Saturday, 17 August 2013

It's only rock n roll.....Cardiff

We made our first visit, both to Cardiff and more specifically, the Millennium stadium recently, here's the lowdown. 

Second Severn Crossing
My daughter and I set off around midday on the 23rd July for the 3ish hour drive to Cardiff. The reason for the journey, Bruce Springsteen and the E street band were in town for the latest show in the Wrecking ball tour which has now been running since early 2012. The highlight of the drive was undoubtedly the Severn bridge crossing which is a magnificent piece of engineering by anyone's standards and is a very impressive way of crossing from England into Wales.  Norman Haste, was the man who led the construction of this iconic structure.
We arrived at the Premier inn, Caerphilly, which is around 9 miles away from Cardiff, around the 3.30pm mark, we had no choice other than to book into a hotel outside the city as the ones in town were either full or had hiked their prices to an extortionate rate due to the event. However, this wasn't too much of a problem, the lady on reception couldn't have been more helpful, after checking us in she asked if we were here to see Bruce Springsteen which was answered in the affirmative, she then gave us advice on getting the train from Caerphilly to Cardiff and even booked us a taxi cab to get to the station, lovely staff, great service!
The cab dropped us off at the station and I asked the porter when the last train was going to be heading back from Cardiff that night, for anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few decades, the length of Springsteen's shows are the stuff of legend, generally on this tour averaging around three and a half hours, although in Helsinki, he played for over four! The porter gave me the 'off the record' nod that officially the last train was 11.15pm although there is a further and extra 'last train' at 11.50, we were very pleased to hear this although why it was such a secret is anyone's guess.

The Rummer Tavern
Leaving the train at the Queens street station, to be honest, it looked like the city centre so we got off, we were originally heading for central. First impressions strolling around the city centre were good, this is a very nice city! After a long journey it was time for a wee drink and the first port of call was the' Rummer Tavern', according to the pub itself, The oldest in Cardiff no less. (We won't mention the Irish bar just up the road which made the same claim) However, the pub is three centuries old, a good old boozer, lovely atmosphere inside and the barman was more than helpful in providing us with directions to the Millennium stadium. I was tempted to go for one of the cask ales on the bar but it was a beautiful warm  summers day in Cardiff so we opted for a pint of Carling, which at just over £3.25 wasn't the most expensive drink we've ever had. I did have reason to visit the WC during our short stay, which provided ample proof to me that the pub actually was over three centuries old! Without allowing that to cloud judgement, the Rummer Tavern is a very nice city centre pub, definitely worth a visit if you are in town. You will find it directly opposite Cardiff castle which is right in the heart of the city. A Rummer is a toasting glass for wine, believed to have originated in central Europe in the 16th century.

We made our way towards the stadium, the barman was spot on with directions. There are a a number of very good bars, cafe's etc around the stadium but we settled for 'Revolution' which I'm sure later in the evening is a bustling bar full of the beautiful people, but early evening it looked like it was a comfortable place with lots of space to get something to eat. We went for one of Revolution's signature dishes, which, believe it or not, is a vodka pizza. As gross as this sounds,  it was delicious! The service could have been better at Revolution to be honest, we were told there would be a 25 minute wait for food which wasn't a problem with us, however the beers arrived after the food, which certainly was a problem, they had actually been given to another table. However, the waitress was very apologetic and that aside, the food was excellent.

We made our back out into the street and up the road to the stadium, the first thing which became apparent was the distinct lack of vendors selling unofficial 'merch' outside the stadium, not sure if this has been a conscious effort by the powers that be, maybe someone could enlighten me.

Prized Possession!
After handing over the much prized tickets and the lady's bag had been thoroughly searched! (check previous blogs for that reference, we entered the stadium.

The 'official' merch stands both inside and just outside the stadium were all out of medium sizes which was a bit of a downer for me, the sizes which were available were pricey, 25 quid a pop, (man of the people?) my daughter picked up a great ladies t-shirt for ten pounds! Best value by a mile from any gig we've been to over the past few years or so we thought, days later when she checked closer, the shirt was from the gig in Coventry back in June which should absolutely have been pointed out to her when she bought it. Whoever is responsible for running the merchandising for the 'Wrecking Ball' tour, shame on you.

Once we entered the main area of the venue we could see that the stage was at approximately the half way line, and the stadium roof was closed which would certainly assist the acoustics. We were able to walk around the left hand side of the main crowd and ended up with a really good view, about 60 to 70 feet from the left hand side of the stage, result!

Bruce and the band took to the stage at 7.40pm to 'This little light of mine' following up with 'Long Walk Home', my favourite track from the 'Magic album and one of a number of surprise inclusions along with 'Tougher than the rest' and 'Ramrod'. A sign request for 'TV movie' was duly delivered, the first and only time this track has ever been played live! 'Because its ridiculous!' said the man himself.
'Hungry Heart' and 'My City of Ruins' was delivered before Bruce was joined onstage by Eric Burdon from 60's group 'The Animal's' for a tremendous version of 'We got to get out of this place' which was delivered such a volume by the crowd, it would have done the usual inhabitants of the Millennium stadium proud! Great to see Eric Burdon, one of the few genuine British blues singers, still going strong. If you don't know the animals stuff, would definitely recommend checking them out. Most Of The Animals.
The night rolled on with the band in top form, 'Pay Me My Money Down' was a joy, then the lights came up for the final segment of the show and Bruce instructed anyone left in the place who was still sitting down to 'get up off of your welsh asses and lets see what you got!'. 'Born To Run', 'Tenth Avenue Freeze-out', and the pure theatre that 'Dancing in the Dark' has now become came and went in a blur. More than three and a half hours had passed when the band left the stage to leave the main man alone to close out the show with outstanding acoustic versions of 'Janey, don't you lose heart' and the simply stunning 'Thunder Road'. 

It's Boss Time!
It's incredibly difficult to explain the impact of a Springsteen show, the almost life affirming quality of a evening spent simply being part of this rock n roll extravaganza is hard to put into words. I've spent most of their lives trying to explain how good this band is live to our daughters, now both of them have seen for themselves what I was going on about all that time. Our eldest daughter, this time making the trip with me for her first Springsteen gig, left the stadium without a voice after singing and dancing the night away to many songs she was hearing for the first time. If you haven't seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform, do yourself and huge favour and catch them while you still can. I would also like to make special mention of the venue, very organised and comfortable environment to watch a show at what is essentially a sports arena, first class work Millennium Stadium

We headed to Central station and didn't have to wait long before the 'secret' last train arrived and we boarded for the journey back to Caerphilly. The only drawback of the secret train was that it was so secret, the local taxi drivers didn't know about and the taxi rank was completely deserted at the station. However, the nice lady from the premier inn had also given us a business card for a local taxi company, so the wait wasn't too long.

One of the best blogs I've picked up on over the past few months is Burgers and bruce, a food and travel blog with a strong leaning towards the boss. The lady who writes the blog actually got to meet the great man recently, well worth checking out.

The Summats single, 'Nothing's Changed' is doing very well, many thanks to everyone who has downloaded the track, you know we appreciate each and every one of you. We expect to be in the studio in September working on a EP and we are very excited to be working on a new festive song for 2013!

My songwriting partner Toe (Tony Brown) has finally picked up royalties for Australian TV airplay of All I Want Is Christmas, back in 2010,  I unfortunately have not, my royalties, I think, are with Tunecore who handle my publishing admin. The upshot of all this is I need a tax code from the U.S., Uncle Sam, I'll be in touch from blighty so sharpen the pencil!. Seriously, trying to get our royalties, PRS, publishing all worked out over the past couple of years has been a interesting journey, with some really good lessons for any new songwriters out there, but that most certainly will be subject to a blog all on it own! In the meantime, if you need advice now, this article will be very useful to you as a starting point

Till next time, take care and keep smiling!


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