Monday, 17 December 2007

Apocalyptica, Live in Dublin - best live band in the world!?

It's Monday morning and instead of getting on with the mountains of housework, or wrapping up of Christmas presents, I'm sitting at my computer listening to Apocalyptica, and writing a blog post about the most amazing weekend we had.

Dan and I travelled down to Dublin on Friday, for Saturday nights Apocalyptica gig. Unfortunately I'd developed a violent cold and was sneezing all the way down on the bus, with two lovely big purple eyes. Apocalyptica are one of my favourite bands (I have many though). They are a cello band from Finland, and consist of 4 cellists, and now a drummer (although he is a relatively new addition). They became famous for their heavy metal covers, particularly their cello versions of Metallica songs. But now days they are as well known for their own music, with the new album 'Worlds Collide' having guest singers from various bands including Slipknot, Lacuna Coil and Rammstein. We knew that this show would be good, different and unique, but we were both totally blown away with the whole evening.

The supporting act were Lacrimus Profundere. The singer from Lacrimus came out at the very end of the evening when there were just a few stragglers from the audience left. We met him and had a brief chat about his band. I think he was looking for groupies (he didn't have any trouble finding them) but I wasn't gonna throw myself at any guy just cos he's the singer on a not yet very famous band, so he soon got bored talking to me. Haha.

The Dublin show was the last gig of Apocalyptica's 2007 European tour and right from the second they appeared on stage we could tell it would be a good night. They looked exhilarated and excited about their last gig of the year and the audience picked up on this straight away. The vibe in the audience was just hiving. The band had a look of almost disbelief as they performed and experienced for the first time the appreciation of an Irish crowd (I've always found Irish audiences, north or south, to be amazing enthusiastic audiences compared to the brits). They promised they'd be back to Ireland.

They played an almost 2 hour set, and their performances totally blew my mind! I've never experienced such a high from live music before. I think they are the best live band I've ever seen, they even blew my cold away! Their performance was energetic, passionate, lively, and totally out of this world. The drummer was obviously from another planet - the amount of energy and movement he put into drum playing was phenomenal. There are four professional cellists who manage to show that heavy metal music is just as valid an art form as any other type of music. There were no singers in the show, purely instrumental, and it lacked nothing.

The band were called back with 3 standing ovations. The Dublin crowd refused to let them leave and chanted "we want more". The first time they came back and performed another 3 songs. Then left and the crowd still wanted more. So they came back and played another 2 songs, with a look of disbelief on their faces. But that wasn't enough and we called them back for one more song and made them play until they all looked like they would faint from exhaustion! The crowd clapped and cheered for the longest I've ever seen anyone clap a band, and Apocalyptica left the stage looking totally exhilarated and mind blown themselves!

When they come back to Ireland I am going to drag everyone I know to their gig so that they can experience this band live for themselves. As amazing as their albums are, they do no justice to the buzz of the live gig.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Goth nights and wet hair

I'm back from a fabulous weekend away in England. The purpose of the trip was to see one of my favourite bands in concert. H.I.M - a gothic love metal band from Finland. Unfortunately they didn't include any part of Ireland on their tour, so I arranged to visit an old school friend in England and we went to the show together. (HIM are the band that I danced to in the gothic bellydance show).

The concert was held in the Guildhall, Portsmouth, which was a grand old building that looked like a cathedral. Caroline picked me up from the airport and we drove straight to Portsmouth. Had some dinner then headed to the show, only to discover the biggest queue I'd ever seen to get into the building.

Killing Hannah were the support act (although I didn't know who they were at the time and didn't see much of them). H.I.M were pretty much as I expected - awesome. I got pretty close to the front. Close enough to see Ville Valo as he sang. He has just the most amazing voice. I took a few pictures and videos on my camera phone but its hard to get a good pic in that sort of dark environment.

There are a few pics of the show, and of myself and Caroline in the concert and outside of the Guildhall.

We drove back to Kent late that night and crashed into bed totally exhausted. That was on the Friday. Then on Saturday I had arranged to meet a dear friend of ours, Neil, in London. He travelled down from Birmingham, and I got the train up from Maidstone. It was only an hours travel for me, much longer for him I think.

The weather in London was miserable. However, I'm from Northern Ireland so the weather just doesn't really bother me, I'm used to it. It rained all day and we got thoroughly soaked. We went to several musuems (including the Tate modern, as Neil wanted to show me the huge crack in the floor!), looked at lots of artwork and photography (I discovered some of the paintings I'd written essays about on my Open University course a few years back), walked for miles around various places (Picadilly, Leicester Square, Carnaby Street etc). We saw the biggest environmental protest march go past, and queued to get into Hamleys toy store. Oxford Street was absolutely packed with Christmas shoppers. It reminded me of New York. I've never seen so many people crammed into shops like that. The queue into Hamleys was phenomenal and caused a human traffic jam. Inside the shop was just as packed. People just go mad at Christmas! I'm now trying to do all my Christmas shopping online.

At the end of the day Neil took me back to Victoria station to catch my train (because I was totally lost in London, lol). That evening my good friend Tabi (from grammar school days) came round to Carolines and we all pigged out on Chinese food, told funny stories (I wont embarass Tabi by telling her embarassing waxing story on here, lmao) and talked about bras a lot. LOL. Typical girlie evening. It was great to see Tabi and Caroline again, although it was such a flying visit. But I had a wonderful weekend.

This weekend Dan and I are off to Dublin for 2 nights to see Apocalyptica. I tell you what, nothing happens for years and then it all happens at once.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Blood & Glitter, Gothic Bellydance Show!

Everyone knows I've been rehearsing like a nutter for my first solo bellydance performance. The show was on Friday night. I am just soooo glad it's finally all over. All that practice, costume hunting and makin, for 3 1/2 minutes of performance. It seems like a total waste of time when I think about it!

The evening went really well. The Attic Bar in Laverys was packed with a great crowd of alternative looking people. I was 4th to perform and then I was able to sit back and relax. Actually, I didn't get at all nervous. I felt fine about the whole thing even though I was still improvising parts of the dance. There are lots of photos of the whole event, and even a bad quality phone video of my dance, on my facebook page.

My dance went really well. I think it was the best I have performed it so far. The girls who saw me in rehearsals told me I had really improved on it, so that was a releif. One man (who I later found out is a famous singer from the old punk band The Outcasts) told me I danced 'like a gazelle' (LMAO!) Dan said it went really well too and everyone seemed suitably impressed, so I was very happy indeed. I was the first out of my group of first time soloists to dance, so I was able to sit back and watch the rest of them, and enjoy the night. There were also professional dancers and group dances too.

The wedding of Hannah and David, 28/11/2007

It's Sunday morning and I'm finally getting a moment to write about Wednesdays wedding. The biggest event of the year for our families. And what an amazing day it was! I think it was the loveliest wedding I've ever been to. Hannah put so much work into organising it, along with the help of various other people, especially Mum.
Barney and I spent Tuesday helping to decorate the reception hall, which was held in Castlewellan Castle. I thought Barney would be a nuisance for that day but he was absolutely great. He made friends with the chair delivery man, and the Castles caretaker. He put the rings on the napkins and helped scatter love heart shaped sequins over the tables.
Wednesday morning started early in our house. Everyone had to shower, including my sister Maddi and her partner Tom. Then Maddi, myself and Annabelle headed to the hairdressers. From there Maddi and I went to Mums house to help the bride get ready. The morning went relatively stress free, although Mum nearly had an anuerism at one point when she couldn't find the bridesmaids necklaces. At one horrifying moment, I got red lipstick on Hannah's wedding dress, and nearly died there and then, but we managed to get it off with babywipes.

Photos of us getting ready at Mums house.

We drove like royalty in two wedding cars to the church in Killinchy. Hannah and Mum in one car, followed by the three bridesmaids. At the church we were met by Dad, the flower girls (Annabelle & Jenny's three girls) and the Page Boys (Jimmy and Barney). They all looked adorable, the boys in their suits, and the girls in their tiaras. Dan looked amazing too in his suit which matched the grooms, as he was groomsman. I don't think our family has ever looked quite so smart before!
The flower girls started the procession, two by two, down the ilse, scattering rose petals, to the tune of Song Bird played on a harp and flute. They were followed by the two page boys. Then Hannah and Dad made their entrance, followed by Maddi and I, and last but not least Jenny.

The service in the church was held by David's Father who is a minister there. Dan also did a short talk in the church, and us bridesmaids & Mum sang a song - Come What May from Moulin Rouge.

The service was lovely, and we all had a tear in our eyes as we watched the happy couple make thier vows and share their rings. They looked so adorably happy together.
After the wedding there was a mini reception held in the church hall, before heading to Castlewellan Castle for photos and the reception.

Hannah & David leave the church as husband and wife, Cutting the cake at the mini reception, and Barney & I looking smart at the mini reception.

We stopped at the Lake in Castlwellan forest park for photos with the wedding photographer. None of us had ever been so cold before and we all got completely windswept. But the photos will be amazing.

Inside the castle we had a mammoth photo session, and I'm pretty sure the photos look like something from an OK magazine shoot.

Then finally, after all the photos were taken it was time for the reception. The hall looked gorgeous, and the food provided by the Castle was absolutely divine! I was only sorry I couldn't eat very much, squashed into that dress. We had the usual speeches, including a very funny slideshow of Davids life, by the best man (his brother). And then a bit of a disco session.
The day ended with the bride and groom leaving the Castle through an archway of sparklers, which looked very pretty indeed.