25 December 2011
Tuesday’s the big day. I tuck my concert ticket into my passport in my neck travel wallet and head down to breakfast.
I’m starving, and I woke up at 4 a.m., which my iPad insisted (it still thinking it was on continental Europe time) was 5 a.m. I waited until 6:30, headed downstairs, then went for my free Hampton Inn breakfast: sausages (probably not gluten free, so alas I skipped them), cereal (not a single gluten-free one), ham (yay), eggs (never my favorite dish), orange juice, coffee (I pressed “cappuccino” on the dial that morning), and a gluten-free English muffin I brought with me from the US.
That’s right, I brought — frozen — a half-dozen English muffins. I rolled the container up in my clothing to help keep them frozen. Customs didn’t seem concerned about them, and I apologized for carrying gluten-free coals to Newcastle, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t starve, yada yada.
Sadly, my hotel room doesn’t have a refrigerator, so it looks like they will spoil before I run out.
They have jam and Nutella packets at breakfast, so I grab an extra one of each in case I need it later that night (for stomachs that aren’t exactly with the program timezone-wise).
I mentioned that I’m not that wild about eggs. For a number of years, I wasn’t able to eat them at all, and it’s been difficult over the last few years because I tend to be nauseated (from pain) in the morning and sulfur smells do not help. However, now that I’ve been feeling better and seeing a nutritionist, I’m trying to work more eggs into my schedule.
I still don’t like them, though, and that means that I eat them with jam, because jam makes everything better. This morning, I idly wonder what eggs taste like with both Nutella and jam. You know, it’s an interesting experiment, but I’m not going to waste any more Nutella on it. Instead, I put more Nutella on my English muffin after warming it up in the microwave and cutting it apart. It was still partly frozen.
Now, I did travel with something to put on my English muffins: specifically, I traveled with packets of Justin’s nut butters in the following flavors: maple almond butter, honey almond butter, and chocolate hazelnut butter. I like them because they have less sugar than Nutella and there are different varieties. I also have one packet of Artisina Raw Macadamia butter, but I have a feeling I’ll vastly prefer the roasted kind I got in Hilo. These went into my checked luggage, but I only had a half dozen nut butter packets. Because of that, I’m conserving some and using the hotel’s Nutella instead.
Before I leave the UK, I’m going to head to a local health-food store and see what they’ve got that might help me in Venice, where I expect I’ll have fewer options that are complicated by holiday schedules and vaporettos, not to mention the sheer joy of finding random things in Venice. Suffice to say that I’ve no intention of starving, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up some Gouda or Edam when I pass back through Schiphol on Saturday. I should be able to find some rice cakes or crackers or something. I see there are two places within walkable distance I can go. But that’s for later, let’s get back to Tuesday.
It is very cold and very windy, but part of that is lack of acclimation and part of it is the hotel being kept too warm. I walk to the Albert Dock, which seems to be the
Because Paul’s concert’s tonight, I head to The Beatles Story, which is at the south end of the Albert Dock area facing the Echo Arena where the concert will be later. I had pre-booked the museum for £15.95, and the clerk was new, so someone had to show him how to handle an online transaction.
In the front, even before you get to the register, there are photos of Liverpool from World War II. We hear about London’s bombings, but because of Liverpool’s strategic importance as a port, it was extremely heavily bombed, second only to London. The Beatles, all born between 1940 and 1943, had this (not to mention the post-war rationing) as their early life.
I’ve recently read Cynthia Lennon’s book, John, and she gave some context to who John was (as well as others), but a better book for context (despite typos) is Tony Bramwell’s Magical Mystery Tours. So I go through the Beatles Story museum, and it’s got lots of great stuff: John’s first guitar, Paul’s contract for “Live and Let Die” (four pages, typed), and lots of details about The Beatles organized chronologically. I was unaware that “My Sweet Lord” remains the best-selling post-Beatles song.
Each of the four Beatles has a little seating area with film clips of that Beatle and key moments in their lives. Paul’s included clips of the “Live and Let Die” music video they did with OMG-those-are-70s pants.
One of the John clips is an interview with him where he says that he didn’t want to still be singing “Please Please Me” when he was thirty. And there he was, thirty, and he pointed out that he wasn’t singing the song any more.
That bothered me deeply on so many levels — and yet, I understood it perfectly. That’s probably what bothered me so much about it.
You see, I wanted to be a musician, but I was always afraid I’d have to do the same stuff over and over and over, and that seemed really truly dreary to me. It felt like it would be a chore, and I’m pretty sure John saw it somewhat similarly — that, and he’d moved on.
And yet, if you’re not willing to do that kind of work, doesn’t it seem like it’s maybe not the right career? That was my ultimate decision about being a musician and why it wasn’t right for me: because the essential aspects of the work didn’t seem fun to me. Yet, it was his best option, and yet he was still able to give it up for years at a time (1975 – 1980, for example).
I came out of the museum with all these kinds of things fluttering through my mind. It was 4:30 and I was hungry, so I set off to see who might take American Express nearby. The first place I came across that advertised such was Spice Lounge, an Indian restaurant.
I have had the greatest difficulty finding Indian food that works for my body. I’m celiac, I had a long-undiagnosed coconut sensitivity, and I’m likely sensitive to other spices. Of course, soy is also out, as are a whole bunch of other vegetables, so that limits my options too. Without exception, dining in Indian, Thai, and Korean restaurants has ended in days of gastrointestinal unhappiness.
I looked at their menu and found a chicken dish that was mild in flavor, dairy-based, and sounded like I could tolerate it well. I started to ask about ingredients and the waiter said it was gluten-free before I got very far into the process. Win! It was really yummy, but a bit sweet, so it’s not something I’d order regularly, but ghee, cream, spices, and chicken are generally okay for me now and again. Sadly, I can’t look up the name of the dish at the moment (stupid flash web site they have).
After dinner, I begin to head over to the arena, then realize I’d forgotten my lens adapter for my longer lens. Waffling for a few minutes, I bite the bullet then decide to walk the three blocks back, get the adapter, then come back to the Arena. In doing so, I ditch my purse, which turns out to be a wise move as they are doing a purse check and my camera is out of spec (they don’t permit cameras over 5 megapixels, but even my iPhone has more than that). I’ve got one lens stuffed in my left pocket and my camera awkwardly stuffed into my right. But, because I don’t have a purse, I’m waved through. There’s so many people on the concourse, they don’t let us in, so we’re standing in a light, very cold rain waiting. Waiting. More waiting. Finally, we get in and I get settled into my seat. Frankly, it’s further back than I’d hoped, but it’s okay.
What can I say about Paul McCartney? He’s got decades of skill of working an audience, he clearly loves performing, and if you can see him, by all means do so. He doesn’t do that many tours (and who would at age 69, really?). Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of most of his solo work, though there are pieces I love. I didn’t much care for the Wings era at all. There’s still enough in there for me to have had a great time.
Some great moments: there were songs he’d never performed before in Liverpool, including Mull of Kintyre (with a local drum and pipe corps), Wonderful Christmastime (with a local women’s choir from the Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts that Paul helped found), and “The Night Before” from Help (one of my all-time favorites) and “The Word” from Rubber Soul (which was mostly written by John) in a medley with “All You Need Is Love.”
I’d never realized that “Live and Let Die” would be the big set piece. I’ve always really liked the song, even more so with pyrotechnics. It was awesome, and I hope to find a good video clip of it when I get home. (I did take video of part of the song, but camera operator error prevented me getting more of it).
Also, still thinking about Lennon’s comment, I realized that I don’t mind writing for loops after all these years, even though they’re a scale of some sort. I simply don’t do them as practice per se. It made me think differently about the music thing.
Finally, during the second encore, Paul told the audience “No” (we couldn’t stay and listen to him all night), and he ended the concert.
Unlike a lot of other concerts where there’s an extended drum solo so everyone else gets break time during the concert, Paul was on stage very nearly every moment. He gave the band a break during one song, but that was it. The concert lasted about 2:40, which is a long time to perform after a concert the night before and with no warm-up band.
I walked home and I was totally wired from all the energy. Great show, totally worth having gone all that way.