Monday, July 4, 2016

Beyonce, Florence + the Machine, Canada Day

NB: I wrote this on July 4th, and I can't be bothered to re-edit it. I will write about Stratford-upon-Avon ASAP.

Again, I'm so slack with keeping this up! And then all the days catch up on me and I can't even remember what I did yesterday.

Except I do remember what I did yesterday.

But I'll start from where I left off.

Canada Day was the 1st of July and I was invited to a Canadian friend of my Canadian friend's house party to celebrate. So much patriotism in one room. There were all sorts of decorations, flags, temporary tattoos, and even a Canadian-only music playlist complete with Avril Lavigne, Nickelback, Drake, Shania Twain, Justin Bieber and many more. There was much mocking of my vowels, mainly from the lone Australian in the room, pizza, booze, donuts and ice cream. What more could you want, really. I was introduced to flip cup, which trumps beer pong any day.

Also, earlier that day I did some unplanned op-shopping at Oxfam and scored a brand new, tag-in-tact jacket by a Dutch brand called G-Star Raw for £25. Further googling revealed the RRP is £257 so um...major profiting potential if I decide not to keep it.

The next day was Florence + the Machine at British Summer Time, Hyde Park! I got there around 5pm, sheltered under the PlayStation tent during the downpour, queued for ages in their ridiculous lines for some dinner, and then sat down on damp grass for Kendrick Lamar. I'm sorry, he's really not to my taste at all...

While queuing for the equally ridiculously long toilet queue I heard a woman have the audacity to say she didn't have time for Florence, and was gapping it after Kendrick. Ugh, some people.
Florence was a dream. Personal highlight was when she got out the rainbow flag for "Spectrum". Ironically I filmed her little spiel about putting away phones for the next song (it was How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful)... I'll try put the video below because it's kinda funny. 

She played the new stuff, the old stuff, and the super old stuff. She talked about how this is where the band got started, and that this was the final concert for the HBHBHB album. (What an acronym, huh?) She did an encore with What Kind of Man followed by Drumming. I could have lived in that moment forever, besides the fact that it was cold and there was a guy who got taken away by security for who knows what. At a festival with booze (and marajuana...I thought I smelt?), anything can happen!

Fast forward to yesterday, with the legendary Queen Bey. The damn tickets only said what time the gates opened so I arrived at 3.00pm for the 4.30pm opening, only to realise she didn't start until 7.30pm. That was a bit of a lel. No free wifi either. Erin got her blasted tour tee for £30 and I had an internal cringe about my spending habits this last week. It's worth me mentioning that at both Beyoncé and Florence + the Machine there were fake merchandise stalls all over the place, selling cheaper priced knock-off versions. No one seemed to be falling for it, so I wonder why these people do it? To be honest with my track record, I'm surprised I didn't fall for it - though I was warned about these fakers.

Beyoncé did not disappoint. Her show was breath-taking and the stage set up was so intricate. We were graced with all the elements: water, fire, air, oh - except earth... There was a huge screen centre stage, where at one point a super close up of Bey's face had fireworks shoot out of her eyes. I learned that Beyoncé has been active for the last 19 years since her debut at age 16 in Destiny's Child. I had no idea she began that young. Her set was fantastic, dancers most definitely "slayed" and she had SIX costume changes in just 2 1/2 hours.  Oh Lordy she was extraordinary. We got to see some home video footage too, in between acts - when she was frantically getting changed I assume. Actually she probably has people change her while she just stands there oozing bootyliciousness.

She played something from every album it seemed, including a few Destiny's Child soundbites - a lot of her older songs were mixed as mash ups. My favourites were Formation (her dramatic opening song), Daddy Lessons, Partition, Crazy in Love, Diva, Irreplaceable, Countdown, a delicious a cappella version of Love on Top, and Naughty Girl. Wow just recounting this I realise how much material she covered!

The finale saw her ditch the heels for barefoot dancing at the front of the runway, where the stage was covered in 3 inches of water and all the mosh pitters got absolutely soaked. It was mesmerising seeing Bey and her dancers kick up the water to an intricate and beautiful routine. Her final song was Halo, if I remember correctly.

I can't imagine how many hours go into memorising such a show. The stage setup itself was so dynamic; at one point I worried that the massive rotating screen was going to hit her, but the clearance was maybe half of a metre. I should have never doubted my faith in Bey, really. Lesson learnt.

Wembley Stadium
London Underground home

Today, I'm headed to Statford-upon-Avon for the night, after an almost-wild goose chase around London town. My ticket said depart from Charing Cross, but the (idiotic) official told me it leaves from Paddington. At this stage I was panicking as I was under the impression I had just 20 minutes to make the train. Upon arrival to Paddington a (much more helpful) official informed me that I should actually be at Marylebone Station, and that I could catch any train after 9.30am, no questions asked. I walked from Paddington to Marylebone and boarded after eating the most fantastic Mexican Indian fusion burrito I have ever tasted. (Disregard the fact that never before had I tried Mexican/Indian fusion.)

Train selfie, always

First stretch of green for 7 months +

Okay so we're just about up to date and I'm writing this aboard my Chiltern Railway en route to Stratford-upon-Avon via Dorridge. I have one of those comfy seats with a table, and I'm sitting next to a lovely French mother and son. I briefly chatted to them, both in French and English, and (I think) they are from the French Riviera area - judging by what I understood from them.

My Topdeck tour this month goes to Avignon, French Riviera, and Paris! So excited, hopefully there will be more conversations with the locals en Français to come.

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