Minds Music Monday – All For You

Four years ago my exploration of Simple Minds began in a chronological order. This was the first song in that chronological exploration that I fell in love with. It certainly became one of the most…intense “love affairs” I have ever experienced. But, once hooked, I never saw it ending.

But, perhaps, like all intense “love affairs”… it has an expiration date? I would dearly love for it to stand the test of time.

“That silver blade can cut up your throat” (or your heart)

Aix-Les-Bains – A Travellers View – Day One – One For “The Bucket List”.

That would imply that it had been “on” a bucket list. But not really. Never had even heard of the place until it was announced that Simple Minds was going to be on the bill at the Musilac Festival being held there. Also on the bill, though…Depeche Mode and The Stranglers. That was one SERIOUS triple bill!

I looked into the logistics tentatively. There is an airport nearby in Chambery, but that is really only open during the ski season. So, then it was looking at the major airports nearest by and working out from there what would, logistically, be easiest and cheapest to go with. There were two choices of airport: Lyon or Geneva.

Flghts seemed cheap enough. And I could use Booking.com to book a place to stay, and not worry about outlaying money until the time of the festival. But, did I *really* want to travel that far for one day at a festival? It was a long way to see SM. But at that point in time, I’d have happily taken a one way trip to Mars to see them.

But it was probably something I really couldn’t afford, so I initially decided against it.

But it played on my mind. It would be the trip of a lifetime! And…to see such amazing acts. And the scenery would be wonderful too.

I went for it. At that point, I had knocked going to Paris with Gillian on the head because…as anazing as her offer was…how could I have someone pay my way for Paris?

The only things I had to make sure I secured for Aix was A) The ticket for the festival. B) Deciding which airport to go and buy the return fare before it got too expensive. C) Use Booking.com to secure a place to stay, whilst deferring payment until the time of the stay.

Once those things were taken care of, I could take my time to prepare the rest in the ensuing months.

When the day came for travel…it was with a heavy heart that I had reluctantly decided I must go. On the days leading up to it, I had a falling out with Jim. I won’t play the innocent party here. I am NOT that kind of person. I will not shift blame. I know I said hurtful things, but I was hurting. A lame excuse…but it is the truth. My emotions were running high, and I suffered the consequences for sealing my fate.

So, from this point on, I pray for one of two things to happen. Jim forgives me and I am allowed to return to Simple Minds Official…or I find a way to enjoy it now for what is left of it.

My interactivity with Jim was a HUGE part of what made being a Simple Minds fan so wonderful. To be able to talk to him, tell him about the things I love about the music. Sharing what the songs meant. The excitement of “gig day”. Expressing the joy of travelling, meeting up with friends and know that I was going to have the most amazing time. To express that to the man who is at the head of it all was priceless.

Should I even go at all? I had committed so much, financially. The flights were paid for. The coaches from Geneva Airport to Chambery to Aix (and back again) were paid for. The hotel was now paid for (the day before the falling out!). The festival ticket was obviously paid for. So, had I decided NOT to go, I’d have squandered at least £300. Money I really could NOT afford to squander.

Do not misconstrue my words. I do not expect recompemce for what I had spent out following Simple Minds and going to gigs. I did it happily and willingly.. I’m just highlighting what an outlay it can be. But the biggest investment is still the emotional one.

Day One: Travelling to Aix.

The flight Geneva was departing mid afternoon, so I had the chance to try and rest well the night before. I was ssooo apprehensive about things. Normally I’d be bubbling with excitement.  I might be a little concerned about things…but always at the end was that Glittering Prize of seeing that amazing band, and most beautiful man. I would never be scared, really. I would always be happy, knowing I was going to see them and him again.

The flight to Geneva was slightly delayed, but we still landed on time. I was through the airport in no time at all. Swiss efficiency, see?! I got through border security in minutes. Hell, did I need that time on my side! Could I find where the coach to Chambery was leaving from? Could I heck! I was out of the airport at 4.45pm. The coach was leaving at 6pm. By 5.15pm, I had still not found the coach stop. I called Ouibus to try and get directions. The woman I spoke to was of no help AT ALL. Finally I had spotted an airport attendant organising the taxi rank. I asked for his help, and he knew exactly where I needed to be. He pointed me in the right direction (there was an underpass below the airport, and that’s where the coaches left from. I could not see this underpass area from outside the airport building, as it was directly underneath it.

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5.30pm and this coach pulls in. I’ve never been so happy to see a coach! At 6pm we’re on our way to Chambery. We need to be there by 7.30pm for my connecting coach to Aix. I hope I timed it to perfection. I sit back and marvel at the scenery outside.

I hadn’t listened to any Simple Minds for a week. I certainly couldn’t bring myself to listen to Walk Between Worlds. But every time I travelled anywhere, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call was my soundtrack. So obligatory in fact, I found myself digging for the iPod Touch, opening up Spotify and starting up Boys From Brazil. I could feel just about detached enough to listen to a young Jim. Because…that was him then. What had happened between us was today’s Jim…WBW Jim. I’m sure this makes sense to nobody but me.

And, as I said, Sons and Sister had always been the “travelogue” album(s) for me…Empires And Dance also.

I listened to Boys From Brazil, Love Song, This Earth That You Walk Upon – which took me back to February and Barras and that amazing night and how wonderful it was, Sons And Fascination, Seeing Out The Angel and the remix of Sweat In Bullet.

Now I was starting to watch the time and panic. We had only just arrived in Chambery and it was 7.20pm, we had to be dropped off at the city post office to get the connecting coach. We were still minutes away and there was traffic about.

I alighted the bus at 7.35pm and all I could do was pray that, like this coach, the coach to Aix had hit traffic and been delayed. A few miniutes ticked by and I was starting to convince myself I had missed it and my anxiety levels started to go through the roof. I had to be at the hotel in Aix by 8.30pm to avoid paying a late arrival subsidy. If I was not at the hotel by 11pm, I would be refused entry! If I missed the coach, it was another hour for the next…and I would most likely have to buy a new seat at lord knows what expense.

Even more so than earlier…I have NEVER been so happy to see a coach in all my life! The coach to Aix pulled in to the bay just three minutes after the Chambery coach left. Now I could FINALLY relax some. The journey from Chambery to Aix was a short one. Only around 20-25 minutes. I knew I’d make it to the hotel as it was just a short walk from the coach stop.

Once off the coach, it was time to take a few quick snaps of the view in front of me.

As I rounded the corner to make my way up to the hotel, that beautiful golden hued mountain shone in front of me. What a breathtaking sight! A little further down the road, I saw the poster for the festival. As it transpired, they were plastered all over town…just in case you forget there was going to be a music festival on this weekend.

I got…a little sidetracked getting to the hotel. As I approached a park near the hotel, I could hear live music. I went and took a quick look.

After finding the hotel, I shared the hotel view and how the room looked. Said hello to everyone on FB.

And one final little clip of me making my way into the town to find something to eat…and talking of “crowded swallow skies”, even though the birds are swifts…

I did find a nice place in the end. Affordable and tasty. Very filling, and the waitress spoke some English, so it was all good!

The place was called L’Aixpress Pizza on the Rue des Bains. Cheap and cheerful. Even watched the football in there.

And that was day one done and dusted. I felt happy to have made it there safely and with nothing going wrong. And I was feeling quietly hopeful for the next day.

Review – Musilac Festival – Aix-Les-Bains, France – Day One, July 12th, 2018

There is so much to cover with such a Festival. I have never been to such a HUGE event. The local paper in Aix-Les-Bains the following morning reported a crowd of 25,000 people there for day one of the festival. A big old crowd! And I think I can safely say it’s the biggest (and most remote!) festival I have ever been to, and am ever likely to go to.

There were three stages at the festival. A small stage close to the entrance point of the site called “scène le korner”, and then at the far end of the venue, running along the esplanade of the lake, two stages side by side “scène lac” and “scène montagne”.

“Scène Lac”: Albert Hammond Jr

He seemed familiar to me. I said to my companion, Françoise, that I was sure he had been in a band before. Perhaps The Strokes, I thought? Seeing a photo of him in the local paper the next morning with it referencing The Strokes had confirmed my reason for his familiarity to me.

He was very good. I enjoyed his set. He was a very good showman. Had lots of energy. Interacted well with the crowd. His band were tight. I’d definitely seek out his music and give it a listen.

“Scène Montagne”: Feu! Chatterton

A French act, so, lyrically, things were hard for me to grasp. Their frontman, Arthur Teboul, certainly has an unforgettable stage presence. Although I couldn’t appreciate the full context of the expression of the music due to the language barrier, I certainly appreciated the musicality of them, and of Arthur’s way of emoting the poetry within the music. Françoise tried to give me some help in understanding their sound, likening the way Teboul was expressing the music as with poetry. She likened him to Jaques Brel…but, for me, I suppose the only performer I can liken him to, in terms of the poetic romanticism of him, would be to liken him to Jim Morrison. But with the music being more a jazz/electronic twist to it, rather than blues and rock.

I really enjoyed them. And Teboul is one of the more mesmerising frontmen I’ve seen in some time. Very captivating.

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“Scène Lac”: Lomepal

Another French act. This time a rapper/hip hop artist. I can’t really pass judgement on him, as….well, this kind of genre of music does little for me. But he went down very well with the crowd, particularly the younger festival goers. There was a near riot breaking out towards the end of his set. I thought security was going to have to go in and sort the crowd out. But things calmed and it was all good.

“Scène Montagne”: The Stranglers

This was my third time seeing The Stranglers, and I was ssooo ready for them! I can’t recall rightly what they started their setlist with…I think it might have been 5 Minutes, from memory. Certainly 5 Minutes was played early on. We were treated to greats like Grip, Golden Brown, Always The Sun, Peaches, No More Heroes…and as seen by the clip I recorded, a fab version of Nice n’ Sleazy. They did Walk On By as well (that was tough to hear, without a little personal sting to it) – as well as OMG, the most cracking version of All Day And All Of The Night. Wow! I was singing my bloody heart out with that one.

The band were, as always, fabulously tight. JJ and Baz were up for fun. I think JJ even smiled a few times! Lol. Dave is just…Dave – more chilled than a bag of ice in an igloo. No Jet Black…but the fabulous Jim Macaulay was on drums. And I very, very nearly caught one of his sticks that he threw out to the crowd. It was flying towards me…I tried to grab it…but it fell in front of the barrier. The security guy teased me and two blokes to my left with it. He then handed it to the bloke next to me. Thanks dude :-/ I can’t tell you how much I’d have loved that stick.

For the time they were on stage, I forgot things. My woes, how much my body already ached, how tired and thirsty I was, how many more hours I’d be on my feet…how I was going to feel seeing Jim later. It was just me and the music and the boys. They are just too fabulous. Seriously…next time I see them (and there WILL be a next time!), I run the risk of making a stage invasion, just so I can plant a big old kiss on that lovely bald head of Baz’s. Lol. I already told him I love him in Sydney (have never even shouted that out to Jim!)…I just think he’s the best.

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“Scène Lac”: Depeche Mode

Without doubt, the headline act of the night, and the act the vast majority of punters had travelled far and wide to see. I’m not sure what I can say, really. I don’t need to sell them. Everyone who has ever experienced a Depeche Mode concert knows what a spectacle it is. I am not overly familiar with modern DM tracks…but there were certainly older “crowd pleasers” on offer like Personal Jesus (had a bit of a sting to it…after the old “messiah” comment…”someone to hear your prayers / someone who cares” well, I deluded myself they did, for sure), Everything Counts, Enjoy The Silence (the song was hard to digest…it had a very personal ring to it on Thursday night…and it just stung…and the tears stung my eyes when singing along silently “words are very unnecessary / they can only do harm”). Martin Gore’s vocal on his composition “Somebody” was just breathtaking, and heartbreaking. If I say any more on it, I won’t able to finish this review.

An encore of Just Can’t Get Enough. As if Dave didn’t already have all 25,000 revellers eating out of the palm of this hand. It was a fabulous song to end on. Ending on a high…as much as I was enjoying it…it was the signal to remind me what was coming next. I didn’t feel ready!

Depeche Mode definitely live up to the reputation that precedes them. If you, like me before Thursday, have never seen them live before…it is an experience you need to have, at least just once.

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“Scène Montagne”: Simple Minds

The last thing I needed was a countdown clock. But between sets and the swapping of stages, the next act on would have a five minute countdown. The countdown to Simple Minds was giving me such mixed emotions. Françoise and I had taken up that position at the front of the barrier at around 4pm. Except for one brief loo trip (myself only), we had kept our position for over 7 hours.

I was hoping for a little breathing space. When Depeche Mode started, things got a little crammed at the barrier. I thought after their set was done, that there would be some dispersion of the crowd, that some revellers would start to leave. If that happened, I didn’t sense it or feel it. We remained jammed in.

I decided to record their entrance to the stage, although I knew press photographers would make things difficult, as there were plenty there for every act for the first few songs.

Opened with The Signal And The Noise followed by Waterfront. It remains a dramatic and fantastic set opener, having the two songs play back to back. A curious thing this “stage grouping” of the band as the final strains of The Signal And The Noise plays out. I preferred the way it ended at the Feb dates, and at Wentworth, with Cherisse giving it full welly for the song to just…cease. Abruptly. Severance. There’s a relevant word.

I can’t remember the strict running order of the setlist but we had Let There Be Love, Mandela Day, Once Upon A Time, Summer, She’s A River, See The Lights, Dolphins, Let The Day Begin, Don’t You, Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself. There might be one I’ve missed, but I think that was pretty much it. And…the order may not be strictly correct.

Let There Be Love was hard to digest on a personal level. It was performed wonderfully, of course. Likewise…See The Lights was…painful. And I think Jim slightly altered the line “forgive me, love – I’m too proud to cry” – as highlighted on my Minds Music Monday post.

Dolphins…I couldn’t even watch Catherine perform it.

This is a personal blog from a Simple Minds fan. I’ve never pushed it as a professionally run, unofficial fan page – just…a fan page. One fan, and my own slant on things. My love for the band, the music…him.

I couldn’t watch Catherine perform Dolphins…the subject matter of the lyrics…how I was feeling. It was all I could do to hold it together.

I went to the front because I still wanted to show just how wholly supportive of the band I am. My love for the band dynamic and the live performance was never in doubt or in question. The irony of it all is…to be feeling ostracised for expressing something, for speaking out about something you felt could be making other fans excluded…I can’t even describe it.

I have never felt so…far removed from all that I cherish being at a Simple Minds concert. The sheer joy I have always experienced. The adrenalin rush. The love. The positivity. It was disappearing. Slipping through my hands.

I had hoped I would feel able to look at Jim. Somehow gesture to him that I was sorry and that I loved him and…

But…I just couldn’t. I couldn’t look at him. Not as an act of defiance…and I fear it might be how he interpreted it…but it was more…I felt unwelcome…truly unwelcome at a gig for the first time, ever…and a look to him…it may have just compounded things. So, better not to look. Avoid eye contact. Pretend it was still okay for me to be there. Try to pretend I was still welcome.

And so when I say that “the feeling was gone”….it was THAT particular feeling. The feeling that I was there to show support and love the music…and watch an amazing man that can hold an audience quite unlike anyone else can. And feel…welcomed. Feel that love in return. Mutual appreciation. Something I had nearly always felt from him.

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When the set ended, Françoise asked me if I was okay…and I broke down in tears.

I sobbed openly on Françoise’s shoulder. This beautiful lady who I have known on Facebook only a couple years and only got to meet for the first time very briefly at the Paris gig in February, was an angel to me.

To be made to feel welcomed when I first started interacting on SMO. To have your feedback in the form of comments left and questions read and replied to esp. by the man whose music it is, is everything. To have your art appreciated…REQUESTED, even, by that same man…It transcends it from making it mere musical experience to an emotional investment that is all encompassing. That interactivity is priceless. And I never tried to take it for granted. But perhaps in the end I did. And I regret that.

All there is now is…a void.

Simple Minds were amazing. They always will be. They truly are one of the best live bands in the world.

And that is another thing Jim Kerr gave me…that thirst for the live music experience. Had he not…I’d have never travelled hundreds of miles to experience a festival like this one.

There was one final act on the Scène Lac stage, Zeal and Ardor, but by the time Simple Minds finished, it was 12.35am. Sadly for poor Zeal and Ardor, this is when the mass exodus happened, once Simple Minds finished. Françoise and I were amongst the crowd leaving. I needed to (try to) pull myself together.

I can’t ever regret going. Despite the other things hindering it…what happened with Jim, family health issues, money woes, etc, etc…Musilac Festival, for positives and negatives will be an experience I am unlikely to forget.

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Most photos are of acts appearing on the Scène Montagne stage as it was just too difficult to take pics or film anything going on on the Scène Lac stage.

Musilac – Aix-Les-Bains – July 12th, 2018

Am dying to give a full review, but I am ssoo tired! It’s 7am here in Aix…and I can’t sleep. I can’t switch my mind off and I have to mindful of the amount of data usage I have left on my phone before I get home…

But I HAD to share this clip of the mighty Stranglers for now doing Nice n’ Sleazy.

A very compressed video as I had to upload it over 4G, but one I’m home, I’ll upload it again at full HD.

Enjoy! (I did!)

The Ace Of Bass – Ged Grimes

Cherisse’s Tour Diary now sheds focus on “ace of bass” and all round wonderful man, Ged Grimes.

I won’t be able to watch the clip until I get back to the UK (need to keep an eye on the amount of data I’m using up while in France-and access to WiFi is patchy for me – I’m staying at an annexed part of the hotel that has no WiFi access).

To finally get to meet him back in February was one of the highlights of the Walk Between Worlds showcase dates. I had been wanting to meet him since I became a mega Minds fan, but the opportunity just kept slipping by, until after the gig at Manchester.

He was just lovely.