February 2010

Last December I finished off my year of gigs with a trip to see the band that have been the soundtrack to my life since I was 12 years old: Depeche Mode. I had seen some great bands, both new and old, including The Killers 4 times, during 2009 and I was particularly looking forward to seeing Depeche Mode as I had missed their last few tours for various reasons.

Now Depeche Mode generally put on a great show, for a skinny guy, Dave Gahan has bags of personality and energy, Martin Gore can pick up a huge variety of instruments with ease and Fletch happily bounces around behind his stack of keyboards egging the crowd along with him.

Although I was disappointed with the crowd reaction around me (many remained seated while I jumped up and down, cheered and applauded like a maniac), the crowd down in the stalls were going wild and the band themselves put on a great show, while it may not have come top of my list of awesome gigs of 2009, it came a close second. At the merchandise desk I was pleased to see that the ‘Mode were once again making all their gigs available as a CD or mp3 so that you could relive the moment over and over and I gladly purchased the voucher for one.

That download became available today and I eagerly plugged in my headphones so I could turn it up loud and relive an awesome gig. Sadly, not so much. The recording, while true to the music, has completely failed to capture the atmosphere and sweaty joy of the gig as I had hoped it would.

Earlier in the year I had been able to grab tickets to a special show by The Killers at the Royal Albert Hall which was recorded for their first live DVD and CD. The resulting package has managed to capture the very essence of that gig and I can relive some of the best moments of 2009 over and over. Oftentimes I will choose to listen to the live version of the song, rather than the recorded version, just because it brings back that atmosphere and those memories.

Granted, The Killers put on two special shows, specifically to be recorded and their team took several months editing and making with the pretty to put together just one CD and DVD, and Depeche Mode are recording every gig they play and making it available, so you would expect the quality of The Killers’ output to be better. Yet, it is not the sound quality that I am missing here, the quality is great for a live recording, it’s the atmosphere and the feeling of ‘being there’ that I am missing. I don’t go to gigs to hear an exact replica of the CD I’ve been listening to over and over, I go for the experience of sharing watching a great band play with a bunch of sweaty over-excited fans, and I am just not getting that with Live Here Now.

It’s a shame, because it will likely be another long while before I can see Depeche Mode again, and I was hoping that this recording would keep me going until next time.


Having had little blogging inspiration today that does not involve more of me moaning and whining,I thought I would join in the desk description fun.

I am seated in a large, plainly decorated room with blue blinds at the windows. The blinds are there not to keep the light out, it is dark outside, but to keep the cold out. Whoever thought fit to design the building, was somehow inspired to fit metal framed windows, he was probably from the council. As a money saving exercise, they didn’t bother with the putty.

The room is populated by five sets of six position desks, that form a line down the room, one eight position desk in the corner and two, two position desks. The two position desks are for the supervisors and are in the middle of the room. The six position desks have two positions at each side and one at each end. The end positions are maneuverable so you can sit or stand as you wish. It is at one of these that I usually perch.

I am seated on a battered old chair that is covered in black leather and blue fabric. This chair has been rescued from our old office as it is the only one that will support my back fully. The fancy ‘ergonomic’ chairs they bought for the new building were unfortunately designed for man’s next stage of evolution, the one where our backs will begin to arch to the rear.

The desk is some type of beech coloured formica type substance which is amazingly still in one piece, which is more that can be said for the kitchen units. It curves around so that I sit in its arc. Directly in front of me are three Samsung, Syncmaster 171N 17” flat screen monitors, and a fourth ELO Touchsytem monitor on my right. The three flat screen monitors are displaying the various software programs that I need to carry out my duties. The fourth screen is my communication screen through which I speak to the outside world via telephone and radio.

On the desk itself is my red headphone bag which currently contains some nuts, a couple of magazines, an inhaler, a cup-a-soup (still in packaging) and some deodorant. Next to that are some olives and some grapes for snackability. Moving on you will find what passes for my ‘handbag’, a little green thing that houses some ibuprofen, tissues and my iPhone headphones and charger. Moving along is a bottle of water, Brandon the iPhone and my pencil case. Next to this is my keyboard which displays the word ‘CHERRY’ very faintly, although it is black, and two Microsoft mice, a black one and a white one. In between the mice are my ‘No Power In The ‘Verse Can Stop Me’ flask mug and the unsharpened pencil I use to stab at the touch screen with.

In between my patch of desk and my collegaue’s patch are two hand-held radios and the ‘fall back’ telephone system which are used in case of technology failure. Attached to the underside of the desk at either side is a headset port and hanging from the left side of the desk is a Stone computer tower, and on the right the tower for the communication system. In between these on the ground, and just under my feet is my ‘press to talk’ pedal and some ghastly blue carpet tiles.

Hanging from the back of the desk are a whole heck of a lot of cables.

And that’s where I sit for 10 hours a day, three days a week. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it?

Ever have one of those days where you wake up and just know it’s gonna be a bad day?

After a restful, lazy day yesterday, I was looking forward to having an energised, productive day today. It started off badly when I woke up at 7am thinking how nice it would have been to have just had one hour’s extra sleep. I rolled over and woke again at 11am. This never happens – unless, of course, I want to get up early.

I decided I was going to start the day as I had planned anyway and go to the gym. Clearly, this would be the time that my back started playing up. Well good, I thought, what a great excuse to get in the sauna and steam room while I’m there. As I live close to the gym I usually just throw my clothes on over the top of my gym kit and head on out, getting a shower when I get back home. But a steam room and sauna jaunt requires a little more planning.

The facilities are mixed, so a swim suit is required. Now, seeing as I managed to break both my feet on separate occasions last year, it’s been an awful long time since I went swimming, could I find my swim suit? could I buggery. Getting more and more frustrated, with some extra yelling at my husband, (sorry husband) I pulled out drawers and swept clothes off shelves in an effort to find the darn thing.

Eventually, I managed to cobble together a couple of pieces that would pass as a swim ‘suit’, and headed gymwards a whole hour after I had started getting ready. But wait, no, the day hadn’t finished throwing stumbling blocks at me yet. You see, the other day, I had staggered home a little the worse for alcohol and just thrown my keys down wherever I happened to land. So the second scavenger hunt of the day started.

I almost just abandoned my gym plans altogether, except that that would just make the day even more of a waste than it already was. So I got there, manoeuvred around the idiots that just came to hang around and chat, plugged The Killers in loud and sweat my frustrations out. It wasn’t long before the endorphins kicked in and the black mood began to lift. A nice relaxing sauna, steam room and shower and I was ready to start the day over. Except that it was five in the afternoon already.

So I head for the door with a bounce in my step only to find: world of white. This just completed my bad day. All I wanted to do, was get home and crack open a tin of nice cold Strongbow. Even in that I am defeated due to a self-imposed month long detox in preparation to forthcoming weekend of debauchery that is Breakout Farewell.

I’m not even really happy with this blog, but if I leave it until tomorrow, it will only ruin that day too, so here’s to tomorrow. Another day. Hope it works out better.

In honor of today, here’s a little ditty by my favorite happy folks: Depeche Mode.

Music has always been my first love. If you believe what my mum tells you as soon as I could walk and talk I toddled around the house refusing to answer to anything but Ringo. I was brought up on a mixture The Beatles, Elvis Costello and 70’s punk rock. I rarely remember the TV being on at home, but there was always music and as soon as I was old enough I had my own record player and was singing along to Adam and the Ants, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Stiff Little Fingers in my bedroom.

Over the years there’s always been one band that has grabbed my attention above all others to the point where my obsessive nature takes a hold and I live and breathe them. First it was Adam and the Ants, then it was Ultravox, and Depeche Mode have always bubbled along in the background, but came to the fore around 1991, then there was a long barren period where nothing really stuck out until one day back 2004, I was listening to the radio and a song popped up that just grabbed me.

The words “Somebody told me, you had a boyfriend, who looked like a girlfriend, that I had in February of last year,” sprung out at me over an eclectic mix of 80’s synth pop, brit pop and stadium rock that somehow, combined together, equalled awesome tuneage.

Being an impulsive kind of a girl, I learned who they were, grabbed their debut album, Hot Fuss and I was hooked. Boy had it been a long time since I had purchased an album without a duff track on it. Somewhere in the depths of Las Vegas, three guys of a similar age group to me and the younger brother of a guy of a similar age group to me had all grown up listening to and being influenced by the very same music as I had, and banded together to make EXACTLY the kind of music I wanted to hear. Who knew?

I had a whole lot more to say, but really, it was only gonna be interesting to me, so here’s how it is:

I love The Killers. I love them because their music is melodic and powerful and raunchy and romantic all at the same time. I love them because they put on a live show like no-one else I have ever seen, they make you feel like you are part of something even if you are 5,000 people back, they put every ounce of their energy into making it feel fresh despite having done it 100 times before. They make a beautiful noise, at one with the crowd, and lost in the moment. It’s like crack, I walk out of those gigs feeling such a euphoric high I would go to any lengths to get it again (hence the spontaneous trip to Germany last year!).

I love them because they are not afraid of hard work, they built their success from the ground up, playing in clubs and bars and playing and playing and playing until someone took notice. And then they played some more. It seems to be a rare occurence these days.

I love them because they never forget their roots, both their roots in their home town of Vegas, where they all still live, and their roots in Britain as the place that influenced them musically and gave them their chance. I love them because, despite being international rock gods, they take the time to ensure their fans get something personal and exclusive from their fan club.

I love them because they are not afraid take risks to stay fresh, making each album distinctively Killers and yet distinctively different at the same time, when it would be so much easier to just churn out Hot Fuss 2, 3, 4 and 5. They continue to make the music they believe in rather than the music that is expected of them, despite never quite reaching the dizzy heights of success they had with Hot Fuss.

I love them because they are not afraid to take a well-earned hiatus, like right now. They have worked non-stop for 7 years, I think they deserve a break. Take your time boys, come back fresh, I can’t wait to hear what you do next.

I woke up this morning and, after I’d shaken off the central heating hangover, I was in another inexplicably good mood. Pulling on clothes and pulling up the blinds revealed another gloriously sunny day, and it suddenly clicked. It’s been so long since I’ve seen one that I’d forgotten what a good mood a sunny day will put me in. And it’s been sunny now for at least three or four days, the same amount of time that I have had this nonsensical feeling of happy.

My mood has always been affected by the weather, rain and dank, dark cloudy days make me miserable, the wind makes me irritable (wind *and* rain is the red alert to stay away from angry maniacal Cider!) and the sun cheers me up no end.

I’m sure it’s not just me, people in general are just happier when the sun shines, it brightens the place up a bit and gives you warmth, life and vitamin D. This, however, seems to be where the similarities end. I know so many people who love the sound of the rain lashing against the window and the wind howling around the house, it makes them feel all warm and snuggly while they are curled up in bed. Not so for me, it makes me feel all cold and murderous as I am lying awake wishing it would go away so I could get some damn sleep.

I did started going on about Vitamin D, serotonin and positive and negative ions, but frankly it all got a little dull so I’ll just end with:

The sun shines. I’m happy. Keep it up.

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