Two Steppin' with Dave and Tim

As myself and my friend Lesley left The Waterfront in Belfast last night to catch my bus home at the tail-end of Dave Matthew’s acoustic gig, I thought to myself “if he plays ‘Jimi Thing’ now and I miss it I’ll be very upset!”. But he didn’t and a minute later the crowd rolled out after 150 minutes of great musicianship, fantastic songs and Dave’s entertaining anecdotes and repartee.

Dave’s first tour of Ireland, which took in Dublin on Monday night as well, was an incredible success judging by the rave reviews and sell-out crowds that he attracted in both cities. Matthews popularity here is not like it is in North America. His releases go unpromoted and he has never had a hit single or album in Ireland. Even in the UK “The Space Between” is the only single to break the top 40 and that was only because it was featured briefly in a popular Nokia ad campaign.

On the tour he was accompanied by his long-time acoustic collaborator, Tim Reynolds, who is quite a guitar virtuoso. Dave himself was in fine form and told numerous amusing stories about his large dinner (“I had the duck. And the lamb.”) and his dog’s tendency to fart on planes.

The setlist was long and varied. He did the classics (“Dancing Nancies”, “Satellite”, “Two Step”, “Crash”, “Cry Freedom” [gave me goosies]), the mid-period stuff (“When the World Ends”, “Don’t Drink the Water”, “Crush”), the pseudo-solo tracks from “Busted Stuff” (“Grey Street”, “Where Are You Going”, “Grace is Gone”, “Bartender”) and his own solo material (“So Damn Lucky”, “Some Devil”, “Save Me” and of course “Gravedigger”) amongst others. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the night was how good the material from the recent ** band album “Stand Up” sounded (“Old Dirt Hill”, “Smooth Rider”). The production on that album messed up really good songs.

I know it’s cliché to say it about a gig you have just been to but that is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s true that towards the end of a 2 1/2 hour acoustic gig you do get tired because you are looking at two guys sitting down in the same spot for most of it, but the music and musicianship did the talking. Wonderful stuff.

If he’s coming to a town near you I implore you to go.
Rating: ****1/2

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My Ideal Woman

00044_001Lying in bed the other night (curled up like a cat, it was a bit nippy), I started reflecting on the world around me. Everywhere I look I see happy couples building sandcastles together, families guffawing hysterically at pop-up books and then I spy the lonely mad man; decked out in full-length trench-coat, reciting stock exchange price fluctuations to himself. “I don’t want to become that man,” I said to the guy beside me on the train who quickly moved to another seat. “Maybe I should not be so obstinate about my desires – or lack of – to meet my soulmate.”

So with thoughts of being the subject of mass-vilification in my latter years I went home and made up a list that would surely be befitting of any woman destined to become my life-partner. Perhaps she is reading this now (being able to read is one of the “goes without saying” requirements of any future other-half).

So settle down and check off the boxes as we take a look at my ideal partner.

1. Got head?
It is cruical that my future love-bunny has a head, preferably facing front (one of my previous girlfriend’s was the wrong way around – great moonwalker though). I find that headless women tend to attract the wrong type of attention.

Me: Pint, please. And a red wine for the lady.
Barman: Um, sure. Does your girlfriend have no head?
Me: Correct.
Barman: Oh.

Okay I had to get the surreal one out of the way. Now it’s down to the – as we say in France – merde importante.

2. Ego boosting
Don’t think that you will offend me by telling me how great I am. A highly confident boyfriend is of great benefit to you and will reflect well on you when in the company of others. Some choice comments that you can direct my way are:
“I’ve never seen a pair of jeans fit so well.”
“Wow, your hair looks better than mine tonight.”
“My younger, better-looking sister has a crush on you.”
“I really can’t believe you didn’t take up modelling.”

3. Embrace cooking
I’m not a great cook. I burn frozen food simply by looking at it. Cooking me a lot of great food five nights of the week (plus two nights at the weekend) will reflect well on you. I’ll be able to tell everyone about your chicken stroganoff and your white chocolate mousse with griddled clementines. Think of the calories you will burn while flying around the kitchen, slicing and dicing, laying out tables and serving a piping hot dinner to me?

4. Understanding the 24 hour rule
Ever get really excited about something you bought but find your interest in it wane over time? Of course you have. Well relationships are the same. They are great fun when they are fresh and new but over-exposure can lead to familiarity which in turn can breed contempt. To combat this I operate the “24 hour rule” which is spread over a seven day period.

The 24 hours in the “24 hour rule” refers to 24 actual hours that we are in each others visual or verbal company and is managed via a professional-quality stopwatch. If we sit watching a movie for two hours then two hours come off the watch. If we talk on the phone for 20 minutes then 20 minutes comes off the watch. If we get to 9pm on a Saturday evening and the 24 hours elapses during a night out, an emergency twenty minutes can be brought forward from next week so that we can say our goodbyes.

However, it is important to note that this 24 hours does not include sleeping or any sexual activity.

This will keep our relationship healthy and subsequently last longer. As all your friends break up with their partners due to over-exposure, me and you will still be going strong and this will reflect well on you.

5. Broaden your horizons
It’s important as people that we grow together. Sampling your cooking will give me a taste of your culinary strengths. Watching you clean my house on a weekend will help me to absorb the ability to organise and maintain over a period of time. Subsequently it is important that you understand the nature of international competition by enjoying Champions League football. I will invariably spend most weeknights watching the competition and will try to communicate major developments to you in the absence of you watching it yourself.

On a Saturday night at the pub you will be able to impress our friends with statements like “I thought Ronaldo was offside for the second goal” and “You can’t see Rijkaard making it to the end of the season on current form”. This will inspire others and reflect well on you.

6. Giving and receiving
I think it’s important for a person to believe in the old adage that one does not give to receive. This will be especially important when it comes to birthdays and Christmas. You would clearly be someone who would buy me a great and thoughtful present and expect nothing in return. I can’t stress how this will elevate you in the eyes of others. My present to you would be the look of joy on my face as I enjoy the “Leprechaun” DVD box set or new Tottenham football kit (size “medium”) that you’ve bought for me. It’s hard to explain just how well this would reflect on you.

00044_0027. Talking and listening
Unknown to most ladies, men have a very special talent that I call inverted listening. How inverted listening works is that when we talk we are actually listening at the same time. So if I talk about me a lot I’m storing up listening energy which kicks in to action when you start talking. However one side effect of this phenomenon is that it seems that I am not actually listening at all but rather reading a book or watching sport. This is not the case – my listening capacity has been increased many times over by my own self-indulgence and I can subsequently engage in any other activity while listening intently to you. Out of respect for you I will not repeat anything you say to me afterwards even when you ask me to repeat it. This is out of utter respect for your privacy.

Understanding the concept of inverted listening and accepting what you don’t understand will reflect extremely well on you.

8. Crying
It’s wonderful that you can express yourself in such an engaging way but if history has taught us one thing it is that a public expression of such emotion is not in your best interests. The ideal woman would hold their tears until in a private place (their own home, a bathroom, a wardrobe) and then let flow while on their own. It is best not to cry in front of a man as they will only impinge on your heart-felt emotions and subconsciously consume your feelings. What self-respecting woman would want that to happen to them? Dealing with your own problems on your own and in a very private place will reflect very well on you.

9. Fit in body, fit of mind.
There are so many advantages to you of staying fit, slim and healthy looking. For a start you would be fit. And slim. And, um, healthy looking. Being full of energy and having firm muscle fibers will keep your mind sharp and allow you to reach the pinnacle of achievement that you deserve. Why be one of those statistics who labours around in jobs not befitting of them? Be a leader! Tell the managing director he is full of crap and be able to back it up with reasoned debate. How? By staying fit, slim and healthy looking.

Of course when you are out on the tiles with me, every man’s head will turn and this will reflect well on you.

10. Share and share alike
Sharing is caring goes the saying. Who wouldn’t agree with that? We share our thoughts, our time, our chocolate and our germs. Why shouldn’t you share me too? Sharing me with other women is one of the kindest acts you can perform as a loyal partner. By sharing me you will see me gain wider knowledge and experience of the female form and this in turn will benefit and reflect well on you. There are no boundaries on this sharing except when it comes in to conflict with the 24 hour rule.

As an extra-special bonus my ideal woman would also be allowed to participate in the very events that she has shared me out for. Whether it be through observation or physical participation this choice would be yours.

So if you think you could be my ideal woman, drop me a message! In the mean time I’m off to check the stock price fluctuations.

The 9lives US Tour: Update 5, Days 10 & 11 & 12 & 13

The final night of what has been an odyssey of … odysettic* proportions.

To be quite honest with you it has been an uneventful week so I’m not going to bore you with the ins and outs. We did get stopped by a traffic cop on Tuesday morning while doing 47 in a 25 zone. I have no idea what Noel was trying to achieve by putting his foot down like he did.

The cop dude was kind of cool. He announced over his loud hailer that we had to turn the corner and pull in. After we did this he pulled his bike in behind us and slowly made his way towards us as Noel lowered the window. I couldn’t help repeating “have you seen this boy?”.

I bought the Daughtry album after listening to Jenni’s in Chicago. Bit close to Nickelback at times (probably the worst band in the history of the world – sorry) but when he’s good he’s great and he has a fab voice. For those in the dark he finished fifth in American Idol last year but his debut album sold 1m copies in five weeks and is the fastest selling debut rock album ever. I first saw him performing with Live on the latter’s song, “Mystery“.

So, there you go. Decent album though.

I went out with Orin on Wednesday for a feed in Palo Alto and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir (I think I’ve found my new favourite wine). We finished the night with Jack Daniels and Coke** and some watermelon and vodka drink for Orin. Actually, yeah, what the hell was that?? And just how many cherries did you swallow, Orin??

I went shopping again today in Any Mountain, an outdoor adventure store, and bought one of those uber warm jackets, a cool North Face hat and yet another shoulder bag (I wreck one every three months at the moment).

Has it really got to this? That I have to fill my blog with news that I bought a hat?

Here are Noel’s dogs – the driver is Gruber and the black thing is Margot. Both adorable.
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I’m going home/To the place where I belong

Talk to you all soon…

* just checked – no hits on Google.
** apparently no one asks for “jack daniels and coke”. I’m supposed to shorten it to J and C or something like that. My street cred took a hit there.

The 9lives US Tour: Update 4, Days 7 & 8 & 9

Day 7
While Palo Alto wasn’t exactly boiling hot it was positively tropical compared to the polar temperatures in Chicago. From 60F to -26F in the space of the four hours it took me to reach the windy city. My friend Sean had told me that it was cold and to bring a coat. Well excuse me but I’m too cool for coats. I’ve never even zipped a jacket up before – one can’t be cool if you look like mummy dressed you. Next thing you know I’ll be hiring a middle aged woman to dab my face with a damp handkerchief.

But anyway Sean met me in the city to bring me back to his apartment where I was staying with he and his family. By the time I bumped in to him on the road my ten quid fleece was beginning to demonstrate its limitations. The wind ripped through me, freezing my eyeballs and leaving me moaning incessantly about how unreasonable the meteorological situation was. “I told you it was cold,” Sean nagged, some might think quite reasonably. Well how the hell do I know what -15F feels like? I’m not Phil Connors!

Ned! Ryerson! BING!

Sorry, I loved that movie.

Friday night saw myself and Sean head to a neat Irish bar called Fadós before moving to a piano bar in the city to meet my fellow MySpacer Jenni and her friends Violent and Narin. Myself and Sean showed off and bought a 55 bucks bottle of Pinot Noir. It was nice but I could have gotten five good bottles of wine for Tesco for that. We quickly worked out that the average age of the person at the bar was twice any of us so headed down to Dublins, a very unconvincing Irish bar.

When the girls decided that we were starting to slur a bit too much they headed home and we went on to Coyote Ugly – probably the lamest place ever. Judging by the dancing talent on show I can only guess that they re-enforced the bar. We then made the short trip next door and stood in a queue for some club called Red Dragon I’m told. Sean – the brains of the operation – quickly worked out that we were in something of a minority in the queue. “What is this, Asian night?” he enquired of one of the many Asians that surrounded us? Undeterred by the feeling that we may be entering something of a cultural gap, we paid thirty dollars in (after my customary refusal to show ID) for ten minutes entertainment before heading home.

I love Chicago.

Day 8
Shopping day! I’m a rubbish shopper, especially when (a) hungover and (b) it’s well below freezing. But two pair of Levis 514s (best fitting jeans ever!), two decent Old Navy tees and – the coup de grace – a leather jacket significantly reduced from its “ten bottles of Pinot Noir” price tag later, I was revitalised. I was ready to go home with all this in tow but Sean seemed to be on a mission to visit a shop on every block in the city so it turned in to a six hour marathon session.

That night I went in to Howl at the Moon to meet Jenni for more Irish-themed fun (ie drink) and we were joined later on by my dear friend Holly. Holly was done in the early hours and as I looked at my watch at about 1am myself and Jenni could the see the end in sight…

Day 9
…so I walked in the door of Sean’s apartment at 8am knowing full well that I had to get up for my flight back to San Francisco in three hours. Even his two adorable kids thought it was funny. So I went up and got a few hours sleep before setting off for the west coast again.

Really that’s where the story ends. I got to San Francisco about 7pm to hear that Chicago Bears had lost the Superbowl which was a shame. My colleague John picked me up in his new Porsche 911 and as we screeched away from the kerb leaving a homeless waif rubbing exhaust fumes from his eyes I thought to myself…”these jeans are really f*cking nice”.

Me and Jen-Nay!

Me and Holly!

Me and Sean!

The 9lives US Tour: Update 3, Days 4 & 5 & 6

Day 4
It was an old boys night out on Wednesday as myself and Noel hit the local Thai restaurant and rolled back the years with some amusing anecdotes and references. Obviously they would be lost on you guys as they reflect on stories like that hilarious time back in 1988 when I announced quite loudly in McDonalds – and in an overly-dramatic tone – that I was a ‘failure’. Noel followed this up by randomly shoving his coke on to the floor for no reason whatsoever leading to us maturely leaving in a fit of giggles.

While in the restaurant Noel also absently rolled out his obnoxiously loud “Margot-largot-largot-largot-laaaargot” chant – a loving reference to his six-month old pug. The woman directly behind him threw numerous odd looks at him but not as pronounced as the ones we threw at her partner whose pants were pulled up so high his belt practically strapped his nipples in.

With a few beers down us we took a trip down to Madison and 5th, a totally cool bar on University Avenue. After a couple of mega-strong Baileys served up by the mega-striking-looking Brooke from New York, we rolled outside the bar to unleash a series of mildly amusing in-jokes that had us doubling up with joyous laughter. Seriously, it was depraved.

Day 5
My ability to arise at a decent hour in the morning is becoming more and more like my abilities at home – bloody awful. This time I struggled out at 9.20 for a run and after dicking around for a few hours in the house we finally hit the office at midday. Yes, this is true start-up life.

On my way home I dropped in to the local drug-store for an electric razor to attack the increasing face-fuzz of the last week. Noel called and asked me to get him some beers while I was there. I was of course totally forgetting that Americans invariably have to see ID no matter who you are. I was asked for my date of birth as a fair exchange for my lack of ID and my rattling off of the fact that I was born in 1973 seemed to satisfy the pleasant but totally bored store manager.

Myself and Orin then hit a bar in Mountain View last night while Noel tended to a business meeting in San Francisco. Orin was all about the pool table so we took it on and yours truly showed his shark tendencies with an unbeaten run of about 9 games. I was relieved to finally lose I tell you. I was getting cue elbow.

Anyway we totally got wasted, no more so than when a nice Irish guy bought us a drink at the bar. Orin cashed in and ordered a double tequila shot thing – first time I’ve had tequila since 1994. The taxi back to civilisation was comical – the guy had no freakin’ clue where we were going. Even our repeated and slow pronunciation of “University Avenue” failed to make any progress with this guy. I actually think he didn’t speak any English at all save for his expert and quick-fire reading of the rapidly-increasing meter.

Reminds me of a scene from the occasionally-funny “Brain Donors”. Ambulance-chasing lawyer John Tuturro decides to question his cab driver Mel Smith as to why the dials on the meter are spinning like a roulette wheel.
Turturro: Aren’t those numbers clicking by awful fast?
Smith: You’re probably a speed-reader.
Turturro: Well you got me there.

Day 6
Needless to say day 6 began with me regretting that tequila.

The work day was really a wash out. The morning comprised of a long breakfast, a trip to a car lot and a stroll around Fry’s checking out all the electronics I can’t afford.

Finally, my US tour has had some new dates added. So I leave for Chicago in the morning but due to work commitments I will be returning to Palo Alto for the week on Sunday night rather than going home. I fly home via LAX on Friday 9th I’m reliably informed by my “people”.

Isn’t that exciting? Eh?

Oh.