News Listen About Contact New Album
Posted on Aug 16th, 2009
Oslo, Strange Doubles, Books & Films


(Soundtrack: Television “Marquee Moon”, Gladys Knight “Anthology”)
We had a few days in Oslo last week. I bought Bridie tickets to Madonna there for her birthday, which was back in February. I bought the tickets from a site called Smart Hospitality, not thinking too much of it as it was for an overseas gig. I got an email and postal confirmation from them stating that they would not dispatch tickets until a week before the gig. So I didn’t start chasing them until then. First of all I emailed, but the mails bounced back. Then I tried to ring, and realised the company no longer existed, if it ever had. I found a website where lots of people were saying that they had been conned out of money by this company for tickets to Blur, Springsteen, the Grand Prix etc.
I never thought I would get conned like that – I always thought that was something that happened to other people.
So we did our best to get tickets via other sites, ebay, but to no avail. Tried contacts in the industry but no joy there either. We then had a few days of deciding whether to go to Oslo or not, whether to just treat it as a sign, and spend the money here instead. Eventually we decided to go as we both wanted to see Oslo anyway. Then when we got there we were in two minds whether or not to go along and try and get into the gig or to not risk the disappointment. We decided to give it a go and were delighted to get tickets at face value at the tube station. First and hopefully the last time I have ever bought tickets from a tout.
As we walked up towards the stadium the heavens opened and we were treated to the biggest storm I have been outside in for years: thunder, lightning and driving rain. Pretty soon there were rivers of water running down the pavements as we got shoved along by the crowd. By the time we got near the gates we were standing in a mud bath. We were not dressed for this at all. There was a lot of confusion as the gate numbers were not visible. We found ourselves standing in deep mud in a crowd who insisted on shoving forward even though nobody was moving inside – it was horrible. After twenty minutes of that we had had enough and headed back to the tube just to get away from the crowds and mud.
Can you believe that we were then back at the tube trying to sell the tickets after all the palaver to get them? Shirley Lee, ticket tout.
Mercifully we did not sell them and after fifteen minutes we made our way back to the stadium. People were now going in through the gates so we went in and watched the show. It was a concrete floor inside and it was still pouring down .We watched the gig standing in about six inches of standing water. We were completely wet through. It felt like a northern premier league football match, everyone around us looking miserable.
Thankfully the show was great, a proper show that only Madonna can really do. Jackson used to, I suppose Kylie can do it too. I don’t just mean great lights, I mean a full-on show, and we managed to dance, splashing around So it all worked well in the end. It was fabulous to get out of the wet clothes back at the apartment, and luckily the bar on the corner opens until 3am so we had a few drinks after too.
Oslo is lovely, but those drinks are expensive! And the food too. I have always taken the stance that after living in London no other city can seem expensive, and that held true in Tokyo and Reykjavik etc, but Oslo is shocking. All food, drink, clothes and records are two to three times as expensive as London. So ironically we spent less than usual as we had to be so careful.
There is an excellent Film museum there and we spent time in there watching a festival of short film, which was fab. The photo is from the museum, it is a recreation of one of a huge number of sculptures by Vigeland in Vigeland Park. There is loads to see, with really interesting Resistance and Modern Art Museums as well as the obvious attractions along the fjord.
Gladys Knight is under-rated isn’t she… I am listening to a double-album anthology, which is a bit of a strange selection actually, but she sounds great. She has a truly distinctive voice, nobody else like her. The double album is funny: side 3 is on the reverse on side 1 and side 4 is on the flip of side 2, which always confuses me. I have a few soul double albums like that. I think the idea was that you could have twin decks set up and go straight from side 1 to side 2 without having to turn any record over.
I have been doing a bit of reading: “Conversations With Woody Allen” which is the best book about film-making I have read, and “Renegade” by Mark E Smith, which I couldn’t put down. It really does capture how relentlessly hard and lonely it is to have a vision and stick to it. I don’t have a fingernail of his brilliance, but I really identified with the book. He has such sound views on a lot of things too. I also tried a science fiction novel: “Snowcrash” by Neal Stephenson, which I quite enjoyed, but was not exactly what I was looking for. I used to read Sci-Fi as a boy and stopped in my teens. Recently I have had a hankering for it again. It is strange to read Sci-Fi written in the 90s which still manages to completely under-estimate the present day reality of the internet. I am currently on “Greenmantle” by John Buchan which is a sequel to “The Thirty-Nine Steps” and a rip-roaring read, all travelling under-cover across Europe in the snow during World War One.
We caught another killer film last week: “Orphan”, which is a mainstream Horror, that is just done brilliantly and is exceptionally entertaining. “Mesrine” is also fab, classic gangster movie-making. Great films just keep coming, from all quarters. I know from work that the market experts were predicting a bad year for cinema as in recession people would want to save money and watch DVDs or play games instead. In fact the opposite has happened this year: cinema is well up on 2008, which was huge anyway, and home entertainment is having a tough time. I suppose a night at the cinema is relatively cheap escapism… but maybe the main reason is just that there are so many great movies around.
I moved down to three days a week at work at the start of this month, but after a couple of very stressful weeks, I have moved back to four days, as there is too much work on at the moment. Even one day a week will give me impetus to move forward with writing though. Am in the mood to get on with the next album now…

No Comments Yet

But you could be the first. Imagine that.

Leave a comment »