Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Best of 2010 - Live Events

Welcome once again to this random ramblings of a young twenty-something who writes about whatever the hell he wants. After my last blog about my favourite films of the year that was 2010, I am happy to say that upon looking back at it, I am rather happy with my selections, and the order in which they are ranked. I would like to add one glaring omission to the honourable mentions list though, and that is The Social Network. That's right, the Facebook film. Based on the book; The Accidental Billionaires, this film was mostly based on true events, and told the story of the creation of one of the world's favourite wastes of time. It was a strangely entertaining film and I can't believe I forgot all about it... Oh well, it wasn't a top ten contender so who really cares!

I had several ideas for these 'list' blogs regarding the past year of our existence, but of them all, the only two I thought I could properly execute and pull off in a way that gave it proper substance were the film one, and this one: Live Events. For 2010 was a huge year for me in terms of the events that I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. I have never before, in any past year been to see so many things, and I highly doubt that will be case again unless I become mega-rich, as my ambition for this year is to spend a lot of my earnings on moving out. I can't be bothered to count all of the events that I went to during my last trip around the sun, but I know it was definitely enough to produce a top ten, so here we go!

10. Sean Lock's Lockipedia
Back in November, which oddly seems long ago, yet only yesterday at the same time, as part of my 'UK tour', Stacey and I went to see Sean Lock's latest stand-up show at the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells. It was one of the better stand-ups that I've been to and most certainly the best one that I went to this year. I guess now I should say something along the lines of 'I'd recommend the DVD', so um... Buy the DVD, it'll make you laugh... Promise!

9. Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
If you have never before had the privilege of witnessing a performance of one of the Bard's plays at the Globe in London, then I urge you to look it up and go. Tickets start at only a fiver after all, and for your money, you get a great show, so it's safe to say that you can't get much better value for money, especially considering that the cinema costs more these days. This was the second time that I'd been to a play here, and the Scottish Play proved to be an awe-inspired spectacle. It wowed the entire audience with the amazing effects produced from basic materials that could well have also been used 500 years ago. It was pure genius, terrifying, and of course, entertaining. Time to check out the 2011 shows me thinks.

8. Muse at Wembley Stadium
 This one was of Stacey's choosing. I'm not a huge fan of Muse, as I've always found their music to be nothing more than sound that fits well into the background if it happens to come on the radio. Their live shows though, they certainly take centre stage. They sold out multiple nights at the huge 90,000 seater stadium, and it was quite the sight. I was also surprised to discover that I recognised quite a lot of their songs. Points get taken away though for their hideous support act of Lily Allen and her guest Doctor (or is it Professor?) Green (who I doubt has any qualifications at all), and for the fact that they did hide behind their smoke and mirrors of an elaborate set. That's not to say I wouldn't mind seeing them again though, I'm just nit-picking here to wind up Stacey.

7. WWE Raw World Tour - Live at the O2
This event was night two of my three day event marathon during November. It was the night after I'd travelled to Manchester and back to see the Raw television tapings, and this show was just for us, the live audience. Now, I love these shows, as they go all out and just have fun without the restraint of sticking too much to their characters as they have to for the TV cameras for the TV tapings. I think I might have hyped this up too much in my head though, and that I was also a little too tired for all the excitement, as I didn't seem as into it as I would have liked. I did enjoy the show thoroughly though, and the main event of John Cena vs. The Miz reeked of awesomeness.

6. Linkin Park Live at the O2
The very next night, I got to back to the O2 arena. This time there was no ring in the centre of the arena, and the stage looked completely different. What I remember well about this night was that I had a very delicious TGILinkin Park themselves - they delivered exactly as I thought they would. I saw them three years ago now, back in January of 2008, and they put on a show just as good as then. The difference now though was an even bigger, and better catalogue of tracks, all of which sound live as they do on their studio recordings. 

5. Fozzy live at the Relentless Garage
A Fozzy gig back in 2005 was the first gig that I ever went to; since then I have been to a total of four Fozzy concerts. They must be good, because every time they announce some new UK dates, I find myself booking tickets as soon as they're on sale. In May of 2010, I went to my fourth Fozzy show. It was a matinee in London. They were also playing a show at the same venue that night, but for the convenience of travelling home during the hours of sunlight and regular trains, we went with the matinee. The earlier show also allowed us the chance to have my best meal of the year at London's Hard Rock Cafe with our friends Simon and Michelle, who had attended the gig with us. 

The venue was far from full for the matinee, a stark contrast I'm guessing from the sold-out evening show, but then this was a Saturday afternoon, on the day of the F.A. Cup final no less. Despite the disappointing attendance, the band played their socks off, and performed at their usual standard of excellence. What I enjoyed was listening to one of my favourite bands live, and getting to stand right up near the front without being crushed by hundreds of other people. We all had our own personal space which was brilliant (guess I'm not much of a hardcore mosher eh!). The icing on the metal cake came at the end, as due to the poor attendance for this early showing, Chris Jericho, Rich Ward, and Co. wanted to allow the die-hard fans that were there (that was us) the chance to meet-n-greet with them. Not only did I get multiple autographs from the whole band that day, but I also got to have a photo taken with ace musician Rich Ward a.k.a. The Duke, and managed to sneak in a cheeky photo with my childhood hero Chris Jericho. What a day!

4. WWE Raw television broadcast, Manchester
This show was Day 1 of my three nights of events in November. Along with my former colleagues Sam and Andy, I headed up to Manchester and back in one day to see the worldwide broadcast of Monday Night Raw in person. Earlier in the year, back in April, I had been to see another episode of Raw filmed in the O2 in London. That show, despite featuring a guest star in David Hasselhoff, and including a huge main event in Randy Orton vs. Dave Batista, failed to live up to the excitement built around it. It was a good show, it was just that something indescribable felt a little off that night, which wasn't helped by the terribly quiet crowd. The Manchester show in November though was fantastic. The audience were loud and very into everything, and the show itself didn't include any dull moments. What more is there to say other than that this show even had a comedic 'tea party' segment. What more could you want?

3. 21st Birthday Party
Okay, so this is a little vain of me, but how could I not look back on my 2010 and not include mention of my 21st birthday party? It was a huge night for me, and technically can be called a live event due to the fact that I was there live, and in person, and it was indeed an event. I even put on somewhat of a show for everybody there by getting completely hammered, and ending my night on the floor of the car park. I just wish I could remember more of that special night... Apparently I made a speech! Who knew? Everyone it seemed, except for me.

2. 30 Seconds to Mars
I'm going to cheat with this entry and include both the gig at Wembley arena in February, and the gig in Brighton in November. 30 Seconds to Mars are fast becoming my all time favourite band. They're sound is truly epic, and their live shows are unlike any other musical performers going. The Wembley show was the first time that we'd seen them, and they blew the roof off in what was their first UK arena tour. They played all of their hits, and at one point left the stage for a few minutes while some noisy thing distracted us on stage. The distraction lead to lead singer Jared Leto appearing a mere block away from where we sat up in the tiers. He was a microphone and an acoustic guitar in hand, and he proceeded to play an acoustic version of their song Capricorn. Him singing there proved to be another distraction though, as it was soon noticed that the rest of the band had set up on some kind of mini-stage towards the back of the arena, meaning that all fans would get a good view of the band at some point during the night.

If I had to choose one of the two gigs as my favourite, I'd go with the more recent Brighton Centre show. During this one, we had a surprise support act in Enter Shikari, who were great live, and have inspired me to listen to more of their work. Jared also repeated his act of reappearing somewhere else in the venue with an acoustic guitar in hand, and this time played a couple of their songs acoustically, before singing part of Lady Gaga's Pokerface, which they had played on Radio One's Live Lounge. 

  1. WWE Smackdown and NXT TV tapings, London
The best wrestling show I went to this year is number one overall. Everything about this show was just exciting, and entertaining. This was the night after the disappointing Raw TV taping that had featured Hasselhoff in April, and in comparison, knocked that show out of the park. We got to see the filming of two shows here, pseudo-reality show NXT in which eight contestants were competing for a WWE contract was the first show, and proved to get a huge response due to English contestant Wade Barrett, who went on to win the show. The main reason for this show being so great though was because all of my favourite competitors were there, such as CM Punk, The Miz, and the man I'd get to meet just a few weeks later: Chris Jericho. Not only was CM Punk featured prominently throughout the evening, but Chris Jericho competed for his recently (at that time) lost World Heavyweight title. I lost my voice that night cheering on Jericho, in the hopes that I'd see him win the championship in person. Alas he was defeated in the three-way bout, that included Edge, and the champion that retained during the contest Jack Swagger. Despite my disappointment in seeing my hero lose, it was still an extremely fun-filled night, and my favourite event of the year.

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