Friday, March 31, 2006

Post Mode-m

God, that has to be one of the worst titles yet. You'll have to pardon me, as I'm a bit bleary-eyed from getting up early, all after a pretty big night out.

Elena, Eva and I walked toward the Manchester Evening News Arena late in the afternoon, figuring we could pub crawl our way to the DM show. We pretty much just made it to one pub along the way, but it was great. One of those traditional places with wood banquettes, plenty of cask ale, and, uh, a video jukebox where other fans kept playing the D'Mode songs over and over again. It looked very much like the fans had taken Manchester over for the day - and it wasn't the scary, aged fat goth thing like you'd see back at home, so it wasn't too disturbing.

Well pissed, we made our way to the Arena. Good god, this place was HUGE. It has to be, by far, the largest indoor arena I've ever seen. It's like taking a small football stadium and sticking a big roof over it. And it was packed to the rafters. This made for a great, raucous atmosphere, but it did pose a challenge: How the hell are we going to enjoy the show, having general admission in a place this big?

Not to worry - just like my previous British concert experience, everyone gave plenty of room to breathe, space to walk out to pee, and they had freakin' people with backpacks full of Carlsberg, selling pints at £3 a pop. Not freakin' bad. After having enough horrible $10 stadium beer, this on-the-floor service at a reasonable price was more than welcome.

And the show? Fan-fucking-tastic. A fair bit of new material bolstered by a load of old favorites, the show was musically and visually all I could have hoped for. I spent all the US leg of the tour ignoring reviews and setlists so I could be surprised when this night came, and I was. Pleasantly so. And Elena got her tiny, credit card-sized camera in via her wallet, so we got a load of great pictures and movies.

We headed out afterward and the atmosphere outside was, in a word, hilarious. There were so many bootleg t-shirt and postcard sellers alongside the streets adjacent to the arena, it was like some sort of Moroccan bazaar. Only everyone was barking out in a semi-drunken Scouse. "Bloody tour t-shirts! Get your bloody tour t-shirts! Only a fuckin' fiver!" Never underestimate the appeal of being common. I love it.

I was hoping to meet up with some people from the Bong mailing list at Retro Bar after the show, but after walking most of the way there, my foot was ready to give out, and even more so, my stomach was begging for some form of dinner. So the three of us finally found an open restaurant, snagged some decent dim sum, and forced ourselves over to the nearby Sub Space for one drink before heading to bed. Unfortuanately, even though it was "I Love the 80s" night and supposedly an official after-party for the show, most of the music was crap from the late 80s, though I'll admit I really enjoyed going all New Jersey and singing my heart out to "Livin' on a Prayer." Yikes.

It's off to Liverpool today. A nice little daytrip by train, perhaps meet up with some friends, and enjoy some Beatles sort of touristry.

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