Break A Leg Tour

I was lucky enough this past weekend to see my favorite band – The Foo Fighters – play live again. I say lucky because when they play in the UK the tickets usually sell out very fast, and this was the case for their show at Wembley. Except I didn’t see them at Wembley. Dave Grohl famously fell off the stage and broke his leg during their tour and the band was forced to cancel the UK shows.

Determined to make it up to the fans, they rescheduled for later in the summer in Milton Keynes, which is an hour from Oxford. I originally thought the venue was a stadium, but actually it was a huge outdoor concert site, and almost had a festival feel to it with 65,000 screaming fans [click to enlarge the image].

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We arrived just before the first band took the stage, and I was surprised at the number of people already there three hours before the headliners went on. It may have been a product of a sunny and mild late summer afternoon, or it may be because the undercard bands were good. I especially liked the openers, a duo from the UK called Royal Blood. I had heard a couple of their songs here on Radio 1 but didn’t know much until about a week before the concert. They really rock. The obvious comparisons are Queens of The Stone Age and the White Stripes, but I would stick with the former. Have a listen and see what you think.

After Royal Blood, a rock and roll legend took the stage, Iggy Pop. Yes, the 68 year old Iggy Pop was shirtless on stage running around and singing for at least an hour. I’m not a huge fan of his songs, but in the end I knew more than I thought, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” was probably the highlight for me.

When it came time for the Foo Fighters to take the stage, we all had bets as to which song they would open with. I had been following their setlists for the past month or so, and they almost always open with the same song. I’m happy to say that I was wrong on this occasion. They started out strong with All My Life and played for nearly 2.5 hours. It was like a greatest hits show with three songs from the new album. I knew all of the songs, which made me realize that I’ve been a fan of the band for 18 years! They played more songs off their first two albums that I expected, which was great, including the surprise “unrehearsed” Hey, Johnny Park! which was a highlight for me, along with White Limo.

Aside from the music, the other highlight for me has to be Dave Grohl’s throne. I mean, look at this thing.

Foo Fighters Dave Grohl broke leg-largeThe story goes that when he was in the hospital high on pain medication he drew up plans, and wanted to include “smoke and shooting lasers and shit like that”. I was impressed that he managed to rock from a chair, but couldn’t help but laugh out loud every time it moved from the back of the stage way out to the front, like some sort of mobility scooter.

Grohl was his gregarious self on stage, and the band sounded fantastic. And I’m happy that they got the order right and closed with their best song (Everlong) instead of opening with it.

 

 

 

Foto Friday CXXI

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This week’s edition of FF actually includes a picture that I took this week for the first time in a while.  To the delight of many, earlier this week Oxford was greeted by a dusting of snow.  This is good for me because it continues my streak of seeing snow ever year (which was in serious jeopardy living in the UK and not going on a ski holiday).  The snow didn’t stick for more than a few hours overnight, but it was pretty to watch it fall, and I was up early enough in the morning to see it again.  This poor little flower must have been confused though – although I’m a little confused why a flower was in bloom in the first week of February anyway.

1/150s f/2.6 4.6mm ISO 100. Cropped, blur added.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CXIV

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This week’s edition of Foto Friday features a subject that I like: derelict buildings. Or, what is left of them anyway.  I had read reports of an abandoned concrete factory just North Oxford and have been wanting to visit for a couple of years now.  We used one of the sunny and unseasonably warm Sundays recently to go for a motorcycle ride and try and explore this site.  The main entrance was closed so we decided to try and find an alternative way in.  After a short walk along the Cherwell we followed the train tracks all the way to the back of the site.  To my disappointment, most of the large abandoned buildings (like the rock crushing plant) were no longer standing.  All we found were foundations with rebar stubble and piles of metal like the one pictured above.  Still a fun trip though.

1/80s f/6.3 50mm ISO 100. Contrast adjusted.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CVI

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Last Friday Mafalda and I took the opportunity to enjoy the sunny and warm weather and headed out of Oxford on a motorcycle trip to the Cotswolds.  About an hour away is a small farm in Snowshill that grows lavender.  Lots and lots of lavender.  The timing of our trip was lucky in that the fields were in full bloom, and they were scheduled for harvest the following week.  We took many pictures, and enjoyed the pleasant aroma from the fields.  There were so many bees flying around that if you stood still for a few seconds you could hear them all buzzing.  I followed this bee and his loaded pollen sacks for a while until I got a picture that might be in focus.

1/160s f/8.0 60mm ISO 100. Cropped.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CV

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A couple of weeks ago I read an article about a historical wind tunnel in the UK that was open to the public for the first time as part of an art exhibition.  Luckily for me this building is located at the RAF base in Farnborough, which is about 80 minutes away by train.  Regular readers will know that I have an interest in large structures, especially those that are abandoned or derilect, so naturally I was keen to check this out.  Mafalda also spotted the opportunity for photography – that is her pictured above to give you an idea of scale (she is 5’5″ or 165cm).  We had a great time, and I’ll try to do a quick write up with some other favorite pictures soon.

1/8s f/3.5 18.0mm ISO 400. Black and white filter.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday XCVII

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About six months ago, our neighbor on one side moved out of her house that she had lived in for the past 57 years because she could no longer afford it.  It was a sad story, but inevitable, and the house was sold from one of Oxford’s colleges to a guy about my age.  He has taken up the task of completely gutting the place and has spent many a night and weekend working on it.  I have been chatting with him occasionally during the renovations, and he tells me about the crazy things buried in the back yard or hidden in the walls. The brick above is probably one of those hidden treasures, although I haven’t yet heard where it was found, I just saw it sitting in his front garden.  I look forward to the story.

1/1000s f/2.0 60mm ISO 100. Vignette added.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday XCII

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This is an old picture that I have lazily brought to the surface because I have been playing under the hood of my website and haven’t had much time to take a new one this week.  I took this picture in July on a spontaneous trip to the Oxfordshire countryside.  This is the town of Brill, famous for its windmill and one of my favorite cycling destinations.  The trip is about a 20 mile loop and has the steepest hill around, in fact I can hit nearly 45 miles per hour coming down if I push it.  The sky was clear and the sun was right and I headed out to Brill specifically to take a picture of the windmill with the sun setting, except that I didn’t want to wait for it to set properly because the hour long ride home in the dark would be too cold and dangerous.  Although the sun wasn’t in the position that I had hoped, I still like this picture and the memory that goes along with the trip there.

1/4347s ISO 100 taken with my phone at the time, HTC Incredible.  Color adjustment. Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday LXXXVI

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This is another picture from my favorite abandoned grain silo that was just North of Oxford.  We are looking down an elevator shaft that wasn’t completely closed off, and was high enough to give me a bit of vertigo staring down. To my surprise, although they hate change here in the UK, this building was demolished earlier this week.  This derelict building has featured in two previous Foto Friday posts (here and here) and I was actually planning another trip with a photography friend of mine but I suppose we had our chance already.  I can see why they knocked it down, it was neglected, probably dangerous, and serving no purpose other than as a photography subject and probably relief from the elements for the homeless.

1/8s f/3.5 18mm ISO 3200.  Straightened.  Au revoir until next week.

I bet I do look good on the dancefloor

1-2013-10-25 18.21.59This past Friday I went with my friend Mafalda in to London for a concert at the hall pictured above, Earls Court.  We went to see Arctic Monkeys, a band with roots in northern England and a recent album called AM.  My favorite album from these guys is “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not” from 2006, which features such hits as “I bet you look good on the dance floor”.  They have released a few other albums since then but I didn’t really like the sound much, until their most recent AM.  The new album is a little darker and heavier at times, with some definite influences from classic rock.  

Check out what I mean:

Here is snippet of a song called Arabella

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Does that sound like any song you have heard before?  Well, the first time that I heard it this song immediately came to mind

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Yep, that would be War Pigs from Black Sabbath.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one to make this connection and hear the influence, the band wasn’t very subtle about it.  In fact, they are so forward with this song being an inspiration that when they played Arabella on Friday, they took 30 seconds to play War Pigs in the middle!

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Anyway, the concert was great.  The bad sounded good, played all the songs that I know well and wanted to hear, and had the entire place rocking.  I’m very happy that I got to see them play live, thank you Mafalda.

The Bonamaster

This past weekend I joined my friends Lee and Al on a trip up to Birmingham for a concert performed by a guy named Joe Bonamassa.  Who is Joe Bonamassa?  Good question.  I share a music bond with many of my close friends, and I heard about Joe through my friend Lee.  One day he brought his guitar over to our place for a jam session and BBQ in the garden, and I asked him who is the best guitarist alive.  His answer?  Joe Bonamassa.  We then queued up some Bonamassa tracks on youtube and I was convinced that this man could really play.  Watch this song, from a tour in 2009:

What an opening lyric! “woke up dreaming, I was gonna die”.  But even more than that, his fingers are moving so fast that they are a blur on this video.  It turns out that Joe Bonamassa is regarded by many as the best guitarist of his generation and one of the best alive.  So when I saw that he would be on tour here in the UK, I asked Lee if he would go and we had tickets something like 15 minutes later.  Done and Done.

I really enjoyed going to the gig with Lee because he used to play in a band, and has an appreciation for all the different guitars and how difficult some of notes and sequences are.  I would just enjoy the music and every once and a while look over at Lee’s face, or just hear him yell out because Bonamassa just did something amazing.

I went in to the concert really wanting to hear Woke Up Dreaming, so I figured as long as he played that I’d be happy.  He played in on his acoustic guitar about 5 songs in and it was great.  It was like the video above, but strangely enough it seemed like he played the notes EVEN FASTER in person.  It was mesmerizing to listen to.  And to top all that off, his electric songs were even better.  This next song is is the middle of what I consider his best three song stretch of the concert:

He really makes that guitar sing doesn’t he?  He played for at least two and a half hours, seemingly changing guitars every song, and playing notes in combinations that I didn’t know were possible.  He made it look so effortless, and the other guys in the band were also very talented which made for a hell of a show.

I really enjoyed my triple B night as Lee called it – bros, beers, and Bonamassa.  At least now I can have an opinion whenever someone asks who the best living guitarist is.