Live music and comedy 2019

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be posting a list of all the films I’ve seen this year, so I thought I’d also do a round-up of all the live music and comedy gigs I’ve been to in 2019.

January

Snow Patrol at Manchester Arena (with support from Roe and Kodaline). Last minute ticket purchase!

June

Mumford and Sons at Manchester Arena (with support from Villagers). In the accessible area with a crutch because I’d only just got out of hospital!

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott at Edgeley Park (with support from Richard Hawley). Really last minute – went with Lee & Katie because they had a spare ticket!

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Holidays 2019

I thought I’d post about my holidays this year – I’ve not done it sooner because I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with health stuff!

First off, over Easter I went camping with my sister’s family in Wales. We stayed at Abererch Sands, which is on the Llyn Peninsula, just between Pwllheli and Criccieth.

We all arrived at the campsite at lunchtime on the Thursday, and went on a part of the site where both caravans and tents could be pitched. It took me quite a while to get my tent up – I’d recently been getting tired really quickly (which I later discovered to be because of heart failure!), so I paced myself with it, and Brandon and Chloe occasionally broke away from playing frisbee to help a little bit when an extra pair of hands were needed. Vikky and Andy set up their caravan on one side of the field so they could plug into a heavy-duty electrical hook-up, whereas I pitched up on the opposite side, and made use of the electrical hook-up for tents. It was the first time I’d had electricity whilst camping, and it really does make a difference! I’d bought a small powered fridge to use for the week, plus a camping kettle which mean I could boil water much quicker than usual!

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Edgeley Park gigs

So this week, I’ve been to 2 different gigs at Edgeley Park stadium – handily just up the road from where I live!

The first one was Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, and it was very last minute that I got a ticket for it. I saw Lee post on Facebook that he had a spare ticket available for the gig that night, so, having been a big Beautiful South fan back in the day, bought the ticket off his friend who couldn’t make it.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott.

I thought about walking up to the stadium, but with my health situation, took the bus instead! I met Lee outside the ground, and we went in to grab a drink, before his wife Katie and her friend turned up. It was nice to catch up with Lee having not seen him since the beginning of February, and hopefully I didn’t bore him too much talking about my heart stuff!

So back to the music, and they were really good – there are so many songs you just know all the words to! I was worried it might rain, but even though it was quite cloudy, it stayed dry. I had to have a sit down for about 10 minutes half way through because I was starting to tire a bit, but then I was fine for the rest of the gig. I only had one beer – I don’t normally drink that much alcohol anyway, but at the moment I can’t have more that 1½ – 2 litres of liquid a day, which is a lot harder than you’d think!

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Gigs plus studio shoots

It’s been an eventful few weeks – and I’m not even including Christmas in that!

Last night I was at Manchester Arena to see Snow Patrol in concert, and it was a really great gig. It was quite a last minute thing… I decided to look on Monday to see whether there were any tickets left, and I managed to get a seat on one of the sides, which meant I had to sit at a bit of an angle to see the stage!

They had two supports – the first was Roe, who I’d not heard of before, but the second was Kodaline, and I’ve got one of their albums so knew some of the songs they did.

Snow Patrol.

Snow Patrol took to the stage around 9pm, and they played all the classics – ‘Take Back The City’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘Run’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘You’re All I Have’, ‘Cars’ – and even the ones I couldn’t name still sounded familiar… with an encore ending with ‘Just Say Yes’.

Also, just before Christmas, I saw Travis play at the O2 Apollo, and because it’s almost 20 years years since it was released, they played the entire ‘The Man Who’ album from start to finish, followed by a selection of other tracks to wrap up the set.

Travis.

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Birthday U2!

So, it was my birthday on Saturday, and at the start of this year I’d tried to buy a ticket to see U2 in Manchester on their eXPERIENCE + INNOCENCE tour, which fell on the same date, but within seconds of the tickets going on sale, they were already sold out which was really annoying since the only ones then available we being sold at massively inflated prices on secondary ticket sites – and I’d pretty much forgotten about it.

Then, first thing in the morning, I was looking on Twitter and saw a post from the Manchester Evening News linking to an article about the U2 gig later that day. I then remembered that someone had recently told me that with gigs like this, production ticket returns are often released for sale on the day of the gig, so I thought I’d quickly check on the Manchester Arena website, and I was able to buy a ticket at the price they originally went on sale!

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Jess’ music video

I spent last Saturday with Jess Torry and loads of her friends making a music video! It was her birthday last month, but rather than have a regular birthday party, she had a music video party, which involved them all dancing and singing along to Justin Timberlake’s ‘September’ track from Trolls.

James directed and operated the main FS5 camera, and I had the Sony A7s on a gimble rig to get some smooth moving shots (although I’m not that practiced in using the gimble, so it was a bit of a steep learning curve!).

We filmed them in a nearby park, then in a cul-de-sac of an industrial estate, and finally back in their back garden where they performed in various bits of fancy dress.

It was quite chaotic at times, but the kids had a blast, and James even edited it overnight so that they could all watch it the next day!

Malta with Annie Mac!

Me, Annie Mac and James.

The last week has been a really busy one, producing a video trailer for next year’s Lost & Found festival in Malta, hosted by Radio 1’s Annie Mac. The job came in pretty last minute, and with very little time for planning, last weekend me and James were on a plane leaving Manchester at 6.30am, heading to Malta! We met up at the airport in Malta with Oli from The Warehouse Project, and Wilf who’s a Manchester-based promoter who I think runs and produces a lot of the stuff for the festival.

Oli and Will were staying in a hotel in Sliema, whereas we carried on in the taxi for about another 40 minutes to Bugibba, where we checked into the Topaz Hotel. What with it being early afternoon, it was now incredibly hot, and since we had to wait for our room, we ended up sitting in the shade by the pool, eating ice lollies for lunch!
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Coldplay at the Ethiad

On Sunday, I was at one of the most amazing gigs I’ve been to – Coldplay at the Etihad Stadium! I bought 6 tickets on a bit of a whim last year, so have spent the last few months trying to find people to come with me! I only got rid of the last 2 tickets a couple of weeks ago!

I went with Dave Bateman, John Cieszynski, John Scruby, and met up outside with my brother Steve and one of his mates.

We were in the standing area to the right of the stage, and my legs were quite achy but the time we’d got through the 2 support acts, Rita Ora and Robyn. Not overly impressed with Rita Ora – she’s had a few songs out, but mainly vocals on someone else’s track, so it felt a bit strange, and it’s really not my kind of thing… but Robyn was a lot more to my taste!

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Coldplay gig

Seriously, wow!

Last night I was at the MEN Arena with Joel to see Coldplay, and it was flippin’ awesome! We were really close to the stage (literally just a few metres away!), and it was such a brilliant atmosphere.

When we got into the arena, we were actually led to where the stewards wanted us to be, and because we were near the front of the queue, we ended up really close! They made everyone sit down on the floor until they’d got everyone in (I guess it was to stop people rushing to the stage and pushing their way forward), but it certainly worked in our favour!

Coldplay.

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AFC video shoot

Last weekend, I was down in Gloucester filming with the Austin Francis Connection to produce a music video for one of their tracks! I first met Eddie from the group a couple of years ago at Greenbelt, and have seen them at various events since then, and we’ve often got around to talking about the possibility of working together, and it’s now finally happened!

I drove down really early on Saturday morning, and met the guys on the top of a multi-storey car park… they’d had an idea to shoot some of it on there, but I discovered they hadn’t got any permissions so we quickly looked for a plan B! Since we were going to have to shoot mostly guerrilla-style, we decided to stick to public places where we were unlikely to encounter security guards, and drove around to a park in the city centre and unloaded the jib and camera gear.

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Delirious – Fabula Est Vestri

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I was down in London yesterday so I could be at Delirious’ last ever gig at the Hammersmith Apollo. I saw them in Liverpool just over a year ago, and I thought then that that would be the last time I’d see them, but obviously they announced this final goodbye tour, and so I decided I wanted to be at the very last one.

Anyway, I made it into the venue at about 6.30pm and got my position about 10 rows from the front. First up, they all appeared on stage as ‘The Cutting Edge Band’ – which is how they started back in 1993. Everything about it was amazing.

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I first saw them back at the start of 1995 at Spring Harvest, and then many times in the next few years in school halls and often other smallish venues, and the whole of this ‘support act’ set brought all those great memories back.

And at the end of this, they did the whole ‘There is a light’ section that they used to do to end their gigs, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.

It was all just so beautiful – I really can’t think of another word to describe it, it really did feel special.

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Loads of great music…

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Well, after seeing U2 last month (which was amazing by the way… have I mentioned that?!) I’ve experienced some more great bands in the last few weeks.

I went to Greenbelt over the August Bank Holiday weekend with Ali and her mates from Bristol. Because she was working on the set-up team, it meant we were able to camp a lot closer to the main area, which was much better than the last time I went, when we were camped so far away!

There was a great variety of music over the weekend: Athlete, Röyksopp, Sixpence None The Richer, Cornershop, yFriday, plus lots of smaller artists as well.

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Also, I got to hear a bit of Rob Bell too, which was really interesting. I’ve got a few of his books, but I’ve yet to read them – that’s something I need to do when I get a bit more time! He was doing a Q&A session, so covered quite a few subjects. He did a couple of specific talks as well, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get into those because the queues were so long that people got turned away. I need to get an MP3 of them!

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Wow!

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U2 yesterday… amazing. Definitely the best gig I’ve ever been to!

I picked Phil up at 11am and we drove over to Sheffield and grabbed some lunch at Meadowhall, before taking the tram to the Don Valley stadium in good time.

We joined the back of a queue, which one of the stewards said had nearly 2,000 people in already! Before long, we heard other people in the queue talking about how the first couple of thousand people through were guaranteed a space in the inner circle – basically the small section between the stage and the outer walkways. And when we finally got in at 5pm, that turned out to be the case!

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First off, the stage was amazing – it was a massive ‘claw’, with a circular stage in the centre, then had a walkway forming an outer ring, and a bridge either side linking the two together.

I’d really never expected us to be able to get so close to the front, but we were literally a few metres away from the stage! I’d always assumed that the people in those areas at gigs had paid loads more money to be there, so it was a really good surprise to discover that’s not the case!

We had a bit of rain as we were waiting for it to start, but it cleared up leaving a nice summer’s night. The first support act was The Hours, who I wasn’t that fussed with to be honest, but then the second one was Elbow, who I do really like. The music’s quite chilled at times, and I really like the quirkiness of their stuff.

Then the main event – and wow – U2 certainly know how to put on a show!

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They played a good mix of new and old, and they sounded great. And they were so close to us! A few songs in, one of the bridges that had been over to the side started moving and stopped just above us, and the next thing we knew, Bono walked onto it and starting singing just above our heads! The crowd went crazy and hundred of camera phones were all pointed upwards towards the bridge!

Another really cool thing was the circular video panel they had around the top of the stage. About a third of the way through their set, the panels all started separating and moved downwards, creating a really cool looking structure.

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They played for 2 hours in total, and the fact that we were so close really made it special. There were apparently over 53,000 people in the stadium but it felt so intimate – as though they were playing just to us!

The only negative was that it took us quite a while to get out of Sheffield – we got back home just after 1am, although I know some other Manchester people who didn’t get home until a lot later!

So for my first ever experience of U2 live – it was pretty special, and was so glad that we queued up early! And it was nice spending the day with Phil as well, so a good result all round!

There are some photos of the night taken on my phone here.

Music and pain

A couple of weeks ago, me and James went down to London for two days to do a shoot with the 29th Chapter for their new music video.

It was a pretty manic couple of days – we headed down late on the Tuesday night and stayed in a Travelodge on the M1, and then arrived in Ealing for about 10 o’clock. The shooting was split into 2 blocks – the first day was a chromakey day, and the second was a live performance.

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The greenscreen that had been hired for the shoot was massive! We spent the morning rigging it up, then tried to light it evenly which was easier said than done! Then the guys got into their costumes (which I won’t reveal at this stage – I’ll wait until they’ve announced what single they’re releasing!) and we spent the rest of the day filming various set pieces and individual verses. It was a pretty long day… we wrapped around 10.30pm and then had a bit of a drive to a really nice hotel in some other part of London (I have no idea where!)

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Then the next day we shot a load of live performance footage using Rob’s EX1 with a Letus 35mm adapter, and the shots looked really great. It’s amazing how much difference using 35mm lenses makes – the depth of field you get makes it look so filmic. I really want to get one, but need to make sure we’d get enough use from it to justify the expense!

We finished at around 11pm on the Thursday night, and then had to drive back to Manchester, and it took forever! We were both really tired so shared the driving, and I finally managed to get to bed about 4am… but had to be up at 8am to take back the equipment we’d hired – brilliant!

Then yesterday was John Cieszynski’s stag day, which saw me try paintballing for the first time.

I didn’t realise how expensive it can be – I basically rationed the paintballs that I got as part of the basic price, but some of the others spent a fortune buying extra ammo!

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It was a good laugh, although it would probably have helped if I was a bit fitter! And during the first game, I got shot in my leg by a member of my own team! And it really hurt – I’ve had quite a big bruise come up today! I also got hit on my ear and the back of my hand, so it was a day of pain!

Then in the evening we met up in town for some food, and as we were arriving the heavens opened. I’d not seen heavy rain like that for a long time – the streets of Manchester turned into rivers! It was a good day all in all, and looking forward to the wedding in a month’s time!

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One not-so-good thing at the moment is that on Thursday I discovered that I may be going to the Coldplay gig on my own in September. I’m supposed to be going with James and Helen, but they’ve now found out they have a family wedding on the same day which they can’t get out of. It’s quite gutting for them, because we bought the tickets last October, and James bought Helen’s ticket as a Christmas present. For me, I was looking forward to going with both of them – obviously the gig itself will be great, but the fact I’d get to spend some time with them outside of work was definitely a bonus. I think they’re going to see if they can get there later on, but obviously with so many people there, the chances of us meeting up there would be impossible.

I’ve still got a spare ticket to sell, which might mean I find someone else to go with, but I don’t really know anyone else who wants to go, so might have to just sell it to a random person. Just a real shame, because I was really looking forward to it.