To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

My rating: 4.7/5.0

This book is an absolute classic, and a completely unmissable read. I read it before for my GCSE English Literature class, but being fourteen at the time I returned to it now, suspecting that it might mean slightly more to me six years later. And it did.

It’s heartbreaking, thought-provoking and totally page turning. I think I read it in the space of two days. The characters have such depth to them, and through the eyes of seven/eight year old Scout Finch (Jean Louise if we’re being formal!), they all come majestically to life. One thing that struck me is that I was still a little scared of Scout’s initial impression of Boo Radley! I guess the idea of an unseen phantom that one can’t put a face to is infinitely more terrifying than something you can quantify, hence the extensive imaginations of children.

Moving through the book and seeing the trial of Tom Robinson from Scout’s perspective makes it seem even more abhorrent. The innocence she has, which her brother Jem loses, becomes all the more precious in light of the outcome. One almost begins to detest the machinations of adults, purely because of the effect it has on children.

I cannot begin to this book justice here, but suffice to say that if you have no read it you must; and if you have read it, return to it, I almost guarantee you it will provide you with something new.

B

x

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Book Review: Spoils of Time Trilogy – Penny Vincenzi

A couple of weeks ago I had no internet.

“No internet?!” I hear you cry… and I wasn’t even in a remote corner of the globe, I was in my home. The problem was that my broadband provider was Sky and they’re… not good… to say the least. Anyway, whilst I was in this wifi black hole I managed to read quite a lot of books, about five in the space of two weeks. Three of those books were the books that I’m going to review today; the three that make up the Spoils of Time Trilogy by Penny Vincenzi.

This series is made up of  the books ‘No Angel’, ‘Something Dangerous’ and ‘Into Temptation’ and it chronicles the lives of the Lytton Dynasty, focusing mostly around a lead female character by the name of Lady Celia Lytton née Beckenham. I think I will deal with the trilogy as a whole when discussing it, but will rate each book in turn at the end of my review.

The books begin in about 1908, the heyday of the Edwardian era and we are introduced to Lady Celia, who immediately comes across as strong-minded, determined, a little bit sly and a woman who certainly knows what she wants. Possibly a little bit too much of a modern sensibility for a woman living at such a time, but don’t forget that this was the time of the suffragettes and the Fabian society, so perhaps it is not out of place. She quickly entices and marries Oliver Lytton, a kind and fairly gentle soul who is the inheritor of a small but successful publishing company that goes by the family surname. Throughout the next half of the book Celia produces three children; Giles, and twins Venetia and Adele, before adopting a child from the slums of London who for the entirety books is known as Barty.

One thing that strikes me about Vincenzi books is that whilst her writing is rich in detail, her characters have a particular trait/fate that always comes forward, and is constantly represented by their actions. In that sense it is almost like a fairy tale. Celia, as mentioned before is extremely strong minded – almost to the point of bullying on several occasions – and this is contrasted to her long suffering husband. Her children also suffer at the hands of her own ambition, with Giles emerging as a shy and with low self-esteem. The twins fare a little better because they have each other and thus a lifelong bond is formed in the constant absence of their mother.

There are hundreds of characters in these three books, and more plot twists than I could possibly care to mention but that’s what makes them such an addictive read. The huge amounts of characters don’t detract from the story either, it’s not like Game of Thrones where you read about one character and then don’t hear about them again for twenty chapters. The books span the time period from the Edwardian era through to the late 1960s, and through that time (in no particular order!) we are shown the horrors of two World Wars through the eyes of the characters, the rise of the Fascists across Europe and how it affects all involved, the Wall Street crash, the roaring twenties, the depression, the change of British society as the 40’s came to a close and the 50’s began… it is really interesting to anyone who has a passing interest in social history. Of course it is fiction, but lots of the events that occur in the book are real and for someone who doesn’t wish to pursue their interest to academic texts would find this book fascinating.

Naturally there are issues with it, as afore mentioned characters can sometimes feel stereotyped or pigeonholed in order to fit the line of the story. I, for one, can’t help but feel sorry for Oliver and Giles but it becomes frustrating because they don’t seem to do anything about it. Another thing that frustrated me about these books was the ending. I won’t ruin it for you in case you wish to go off and read them, but suffice to say it comes to a rather abrupt halt, and one to which you think the publishers of Vincenzi were gasping for their novel, leaving her  little time to end it properly. If I were to pick a main criticism of these books it would be the end; after nearly 2000 pages of storyline, for it to end the way it does feels a little unfair.

Anyway, I really hope you do go and read the books. It’s a great summer read, but the books are quite big so if you’ve got an e-reader I suggest you get it on there! It’s a wonderful escape into the first half of the 20th century, a century so rich in history and intrigue it’s impossible to not be excited about it. And Vincenzi does do it justice; her plot lines fit wonderfully, and her characters don’t appear to jar against the edges of the time to which their bound. Well worth a read if you fancy something light, but not too light!

Covers and Ratings: (apologies the covers are different sizes – blame amazon!)

 Rating: 3.8/5.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rating: 4.2/5.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rating: 3.6/5.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time!

B

XO

The Playlist Files

  

 

Hey Ho, Let’s Go….

My Five Tracks of this (bi)weekly blog… (my excuse this time is that I have no wifi at home at the moment so I’m bootlegging in Starbucks at the moment!). Nothing older than 3 years on this week’s playlist files – I’ll see if I can get something a bit more old school on the next one!

 

1. War – Emily’s Army

2. A Lack of Understanding – The Vaccines

3. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend

4. Mulholland Drive – The Gaslight Anthem

5. Want – Jawbreaker

 

Okay… Well…

1. I love this track because even though it’s dealing with some fairly important issues (greed, capitalism etc.) it seems to manage to do so whilst putting it against an upbeat pop-punk background. With the scratchy vocals of one of the Becker brothers (apologies for not knowing which!) propelling the song forward this is really a stand out track on their latest release. Fingers crossed that it’s going to be the next single!

Find it: ‘Lost At Seventeen’ – Emily’s Army (2013)

2. I have recently developed a deep appreciation for The Vaccines first album. I had always written it off before as too “indie/pop-rock” for me and dismissed it off hand because I associated it with things that I didn’t want to be associated with. Once I got over myself however and actually started to listen to all types of music I realised that this is actually a stellar song off a brilliant album.

Find it: ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ – The Vaccines (2011)

3. And another sweet track from Vampire Weekend. This song is their latest single off their third album ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ and it doesn’t disappoint. Definitely one of the better tracks off the album, it does peter off in places but then tracks like this really make it worth listening to. Brilliant song from a band that shows it can deliver strokes of genius…

Find it: ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ – Vampire Weekend (2013)

4. Another track from a band that I had decided I didn’t like after listening to one track. Once again, after revisiting this band I discovered this track (at the suggestion of a friend) and found that I really enjoyed it. Laid back rock track with just enough heavy percussion/solid bass line to keep me happy.

Find it: ‘Handwritten’ – The Gaslight Anthem (2012)

5. And back to my usual. A nice punk-rock song to round the list off for this week. This song is reminiscent of Social Distortion mixed with Rise Against and is great to get yourself pumped up and ready to go. Once again introduced to me through a friend – definitely worth checking out.

Find it: Unfun (2010 Remastered Edition) – Jawbreaker (2010)

The Playlist Files

Okay, it’s been a while since I did one of these. I’ve recently just discovered Spotify Web Player so I’ve been eyeball deep in all sorts of music – new and old. But that aside, what five tracks have been blowing my mind recently?

 

1. Dr Feelgood – Motley Crüe

2. Panic Cord – Gabrielle Aplin

3. Don’t Blink – Relient K

4. Brutal Love – Green Day

5. Everybody Talks – Neon Trees

There are so many more as well, but I’ll save them for another Playlist Files.

Okay well…

1 – Most people and their uncle will know this track. The questions is though, as voiced by Bowling For Soup in their hit ‘1985’… “When did Motley Crüe become Classic Rock?” I love this track, because even though it’s heavy rock you can still dance to it. It’s just sodding awesome, and it makes me want to look like Kat Von D.

Find it: ‘Dr Feelgood’ – Motley Crüe (1989)

2 – Couldn’t be further from the first track if it tried. This is a song by an English singer-songwriter who first came to public attention by gathering quite a large YouTube following. I first heard of her through a friend at my radio station (87.7 Bailrigg FM) who really liked her. This is my favourite song by her so far and is definitely worth a listen – yes it is pop, but it’s got a little spark of something special about it too.

Find it: ‘English Rain’ – Gabrielle Aplin (2013)

3 – Kind of like Imagine Dragons but a bit more rocky. In the grey area somewhere between pop and punk. A very summery track that makes me think of cider and barbecues, with singalongs with your friends. Definitely should be on summer playlists everywhere. Helped by the fact that the lyric video (posted below) is of people riding bikes in a sun filled park…

Find it: Collapsible Lung – Relient K (2013 (out on July 2nd))

4 – Okay, well this track is on the playlist because of my experience on Saturday. This song is bringing me close to tears every time I listen to it at the moment. It’s a heartfelt ballad depicting the ups and downs of love, and to hear 60,000 people singing along, lighters aloft, I don’t think that’s a moment I’ll ever forget.

Find it: Tré! – Green Day (2012)

5 – This on there because I’m revising at the moment I need something to keep my spirits up. Neon Trees appears to be doing this with their chipper brand of more-pop-than-rock. If you want a dance, be reminded that you’re actually nearly 20 and not 16 anymore (whoops!), and also put a smile on your face then this is the track for you.

Find it: Picture Show – Neon Trees (2012)

And this week’s track:

Until next time,

B

XO

Green Day – London, England 01/06/2013

Author’s Note: Apologies for the spelling/grammar. I wrote this very fast and wanted to get it all down. Also, sorry for the crappy iphone pictures – it’s all I had!

 

Green Day – London, England 01/06/2013
There’s something about London. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is, but whenever I get off a train/bus/flying carpet and set foot in that city I can’t help but feel excited, or full of anticipation, or both. Something is always happening in London and this weekend just gone was no exception. One thing I always love when I’m travelling in for a gig is the idea that across the country (and this case world) fans are travelling in for the same reason. There’s an awesome sense of unity before any of us have even met. If I see someone hanging out in a Green Day shirt when I know there’s a show going on, I can’t help but smile. We are all connected by the love of this band and that is pretty damn epic.

Anyway, I arrived in London at about midday and had to hang around the wonderful Euston station (sarcasm) for about forty minutes waiting for my friends to show up. We then headed out to Belsize Park where we were staying to check in. It was a beautiful day so we headed back into central London. I, being a complete nerd, decided I wanted to drag them along to the British Library. I’d heard there were some pretty cool exhibitions on and I wanted to go and check them out. Once inside I found that you had to pay to get into the Propaganda in the 21st century one (which would have been interesting), but if you wandered a bit further up there was another showcasing some of the documents and manuscripts they had. Oh god, I was like a kid in a candy shop – I’m a history geek at the best of times – and they had real manuscripts that were over a thousand years old! It’s strange to try and explain it but these bits of paper have such life about them, they’re not just a faceless textbook or something like that, someone really wrote that, so long ago. Thoughts, hopes and dreams go into those works (a thousand year old copy of Beowulf was there) and that evidence of human expression and passion is something I just get so excited about. Also original letters written by Elizabeth I?!?!?! Geek out over – probably.

After we’d finished in the library we headed out on the tube to check out the stadium and to see who was there. I was really nervous that there was going to be hundreds of people there already, but when we showed up it was pretty empty. I headed around to F gate on the North bank to see who was there and the first person I saw was Lindsay. I think I scared her a bit because I ran up to her screaming “LINNNNNDDDDDSSAAAAAAAAAYYYYY”. It was a bit of a Canadian Invasion going on at F because Val and Nahaleh (sorry if I spelt it wrong!) were there too. It was so nice to meet them – finally! I’ve been talking to Val and Lindsay on Skype for about two years now and to finally meet up was so lovely. Lone was also there, and I still have not found out her name. I was going to get it out of Tony but I didn’t managed to catch him at the show. Some other GDC Pizza Family were there too – Fran, Tamsin, Paul, Becky and Sophie (I’m so sorry if I forgot you – I am an absolute PLEB with names). As we were all hanging out the band began to sound check – that was what made it so real, so immediate. Hearing Billie Joe’s voice ringing out over the edge of the stadium and spilling down to us on the outside. The GDC pizza family headed to the top of North Bank where the sound was incredible so we could all have a good listen. It was a warm evening and I couldn’t really think of anything else I would rather be doing in that moment. They played ‘Waiting’ four times in the sound check so we were pretty damn sure they were going to play it during the show, they also played a snippet of ‘Missing You’, ‘J.A.R’ (which we didn’t get – regardless of what NME says) and ’99 Revolutions’. It was wonderful to hear them checking because whilst other bands come on, strum a few chords, bash the drum a few times etc. Green Day actually almost play a show! They were at it for a good forty-five minutes, giving us a cool opportunity to have a listen.
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(Emirates Stadium – North Bank)

 

I then left the stadium ground at about 7pm and we went tube hopping for a bit, in attempt to find the O2 Islington Academy. I was going to go to the Green Date gig but then as I got to Islington a wave of tiredness/grumpiness hit me and I didn’t think I would be much fun so I pulled out and headed back to the hotel to crash out for the night. We (myself and two friends (Jess and Morgan)) weren’t camping, but we had plans to be there nice and early.

One thing that I will always love/hate about Green Day gig days is setting my alarm the night before, for some ridiculously early time, and having it tell me you have “4 hours and 3 minutes until alarm…” – always a great feeling. Anyway, we got up at 5am and caught the first tube up to Arsenal. I felt so panicked as Morgan and I walked along to Clock (Cock from now on) End (Jess had split from us because she was queuing at North Bank D). I was genuinely imagining queues upon queues of people and us being somewhere near the back. I was not having a good time at that moment. Anyway, we crossed over the bridge to K and saw that there were about ten people there. I spotted the lovely Agija and sneakily skipped passed about four people. They didn’t seem to mind, however, it just being two of us, and also the fact we were pretty damn early. I was also queuing opposite an uncanny Billie-alike called Rob (so uncanny that he drew quite a lot of stares all day). Everyone I was with was really nice.

After establishing myself at K gate and introducing myself to people around, I went on a reccy to F gate to see how everyone was holding up after a night sleeping rough. Well at least everyone was alive! They all looked pretty sleepy to be honest, some of them were half-talkative, some of them totally non responsive. One of the non-responsive ones was Svän, who upon being poked repeatedly by Ceri, just mumbled something entirely incoherent and rolled over with a grumpy noise. I decided to head back later when everyone was feeling a little bit more awake, and more likely to want conversation. As I headed back I heard rumours going around of wristbands being handed out to those who had camped and to those who’d got to the stadium super early. At first I thought this might just be idle gossip (music fans really do love to speculate!) but lo and behold at about 9.15 a guy came around and asked to see our tickets before presenting us with a bright green wristband with the words ‘FRONT PIT’ on it. Turns out that these were pretty useless when push came to shove but they’re a cool souvenir to have anyway.
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(Green Day wristbands)
I chilled with the guys at K for a while after that, learning how to say Agija’s name properly amongst other things. I always thought that it was A-GEE(as in Gee whizz!)-A, but it turns out that it’s A-geeeee (as in gear)-a. Just in case you didn’t know! Whilst we were chilling out I spotted Iolanda making the rounds and we had a quick chat – it was her birthday yesterday – pretty damn cool birthday present! At about 10.15, knowing I was going to be there for quite a while yet I headed to the nearest McDonalds (staple gig food!) and bought a burger (what else?!). I felt pretty guilty because I’d eaten a burger two days in a row, but I assuaged my guilt by imagining the amount of calories I was going to burn whilst down in the pit later that day. I then realised that there was no way in hell that my phone was going to last until the end of the day (when it would probably be necessary), so Ceri kindly leant me her phone charger and I went to hang out in the toliets (only place with plugs) to charge up. Delightful place, but made so much more wonderful by the arrival of Tasha (<3) who hung out with me whilst my phone charged. I love you Tasha – just so you know. As I stood there like I lemon I realised that I’d left my ticket in my bag at the gate – I couldn’t believe I’d been such an idiot to let it out of my sight – and sprinted back to K to pick it up. I literally did a forward roll over the barrier to pick it up. Rob wondered aloud why I was so worried about it – I told him it was because Morgan might sell it whilst I wasn’t looking.

For the next four hours I met more and more people from GDC which was so lovely. I met Maria’s mum in the toliets (I hope she said hi to you Maria – I asked her too!), Mary came over with Svän at one point, and at about 3pm Tom decided he was going to show up, so we got to catch up briefly. There was a few GDCers who were there who I didn’t get to chill with (Liam and Holly!) but I’ve met both of you before so…  :P. We took some nice photos together, apologies that mine are crappy iPhone quality but I didn’t want to bring my big camera! No way I was lugging that into the gig. Lone came back at about 3pm (having been with the guys at F most of the time) I started trying to knock her Americanisms out of her (even though she’s American) – it’s still ‘sweets’, ‘rubbish’ and ‘pavement’ ya know!  :P

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(Svän + I)

 

Anyway, at about quarter to four people started to get a bit restless, the crowds had expanded dramatically, and people began to nervously guard their patch of concrete as if were made of gold. At about 4pm wardens appeared in front of all the turnstiles – I prayed they were all going to be opened in good time, and also at the same time. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about this, mine was opened at the same time as everyone else, but the poor people who were at F got screwed over a bit (they were opened about 2/3 minutes late)! L

All I remember about getting in was literally ditching everyone, running into the stadium and screaming at some people who were jogging down the steps to move to the right so that I could get passed. I spotted Agija on the barrier as I ran into the Golden Circle but I sprinted past her and to the centre. I ended up one deep on the left (as you look at the stage) side of the mini-catwalk. So basically in the middle, but not quite – the middle was about two people across from me. I was behind two Polish girls who were both pretty nice, and also had a lovely gap between their heads which (when the time came) I had a perfect view of Billie Joe through.

There was about a fifty-minute wait between getting in and All Time Low taking to the stage. I find that that’s always the worst part about a big gig – you’ve waited hours to get in and then once you’re there you’ve got to wait some more. I got friendly with some of the people around me, turns out there were three girls from Yorkshire (best county!) right next to me, so I was chatting to them for a while. And then All Time Low came on. And the squishing started. Everybody surged forward and started to push/pull/tug/swerve – all great fun of course (*eye roll*). I expect it when you’re down front and centre but even then it doesn’t make it hugely pleasant.

All Time Low were quite good. They played a mixture of new stuff and some of their older hits, most notably ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, ‘Weightless’ and ‘Reckless And The Brave’. They seemed to be having fun but it was a tough crowd for them. There was a girl just behind me who took it upon herself for the entire set to stand there and scream “OFF, OFF, OFF” or “ALL TIME BLOW” etc. I nearly turned around and poked her in the eyes. I had this debate with some people a few days ago – you might not like a band, but you can at least respect what they’re trying to do. You’re not here to see them, the people you want to see won’t be far behind, at least have the common decency to be polite. The one thing that did get old with All Time Low’s set was the dick jokes. I don’t know, I just didn’t find them particularly funny and I don’t think it comes across very well in a stadium setting. They put forward a valiant effort, but I don’t think it had much effect except on those who were in the Golden Circle. Better luck next time boys.

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After All Time Low had finished up we had about a half an hour wait before the Kaiser Chiefs took to the stage. Some people have commented that this seems like a bit of an odd backing for Green Day but I disagree. I think they’re a genuinely good rock band and they know how to work a crowd – why shouldn’t they be there? It did seem a bit like the lead singer show but they were good nonetheless. Of course they got the largest at times crowd response when they played their hits; ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Ruby’ and ‘The Angry Mob’ were the big crowd movers. At one point the lead singer decided it would be a good idea to climb the light stack at the corner of the stage – felt a bit sorry for his manager/security at that point who was underneath and looked scared to death! The dude did go pretty high and I genuinely thought he was going to fall. He didn’t, thankfully, and they ended their section on a high.

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Once the Kaiser Chiefs had disappeared the tension really started to rise. The crushing down the front got even more intense (and didn’t let up all evening – thankfully I could always breathe – but I now have several bruises because from the chest down I could barely move). I think one of the defining moments before Green Day comes on is when the black curtain drops and Tre’s drum kit is revealed – people get pretty damn excited at that point. Anyway, after watching several familiar techies set up the stage and a bit more hanging around, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen began to play out over the PA system. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment in that everyone quickly caught on and began to sing. It gave me goosebumps to hear 75,000 people singing those immortal words. At the moment (if I’d ever doubted it!) I knew it was going to be incredible gig. Most of the English fans hadn’t seen Green Day since 2010 and they were ready to see their favourite band again! After that song had come to a close the ever-recognisable ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ started and the Drunk Bunny stumbled onto stage to a rapturous reception – only thing though; where were his beers?! He stumbled around a bit, came down briefly onto the tiny platform in front of us, and then headed off to rapturous applause. The crowd drew breath. They knew that the moment was here, the planning, the friendships, the queuing, the lyrics learning, the blood/sweat/tears had all come down to this point. ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ began to play (actually the Madagascar 2 Soundtrack FYI) and after about a minute, and to the sound of the crowd screaming at the decibel count of an airport runway, Tré Cool bounded onto stage. With green hair. Yup, a lovely deep emerald green graced the top of our favourite drummers head. Mike swiftly followed him over on stage right – I didn’t get much Mike action last night, me being to the left a bit – have to rectify that next time! I spotted Billie Joe over by the tech stand picking up his guitar, he smiled at his techie before walking calmly onto stage, an enormous grin on his face.

And that grin stayed all night. I think that was one of the things that made last night so fucking epic – Green Day looked as if they were having the time of their lives (pun firmly intended). And that reflected – the crowd knew they were happy, so the crowd got happier at the thought… there was an incredible energy in that space last night. They opened with ’99 Revolutions’, quickly followed by ‘Know Your Enemy’; with Billie Joe getting a fan dressed in a Union Jack morph suit up to help him finish the song off. After that we got ‘Stay The Night’ which I know used to be Tom’s favourite trilogy song, I forgot to ask him whether it still is (is it?). During this song Billie Joe exclaimed that they were “going to play all night”, as much as I wished this were true most of the fans there knew there was a hard curfew for 10.30pm; Billie’s such a liar! Another thing he said was that he loved summer because there was “more light” – I was looking at Jason Freese at this point who just laughed at the total randomness of that statement. Billie Joe began his crowd control at about this point – the number of ‘Hey-ho’s’ you get at a GD show are uncountable. It must be an utterly intoxicating feeling to literally be able to twitch your hand and have 75,000 people at your total command. He seemed to be enjoying it!

After that we had ‘Stop When The Red Lights Flash’ followed by ‘Letterbomb’. I was so glad we got the latter of those – I adore this song and it was fantastic to hear it live once again. I noticed that Billie’s stopped screaming “WAKE UP!” in the bridge (a Rebecca Naomi Jones addition), but it was fantastic nonetheless. Then we had ‘Oh Love’, the first single off the trilogy albums – I actually managed to get some (very shitty!) pictures during this song. It was the only time I took pictures because I wanted to be totally in the moment at all other times. I know that at Wembley I spent quite a lot of the gig staring through my camera lense and I didn’t want to do that again – someone with a much calmer/better position than me will have got some much cooler photos than I would’ve managed.

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(Blurry iPhone photo 1)

 

 

 

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(Blurry iPhone photo 2)

 

 
After ‘Oh Love’ we had the immortal ‘Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. Billie opened the former by screaming the well known words ‘VIVA LA REVOLUTION’ before bursting into the song with the energy of a thousand fireworks. One thing I was annoyed at myself for, however, was that somehow I missed the ‘Amen!’ of ‘can I get another Amen?’ – how on earth I missed this I have absolutely no idea. I figuratively kicked myself for a good five minutes after that. ‘Boulevard’ was as epic as it normally is, and during it Billie Joe got a little kid up with a homemade ‘Green Day Rocks’ sign. It was unbelievable cute – the kid just stood there with an entirely straight face for the whole song… at the end Billie laughed, gave him a hug and sent him off. It was just ‘awwww!’…

Following that we had ‘Stray Heart’, ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’, ‘Waiting’ and ‘Missing You’. Apparently last night was the first time the latter has been played live by the full band. Unfortunately I hadn’t revised those lyrics so I ended up gurning along for most of it, but the chorus was fairly easy to pick up! Then as the sky began to darken into dusk, Green Day started to dig deep, moving back almost twenty years to pull out the epic ‘Burnout’ and ‘Sassafras Roots’. It was so cool that they played the latter song – I’ve never heard it live before and it was awesome to get it, seeing as it’s one of my favourites off Dookie (would’ve been nice to get ‘Pulling Teeth’ as well but oh well!). Then we got ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ – a particularly apt song for Green Day once again I feel. Also ‘1,2,1,2,3,4!’… After those we got ‘Longview’ (which a fan sang the final verse of) and the ever popular ‘Welcome to Paradise’. Then they did something I didn’t expect; they covered Operation Ivy’s ‘Knowledge’ – I knew they used to do that in the past, but I didn’t expect them to do it last night. Billie Joe got a female fan up on stage to play the guitar for the song, and thankfully she could play it. I always get nervous when they get people up to do something that actually requires talent/lyric-knowing. It would be so cringy if someone got up and was just being a dick, not really knowing anything.

After that we got ‘St. Jimmy’ – I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get serenaded by ‘Are We The Waiting’ first, seeing as that’s my favourite song, but Billie Joe’s firecracker energy during Jimmy more than made up for it. Following that we got more songs from Dookie; ‘When I Come Around’, ‘Basket Case’ and ‘She’. The singalongs to all of these were so epic and it was at this point that I started losing my voice and coughing a lot (I found valiantly on however! I WILL SHOUT ALL NIGHT!). Then there was a very brief lull in energy as the guys hurried off stage, before coming back wearing stupid hats/outfits – it was time for ‘KING FOR A DAAAAAAAAY!!’ I know that some people have scorned Green Day for their continued playing of this song, but boo sucks to them – I love it! I don’t find it gimmicky at all, it’s just a lot of fun. During the Shout Medley that always follows that song, the drunk bunny came back and decided to lie on top of Billie whilst he was lying on the stage. Billie found this funny, however, and just laughed as the bunny laid its head on his arse.

Following that general madness and mayhem we got ‘X-Kid’ and ‘Minority’. These two closed off the main show, and what a way to close it – with the crowd knowing every single word to the incredible ‘Minority’ – shouting it back word for word. The band disappeared from stage for about three minutes after that before coming back out for the encore that consisted of ‘American Idiot’, ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and ‘Brutal Love’. During AI Billie Joe did try, very briefly, to start a wall of death – but the crowd was just so tightly packed that there was absolutely no way he was going to manage to separate us. I was so glad they played JoS – it’s always wonderful when they play that in the encore, you know the shows nearly ending, but hey ho, here’s a nine minute song for you guys! It was incredible. Due to the fact that I’d missed the “Amen!” in ‘Holiday’, I was making doubly sure that I was concentrating for the “JESUS OF SUBURBIA!” roar during this song – no way I was missing that as well! I love the way that song moves through the sections – IMHO it’s Green Day’s best song, it’s so bloody fantastic and it stirs so many emotions in me that… gah!

And then there was ‘Brutal Love’ – a heart-wrenchingly emotional song that had me in tears. I have never cried at a gig before but that one had me shed a tear or two. It was just incredibly beautiful, a wonderful cherry on top of the madness, and the cuddle after the orgasmic show we had all just experienced. I looked briefly around and could see all the lighters and mobiles in the air, creating a sea of lights around the stadium – the view from the stage must have been intoxicatingly beautiful. To me, an ending like that was a show of perfect unity – we might all come from different homes, different places, be different genders and races etc. but we were all there for the same reason. The Greatest Show On Earth.

And then it ended. And the crowd breathed out. People moved away, picking up odd souvenirs as they went, trying to piece their minds around what they’d just seen. Green Day had once again proved, without pyro, excessive lights, or gimmicks as to why they are the best live band on the planet. It is so difficult to describe how fantastic they are without seeing it with your own eyes, but last night they blew me away.

Here at the end of all things (J), I would just like to say a huge thank you and I love you to the GDCfamily. I miss you guys already and I think you’re all wonderful people. I hope we have a 1001 more opportunities to meet because I feel that the few hours we had were nowhere near enough. The Green Day gig experiences I’ve had in the past twelve months wouldn’t be a scratch on what they have been without you guys. Green Day bring the music, you guys bring the magic. Thank you! Beyond hugs and kisses.

And now we go back to our own lives. We possibly feel sad that it’s over – but just remember, we were there. We saw it. We felt it. We were a part of it, and we have that memory that no one else can take away from us.

Until next time guys,

Bryony
xxx

The Playlist Files

    

 

My tracks of the week (fortnight?!):

 

 

1) Diane Young – Vampire Weekend

2) Beggars – Mallory Knox

3) Get Lucky – Daft Punk

4) Dreary Town – Nadine Shah

5) Conquistador – 30 Seconds To Mars

 

 

Number One is the new single by Vampire Weekend, it’s absolutely stellar and I cannot stop listening to it. Definitely a hit of the summer and I imagine that you’re hearing it everywhere at the moment, I certainly am.

Number Two is a track I stumbled across due to friends down at my radio station. It’s a single by this (fairly) new British band who are up for ‘Best British Newcomer’ at the Kerrang! awards. Solid punk-rock track if that’s your sort of vibe.

Number Three – if you haven’t heard this track yet, please climb out from the rock you’ve been living under and go check it out. It’s Daft Punk’s first UK number one and it is an absolutely stellar techno/dance song. Love.

Number Four is a track from a relatively unknown artist, but I get the feeling she’s going to be huge. Her voice is really soulful and awesome and her version of ‘Cry Me A River’ is incredible. I strongly suggest you check her out.

And last but not least, Number Five is the new single from 30 Seconds To Mars. As far as I’m aware we haven’t heard any solid information on a new album but it’s clear something very exciting is going on. This track is straight forward rock and roll, but it sounds like classic 30stm, so if that’s what you’re into; definitely a track for you.

 

So there you have it, quite a diverse mix once again – indie-rock, punk-rock, techno/dance, soul(ish) and rock ‘n’ roll.

Youtube video of my Number One this week:

 

See you soon,

B

XO

 

 

 

The Kingmaker’s Daughter – Philippa Gregory

Enjoyment/Story Rating: 3.0/5.0

Style/Language Rating: 2.8/5.0

 

Okay, well this another classic Philippa Gregory story, telling the tale of Anne Neville; daughter of the Earl of Warwick, the “kingmaker” of the late Plantagenet era. It’s a good tale if all you want is a simple story of a vaguely historical nature, but that is all it seems to provide. I was expected something a bit more, because I’d been told that it was better than her other recent novels, but I found it sitting quite comfortable alongside them in terms of mediocrity.

Now don’t get me wrong, Philippa Gregory has written some really great books, I loved her Tudor Series, but the things she’s written lately seem to just have been the same story and all she’s done is edited the names before sending the book to the publishers – it seems one dimensional and fairly flat with little new to offer regular Gregory readers. I found myself skipping pages as I got bored with the repetitive nature of the style, diving back in again when I stumbled across something that it felt like I hadn’t read before.

I would recommend this if you like comfortable historical novels and just want a light and easy read. Otherwise, if you want better historical fiction, go for Gregory’s earlier novels, in my opinion they are far superior to her later works.

 

B

XO