Posts Tagged ‘live music’

Visiting the King(s) in Memphis

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

It’s pretty much impossible to visit the American South without at least stopping by to see the King. Celebrity bear and bestselling author Teddy Tedaloo of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) fame just had to pop over to Graceland to pay his respects to the man who sang with such affection about teddy bears – and he took me along for the ride.

Ted had a blast checking out the home and the life of Elvis Presley. Being a creative artist and famous entertainer himself, I must say he was a tad envious of all those accolades “Elvis the Pelvis” received for his work. As for me, I think the writing was on the wall when I ended up having chocolate sauce spilled all over my trousers and shoes as we took a break for some ice cream in the Graceland ice cream parlour. So much for all my published books and fame (not fortune)….

I spent the rest of the day feeling…well…sticky. And on a hot summer’s day in a southern state with ants, this is not a good thing.

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

I had considerably better luck the following evening when we decided to visit the other king: namely B.B. King. Unfortunately he was out of town (he was probably out searching for that thrill that’s gone), but his nightclub was up and running for business on busy Beale Street, where I fared far better with an order of barbecued ribs than I did with Elvis’ soft serve. It was also Hog Night, so the bikers were out in force, showing off their nifty two-wheelers (and occasionally three). We even saw a werewolf biker.

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King's

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King’s

Or at least I think it was a werewolf. Perhaps that microbrew I drank was stronger than I thought.

I should tell you that Memphis is not exactly a town full of shrinking Southern violets. On the contrary, some of the ladies are quite, shall we say, forward. One afternoon as we were leaving a downtown parking garage, my friend was asked by the female parking attendant in a very no-nonsense soulful drawl: “Is that a tongue ring?” – followed by the demand: “What’s that for? Let me see it!” When my friend complied by sticking out her tongue, she was then asked: “Is that for sex?”

Only in Memphis.

Unfortunately Memphis has a very high crime rate. And unfortunately yours truly became yet another statistic of it. Was I robbed at gunpoint? No. Was I carjacked? No. In fact, I was safely sequestered (or so I believed) inside the living room of my friend’s house when the crime was committed. As I was chilling out with a glass of wine, little did I know that only a few feet away just down the hall my bath poof was being murdered by a dodgy local character who goes by the name of Udo. I mean, you only need to look at him to see the word CRIMINAL written all over his furry face. Talk about being caught in the act!

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Out of respect for our lovely hostess, I didn’t bother telephoning the police. (However, she doesn’t know that I plan to sue for compensation.)

I suppose there’s a bright side to all of this: at least I didn’t take my bath brush with me. I dread to think of its fate had Herr Udo got hold of it.

As the locals can be heard say, Lord have mercy!

 

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My Own Personal Jesus

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

A few months back I said I’d never go to a live gig again…

That is, until I received a text message at 1am the other morning asking what I was doing the next evening. See? There’s a reason why I stay up late every night – things happen late. I get important emails from other time zones late at night. And I get important text messages!

Depeche Mode ticket

Depeche Mode ticket

So thanks to my somewhat bizarre sleeping habits, I finally got to see one of the music world’s greatest bands, Depeche Mode – a band whose talented front-man Dave Gahan is in possession of the sexiest voice on the planet (and don’t even try to argue this point with me, because you won’t win!).

Dave Gahan is also hot, no doubt about it. I’ll say this much – when he stripped down to his delightfully low-slung black trousers, he looked mighty fine, mighty fine, indeed. In fact, he looked so damned fine I could even overlook all those tattoos (not being into tatts myself).

Unfortunately, what I could not overlook was the sea of heads belonging to the other concert goers. For I’d found myself in the standing section of London’s O2 Arena – the section known less officially as “that giant pit wot’s in the middle”. Despite being relatively near to the stage, I struggled like hell to see the performers, spending half the time yelling “Where’s Dave???” into my mate’s ear. Aside from waving arms and cameras stuck up in the air, I had to contend with the taller members of our species who, despite having the advantage of height, still insist on getting up close and personal and thereby, blocking the view from the rest of us shorties.

Where are all these tall guys coming from? I thought England was a race of vertically challenged people. It’s beginning to look as if they’re breeding basketball players in this country. I was getting so annoyed with these Jolly Green Giants that I  considered starting up the Depeche Mode Coalition Against Tall People. My gig-going cohort Clive, who’s a proper little English lad, not one of this new-fangled breed, said he always tells people that if they ever need to find him at a gig, to look for the tallest person there – and he’ll be stuck behind them. So let’s just say that neither of us was doing much “ho-ho-ho-ing” that evening. Indeed, I began to get quite menacing any time some tall guys got within a few feet of me, telling them that they couldn’t stand in front of me because they were too tall.

It worked. Even the guy with the huge metal stud piercing his chin backed off. Guess I can be pretty scary when I want to.

There’s one problem with gigs and drinking beer at gigs (and I was sipping VERY slowly, mind!). I knew I’d never make it through the concert without having to spend a penny. But when I overheard the guys next to me saying security weren’t allowing people back into our area if they left, I panicked. Our little section was being patrolled by a very nice member of O2 security staff, who informed me that there was a password to get back in. I thought for sure she was taking the mick. Password? I felt like I was in that speakeasy scene from the Marx Brothers‘ film “Horse Feathers“, only rather than saying “swordfish” to get in, I had to give the name of our security guard.

I kinda think she’d taken a wee bit of a shine to me too, because when I’d returned from the loo and couldn’t find my mate, she suddenly appeared like my fairy godmother, taking me by the arm and leading me straight to him. Now that’s what I call service! In fact, I was quite impressed by security and crowd control in general at the O2 (at least the exorbitant ticket prices pay for something!). They were damned serious about maintaining order – quite a contrast from the Forum in London, where I went to see Staind and Seether and nearly got decapitated by crowd surfers who, according to a big sign in the lobby, will be ejected from the venue, but in reality were instead recycled back into the crowd to create more mayhem.

I can’t help wondering if my old Facebook buddy, the Dave Gahan “impersonator” electrician from Kent who’d conned me into believing he really was Dave Gahan, might’ve been at the Depeche gig as well. Not that I would’ve recognised him. I mean, he was supposed to be Dave Gahan, and as far as I could tell from the rare glimpses I had between people’s heads, there was only one Dave Gahan – and he was that sexy geezah up on the stage.

I hope the next time the real Dave Gahan decides to visit his old mates in his former stomping ground of Basildon, he’ll stop by mine for a cuppa. And if he’s real nice to me, I might even let him have some cookies.

Reach out and touch faith!

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Who Be That Flying Over My Head? (How I Survived the Mosh Pit)

Friday, January 30th, 2009
Fun and Merriment in the Queue

Mitzi Szereto with some Staind homies

I guess they don’t call it a “mosh pit” for nothing…

…as I found out on Monday night.

My Massachusetts lads were back in town again. Now if you don’t know who my lads are, we’re talking Staind, who have become somewhat of a grand musical passion of mine. Seether was opening for them, and I happen to like them too, although not with the same fervour which I reserve for Aaron and the boys.

Luckily, my mate “Alexi” is mad enough to queue up at gigs hours in advance in order to secure a good spot at stagefront. When I arrived at The Forum in Kentish Town at half past 6, I heard my name being called out – and there they all were, my mates from the Staind Hard Rock charity gig last September, including Steve the Headbanging Glaswegian, who’d given me that drumstick Aaron Lewis signed for me.

The heavy steel barrier was swung open for royalty to step through (that royalty being me of course!). And there in the freezing London night, we stood waiting for the venue’s doors to open, having a gay old time snapping pics and engaging in lighthearted banter. I even found a fellow Hungarian in the queue whose smile, when he found out my surname (and knowing its meaning), grew ever bigger. Not sure if anything else grew bigger – that would be a topic for another blog post!

Once inside, I managed to secure a place at the stage right in front of the barrier and right in front of the mike stand reserved for the lead singer – no one save for the security guys and the professional photographers could get any closer. This was going to be great. Or was it? To be honest, I nearly didn’t go to the gig at all, then pretty much decided to on my flight back to Blighty the other day. Having seen Staind back in September, I had misgivings about how I’d react and yes, I’ll admit that when they performed “Believe” I lost it and cried. The song has particular meaning to me, and when it was first released I really DID believe.

Still, it was worth it. I mean hey, when a bloke in the audience shouts out “I love you, Aaron!” you just gotta know these guys are good. Talking about love, I was certain I felt the little Scottish lad behind me pushing his erection into my bum (no it wasn’t Steve!). I figured he was just caught up in the excitement of the gig and the mosh pit (and having my fine self right there in front of him). I didn’t want to make a fuss, as he did seem like such a sweet lad, but enough was enough. It was then when I realised it was probably the box from my earplugs, which I’d stuck in my back jeans pocket. Guess that accounted for the wee laddie’s rather unimpressive… umm… stature?

When Seether first came out, I thought the mosh pit would be a breeze. Yes, I’d been warned by my mate who’d gone the night before that the Birmingham crowd had been a bit wild, but these spoiled Londoners shouldn’t be too bad. I felt confident I could stick it out – and stick it out reasonably unscathed. More fool me! Everything was fine until Seether launched into what lead singer and hair-dye afficionado Shaun Morgan referred to as “a love song.” Well, guess what that love song was? “Fuck Me Like You Hate Me.” This sentimental little ditty set off a near riot, and I had images of myself at A&E with broken ribs and a punctured lung. Talk about Dying For It

This hysteria continued off and on, and I began to hope Seether would finish their set and go back to South Africa on the first flight out. Having been to two Staind gigs already, I thought conditions would improve. I should have known – the lads always get into some of their heavier songs at live gigs (I’m dying to see Aaron do an acoustic show). The moshing began in earnest and, despite signs at The Forum warning that crowd surfers would be ejected, so did the crowd surfing. At one point I had to duck down so low I was nearly on the floor as the very same lad once again sailed over our heads, with the crowd control guy dragging him out of our way. I’m not sure who I wanted to get away from more – the surfer or the crotch of the crowd control geezer, which was right in my face. I can only imagine what this scenario looked like to those who couldn’t tell what was happening.

Of course there’s no greater climax to a good evening out then the commute home. As usual, I’d checked the National Rail website in advance to make sure I wouldn’t be stranded. The only glitch in the system from what I could see was that I’d have to change overground trains at Stratford. I left Kentish Town dying of hunger and in plenty of time to get home, only to arrive at Liverpool Street station to find it virtually empty of people, and no sign of anyone working there except for some bin men who were ready to go home. According to the electronic board, a train was about to depart within minutes to Stratford, but it didn’t say which platform. I ran up and down, seeing no such train. I realised I’d better get out of there and quick, so I raced back to the tube (where I’d just come from) and jumped on the Central Line to Stratford.

Fortunately, there was a train scheduled for when I arrived, but not only was it to be on the wrong platform, but I’d have to stand in the cold for another 30 minutes for it to turn up. I made friends with an irate journalist from the Times, who blamed all these transportation cock-ups on the London Olympics. (All I can say is that I’d better emigrate the hell back out of here before 2012!) We killed time by chatting on the journey home as our train kept stopping for no discernible reason outside nearly every station, with us sitting and sitting as the hour grew later and later. (I’d like someone to please explain to me how I could leave Kentish Town just after 11pm and not get home till half past one. This journey shouldn’t have taken too much more than an hour.) As I despaired of ever seeing my bear again, I heard the sound of angels. Some passengers seated nearby were listening on their camera to the exact same music I’d heard earlier – we’d all come from the same gig!

Anyway, at least I got to hear about the journalist’s night out in the West End, which consisted of seeing an updated version of Romeo and Juliet which, unbeknownst to her and several other members of the audience, was a hiphop hodgepodge of the old version. According to my new buddy, the original cast had walked out due to the musical’s financial woes, leaving the new cast to read from scripts. Apparently most of the audience had walked out too, save for three old ladies, one of whom finally hobbled out of the theatre on one crutch.

And people wonder why I’d rather go to a gig than go to the theatre.

Aaron

Aaron Lewis of Staind

Staind video I shot: http:/www.youtube.com

Seether video I shot: http://www.youtube.com


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Hangin’ Wiv the Gypsies… Balkan-mania in the City

Monday, October 6th, 2008

They promised us an exciting night of Balkan Boogie and Gypsies, and since I needed to schlep into the city to collect my Staind (avec Seether) ticket for their gig at the Astoria in January (yeah, I’m going to see them AGAIN), it seemed like a good idea to make a night of it. My friend made the drop (with the ticket) on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and off we went to what is apparently an Italian restaurant by day, and a Romanian restaurant by night. (Those cossetted city boys probably can’t handle anything more exotic than a plate of spag bol for lunch anyway.)

Our authentic Romanian meal (very good, I might add) was served by a rather cute and authentic Romanian waiter with a tiny silver spear through his left eyebrow (I thought the Romanians only put these things through the hearts of vampires? I guess times have changed…). I couldn’t help noticing that he always made certain some part of him was in contact with some part of me whenever he came to serve us. Now before you go getting all excited here, bear in mind that this was a respectable establishment in a respectable part of town – with St. Paul’s Cathedral within spitting distance, I might add!

While waiting for the live music to kick off, we were treated to an endless stream of pre-MTV black-and-white music videos (circa 1950s-60s) of Romanian singers and dancers – obviously an attempt to entertain us as we scarfed down our stuffed cabbage. It was amusing… for about five minutes, after which the natives became restless (or at least I did) and clamoured for the real thing. And at last we got it… though it wasn’t quite what I expected when I signed up for a night of Balkan music and Gypsies. The food and the waiter (and music videos) might have been authentic, but the band sure as hell wasn’t. Not unless Cornwall has suddenly been chopped off from Southwest England and moved to the Danube-Sava-Kupa line.

“Now Mitzi, will you please tell me what in heck Cornwall has to do with the Balkans?” I can hear you asking. Well, you’d best direct that query to the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – a “Balkan” band from – you guessed it – CORNWALL. Indeed, their pedigree becomes ever more dubious when you discover that their lead singer has a heavy-duty Cockney accent coming from beneath his waxed handlebar tache. I have to admit I really enjoyed them, despite the song they did about cockroaches and despite the argument I had with my friend about the age of their drummer – a lad I placed at about 12 years old and he placed at about 21. We did agree on one thing – that someone either spiked the sour beef soup we had for a starter or our vision was much worse than we thought, because we both swore that the band’s name was misspelled on their bass drum, reading Philantropist, not Philanthropist. Photographic evidence has proved us both wrong, however. From now on, I think I’m going to start hanging out with people who can see better than I do. (Anyone have Stevie Wonder‘s phone number?)

Philanthropist, Shilanthropist, it was all good fun. The band’s music had a very Russian flavour to it, with that manic speeding-up tempo that makes you want to abandon your chair, drop to the floor and start kicking your legs up into the air. In fact, I kept expecting the Russians at the table behind me to suddenly break into one of these Cossack breakdance routines that would’ve put my back out for sure if I dared to attempt it. Sadly, I had to content myself with banging the flat of my hand onto the table in time with the music. I still can’t move my fingers.

Now no self-respecting faux-Balkan band would have been complete without faux-Romany Gypsy girls dancing and jumping about and making that nasty little trilling noise with their tongues (I kept wondering if I’d somehow ended up at a Middle-Eastern wedding). And yup, we had ’em aplenty. In fact, more and more kept turning up throughout the evening, one of whom looked like a reject from Camden Town with her multicoloured dreadlocks and tattoos, another I’m sure had to be named either Sharmila or Preethi and was about as Romany Gypsy as Dame Edna Everage. I had to feel sorry for the poor Romanian waitress who kept dodging them with plates of food – she didn’t look at all happy. Frankly, I’m surprised one of the Gypsy girls didn’t end up with a stuffed cabbage stuffed up her –

On that note…

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