Tuesday 25 February 2014

The Lonsdale/ABC, Goodbye and Thank You for the Music!

Recently the Lonsdale in Carlisle was demolished, the long fight to save
ABC Lonsdale, Carlisle
the art deco building having failed.  Since it's opening in 1931 it has been a cinema, theatre and bingo hall. It has many memories for Carlisle people, but for me it was the ABC and will always be linked to music, for it was there that I saw my first live rock gigs.

In the 1960's there used to be extensive tours of a few major musicians who each would play a handful of songs during the show. These tours came to out of the way places like Carlisle (we do not see the big acts even come close nowadays!) and these tours gave people a chance to see a little of the top acts of the day. The Beatles played the ABC, but I was too young to go to that particular show.  

I started going to shows at the ABC in 1967, I was only 13 and went by myself as none of my close friends loved music as I did, (even to this day my music loving friends are the ones I got to know through U2 :)) Looking back I'm amazed my mum let me go to gigs so young! My musical appetite was initially whetted by listening to the pirate radio station Radio Caroline or a very crackly Radio Luxemburg. In those days you just did not hear rock music on the mainstream radio, this only started with the advent of BBC Radio 1 in late 1967. Hard to imagine in these days of instant downloads.

One of the first shows I saw was an eclectic mix to say the least, headlining were The Walker Brothers, also on the bill were Engelbert Humperdinck, Cat Stevens (who I was a fan of) and one Jimi Hendrix. And the performance I remember most all these years later was, of course, Jimi Hendrix.  I was wide-eyed and open-mouthed, he seemed so exotic to me. Carlisle was not multi-cultural then (nor very much now really), and this black American in the bright clothes was like no one I'd seen before. He was exciting, sexy and totally into the music, the guitar playing was out of this world, he set the place alight. He played Hey Joe and Purple Haze, and even at my tender age I knew I was seeing someone special, very, very talented and unique, he was head and shoulders above the other artists.

Jimi Hendrix at Carlisle ABC
After the show I went round to the stage door (yeah I've been doing that for a long time too!) where there was a small group of people gathered. Jimi came out to sign autographs.  He was so different from the wild person on stage, he was very polite, appeared a little shy and was quietly spoken. I got his autograph (which I don't have now, wish I still had it!) and then he left. That night I realised just how powerful, exciting and mind-blowing live music can be. Until recently that stage door was still there and many times when I passed by I thought of the night I met Jimi and saw him play live.

I remember seeing a few other artists at the ABC, The Small Faces who I was a fan of, Jeff Beck and also Roy Orbison who were all on the same bill (again a strange mix). When Roy came on stage he looked old to my young eyes. He seemed a bit strange with his dark glasses and standing stock still on the stage. But boy when he opened his mouth, he blew me away, what a voice and it was so effortless for him and that captivated me. So different from Jimi, but it taught me how live music can touch you in so many different ways.

So, the Lonsdale/ABC was the start of my concert going, the initiation into the joys of live music, something that became an important part of my life. I never got to see Jimi play live again, but that night so long ago in April 1967 started something in me that is still going strong. So, I'm sorry to see the Lonsdale/ABC demolished, but the memories shine brightly within me, and thanks for the music and thanks to my mum for letting me go to the gigs!

(All photos by spaceman.com)

Tuesday 18 February 2014

U2 on The Tonight Show

Great performance of Invisible on The Tonight Show yesterday. It was performed on the rooftop of the building with a beautiful sunset and the amazing New York skyline behind them. The audience was conprised of the lucky New Yorker U2.com members who were asked to register interest and then were randomly picked, lucky things! Lovely energetic performance, all the band look great and Adam's hair is spectacular lol!

There was then a short interview in the studio which was funny - loved the coffee cup speech and the "spontaneous show business moment"quip. However there was no new information about the upcoming album and tour, U2 fans have to be very patient!

Following this was the "spontaneous show business moment," an acoustic version of Ordinary Love which was good, I thought the song sounded better performed this way, but it still isn't a song that does much for me. It's great to have the lads back, they have been away far too long.

Here's a full video of the performances and interview, enjoy!

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Holiday Accommodation Review - The Red House Apartment, Reykjavik - Nordic Style


The Red House Apartment Upper, Reykjavik
Red House Apartment
Skolavordustigur 33

Skolavordustigur has Hallgrimskirkja at one end and Laugavegur at the other, so it was impossible to to get lost on your way home, all you need is to look for the church's steeple that dominates Reykjavik! The apartment was very central for shops, restaurants and the sights of the city, yet away from the famous Reykjavik party places and was very quiet.

Description of the Accommodation
It is a first floor apartment that is reached via a spiral staircase, slightly awkward to get cases up but we did a relay which worked well. It has one double bedroom and one twin, plus a sofa bed in the living room. The large main room is an open plan living, dining and kitchen area. There is one bathroom with a bath, shower and toilet, the washing machine and dryer are in there too. There is also a hallway.  The apartment was decorated in a bright, modern Nordic style in yellow and white with real wood floors.

Dining/Kitchen Area
All mod cons, the kitchen was newly fitted. Washer, dryer, dishwasher, plenty of cupboard space and crockery and cutlery. The apartment has a TV and Wifi. The beds were very comfortable. There was everything needed for anyone on holiday.

My View
The apartment was spacious, bright and airy, I loved the Nordic styling of the place.  When we arrived it was dark, but there were lights left on for us and it was lovely and warm which was very welcoming on a cold Icelandic evening! Throughout our stay it was always warm with piping hot geothermal water that smelled of sulphur (the norm in Iceland)It was a large apartment and there was more than enough space for all four of us.

The location was fantastic, everything was just a few minutes walk away. There was a small supermarket just across the road so it was easy to get some food supplies in. The owner, Mark, quick to respond to emails and returned the security deposit quickly after we had left the apartment.  It was a home from home and I would definitely  recommend The Red House Apartment as a place to stay in Reykjavik. You can read more about the apartment here on the Homeaway website on which we booked this accommodation.

Holiday Accommodation Review. - Moffatt Cottage, Dublin - Small But Perfectly Formed!

I've done lots of reviews of restaurants and places of interest visited whilst on holiday but have rarely reviewed our accommodation - so I'm starting now! Hopefully the reviews will prove helpful to people looking for places to stay.

Moffatt Cottage
Power's Square
John Dillon Street

In a quiet, small square yet just five minutes walk from Christchurch and Temple Bar.

Description of Accommodation
Small 150 year old cottage, double bedroom with a loft area where another person can sleep, a single bedroom, living room, kitchen, toilet/shower room, tiny garden. Can sleep a maximum of four.

All you need whilst on holiday, nothing forgotten, has Wifi.

My View
The cottage is small but very well designed with all available space ingeniously put to use. It has a cosy atmosphere and is homely, warm and snug. The location is quiet yet it is just a short walk to Temple Bar and the sights of wonderful Dublin. The owner, Sean, is friendly and welcoming and online booking was quick and straightforward. We have stayed there twice and loved it and I've no hesitation to recommend it. Read more about it here on the Homeaway website which I used to book this accommodation.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

U2 - Invisible

In all honesty I wasn't expecting much from this song. I've been a big disillusioned with U2 for generally putting out good, safe songs. The latest example of that was Ordinary Love. Yes, it was for the soundtrack of the recent Mandela film, but it really wasn't anything special - it was good, safe U2 and it didn't excite me. And that's what I've been missing, the excitement U2 could bring with the music, the buzz.

So I downloaded the song and right away realised this was a bit different, it was looser, with a hint of rawness, electronica, it sounded modern yet was also pure U2 - in the best sense. It has a touch of Mercy about it, and I love Edge's guitar throughout.  I'll admit I don't really know much about Danger Mouses's work, but I like what he has done with this U2 song, they sound freer somehow, I was tired of over-produced songs we had been getting.

I love the lyrics, Bono is back to his best here. It is one of those U2 songs that lyrically can refer to more than one thing. Bono has said it refers to when he was first in London in the late 70's and he felt invisible amongst all the crowds and cool punks. It could equally refer to anyone disadvantaged and ignored in our society or far away in Africa, anyone from a broken relationship, anyone who feels isolated.  The words feel both personal and universal, each listener will find their own meaning.

By time the song finished I had a daft grin on my face, always a sign I love a song! I had that wonderful buzz again and that felt good. I could visualise singing along to the chorus at a gig (whenever that might be but that's another subject!)  Is it a great, classic song? Probably not, but I love it and it is a move in the right direction, a move away from the U2 norm of recent years. I hope it this is a sign of things to come for the new album.

And, just to finish, so far the song has raised over $3 million for (RED) The Global to Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria. No matter what you think of the song, that's pretty remarkable in itself.

Below is a promo video for the song, a full video is coming soon and I will upload that when it is available.