all put different amounts in, so if one doesn’t work for you, try another, although I highly recommend the Olay Regenerist 3 Point as I’ve found it to be fantastic and it’s had some excellent reviews compared to more expensive products. Use it VERY sparingly under the eye (I use tiny dots).  The other solution is “laser resurfacing” but it costs thousands of dollars and I’ve not seen a single good review or success story for undereye work so I wouldn’t go there personally. Get it here if you’re in the UK

What doesn’t work:

1. Anything that says “banish dark circles” they’re usually marketed towards brown circles for people in their late 30’s onwards, and generally work by thinning the skin and bleaching it (which makes it more transparent, which as you and I both now know, makes blue circles worse).

2. Caffiene under eye roll ons or creams:  These dilate those blood vessels, which means they make them bigger, which makes blue circles worse!!  I wish I’d known that before I tried one of these for 2 years!

3. Concealers and color correctors:  I’ve heard of people using tangerine concealers to get rid of blue circles but I don’t think they work if your skin is very light or very dark. I’ve tried all of them (even the MAC colour corrector), I’ve watched countless application videos and not one single one worked to just make my under eye area look like the rest of my pale face – they all either left it a bit too white, orange or brown (or yellow) and some of them sparkled, which made people think I’d been punched in the face by a glitter fairy (illuminating glow?  Who are they kidding??).  Maybe these work on a different kind of blue circle, and to be fair, they do cover it up on camera, but face to face in real life for normal people they’re no good.  Make up in general is no good to cover this up for those of us who are pale, prone to activity, like walking from A to B, or who don’t like to waste time, as the blueness tends to show through after an hour or so of even the thickest plasterboard of make-up.

4. Normal eye cream: I’ve not actually found any normal eye creams to be useful for any of the common complaints around the eye area, particularly blue circles.  Most of them are too watery or burn my under eye area which can be a sign of cell damage leading to ageing effects in the future so I discontinue use right away if anything burns.

5. Honey or beeswax – This bleaches things because it contains a low concentration of ammonia; honey is actually used to lighten hair “naturally” by some people.  If you use it regularly under the eyes when you have blue circles, it will keep lightening the skin, which makes it more transparent, which will make your blue circles or veins stand out even more. It has it’s uses, but this isn’t one of them!

Update 2016: I also did this shorter article about purple circles (because mine are sometimes purple)
Got any more tips for blue circles?  Share ’em in the comments! Click here to find out about the 3 brands I work with and find out how to get bigger lips without using fillers.

My Official Bands Bucket List

So I keep referring to my bands bucket list when I write about things I’ve been up to.  Today I wanted to go back and explain what it is.

You are probably aware that a bucket list is usually something written by people of all ages to ensure that they get to do all the things they’ve dreamed of doing in life – all the things they want to do before they “kick the bucket,” to coin a term.

In my case, that would be my ever-dwindling 30-list and my currently being written 40-list, which are the things I want to do before I reach age 30 and age 40, respectively.  It would probably not surprise you, then, to know that, when I was eighteen, I started this whole thing by writing a 20-list, a set of things I wanted to do before I turned 20.

The Bands Bucket List is very separate.  My age-lists are really more a set of things I feel would be achievements, accomplishments, or that I have some control over.  Things you can get with work and dedication.  They are lists of things that are within my power to make happen, however unique the circumstances would need to be for the achievement to be made.

The reason I don’t include bands on my 30-list and 40-list is because anyone can buy a ticket and travel to a gig.  Yes, some bands only tour in their homeland of Japan or The Faroe Islands, but by and large, live music is a capitalist, class dependent commodity (ooh er) that anyone with time and money can engage in.  For that reason I don’t think it’s an achievement to see The Who or Lynyrd Skynyrd, in the same sense that it would be an achievement to climb a mountain or get a master’s degree.  It would certainly be an achievement to play in a band, an honour that I have never been privy to (flutes tend to get stuck with orchestras rather than popular music bands, and ukuleles are the sonorous pariah unwanted in most ensembles), but seeing a band?  I am responsible for quality control of my lists and I decided it would cheapen the accomplishment of a PhD or climbing Everest to liken them with going to Download Festival (sorry, Download, it’s not that I don’t think your wonderful, but you are very easy).

I did need to keep track of a large set of data though, to make it possible to organize, and as I was spending more and more time on the internet typing different band names into Google, I thought I needed a spreadsheet.  I do love a good spreadsheet.

So I wrote them all down in alphabetical order, every band I could think of who, if their members died in a plane crash and they ceased to exist, I would feel like I’d missed out if I had neglected to attend them.  I know I won’t see all of them, but I wanted to make a concerted effort to see as many as I could while I could.

The list doesn’t distinguish between bands who have been apart for 30 years and those who are still coherent, it does separate out individual artists who are known to currently have a solo career and also link them to the band they used to be in (so, for example, the entry for David Gilmour states “Dave Gilmour/Pink Floyd” and Roger Waters’ entry is “Roger Waters/Pink Floyd”) ensuring that the musical genius that spawned the bands are placed to be seen even when they can’t be in the same room as one another.  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are another example, where their entries are “Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin” and “Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin” respectively.  Either entry can be ticked off once the required people have been seen, so if I’d seen Jimmy Page, it would then be at my discretion whether I decided the performance was sufficient to tick off Led Zeppelin, or whether I also wanted to see Robert Plant first.  I have ticked Guns n Roses off because I’ve seen Slash, and his performance with Myles Kennedy would be sufficient to tick off Guns n Roses (although GnR weren’t on my list) even though I haven’t seen Axl Rose and the band he’s put together when he kept the name Guns N Roses.

This list, and the ticking off part especially, has raised two very interesting dilemmas facing the modern music fan of older bands:  To what extent does the name of the band matter if none of the original members survive, and what actually counts as having seen a band?

The naming question is difficult.  So for example, there’s only one founder member of Lynyrd Skynyrd left in the band, but when I went to see them you could tell straight away that it didn’t matter.  Trying to define a band as who they were when they first signed on the dotted line of that fateful first record deal in the 1960s is a constrained and counterproductive way of going about things.  Take Pink Floyd again – guitarist Dave Gilmour wasn’t even in the original line-up, but for many people, he IS Pink Floyd, moreso than any other member.  Likewise, I need to be cautious about letting too many things be defined as the correct band.  It gets to a point where the only member of a band worth seeing is the drummer, and unless it’s Ringo Starr or Keith Moon, you might as well go and see a tribute band and tick off the real thing.  It’s false.  So somewhere between these two polarized opinions lies the way forward.

With The Who it was easy – the lead singer/guitarist and the lead guitarist are both still knocking around, the drummer is Ringo Starr’s son, and the bassist is an excellent session musician.  Hearing them play, you can tell they’re the real deal not some tribute band which have learned their songs meticulously to the letter and never deviate from the script.  They had the spark of Who-ness that made them Who-lesome.  I make no apologies for the wordplay.  Not all wordplay is a pun.

With Guns N Roses it would have been harder, since Axl kept the band name but is the only remaining member.  Seeing Slash play was such a jaw-droppingly stirring experience that I decided there was no way any replacement guitarist could ever possibly outdo him, unless Axl had hired Hendrix or Jimmy Page (which he hasn’t, which is a good job because Hendrix is dead and in either case, they’d want to play like themselves so you’d not get the same result).  It’s all a matter of style and substance.  Tribute bands and lesser replacement musicians can copy the style but have no substance.  Replacement musicians who are greater than the original will have substance but a differing style.  It takes a rare genius to walk the line between these two and still come out on top.  So I ticked off Guns N Roses.

The second dilemma is also one that I could spend years obsessing over if I wanted to:  How much of a band counts as “having seen” a band.  Here are my criteria:

1. It has to be live.

2. I had to be close enough to see and hear the band, not just watch the video screen, because that defeats the point.

3. I have to have heard the actual band play at least one full song.

4. Televised appearances are lovely, but there is so much loss of quality and atmosphere that they can’t possibly count, and the same goes for Youtube and other ways of seeing them.  For example, I watched the Pink Floyd Live 8 performance live on the BBC as it happened less than 20 miles from where I was sat (2 days after my mother had tried to kill me resulting in my being removed and never returning home, and 5 days before the 7/7 bombings), but it doesn’t count as having seen them, even though it had a profound and evelasting impact on the course of my life after that moment and probably stopped me killing myself.  That bit where they played “Wish You Were Here” and dedicated it to Syd had me in tears.

5. It doesn’t matter what they play:  If I wanted to hear a specific song I could buy and listen to the proper recording studio version.  That’s not what I’m looking for in my quest to see these bands.

Then there’s the single criterion for removal from the list:  If there are no living members of a band or if a solo artist dies, they are taken off the list.  Here is the list so far, there are currently 60 entries, and things are always being added:

Click to enlarge, again to zoom.
Click to enlarge, again to zoom.

For planning purposes, only the bands in white/orange matter:  The ones in pale grey are supposed to be ones who are just not touring at all, so they’re discounted from planning purposes (but breakups/reunions etc are so fickle that I don’t exclude reunion tours until the last member has kicked the bucket).  The ones in dark grey are ones I’ve now seen.  The ones in lime green are currently not attainable due to either dates, cost, or some other factor of sheer preposterous awkwardness that makes them unachievable such as announcing on the day of sale, selling out in 10 minutes and placing ridiculous resale criteria on the tickets, that only means that WHEN the tickets are resold, they’re triple the price they would have been so the resellers make even more money.  The ones in lime green are generally ones I’ve written off for this year.

So that’s my bands bucket list.  What do you think?  Who would be on yours?

Digression about Planes

This is a digression about airplanes from today’s main article about ghostly photos I found while uploading pics for my article about The Who Turns 50 Tour in Dublin yesterday. Please read that linked main article first it’s way more interesting.

This was a last minute kind of trip and I only actually decided to go on 17th June, when I booked £9.99 flights with Ryanair (like, that’s what you pay, no hidden extras or anything – last time I flew was 2007 and I was AMAZED that £9.99 didn’t mean *plus £30 of taxes etc* I literally paid £9.99 each way to go to Dublin from Leeds Airport which is 40 mins from my house; apparently if you book in advance they’re £7.99) and bought a E79 ticket (which is about £56 as the Euro has plummeted over the past week due to the threat of a Greek Exit – or Grexit – from the Eurozone and Euro so it was a good week to go to Ireland all told).  For comparison, tickets to see The Who in London were £79 plus £85 in train fare and a tube pass, and same amount of food and I still would have had to overnight at a train station (which is far worse than overnighting in an airport) so this trip was cheaper than seeing them in my own country.  Plus I really hate London, as I’ve mentioned before; it feels like being the only live goat at a cattle market full of zombie livestock.

“Wait a minute!” I hear you cry, “but you always overland because you hate flying!  Do you hate London more than you hate flying??”

Remember when Facebook first started and it wanted to be a student dating site, and it had “Looking For:” And the options included “whatever I can get.”  I decided to take whatever I could get for this trip, and figured, I hate flying, but the flight is 30 minutes.  I hate London, but going to London will take about 24 hours, and while I’m trying to enjoy The Who, I’ll also be hating London in the background, so I figured I can be stressed for less time if I fly.  Did I mention I last flew in 2007?  Well I first flew in 2005.  My range of experience flying is lots of flights to and from East Midlands and Edinburgh (and one, my first ever flight in my life, from Luton to EDI), with Easyjet and BMIbaby.com, and one trip to Rome which was with Ryanair and it was hell and just after the new terror restrictions (damn them restricting terror next they’ll outlaw horror and ban strawberry sauce for its potential to be used as fake blood), and I swore up and down I’d never fly again and I’d certainly never go near Ryanair with a bargepole.

They have vastly improved, or else their flights to their own airport are better.  I still can’t say I like the process surrounding flying (shame, because I love love LOVE the view) but it was less of a traumatic experience this time than that flight in 2007.  I think having no bag or carry on at all helped, although I’ve never been one for packing lots of things or taking big bags.  There were many people weighed down in the airport and slowing the rest of us down in security with their snail shell of badly packed possessions.  The essentials, the holy grails, the consumerist crap that’s blatantly not allowed on planes and they didn’t actually need to take but thought they should just in case (in case they needed to show off to someone).  I saw this at Download as well, with people who had overpacked significantly slowing down the security checks.  Because I usually travel by my own car and park near my accommodation (or sleep in the car), I’ve never been surrounded by so many other people who think a five foot long suitcase per person (and hand luggage and a tent) is appropriate for 3 days at a festival (no, it’s not appropriate for 5 days either).  Again, it slows everyone else down, and it makes those people dragging their crap around feel stressed and miserable.  Not a one of them was happy.

Psychedelic Ghost Photos as The Who Turns 50 In Dublin; Trivia and Ryanair

Longtime readers will have realized I never ever miss a Travel Tuesday post.  Yesterday, I decided that rather than pre-scheduling, I wanted to talk about the trip I was actually going to be on when I was due to post (if you see what I mean).  At 3am yesterday morning, I got back out of bed to go to Dublin to see The Who.  I just got back at 11am when I started writing this post (yeah I got interrupted by something VERY important to do with our house’s roof).  Tired now.  I packed some other stuff into my 24 hours in Dublin, I’ll do a separate article each on Dublin and Newgrange in future posts.

Anyway, I digressed, so I’ve cut my digression into a separate article, and I haven’t had much sleep due to sleeping last night for about an hour, all on the cold stone floor of an airport, so I will keep rambling I’m afraid.

The Who concert didn’t start well for me:  When you’ve flown abroad and spent time hiring a car, the absolute last thing you want to hear is “your tickets been declined” at three different doors.  I did eventually get in to find out I was seated next to the lighting rig.  In case you’re wondering, that’s a terrible place to sit because the sound quality is as shit as a tyrannosaurus with dysentery.

It’s a shame because I was actually closer to the front (at the back of this venue) than I was to Marilyn Manson 2 weeks ago at Download, and I could see and hear a lot better at Download because they’ve got sound engineers who know how sound waves travel, and know they need to angle the goddamn speakers to point at the crowd, not aim it all at somewhere in the middle.  The high notes were painfully shrill and the bass was non-existent.  I fashioned myself some earplugs out of toilet paper so I could overcome the distortion as best as possible in order to actually enjoy the gig.

This is another of the best photos I've ever taken.  Every single aspect of this photo is bizzarre, but the eeriest thing is the aura round the man in the hat at the back.
This is another of the weirdest photos I’ve ever taken. Every single aspect of this photo is bizzarre, but the eeriest thing is the aura round the man in the hat at the back.  I promise that’s The Who!!
That's Pete Townshend in the middle of the most trippy photo I've ever taken in my life.
That’s Pete Townshend in the middle of the most trippy photo I’ve ever taken in my life.  It’s like the camera’s picked up on the sound waves and made them visible or something.  So surreal.
Another psychedelic phenomenon photo from The Who concert in Dublin last night.  The music seems to be visible here as well.  It's so odd!
Another psychedelic phenomenon photo from The Who concert in Dublin last night. The music seems to be visible here as well. It’s so odd!  It’s like there’s a giant hand at the top pulling strings of the players.

The Trivia:

At the beginning there was a slideshow of The Who pictures and trivia.  I wrote some of the more interesting things down to share with you, because I can’t not take notes when someone puts words on a PowerPoint and plays it to me:

Apparently the proper name for their “target” motif is a “roundel” which is symbolic of Mod culture (I knew I didn’t like it for some reason, presumably because I inherited a dislike of scooters *cough*hairdryers*cough* in favour of real motorbikes – but then, I always thought the mod vs rocker thing was a bit of a non starter because they all dropped off the face of the earth when the hippie movement turned up and I think it was probably a lot of the same people wearing a different badge – psychedelia instead of “mod” or “rocker” but no-one seems to really know).

Zak Starkey, drummer for The Who, replaced Keith Moon.
Zak Starkey, drummer for The Who, replaced Keith Moon.  I thought this was a normal photo but I’ve just seen the ghost behind the drummer (look at the hairline, it’s clearly Keith Moon)… wtf was going on at this concert??  I don’t touch my photos except to make them smaller, and I have the originals if anyone wants to verify this.

The drummer who’s been touring with The Who since 1996 is Ringo Starr’s son – Zak Starkey.  Having seen him in action I can say he is an excellent drummer.  There’s something that separates a good drummer from an outstanding drummer, and whatever it is, Zak Starkey has got it.  I guess when your “Uncle Keith” (Keith Moon) buys you your first drum kit, you’re going to probably be inspired to become a great drummer.  He has more than earned his unofficial membership as an honorary member of The Who.  What’s bizarre is the photo above shows a figure with black hair and white face standing behind him, and I just looked for a picture of Keith Moon and he looked like this on Wikipedia:

Keith Moon in 1975, from Wikipedia, see the hair parting and compare to the figure behind the drummer in my photo above.  I don't even have software on my computer that could do this, I wouldn't know how, and I don't even retouch my photos for color!  I am really freaked out by this now and am going to dig the "blurry" deleted pics from the recycle bin.
Keith Moon in 1975, from Wikipedia, see the hair parting and compare to the figure behind the drummer in my photo above. I don’t even have software on my computer that could do this, I wouldn’t know how, and I don’t even retouch my photos for color! I am really freaked out by this now and am going to dig the “blurry” deleted pics from the recycle bin.

I don’t know who replaced Moon from 1978 (when he died) to 1996, but John Entwhistle was replaced straight away when he died in 2002 by Pino Palladino.  I found out by experience that he can pull out a canny bass solo when he feels like it.

I often feel like replacement members in a band as legendary as The Who have to be twice as good as the originals they replace.  Taking Pink Floyd as a comparable example, Syd Barrett was replaced by Dave Gilmour, who is responsible for the characteristic sound of Pink Floyd as they were when they made it really really big.  In fact, Gilmour was so good that his membership overshadowed Syd’s, and tragically, Syd was not welcomed back when his manager tried to arrange a “surprise reunion” at the recording of Wish You Were Here.  Another example is Myles Kennedy, currently touring with Slash (of Guns N Roses) and I would say that their rendition of Anastasia (which gives me chills) must make Axl Rose green with envy that he missed out on being part of such a fantastic piece of music, not only that but Myles can cover all the old Guns N Roses stuff and you wouldn’t know it wasn’t Axl singing.  I was very impressed by that.  And I was very impressed last night in The Who Hits 50 in Dublin by Pino and Zak; certainly they are very, very good players and they are by no means a lesser substitute for John (E) or Keith.  You’re not getting second best, you’re getting first best from people whose life path brought them here from a different place.

Apparently Keith Moon used Premier Drums.  In 1967 they gave him a Pictures of Lily version (the famous Day Glow Victorian pictures of a similar style to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus animations).  Keith Moon used this drum kit for 2 years, calling it something like (and I’m sorry if this is slightly wrong, the slide disappeared as I was scribbling it) “Keith Moon Patent Exploding Drummer Kit.”

The Who in Focus live Dublin tour
Look behind the drummer’s head, you may need to look from an odd angle, I see it from when my eyes are higher than the laptop screen. That ghost again!

The guitar smashing was apparently inspired by one Malcolm Cecil, a teacher at Ealing Tech, who did a performance where he sawed through his cello, inspiring Pete Townshend to think about the deeper artistic statement of it (yeah folks were all doing a lot of weird stuff back then).  Pete smashed his guitars with the stated purpose of making an art statement about value and cost, as well as proving that there would be no encores after the guitar was wrecked.  Apparently, because it’s  become too commonplace and too many artists do it, he doesn’t smash guitars as a spectacle.  Since 2000, 4 guitars have been smashed total – one in 2000, two in 2002 and one in 2004, although these were apparently because he was displeased with the performance of the instrument and wanted “to prevent a bad guitar from returning.”

The Union Jack jacket was inspired by Pop Art (the art movement) and David Bowie was inspired to get one for his 1997 Earthlings album as a throwback to The Who (also that year, Geri Halliwell made headlines when she wore to the Brit Awards a Union Flag dress which was very very short, but this wasn’t mentioned in The Who Turns 50’s slideshow, presumably because it’s less cool to inspire the Spice Girls than to inspire David Bowie, who was after all a contemporary of The Who).

Apparently The Who played at Woodstock.  They didn’t like it because they had to leave the van miles away and one of them was carrying a tiny baby at the time.

The supporting band:

The supporting band were called The Last Internationale.  The lead singer had a powerful voice but she was shrill despite not being high pitched, which was a distinct disadvantage.  This was when I made earplugs because my ears were in pain and I guess it serves me right for going to a The Who concert with a migraine.

I wasn’t very impressed with them because they seemed to have no idea what to do with a crowd that big, and I think the best way they could have warmed the crowd up would be to leave. They failed to win me over, and I’m not sure that what they were playing classes as music, but they at least started to get my attention, from about their 3rd or 4th song, which was called something like “Wanted Now” and by their finale they were successfully demonstrating that it was possible to play and jump around at the same time, which seemed to be their party trick.  Apparently they’ve just released their first single in the US so you’ll probably hear about them s’more soon unless they bomb on the charts.  Not sure Wal-Mart will add them to the playlist though since they tend to avoid rock-y sounds, but you never know.

A very long wait during changeover while the stage is re-set:

I don’t want a sausage inna bun.

I don’t want a sausage inna bun.

I don’t want a sausage inna bun.

I should have had a second lunch before the show.

I don’t want a sausage inna bun.

Or a programme.

Yes, it will be a collector’s item in 20 years’ time but will the increase in value justify the space I’d need to keep it in my house just for that reason?  Nope.  Imagine if I did that with every potentially valuable item, I’d end up keeping millions of things just for the sake of selling them again at some point in the future.  It’s hoarding, and it’s the complete opposite of minimalism.

Maybe I should distract myself with a sausage inna bun?
NO! I don’t want a sausage inna bun!

The trouble is, the snacks available are either full of sugar (eg skittles) or they are hot dogs.  Which are also very bad for me as I cannot tolerate pork at all and I’d probably get more nutritional value from eating the programme than the sausage inna bun.

 

The Concert:

The Who In Almost Focus.  When you see how far back I was (next photo has no zoom) you'll see why these pictures didn't focus as well as I would have liked.
The Who In Almost Focus. When you see how far back I was (next photo has no zoom) you’ll see why these pictures didn’t focus as well as I would have liked.
This is with no zoom.  Those heads are the two who went out of their way to cause nuisance.
This is with no zoom. Those heads are the two I mentioned below.

Half to two thirds of the attendees didn’t turn up until 5 minutes before The Who started – I think about 50 people in consecutive seats all arrived at once, presumably a late coach, but the others just seemed to have it sussed to avoid all the waiting.  They’ve clearly been before.  There was so very much waiting.

Here’s as much of the setlist as I managed to write down:

Song 1 and 2: ???

Song 3: Who are you?

Song 4: The Kids Are Alright [sic]

Song 5: I can see for miles.

Song 6: My generation.  Which had a verse which was a drum-underscored bass solo.  Excellent.

Song 7: Behind Blue Eyes.

Song 8: Bargain.

Song 9: I wasn’t sure at the time, thought it was “join the river” which was really confusing but it’s actually “join together.” I’d never heard it before.

Song 10: You’d Better You Bet.

Song 11: I’m one.

Song 12: Love Reign O’Er Me

Song 13: Eminence Front

Song 14: A quick one (while he’s away).

The heat was problematic, and the temperature control was non-existent.  I was sat by the lighting rig.  Lights get HOT at concerts.  But I wasn’t the only one suffering.  The band paused after a song to try and get someone to do something about the temperature.  They weren’t precious about it though, and even made a bit of a song out of it while they waited for someone to put a fan on, the Air Con, or get them some water because it was far too hot.

Sadly, at this point in the concert, I was overcome with heat and listened to the next two from the doorway.  I think if it’d been brought back with something I had wanted to hear after A Quick One (while he’s away) I would have stuck around, but the last one I’d actually heard before (and I’m not an ignoramus I just don’t know their whole back catalogue) was #8, and number 15 was nothing I recognized so I decided we must be nearly finished, and that I would just go back to the car hire place and return the car.  When I looked up what I’d missed, I found that only two (Pinball Wizard and Baba O’Riley) of the five remaining songs were ones I’d wanted to hear.  I know it’s good for a band to play what THEY want not just what fans want, but when you’ve got such a fabulous back catalogue I don’t know why you would pick below average pop-tastic songs unless they just can’t play the others any more or hate them so much that they can’t stand them.  Who knows.

See what I did there.

I did it again there.  Instead of a question mark, the full stop makes it a statement which answers the question which would be posed if there was a question mark.

I digress.

Leaving:

 

Anyway, I enjoyed what I saw of The Who, despite the heat and stress of the two people in front of me being coked up twats and very tall and talking nineteen to the dozen with grand gestures and snogging (like, the gross kind that 15 year olds do to show everyone in the vicinity that they’re going out, not the passionate kind of snog that people in love do) and stretching whilst talking and snogging and basically doing as much as they could to ruin my view and then trying to feel me up (I shit you not), and despite the fact the sound quality was awful in that part of the 3 Arena, it was still a very good show.  I was struck by how much interaction The Who had with the audience – literally, after every song they would talk for a bit and tell you a bit about the background to the next one.  It was fascinating.  I made brief notes because I didn’t want note-taking to get in the way of enjoying the show.  But they didn’t short-change on the songs, either, and they played plenty (although theirs tend to be shorter than most other bands I listen to, because they were always more poppy when they were making big hits).

Afterwards I balked at how much parking had cost – my ticket came up as E30 when it should have been E12 for event parking, but I had to get the car out of the car park because it was a hire car so I just paid.

So lots of things conspiring to put a downer on the day, and I wasn’t necessarily in the right place to be as caught up in the hype as I would have been if I hadn’t needed to manage a migraine, but even though I left early I was happy with what I’d seen, felt it just about justified the effort and more than justified the expenditure (which was STILL cheaper and more convenient than going to London) and think I can definitely tick them off my Bands Bucket List.  I should post that list at some point in its entirety.

More on Ireland, specifically Dublin and Newgrange, soon…

What do you think of those weird psychedelic photos?  I was going to delete them until I saw that some of them looked very artistic, now I’m intrigued by the possibility of interference from the spiritual realm.  Glad I bought a silver Virgin Mary medallion (it’s an Irish thing) earlier that afternoon!

See what’s on the rest of my Bands Bucket list
Other concerts I’ve reviewed.

Cluttered

I chose “cluttered” rather than “clutter” because it feels as if the objects are physically doing the cluttering, not just being inert clutter.  Clutter as a noun is inert, still, motionless, passive, benign (until stagnant).  Cluttered is an action word.  My objects have cluttered me.  The room feels cluttered.  The person’s life is cluttered with clutter that’s cluttering it up.

Have you ever noticed how the words “clutter” and “clatter” sound almost the same?  In some accents, they’re almost indistinguishable from one another.  I’m not an etymologist (someone who studies the origins of words; I’m also not an entymologist – they study bugs), so I don’t know whether the words ever began the same way.  I tried to find out, and discovered that the verb, “clutter” came from the word “clot” (like blood clot) in the 1400s.  And the noun “clutter” came from “litter” (like, trash) in the 1570s.  I enclose a screen shot because the definitions sound so perfectly descriptive.  We’ve become too desensitized to the word clutter, and accept it as part of our lives, but apparently we’ve been fighting it since the 1400s.  It’s particularly interesting that the verb developed before the noun, because I feel like the clutter is active, it is not passive, it is loud and noisy and it clatters along cluttering up the tiny amount of quiet space in my brain.  I feel verbally assaulted by clutter which is why I’m still on the journey towards a minimalist life.

The etymology of the word clutter.
The etymology of the word clutter.

My shower caught fire on Friday, it was the perfect end to a crap week, really.  I was just lathering up my violet toner to keep my hair shiny white, and I started smelling burning hair; I checked the box with all the wires, and it had started smoking.  It wasn’t a huge surprise since the shower unit melted in February, then when we gaffer taped it, it seemed to stabilize.  Apparently not.  To make matters worse, the DIY disaster idiots who put the thing in (before we bought the house) stupidly put the isolator switch directly behind the shower, on a wall in the bathroom, and since it wasn’t a pull switch, I was trying to get it to turn off with soapy wet hands for what seemed like ages before it finally went.  I can now say in all seriousness, with no sense of hyperbole, that having white hair has saved my life.  If I hadn’t had white hair, I would have just used normal shampoo, and I would have just splortched it onto my hair, back to the shower, and lathered it in, then stood under the water for several minutes while it came back out again.

An electrician friend of a friend came and made the unit safe.  When he opened it up, I was horrified by how close I’d come to serious harm.  The exposed electrical wires which had been on fire were less than a millimetre away from burning away the insulation that was touching the water outlet pipe that takes water out through the shower head.  If you know your basic electronics, you’ll know that water always takes the shortest path back to the Earth, so it would have come straight out of the shower head and down through me.  What’s more, the fuse was so high (45A, standard shower fuse) that it hadn’t shorted out throughout this ordeal.  The whole thing (as I’d been saying since February) was an accident waiting to happen, but it was only last week that we actually got together a few hundred quid to get the bathroom sorted out, because we can’t be without a shower, because my OH doesn’t fit in the tub.

We were already in the process of trying to get someone to come and plumb our bathroom, since the shower had started melting in February, but the first quote we had was £1800 (for labour only, and it wasn’t itemized so I couldn’t see how they’d arrived at that figure, I think they didn’t want to do the job so thought if they put it high enough they’d either make a lot of money from something they didn’t want to do, or get out of doing it.  That plumber seemed to lose interest when I said I was keeping our current bathroom suite) so, after I had finished laughing at the absurdity that anyone would pay £1800 to NOT get a new bathroom put in, I had phoned someone else to come and quote me, literally minutes before I went into the shower.  He will be round on Thursday.  So I had to clear the bathroom of all the functional bottles, sponges etc that we use.

That was how I found out how quiet our bathroom is when there’s no clattering clutter cluttering it up.  When there is not one single bottle of shampoo on the side of the bath or in the floor of the shower cubicle, it is so serene that I was disappointed at the idea of changing the room.  You see, we don’t want to waste money (to buy or to run) on a new electric shower when we have literally no water pressure issues in our bathroom and no hot water issues with our boiler, so the whole cubicle may as well come out, and have an over the bath shower.  When we were first thinking about this back in February, we wanted a new bath, and to move the bath, toilet and sink around to make better use of the space.

We actually bought the house because I loved the bathroom so much.  The idea of having to change it is heartbreaking.  But my husband doesn’t actually fit in the bath because it’s designed for men who are my height and women who are shorter, and children.  It’s not intended for six footers.  I wrestled with the wastefulness of discarding the bath compared to keeping it.  I watched him struggle in the bath last night and I finally understood that we weren’t being wasteful in getting rid of the bath, it sadly wasn’t fit for purpose.

We will have to get a new bath.  But it won’t be the same serenity when the bathroom has been changed, because the suite we have now is one of those coloured ones from the 1970s (not avocado, ours is sunshine yellow), and the happy warm friendly yellow will have to be replaced by a stark, clinical white bathtub, in full size rather than extra small, which will be all the more obvious since we’re keeping the yellow sink (basin) and toilet.  But at least my husband will finally fit into the tub.

For now, it is the one room that is completely without clutter.  Just having that one room in the house that has been silenced feels like a big minimalist victory over the advancing agents of clutter.  It has spurred me on to get rid of more things today, things that have been waiting for a week or two to be removed from the house, and I felt so much better when I came back from the tip and the charity shop (thrift store) with a lighter car.  It’s the one room where I can hear my own thoughts.

New Posting Schedule

So it’s time for a shake up again.

I want to write more about the stuff that I’m doing more of at the moment.

I’ve run out of things to say about how to look after rabbits.  I could reiterate how adorable they are (because they are) but I don’t want to devolve the rabbit posting slot to me putting up a single photo of a bunny each week.  Mostly, because I’m not the best photographer and they’re not remotely patient subjects, so they tend to hop off or go and do something else before I get the camera to take a picture. And this was never a photography blog.

I’ve pretty much run out of vegan recipes.  I feel like I’m at a point where I need to try out a bunch of new recipes before I can write any more.  And I’m just not in an experimental cooking place at the moment, I’m generally trying to make things that I know will feed us both rather than try anything new.  I know my recipe slot has been very popular, but I feel like I don’t want to post some half-assed crap recipe that’s awful.

Writing about my wedding is just dragging on now, and I feel like I’ll come back to it maybe in a few months.  Its my first wedding anniversary tomorrow.

I want to write more about minimalism, so think that needs a regular posting slot.

I want to write more about music and all the concerts I’ve been to as part of my bands bucket list, so think that also needs a regular posting slot, there’s so many of them now!

I want to write more about (and do more on) my mountains list.  I haven’t written up Ben Lomond yet from April!

I generally want to be going out and having more misadventures, and feel like my current posting schedule is stifling that somewhat.  I guess you can blame the bipolar for the fact that I sometimes need to take up residence in the great outdoors. Or something.

I would also like to reduce down and spread out the number of posts per week, because I feel that some days I have nothing to say and other days I have too much to say.  I’m thinking three scheduled posts per week:

1. Minimalism on Mondays:  Anything minimalism related.

2. Travel on Wednesdays:  If I had to get in the car, go on a train or plane to get there, it’s going here.

3. Music on Fridays:  If I stood in front of some people holding things and making noise, it belongs on a Friday.

Other days of the week might get posted on, or they might not, but those are going to be my regular posting slots and what I will aim to write each week, leaving enough free days for more personal, blog-style posts when I want them.

Over on How To Get Up From An All Time Low I am going to post one article every Tuesday now that it’s got enough posts for new readers to get their teeth into.

Writing twelve to fourteen articles of 2000 words each per week is getting in the way of me going out and doing things that I could be writing more articles about.

I am going to archive the categories Vegan, Weddings and Rabbits for the time being, under an “Archive Categories” page in the top menu. If you mouseover it, the other categories should appear as a dropdown menu (like the “about” page does if you hover your cursor over “home” although if you click on “home” it takes you to my latest article).

Did I miss anything?