Tenuous Canal Link – we are moored at Uxbridge, which has easy tube access to Wembley Park station and is one of our favourite moorings.
Blatant Non Canal bit: I think I have known the words to Wonderwall for 15 years but never imagined singing it to Oasis – along with something like 80,000 others who also seemed to be word perfect, of course. I didn’t know what to expect from an Oasis gig, never having been to one before and certainly was not disappointed with the music and organisation at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night.
Kasabian turned out to be an excellent support band and judging by the audience around us, just as many had come to see them as the main band. Vast amounts of lager had the crowd in great voice and that which wasnt being drunk was being liberally spread over the crowd in a torrent of plastic glasses. As with all good mosh pits a fair amount of the liquid raining on the crowd would be second hand lager and I dread to think what state the front few thousand were in when reality finally returned at the end.
The whole crowd was completely immersed in the music. Back in the stands, not one single person remained seated as Oasis proved conclusively that their classics really can stand the course of time, mixing in a fair few tracks from the newest album and the occasional acoustic track to help calm the partying.
“Anyone from Darlington” – boo. “Anyone from Manchester?” – small cheer then big boo. Anyone from “Liverpool?” ditto. Any lesbians out there? Huge cheer. Any Cockney bastards? Stadium erupted. Lager everywhere. The band seemed to be loving every minute of it too. They were however just too polite for megastars – must be their age!
Two hours of an epic performance – the last night of yet another sell out stadium tour – and I would certainly come again.
A final word about Wembley stadium. We were able to walk in and take our seats within minutes of arriving. There are something like 160 catering outlets, where it was possible to get served without more than a few minutes waiting, even if the floors were awash with lager! At the end of the night, there are so many exits that leaving the stadium takes only minutes and you simply join the brisk march converging on Wembley Park tube station, through police horse cordons designed to stop a surge, and literally you can join a train just like any other trip on the tube. We were back on the boat 45 minutes after “I am a Walrus”, the band’s classic final track. Well done all at Wembley for making this a memorable night out.
I’ll keep it quick then. By total coincidence I decided yesterday to check the spring tour dates for Wishbone Ash – a few years ago I used to go to up to ten gigs per year, including following them to Europe, so I guess I could have been considered something of a fan. That is until guitarist Ben Granfelt left in October 2004. Ben’s guitar playing was simply brilliant and I would stand in awe watching every move he made. I haven’t seen them since his replacement Muddy Manninen joined the band, who brought a new bluesy guitar style which I simply did not like at the time.
What coincidence? Well the band were playing that very night (Tuesday) at Kidlington Football Club, so I couldn’t resist the chance to see them again in such a local venue. How out of touchI felt though – I didn’t even know the first couple of tracks but as they settled in and played some of the old classics I still felt that the magic has gone. Andy Powell is still guitarist supreme – there is absolutely no doubting his ability, nor Bob Skeat on bass – who still punches out superb rhythm with powerful new drummer Joe. But sorry, I feel that Muddy just doesn’t gel with the band’s style and – only in my opinion – his interpretation of classics such as King Will Come and Phoenix is just not what the twin lead guitar style of Wishbone Ash is all about, and to bring in a tabletop slide guitar was simply wrong. In fact I was just as disappointed with him as I feared I may be.
So on the plus side it was still a great gig in a lovely little venue – and Andy joked that due to the overwhelming success of this 40th Anniversary tour they may even play in some bigger places in the future. But for me, this lineup of the band is not my favourite and I think I may wait until Muddy moves on before going out of my way to see them again. The crowd seemed to be enjoying it though – all is not lost – in his 40th year of touring with Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell still knows how to entertain.
Saturday night, 7th March 2009 – Manchester Evening News Arena – Snow Patrol
Seeing Snow Patrol was actually the reason for this trip to Manchester. I would hazard a guess that I was the only member of the audience who had made a 7 day round trip – and it was certainly worth the effort.
Every time I see a band these days I am just as amazed by the quality of the production – both sound and visual, and tonight was no exception. The sound was simply fantastic and the moving projection screens which formed the back of the stage were amazing too.
The band of course was absolutely brilliant too – one of the best concerts I have been to in a long time – when the entire stadium knows most of the words as well as the band, then the effect is amazing. Despite the huge size of the venue lead singer GaryLightbody went ahead with performing from a random spot in the crowd where he suddenly appeared with acoustic guitar and microphone. This was live entertainment at its best – some silly girl got hold of the microphone and screamed into it, but he recovered the situation with a simple “well that won’t be happening again!” and continued the song – with every electric light in the building being turned off and the crowd invited to take out their mobile phones and light up the arena like stars.