Holiday update

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25 jui. 2008, 11h38m

Qstock, the rock festival right here in my hometown, begins today. This is the first time I'm attending; in previous years I've been either out of town or simply not interested enough, but this year I made up my mind the moment I heard that Manic Street Preachers are coming. It's about bloody time that I saw them live - I was going to, in Helsinki several years ago when they were on tour, but then they decided to focus instead on getting their compilation album released and the concert was cancelled.

I've been on long-expected and well-deserved (I hope...) summer vacation for two weeks now, with two more to go. The weather's been a bit of a mixed bag, but it looks like we finally have a proper summer going on now, just in time for the festival. There was one nice and sunny day right at the beginning of my vacation, when I had a friend over from Helsinki, and we had some highly enjoyable moments reclining in the gentle evening sun slurping mojitos.

After my friend left I went away for a week, spending a few days at my parents' country house and then a couple more at their city house. I helped them out a bit at various tasks, but it was too early for the annual chore of trimming the hedge, so mostly I just took pleasure in being idle. One evening I borrowed my dad's bicycle and went on a little tour of my old haunts, from schoolhouses to friends' houses to libraries to service stations where I used to play pinball to parks where I used to go when I needed some fresh air and time alone with my thoughts. I try to tell myself I'm not old, but I sure don't seem to be too young to appreciate the occasional bit of nostalgia...

The Manics aside, I already saw one of my top ten artists live this year, in April when Mark Knopfler played in Helsinki. It was a great night, not entirely without disappointments but with plenty of high points to compensate for them. Mark had ditched Walk of Life and played Cannibals instead, which was a positive surprise. Another Dire Straits hit I did not miss at all was Money for Nothing. A third one the set could actually have done without was, a bit unexpectedly and somewhat sadly, Sultans of Swing, which, as a friend put it, "sounded like Mark's been playing it for thirty years, which he has". Not bad, just routine. Romeo and Juliet and Telegraph Road were magical as always. For some reason Mark played only two songs from the new album, Kill to Get Crimson, but they were good ones, especially the gut-grippingly beautiful The Fish and the Bird. Even True Love Will Never Fade, the album version of which I don't care much for, sounded great with that big stadium sound to back it up. The same goes for Our Shangri-La, which Mark played as an encore. As a special treat there were a couple of excellent surprise picks from The Ragpicker's Dream: a rocking version of Hill Farmer's Blues and a less minimal arrangement of Marbletown, reminiscent of Je suis Désolé with its fast country beat.

The following day I left with a friend (the same one who visited me two weeks ago) for a short trip to Dublin to get rid of my remaining vacation days from last year. I had been there once before, in 2005, but my friend hadn't and I had a wonderful time showing him around the pubs and other attractions. I even discovered a great bar serving microbrewed beers that I didn't know about on my previous visit. We saw musical performances every night even though we weren't particularly looking for them - in Dublin, and in Temple Bar especially, when you walk into a pub any night of the week there's likely to be a guy with a guitar playing in a corner there. One of them even played Romeo and Juliet for us at my friend's request. Some of the street performers on Grafton Street were incredibly good, there was a hilarious guitar-playing comedian and - the biggest "what the hell" moment of the trip - a group of dozen or so Swedish students singing their native folk tunes in multiple voices and perfect harmony.

In May we played a short Claudius gig in an event called Ihanko pihalla? where each band was given a fifteen-minute slot to perform in and afterwards a jury gave written feedback to everyone. On a few points the opinions of some jury members contradicted one another completely, which made the feedback rather amusing to read. My favourite jury comment was "big man with harmonica fuckin rox!". I didn't stay to listen to all of the performers that came after us, but I was greatly impressed by the last one I heard, an a cappella group called Lauluyhtye Loudspeakers.

June was full of work as I was organising a project meeting for over twenty attendants from all around Europe. I was more or less single-handedly responsible for the arrangements so I had to wear a number of hats all at the same time, of travel agent and tour guide and chairman and all-around master of ceremonies. This made the job rather stressful, so while I quite enjoyed the company of my foreign colleagues, I was mighty glad when the meeting was over. As a final favour to a couple of Portuguese guests I told them where they could buy a bottle of Koskenkorva to take home with them - they'd fallen in love with the stuff when we all had dinner together after the first day of the meeting.

The following week we were supposed to have another Claudius gig, but it was going to be an outdoor event and it was raining that evening so we decided to skip it. Now it appears that my next gig will be with Axes Denied at this year's Jyrkkä \o/ festival on the last weekend of August. We have a couple of new tunes in the works and after three rehearsal sessions they're sounding pretty good already. Currently we're all on vacation, so we have both the time and the energy to practise hard, and we have five whole weeks before the party starts, so I'm confident we're going to be in shape for another AD classic.

Commentaires

  • Mr_Jones

    SOITTAKAA COMMANDO!

    8 août 2008, 19h14m
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