Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I did last night

Due to my busy schedule, this is actually more accurately titled "What I did 24 August." Sorry for the delay.

My company has a new product. We're affiliated with Ticketmaster, and we sell a high-satisfaction/relatively low cost enhancement to a corporate benefit package, wherein your company pays for a membership to the Ticketmaster Priority Club. You join, you get discounts and they help you find things you might want to attend, etc. It's actually pretty great and, being a loyal employee, of course I joined when they sent the email to us.

When I signed on I was cruising through the genres that I usually like...theatre, jazz, opera, alternative music...and I saw that Beulah was playing at Bush Hall in London on the 24th. Well, you know that I love my Beulah, and tickets were only £12.50, so I convinced my friends Katrina and Anna to join me for a night out in London to see one of my favourite bands.

Note to self...next time, before you buy tickets, check to be sure it's the right Beulah.

Turns out MY Beulah is taking time off (Beulites refuse to say they've "broken up",) and so they are, needless to say, not doing any gigs these days. There is, however, a singer here in the UK named Beulah, and SHE was releasing a new album. I'd heard her on BBC Radio 2 and though I couldn't say I loved her, I would say she didn't bug me that much. Plus, the tickets were purchased and any night in London is better than sitting in MK, so we went anyway.

Workload had blown up, and I was having a bad week. We got out a bit late, and so we were running to the train when we got to the station. Went to platform 4, realised it was a Virgin train and we could only take Silverlink, so we ran back up the steps and over to platform 2. Made it in time to catch the train, but were seated on loose seats so when the train lurched we did, too. It was pissing down with rain, but we decided that the best train to catch to Shepard's Bush was the Hammersmith and City so we walked the 100 yards to Euston Square. Got damp, but we weren't on the pull so who really cares about the hair, you know? Unfortunately, we got wet for nothing, as the H&C was stopped for signal failure so we had to take a different train anyway and then connect to the one that left from Euston Station(where we would have stayed dry.)

Shepard's Bush is one of those "transitional" neighbourhoods on the west side. One of the bombs on the 21st went off there and several of the bombers were from nearby. It's not actually that bad an area really, but I will also say that it wasn't the most comfortable place to be walking around, either. And, inconveniently, it is one of the only places in London with two tube lines that have separate stations with the same name.

Note for future Bush Hall evenings: the Central line station is NOT the one you want.

Our directions were from the H&C station, so we followed the map until we were well lost. Stopped to ask for directions, and the bloke sent us to the wrong theatre. It was still pdwr, so slightly damp turned into drowned rat. After wandering around for about 45 minutes, we got back on track by finding the other tube stop. Turns out the original station was only about 100 yards from the theatre.

Bush Hall is an old dancehall, and it's really cool. Kind of reminded me of The Backstage in Seattle. You could almost hear the echoes of the GIs looking for love before shipping out. I was hopeful...cool setting, alternative vibe, great people watching. There was a woman behind us who brought a massage table, set it up, and then reclined on it to listen to the concert. Figure she had back trouble or something, though it seemed she could cure it by stopping with the hauling of the massage table. But I'm not a doctor.

We were really hungry, but the show was supposed to start. Normally, I'd not worry and just go get some dinner, but for some reason we all decided that we'd stay for the start to decide and then head out if it sucked. We decided to make due with some Maynards fruit pastilles and a couple of beers instead.

An hour and fifteen minutes later, we were famished, slightly drunk, and the opening act came on.

Nice kid. Twenty-something, fresh out of the closet, and OH MY did he need a hug. Poor thing opened with a song about how we think we're shepherds but we're really all just sheep, (someone's been reading The Alchemist,) and moved on to telling us he was a one man army fighting mediocrity as established by his father who waited for the world to come to him and never lived his dreams. All songs were in that Joni Mitchell tempo, and he accompanied himself with flowery chords on the electric piano. He even added a cello to the "sad" songs, just in case you could still see a glimmer of hope in this world. Forty five minutes later, he said his tearful thank you. We applauded, perhaps a bit too loudly.

During the break, I took an immediate dislike to a new arrival. Bald guy with black eyebrows wearing pointy, shiny, white shoes and acting cool.

Fifteen minutes later, my nemesis got onstage to introduce Beulah. Bad sign. Follow up note...watched "Love Actually" over the weekend, and he's an extra in that movie...when they tell the washed up singer that he won the number one slot on Christmas Eve, he's with a group of people and there is a bald guy standing next to him. I couldn't see the shoes, but I guarantee it was the same dude. Check him out. He'll bug you, too.

So out comes Beulah. She's about 25, wearing a cheap black cocktail dress, and giggling into the microphone. Kept playing with her earrings. Told us she didn't like to talk on stage, then proceeded to babble about things like her earring falling out. Giggled some more. Sang. Nice voice, I guess, but nothing notable. Definitely C list at best. Her music was all about lost love, finding your identity, missed opportunities, etc. Four songs in we decided that dinner was in order, so we waited for clapping and started to get up to leave.

But we didn't move quickly enough, the next song started, and my bag was caught under the chair in front of me. Had to sit through another one. The absurdity of our evening had officially sunken in, so we shook with silent laughter for the duration.

I didn't want to seem rude for leaving early, so on our way past the album stand I said something about how it was too bad we had to catch a train. (Can we pick out the midwesterner in the crowd?) My friend Kat is Northern Irish, and she called me a bloody liar in the lobby, so I think they knew.

Walked to the H&C line, waited 45 minutes for a train. The signal was still out, so the trains were moving at half speed. Took us an hour to get to Picadilly. Walked into Chinatown, had a nice meal, then went to catch the train. Home around 1 AM. Laughed pretty hard at our misery.

See, it's possible to have a bad night out in England, too.

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