Sunday, 20 November 2011

Loud Crowd

A year ago life was sweet. Last November, I travelled up and down the country attending various events. This year has a similar cluster of live events penned in my diary around this time, and once again I've had a blast.

October 23rd - The American Dream, in London
On  a cold, late October evening, Stacey and myself took to Wembley Stadium for this year's NFL International Series Clash. For those of you not in the know, this was the fifth year that the International Series has invaded Wembley, and it sees the NFL put on an actual league match between two of their top American Football teams. Last time I had been was during the inaugural International Series match in 2007 that saw my team, the New York Giants defeat the Miami Dolphins. This year, we were treated to a stellar, high-scoring game between the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite it being a Bucs home game, and that they had given every single fan a free Tampa Bay flag to wave, I couldn't help but cheer the legendary team from the Windy City on to victory.

Final Score: Bears 24 - 18 Buccaneers
Non-Gridiron related highlights of the match included a squirrel running around the pitch at the start of the match, and a semi-streaker (semi due to only having removed his upper clothes - thankfully) running up and down the pitch, dodging security in the process until he was finally tackled rather violently by four or five large men in suits. Oh, and Katherine Jenkins sang our National Anthem, some American singer performed theirs, and the Goo Goo Dolls played live before the game.

October 28th - Jungle is Massive
To celebrate our anniversary, Stacey trekked up to the London Town to meet me from work the next day, Friday night. After meeting some of my colleagues for a quick drink, we hopped on a tube to Victoria to see the Westend Sensation that is Wicked. It lived up to its name, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good musical to go and see. It is very well written in that it links to the Wizard of Oz and completely spins that classic story on its head, while still making total sense.

What was extremely funny in a ironic sort of way was that the new episode of South Park that I'd Sky plussed that night was about Broadway Musicals with Wicked being the main one featured. I love life... and South Park! 

November 11th - 'It's Clobbering Time!'
On this Friday, I got to leave work early. As soon as the clock struck 12:30pm, my empty chair swivelled around a few times, having been spung by the momentum of me looking forward to getting the hell outta there for a slightly extended weekend... and WWE live at the O2 Arena.
Hopping on a tube at Southwark, I reached North Greenwich at just past 1pm, and in a spot of good timing, arrived just as Sam and Andy were pulling into the carpark. With several hours to kill, and the Dome as our playground, we kicked things off with a trip to the cinema and a somewhat serviceable film in Immortals. It was a decent film, but in my opinion more of a DVD rental, not worthy of a cinema trip. As the end credits rolled, we went to explore our eating options and decided upon Spur. None of us had eaten there on previous O2 visits, and the meal was enjoyed by all. I certainly enjoyed my rather epic cheeseburger. Then, while our plates were being loaded into the dishwasher in the kitchen of the restaurant, we went to the one place that no O2 visit is complete without. We went for a pint or three in Thai Silk. As soon as we entered our favourite Thai establishment, I decided to head up to the loo to... well, you know... leak. There was one other gent in the gents, and rather worryingly, he acknowledged my existence in this place in which men are meant to keep their heads down and just get on with it. 
'All right, mate?' he asked. Startled, I looked around and saw that it was no stranger, but instead my old buddy Simon, also at the O2 for the event. Him and his mate then joined Sam, Andy and me for some Japanese beers (I still don't get why a Thai bar serves Japanese beers - all the same I suppose). 

After a very long queue to enter the arena, which was one of the longest queues one O2 steward had ever seen apparently, we took our seats and were treated to three hours of sheer entertainment. Match of the night had to go to an epic 30 minute US title match between Champion Dolph Ziggler and challenger John Morrison. Other contests included a six-man tag match as John Cena partnered with Kofi Kingston and Zack Ryder to take on The Miz, R-Truth and 90s legend Kevin Nash (a.k.a. Diesel). Kevin Nash is a giant of a man by the way. Following this came our main event of CM Punk challenging Alberto Del Rio for the WWE Championship. Another very entertaining bout was performed before us, and the match ended with run-ins galore, as many of the bad guys attacked Punk. John Cena, Kofi Kingston, and Zack Ryder made the same and a brawl ensued, until we were left with Dolph Ziggler trapped in the middle of the ring, as the good guys got to have a little fun with Ziggler, who was celebrating his birthday that very night.

It was certainly one of the more entertaining skits I've ever seen live and in person, and the sellout crowd was electric for it. Loud all night!

19th November - Giving it Away
Last night as of the time of writing. Stacey and I journeyed up to Birmingham to stay in a Hilton Hotel (very posh) and meet up with Tam and Dan who shall soon be abandoning us to move to Oz. We also met with some of Tam's friends Ruth and Michael. All of us had tickets to the big gig occurring at the LG arena that night, with some band who go by the name of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Chili Peppers played a tremendous gig, and the standout song for me was without-a-doubt Give it Away which was probably down the the fact that the band has had a couple of decades to perfect the tune in the live arena.

After the show, we all went back to the hotel bar, feeling tired, but not tired enough to not allow ourselves some obscenely priced beverages.

Stacey drove us home today, and I'm pretty tired now, so will wrap up the writing. Until the next time I set aside some blogging time, I'll leave you with the view that I was treated to upon working home...

There's no place like home...
No matter how great an event is, when all is said and done, and sleep is needed; I love returning to the flat that has become home.