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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

OneRepublic and Mikky Ekko at the O2 Academy, Leeds

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Well for once it wasn’t me dragging Cameron to a gig, but Cameron taking me to see one of his favourite bands. We got there really early to try and make sure we got a seat (yes, we’re getting old), and it was a good job we did, because the queues were huge! When we got there, I’d forgotten I had left my tablet in my handbag, which led to a trip down to the cloakroom in the cellar to check my bag, which was quite convenient as it meant I didn’t have my purse and Cameron had to buy my drinks!

The support act was Mikky Ekko, a guy you may have heard of from his duet with Rihanna last year. I’d not heard anything else by him, and that duet isn’t exactly my favourite song, so I was quite pleasantly surprised with his set, really enjoying it. I wasn’t too sure about the first couple of songs, but I quickly warmed to him and by the end I was loving it. I was just disappointed when i checked Spotify and it doesn’t look like anything he sung at the gig was on there.

Which brings us to OneRepublic. I’d heard their new album, but didn’t expect to really know many of the songs. But I was quite surprised by how many of the songs I knew but just hadn’t realised they were sung by OneRepublic. The crowd (including Cameron) was singing along to all of the songs, giving the packed venue an awesome atmosphere. The lead singer was very energetic, dancing around the stage and jumping up on the speakers and getting the crowd excited. There was also a big video screen at the back of the stage accompanying some of the songs, including footage of Leeds and of us all queuing outside the venue, quite a nice touch!

I loved the gig, even though my ears were ringing by the end from the volume of the screaming and clapping. Definitely a good choice by Cameron, and I would certainly see them again if I could!

Eric Church and The Cadillac Three at The Ritz, Manchester

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For Christmas, Cameron bought me tickets to see Eric Church at the Ritz in Manchester. Since it had been a while since we went away anywhere, we decided to get a hotel in the centre of Manchester and have the weekend away. Living in England, there’s not much opportunity to see country music played live, so I was incredibly excited to see one of my favourites, Eric Church, live for the first time!

I didn’t expect it to be too busy, but when we got to the venue 45 minutes before doors opened, the queue was already snaking around the corner. And by the time that The Cadillac Three came on stage, the venue was absolutely packed with hardly any room to even move to the bar. The variety of people in attendance was quite surprising too, people of all ages and who looked from all different social backgrounds coming together for a good time.

I’d never heard of The Cadillac Three before, but they were awesome. They definitely amped the crowd up and I came away from the venue and immediately started looking for their music online.

Which brings us to the main act. What can I say. Simply terrific. I would probably say that he was better live than on his CDs, simply due to the way that he interacted with the crowd and had us all joining in. I think he was quite surprised that people sang along to every single one of his songs, even the new album which has only just come out.

I have to say, it was one of the best gigs I’ve been to. Superb. If you’ve not heard either Eric Church or The Cadillac Three, you should definitely check them out.

November on Instagram

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Pictures from November on my Instagram. Follow me here – @louiser89

October on Instagram

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Pictures from October on my Instagram. Follow me here – @louiser89

First look at Leeds First Direct Arena

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While we were on holiday in Skipton, Cameron spotted a tweet from Leeds First Direct Arena advertising their open day – 2,500 tickets released for free to help them test some of their functions before the arena has its official opening very soon. We jumped straight on my laptop to order ourselves a couple, and today was the big day.

Having decided that even with only 2,500 people going, Woodhouse Lane car park would be packed, we took the train into Leeds and walked up from the station. That turned out to be a good idea, since there was an open day at Leeds University happening this morning too, and we heard that the car parks were rammed full.

We arrived at the arena about 40 minutes early, full of excitement, especially when the concourse started getting busier and they turned on the lights on the outside of the building. When we were all let in, we were allowed to wander around a bit before making our way to our seats. On the way, we stopped off to check out the facilities. Very clean (obviously), and large cubicles, but the only disappointment was the hand dryers – comparable to being breathed on by an old lady. But Cameron has since seen a tweet to say new hand dryers are on order, hopefully they’ve gone for a good old Dyson Airblade.

We were in block 105, the lowest of the available tiered seating (although there are more seats that can be pulled down below), and bang slap in the middle. Because there were only 2,500 of us, there were plenty of seats to choose from. Surprisingly, there was a fair amount of leg room, even enough for 6’5″ Cameron, who usually finds his knees pushed against the seat in front. The seats were also very comfy, much more padding than the ones at Sheffield Motorpoint, so you didn’t get ‘numb bum’ after 10 minutes.

After a quick introduction, we then moved onto some acoustic tests; booing, cheering and clapping on demand so they could get a feel for the sound. There was a video tour around the arena, and then we moved on to the two bands lucky enough to win a Facebook competition to perform at the open day. The band that came first were called The Scandal, although I have to say I preferred the second place band, The Puppeteers.

In between the two bands, they needed to test out the toilet systems, so wanted us to do a ‘grand flush’. Everyone was told to go to the toilet and then when instructed, all flush at the same time. I ended up in a toilet block with about 10 cubicles in it, but we must have been tucked out of the way, because we didn’t get any kind of instruction to flush, and we were stood there like lemons until someone’s husband phoned her up to see where she was. Good job we didn’t actually need the loo though, since they had no toilet roll dispensers installed in those cubicles yet.

The final test was actually a pretty good way of getting us all out of the arena, and it was a test of their emergency systems. A voice came over the tannoy saying something along the lines of ‘There has been an incident, please evacuate the arena’. It all worked very well though, and it was exciting to be one of the first to go inside the arena.

Having said that, we were looking at who we wanted to to see, and our two preferred favourites were Miranda Hart and Cirque de Soleil. But having seen the price, I think we might hold off on that for now., see if we can find any offers for cheap tickets nearer the time.

 

Ron Pope and Zach Berkman at Union Chapel

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This weekend was my trip to London with Frank to see Ron Pope and Zach Berkman at Union Chapel. We stayed at the same hotel as last time, which was probably a mistake. Booking a hotel 2 tube stops from Wembley on the day that Blackpool are playing West Ham in what I assume was a big match was a bad idea, our hotel was full of noisy football fans. We also found out what a ‘non-premier’ room was like. Last time we wondered what made the room premier, but this time we didn’t get an upgrade and it was pretty obvious. The room was about half the size and the bathroom was rubbish! But it was only for one night, and the gig more than made up for it.

The gig was in a beautiful church in Islington called Union Chapel. It’s a proper working church during the day, and during the night it is used for gigs and shows. The stained glass with the setting sun was simply amazing. And being a church the acoustics were amazing.

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I had seen tweets to say that Caggie Dunlop was going to be there, but she didn’t turn up. But that meant more Zach and Ron so I’m not going to complain. Zach kicked off the gig with his guitar, then played a few songs on the piano too. I love his albums, but he was wayyyy better live. I always love to feel the emotion in a song, and when Zach explained that he wrote Celia after seeing his Grandma hold her first Great Grandaughter just before she passed away made me listen a lot more closely to the words of the song. Amazing. He played a few songs I’d not heard of, and when I tweeted him after the show he told me about an old album that I’d not heard of, so that’s now playing on my iPod.

After Zach finished his set, it was over to Ron. I saw him a couple of times earlier this year when he played acoustic shows, but this time he was playing with a whole band. It was brilliant, especially when you consider that the band was put together by Ron’s tour manager and they’d never all played together until the day of the gig. When Ron was playing guitar, Zach played piano for him, and vice versa. Paul Hammer of the District also joined them for the show, which was pretty cool, especially when they all sung Somewhere in the Darkness as I wasn’t expecting any District songs.

 

The only bad part for me was that although we were in such a beautiful venue, other people clearly didn’t place quite as much importance on the fact that we were in a church. I know I’m not into fashion, but I really don’t want to see 15 year old girls wearing shorts so short that their butt is showing out the bottom. And definitely not when I’m sat in the pews of a church!

But by far the best part of the night was when Ron was about to play a song and said ‘hold on, I’ve got an idea’. He picked his phone up and started to call someone, which had us all a bit confused. It went to voicemail (typical!), and he left a message which said ‘Grandma, we’re about to play your song’. He held up the phone for everyone to say hi, then said ‘I love you‘ and hung up. He played Shoot out the Lights, then explained that he wrote the song when his Grandma had cancer and she asked him to write her a song. Luckily (and in Ron’s words), she ‘kicked cancer’s behind’. The phone call was really sweet, and you could tell that the song was quite hard for him to sing. The words of the song are so poignant now that I know why he wrote them:

We’ve been watching for a miracle
We’re praying for a sign
When the cure is made of poison then it’s hard to rest your eyes

If it’s time, Oh Lord
Shoot out the lights
Shoot out the lights

By far the best gig I’ve been to yet, even though it was a long weekend with a lot of driving – totally worth it!

https://twitter.com/#!/RonPopeMusic/status/204009479103184897

Wow! Il Divo just blew my mind!

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Just got home from Sheffield where I went to see Il Divo with my Dad. It was officially my Dad’s Christmas present, but I only really said that to justify spending £65 a ticket and I really really wanted to go! We went to see them live 3 years ago in Manchester, and I’m very glad I spent the extra money for the better seats, it was totally worth it – 13 rows from the front!

The show was fantastic, just what you would expect from Il Divo. My only complaint was that the speaker system didn’t seem to be able to cope with David and Carlos singing at the same time and turned a bit crackly, but they are so good it didn’t matter – they could probably have done without the microphones with the power they’ve got.

Carlos was his usual cheesy flirty self, advertising his bachelorhood and making the ladies swoon. It seems like a lot of women seem to have a thing for him, but I don’t get it (Ithink it may be a generation thing). Although the last thing I wanted was to see a load of 70 year old women wiggling their hips right in front of me because Carlos told them to Salsa throughout La Vida Sin Amor.

I was so glad that they sang my favourite songs, Mama, Adagio and Te Amare, although I love all of them really. There were a few funny moments, like when Sebastien got about 3 words into the start of Unchained Melody and forgot the words, so Urs stepped in to help him. Sebastien charmed his way out of it though, blaming it on the ‘beautiful ladies in the audience‘, guess he picked that line up from Carlos. And then the comedy moment when David almost slipped down the last couple of stairs during My Way. He recovered it though, and turned it into a joke when his next line was ‘each careful step along the highway’.

Completely blew my socks off, great show, and I can’t wait to see them again. Even better because I got a rare day out with my Dad which was lovely 🙂

 

I’ll leave you with a video of my favourite song from the show tonight (although the video isn’t from tonight sadly):

A Weekend in London – and Ron Pope!!

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This weekend, Frank and I went to London, primarily to see Ron Pope on Saturday night, but also to have a walk round and see all the touristy places as he’d never really been to London before.

I’d booked a hotel in Kenton, mainly because it was cheap (£64 for two of us for two nights). When we went to check-in, he couldn’t find any record of our booking, and eventually found out that the booking had been declined because apparently my card was invalid. Pretty weird, as I’d received a successful booking email, and also an email 3 days before our stay to say they were looking forward to seeing us. There was a big wedding in the hotel that weekend, so we were really lucky to get the last room available. Luckily for us, it was a premium room and we were upgraded free of charge, although I’m not sure exactly what made it premium. You get what you pay for I suppose, and it was nothing special. I’d probably stay there again though, it was only half a mile from the tube station which made it very convenient.

Frank’s first trip on the tube turned out to be quite entertaining too. We were waiting at the tube station for a tube that was due in 3 minutes, and two dogs came hurtling down the stairs and ran straight onto the track. Thankfully, the station staff managed to stop the tubes in both directions so the dogs didn’t get mowed down, but although they managed to get one dog off the line, the other just settled down under the front of one of the trains and made no signs of moving. After about half an hour, someone obviously made the decision that the tubes couldn’t stay there forever, so the one that we needed to be on edged really slowly past the dog, which just laid there totally oblivious. Unfortunately, because of this delay, we only got to spend about half an hour at the Imperial War Museum.

 

Saturday night was Ron Pope at The Garage (Upstairs) near Highbury and Islington tube station. It was a great venue, and we got there early enough to get right to the front of the stage. Unfortunately they had bag checks at this venue, so we lost all the food and drink that we had been carrying round London and saving for our dinner after the gig.

The gig was opened by Caggie Dunlop. I was unsure at the start of the first song as she seemed really nervous, but she soon picked it up and she was really good. She did a fantastic cover of Do it Like a Dude by Jessie J, and also sang some songs that she had written herself – there was a really good one called You Changed the Rules. I googled her after the gig to see if she had a CD, but all I found out was that she is on the reality TV show called Made in Chelsea.

Ron Pope was awesome!! He sang most of my favourite songs, and he seemed genuinely surprised when people knew all the words and were singing along. He got up from his piano during A Drop in the Ocean just to listen to us sing the song at him, and said that’s the first time he’s ever had a crowd sing along as loud. He was also really surprised that people knew about his band (The District), and joked that he should have come to the UK earlier (I totally agree)!

The only bad thing about that gig was that it was a 14+ gig, so there were a lot of screaming teenagers, including one that started crying when he came out on stage. Frank was also a little bit concerned by the teenagers, there was one girl that was stood really close in front of him, and kept moving further and further back until he was pressed into the wall as far as he could, he couldn’t wait to get out of there!

 

On Sunday morning, Frank wanted to go visit Horse Guards Parade and see the changing of the guard, which was actually quite cool. The horses are HUGE, but we learnt from the museum that they are all specially bred on a farm in Ireland. After horse guards, we walked through the park down to Buckingham Palace, and were lucky enough to see the guards marching from the palace down the Mall to Horse Guards.

 

On Monday after we checked out of the hotel, we drove 15 minutes to the RAF Museum in Hendon. It was free to get in, and free to park due to a technical fault. It was a huge museum, with a lot of planes to see, and lots of interesting information. They had a cinema room where we watched a film about Air Traffic Control, and also a 3D film about the Eurofighter Typhoon (including some pretty cool onboard shots)! After we had finished looking round here, it was a long drive home, with Frank sleeping most of the way – I think the huge ice cream sundae at Little Chef must have tired him out!

 

I think we would like to go to London again later this year and spend more time in the Imperial War Museum, and walk around some of the places we didn’t get to see, like the Natural History Museum. We picked a bad weekend to go as it was the end of half term, but it was still a great weekend!

Remember Remember the 5th of November…

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As the day that Pearl and the Beard completely rocked my socks off!

Frank and I went to The Castle Hotel in Manchester to see Pearl and the Beard last night. When the tickets were announced at the start of October I knew I had to go, and the fact that tickets were only £5 each made it a dead cert. According to the tickets, doors were at 7.30, but as it happened, the doors didn’t open until about 8.15. Thankfully the Castle Hotel was a really nice pub, more of a ‘real ale’ kind of pub, but as I was driving (and I don’t really drink), I stuck to the lemonade. Frank did have a Kopparberg, which was apparently very nice (and smelled really fruity). The venue was quite small (the back room in a pub which probably held about 40 people), but I loved that it was so intimate. It did mean that I didn’t take many pictures though.

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After the doors opened, there was a 45 minute wait until the first band came on. They were a band I’d never heard of before called ‘Onions‘. I wasn’t too sure about them when they first started playing, and although they did grow on me a little by the end, I don’t think I’ll be picking up their CD. They played for about 40 minutes, and then there was a 20 minute gap while it got set up for Pearl and the Beard.

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After they’d got the stage set up, they took a few steps off the stage to the front of the crowd, and started a floor stamping version of Douglas Douglass (one of my fave songs). It was fantastic, they were walking around the room through everyone that was watching and stamping and clapping for percussion. When Jocelyn started singing I was blown away by how clear her voice was – usually singers don’t sound quite as good live as they do on their albums, but PatB were just as good, if not better! They played for about 50 minutes, but I really wish it could have been longer. Jeremy was great on his guitar with beautiful vocals, and Emily on Cello was amazing – I’ve never seen someone play Cello in a band before but it was great!

After they had finished, we bought our tour posters, and then left quite quickly to try and make it back to the car park before the charge went from £6 to £11, but unfortunately we missed it by 7 minutes! At least we didn’t have to leave early like we did for Wakey!Wakey!