Sunday, 21 June 2015

Wildean Revisionism, a.k.a. Hellfest 2015 (Day 2)

Oscar Wilde apparently wrote that "everything should be tried once, apart from incest and folk dancing". I'm not going to argue with him on the first of those, but if participating in a couple of ceilidhs at Scottish weddings counts, I've done the folk dancing thing, and to be honest, it beats going to an outdoor festival if you're a miserable git over 40 who doesn't much like thronging crowds, particularly 50,000 people being steadily baked and pickled under some strong French sun.

Yes, I was at Hellfest yesterday (but not Friday or today; more on that later), France's premier rock and metal festival. Now, don't misunderstand me, the music was great, and by way of a wander down Tangent Boulevard, here's who I saw, with a very short line review of each:

Ace Frehley (ex-Kiss) and his band: pretty good, with the grinning, gurning, singing drummer star of the show

Airbourne: brilliant. 4th time I've seen them, and they always make the gig feel like a party, even when the stage loses power for 10 minutes like yesterday. Best loud live act in the world in my opinion, and boy, are they ever loud - my internal organs always feel as though they're being rattled againstst each other. Sporty types - check out "No Way But The Hard Way" for a top training anthem

L7: hadn't been aware of their existence before yesterday, and our paths won't be crossing again. Think a collection of gin-soaked aunts playing bad heavy metal

Slash (with Myles Kennedy singing): own stuff competent, Guns 'n' Roses tracks still the highlight

Killing Joke: had lost track of them since 1981, but they made a pleasingly dirty noise

ZZ Top: started slowly, ended brilliantly. Couldn't understand why more of the crowd weren't boogeying like me, then I realised at least 50% of them weren't born when the good ol' boys were being properly famous

Faith No More: only caught the first 10 and the last 20 minutes; they're clearly proper musicians, but were determined to do what they wanted rather than what the crowd wanted to hear

Scorpions: had expected them to be my highlight; in the end maybe it was fatigue, but whilst you couldn't fault their performance, it wasn't either exciting or a party (see Airbourne and ZZ Top)

Marilyn Manson: if he dropped the attitude and interminable, silent gaps between songs could be a half-decent performer - has the songs

So, that was the music. It was a pretty good line-up, and on Friday there had been Alice Cooper, Motorhead and Billy Idol among others. All jolly good. As were the incredible fireworks at 11pm, and the general design and staging of the event - will put a small selection of photos on the Book of Faces.

However........now, I'm not going to criticise anything in particular. There were clearly lots of people having the time of their lives, and for whom the chaotic parking arrangements, festival-standard toilets, and sleep deprivation caused by all-night partying are tiny pimples on an otherwise beautiful face; maybe they even consider them enhancements. For me though, not so much. Just as I always swore after a particularly wet walking and camping holiday in the Lakes when I was 18 that the two things wouldn't again be coupled in my lifetime, I think I can say the same for gigs and camping - one or the other, fine; both, non merci.

The experience has nevertheless been a valuable one insofar as it's reminded me that I'm getting less good at doing things on the cheap, and therefore work takes on a renewed purpose. Which is just as well, as I'll be back at it a week tomorrow, just for a week or so, before I return to France on the 7th July for the planned Tour de France days. The company through whom I do most of my work has won a big bit of business, and is keen for some early help. It's a nice project for a management consultant too - we've got three months to turn round an interesting business in the early stages of deep trouble. It's also based in Trowbridge, which makes a nice change from London.

Talking of not doing things on the cheap, it's the 10th wedding anniversary of me and the missus this week, and she has, bless her, booked us into a fantastic fish and seafood restaurant in Cancale (a major oyster-producing area) on Wednesday lunchtime, followed by a night in a local chateau. I suspect that'll be much more up my autoroute than the last 24 hours, which she probably knows. She also knows, tolerates and forgives my many foibles and idiosyncrasies, for which I am eternally grateful.

And talking of being grateful (the segues in this post are getting more predictable that a local radio dj), Son came out to France last week for six days, and spent some of his time here assisting in the prep of the new place next door. He also left me with two things, one of which I'm grateful for, the other less so. The one I could have managed without was a short-lived, but nasty summer cold, or some suchlike. I awoke on Friday with every part of me aching, including my eye sockets (never a good look), along with general snottiness and gastric misadventure. Travel was an impossibility, much less standing in blazing sun watching rock music for 12 hours. I'm also not doing that today, even though Hellfest continues, principally because the big name acts were frontloaded in terms of the scheduling, shall we say. Cock & Ball Torture anybody? No? Biohazard perhaps? You get the idea...

Oh yes, the other thing Son left me with. Well, it was opinion that he enjoys my more current affairs-geared posts on here, and I should do more of them. So I might. In the meantime, I'm off to enjoy Fathers Day by having a ride in the Breton sun.

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