20 July 2009

"i'm not 50, i'm actually 40-10 "

Since we are such the international jet setters we were off to an extended weekend in England just 10 days after getting back from Scotland. Only one thing would make us go back so quickly-The Man's 50th birthday gig at the Apollo Theater. Those that know us have heard us talk for years about him and what an important part he is in our lives, so need we say more about why we rushed back to the UK for this glorious event.

We flew Virgin Atlantic this time and it was not even close to the flights to/from Scotland. Very cozy indeed and again the meals had soggy lumps of spinach in them. Why? Why? Why? Fresh uncooked spinach-yes, cooked spinach-gag inducing. This was a cattle car type situation with six people across and our seats were so uncomfortable barely any sleep was to be had on this red eye flight but there was a great interview on the TV/Radio with the Blur boys so that was good at least.

We flew into London and then took the Megabus (which was way more comfortable than our flight) up to Manchester getting in to the city around early evening. We stayed at a hostel with friends of ours who were also in town for the big event. The hostel was in a great central location just blocks from the city center so we were able to get around without any problems and it was certainly one of the better ones we've stayed in over the years. The only downside was at night the streets were full of drunken lads and ladettes and they are very loud, breaking bottles on buildings etc. We were in the corner room on the top floor so we would get all the noise from both sides, but somehow we manged to fall asleep through it all. It really wasn't bad-does it sound like we hated it? It was really a very nice place and neighborhood (Katie did watch a guy getting arrested our first night there but even that was pretty tame).

Our hostel (party central)

Our first night we walked around to see how much things had changed since we had last been in Manchester 10 years before (then to pay respect for The Man's 40th birthday). Once again, we were surprised by how much we remembered of the city as we had in Edinburgh. After walking around for awhile we ended up at a Thai restaurant for dinner. Not bad, but our server was a bit strange and ended up laughing and leaning in on Katie's shoulder. She was saying something about the couple seated behind us to her but it was extremely hard to understand what she was saying through her fits of giggles, we just pretended to understand and then high tailed it out of there. Next stop was a supermarket for some treats, ie: our daily dose of Malteasers. We eat them constantly every time we are in the UK. Can you blame us really, they are the best treat.

When we got back to our hostel Heidi mentioned her ankles were swollen, her right arm was tingly and she was having mild chest pains. We got on the Internet to investigate what it could be, figuring it was probably from all the travel, and that's what it seemed to be. We decided on a wait and see approach and crashed in our room from exhaustion.

The next morning Heidi woke up early with severe chest pains and was worried that it would get worse. This was the big day that we had traveled so far for, nothing could get in our way of celebrating that night with The Man. So to be on the safe side we ended up going to the infirmary to have Heidi checked out. Fortunately, we got there early enough and it wasn't busy, the rush from the night before had just cleared out before we got there. Everyone was so kind, they took very good care of Heidi and did an excellent job of checking her out. The best part of the whole experience...it was free! Thank goodness for universal health care, especially since Heidi doesn't have any insurance. Just another plus in the pro list of living in the UK.

After the unexpected detour in the morning we got ready to go over to the venue and when we got there the excitement of seeing HIM kicked in. It had been almost two years since our last gig so we were READY. We were able to catch up with lots of old friends and made a few new friends while we there. Even though we had just seen them, it was great to see Maggie and Vikki again and share in all the excitement. (We would never have met them if it wasn't for The Man so we have him to thank for our friendship.) There were many people from all over the world who had traveled for this special event. The first in line was a chap who came from Mexico City, he arrived the day before and just came straight to the venue from the airport.

As the time grew closer for the doors to open we started to get anxious so we peaked inside to see what was happening and saw a banner that made us a bit teary eyed. Just to really bring the point home in case it wasn't obvious by now-we have loved this man with all of our hearts for over half our lives and such an event meant so much to us, we weren't taking it for granted that we were lucky enough to be there for something so very special. There was an electric energy in the air and everyone was excited and so happy to be there to celebrate HIM. It's nice to be surrounded by people who KNOW and UNDERSTAND.

Truer words were never spoken.

A half hour before doors opened the staff of the venue came out to give everyone special laminates for the gig. We grabbed a few just so we would have back-up in case something happened to them during the show. Holding these precious gifts made us teary once again.

The setlist-he didn't really sing that song for the encore (it's a joke) he sang First of the Gang.

The show was amazing and there were so many great moments. The crowd went mental, singing along with all our hearts to "the songs that saved our lives". Heavenly! Here is a clip from YouTube of the crowd singing Happy Birthday. The sign that he holds up was made by our dear friend Vivian. Yea! The sound is a bit dodgy and it's a bit wobbly but you'll get the idea.

On Saturday this man was our source of entertainment while in the queue. By 9:00 am he was well on his was to being drunk for the day. He took it upon himself to chat all the girls up, sleep on every step so we had nowhere to sit, yell incoherently at everyone and then proceed to accidentally spill his beer all over the place. Right after Maggie took this picture for us he walked out into traffic and tried to get hit by all the passing cars. Then he tried to pee in the street, in which he did not succeed. We did get mooned one last time before he left us for the day. The collective groan from us said it all.

That night was yet another brilliant show and again we were just on a total high of happiness. Here is another clip from YouTube from Saturday the 23rd that someone from the balcony recorded. We love what he says about us saving his life-it's really the other way around but nice to have him say it as well.

The next day we went with Maggie around Manchester and revisited the places that are so special to us because they are all associated to HIM.

We lifted the lead off The Holy Name Church.

"A dreaded sunny day, so I meet you at the cemetry gates"

"So we go inside and we gravely read the stones "

"...under the iron bridge we kissed, and although I ended up with sore lips"
The bridge had a lot of graffiti on it that once again made us teary. The love this man inspires is breathtaking.

384 Kings Road where he lived as a boy.

Salford Lads Club, a must in any pilgrimage to Manchester.

The sight of the first ever gig. October 4, 1982 almost exactly 10 years before the first time we ever saw The Man live.

The hospital he was born at. We had the nicest taxi driver who was born and raised in Manchester. He said we were his most interesting fare of the day and seemed to have a lot of fun driving us around.

The G-Mex center (now known as Manchester Central) was home to some famous gigs.

MEN Arena where he played in 2004 for his 45th birthday. The first time he played Manchester in over 12 years. (click on the picture to see it better)

We also did a few other touristy things that weekend. We walked around with Maggie shopping and admiring all the beautiful architecture. The most surprising sight was the public urinals in the city center. Better than a dumpster which is a very popular choice in NY.

We love libraries and the city library here is one of our favourites.

Dale Street...just for you dad. Vinyl Exchange is a well known record shop, we could spend a lot of time there for sure.

She's knicking his wallet! The cheek.

This mural was right outside our hostel. What a sight each morning when we went out.

It was a fantastic weekend filled with celebrations, laughter and so much love for The Man.

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