I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet recently. I’m sure you’ve all been missing my random posts, ha. Now that I’m working part time, you’d expect me to have loads of extra time, but actually I feel like I’ve been busier than ever. Two weeks ago, I went to visit a friend in Bristol; last week, I visited Lizzie in Bedfordshire; yesterday, we went to Manchester to see Sufjan Stevens; in about 3 weeks I’m travelling to Germany to see family. I’m exhausted just writing that list! I have also been busy at the allotment and sewing machine – more on that soon, I promise.
For now, I thought I’d just write a brief post about the most exciting thing I’ve done recently – attending a Sufjan Stevens concert in Manchester! I’ve been a fan for years, though I realised that I am not as hard core a fan as I thought, as I only have about 3 of his 7 albums. I did walk down the aisle to one of his songs, though, so I guess I have some credibility.
His latest album, Carrie & Lowell, is probably the most emotional of his albums (from my perspective, at least). I went fully prepared to tear up a few times. And I did, especially during “Fourth of July” which always makes me well up on the album and released quite a few tears in person. Sufjan has a beautiful, clear voice and plays lots of different instruments, and his band is clearly every bit as talented as him. There were banjos, melodicas, pianos, windchimes, a synth, drums and some very cool electronica produced by a laptop (one of the highlights of the gig for me was a drawn-out electronic solo which, when I closed my eyes, created a feeling I genuinely can’t describe in a way that wouldn’t make me sound a little too new-age). In spite of all the instruments, it was a very stripped down concert, with the emphasis very much on the music and lyrics rather than the musicians. The lightshow and video were equally great, again contributing to the overall atmosphere of the concert rather than feeling flashy or overcomplicated. I especially loved the moments when the lights shone out into the audience. To be fair, that hurt my eyes a little, but in a weird way it made me feel introspective and connected me with the performers. I did wonder if that was a deliberate choice, as Sufjan mentioned during the chatty part of the gig that he liked being able to see our faces.
There were lots of highlights for me:
“Fourth of July”
“John my Beloved”
Basically, I guess what I’m saying is that if you ever get an opportunity to see Sufjan Stevens live, take it. We travelled to Manchester from Cheltenham for the gig because it was the only venue left two days after tour tickets were released, and it was totally worth it.
Also, I can highly recommend the Manchester O2 Apollo as a venue. I didn’t get many pictures, but it is a gorgeous building, with loads of space and elegant decoration. Also, I don’t think there was a truly bad seat in the house!
I suppose one of the reasons I was willing to go to such lengths is that he, like me, is originally from a flyover state (i.e. one that is often overlooked by tourists). I do know it’s silly to feel a connection because of geography, but when I feel homesick I am grateful to think about or see other people from the same general vicinity as me. I took the opportunity to embrace my American-ness, and we went to Byron for burgers.
Yes, it was as good as it looks. I especially loved that it came with a proper pickle. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m obsessed with pickles, and they’re one of the things I miss the most. R had a Freddar dawg – a burger in a hot dog bun.
As a bonus, they had root beer! This root beer is made in the UK, but was developed by an American. It is pretty delicious. It contains various ingredients, including vanilla and maple syrup, but didn’t seem to mention sassafras, the root most associated with root beer. I think this is probably to avoid what some English people think of as the medicinal flavour of root beer – it’s one of the most frequently cited reasons I hear when people tell me they don’t like it. This particular can of soda contained a whopping 43% of my daily recommended sugar allowance…and as you can see I still opted to make it a float…and what you can’t see is that R & I also shared a chocolate milkshake. So, yeah, definitely a day of American indulgence!
What did you get up to over the bank holiday?