Monday, 10 November 2014

Manics Monday: part two

As explained in part one of my Manics Monday, I'm in the process of sharing some of the MSP stuff I have accumulated over the years. Last time it was all about clothes, but this time I'm sharing my Manics ticket stubs and some hazy memories of the times I've caught my guitar heroes live.

"This is the past that's mine..." 

Saturday 10th August 1996
Knebworth Park, Stevenage

I consider myself a lucky girl indeed to have seen both the Manics and Oasis at my very first gig, although I'm sure there are many Manics fans that would have a different opinion on that. I was only 13 at the time, so the details of the day are very fuzzy, but my main memories of Knebworth include:
  • Walking through a field of sheep poo to get to the arena
  • Not quite believing how close we were to the stage - we were only in pit two, but at the time I couldn't believe how near it was
  • Being bowled over by the soaring riffs of 'Motorcycle Emptiness'
  • Having to listen to the Chemical Brothers - who are still one of the shittest acts I've ever seen live
  • Thinking how weird it was to be singing along to Oasis with thousands of other people
  • The ridiculous amount of rubbish we had to wade through to get out
  • Falling asleep on the bus and waking up a few hours later to find we hadn't even moved
Luckily, my 13-year-old self had the foresight to write down everything that happened that day. And when I say everything, I mean a 20-page gig review that covers what time I got up to what time I got home and everything in between. I just wish I'd done that for every gig I've ever been to.

I knew a few of the Manics' songs, cos I wrote down that they played 'Everything Must Go', 'Raindrops...' and 'Design for Life', but I now look back on this day as being the event that kick-started my love of the band, as I then went out and bought all of their albums.

Tuesday 15th September 1998
Kettering Arena, Northants

My second ever gig and my second Manics gig were over two years after the first, which felt like a very long wait. I'd been desperate to go to other gigs, the famous Nynex show for one, but being 15 and skint made it pretty difficult. However, I managed to persuade my parents to let me go to this gig, which was on the first 'This is my Truth...' tour.

The album was actually released the day before the gig, so I bunked off school to buy it and spent the whole day/night listening to it so that I'd know all the songs. I also bunked off school on the day of the gig itself to give me plenty of time to get ready. Well, I did have a lot of eyeliner and glitter to apply...

I'm not sure why it's called an arena when it's really just a sports hall. It was a tiny venue for the band to play at that time, cos they were already huge. I think it was also the first night of the tour. My main memories of the gig are:
  • Being in the third row just before the band came on
  • Falling over in the pit
  • A crowd surfing wheelchair
  • Some guy giving me a leg up so I could crowd surf my way out of the crush down the front
  • The Manics not being much fun at all, no banter, no stories...
  • My best friend losing her shoe and desperately searching around for it at the end of the gig
I have some notes I made at the time that say they played Australia, first, then Tolerate and, in no particular order, Faster, La Tristesse Durera, Yes, Motorcycle Emptiness, Small Black Flowers, Kevin Carter, Tsunami - which I note as being one of my favourites live - SYMM, Nobody Loved You and an acoustic My Little Empire. And of course, You Love Us and Design For Life.

All these years later, after seeing the band many times live, I can definitely say that this was my least favourite Manics gig.

Friday 18th December 1998
NEC, Birmingham

A few months after the Kettering show it was time to see the boys in a real arena. I believe there may have been some truancy involved in this too - good job they didn't fine parents back in the day, eh? - as we arrived in Birmingham in the late afternoon to queue. Without a coat. In December. It all paid off though as we managed to get down the front on Nicky's side of the stage and had a great view, although the photos I have of the back of people's heads tell a different story... My main memories of this gig are:
  • Not wearing a coat
  • Briefly meeting Erika (Iconoclastic Glitter) and Carly (Caught in the Crossfire)
  • Being made to sit on the floor once inside the arena, which was really uncomfortable and a bit like being at school
  • Nicky in leopard print!
  • Nicky skipping on stage!
  • My friend throwing a big dragon teddy on stage, then asking security to get it back for her at the end. No I have no idea either...
  • Feather boa + sweat = a dyed black neck
Thanks to setlist fm I know they opened with Everything Must Go, only played This is Yesterday from The Holy Bible and only La Tristesse Durera from Gold Against the Soul. We also had an acoustic rendition of Last Christmas.

Sunday 22nd August
V99, Staffordshire

After two gigs in quick succession it was a long wait til the next one, but I do recall having the time of my life at V99 and it was one of the best MSP shows I have been to. It was my first festival experience, although I only went for the day. I wore my spray painted skirt (as seen in part one) to this and Doc Martens, feather boa, lots of glitter and err... hair mascara. I'm glad that trend was confined to the 90s and thankfully there are no surviving photos of this event. So here's a summary of the gig:
  • My Manics obsessed best friend and I were about half way between the stage and the sound tower, so we had a good spot and a cracking view.
  • Jumped up and down so much we were struggling towards the end
  • Nicky wore either a dress or skirt
  • I may be wrong, but I think they smashed up their gear at the end too - can anyone confirm this? Have I just made this up??
Faster and Of Walking Abortion made it into the set, plus Elvis Impersonator and My Little Empire, which surprises me now.

Tuesday 27th March 2001
Manchester Apollo

I was desperate to go to the Millennium gig, but again I was too skint to get there, so it was a long wait from summer '99 to March '01 to see them again. As they weren't playing anywhere near us on the 'Know Your Enemy' tour, me and my mate went up to Manchester to see them.

Here's what I can remember:
  • Staying in the shittest B&B I've ever been to. Cracked window, freezing cold, bathroom down the hall which was also freezing cold. On the plus side, it was full of Manics fans - cos it was opposite the Apollo - who left a trail of multi-coloured feathers along the stairs and landing.
  • Seeing so many beautifully dressed people
  • They played lots of new songs
  • Doing some incredibly dodgy dancing to 'Miss Europa Disco Dancer'
  • Still not liking 'So Why So Sad'
  • 'FASTER'! 
They opened with Found That Soul and played Masses Against the Classes (one of my absolute favourites live). On the whole it was a mix of new songs and set staples, with Faster being the only surprise.

"The past is so beautiful, the future like a corpse in snow..."

And that's where things get quite hazy. Appallingly, I have very little memory of the other Manics gigs I've been to, so I'll do my best to at least share something about them... If you were at any of the following gigs please feel free to share your memories and help to jog mine!

Leeds Festival 2001, back when it was at Temple Newsam
Sunday 26th August

This was my first full weekend festival, as up until this point I'd only gone on day tickets. I bloody loved it though and have been hooked on festivals ever since. In fact, since 2001 there has only been one year when I haven't been to a weekend festival - cos I went on holiday instead - and some years I've even been to two.

All I can recall of the Manics is squeezing down near the front on Nicky's side of the stage and sitting chatting to some Manics fans earlier in the day.

As well as seeing the Manics headline the Sunday night, I saw Green Day - and then got caught in the crush as everyone tried to leave the field so as not to be subjected to Travis - Living End, Frank Black, QOTSA, Mercury Rev, King Adora, Crackout, Easyworld, Rancid - Lars had a red mohawk and the pit kicked up a massive cloud of dust. I probably saw many more too, but they're the ones that stick out.

Tuesday 3rd December 2002
NEC, Birmingham

I have a confession to make. I have absolutely no memory of this gig and was unaware I'd even been to it before I dug this ticket stub out of my Manics box. I am a terrible Manics fan, but it gets worse...

Friday 6th December 2002
Manchester MEN

I also can't remember going to this gig, which makes me feel awful. Maybe it's cos I went to a trio of gigs within just a few days of each other or maybe it's cos my life was really busy at that point, I just don't know.

Even if I can't remember much about a gig I can usually recall something about the journey or what I wore or something funny that happened, but for both of these gigs I've got nothing.

One thing I do know is that this wasn't my original ticket, as I've only ever had seating tickets for two gigs. I think if I had sat down at least I would've remembered it.

I have been searching around on the t'interweb for something that might jog my memory and discovered that James played an acoustic version of 'Faster', I'm pretty pissed off that I don't remember this! The only thing that does ring a bell is Nicky telling everyone about his leopard print boxers, which is noted in this Drowned in Sound review.

Wednesday 11th December 2002
Nottingham Ice Arena

Bloody 'ell £19.50 seems very reasonable for an arena gig compared to the £40+ you're looking at paying these days. Anyhoo... All I remember from this gig is James being ill and drinking Lemsip on stage and having cold feet because of the ice.

I also thought this was the gig where James fluffed the intro to Motorcycle Emptiness and said it was the first time he'd ever fucked it up, but after checking I don't think it can be cos they played ME as the opening song and I'm sure it was further into the set than that. If anyone can remember what show that was please let know!

Friday 11th July 2003
Manchester Cricket Club

Either the Flaming Lips or the Super Furry Animals had people dressed up with them on stage.  No Manics memories. Shame really cos the setlist looks cool, Judge Yr'self! Prologue to History! Take the Skinheads Bowling! It's So Easy! GAARRRGGGHHH!

Wednesday 18th October 2006
 Rescue Rooms Nottingham

Spent most of this gig thinking a) he needs a haircut and b) I can't believe JDB is mere feet away from me. It was both weird and awesome to see James perform his solo material in such a small venue and to be stood two/three people back from the barrier. Closest I'll ever get to a Manic.
  • Teased us with the Motorcycle Emptiness riff, but didn't actually play it
  • Did play lots of other Manics songs, including Design for Life, From Despair..., No Surface All Feeling
  • Someone shouted about dedicating a song to Cloughie and James saying they were all for Cloughie

Thursday 24th May 2007 
Rock City Nottingham

Again, quite hazy, but my memories of the gig include:
  • OH MY GOD I can't believe I'm seeing the Manics in a venue this small
  • Opening with 'You Love Us' - actually a bloody brilliant idea
  • OH MY GOD they're playing 'Sleepflower'?!

Saturday 8th December 2007 
NIA Birmingham
Main gig memories include:
  • Being on the barrier over on Nicky's side
  • Nicky in knee-high Argyle socks and white skirt
  • 'Little Baby Nothing'! My all time favourite Manics song.
  • Getting a 'Send Away the Tigers' hoodie

Leeds Festival 2008
Sunday 24th August

After a whole weekend of excess I'm surprised I can remember anything about this, but the Manics narrowly beat Frank Turner as my fave act of the festival.
  • There is no better way to end a festival than with a Manics set. 
  • Feeling faint by trying to jump up and down during the whole set while wearing a fur coat.
  • Getting a bit over excited when they played 'Little Baby Nothing'. This is a recurring theme.
  • Playing a cover of Nirvana's 'Pennyroyal Tea'.

Sunday 31st October 2010
De Montfort Hall, Leicester

This was actually the first time I'd seen the boyos in Leicester.
  • Bagging a spot down the front on James' side.
  • James being ill, again. Does this only happen in the Midlands?
  • Nicky saying "don't panic!" when he took over James' mid-set solo spot because he was ill and playing The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever. Particularly liked the "thank you very much Leicester..." bit he sung at the end.

Friday 11th April 2014
Brixton O2 Academy, London

Aahhh! Now here's a gig I can remember! I wasn't quick enough getting tickets for the Leicester show, so we ended up going to one of the Brixton shows. Everything turned out for the best though, cos the Academy is a beautiful venue and it was an awesome show.

Main gig memories:
  • Getting blindsided by a conga of very large blokes as the band launched into opener 'Motorcycle Emptiness'.
  • Accidently chucking my drink over the poor boy in front of me, who was there with his dad, as a result of the above incident. They then made a hasty exit from the pit.
  • James explaining they were using a sample for the German bits in 'Europa Geht Durch Mich' cos of his stupid brain being unable to remember the words.
  • Nicky's unique take on the battle vest, or battle blazer should I say?
  • 'Stay Beautiful' and why don't you just...
  • Not quite believing that they're playing 'Die in the Summertime' AND 'Archives of Pain'.
  • Taunting the crowd by telling us they hadn't decided if they were going to do any 'Holy Bible' reunion shows.

So that's 16 gigs so far and another one on the way. I'll be heading to Manchester for one of the Holy Bible 20th anniversary shows next month, which could easily be the best one yet.

Writing about the MSP gigs I've been to has also got me thinking about the top five gigs I wished I'd been to, but I think I'll have to ponder on that one a while longer before sharing my thoughts.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Manics Monday: part one

I may have mentioned once or twice that the Manic Street Preachers are my favourite band and have been since I was 13-years-old. As a result of this long and slightly obsessive relationship, I have over the years accumulated rather a lot of Manics related stuff. 

After months of teasing fans with hints of a Holy Bible 20th anniversary tour, the Manics finally got around to announcing a string of December dates last month. With just a few gigs planned though, I knew it would be a mad scramble to get tickets and ended up hardly sleeping the night before they went on sale because I was so worried I would miss out. I can't tell you how many times I thanked fuck when Dan said he'd managed to get us a pair for our preferred date - Manchester 11th December - especially since so many people missed out. 

But once the tickets were secured, my thoughts immediately turned to what to wear. This is always a concern for Manics gigs, because occasionally I've gone in my standard gig uniform of jeans and a band t-shirt and have felt somewhat under dressed. So this time, what with it being a special gig n all, I figured I would dig out some of my old Manics gig wear and get dressed up. 

For many years the majority of my Manics stuff has been stashed at my parents house, because my house is so full of CDs, records and books that I just don't have room for all the crap I have hoarded over the years. I put aside a Sunday afternoon to dig it out and discovered that there was loads of stuff I'd forgotten I had. I also found that even after all these years everything is still covered in feathers, despite having chucked out the old feather boas years ago. Anyway, I had so much fun trawling through it all that I figured other Manics fans might want to take a look too. So this is part one of my 'what's in the box?' Manics Monday. 

This is the box that contains a lot of my Manics junk. I've kept all sorts of stuff, such as books, tapes, videos (even though I have nothing to play them on...), magazine clippings, postcards, posters, calendars (!), clothes and accessories. I've also got a separate box of Manics zines, while my CDs and records have always live in my front room along with all my other music.

Since I'm currently working on my Holy Bible 20th anniversary tour outfit, I'll start with clothing. Clothes were always an important part of Manics fandom, with many people styling themselves on the 'Generation Terrorists' look - white jeans and spray painted blouses - and the sheer amount of glitter, feathers and leopard print you'd see on display at gigs made us the best looking bunch of fans around. In fact, other than My Chemical Romance's black parade look, I don't think there has been a gang of distinctive music fans since.

Channelling the Manics and Bikini Kill in one shimmery, spray painted hit

This is a shimmery baby blue Miss Selfridge blouse that I picked up from a charity shop - the majority of my clothes came from charity shops when I was in my teens - some time in 1998 and spray painted with some sort of 'useless generation' and 'culture slut' combi. I wore this to see the Manics in December '98 at the NEC in Birmingham, coupled with skinny white jeans, Doc Martens, a black feather boa, bangles and a shit tonne of eyeliner. I'm not sure how I remember these things when I can't remember much about the gig itself. Actually, two things I do remember are that it was freezing and that when we were let into the arena the security all made us sit on the floor until the support band came on. Never known anything like it and haven't ever experienced it since, which is good cos it was bloody awful getting a torch pointed in your face every time you got up to go and use the loo.

What you can't really tell from this picture is how filthy this shirt is. I only wore it to that one gig, but it is covered in make-up and feathers. Also, I'm pleased to say the skinny white jeans were ditched a long time ago. These days you can choose what style and colour you want your jeans to be, but it was actually really hard to find skinny white jeans in the mid to late 90s. In fact, the only ones I could find were baggy, so I ended up getting my mum to take the legs in for me so they were tight fitting. Thanks mum.

This spray painted skirt was my favourite item of Manics inspired clothing and was the reason I dug the box out in the first place. I was hoping that I could wear it for the Holy Bible gig, but while I can still (just) squeeze into it, it is tiny on the waist. It's a Topshop number that was another charity shop bargain. I loved this skirt so much that it wasn't just reserved for gig wear, I actually used to wear it all the time. I even wore it on my very last day at school, teamed with some rather fetching stripy tights. In a sea of boring, identically dressed teenagers, I did stand out somewhat. I also wore it to see the Manics at V99 in Staffordshire, which was an awesome show.

The arse view...

I also had a few official t-shirts. This is my favourite one because of its glittery silver print and the slogan on the back...

I used to wear this to school all the time. 
As you can imagine, it didn't make me too popular with the other kids.

This is an unofficial t-shirt, which was once white, but is now a kind of disgusting yellow. It's a very 90's style as it's cut really short, back when we used to show off our belly buttons.

Massive long sleeved shirt that I think I picked up from the '98 'This is My Truth...' arena tour. I still haven't grown into it, but I do still wear it round the house sometimes and at festivals.

Other t-shirts in my collection included a dark blue 'Everything Must Go' era 'Violence for Equality' shirt and a 'Too Many Festivals' shirt that I got from V99. I had given up wearing these long ago as they were both way too big for me, so last year I chopped them up - eek - and added them to a band t-shirt patchwork quilt I was making. I did worry that I would regret it, but actually it means that they are used and loved once again instead of sitting in a box and not being used.

Badges, bangles and dog tags, because no Manics outfit was complete without some sparkly accessories. I can't remember where the dog tags came from, but the red badges were from R*E*P*E*A*T fanzine and the others were official ones I think, although I can't remember where they came from.

I was disappointed to find that there was one particular item missing from the box that I thought would come in handy for the gig. I used to have an over-sized green army shirt, one of those with the German flags on the sleeves, that I'd spray painted 'Clash city rocker' on the back of. I don't remember chucking it away and would be surprised if I had got rid of it, because I rarely get rid of anything, so I'm a bit gutted it's gone walk about.

So after all that, the only things I've found that I can actually wear to the Holy Bible gig are some badges and some dog tags, which aren't going to cover much. Luckily during a recent trip to Manchester I did find time for some army surplus shopping and picked up a rather awesome burgundy beret and green camo t-shirt. Now all I need to do is decide on which lyric to stencil on the t-shirt...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Peanut butter & Oreo brownies

I'm a big fan of peanut butter, Oreos and brownies, so I got a little over excited when my best friend Sam suggested combining all three into one glorious batch of nominess.

I made a small batch as a tester in a 20cm diametre tin, but you can easily double the following ingredients, or use your own brownie or chocolate cake recipe and just add the peanut butter and Oreos.

Makes eight pieces
125g self-raising flour
125g brown sugar
25g cocoa
125g margarine
125g dark chocolate
100ml water
2 eggs
peanut butter
1 packet of Oreos

Set the oven to Gas Mark 3/

Grease the baking tin.

Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa in a bowl.

Melt the margarine and chocolate slowly in a saucepan. Once melted, slowly add the water.

Stir the melted ingredients into the dry ingredients, then mix in the eggs.

Pour a small amount of mixture into the tin, just enough to cover the bottom.

Spread a generous amount of peanut butter on both sides of an Oreo and place on top of the mixture. Repeat until you've used most or all of your Oreos.

Pour the remaining brownie mix over the top and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven for approx 40 minutes.

Best served warm, so I recommend scoffing immediately.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Adventures in Northern Ireland

Alongside the extreme Game of Thrones nerdiness that made up Dan's surprise 30th birthday trip to Belfast, we also found time for some of the things you just have to do while in Northern Ireland.

Giant's Causeway
During our Game of Thrones film locations tour we also stopped off at one of Northern Ireland's most famous attractions, the Giant's Causeway.

There are three theories as to how these 40,000 basalt columns came to stand on the northern coast of Ireland:
1. They were made by God.
2. They are a natural phenomena created by an ancient volcanic eruption.
3. They were built by an Irish giant to link Ireland and Scotland. Legend has it that a Scottish giant called Benandonner challenged Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (what a name) to a fight, but when Fionn realised that his Scottish counterpart was much bigger than him, he tricked the giant by pretending to be a baby. Thinking the father of the baby giant would be even bigger, Benandonner ran back to Scotland, ripping up the Causeway as he went so that Fionn would be unable to follow him.

I know which theory I'm putting my money on.

On the way to the Causeway. It's about a 15 minute walk down a steep hill from the car park and visitor centre. Apparently the walk back up is more like 25 minutes, so we cheated and took the bus back to the top.

The Giant's Causeway. Nature at her weirdest.

Northern Ireland isn't the only place to have these hexagonal rocks. Apparently the same can be found on one of the Scottish islands, but as they are so difficult to reach, the Giant's Causeway offers the only opportunity to walk along them. Although they are surprisingly wobbly and slippery, so you have to watch your step as your clambering around them.

Dan at the Giant's Causeway

Little feet, Giant's Causeway

Keeping watch for seals
We saw two bob their noses out of the water a couple of times.

This gives you an idea of how tall the columns are

We did want to try and recreate the sleeve of Led Zeppelin's 'Houses of the Holy', which features the Giant's Causeway, but it was too cold to strip off.

Titanic Belfast
On our last day we headed to the Titanic centre, which tells the full story of the doomed ship from her birth in Belfast to the discovery of her wreck on the ocean floor.

Titanic sign cut from one of the same sheets used to make the ship herself

How the other half lived
Recreated first-class cabin

 Last ever photo of Titanic

Taking some air on deck

For me the most interesting part of the exhibition was the wreck room, where you can see what Titanic looks like after more than 100 years on the ocean floor. Due to her weight and the force with which she sank, the bow of the ship is driven about 30 feet into the seabed and there are plates, shoes and all kinds of artefacts scattered around her. The ship itself is covered in 'rusticles', which make it look like she's melting, but I'm told these are caused by bacteria and would actually disperse if you were to touch them.

It was impossible to take any photos of the underwater footage, but you can see some of the display here.

Titanic Belfast photographed from the slipway where Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, were built

This was actually my favourite part of the trip, walking along slipway No. 3, where Titanic was built.

This is where Titanic stood while she was being built and her outline is actually marked in white along the slipway. Her bow was facing in land and once completed she was launched arse first into the River Lagan. As well as the outline of the ship they've also marked where the lifeboats sat and have even added benches exactly where they were positioned on the ship itself. It was only walking the length of the outline that I really got a sense of how big Titanic was. Although the photo below of the propellers does show what a big girl she was...

Later in the day we visited the Titanic memorial in the grounds of City Hall, which carries the names of everyone who died...

...including a Ross and a James McGrady, 
which is the name of Dan's older brother.

There was also time for a quick Game of Thrones related photo, as it's filmed at Titanic Studios, which sits next to the Titanic centre. Where we're stood is actually at the stern of Titanic's outline on slipway No. 3.

Ghost Walk
Our last night in Belfast was spent roaming the streets with Ghost Walk Belfast, which operates walking tours every Friday night. It was a great way to discover some of the history of the city, as well as its dark tales, as we took in Belfast's oldest buildings and dark alleys. From grave robbing to live burials, there were certainly some gruesome stories and we were shocked to discover that some of the city's streets were built over graveyards.

A last night in Belfast wouldn't be a last night at all without a drink, so after the walking tour we headed for The Crown. One of Belfast's oldest and best looking pubs. Its booths even have doors so you can shut yourself away from all the bustle of the bar. These shots don't do it justice, but believe me the place looked amazing with its mosaic ceiling and stained glass windows. There's also a restaurant upstairs that does a good Irish stew.

And that was it, our Belfast adventure and Dan's birthday surprise had come to an end. I'm already making plans in my head to go back though, as there were some important things we didn't have chance to do, mainly visiting Sick Records and Good Vibrations. I think we're going to have to go back just so I can ticked them off my list of indie record shops I must visit before I die.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My Sonisphere and snakepit experience

It was my 15th weekend festival, but my first time at Sonisphere. As a seasoned Download and Leeds goer I've grown used to knowing my way around and where the best places are to pitch. Usually it's the slightly quieter fields we go for, shattering the peace with our cock n balls balloon modelling and the shit celebrities shouting game. That's the kind of stuff that kicks off when my best friend Steve comes along anyway, because he's a troublemaker like that...

Being on unfamiliar territory was weird, but Sonisphere quickly became my favourite festival. It's spacious, it's clean and there's little queuing for anything, particularly getting into the arena which Download and Leeds manage to balls up every year. Anyway, let's get on with the gloating... sorry, I mean the fun stuff.

Let's start at the end. Sunday headliners, Metallica, were the main reason we opted for Sonisphere over Download this year, but our excitement about the show increased tenfold when we discovered we'd be watching their set from... THE SNAKEPIT. Yeah, that's right. We're a pair of lucky bastards.

As part of the By Request tour we had the opportunity to vote for the setlist. In the end most people voted for the songs they usually play anyway, so it was pretty much a greatest hits set. For me, there were two main songs I wanted to see on that list, 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' and 'Whiskey in the Jar'. I got both.

 The pit wristbands. We're going in...

This is our arrival in the snakepit, which is reserved solely for around 100 Metallica fan club members. We are about third/fourth row from the front. The chances of us weeing ourselves with excitement are off the scale right now. As you can see Dan has gone into James Hetfield man-crush stalker mode and I can't believe this is actually happening.

It was actually quite weird getting into the pit, as we had to walk along the front between the barrier and the stage, with everyone at the front narrowing their eyes at us as we did so. I can't really blame them, they'd probably spent eight hours or more on there, desperate to get a good spot for Metallica. Probably desperate for a piss too.

The rest of the snakepit.

The main crowd is out there somewhere, but weirdly we can't see or hear them from where we are. That is until they start raining bottles down on us. That's jealousy for you.


We've both seen Metallica many times over the years, but it's always been from quite a distance, so it was weird to suddenly be able to make eye contact with them.

I'm sure for about the first five minutes I just stood there with my gob open.

The arse of Hetfield

The people you can see at the side of the stage are also Met Club members who won the chance to watch the band from there.

Mid-set selfie.
What we're thinking at this moment: 

I've never known a two-hour set to go by so quickly. We were having so much fun that we hadn't even noticed that it'd got dark. The band stayed on stage long after they'd finished playing, as they always do, throwing plectrums, fist bumping and the like. The flag they're holding up was thrown on stage by a dude who was stood just behind us.

By far the highlight of the set was 'Whiskey in the Jar'. Like us, everyone else had probably waited forever to see it live too, so the whole snakepit went mental, even singing along with the riffs. I suffered the next day though with a pretty severe bangover.

James Hetfield's plectrum. He threw it into the pit and it landed on Dan's foot. I believe my words of congratulations went something like this: 'You are the jammiest cunt I know.' I later took it back once I bagged my own plectrum! It landed next to my foot and as the girl next to me reached down to get it I stood on it. All is fair in love and snakepit warfare. At least I didn't punch anyone in the face trying to grab one, which the guy in front of me actually did. In his defence it was accidental, but his victim was not impressed.

We also bought a Metallica frisbee. Just because.

Other awesome things that happened 

Dancing to Chas n Dave in the rain while wearing a bin bag as a coat. They had a circle pit going and a crowd surfing rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit... It was amazing.

Getting on the barrier for Kerbdog and The Bronx*, then seeing how mental the tent went for both of them.
*I think I can hear myself screaming at the start of this video.

Feeling 18 again while watching Hundred Reasons perform their debut album 'Ideas above Our Station' in its entirety. I used to go and see that band a LOT when I was in my teens.

Listening to the bunch of 18 year olds that were camped next to us plan which bands they were going to watch on the Saturday: 'Hundred Reasons are playing today. Whoever they are.' HAHAHA.

The boy from the same camp who talked about finding a 'vinyl shop' in the shopping village. HAHAHA. Oh God...

The World War I dogfight, including Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. 
Here we are joining in.

The guy who was off his face on pills dancing to Slayer like they were the kind of act you'd get at Creamfields.

Blaas of Glory, the amazing marching band that trooped around the arena every day playing metal covers.

Seeing Black Dogs get a wall of death going at 1.30pm. That's basically 6am in festival land.

Living off cheese and marmite toasties from the Tea & Toast stall.

Smuggling gin tins into the arena every day without getting caught *smug face*.


Some dude asking Dan if I was his daughter. HAHAHA. He wasn't impressed, but I'm still laughing about it now...

We had sunshine, we had Metallica, I think as first Sonisphere experiences go it was a winner.