Monday, November 16, 2009

Wales: "We're Motörhead! We play rock 'n' roll!"

In one of those coincidences that you just love to talk about we found ourselves with tickets to Ballet Ireland's rendition of Cinderella one night, and Motörhead the next. Beyond that, and maybe our sitting on something like the bleachers you remember from school, the two events shared little in common, I'm sure you're surprised to learn.

The ballet was great, making very entertaining use of artistic license: it opened with the clock striking midnight, and the ringing was still in the air as the prince displayed a side a far sight short of charming. Probably the most consistent entertainment (i.e., laughs, which is always important in any stage production) came from the two ballerinos -- yes, I had to look that up, and I'm trustin' Wikipedia on it -- who played Cinderella's step-sisters. As a guy who always thinks of Disney's interpretations of many of these tales, I was happy to see that Ballet Ireland took the ugly bit very seriously. ;-) But, in all honesty, they didn't just ham it up: these guys did an outstanding job, looking at every moment as if the prince's heart (or maybe the glass slippers) was all they wanted in the world.

And then, the next night, it was off to Newport by train; this was complicated a bit by the landslip -- no, I didn't look that one up; they're common over here, in fact -- that took out the direct line through Gloucester, but we made it to the Kings Hotel with plenty of time to spare. With three opening acts, the Newport Centre was hoppin' by 7 p.m. (That, and they just start these things earlier over here: I think everything was all said 'n' done not much after midnight.) In line in front of us was a guy with a mohawk, a leather jacket under a denim vest, all marked-up and torn to c**p, and... a boy of ten, maybe, in identical attire (right down to the mohawk!). As they got up to the ticket-taker, we learned it was his first gig. :-) Hope Dad brought earplugs!

As we walked in the door, I could've sworn I was in the Walter Baker Centre or the Nepean Sportsplex: people could've been walkin' by in trunks on their way to the pool. (All the better, 'cause it never quieted down in the lobby, I'm sure, with the bar in the opposite direction to the show and up a floor.) And the show was in what looked like a big high-school gymnasium, right down to the multi-coloured lines they use for the basketball court. (Can't imagine how many marks everyone left on that surface, though. :-) )

We wandered over to the many levels of bleachers that lined the walls, and hadn't been sat for more than a minute or two before a guy directed an obviously-drunk companion to a seat in front of us. Before I continue, a word on my attire: I chose to wear a tie to the show; just to be a bit cheeky, and since I figured my black Mullet Rock shirts wouldn't stand out in that sea of black, white and denim. (Incidentally, I've never seen so many of the main act's shirts at a show in my life; one more of the many ways Motörhead just chews up the rules 'n' spits 'em out.) So the guy sits heavily in front of us, and his brother (as it turns out) turns to me and says, "Bit formal, innit?" He returns my grin, and, my tie in his hand, quickly follows that up with, "That's quality, that."

I wish I could've understand their accents a bit better, 'cause what we did catch of Rob and Steve's (I hope those were their names, although they don't sound very Welsh to me) stream of consciousness was fantastic. They were from a little village to the north (of Newport) called 'Glencairn', although I can't find it on a map for the life of me. (Rob did say that I pronounced it better than people who lived 10 miles down the road from him, though, so it may be my inability to spell Welsh names that's the problem.) But from Rob's talkin' about how his wee... u'm, wee wee that can only make girls, to his askin' our advice on men-less places in Canada he could move to with said girls, to the much shaking of hands and kissing of heads, these brothers were a show in their own right. Steve was even back out on the floor, half-naked, swingin' his shirt over his head -- and there's no band up yet, mind -- before we made our goodbyes and went for a drink.

And this 'bar' was somethin' else too; more of a place for a wedding reception you'd figure, were it not for incredible amount of leather and facial hair on display. The best part, though, was that they were all just gentle giants, from what I could tell: it's so hard to keep from laughing when a crowd clears from around the bar to make room for a tattooed, ZZ Top beard-sporting Goliath carrying this little dainty tray full of glasses of beer, like he was off to some totally freaky tea party.

After we finished our drinks -- I had a Guinness and Tea, seeing the lady in front of her order it, had some blackcurrant cordial in a cider, which I've now learned is a popular drink called Cider & Black -- we headed back to the packed gymnasium, now well into The Damned's set. (Incidentally -- yes, I know I say that a lot, :-) it really seemed like lead singer, Dave Vanian, was going for a Bono thing, and it wasn't just his shades: he had a monologue in the middle of a song that you could've played right along side Silver and Gold off Rattle and Hum.)

And then it was time for the main act. Five years ago, my friend, W., saw Motörhead (in the exact same spot, I believe), and I always remembered how he said Lemmy came out and, really quickly, said, "Y'o'right? We'll soon fix that," and just started givin' 'er. Well, no word of a lie, he said those very words this time too, followed by the title of this post. It was a fantastic moment.

For me, they played a perfect set: a mix of the oldies like Bomber, Ace of Spades, and Overkill, along with stuff for the new album -- can't believe they're still making albums! -- with just enough chatting in between. I particularly liked the opening to Just Cos You Got The Power: "This one's about politicians..." [much booing] "Wha? You don't like politicians?" [much yelling] "Me either, thievin' bastards!" :-) Oh, and the acoustic Whorehouse Blues in the encore was great. They ended the show sayin' we were the best crowd they'd had in Wales in ten years! (Sorry, W. ;-) )

On the train to Cardiff
The next day we puttered around Newport for a bit, and then decided, spur of the moment, to take the train to Cardiff. Little did we know that it was the day of an International Friendly football match between Wales and Scotland in that city's very stadium! The dozens of lads in kilts at the Gatekeeper pub just down the road from the Millennium Stadium sort of gave it away, though. :-)

It was a bit of a rainy day, but we made the most of it, takin' in the Christmas market, which included plenty of mulled wine and bratwurst, of course.

No comments:

Post a Comment