Feb 27 2009

The best way to spend 60 quid …

Category: home,Musicash @ 2:42 am

I’m sure that comment will probably attract comment from others.  My evening has been bloody ace though.  And I’m wired on caffiene, it’s 01:16 and no chance of sleeping for a while, so I’m emptying my head.

I had a manic day at work, after a manic day yesterday.  Today was sorting an viralled machine which turned into sorting out anti-virus for a whole school, then over to a secondary school where we’d spotted the anti-virus hadn’t been working for ages (quite a complex install on that one) … then over to a school I’ve been working at quite a bit recently to rescue their ‘spannered’ network.  Lots of rushing about, lots fixed, then back to work at 4pm for a meeting.

All of that happening whilst I’d forgotten about the Metallica gig tonight.  Me and Gary tried to get tickets when they came out about 5 months ago, and they sold out in minuites.  I’d been looking on and off for months but the prices were stupid on Ebay – all bought up by self-riteous bedroom dwelling ticket touts.

Whilst waiting for the meeting tonight I thought … “I’m going to this gig tonight.  I wonder where my ticket is?” .  I went to Manchester’s Gumtree, stuck in Metallica ticket, and a hit came up, standing ticket (as if I’d accept a seated one?!?), £60.  Not cheap, but face value was £45, plus booking fee of £7 … the guy was probably making £4 ish, and it was his mates ticket that had come up.  There was a mobile number – I txt’d it, he rang back in seconds, as he was driving up from Southampton for the gig.  Deal was struck, I headed into the meeting whilst he (Pete) headed North. 

Following the meeting, I rushed home, chucked some instant food into the microwave, got changed, downed a couple of pints of water then shot off via the bank to Manchester.  Really slow going due to lorry shedding load at M58./M6 junction and general rush hour – took me an hour to do a 20 min journey.  Apologising profusely to Pete via txt, I eventalluy parked in the easiest place around – the NCP by the MEN.  Top floor.  I should have realised the mistake.

Legged it down and met Pete on the Station.  We headed in, got inside then split as I headed down to the venue.  The stage was circularish – Metallica do like their being in the middle of the crowd and constantly moving round – around 20 mic’s studded round the stage and a revolving drumkit!

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Grabbed a beer and got a spot close to the stage as the warmup band – Machine Head – came onstage.  Not bad, didn’t know any of the tunes, but they did a good set.  At the end it was filling up so stood my ground right in front of a couple of close mic’s on one of the sides of the venue.  As roadies shifted MH’s kit off stage and Metallica’s ones came on, I realised that I was in front of a key spot – there was a stack of foot pedals for the guitars just in front of me (like, 8′ away). 

Pete appeared out of nowhere, looking for a friendly face I think.  We chatted for 30 mins until the lights went down and the track “Ecstasy of Gold” from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly started up.  This is the entry track for Metallica – at volume its an amazing tune and really gets you excited!

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And BANG – there they were.  Excellent sound, and after the first couple of riffs from the first track of the new album, James Hetfield came and stood right in front of us to sing the first verse.  Behind him, Lars on the Drums was also facing us, with the other two generally charging around.  Next up was For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the new(ish) bass player Robert was getting down and bassy right in front of us playing away like a fiend.  Robert took a shine to that mic, and was at it probably most of the gig.  James also spent a lot of time singing directly to us.

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There was a bit of a pit right next to me for most of the gig which was cool, and I was able to dive in and out of it several times – more as the night went on.  The crowd was excellent, and the whole gig felt really friendly and welcoming.  And BIG.  Every seat full, every bit of ground with someone standing in it!

The set was really vcaried.  Loads from the new album.  Nothing from St Anger, 1 from Load, 4 from the Black Album, Master of Puppets, Blackened, Blitzkrieg?!?, and a few oldies.  Oh, One of course as well.  The new material worked really well.

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Mind you I would say that, as last time I saw them was about 13 years ago in Manchester (the last time they were up this way on the Black Album tour).  Certainly not waiting THAT long again!  It rocked.

A couple of notable moments – one being when James spotted an 8 year old lad on the first tier of seating just behind me.  So much so that they stopped the gig, brought the house lights up and the lad got a huge cheer from the entire stadium and was being applauded by the band.  He was utterly terrified and VERY self concious, but seemed to smile a bit when Lars lobbed him one of the drumsticks.  One to tell his Grandkids 🙂

The other one was when (for no apparent reason) About 100 differently sized black rubberized balls fell from the roof.  Mostly about 5′ across, these got fired round the whole stadium, people bouncing them over each other, the band, lighting rigs, Sound desks – the lot.  Utter carnage!  Nearly got one back here, ended up with two handfulls of it though – the lass on the other end of it was pretty insistant that she got it 🙂  Managed to get away without looseing any fingers which rocked.

And then, after 2 hours of awesome set, it was over.  Staggered out of the venue – meeting Stu the ex Techie from Glenburn School – paid for ticket and staggered upstairs to total gridlock.  Realised it’d take a while, so got changed out of wringing wet vest shirt thing, and got my head down.  About 50 mins after getting up there, the car park had nearly emptied so tagged on and followed everyone out.  Over to the petrol station to get LPG, petrol, much chocolate and Caffeine to get me home.

And then back.

So, for £60 you can do a lot.  You could do Alton towers, get a plane ride somewhere, get a new posh bit of clothing, new set of hexcentrics or a half rope.  Hell, Nige could probably evan get about 6000 egg cups.  But I had an awesome evening, watching a band that I idolised for many years when at school and college, and (used to) know nearly every riff and solo (badly) from the first 6 albums that they did.  These guys are my heroes.  And I’ve just watched them.  I’m a happy man.  

And I don’t care that tomorrow will hurt.  Life is good.

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Feb 18 2009

Snow and Ice 2009

Category: Scoutingash @ 4:52 pm

As ever, a most excellent trip away.  Bit of a frantic departure on Thursday, but we managed to get to Nethy Bridge with an extra Lewis by around 11pm Thursday night, to find no beer in the bar.  The massive amounts of snow (1.5 feet at valley level) meant that nothing had got through to the village for a while, most notably the van from the Brewery.

Understandably, tensions were running high.

We set out on the Training day a few hours later, with the main briefing on the Friday morning.  This meant that we got to the Ski centre too late to get onto the main car park, and ended up at the Cas car park.  As the snow conditions were that good, the place was heaving with skiers, hence the parking issues.  Me and phlegm took a group, and spent a good few hours stomping round Ciste Merith on a mission to find somewhere to do some ice axe arrest training.

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The following day I took a party up the Fiacaill Ridge, seperating Coire Sneachda and Lochain.  An excellent day out, really good conditions with good snow and some icing.  The groups did really well, and we took the pure line up the ridge, graded at Winter II.  Great fun, Nige had the fear a bit but shared it with Lewis, and Matt leading them.  Round the tops and off down the Cas ridge.

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Sunday was climbing.  I took Lewis and Stubbs up Central Gully (left hand), although feeling a mite rough due to beer  from the previous evening.  Snow was a bit soft, but got an excellent ice screw placement higher up and there was a little bit of mixed climbing that we had a play on.  Felt rougher as time went on, although food and liquid helped later on.  Including the 15 sprouts that I was fed with tea, and the two puddings.  The net effect of which was that I threw up 20 mins later, but only ‘a bit’.

Ray handed out the Greenland DVD’s then (yes, they’re finished!), and we had an excellent hour or two trying to hear it over Julie and Pete H’s ever-increasing-volume conversation.

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The final day of Phase one was climbing again.  We woke to rain outside, and a world that was far browner than the previous days.  With waning enthusiasm, we got to the top car park for the first time in the trip, and took ages to get ready.  Whilst waiting, Chris Mosely showed me a copy of Climber magazine citing him and me on the Greenland trip, with some of our pictures and reference to Screeming Rib.  International recognition at last!

The End of Phase 1 session went as well as ever – Fitz managed to make it up with Sanday for the knees up.  All good fun, bad singing, quaffing of beer and general merry making.  I enjoyed myself knowing that I was driving a minibus back the following day (everyone else being on the coach), but that I wasn’t needed to drive until several hours into the journey.

Woke to hear some of my room leaving for the coach. Turned over and fell asleep for a couple of hours, then staggered down at 8 with my kit.  To find a refugee camp of people that should have been on a coach at 6am.  “Rodents have eaten the coach wiring” was the excuse being talked about, which we all treated with extreme skepticism.  We set off with a busfull, and bimbled our way back, dropping people and the bus off in the right places.

Big thanks to Nige for picking up and dropping off at both ends of the trip, and we then ended up at Ricko’s trying to rescue his machine from a viral attack.  Still infected, but at least we ate the curry he bought us.


Feb 11 2009

Musing, musing, mused.

Category: Uncategorizedash @ 4:18 pm

I’m watching satus bars move, very slowly.  So I muse as I sit.

I did a facebook note thing this week, after being added on both Ginny and Absters “25 things” notes (kind of like a chain questionairre but a bit more freeform).  And it got me to thinking.

Yes, look forward, eyes looking up, waiting for the next challenge, bring on ‘life’ and everything that comes with it.  But also, look back.  And remember what great times there have been, and should continue to be with mates I’ve not spent quality time with in ages.

  • 4 zillion hours of The Day Today, Bottom and Red Dwarf at Abis with Mikey P and D.  Far too many years have passed.  Must follow up on Dave J’s suggestion and see about meeting for Holmfirth Festy this year and spend a few days chilling, dancing and waxing lyrical about anything and everything.
  • Escapism to the n’th degree by doing some roleplaying again.  Bring back the days of C’thulu, White Wolf and ShadowWarrior.  Had such amazing times with Sam, Gally, Dave Mckenna and others it’d be a shame to let that pass forever.  Having a character with one arm but a universal attachment on the other that fitted a pick, flamethrower and mace (not necessarily at the same time) was a damn cool place to be at!
  • Actually watching live music again.  It’s been bloody ages since I had anyone to gig with.  Me and Dave J used to hammer the folk scene of the NW for a few years – and with Gary H I’ve been doing loads of metal gigs last year and the year before.  It’s all tailed off though which is a real shame – I must make a mental note to sort this again.
  • My drive to stave off the “bloody hell, it’s Christmas again” factor for the last 5 years has been really fun, and I’ve got a lot done, but I do have nagging feeling that I really need to touch base with people that I’ve lost contact with.  As choices are made, and paths taken through life, so many people seem to be left behind.  And to take time to catch up with the people from the past means cancelling items from the future.  Perhaps the diary is a ‘little’ too busy.  And, worryingly, perhaps I am turning into a Jack of All Trades as time goes on.

The real shame is that although I’ve managed to stop for 10 mins and get this down, as soon as I get in the car and drive to the next site, everything else in my head will clamour for a voice and this thought will disappear again.  To wait for another 5 years.