Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Life far too busy to go blogging at the moment! Nearly ended up in Cork tonight to see late tour addition for Mr McDermott with Hothouse Flowers but unable to get hold of him to check the times - expensive trip if gone only to find he had finished set. Could have seen M.A.S.S. in north London but late gig and never much fun getting back from the wilds of north London after dark!

First of 3 rail franchises announced today - we didn't win. You tend to know in advance how you are doing so no great surprise.

Helen trying to re-organise my time so that I can re-find my life - seems to have disappeared at the moment.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Forgot to mention lunch yesterday with Andrew. Usual great stories from him of the music world. Went to the Frontline Club near Paddington Station - has to be the best £15 I've ever spent on a meal. One of the top best new restaurants in London. If you are ever near here at lunchtime during the week pay a visit (worth checking to see if £15 offer requires a pre-booking). Anyway, we've done a deal although my ignorance of the music world means we have still to sort out some of the finer details. Hopefully there will be some good news late December time.

Time for the final part of my New York trip – it’s late Monday afternoon and just been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art….

Bus back to the hotel and then off out once more to Madison Square Gardens for another dose of U2. This time on my own – I had managed to pick up one of the late release seats that U2 issue on the North American tour – another great seat, this time to the right of the stage. Arrived early in time ot see the MSG still fairly empty. Most people were glued to the TV in the bars to watch the New York Yankees playing in the final game of the pre play-offs for the World Series (I guess equivalent of quarter final in UK). They eventually lost - despite taking an early lead there was one of those classic sporting howlers when 2 fielders ran into each other and the opposition scored 2 runs.

Saw the entire set of Keane. They had been recording some new songs whilst in New York and based on first hearing I would say the next album will do well. Despite competing with baseball, there was a respectable crowd to see them, which notably grew through the set. I’m sure they would have got an encore if the powers to be had allowed it.

And then the main event. Possibly a bit more energy than on the Saturday night. The band and particularly Bono, seemed to be completely caught up in the show driven along by the pounding beat of Larry Mullen Jr. Tonight there were no special guests, no one picked from the audience to dance with Bono – just music. Several changes to the set list from Saturday. Most notable was the return of Zoo Station, not played for a while on the tour. Bono introduced Wild Horses as one of their favourite songs and promptly forgot the words, forcing a re-start once he’d been given a copy of the words. As the show neared its ending Bono introduced “40” – having meant to say “Bad” – and “Bad” it was, followed by Yayweh and a very moving With or Without You. The band left the stage for what seemed like the final time - such had been the intensity and raw emotion – I guess they felt it was hard to follow up. But possibly prompted by the earlier mention of “40” they came back for one last time.

I chose to walk back to the hotel and take in the neon light show of New York one last time.

Time to go home. Originally I had planned to visit the Museum of Modern Art today but unfortunately this was the one day in the week when it was shut so I made do with their shop instead. Then onto the Rockefeller Square via a long look at Hugo Boss suits which are much cheaper to buy in New York than London. I watched the ice skaters do their stuff in the newly opened outdoor rink, before heading to NBC where I was going on a tour of the studios. NBC is the major broadcaster in the States, having originally started out in radio. I got to see a lot of the behind he scenes stuff including the studio where Conan O’Brien is broadcast and where U2 had been guests for a 1 hour special just a few days before. For me the most interesting part of the visit was to see the memorial for NBC journalists killed in action – a reminder of the dangers faced by a group of people who seek to provide the truth to the world.

The rest of the day was spent site-seeing & window shopping. Late on I had a meal at Ellen’s Pantry near the hotel. If you’re in New York – go here early evening for a meal if you fancy some great entertainment. All the staff are budding Broadway stars, hoping for their big break. This means they can all sing and it’s non-stop action as they alternate singing hits from the musicals and other ballads. This is roving singing though so don’t be surprised to find the waitress standing on your table serenading you. And the food is good too!

Picked up bags from hotel and headed off to airport in a taxi. From Long Island I had one last view of the skyscrapers of Manhattan, lit up like the Regent Street Christmas lights – the sky bright despite the lateness of the day.

The journey home was uneventful. Managed to sleep on plane despite having dinner and breakfast as we passed through different time zones.

Would I do it again – yes I guess I would given the opportunity, and preferably with Helen in tow! But for now it’s “home” time that’s important.

Friday, November 25, 2005

We have broadband - we have teething problems! Normal service will be resumed soon - I hope!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Blimey, 10 days since my last blog.

Hope to find broadband finally up and running when I get back home tonight – will be a late night at office though so little time to play.

Life buzzing at the moment – work gradually getting busy – everyone waiting to see outcome of current bids.

I once had a dream – bring Michael McDermott to the UK. Thanks to Greenbelt it happened. Then I had another dream – get him to come back. Not quite the UK but Ireland. He’s in the middle of 8 shows over there – including 3 with the amazing Juliet Turner. Feedback has been amazing – crowds demanding he play an encore despite being support and the CDs sold out after just 2 shows – Fed Ex having to come to the rescue. My only regret – not being able to be there to see him and Juliet grace the same stage.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with Andrew from M.A.S.S. to discuss a business proposition put my way. Would love to say more but best not at this stage. Don’t worry though – not about to replace Justine as lead singer.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Some photos from New York - something like 500 taken so need to be selective, especially without broadband for fast up load. Went to Southwark Cathedral this afternoon - one of my favourite places - situated in one of the older bits of London that has managed to retain much of its character. We go to the cafe at the Cathedral but I was also able to spend some time at the Prayers for Peace service held there today on Remembrance Sunday - unusual to hear readings from the Koran in such surroundings - but that's the beauty of an interfaith service, a bit of everything with peace uniting everyone there.

View from top of Empire State Building!

Cross at WOrld Trade Centre Site

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Still no broadband - another 5 days they say - 2 incorrect connections attempted so far by the supplier. When it works it's great - but they do seem to always have problems coping with us moving house every few months.

Enjoyed watching the football today - always nice to beat Argentina, and despite his move to Newcastle, good to see the boy Owen show how to score goals.

Survived 2 weeks now in new job - so far so good. It's been a very busy time for everyone so hard to get people to sit down and discuss what I should be doing. Next few weeks will be interesting as we await to see if awarded any train franchises in the current round of bidding.

Managed to miss two great gigs last night as too much too soon to leave Helen on own for the night after move back to London. M.A.S.S. played a gig for A&R folk and down the road Juliet Turner and Brian Houston played in Putney. Been thinking through some animated video ideas for M.A.S.S. which I hope to take up with a fellow frequenter of my favourite coffee shop (Seymour Bros in Camberwell). He animated the Dairy Lea cow in TV adverts - I won't try explaining what I have in mind - not sure I understand it myself at the moment!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Have a feeling Rev JD blogged before about this, but just in case, came across the Good Gifts Guide on the tube yesterday. A catalogue packed with "good" gifts to give at Christmas and other times of the year. For £55 you can purchase a rocket launcher - the catch being that it is then converted by a local Sierra Leone blacksmith into pickaxes, sickles and school bells. My favourites are a virile lamb, train a bank manager and donkey for development. Check it out would my godaughter prefer the rocket launcher or the tank?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Finally a bit more from New York trip - photos etc to follow when get broadband back.


Suffering from lack of sleep & alcohol abuse but managed to drag myself up and out. Hotel was on 51st and 7th and very central. Just down the road street traders were unwrapping their blankets containing expensive watches, handbags etc (well they would be expensive if genuine), and pirate copies of all the latest cinema releases. Decided to walk to Time Square to get some food and then to Madison Square Gardens where I had arranged to meet Clare, who was buying my spare ticket. Picked up tickets + Monday night as well, met up with Clare and then headed to the Empire State Building. Unfortunately I had chosen to visit New York on one of the wettest weekends in recent history and cloud cover was low – so the view from the top was – well cloudy!

Next stop was New York’s original public library. One of the oldest buildings in New York and also one of the biggest in terms of land acreage. Joined the guided tour and had a look round at the architecture of the building. Then on to Grand Central Station to take a look at the architecture that has made it famous. So different from our main stations – lots of marble clad pillars and huge leaded glass windows – almost cathedral like. The basement area is a good place to eat so stayed a while. Eventually went back to the hotel to dry out.

Brief nap before heading off to MSG once more. Rain had eased so opted to walk (about 20-25m). Arrived to find the place crawling with Scalpers or touts as we know them). Apparently they are a big problem in New York – especially selling forged tickets, but no one does anything about it. Found my seat – awesome view just in front and left of stage. Clare already there – she’s a fanatical New York U2 fan so it was nice that she had the second ticket – she’d already been in the elipse the night before and was going to the other 3 nights.

Support act was Keane – not seen them before but was so impressed made sure I arrived early on the Monday to see full set. Not many bands can make good music minus and guitars. U2 was majestic – the opening City of Blinding Lights felt very appropriate for New York. You get the feeling they see New York as their second home. Band very laid back – really enjoying themselves. Indoor light show is very impressive and you get it the whole show – unlike outdoors. Sitting just above head height we were able to get a good view of the led floor lines designed by Willie Williams – very effective on Miracle Drug with the heart beat style monitor racing around the stage in red. Main highlight was probably Bono and Mary J Blige dueting on One. A great night which the rain couldn’t dampen. After the show back to the hotel and a night cap at the bar.

Still raining, albeit not as much. Headed off to west side of island to the port – plan had been to do boat trip round New York harbour but underestimated how long it would take to walk to boat so opted to grab a cab to the Finance district and visit Ground Zero. The most notable thing about Ground Zero is the size, it looks much smaller than I had expected but I guess in New York buildings tend to go upwards, rather than sideways. Aside from the 2 towers, there were 5 other buildings that formed part of the WorldTrade Centre – all collapsed. The names of the victims are displayed in front of the site. The only item still standing is a girder that has been cut in the shape of a cross. Over the road is one of the amazing stories surrounding 9/11. the old church there was untouched when the buildings collapsed, no windows were broken. Yet the surrounding area was dessimated. Watching American TV (which is mainly adverts) I became aware of the advert asking for the 9/11 enquiry o be re-opened, based on the theory that the two towers should never have been capable of collapsing and that there is no video footage or pictures of any aircraft having hit the Pentagon – just a hole – which apparently is too small. I guess America is the home of conspiracy theories.

After Ground Zero a look at the Woolworth Building, originally the tallest in the world – very art-deco in design. Then back to the hotel before heading out for the rest of the day.

First stop Spamalot – you have to kill for a ticket to this show but somehow I had anticipated popularity and struck lucky by booking a while ago direct through Monty Python’s website. What can I say about this show? The Americans love it – don’t know why as it is typical Monty Python – English humour, completely mad. Also very funny with a great cast including Tim Curry as King Arthur. Make sure you see it when it comes to the West End.

After Spamalot a strole to Penn Station to catch a train to Long Island (Manahattan sits between New Jersey on one side and Long Island on the other) where I was due to see Bruce Springsteen on his Devils & Dust solo tour. Spotted this one only few weeks before going and managed to book seat at the front when tickets went on sale. The venue was Nassau Coliseum. Being ignorant I had originally thought the gig was in New York – in fact it was New York state and the journey was a bit like going from London to Cambridge. Arrived at destination train station expecting to see hundreds of Boss fans, only to find 4. Worked out which bus to catch, and also discovered it was the last of the day so no idea how to get back. Got off bus at suggested stop on literature, discovered I’m on a highway in the middle of nowhere! Started walking and eventually saw stadium in the distance. Arrived to join large ticket collection queue but eventually got inside. Grabbed some food and looked for a way to my seat. I wonder how Americans ever get anywhere as the signage was useless. Asked security who directed me through a door – suddenly I found myself backstage and at the bottom of the steps was the back curtain to the stage. Tempted to walk down and onto the stage but bottled it so went back and asked for new directions. Finally found right door and walked down large flight of steps in pitch black as show was starting. From the outside arena looks very small – not too high – the reason being that 2/3rds is below ground.

As for the gig – excellent – played a lot from Devils & Dust with wide mixture of older stuff – more well known songs such as Born to Run not on the playlist. Must confess I found him similar to Michael McDermott – mixture of guitar and piano, plus the use of a foot “beat” box. The Boss clearly enjoys playing Long Island, seeing it as a twin brother to his native New Jersey. No fancy stage set like U”, just a chandelier, a few drapes and the odd light changing colour.

If you’ve listened to Devils & Dust you may have thought “the Boss has discovered God”. In reality he was brought up as a Catholic and spent the first 10 years of his life being dragged to the church over the road where they would throw rice at the newly weds – this was his religious experience! He explained that the thoughts behind te song “Jesus was An Only Son” – where he had wondered what it would have been like if Jesus had just been an ordinary bloke in a family growing up. He’s clearly interested in the issues of god but appears to have plenty of doubts too.

After the gig the fun started – how to get home. If this was Wembley 50% would come by public transport - but this is America and 99.5% arrived by car. So no buses or taxis to be seen anywhere. After a wander around the site I asked security for some suggestions how I get home. Pointed in direction of nearest hotel where I was told I could get a taxi. And it worked – so I and a few other stragglers all piled into a taxi and headed back to the station. Journey back from there was fine and I eventually made it back to te hotel about 12.45am. Glad I did it, but won’t repeat in a hurry.


The rain has stopped – just very cloudy. The morning was planned – first boat trip round the bay, then helicopter flight around New York. Boat trip was a bit on the cold side but it’s the best way to take in New York. You also get to see Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty – well worth the money. I’ve always wanted to fly in a helicopter so this was a good excuse. Not as exciting as I had anticipated, more like flying in a small aircraft, but the view of the skyscrapers is excellent.

Back to hotel via the Hard Rock Café and museum. Next stop was lunch round corner from the hotel at an excellent diner where I experienced American burgers at their best. Feeling rather full the next part of the afternoon was well-timed – a walk through Central Park. I managed to cover just about half the park with the weather the best it had been during my stay. Monday was a bank holiday in the States (Columbs Day) and the park was full of locals who had been to see the nearby parade or just got married – they come here for the wedding photos.

Eventually I arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I managed to do a whistle-stop tour round the building, seeing some of the finest art in the world. There are few rules here – except don’t touch or steal. You can take photos of the pictures – decided to avoid this or risk being there for next few weeks snapping away. If you’re in New York go there – you won’t regret it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I need another 8 hours in the day at the moment - new job is keeping me veeeery busy. And to think I could have taken the year off!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Just a quick blog as having to make do with internet cafes at present whist waiting for broadband to be re-installed back home. Now back in London - 3 days into new job - going OK - bit strange being on other side of the fence but so far seem to have said the right things!

Move back to London went well - miss Norfolk though. Busy trying to sort out few bits and pieces for Michael McDermott's tour of Ireland later this month. Also been listening to M.A.S.S. demo of new album - gave my views on first, second, third single etc. Agreed on everything except 1st single so not too bad! Would love you to hear the new stuff as it is awesome but must remain under wraps. One of the songs is probably the best worship song I have ever heard - could easily be transposed to Spring Harvest! - but will hopefully be a top 10 single in it's own rights.

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