Category Archives: Concerts

Eurovision 2014

Well, let’ see how long I last ‘live blogging’ this year’s Eurovision. No promises that I will reach the end.

It looked promising at first. After ten minutes all 26 countries had marched onto the stage and off again. That was the quickest of all. But it appears they expect to actually sing, as well.

So far I’ve noticed the bearded lady and the baking ladies, and am not impressed by either. What’s wrong with a plain singing a song contest?

But at least we have ‘Kasper’ to entertain us. Except the presenters don’t come into their own until the dreaded chat with all of ‘Europe.’

Number three looks nice enough, but is showing a lot of bottom where her dress ends prematurely. The Resident IT Consultant enjoyed seeing a view from Iceland that he’d actually visited. (I hasten to add I didn’t mean the lady’s behind.) Glad there was something for him too. Graham Norton is clearly not enjoying himself. Again.

Man number five looks the same as number two. Belarus, Norway, what’s the difference? Why have the green room in front of the audience? Green rooms are for participants to relax, go to the toilet, and so on. It’d be my worst nightmare to green room it in front of everyone.

Receiving flak on facebook for not liking this enough. Surely it used to be more fun? Or am I simply growing old?

Spectacular Polish hair. Spectacular other assets too. And I don’t care what anyone says, but I don’t like bearded ladies. Song is OK. And the audience appreciation managed to drown out Graham Norton’s voice. Do that again, please. Thank you Nikolaj Koppel. You may speak and silence GN.

The Grandmother is sorting her drugs, but I can still hear the Swedish song above the crackling blister packs. Not bad. Sweden knows how to song contest.

Practical joke played on the Russian twins. Someone tied their hair together. Or not. Do I have time to go empty the dishwasher? Yes. All done. The good thing about stopping watching is that you can just listen to the songs. On that basis I liked the Finnish entry.

The rain from Spain… Cute Swiss guy. Just saying. The Resident IT Consultant has just gone out for a walk. I suppose he watches better from a distance too.

Why the surprise that Malta could be any good? GN? Small is good. And the official website collapsed. Denmark, hmm. Their flag was better than the song. Dutch singers very retro. GN likes their song. So do I.

San Marino is unusual, at least. Smaller than small. Which just leaves British Molly. (The Resident IT Consultant wondered if people would vote for a free Scottish entry, next year.) Nice double deckers. The song isn’t an embarrassment, which must be a first for many years.

Pilou insults GN. Thank you, Kasper! Tak!

Now we have Mozart up a ladder… Singing hosts. Whatever next? Results would be good. Preferably instant ones. Mini Maltese junior winner. They can sing in Malta.

Curly wurly cake? Honestly.

Votes. Booing? Really? Need to remind the Europe correspondents not to make speeches. Hilversum. Reminds me of my old radio. It’s getting exciting. I don’t believe Sweden needs another win. Let’s give it to Austria.

Was going to ask if anyone actually still speaks French. The French do. Most of the other people speak several languages. They sing the votes. Austria doing well. La la la.

I suppose it’ll be Austria or the Netherlands. Conchita wins. Congratulations to her. Him. Both of them. Just goes to show we all love a beard. (Within reason.)

Too old to insure

Happy 78th Birthday to Roger Whittaker!

Roger Whittaker

The closer I get to being 70, the younger it strikes me as an age you could be. There was finally another newsletter from Natalie Whittaker earlier this month, which ‘as usual’ was full of illness, operations and housing disasters. The Whittakers certainly know how to live a life full of stuff happening.

Apparently Roger completed his ‘farewell’ tour last year while in dire need of an operation, and he did it because he’s too old to be insured for the cancellation of concerts. Mrs W now reckons he will not tour again. I suspect she’s right. Sensible, definitely.

2013 Last Night of the Proms

There was more than one lark. And what is the world coming to when you just have to mention that we had to wait until 2013 for the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms? Last night’s Last Night made too much of Marin Alsop’s uniqueness. Katie Derham who presented – very nicely – for the BBC, while wrinkling her brow in a manner that will lead to wrinkles later, had to mention it all the time.

And here I am, doing the same. Oops. I found out yesterday was the Last Night and who was conducting, purely by reading the interview with the First Female in my morning paper. Had it been Karajan there would have been less fuss. Actually, maybe not. Dead conductors probably merit media fuss as well. (Which brings me to the brief excitement the Resident IT Consultant and I experienced when Katie announced that Vaughan Williams was entering the stage.)

Proms 2013

You know me. I’m no good with classical music knowledge. So I don’t really know why a counter tenor like Iestyn Davies has to sound like a woman (nor why there was virtually no mention of him in the programme). The Chichester Psalms were nice enough, although not very Leonard Bernstein-y.

They had a headless tuba player, as far as I could see. And even before they showed us what the orchestra and chorus (BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus) looked like when not wearing their fine clothes (relax, I don’t mean in the nude), I had wondered what they look like out of them. Perfectly normal, is the answer. Loved the Union Jack turban as worn by one member of the chorus.

Nigel ‘No-Adjective’ Kennedy even dressed down in the second half, wearing something footballish (?), while still sporting his sticky-uppy hair. Although, I’m not sure what to call the glorified, torn binbag he wore in the first act, either. Different. That’s what it was. Refreshingly so. As was the tea he brought on stage.

Not sure what Marin Alsop thought as she seemed to be conducting a different piece of music to what Nigel was playing. I kept hoping he’d get on with the Czardas, while Marin probably wondered when – and whether – he’d rejoin her and the orchestra. Caterwauling is what it sonded like. And he stabbed a balloon.

The hit of the evening was surely mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato who seemed to be coming and going all night. Loved the blood red dress in the first half (but the ‘draped flag’ for Rule Britannia was a bit meh) and would like to know how it stayed up. She knew how to play the audience. Flirt a bit. Wiggle your hips. Throw roses. Sing beautifully.

Marin Alsop’s speech was too long and too much about herself. Too serious. (Quite American, that.) But at least we’ve got this First Female business out of the way.

What do they do in Glasgow and Caerphilly when Land of Hope and Glory is on? I understand there are sensibilities to consider, but am curious.

It took a while, but we finally got to Auld Lang Syne. I think I especially enjoy it because it shows how well an audience can sing when there is neither orchestra nor choir helping out. And no rehearsing beforehand.

(For anyone who doesn’t feel there’s enough Last Night of the Proms here, this weblink should provide what you need.)


When Daughter got off the train in Halmstad on Friday night, half the town (a mere 20,000 to be truthful) was there to meet her. There were fireworks. The police were out, directing traffic and closing off lanes. People were happy, and wandering all over the place. Even the weather was nice, and warm, considering it was 11pm. Still almost light, too.

She’d been travelling for eleven hours by then, and was more than pleased to be getting off the train, seeing as half of half the town seemed to be wanting to get on. I expect it got crowded for a while there. We eventually managed to squeeze our borrowed Saab out of the parking slot we had miraculously found right outside the station (only possible because the big American classic car took up so much space that no one else had attempted the squeeze. The Resident IT Consultant had to breathe in to get out), and it only took half an hour to leave town, as opposed to the normal five minutes.

Gyllene Tider, Halmstad

It wasn’t only Daughter’s arrival that caused the mayhem. The primary reason for the other 19,998 people was the Gyllene Tider concert, a stone’s throw away from the station. Personally I’d been hoping for more concert to be left when we arrived, as it would have meant not only quieter streets, but I could have listened in for free while waiting. But we met the Hot Dog Man as we approached, so worked out it was all over now.

There was piped Gyllene Tider music on offer, however, and the fireworks display was pretty good. The station was long closed, but its café was open, as was the Seamen’s Church along the road. It was not our normal Halmstad at all. I doubt I’ll see the like of it again. (Although, the next concert is on the 7th of August.)

Gyllene Tider, Halmstad

Not sure if the concert dates were known (to me) when Daughter booked her travel tickets. No matter; we couldn’t/wouldn’t have attempted the concert anyway. I feel sad to have missed it, but standing up for several hours with 20,000 happy fans is not my idea of comfort.

Sommartider hej hej, sommartider, hej…


I despise people who blog on subjects they know nothing about. But here I am, all ready to blog about Adele. Mercifully – for you – it won’t be long. I’d been wondering about Adele for a bit, having worked out she might actually be someone I could like, while also being someone I knew next to nothing about. So the fact that Swedish television seems capable of showing programmes other than stupid reality competitions on a Saturday night, meant I had an hour of Adele, Live at the Royal Albert Hall I could watch.

To put it briefly; I liked it. Her. I often don’t like music when I hear it for the first time, so I’m glad it wasn’t like that. I liked it immediately. And my relief to find that a woman is able to sing, and to do it well, while also being fully clothed, is considerable. I mean, who’d have thought? Adele even looks like she’s eaten food recently. And still she can sing!

It’s been a while since I was at the Albert Hall, and let me tell you, back in those days it would have been impossible to have everyone there waving telephones around. But it was most effective, with those lights shining like stars, and all for Amy Winehouse (who I also know nothing about).

Adele at the Royal Albert Hall

You can’t blame Adele for needing to wipe her eyes, and it must be so fantastic getting the audience to sing, word perfect and in tune, almost as if they had rehearsed it. With television cameras in the Hall, you could see that Adele’s fans sang along to all the songs.

I suppose I feel a bit left out, as I couldn’t sing with them. But maybe my time will come.

Trying to Skype it

If the Stones can play Glastonbury, then Gyllene Tider can play Allsång på Skansen.

I put the laptop in front of the television, so it too could watch Allsång. (Actually, it was a feeble attempt to make it possible for Daughter to watch from afar. Via Skype. But it didn’t work.) I had to enjoy Måns Zelmerlöw all by myself, and couldn’t help wondering if his prattish fall off the stage was a re-enactment of an earlier, genuine fall. He didn’t seem to enjoy it.

Allsång på Skansen, Gyllene Tider

His childhood stars, the old men of Gyllene Tider were there. As I said. They are all a few years younger than me. Micke Syd now looks like his Dad. (That’s not a bad thing. Just a reflection on how life goes on.) Anders no longer has to sleep with Per when they go on tour. And Per thinks composing songs is a doddle, ‘it usually goes quite well.’

We had a choir, and we had a brand new 15-year-old, Zara Larsson. She looked so nice that I sincerely hope she won’t be as successful as Carola who came after her, wearing a dress worthy of some US television star. She has been around for so long – 30 years – that her old hits are now Allsång songs.

I kept staring at the people in the audience, who from what one hears will have been there since early morning. Do I know them? Are they famous? Or do they simply look like typical Swedes in some way? Speaking of which, I am not xenophobic, but do feel this programme is best suited to have Swedes performing. Passenger was their first foreign guest, and I’d never heard of him. His song was all right, even if his voice was a bit odd, but I’d rather he’d not been there…

GT returned with a medley, which was a little Flickorna på TV2, some more Juni, juli, augusti, and all of Sommartider. And the weather was sunny, and all was perfect. I even switched to the online second half, so heard a bit more GT. (They’re playing locally next week, but with no ticket I’m unlikely to hear them.)

Måns Zelmerlöw, Allsång på Skansen

I’m always struck by how everyone sings at Skansen, and how they seem to enjoy themselves. No one is too cool. By getting up at the crack of dawn, you too could sing live – and out of tune – on Swedish television.

And one of these days I will not find the word ‘husband’ strange when I see it rolling in the credits. It means ‘house band’ so means backing musicians. But I suppose a husband comes in handy for all sorts of things.

Gilbert and Sullivan?

On Friday night Daughter called and asked if I’d heard of Gilbert and Sullivan

I had.

She said she might go to a concert the next evening, as one of her friends at uni plays for the G and S society there. I said that sounded like fun, and directed her to YouTube for some musical samples. When she found they were ‘responsible for’ The Elements Song, she decided it might be all right.

Then when the Resident IT Consultant and I were doing the wine and water thing at the Bridgewater Hall on Saturday afternoon, we looked at our programme and I remarked that some G and S would have fitted in nicely. The Resident IT Consultant (who consults facebook for everything) said that the concert Daughter had mentioned was to fund a trip to Buxton, which for us felt strangely close to home.

That’s when the lady across the table from us said she could tell us the date. Which was strange. We thought she might be from Buxton. But no, she was just the most ardent G and S fan, and she knew whoever was running the concert Daughter was going to.

After our concert and before hers, Daughter phoned to say her friend was ill and she no longer felt like going. I said we’d just spoken to some G and S fans and she simply had to go. (I mean, that’s clearly a good reason.)

She went. I received a text to say she was the youngest in the room, and that it was ‘the church hall lunch’ all over again. But I couldn’t help noticing on facebook that she was enjoying the concert. Perhaps old people aren’t totally hopeless after all?