Walking back to the UMI Hotel from Brighton’s brilliant beach, at around 2:30am, I already had the opportunity to predict that a good night sleep is not quite what Lady Luck had been planning for our night together. Dozens of youngsters—they couldn’t be more than 16 years old—flocking the beach area next to my hotel, drinking alcohol, yelling, being stupid.
Some young girl sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against a food‐stand serving junk food, talking on the phone while sobbing.
What is this world turning into, where high‐school kids deem it “cool” to eat garbage, drink alcohol, sort of compensating for the utter lack of purpose in their lives.
Choosing the UMI Hotel for accommodation in Brighton turned out to be a mistake. Mental note to self, #214: unless it’s a 4–5 star hotel, never pick a hotel too close to the centre of things. My room, located at the third floor, was OK and sufficient as a hotel room but man, the amount of noise coming from the outside… unbearable.
Apes of all ages, shapes and forms—all came together with one goal in mind: prevent me from sleeping properly. I woke up every hour or so, but somehow got a great 4 hours straight sleep after 6:00am.
I will have to work very hard over the next few weeks to get into a regular sleeping pattern; not the easiest of tasks when you’re not staying in 4 or 5 stars hotels; I guess I’ll have to consider changing some of my travel plans.
Anyway, I couldn’t have imagined leaving Brighton without another round of that fantastic cappuccino, courtesy of Marwood Coffee Shop on Ship Street. It was about 11:00am when I entered the store and faced a couple of barista’s who were obviously very high up there, and I’m not talking about altitude. Still, perfect coffee and I was on my way to the train station—a short 7–8 minutes walk—fifteen minutes later.
Arrived at Brighton’s train station about six minutes before the train’s departure time (hourly service from Brighton to Bournemouth through Southampton Central). Buying some breakfast to go at the train station, I realized that I was left with the staggering, insane amount of just under £5 in my wallet. Well, if someone is to rob me during this trip, please do it now.
The train change in Southampton Central went fine. I was boarding the second‐class car that was marked as “Quiet Zone”, found a seat and sat down. Within a minute, the train started moving; and as it started moving, so did the mouths and the limbs of about 10 kids. My second time in a “Quiet Zone” car… second utter failure. Luckily, it was a short 30 minutes ride to Bournemouth.
My American friends happened to have taken the very same route at the very same time (we did not get to spend any time together on the train, though; I was riding the second‐class cabin). Our ways were split once we arrived at Bournemouth’s train station, as they took a taxi cab to their hotel and I was set out to find my B&B by foot, about a mile away from the train station.
For whatever reason, the BlackBerry’s GPS didn’t function at all during the first 20 minutes of the walk; streets signs were nowhere to be found so I had to be extra careful with navigation.
At the end everything sorted itself out and I arrived at my destination, a wonderful B&B called Boscombe Grange Hotel. The hosts were great, what a warm welcome. House was clean, tidy and the room had everything I could have asked for. Very quiet neighbourhood—something tells me that I’m not going to be hearing drunken teenagers rambling outside tonight. Good Lord, finally, a good night sleep.
The hosts and I had a good chat for about an hour, during which I told them about what it is that I’m doing here—they seemed to have taken it quite well. They admitted that they don’t often hear background stories such as this one.
Some set‐up in the room, catching up with things while recharging batteries—mine, the laptop’s and the BlackBerry’s, that is—packed a small backpack and went outside, walking the approximately two miles towards tonight’s venue—the BIC—as well as the Marriott, where the Americans were staying (the two are next door to each other).
The path leading from the B&B to the BIC goes through some quiet neighbourhoods in Boscombe and Bournemouth (two neighbouring towns). Pleasant walk through streets beset by trees, bush and nice houses and lots of B&B’s.
Guy Fletcher’s “Natural Selection” made its way from my BlackBerry into my ear canals through the magical power of Bluetooth technology; a pleasant, relaxing listening experience. At some point, the path meets Bournemouth’s beach line and the scenery is breathtaking.
The Marriott and the BIC are just under a mile away from the point I took these pictures at, so I decided to climb down the stairway onto the beach and continue walking from there.
After about an hour wandering about, breathing fresh air into my lungs, it was time to eat. Once you leave the beach area, there are lots of pubs and small restaurants, each with its own offerings as to which garbage to contaminate your stomach with. A cash machine was nowhere to be found (and no, a small sign over a “cash machine” in some shady convenience store does not count); as my budget was limited to the £4.90 found in my wallet, I ended up playing it safe—a sandwich and a latte at Aloha Coffee by the beach. Price? Exactly £4.90.
Interesting how these things work out.
Word from the Americans was that it’s going to be a while before they’re all ready, so I made my way to the Marriott’s lobby. Some afternoon tea, seated by the window overlooking the water. Relaxing views to clear the mind before the concert.
At around 7:30pm, we made our way to the BIC—about two minutes walk.
The Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bournemouth_International_Centre) is located right by Bournemouth’s seashore. It has two halls in it—Windsor Hall (where the concert took place) is the bigger one and seats 6,500.
My seat was at the front row, dead centre (well, not quite; the centre of the stage was actually facing the aisle. I was seated at the rightmost seat of the left block). Three seats (!) separated me from the Americans; as this was going to be the last concert I get to go to with this wonderful group, I approached Maarten (I suppose most Knopfler fans would recognize him by his first name)—who was seated right next to Mike, and asked him if he would switch seats with me some time during the show. Everybody wins—he gets the best seat in the house (physically) and I get the best seat in the house (socially). He didn’t seem to have too much trouble with that.
A quick chat with Ingrid, who I shared a hotel room with in Newcastle last week, and a few readers of this blog who stepped up and introduced themselves (thank you!), and it was 8:00pm; “Feelin’ Good” started playing and the show started.
The band arrived to the concert in Bournemouth one day after kicking some serious arse in Brighton, where they gave one of their best performances so far. Topping Brighton was (and still is) going to be some serious undertaking. A slight regression (was it the 3 hours ride from London?), but having said that, this is coming from an individual who has seen this band performing 74 times before, so naturally I would be pickier than most; still, definitely a great show.
Richard’s 4th string broke two seconds after hitting the first Cm in Border Reiver; the show must go on, and it did—with virtually no interruption. If the broken string annoyed anybody, then it must have been Richard himself who appeared to be a little concerned until about half way through the song.
The audience appeared to have participated very well during the show, cheering loudly; that, combined with the venue being relatively small, created some sense of coziness.
Right before Hill Farmer’s Blues, I gave Maarten the signal and we switched seats; I chose to remain next to the Americans for the rest of the show.
Switching just before Hill Farmer’s Blues turned out to be a good choice as the song’s performance rocked which triggered quite the intense limb movements.
During Romeo and Juliet, while playing the National guitar, Mark suddenly turned his head and just stared at me; he wasn’t exactly smiling—he actually had a pretty annoyed expression upon his face. I felt a bit uncomfortable, and turned my head around; upon re‐fixing my head at the appropriate angle to watch the show, I realized that he was still looking at me with some concerned look.
Well, I had about two seconds to calculate what the heck was going on. All possible scenarios went flying through my mind, and at the end I concluded that my sunglasses—being hung upon my shirt’s collar—were reflecting light back at him, which may have appeared to him as if I was filming the show. I then grabbed the sunglasses and wore them over my forehead, to avoid any such confusion during the remainder of the show.
The concert featured an identical setlist to the one of the night before. Knopfler has decided to use Mike McGoldrick’s knowledge of the pipes to play Done with Bonaparte. According to him, the band will make use of Mike’s knowledge while he’s still around (which means, until the end of the UK leg of the tour).
Monteleone has been played again—three times in a row now. Beautiful song, performed better and better with each concert.
Speedway at Nazareth featured a great kicking solo, much to my American friends’ enjoyment as that’s when we all dance ourselves to death.
Prior to the encore, the audience at the front rows bid their seats goodbye and attached themselves to the stage. Always great to listen to the encore while standing; I suggest passing a law requiring this. A totally different experience.
The show ended, as usual, on 10:20pm.
Back at the Marriott, the five of us had a farewell drink as three of the Americans are returning to their homes the day after. Great seeing you, guys—take care and see you soon!
A yellow moon was shining through the clouds…
I was hungry; Val was kind enough to join me for some Indian food at a restaurant nearby the hotel. We spent more than an hour there talking about all sorts of things; oh yes, the food was great as well.
Walked Val back to the Marriott and called a cab to take me back to the B&B.
Tomorrow is a day off before the band makes its way to London for six concerts in a row. I chose to spend the day off in Bournemouth to unwind before the craziness of London begins. Who knows when would be the next time I’ll get to spend some quiet, quality time by the sea?
P.S. This show was the 37th concert in the “Get Lucky” tour featuring neither “Before Gas & TV” nor “So Far from the Clyde”. This is my blog… and this is my own tiny, meaningless, private protest… :-)