Thursday, July 31, 2008

Viva Coldplay!!

I'm back in the city after a couple of weeks away...just in time for the Coldplay concert at the Air Canada Centre last night.

If you're expecting a concert review, you've come to the wrong place. There is no way I could write an unbiased review so if you want to read about the concert, you can read a review here.

There are not many artists who will get me to the ACC (for those who don't know - it's a 15000 seating capacity arena). Coldplay is one of those that I would go anywhere to see.

I prefer to see bands when they are not as well known and are playing smaller venues. Fortunately, my favourite bands are British so although they play arenas in England, most are not as well known in North America so they will play 500-2000 capacity venues here. There's nothing like getting up close and personal with your favourite artists:

James Blunt at the Mod Club in 2005

Keane performing part of Fly To Me and Leaving So Soon at Kool Haus in 2007 (he comes closer to where I am)

At small venues, you can really feel the music...see the singer's emotions, the guitarist's skill, the keyboardist's fingers or the drummer's efforts. You can see the sweat pour from their bodies. You can see the interaction between the band members and between the band and the audience. It can give you a new appreciation for the songs. You really feel like they are playing for you.

As great as small venues can be, there is something to be said for arena shows.

My first concert at the Air Canada Centre was U2 from the second last row (almost behind the stage). Being so far away gives you an appreciation for the spectacle and the crowd, but it's not ideal (especially sound wise).

U2 ACC Sept 2005 (not my photo - but basically my view)

I saw Coldplay in 2006 from the lower bowl across from the stage at the ACC. The sound was much better. The view was great because we're elevated but they are so far away. I thought this would be my last Air Canada Centre concert.

But then, when I managed to get 3rd row floor seats for James Blunt, I couldn't resist.

I Really Want You performed at Air Canada Centre 2006.

Last night I was 30th row on the floors. It felt like a small venue because everyone was standing up from beginning to end. The confetti also fell on the floor crowd, which was a bonus. The seats are closer together on the floor (rather than in the stands) so you feel more part of the audience but having rows means that you're that much further from the stage (as compared with a small venue). In the stands, the row ahead of you is lower (as well as the stage) so your view of the stage is better.

Last night, I loved hearing the crowd sing and seeing people dancing. I did capture a few short moments.

Fix You Air Canada Centre July 30th, 2008

The beginning of Viva La Vida. I had hoped to record more for my son (as it's now his favourite song), but (to his chagrin) I decided to enjoy the moment and dance instead (perhaps in hindsight I would have preferred to get a bit more, but oh well...I really loved it last night and will remember that).

There is a fine line between getting enough footage (photos/videos) to preserve the memory and being too busy trying to capture the moment that you actually miss the live moment.

Unfortunately, in order to get a great photo, you do have to take a few. I am learning with experience when the chances are better to get a great photo (depending on the lighting). There were many songs I was able to fully appreciate last night because I knew there was no way to capture them well. So I completely enjoyed those songs. When the lighting was better, I snapped away and managed to get better photos than I expected from my location.

I was trying to decide if last night's concert was my best concert ever. It's difficult to compare them. Coldplay at the Kool Haus was so intimate, but it did not have the production of their arena shows. X&Y wasn't released yet for the intimate gig. Many of the songs were not known to the audience so the audience participation wasn't as great. The crowd participation definitely adds to the concert experience. Screaming women don't help the James Blunt concerts. Keane don't get the widespread audience participation that Coldplay get (yet). I haven't been close enough to U2 to have them be my best concert ever.

I love seeing the different perspective from different venues and different views. There are positives and negatives to all of them. It's difficult to choose just one concert as my favourite, but this one definitely is up there. Floor seats at an arena combines the intimacy of a small venue with the spectacle of an arena show. Perfect combination.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A quintessential city moment

Just got back to the city minutes ago after being away for 13 days.

A quick walk over to Yonge Street to pick up some sushi takeout for a late dinner for my daughter and I and bumped into neighbourhood friends returning with Thai takeout !

It's good to be back.

A Northern vacation (part 2)

A great break away from city life. Chances to pass the time looking at the clouds or the night sky; enjoying a cold beer or a glass of wine close to the water; reading, doing puzzles and playing board games. And hearing your children's laughter in the background ! We'll be back in the city in about 5 hours with lots of bug bites and 900 photos (new camera experimentation - to be trimmed down) to remind us of our vacation for a little while.

A Northern vacation

On the way home now - should result in about 4,000 kms driving (3 1/2 days). Northern Minnesota and Ontario were the major destinations, but we found some beautiful spots in between including the Lake Superior coast of Minnesota and North-Western Ontario landscapes around Nipigon. Lots of animal sightings (much) to my daughter's delight, incl loons, eagles, turtles, and deer. More later.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tour de France

I'm watching the Tour de France this morning. They just made the summit of Col d'Aspin on Stage 9 and now charging downhill at speeds in excess of 80km/h to the finish. I watch a little bit of the race every year, and I've found that you don't have to necessarily watch every km to appreciate the race, but paying attention to the expert commentary over a few different days is just enough to appreciate this fantastic sporting event. During the climb this morning I was trying to explain to the kids how difficult the climb was - the steepness of the climb, the distance etc, but I just said - just look at their faces. These guys are arguably some of the best athletes in the world, and if they're struggling to peddle uphill, you begin to appreciate the extreme efforts required to be a professional cyclist. You've got to remind yourself sometimes that you've watched perhaps a half hour or so, but they doing about 200 kms per day (over 5 1/2 hours today), for 23 days ! Phil Ligget just said that some of the leaders are not in contention today because they're saving themselves for the one of the big climbs tomorrow in the Pyrenees - I thought this was a big climb ! The stage just finished, even for this mountain stage, they averaged over 40km/h. Stage winner today was the Italian, Riccardo Ricco, overall it's still Kim Kirchen from Luxembourg. Brilliant stuff, must-see-sports-TV ! Now over to my cyclist bro for some colour commentary.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just can't get enough

Lots of buzz all around on footy transfers with 38 days to go until the start of the 08/09 season. Hopefully we'll be seeing lots more fun video teasers like this one...

John Mayer

I saw John Mayer perform at the outdoor Molson Amphitheatre on Monday night. I'm not embarrassed to say I've liked John Mayer for years, even when his live CD's are drowned out by screaming girls. I really liked the show and as I reported on Facebook...I really enjoyed his warm summer blues sounds. My wife just shared a review article that sums up the concert so well, I couldn't have said it better.

Pic from
mayerecho's Flickr photostream.

John Mayer

I saw John Mayer perform at the outdoor Molson Amphitheatre on Monday night. I'm not embarrassed to say I've liked John Mayer for years, even when his live CD's are drowned out by screaming girls. I really liked the show and as I reported on Facebook...I really enjoyed his warm summer blues sounds. My wife just shared a review article that sums up the concert so well, I couldn't have said it better.

Pic from
mayerecho's Flickr photostream.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Lotsa updates

Tech & toys: I'm keeping the 40GB PS3, a lot less noisy than the 80GB version and loving the free demo downloads and just narrowing down game (MGS4 and Burnout Paradise) and Blue-Ray (Planet Earth) starter choices. We also bought a new Digital SLR last week, a Nikon D80 (allowing us to use our older Nikon lenses). Still doing all the testing, but liking it's fast response, quick access to picture tweaks and great quality images. Still debating whether to post using Flickr or Picasa.

: Coldplay hold on to number one, just. Great sophomore album from the Fratellis almost edging them out. Great single pick: Gabriella Cilmi - "Sweet about me". Looking like I'm heading to the Virgin Festival in September (Sunday w/ Oasis), seeing John Mayer at outdoor venue tonight.

: silly season in footy with lotsa trade rumours, will Ronny leave ManU or Russian super striker Andrei Arshavin swapped into Arsenal for Adebayor. Brilliant international sports on the weekend with the marathon Wimbledon final, a Brit winning the British GP and the start of the Tour de France. Toronto FC looking average, but support still good and strong and coach Carver getting creative. Raptors make interesting trade. Ultimate going well, but away from the action for a few weeks. PJMixer's golf game gone missing, hoping to find it before next week's game at Smuggler's Glen.

Politics and the Economy
: still a little confused on Middle East good guy / bad guy alignment after watching The Kingdom the other night. Is it ok to support Arsenal and wear a jersey that says Fly Emirates ? I'm not very optimistic for African aid and the environment going into the G8 meeting today. My wife has a great summary of top topics in her blog today. Trying not to think about mammoth gasoline bill for summer vacation driving of 2,400 kms, not to mention gas for ski boat. How does oil prices jive against global aid and butter-on-a-hot-summer-day-soft US banking sector versus military funding ? Big questions, sorry if you think you're going to get the answers here !