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.


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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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Holiday in Ireland

A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday in Ireland again, meeting up with my mum plus my niece and nephew. They’d already been there for a few days and I set off really early on a Sunday morning to make a 9am sailing from Holyhead to Dublin, followed by a 3½ hour drive across the country to Mai & PJ’s house just outside Listowel.

The following morning – we took my mum’s hire car back to Shannon airport, with me following behind, so we could then carry on in just the one car.

We carried on northwards for a bit, before making a brief stop in County Clare’s main town, Ennis, and then carried on to the north west of the county, finally arriving at the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher.

They’re really stunning, and you can really sense the power of the sea crashing onto the rock a couple of hundred metres below. It was really windy, and it had been quite drizzly all morning, but it did dry up for us whilst there. It was a pretty strenuous walk up a load of steps to an old round tower overlooking the sea, and we carried on walking along the cliff top until we got to a little hut selling ice lollies (which of course we partook in!).

It was crazy seeing the amount of people who’d left the path to position themselves really precariously on the cliff edge to take a selfie – I’m not sure any photo, no matter how stunning, is worth potential death!

Afterwards we went into the visitor centre, which seems to be a giant cave inside the hill, and there were quite a few interactive things which Brandon & Chloe could have a go at. Even mum decided to try out the greenscreen selfie area, although the camera they use is really low quality and the keying wasn’t that great!

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A catch-up

I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up of what’s been going on the last few weeks.

At the start of last month, we had a bit of a crazy weekend shooting a TV commercial for Transform, which involved a mix of interior and exterior locations. We were really banking on the weather being good, and we were so lucky that the rain didn’t materialise until Sunday afternoon, because by then we’d filmed all of the outside stuff. We shot it all on the FS5 mounted on a Ronin stabiliser, and the shots looked great.

The week the shoot saw us having to get it edited and through Clearcast clearance to allow it to be shown on TV, and it was pretty tight, but we managed to get it on air without too much trouble!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Lowry to see ‘The Elis James and John Robins Experience’ – I started listening to their Radio X show and podcast back in September, and I heard them mention that they were doing a tour, so checked online and saw that there were just a few tickets left for the show! It was really funny – there were some references that I didn’t get that obviously would be known to a long time listener, but it just made me want to check out more of their back catalogue!

Elis James & John Robins.

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Birmingham (still) Live!

Peter, Ashley, me, Karen, Michael, Ava and Ian.

Last weekend I was down in Birmingham for a re-union with some of the people I worked with in my first full time job at Birmingham Live TV.

It’s been 14½ years since we’d all seen each other, and I was a bit worried that it’d be really weird, but it genuinely felt like hardly any time had passed at all!

There were seven of us in all – me, Ian, Michael, Karen (who now lives in America), Ashley, Ava, and our old boss Peter (who was also my boss later at MUTV!)

It was a really fun night, and hopefully it won’t take almost 15 years for us to meet up again!

Jo Brand’s Big Splash recording

Me and James have just spent the last couple of days down in London, partly for a meeting about some more graphics we’re doing for a Channel 5 documentary later this year, but also we were down there to go to the Hackney Empire, where we were in the audience for the recording of Jo Brand doing stand-up for a show that’s going to be on Dave later this year.

doodledoMOTION are doing titles and graphics for the 5-part series called ‘Jo Brand’s Big Splash’, which will mix the stand-up gig with a documentary about water, which sees Jo trying out loads of different activities including swimming, diving and rafting.

Because we were guests, we got front row circle seats, so there’s a good chance we could end up in some audience shots in the final edit.  And knowing the way editing works, I can almost guarantee that they’ll cut us laughing at some innocent joke as the reaction to something really inappropriate!!

It was actually a really good gig – I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d find it that funny, but I think Jo’s comedy has become a lot more inclusive, whereas in the past it had quite a reputation of being feminist and man-hating. I don’t really know whether it ever really was, but that’s kind of what gets associated with her!
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Last night I went with John to see Derren Brown’s latest live show ‘Enigma‘ at the Lowry.  John runs the Public Reviews website, and he had a couple of press tickets to go and review the show, so I went for free on his spare ticket!

I find Derren Brown fascinating – I think all his TV shows are great, and he presents traditional magic and illusion in a very contemporary way.  I also find it amusing to read people online who think he’s got real powers(!), but I’m actually in two minds as to whether he uses hypnotism and NLP as part of his act. Certainly stuff I’ve seen on the internet about those methods demonstrate that it’s quite possible, but I don’t really know, and am suspicious of any of his own explanations!

Anyway, back to ‘Enigma’. It really was a brilliant show – great theatrical staging, a very clever structure to the performance, and some really good magic tricks!  And Derren Brown’s an incredibly engaging character – he basically had the whole theatre eating out of his hand.

I’m not going to write about the tricks themselves – mainly because he asked people not to since the show is still touring – but I’m sure it will end up on TV in the near future, just like his previous ones have.  I’ve got an inkling how some of them were done (and today I’ve read a bit about some of the other perfotmances which have given me some more clues), but some of them were truly mind-blowing.

The final trick was one that I just can’t work out how he managed to pull everything together in the way that he did, and with a clever back-reference to something earlier on that seemed pretty throw-away.  John was actually part of the finale – he was one of the 6 volunteers who caught a frisbee thrown out into the audience – so I know it wasn’t done with stooges!

If you get a chance to see the show at all, I can thoroughly recommend it!

A busy Christmas week

It’s that funny time between Christmas and New Year when generally nothing really happens – so the ideal time to do a blog update!  And since I last posted a week and a half ago, I’ve actually done quite a lot of stuff in that time!

Last Wednesday night, I went over to Liverpool with John Roberts to see a production of ‘The 39 Steps‘ at the Liverpool Playhouse.  He runs a theatre reviews website called The Public Reviews, so we we got free tickets which was pretty cool!  It was actually a really good show – it’s a comedy and was performed by just 4 actors, who changed roles continuously throughout the play, which surprised me at how well it worked!

The show culminated in fake snow being showered on the audience, and then as we left the theatre, we discovered that there was real snow falling – and I’d have been really impressed if that was part of the show as well!  We’d already had a bit of snow in Manchester a couple of days earlier, but there was none in Liverpool when we arrived.


We got back to the car, and within a few minutes we were driving through a pretty intense blizzard, and the snow really started to build up on the roads.

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Too old for clubbing!

As per the title really! Although I can’t deny that I really had a great time! It’s just that after getting back at 3am, then grabbing a few hours sleep on the floor, I feel like I should really have gone through all this 10 years ago – though I’m not saying I wouldn’t be up for it again! It came about from going with James to the end-of-year art show at Manchester Met, which had its private viewing on Friday night. I’ve been a couple of times before, and it’s a really good place to get some inspiration, and also to see potential artists who we could maybe get to do some work for us in the future.

So we spent a couple of hours at the show with James’ mum, as well as his aunt and uncle, and then I kind of gatecrashed a family meal at Felicinis on Oxford Road – a really nice Italian restaurant that had just enough English food to ensure I got a good meal!

So after that, we headed over to Greenroom to meet up with some of the other guys who work on the course that James teaches on, then when we got chucked out of there made our way over to Sub Space which was absolutely packed and really hot and sweaty! But the music in there was really funky, and it was just a very good atmosphere, and whereas normally I’d feel a bit out of place being somewhere like that, I totally enjoyed it. I’ve never really got into going out clubbing and stuff – even at uni – but I’m kind of realising that if I’m in the right mind for it, I can actually have a good time.

Also, this weekend saw a programme I’ve recently been working on go out on The History Channel – I’d edited a documentary on the Vulcan bomber which was being featured because of it being the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war. It was quite weird watching it because I edited it to a guide voiceover, and this was a first time I’d seen it in this version, so it did seem like I was watching a different programme! I thought the show turned out well though, and I’m sure it will get repeated many times over the coming months!

Other stuff… I caught up with Jamie a couple of weeks ago when I went for a barbeque at his with Dean and Sean. It was quite an impromptu thing… I’d been round at James’ doing some work when he gave me a call to see if I was doing anything, so I went straight to his from there, because unsurprisingly I didn’t have any other plans! The food was slightly charred, but it was okay and filled me up! I hadn’t seen Jamie for quite a while – he’s got back into his climbing again which means he’s away from Manchester a lot more. It’s great for him ‘cos he’s really into it, but for me it’s a bit of a shame because I’d enjoyed the couple of times we’d been out riding together and was hoping to be able to do a lot more of it, but I know it’s going to be really difficult to find any time that we can. My bike’s been sitting idle since February, and there’s no-one else I can really go with, and I’m not overly keen on just going out riding on my own.

Finally, I mentioned in a earlier blog about some potentially exciting developments work-wise. Well, there’s still a lot to be finalised, but it looks like things are moving forward. I’ll post more information about it when things are more definite. But in the meantime, we’re currently busy working on titles and stings for a 7-part BBC2 documentary which is going out on Saturday nights from July. It’s probably the biggest job we’ve worked on to be honest, but hopefully it’s a good sign of things to come!

Soul Shutter… and bridge nutter

Just got back from a nice meal at Jamie’s and I have to say that tonight I’ve seen probably the worst film ever! Well, 51 minutes of it because that’s all we could take!! It was Miami Vice, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, and it was dire! Bad script, bad dialogue, no character development… basically just shots of fast cars and speedboats!! Total rubbish – that’s time I’m never going to get back!! Apart from that though, it was really nice spending the evening with Jamie and Dean, and we ended up watching a DVD of Victoria Wood instead!!

Anyway, all this weekend I’ve been over at some mills in Compstall on the set of a short film called ‘Soul Shutter’, starring Georgia Taylor (who used to be in Coronation Street and has done some other big dramas since). It’s being produced by Hamish and Rob, and they’ve managed to rope in a load of people to give their skills for free to get it made. Somehow, I’ve been persuaded to do all the computer graphics stuff for it, and having been there all weekend directing the CG sequences, I’ve realised that it’s going to be a lot more work than I’d originally been led to believe!!

There’s a lot of action that takes place within photographs, so a lot of it was shot on a totally white set, and I’m going to have to key in loads of effects, as well as also doing moving images in photos on a wall, a bit like you see in the Harry Potter films… only with the budget being a few million quid lower!! Was a really good experience though, and I hope I can make it look expensive! I’ve got a load of photos from my phone of the shoot here.

On Friday evening I got a call from Jamie seeing if I was up to anything because there was a group heading off to do some bridgeswinging! I went with them a few years ago so I knew that there was no way I’d do it, but I said I could bring my Z1 and film them throwing themselves off the side of the incredibly high bridge! It was really cool and I got some nice shots of people leaping, though obviously because it was dark and my light can only really illuminate short distances you don’ really get a feel of the whole action. I’ll probably try and cut something together and maybe stick it up on Youtube or something.

I kind of wish I could summon up the courage to do it, but the thought of jumping into darkness really doesn’t appeal to me! Not convinced either that it would make the slightest bit of difference if I was able to see where I was jumping but maybe I should add it to my list of things to do before I die… just as long as I don’t die doing it!

Bow(l)ing out from MUTV…

Chris, Joe, Steve, Craig, Brian, Carole, Asim, Scott, Gareth, Ajay, Mandy, Katrina

Well, tonight I had my official MUTV leaving do, in which I’d decided to go bowling rather than the more traditional route of just going to the pub for the night!

Anyway, we met at Duke’s 92 in town, and it was a good turnout… to be honest, I was kind of worried about how many people would actually come. It was a bit weird though, because I really do feel uncomfortable if the attention is put on me, and this was one occasion where it was difficult to get out of that! While we were there, I got given a card, a HMV voucher and a book – “The Bluffer’s Guide To Football”… though I kind of feel that it may have been more useful six years ago!!

Then 15 of us went down to Parrs Wood to the Megabowl for a couple of games of bowling, and it was quite good fun, and it looked like everyone who went enjoyed it. By some kind of miracle, I managed to win my first game…

  1. GARETH – 139
  2. BRIAN – 122
  3. JOE “THE KID” EVANS – 111
  4. KATRINA – 108
  5. IAN – 66

…but almost came last on our second!! Strangely enough I don’t have those scores!! Ian did a heck of a lot better though, coming either first or second!

There are photos of the night here.

Christmas party #2

Last night I went to my second Christmas party in a week! I guess this was probably be the last social event for me for a long while, so I’ve been making the most of these last couple!

Like last year, we had our party along with all of the Manchester United employees, and it was provided by ‘The Christmas Company’ again… the theme this time was ‘Gatecrash The Kremlin’ – so there was quite a bit of Russian music and Cossack dancing going on!

The meal was pretty good, and we didn’t have to pay for our drinks… so the night didn’t cost me anything… which was definitely a bonus (especially since my heating died on Sunday and I’ll be paying to get that fixed this week!)

They had dodgem cars there but I didn’t get to go on them because I couldn’t be bothered queuing(!), as well as a fairground stall where you had to try and hammer a lever to get a rubber frog into a container – though after about 10 failed attempts I gave up!

You can see the party photos here.

Christmas party #1

Last night I was at Airplay‘s Christmas party (I’ve done various freelance work for them over the last year) and it was a pretty good night.

They’d invited all of their freelancers along as well as the regular staff, so I knew a few people there, but there were quite a few faces I’d seen around their offices who I spoke to for the first time at the party!

Leighton even came up from Birmingham for it, and everyone seemed to enjoy the night… he was slightly the worse for wear by the end of it! There was a free bar until half midnight, and Dave Walker made the mistake of buying a drink at 12.40am… and ended up buying a single Malibu and Coke for £7.50. He was well hacked off!!

There are a load of photos from the night here.

Got my second Christmas party – the Manchester United one – on Monday evening, and that one should be really good if last year’s is anything to go by.

Paint The Town

Just got back from Bradford where I went to see the first night of Delirious’ Paint The Town tour at the Abundant Life Centre, and it was a really excellent night. The only weird thing really was I think it’s the first gig I’ve been to on my own, which means in some ways it wasn’t as good as when saw them in Bradford last year because it was much nicer being there with really good company.

But anyway – my observations – a great show… Martin Smith’s voice sounded really good… in a much better shape than when I saw them at Soul Survivor in the summer. Having heard ‘Now Is The Time’ and ‘Miracle Maker’ live earlier this year, I knew they kicked serious butt live, and the other Mission Bell tracks sounded better live too… as is often the case with Delirious.

I’d never been to Abundant Life before, and it’s a slightly weird place as a venue… certainly felt more like a church gig than normal. Also they made use of their screens, and a 2 camera mix was used throughout (pretty well done actually), and what reminded me of the old days a lot was the fact that all the words were projected on the screens, which did seem a bit out of place at a gig… but was actually quite handy ‘cos I didn’t know all the words to the new songs! Saw Joe Wardman who was working on the merch stall there (an old friend from working at Spring Harvert who goes to Abundant Life) – I’ve not seen her for about four years, though we do chat occasionally on messenger… We weren’t able to talk too much because the stall was a bit manic, but will try to catch up properly sometime in the future.

Setlist: Intro – pre-recorded strings version of ‘What A Friend’, Here I Am Send Me, Rain Down, God In Heaven, Solid Rock, Miracle Maker, Lead Me, Fires Burn, History Maker, Paint The Town Red, Heaven, Take Of Your Shoes, Majesty, Now Is The Time
Encore: Love Falls Down, Every Little Thing
(Pretty sure the set list’s right… it’s done from memory – I used a bizarre song association memory technique to remember it!!)