Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Davidson vs East Washington @ John Belk Arena

Another night of college basketball, anther night of sports bewilderment for me.

To me this game was very much like the one from two weeks ago.  I couldn't really keep pace with fouls being / not being called.  The irony is how long it takes to play the game.  So many time outs, so much minute by minute coaching required, so many deliberate fouls - where a played advantage would be more beneficial.  Maybe I'm not built for the sports America loves.

It was a pretty comfortable win for the Wildcats in the end. 10 points , but only because Davidson took their foot off the accelerator at the end of the game.  A may not know what is going on completely, but I am claiming 2-0 for Wildcats games I've attended.

What I did find surprising tonight was the amount of Australians in the East Washington team.  3 in the starting line up and 2 more on the bench.  I didn't even know 5 people in Australia played basketball, let alone would be good enough to be recruited by a US college.  And how does that happen?  How does anyone from EWU find out about players from Geraldton, WA?  And when did Victoria become a powerhouse in basketball? (4 in the team from there)?  Why aren't those big guys playing Aussie Rules?  While not the team I was supporting, always good to see fellow Aussies doing well.

Davidson Wildcats 96 (Gibbs 37 points, Barham 22, Sullivan 22) defeated East Washington Eagles 86 (McBroom 33, Jois 22, Bliznyuk 14).
Crowd: 3,714.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Davidson vs Mercer @ John Belk Arena

My neighbor, Aaron, is both alumni and a season ticket holder with Davidson.  It's normally a family affair, but school nights are hard for the kids to get to, so I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to see my first ever college basketball game.  So 30 minutes up the 77 and we are on the Davidson campus and entering the John Belk Arena.

Let me preface this review with the fact that I know the extreme basics of basketball (at a stretch) so this was definitely a learning experience for me (and probably a pain for Aaron, with all the questions).  We are seated 4 rows from the court behind the Mercer bench.  How much do I not know?  I had to ask where Mercer was.

The game itself was fast, too fast for me to keep up.  And without the help of replays I had no idea why fouls were being called and why the crowd was upset when they weren't being called.  What I do know is it was close, all game.  Davidson  took a 5 point lead into the half the break, and while there were a few scares, managed to hold Mercer off to take a 77-71 win. Shooting was far from accurate from both sides,  but this was definitely a good result for the Wildcats.

While I don't know much about the game, I feel I have learnt some things - if I can retain this knowledge is another story.  It was fun supporting the home team in a very one-sided crowd (maybe 40 Mercer supporters in the 3/4 full arena.  Was also great to see my mild manner neighbor get fired up for his team.  In comparison to Australia, where college sports are non-existent, American's definitely keep their connection to their schools, and it reflects in the difference in passion between college and professional sports in the US.  Hope I get the opportunity to see more.

Davidson Wildcats 77 (Aldridge 23 points, Barham 19, Michelson 15) defeated Mercer Bears 71 (Jelks 18, Lewis 10, Rivers 8)
Crowd: 3,861.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Willie Nelson & Devin Dawson @ Township Auditorium, Columbia, SC

This really was a last minute decision concert.  I waited until the afternoon of the show until I decided that I had the energy to drive down to Columbia and back to get my 2nd Willie show, and the first since Vegas in 2003.  Tried to have dinner with my nephew Mason, but he is out of town for the weekend.  I picked to Pawley's Front Porch, for a great burger and a beer, before getting back to the venue for 7.30pm start.

First show in Columbia means a new venue.  Found street parking about 3 blocks from the venue and really liked the layout of this 3,100 seat auditorium.  I was seated on the right of stage in the first level.  I usually can get good seats as a single, but this was great.  The seat next to me was vacant, due to it being a view obstructed by a support pole.

Had I known there was a support act, I would not have raced to the venue so early.  Devin Dawson is a young up and coming country artist, who was both humbled and excited to be opening for Willie Nelson (who wouldn't?).  But as someone who isn't really into the genre, I thought he sounded like (m)any other country artists.  His performance was enjoyed by his enthusiastic fans, and maybe a few new ones, but it wasn't for me.

Willie came on to a standing ovation, and deservedly so.  From the first strains of Whiskey River, for the next hour and a half, it was hit after hit from Nelson and his band.  Me and Paul, Crazy, Georgia On My Mind, Funny How Time Slips Away, Always On Mind, the list goes on.  Considering how little I listed to country music (I really have restricted myself to Nelson and Johnny Cash), it just amazes me how many great songs can come from one man.  Another highlight was the inclusion of family in the band.  A sister on piano, a percussionist son, and a guitar playing son, with one hell of a bluesman's voice.  

I definitely made the right decision to come to this show.  I was a little worried that he could never live up to that fantastic show I saw at the House of Blues in Vegas 6 months after we moved there. While this show didn't quite reach those heights, it wasn't far from it.  I don't think anyone who likes any type of music, could not like Willie Nelson, or one of his shows.  He is a true musician and a great showman.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 400th concert.
This is my 1st concert at Township Auditorium.
Township Auditorium is the 111th venue I've seen a concert.
This is my 1st concert in Columbia.
Columbia is the 47th city I've seen a show in.
This is my 2nd concert in South Carolina.
This is my 207th concert in the USA.
Devin Dawson is the 471st band I've seen.
This is my 2nd Willie Nelson concert.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Stevie Wonder @ Time Warner Arena

Was it because Stevie Wonder was so coveted on my bucket list? I mean, it's Stevie Wonder!  Or was it because it was the most expensive concert I've been to?  That and a combination of song choice made tonight a little disappointing for me.

The night after the shootings at the Bataclan in Paris, saw entry into Time Warner Arena take a lot longer than usual.  Security was on edge, but very thorough.  That delayed that start of the show.  Stevie was guided on stage by a back up singer and then spoke, at length, of the horrors of last night before sitting down at his piano's to perform his 1976 Songs In The Key Of Life album from start to finish.  I am not too familiar with a lot of this album, but considering last night's events the aptly named Love's In The Need Of Love Today.  It wasn't until Sir Duke that the packed arena was on it's feet as a whole.  Great song!  While not familiar with Pastime Paradise, I didn't realize it was the basis of the 90's rap hit Gangsters' Paradise.  The rest of the set, though, was pretty mellow.  And not even the 30 piece backing band could energize the show.

Wonder took a break after 12 songs, and upon return again somewhat lectured the crowd for what seemed an eternity.  He did, however, launch into the awesome Isn't She Lovely, which was definitely the highlight of the night.  The rest of that set, again, mellowed out.  I'd of thought at a Stevie Wonder show I'd be on my feet all night, but this was definitely not the case.  The other great song of the second set was his solo cover of John Lennon's Imagine, dedicated to those who had lost lived in last night's France massacre.

While we had already seen 2 hours, it wasn't until the final encore that things finally started to perk up.  Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours had everyone up instantly.  Straight into Living For The City.  And while a noise curfew threatened to end the show, Wonder decided one more song had to be done.  Superstition was the high energy, fun song I expected would have filled the rest of the night.  Was so great to see and hear such an iconic song, done by its legendary writer.  Definitely the right way to finish the show.

When I think back about the time Wonder spent talking to the crowd before his two sets, as well as the need to highlight every band member individually (for God's sake there was 30 of them - I understand they're talented - they work for Stevie Wonder - but that's not who I want to see perform), I feel that hour, yes at least an hour doing these things, would have been better spent performing other great songs of his.  Where was Master Blaster? Lately? My Cherie Amour? Higher Ground? I'd have even settled for I Just Called To Say I Love You.  Not to say I' didn't have a good night, but it wasn't the mind blowing experience I had hyped myself up for. 

Love's In Need Of Love Today / Have A Talk With God / Village Ghetto Land / Contusion / Sir Duke / I Wish / Knocks Me Off My Feet / Pastime Paradise / Summer Soft / Ordinary Pain / Saturn / Ebony Eyes
2nd set: Isn't She Lovely / Joy Inside My Tears / Black Man / All Day Sucker / Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call) / Killer Joe / The Star Spangled Banner / Imagine (John Lennon cover) / People Get Ready (The Impressions cover) / Ngiculela - Es Una Historia - I Am Singing / If It's Magic / As / Another Star
Encore: Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours / Living For The City / Superstition

The Crap Facts:
This is my 399th concert.
This is my 4th concert at Time Warner Arena.
This is my 42nd concert in Charlotte.
This is my 47th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 206th concert in the USA.
Stevie Wonder is the 470th band I've seen.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jim Jefferies @ Knight Theater

I feel like it's hard to write a review about a comedian.  It's not like retelling the jokes would help. 

Needless to say Jim Jefferies was everything I expected him to be.  He started his show with two words that really set the tone for the night. Bill Cosby.  From there nothing was sacred.  He absolutely destroyed a woman heckler, almost to the point it was started to get really nasty (but I'm going to hell anyway, so I continued to laugh).  Though no one else was brave enough to interject again.  He also took aim at his girlfriend, son, mother, hunting, religion, America's obsession with Freedom, amongst other topics.  Nothing seemed to be sacred.

I spent two hours in stitches, and was a little proud to see a fellow Aussie perform in my adopted city, and do it so well.  Having said that, you'd have to be careful of who you would send to see one of his shows.  If you were easily offended by language, and considering everyone came under fire, there was no other couple we know that I'd take.  Fortunately, Amy knows my sense of humor, and knew what she'd be in for.  She laughed just as hard as I did.  Will happily fork out money next time he comes to town.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Babes In Toyland @ The Visulite

Almost 20 years to the day since I last saw Babes In Toyland.  I wish I'd had more opportunity to do so, because this band is still as ferocious as always.

The Visulite is fast becoming my favorite venue in Charlotte.  It is a small club, with a small dance floor area and then an elevated areas with chairs and general standing.  There is no real bad spot to see a show, though its better with a medium sized crowd, like tonight, where you can get up close and not feel claustrophobic.  It is also a 3 minute drive from my house.  Weather was my excuse tonight, but soon I'm gonna walk to a show.

I arrived only moments before Babes In Toyland hit the stage, and got a prime spot right in front of Kat Bjelland's mike.  A new bass player but the venom of the band was the same as I remember from the Metro in Sydney 20 years ago (Babes toured Australia in conjunction to performing at Livid in Brisbane that year).  He's My Thing kicked off the night and sounded great.  Kat's guitar and voice were of point, and Lori Barbero's relaxed style drumming masked her tight, driving sound.  While I really only remember the songs I know (Bruise Violet, Handsome & Gretel), the whole set was fantastic. The main set finished with Sweet 69, and the crowd soaked it up.  Dust Cake Boy was the brutal encore song and a great topper to energetic noise.

Bjelland still has a great stage presence and that blood curdling scream.  The band seemed very relaxed and were enjoying themselves.  In a smaller venue I think they also seem to enjoy the audience interaction.  I hope it's not another 20 years before I see them again.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 398th concert.
This is my 8th concert at The Visulite.
This is my 41st concert in Charlotte.
This is my 46th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 205th concert in the USA.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Babes In Toyland.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tony Bennett & Antonia Bennett @ Ovens Auditorium

It is nice that Bennett has his daughter open for him.  Having family on the road must also be a great comfort for both of them. Antonia is a great singer in her own right, however I think she will always live in the shadow of her legendary father (pretty much how I felt seeing Sean Lennon's band opening for Beck).

Having seen Tony Bennett in the smaller Hilton Las Vegas in 2008, and closer to the stage, I think I had been spoiled, and then did all the bad things by comparing the two.  Our seats tonight are a lot further back , and in a larger auditorium here in Ovens.  Bennett looks all of his 88 years tonight (as in comparison to a spritely 80 in 2008), yet his voice is just as smooth as always.  One great song after another, had the crowd excited and enthused.  Steppin' Out With My Baby, The Way You Look Tonight and I Left My Heart In San Francisco were definite highlights.  Amy and I took her mom tonight, as Bennett is the last of his era that she hadn't seen, and she spent the whole show smiling, on the edge of her seat - and she wasn't the only one in the crowd doing so.  It was all business tonight, not a lot of banter or stories from Bennett (again, unlike last time).  While his voice was spot on, there seemed to be some spark missing from Bennett's performance.  That sounds negative, but contrary, I'm glad I got to see him for a second time.  It was just hard to live up to the Vegas performance.

Tony Bennett Setlist
Watch What Happens / They All Laughed (George Gershwin cover) / Autumn Leaves (Yves Montand cover) / I Got Rhythm (George Gershwin cover) / (In My) Solitude (Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald cover) / Sing You Sinners / Hey Old Friend / Steppin' Out With My Baby (Irving Berlin cover) / But Beautiful (Jimmy Van Heusen cover) / Our Love Is Here To Stay / The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern cover) / Rags To Riches / Cold Cold Heart / Just In Time / Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (Hal Kemp & His Orchestra cover) / The Good Life / How Do You Keep The Music Playing? (Michael Legrand cover) / The Shadow of Your Smile (Johnny Mandel cover) / One For My Baby / For Once In My Life (Jean DuShon cover) / I'm Old Fashioned / I Left My Heart In San Francisco / Who Cares? / Smile (Charlie Chaplin cover) / When You're Smiling (Seger Ellis cover) / Fly Me To The Moon (Kaye Ballard cover)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 397th concert.
This is my 1st concert at Ovens Auditorium.
Ovens Auditorium is the 110th venue I've seen a concert in.
This is my 40th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 45th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 204th concert in the USA.
Antonia Bennett is the 469th band I've seen
This is the 2nd time I've seen Tony Bennett.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Danzig, Superjoint Ritual, Veil Of Maya & Prong @ The Fillmore

Very rarely do I go to a show early nowadays to catch and opening act I've never heard, but the lure of Prong got me to the Fillmore early.  I may have missed the first couple of songs but Prong were on fire.  With Danzig's Tommy Victor pulling double duty tonight, it was great to see him just rocking out on Prong's punk inspired tunes - so different from that distinct Danzig twang.  Glad I got in early to see this.

Next up was Veil of Maya.  Like Suicide Silence opening for Korn, this music is too heavy for me today.  Screaming vocals and crunching guitars blared heavy metal rifts which a good majority of the front section were into....just not me.

I was also keen to see Phil Anselmo's Superjoint Ritual.  I've seen Pantera and Down before and really enjoyed their show.  Contrary to the other two bands, Superjoint is pretty loose.  A good heavy edge, which the crowd were into.  And Anselmo's between song banter was definitely funny.  Superjoint were a good choice as an opener for Danzig, as both artists seem to have a mutual appreciation for each other.  And the relatively small (disappointingly) crowd were amped for the main event.

After seeing Samhain at Riot Fest in 2014, I said I'd seen my last Danzig-led show, but this band has such a great, unique sound I couldn't stay away.  And rightly so.  Where Samhain seemed like a band who hadn't played together in a long time, Danzig is a well-oiled machine.  I love that when you hear a Danzig riff, there is no disputing which band is playing that song.  I heard a bunch of favorites, from How The Gods Kill to Twist of Cain to Am I Demon to the awesome Mother.  Also liked their Elvis cover of Let Yourself Go from their new Skeletons LP.   A set lasting just over an hour was enough to remind me not to miss Danzig whenever I get the chance.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 396th concert.
This is my 14th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 39th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 44th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 203rd concert in the USA.
Prong are the 466th band I've seen.
Veil Of Maya are the 467th band I've seen.
Superjoint Ritual are the 468th band I've seen.
This is the 7th time I've seen Danzig.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Korn & Suicide Silence @ The Fillmore

So it was the Big Day Out 99 when I last (and first) saw Korn.  I remember being psyched beforehand and then let down afterwards.  I don't know if it was that the set was on at 4 in the afternoon or that there were so many other good performances that day (Marilyn Manson, TISM, Ash, Sparklehorse, Fur Soulfly) that they didn't reach the heights.  I should have seen them earlier this year at Carolina Rebellion, but who wants to watch a band from that for away?  I was hoping the confines of a smaller venue would do it for me, but would my age and music taste now be a deterrent?

I caught the last 4 songs of Suicide Silence as I tried to find a good vantage point for the night.  The crowd seemed to enjoy the band, and their sound seemed suitable for a Korn opener.  For me, that switching, deep growl/screamo sound just doesn't cut it anymore.  Doesn't lessen the performance and the energy Suicide Silence put out.  You could tell they were out to give it there all.
Suicide Silence Setlist
You Only Live Once / Inherit The Crown / Wake Up / Unanswered / Smoke / Slaves To Substance / You Can't Stop Me / No Pity For A Coward

I ended up on the right side of the venue with a great sight line to all bar Munky.  As usual the lights go down and the crowd amps up.  It kept on the up with the growls of "Are You Ready?" before the band smashed into Blind.  Korn then preceded to play their debut album from start to finish (the purpose of this tour).  While the sound was great (even with earplugs) the set was a stop start affair with singer Davis using an oxygen mask between every song.  Faget seemed to get the biggest reaction from the crowd and by the time the last notes of Daddy rang out, the crowd, me included, had taken in a great show.  As the crew reset the stage for the encore, one of the night's biggest cheers was heard  for the unveiling on Davis' Geiger-like microphone stand.  Korn came back out and played Falling Away From Me (song of the night for me) and ploughed through 4 more songs.  Freak On A Leash was a strong finisher.

16 years between Korn shows and I wasn't 100% sure how I'd react, but tonight was great.  Good sound, good energy from the band, a packed house loving every moment.  Not a lot of verbal interaction with the crowd, but plenty of acknowledgement from the band for the audience.  And I'm sure that place was littered with guitar pics once the crowd dispersed.

Korn Setlist
Blind / Ball Tongue / Need To / Clown / Divine / Faget / Shoots & Ladders / Predictable / Fake / Lies / Helmet In The Bush / Daddy
Encore: Falling Away From Me / Here To Stay / Coming Undone / Spike In My Veins / Freak On A Leash

The Crap Facts:
This is my 395th concert.
This is my 13th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 38th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 43rd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 202nd concert in the USA.
Suicide Silence are the 465th band I've seen.
Suicide Silence are the 250th different band I've seen in the US.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Korn.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Motorhead & Anthrax @ The Fillmore

So, my first ever Anthrax show.  Wasn't sure what to expect as I am only familiar with their cover of  Public Enemy's Bring The Noise, but both times I've seen Motorhead before, they have had good openers.  (Corrosion of Conformity & Zeke, then The Misfits).  Tonight would be no different.  I liked the thrash/punk/metal sound, and singer Joey Belladonna is a true showman.  His energy and audience interaction, combined with the fast music, made for a solid performance all round.  I don't know any of their songs, but Caught In The Mosh was mine, and a crowd, favorite.  Not the music I typically listen to (gone is the early 90's), but I'm glad I got to see these metal legends.

Anthrax Setlist
Madhouse / Caught In A Mosh / Got The Time (Joe Jackson cover) / Antisocial (Trust cover) / Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't / Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) / Neon Knights (Black Sabbath cover) / In The End / Indians

Hard to believe it's been 7 years since I last saw Motorhead.  (I was supposed to see them in Vegas in October of 09, but when Dave and I showed up, we found out Lemmy had cancelled because of illness - we stayed and watched Reverend Horton Heat put on an awesome 2 hour show).  Recently Lemmy's health had been coming into question again after a few cancellations in the last month, which made it more important to see them on their 40th anniversary tour.  I don't know if I had a preconceived idea of what to expect, but initially Lemmy looked kind of frail, not the booming presence he usually projected from the stage.  This notion was killed from the very first note.  Motorhead played as fast and loud as you would expect.  Because it's Motorhead I was smart enough to have earplugs in, that is until the first notes of Ace Of Spades.  A blistering version followed, two songs later, by the finisher, No Class.  Just a 1 song encore - Overkill - finished off a rocking set.

Glad I got to see them again, however was a bit surprised that Anthrax's set was as long as Motorheads, and a one hour set for a 40th anniversary tour was not enough for my liking - but I can't fault what I did see.

Motorhead Setlist
Bomber / Stay Clean / Metropolis / Over The Top / Guitar Solo / The Chase Is Better Than The Catch / Rock It / Lost Woman Blues / Doctor Rock / Ace Of Spades / Just 'Cos You Got The Power / No Class
Encore: Overkill

The Crap Facts:
This is my 394th concert.
This is my 12th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 37th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 42nd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 201st concert in the USA.
Anthrax are the 464th band I've seen.
This is the 3rd time I've seen Motorhead.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Swervedriver & Dearly Beloved @ The Mothlight, Asheville, NC

I have driven to Asheville with Mike in hope of redemption for Swervedriver.  I remember the first time I saw Son Of Mustang Ford on Rage and was totally blown away.  In May 1998 they toured in Australia and I got to see them in my favorite venue (The Metro), with the awesome Magic Dirt.  I gotta say I only remember being disappointed by the experience, and the show landed as one of the worst I have seen.  At the time only 2 other shows I'd seen were worse (Soundgarden & Garbage).

The Mothlight is a cool, smaller venue, that looks and smells new.  We got there early and had time to stretch and relax before Dearly Beloved came on.  From the start these guys (and girl) were great.  They had an energy that burst out in their music and performance.  I had never heard of this Canadian band before yet thought they were great.  The crowd reacted well to them and their finale with singer/bassist in the crowd while a guitarist went nuts (almost killing an unsuspecting lady with his guitar) on the dancefloor was a highlight.

The crowd swelled significantly for the start of Swervedriver, and while crowd interaction was at a minimum, the band were in a zone from the start.  Because I'm old, earplugs were used tonight, but that swirling guitar sound just isn't the same through the earplug barrier, so 3 or 4 songs in they were discarded for a much better sound.  I'm not familiar with any of the new album, but it seems true to their sound and I really thought the show was great.  Things picked up further with Rave Down sounding amazing halfway through the set.  The crowd, however, thinned out after that song, but still Swervedriver drove on.  Son Of Mustang Ford all but finished the set - and was a killer.  That song is as great as it ever was and I felt privileged to here it live again.

Sadly, we bailed before the encore (I told you I'm old - and it's a long drive back to Charlotte especially when the kids are going to be up at about 7am).  This is no reflection on the show.  It was great and put that 98 show where it belonged - in the past.  Would love to see them again, but hopefully closer to home next time.

Swervedriver Setlist
Autodidact / For Seeking Heat / Never Lose That Feeling / Setting Sun / Last Rites / Rave Down / These Times / For A Day Like Tomorrow / MM Abduction / Lone Star / The Birds / Son Of Mustang Ford / I Wonder?
Encore: Last Train to Satansville / Duel

The Crap Facts:
This is my 393rd concert.
This is my 1st concert at The Mothlight.
The Mothlight is the 109th venue I've seen a concert in.
This is my 3rd concert in Asheville.
This is my 41st concert in North Carolina.
This is my 200th concert in the USA.
Dearly Beloved are the 463rd band I've seen.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Swerevedriver.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Carolina Beach, NC

From 11 to 15 August 2015

The annual trip to the beach, though we got an extra one this year with our trip back to Oz in December.  This year Wild Dunes was forgone for our first attempt using VRBO.  We had a great apartment right on the oceanfront, that also had a pool.  While the building was older, the interior was really nice.  And the boys loved the pool.  Love that the boys are getting more and more confident in the water, this year without swim lessons.

Besides the beach there was some great seafood eaten at Bowman's one night and The Shack At Dockside another.  Also took the opportunity to have an afternoon at the Aquarium At Fort Fisher just 20 minutes down the road.

I really miss living at the beach.  I think we'll head back down here or try Kure Beach next year.  Prefer here to Wild Dunes.

 Me, L & B @ Carolina Beach

L&B being eaten by a megaladon at Fort Fisher Aquarium

Monday, July 20, 2015

Primus & Dinosaur Jr @ The Fillmore

Is it 1995 again?  This is an awesome time warp to 2 bands that I discovered in my (ahem cough-cough) 20's.  A line-up that will be hard to beat for a while.

One thing I always forget to take to a show is earplugs - so obvious, and considering this is show number 392, you'd think I'd get my act together.  But one thing you know is Dinosaur Jr will be LOUD!, so this time I was prepared and from the very first notes I couldn't have been happier about having earplugs.  Mind you after a few songs, and hearing them break into Out There, the plugs came out to enjoy a wall of sound.  Feel The Pain and The Cure's Just Like Heaven were also awesome, but it was Freak Scene that did it for me.  This is a Top 25 all time favorite song and hearing/seeing it live is just the best. This was my 5th Dinosaur Jr show, and sadly the first in 10 years (when they killed it at a not-full-enough House Of Blues in Vegas).  Hope it doesn't take that long to see this classic line up again.

And that was just the opening act.

Dinosaur Jr Setlist (partial)
Back To Your Heart / Watch The Corners / Out There / Feel The Pain / Just Like Heaven (Cure cover) / Pieces / Freak Scene / Training Ground (Deep Wound cover) / Sludgefeast

Primus had been doing a lot of their Chocolate Factory record recently but, gladly, this was a regular(!?) show.  The crowd were buzzed and once the chorus of the first song, Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers, hit Primus owned the Fillmore.  As usual they had a great visual background to compliment the show - the video of Wynona's is Primus at it's best. Tommy The Cat is another of a top 25 all-time favorite songs but it was not to be played (disappointingly tonight), however, at my 7th show they finally played Mr Krinkle, a song I've waited 20 years live to hear - and it was everything I thought it would be.  One of my faults in seeing Primus, is that I can't take my eyes off Les Claypool as I watch in wonder as he pulls off the most interesting bass lines of any band I've ever seen.  I tend to forget how great Ler LaLonde and Tim Alexander are.  My Name Is Mud and Jerry Was A  Race Car Driver were a great finish to the night.  I moved side stage to watch the 2 song encore and get a different perspective of the show (actually I was positioned to get out the door as soon as the show was over to beat the crowds.

A superb night by 2 great bands.  I think it will be a while before I see a line up this good again.

Primus Setlist
Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers / Moron TV / Wynona's Big Brown Beaver / American Life / Golden Boy / Mr. Krinkle / Jilly's On Smack / Lee Van Cleef / Drum & Whamola Jam / Eleven / The Toys Go Winding Down / Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride / Over The Electric Grapevine / My Name Is Mud / Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
Encore: Southbound Pachyderm / Is It Luck?

The Crap Facts:
This is my 392nd concert.
This is my 11th concert at The Fillmore.
This is my 36th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 40th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 199th concert in the USA.
This is the 5th time I've seen Dinosaur Jr.
This is the 7th time I've seen Primus.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sam Smith & Gavin James @ Time Warner Arena

Finally, nearly 3 months later, I get to take Amy to see Sam Smith - her birthday present.  But before the entertainment, and taking advantage of a babysitter, we head to Dandelion Market for dinner.  Upstairs with all the cool kids, we picked a spot at the bar, ordered a drink and perused through the menu.  Food here is tapas so we ordered a bunch different things, only to find that the servings were huge.  Way too much, but what we ate was fantastic.  Downtown Charlotte certainly has more to offer than what it did when we lived here in 2002.

Wandered down to the Time Warner Cable Arena and got our seats (close to the same spot we saw Muse a couple of years ago) and Gavin James was already on stage.  People were paying the usual amount of attention to an opener, but I really felt for this guy.  On stage, alone, in a 15000 seat arena which was only filling up for the main event.  His original songs sounded good, but his best was a great cover of What A Wonderful World.

Sam Smith would not be a performer I'd see regularly, but the boss likes him and I can appreciate a good voice.  He seemed unsure of himself to start with, the size of the place was a bit daunting for this genuinely humbled young guy.  Once he realized how many people were into it and having a good time, Smith loosened up, enjoyed himself and unleashed an incredible voice.  Like Joss Stone, he has a voice that does not match what he looks like, or how he sounds when he spoke between songs.  With one album to his name, he played everything off it and threw in some covers.  Because I don't know his stuff his version of Amy Winehouse's Tears Dry On Their Own, segwaying into Ain't No Mountain High Enough, was my favorite.  Early in the set he did Amy's favorite, I'm Not The Only One.  Smith only had enough material for just over an hour, but finished his encore perfectly with his huge hit, Stay With Me, leaving everyone on their feet knowing they had seen a great singer relatively early in his career.

I initially was worried that the TWC Arena would be too big, maybe Belk or Ovens would be a better size.  I was proved wrong.  The place was as good as full and the sound Smith projected filled the room perfectly.  I'm glad we got the chance to see this show.

Sam Smith Setlist
Life Support / Together / Leave Your Lover / I'm Not The Only One / I've Told You Now / Nirvana / Like I Can / Restart / Tears Dry On Their Own / Ain't No Mountain High Enough / Not In That Way / Can't Help Falling In Love / Lay Me Down / La La La / Money On My Mind
Encore: Latch / Make It To Me / Stay With Me

The Crap Facts:
This is my 391st concert.
This is my 3rd concert at Time Warner Arena.
This is my 35th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 39th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 198th concert in the USA.
Gavin James is the 461st band I've seen.
Sam Smith is the 462nd band I've seen.
Sam Smith is the 900th time I've seen a band.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes & Colin Hay @ Uptown Amphitheater

I keep telling myself that I don't need to keep going to Barenaked Ladies shows, but they keep bringing such great opening acts, how can I not.  Tonight was no exception and here I am back for more.

Colin Hay is an Australian treasure.  Men At Work's Down Under should be our national anthem, and the outcome of a copyright lawsuit for that song is a sham.  Needless to say I was there in the rain before he came out to do a solo set.  Even though it was only a half a dozen songs, his voice and between song banter was well worth the time.  A great rendition of Overkill and the aforementioned Down Under were highlights.  Half an hour in the rain well spent.

As if the weather Gods were watching, the rain stopped as the first notes of the Violent Femmes for song, Blister In The Sun, rung out.  What a way to open a set.  One of the most anthemic songs of my lifetime was immediately followed by Kiss Off and the next 50 minutes was a reminder of the reason this is the 7th time I've gone to see the Femmes.  There were a couple of new songs I didn't know, but the incredible set was filled with one great song after another.  Big finish with Gone Daddy Gone and Add It Up had the crowd on their feet and everyone singing.  The Femmes could have easily been the headline act tonight as I think they are a band that deserve to be in the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame (though I don't see it happening).

Violent Femmes Setlist
Blister In The Sun / Kiss Off / Happy New Year Next Year / Love Love Love Love Love / Hey Nonny Nonny / Life Is An Adventure / American Music / Jesus Walking On The Water / Hallowed Ground / I Held Her In My Arms / Gone Daddy Gone / Add It Up

The Barenaked Ladies have a new record to promote on this annual summer tour and they do a good job of only sprinkling the new songs in with some of the trusted favorites.  For me the show started 6 songs in with Brian Wilson.  They bought Colin Hay out to do Men At Work's Who Can It Be Now? (which explains why he didn't do it earlier).  The Big Bang Theory Theme is a great novelty but the 3 song finish of One Wee, Million Dollars and the Barenaked Rap was the big highlight.  A quick 2 song encore finishing with Led Zepplin's Rock & Roll was a perfect finish to a great night.  I won't say I won't see them again - let's just see who they bring next year.

Barenaked Ladies Setlist
Get Back Up / The Old Apartment / Odds Are / Gonna Walk / Toe to Toe / Brian Wilson / Narrow Streets / Who Can It Be Now? (Men At Work cover with Colin Hay) / Piece Of Cake (Live Debut) / Passcode / Light Up My Room / Did I Say That Out Loud? / Duct Tape Heart / Pinch Me (With Colin Hay) / Big Bang Theory Theme / One Week / If I Had $1,000,000 / Barenaked Rap
Encore: Drawing / Rock & Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 390th concert.
This is my 3rd concert at Uptown Amphitheater.
This is my 34th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 38th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 197th concert in the USA.
Colin Hay is the 460th band I've seen.
Colin Hay is the 50th different band I've seen in Charlotte.
This is my 7th Violent Femmes concert.
This is my 4th Barenaked Ladies concert.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Royal Blood & Mini Mansions @ Amos'

New bands.  New Venue.  Looking forward to a good night.

Mini Mansions had already (just) started when I walked into Amos' - a barn-looking venue in the South End.  A good sized growd got a dose of Divine Fits-ish rock.  Not really to my liking but they did do a great cover of Blondie's Heart Of Glass.  So different you could see people singing it, but you could tell they couldn't tell how they new it or how the original sound.

I had never heard of Royal Blood until earlier this year when they won a Brit Award for best band, looked them up on You Tube and saw the Little Monsters clip and instantly fell in love.  Was stoked when I heard they were coming to Charlotte.  As were a lot of other people.  Amos' was at near capacity by the time Royal Blood walked onto stage to 99 Problems.  And from the get go we were in for a rocking night.  Royal Blood have an album's worth of material and the band played the lot of them.  For a 2 piece they project a great energy and a fantastic sound (though mixing took a few songs to get it right).  This was a solid show put on by an appreciative band.  They were blown away by the size of the crowd, telling us that this time a year ago they played to 20 people at the Tremont.  It will be interesting to see the venue they play next time around.

Royal Blood Setlist
Come On Over /  You Can Be So Cruel / Figure It Out / Better Strangers / Little Monster / Blood Hands / One Trick Pony / Ten Tonne Skeleton / Loose Change / Out Of The Black

The Crap Facts:
This is my 389th concert.
This is my 1st concert at Amos'.
Amos' is the 108th venue I've seen a concert.
This is my 33rd concert in Charlotte.
This is my 37th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 196th concert in the USA.
Mini Mansions are the 458th band I've seen.
Royal Blood are the 459th band I've seen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Primal Scream @ The Visulite

Another band that I hadn't seen in 15 years (for the 4th time this year).  The last time I saw Primal Scream was at the Big Day Out, at the Gold Coast in 2000.  I don't remember much of the gig, but I do remember it was in a tent away from the heat, and I was stoked that I got to see a band I had never considered and they were good.

This time we are in the intimate confines of the Visulite.  And a disappointingly small Charlotte crowd on this Wednesday evening allowed me to get right to the front of the stage.  When the band ht the stage a good majority of the crowd moved down the front giving it a better atmosphere than I expected.  It was difficult to tell how this show was going to go, because Bobby Gillespie didn't look like he was enjoying himself - then it all turned around for Accelerator and the show took a turn for the best.  I didn't think I knew any Primal Scream songs but  a few - Kill All Hippies, Swastika Eyes and Movin' On Up - sounded familiar.  I spent the show in front of bass player, Simone Butler, and had my whole body vibrating from her playing.  Gillespie lit up for the encore, even cracking a smile as this thick Scottish brogue tried a Southern accent with a "Thanks Charlotte, North Carolina".  The hour and a half set finished on a raucous high with Loaded and Rocks bringing this great night to a pinnacle.

It's a shame they had to play to such a small crowd, but I feel like Primal Scream had a good time, because they certainly put on a good show.

2013 / Can't Go Back / Jailbird / Accelerator / Kill All Hippies / Burning Wheel / Shoot Speed/Kill Light / Damaged / Higher Than The Sun / Autobahn 66 / Swastika Eyes / Country Girl / Movin' On Up 
Encore: I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have / Loaded / Rocks 

The Crap Facts:
This is my 388th concert.
This is my 7th concert at The Visulite.
This is my 32nd concert in Charlotte.
This is my 36th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 195th concert in the USA.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Primal Scream.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Carolina Rebellion @ Rock City Campgrounds, Concord, NC

Festival time again!  Another new one.  This time just up the road to Concord for what is ONLY rock and heavier music.  My first impressions were how great everything was logistically, but when I think about it, this is probably a pittance of people compared to the NASCAR events at the Speedway.  Regardless I left Charlotte at 4pm to make sure I was there for Cheap Trick's set at 5.30pm (they played at Riot Fest last September, but just before the Cure at a far away stage so I left after 2 songs to get a good spot and had to endure Social Distortion instead).  I parked forever away (behind the drag track) and just followed other people in the hope they were going in the right direction.  In complete opposition to getting to the venue, inside was a bit of a clusterfuck.  No maps or times of when bands were playing to take with you.  Mainly because no two bands were playing at the same time for the rest of the evening.  Ridiculous considering a band would finish on one stage as simultaneously, another would start on another stage at least 15 minutes away.

At least Cheap Trick were on a smaller side stage, where a dedicated, if not older, crowd showed up to see this legendary band - 40 years together!  The band was into it from the start and Dream Police, I Want You To Want Me and Surrender were my favorites.  Rick Nielsen bought out a string of kooky guitars including a square one and one with 6 fret boards.  This is the actual reason I came to this festival - and I'm so glad I did.  Who knows how much longer they will be together, and they put on a great show, which had the older crowd enthralled.
Cheap Trick Setlist
Hello There / Dream Police / California Man (The Move cover) / Baby Loves To Rock / Clock Strikes Ten / I Want You To Want Me / Surrender / Auf Wiedersehen / Gonna Raise Hell / Goodnight

By the time I got near the Papa Roach stage, I was so far away I could barely make them out and spent the half a set watching one of the video screens nearby.  Disappointing.  Especially remembering how good they were when I saw them 8 years ago inside Rain at the Palms.  Not necessarily my type of music, but I wanted to see them again to see if they were still as good.  I held out for a half dozen songs before going to find some dinner.

Papa Roach Setlist
Face Everything & Rise / Getting Away With Murder / Between Angels & Insects / Where Did The Angels Go? / Blood Brothers / Scars / Lifeline / Kick In The Teeth / Warriors / Forever / Last Resort / ...To Be Loved

I always see Rise Against.  And never have I been to see a show because of them.  On the 3 previous occasions they have had Bad Religion, Rancid and Gaslight Anthem as their openers and today, there was no one else playing so I saw them again.  I have really tried to like them, seen interviews and videos and they seem like great people, but I just can't catch the bug.  I must just be too old.  This show, however, was my favorite I've seen.  They may be the first band I prefer in a big outdoor arena instead of a small venue.  Re-Education and Prayer For The Refugee were the 2 highlights.
Rise Against Setlist
Ready To Fall / Give It All / Re-Education (Through Labor) / Help Is On The Way / Chamber The Cartridge / Prayer Of The Refugee / The Good Left Undone / I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore / Savior 

As the young kids piled out of Rise Against, and the oldies took off to see Sammy Hagar I moved forward to get myself a good spot in front of the sound desk for Marilyn Manson.  16 years since I saw him at the Big Day Out and, unfortunately, this performance didn't live up to that memory.  Manson seemed distracted and frequently left the stage after songs.  He also seemed to be performing for someone stage right.  Having said that I loved the 2nd half of the set - Rock Is Dead, Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams, Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus and The Beautiful People finishing off the set as Manson ended up 10 feet away as he performed in the walkway separating the crowd back to the sound booth.
Marilyn Manson Setlist
Deep Six / Disposable Teens / No Reflection / Mobscene / Tourniquet / The Dope Show / Rock Is Dead / Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics cover) / Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode cover) / The Beautiful People

I went to see where I'd be if I hung around for Korn, but I was further back than when I saw Papa Roach earlier in the day.  I'd had enough, and old man mode kicked in as I decided I'd beat the traffic home.  I heard half of Korns' set walking all the way back to the car (how could you not with that heavy bass sound), but was more than happy to get out of the car park with ease and cruise home without the traffic.  An alright day overall but it would take an exceptional line up to get me back next year.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 387th concert.
This is my 1st concert at Rock City Campgrounds.
Rock City Campgrounds is the 107th venue I've seen a concert.
This is my 1st concert in Concord.
Concord is the 46th city I've seen a concert.
This is my 35th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 194th concert in the USA.
Cheap Trick are the 457th band I've seen.
Cheap Trick is the 400th time I've seen an American band.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Papa Roach.
This is the 4th time I've seen Rise Against.
This is the 2nd time I've seen Marilyn Manson.
Marilyn Manson is the 350th time I've seen a band in the US.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion & Bloodshot Bill @ The Grey Eagle, Asheville, NC

Road Trip.  Back to Asheville, this time to see the great Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the Grey Eagle.  A near 18 years since last saw them (at the Coogee Bay Hotel - I remember it was the night of Princess Diana's funeral).  It was a hard drive, as the pouring rain made it difficult to see anything, but I got to the Hampton Inn with barely enough time to put my stuff down and head over to the nearby Stone Ridge Tavern for a quick burger and a beer before heading into Asheville.

It was dark so I'm not sure where I am, but the Grey Eagle is a little west of downtown (apparently by the river).  Just a small venue I walked in and Bloodshot Bill was already onstage.  This guys was incredible.  For starters I never would have picked him as Canadian mainly because he sings like he should be from the backwaters of Alabama somewhere.  Armed with a guitar and a kick-drum this yodelling-country-blues-looneytunes-punk captivated the audience and put on a show deserving of a larger crowd.  Both gracious and funny with his banter, Bloodshot Bill's enthusiasam shone through in his music.  He got a great reaction for a call and response song near the end of his set and even played a song I knew (Crawdad - off one of my kids' music class CDs).  I will keep an eye out for anytime this guy comes close to Charlotte in the future.

I love being in the second row of a small venue and not feel crowded out.  That's where I stood, in front of Jon Spencer, and watched this New York trio tear Asheville apart.  Starting with 2 Kindsa Love, JSBX had there foot on the gas from the start and did not slow down for the next 80 minutes.  Their catalogue was so extensive that the first song was the only one I recognised,  but the energy and musicianship of this band had me (and the crowd) enthralled.  Spencer only used his theramin for one song.  I would've like to see more of that (very rarely do you see someone play this instrument)  They finished their set in a flurry but came back for a blistering 3 set encore.  How in tune are these 3 with each other.  There was not a setlist on the stage to be found afterwards.  I'd hate to think another 17 years would pass before the opportunity arose to see these guys again.

Jon Spencer @ The Grey Eagle

The Crap Facts:
This is my 386th concert.
This is my 1st concert at The Grey Eagle.
The Grey Eagle is the 106th venue I've seen a concert.
This is my 2nd concert in Asheville.
This is my 34th concert in North Carolina.
This is my 193rd concert in the USA.
Bloodshot Bill the 456th band I've seen.
Bloodshot Bill is the 50th band I've seen in North Carolina.
This is the 3rd time I've seen Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Helmet @ The Visulite

Unbelievably it has been over 20 years since I last saw Helmet (they opened and blaster the Beastie Boys off the stage).  I couldn't believe they were playing the Visulite - just down the road.  Mike and I were psyched to pretend to be in our early 20's again and listen to a band that, as far as I'm concerned, were an under-rated force in a time of grunge.

After a quick bite at the Peruvian chicken shop next door, we headed into the Visulite and got a great spot by the lighting person.  A perfect line of site to the stage in this oddly shaped theater.  (Really - tables and chairs - it Helmet for Christ's sake).  And tonight I every so gladly remembered earplugs.  I know my ears are probably shot by now, but I knew this would be louder than I needed for the naked ear.  

A little after 9pm the band emerged and with little fuss and just plowed into their 1994 record Betty, from whoa to go.   From the very first notes of Wilma's Rainbow I knew this would be a great show.  Even though guitarist/singer Paige Hamilton is the only original member, Helmet are tight and loud and crunchy and powerful.  Just like I remembered them.  The Betty album is not my favorite of theirs, but in honor of the 20th anniversary of its release, Helmet were going to do that album and then a set of everything else.  Biscuits For Smut and Milquetoast were fantastic.

After Betty was done, Hamilton finally spoke to the crowd.  Band introductions, and a couple of stories about what the rest of the show would be like and their last performance in Charlotte, incidentally at the Visulite.  Just as they were about to begin the 2nd set, Hamilton realized they had last night's set list.  He wanted to make sure each night was different so decided they would wing it for the rest of the show.  This meant every 3 songs the crowd was given a small relief from the onslaught of music while they sorted out what was to be played next.  Ironhead, Unsung, Give It, FBLA II were so good to hear again.   After an hour and a half, Helmet left the stage to thunderous applause, only to come out for a 4 song encore.  The band high-fived and briefly spoke with those up front before finishing off the night in a fury.  The last 2 songs were my 2 favorite Helmet songs.  Just Another Victim from the Judgement Night soundtrack (minus the House Of Pain rap) and the ever brutal In The Meantime.  That cacophony of guitars at the start of the song is so distinct, for it come to a crescendo and then a great riff just thump you in the face and Hamilton's deep, screaming vocals.  I actually took the earplugs out for that song (I just had to hear it au natural).  Man, I was blown away!  No way will I wait another 20 years for my 4th Helmet show.

Betty Set: Wilma's Rainbow / I Know /Biscuits For Smut / Milquetoast / Tic / Rollo / Street Crab / Clean / Vaccination / Beautiful Love / Speechless / The Silver Hawaiian / Overrated / Sam Hell
2nd Set: So Long / Crashing Foreign Cars / Birth Defect / You Borrowed / Welcome To Algiers / (High) Visibility / Unsung / On Your Way Down / Diet Aftertaste / Give It
Encore: Ironhead / Just Another Victim / In The Meantime

The Crap Facts:
This is my 385th concert.
This is my 6th concert at The Visulite.
This is my 31st concert in Charlotte.
This is my 33rd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 192nd concert in the USA.
This is the 3rd time I've seen Helmet.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Whigs & Amigo @ The Visulite

Could this be the best show I see this year.  The very first show of the year has set a high standard if any band wants to better it.  The Whigs were fucking awesome!

Bonus start was to get there in support of Amy's cousin and see Amigo open.  It seemed like an odd pairing of bands, not of Fuck Buttons/Pixies proportions, but still the country rock twang of Amigo didn't really match the flat out rock of The Whigs.  Slade and the band held up there own and played a great 45 minute set.  They have a tour coming up that sees them take in SXSW in Austin.  Hope it all goes well.  Slade talked of wanting to record again, will be great to see them throw in some new songs into the set.

The Whigs hit the stage running.  I got to see them play an early arvo set at Riot Fest back in September and remember being impressed.  That show had nothing on tonight.  The Whigs hit the stage and played their four-on-the-floor flat out rock from the get go.  I'm still not familiar with song titles but the set played out with songs rocking harder as the night went on.  There were occasions after some songs, that Sanders, Mike and I looked at each other with jaws agape after some of the most incredible drumming I've ever seen.  A 2 song encore that included Friday Night and David Bowie's Rebel Rebel was a fantastic end to an amazing show.  

Glad I got to see them in a small, but disappointingly only half full venue.  It is a bit of a shame that rock is not as relevant in the music landscape as it used to be, because I truly believe that The Whigs would be one of the bigger bands around if that was the case.  It is a big call to say the 1st show of the year will be the best for 2015, but I can't wait to see someone top that.  When is the next nearby Whigs gig?

The Crap Facts:
This is my 384th concert.
This is my 5th concert at The Visulite.
This is my 30th concert in Charlotte.
This is my 32nd concert in North Carolina.
This is my 191st concert in the USA.
This is the 3rd time I've seen Amigo.
This is the 2nd time I've seen The Whigs.
The Whigs are the 50th time I've seen a band in Charlotte.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Bateau Bay, NSW to Oxnard, CA

What a day!  I was an emotional wreck leaving Mum's place, as dad drove me to the airport. Amy and The Boys rode with Kel.  And then a mess again as I had to say goodbye to Dad and Kelly at the airport.  After 3 weeks of a high, it all came crashing down in one fell swoop.

Check In on the way home was so much easier than getting here. 14 hours is a long time for those boys to sit still on a flight, especially since we left at 11 am.  But they were champions!  A lot of Thomas, Peppa Pig and World Word was watch and they did get some sleep in.  Though I feel as though I didn't.  Actually can't believe how good I felt when I got off the plane, considering how shit I felt during it.  I sat with Barrett, who wasn't 100% well, and I couldn't sleep or get comfortable.  I swear I had a migraine with only 2 hours left to fly.

Amy and L - SYD to LAX

After the joys of summer, we land at LA at 6am and it is only 37 degrees.  We're still in shorts and t-shirts here.  That was definitely a shock to the system.  Getting our rental car also seemed easier this time.  Maybe we were delirious from the flight and time change.  I don't remember much about the drive to Oxnard to AC's but I remember be grateful to be there, and the opportunity for a late morning nap, was not gong to be missed.

We'll drive back down to LA tomorrow night to stay near the airport so we can get our early morning flight back to Charlotte.  As much as I loved being home at Christmas, I now am, finally, looking forward to getting back into my own house and back into a routine.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bateau Bay, NSW

This is it!  Last full day in Australia.  It started with breakfast for Amy and I at the Surf's Up Cafe at The Entrance with Barnesy.  After 3 weeks of the summery, outdoor life, I'm sure it's gonna be hard to adjust to the Charlotte winter when we get back.

We bought the boys back down to the water park at the Entrance. We took Mum and Nan with us and met Lindsay and Val, and Dad and Kathleen down there. Wanted the boys to see the pelican feeding, but there were so many people around, it was a miss for them.  The kids got one last ride on the carousel, something Nan so desperately wanted to see.  The kids were only glad to oblige.  Mum drove Nan home, so this was our last goodbye to her.  It was tough.  And hard to explain to the boys why dad was crying.  After Nan Hutch and Granddad Fay not ever meeting the boys, having Nan do so was the most important part of this trip for me.  And makes me resolve to get back sooner rather than later.

 L, Lucy & B - To The Carousel

We stopped for dinner at the Entrance Leagues Club.  Again because there is a play area for the kids to go wild in, while the adults ate.  I like that this is where we spend our last light at home.  I ran into Bairdy, from the old soccer days, it was somewhere Amy hadn't been to (Still can't bring myself to take her to the Ming yet - maybe next trip) and I saw a club that is unrecognizable from when we use to come here as young adults and hang out.

I really am dreading tomorrow.

The rarest of photos - Mum & Dad, Me & Kel and the 4 Grandkids