Radiohead @ Globen

It was for the first time in my life that I went to a concert with a certain feeling of fear, besides the excitement I usually feel when live music is about to happen. For everybody who knows me it is clear that a live concert is the place to be for me, that or a live tennis match… or by the sea. Anyway, a concert site is no longer a safe place, we all know that and we found that out in the most disturbing and sad way possible. When you see that security measures are really tough when you go in and you have to walk through security doors almost like in the airports, you start to feel a bit better. It would be best if these things weren’t necessary.

Going back to the music, this time it was Radiohead I ended up seeing. Not a band I usually listen to, they’ve been there for quite a while because of family, yes, older siblings and their music and younger sister sticking her nose into that, and because of MTV and especially VH1 which aired their videos quite a lot when I was growing up in front of the TV screen. They were some of the weird guys I could see on TV. It takes a bit of brain power and will to understand their music which I consider not very easy to digest. It can be horribly depressive while it is amazingly beautiful. Of course everybody knows “Creep” or has felt like that every now and then. Then there’s also “Karma Police”. My personal favourite from them is “Jigsaw Falling into Place”.

The concert was amazing. It had a lovely light show, a very edgy and cold energy attached to it, plenty of good sounds, little chatter, lots of clapping and excitement all wrapped around some really beautiful music that the lovely people of Stockholm and its surroundings, to quote Thom Yorke, the singer, enjoyed from the first to the last chord.

Now leaving aside their music it is important to mention that Thom Yorke is an activist and has made his voice heard several times in relation to many topics from environmentalism to anti-war causes and not only. So I was really curious to see if, just like many other artists these days, he is going to say anything during Radiohead’s concert. Lucky me, the concert happened two days after the general elections in the UK, and of course the singer had something to comment about that. The short message of it all is that hope, which begins to come back to the British people, can make a difference in the face of those who think they own Great Britain and who try to scare its citizens. This short political speech came before a song called “The Daily Mail”, which naturally makes me think about the British tabloid with the same name, but listening to it also makes me think about a certain power-play.

The concert seemed too short for everybody in the audience, even if it lasted a bit over two hours and had 24 songs in the setlist. The band chose to end it with “Karma Police” and I must say that the audience singalong to it gave me the goosebumps, it was really pretty. At the end of it all it just felt that I’ve attended a concert of some legends of the World music scene, and maybe I did cause the gig was, after all, sold out.

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The Cardigans @ Gröna Lund

There were other movies before “Titanic” that made ladies sigh after Leonardo DiCaprio, and “Romeo + Juliet” was one of them. Released somewhere in 1996, I don’t remember seeing the movie till a few years later and when I did, well, I wasn’t impressed. However, by the time I saw the movie I had to face “Lovefool” by The Cardigans on repeat on all possible music channels in all 3 versions of the video. And I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand much of the song or its videos but it has a catchy tune and could easily turn into an earworm that gets stuck in your brain to the level of annoyance. So after this experience with the band, imagine how I felt when they put out “My Favourite Game” in 1998. By then I was already going back to listening to rock music and breaking away from MTV pop. Its catchy energetic beat was totally different from the previous song I knew from them, and the video in which Nina was chaotically driving a car in the wrong lane ending in a car crash and being hit by a stone in the head at the end were the reasons I paid attention to this particular track. This song was the reason why I was at today’s concert till the very end: it was the last one in the setlist and I really wanted to listen to it live.

Listening to The Cardigans 21 years after getting to know them brings me back to my habit to seeing barely now bands that I used to listen to years ago. The Cardigans were super popular during my gymnasium (junior high) and high school years so I couldn’t have missed tonight’s show.

Another hit from them was “Erase/Rewind” that came with a completely different concept for the video, Star Wars inspired, the song caught my attention not as much for being endlessly broadcast on TV or radio, but because I discovered it on the OST of “The Thirteenth Floor” and it came as such a natural ending to that movie that I actually ended up watching because of HIM’s “Join Me (In Death)” video.

About 4 years later the band came back with a dark-haired Nina, a new album and new videos among which the video for “For what It’s Worth” which I really liked for the bunny costumes, the train and the carrot-celery cocktail. Not to mention that I think it is a good song and the atmosphere of the video is depressively beautiful.

After that I switched my interest to different sounds and lost track of the band and their music. Also music channels turned into these strange reality-shows broadcasters and left the music behind so I stopped watching them.

However, today’s concert was a must see and must listen. But first of all: I froze! With extra sweaters and well prepared for a cold evening I still had a hard time holding it together till the last beat. Other than that, it was super nice to see them, for what they represented 20 years ago, for their music and for the fact that Nina’s voice sounds exactly the same live as it does on the recordings and that it seems that she sings so easily. I must say that I liked the most the first and last track of the evening: “Erase/Rewind” and “My Favourite Game”, performed in such ways that really brought back memories of feelings one had when listening to them a long time ago.

And with these being said, I can now say that the Summer season of concerts in Gröna Lund has officially started.

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Tennis Fever

Going to Kings of Tennis and not writing about it until now might be seen as somehow strange for somebody who is so hyped about the sport and so into talking about it all of the time. Well, I have a good reason for that: it wasn’t the same.

It lacks the excitement and the thrill of a real competition. Of course, seeing all those tennis legends is an absolute bliss, especially since the final was between Joan Carlos Ferrero, former World no 1 and Roland Garros winner, and Jonas Björkman, former World no 4 in singles and no 1 in doubles. I’ve never seen Ferrero play live before, I watched him several times on TV, and I will have to be honest and say that he was the reason why I went to the event in the first place. And I wasn’t disappointed, actually, I am pretty sure no one was, he plays amazing tennis even 5 years after his retirement from the professional tour. Seeing him made me realise how unlucky I was not to get to watch him play before.  Jonas Björkman I’ve seen before, when he paired Robert Lindstedt (who’s birthday is today, so happy birthday to him) for Stockholm Open. If I were to compare my sensation when watching these games I can say this: whenever I see the players competing on court, my level of adrenaline and excitement rise and I enjoy every moment of the match. Watching Kings of Tennis was like meeting the players off-court: people you respect and love for what they’re doing but there’s something missing everytime.  It’s one thing asking for an autograph when they finish practice or walk out of the court as winners, and another asking for a picture when they’re having a cup of coffee, if I may use this comparison to underline even more how it felt.

All in all, it was a tennis event. Kings of Tennis takes place at Stockholm Waterfront and is a part of the ATP Champions Tour, where tennis legends take the stage once more. It’s a show that brings together former World leaders, Grand Slam champions or Davis Cup champions. And just as other tennis events, it’s under-appreciated: there weren’t a lot of people in the audience and most of the ones there were busy having wine and socialising rather than watching. I guess this is also because the event itself is positioned as quite posh and spectacular, rather than competitive and rigorous, as tennis is often seen.

Due to the fact that the Bucharest ATP tournament got canceled, I won’t be seeing any live tennis anytime soon. Also, this also translates into a severe interruption in my almost 15-years-in-a-row visits to the tennis park in Bucharest, visits that I didn’t let go of even after moving to Sweden. I guess I will just have to focus this Spring on fighting an annoying hay fever that hit me so hard that I could barely keep my head up for a few days. And I am writing this now only because I have a well prepared stack of allergy medication by my side. Other than that, warm weather goes well with coffee and walks.

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Happy Women’s Day!

Today, in a way, we celebrate life, since women are the ones bringing children in this world, with the help of men. Yes, with their help, let’s not underestimate their role in all this, nor the greatness. But before we even take a moment to remember that we are here because of our mothers and because our dads were or still are by their sides, let me do a review of what we celebrate today. From my perspective, because I have my own just as well as somebody else has their own.

Happy anniversary to me! I was warned early on in my life that I can’t play football or war or with cars because I am a girl, I should play with dolls and play mum and behave nicely. I had no idea why it was so unusual to go fishing because in the end I loved it, yet everybody had a reason to make fun of me. Except my fishing companions. Then when things got serious I was the one to blame for ending a relationship. Yeah, I abandoned somebody who really needed my help… after years of being together and at least a few of trying, leaving my things and dreams aside and struggling to talk sense into a mature human being and make him realise that drug addiction is bad and it needs to be dealt with yesterday, if possible. But I’m the bailer, how dared I? It’s my fault I didn’t offer the support he needed. Funny he realised this after I walked away and didn’t say that he needs my help while I was still there.

To men I am too young, too old, too skinny, too fat, boobs not big enough, not smart enough, not the right passport, too independent, too talkative, too clingy, too demanding, too crazy, “what do you mean you don’t like to hold hands and make out at rock concerts?” And every now and then I find out that I need to be rescued and treated like I am a helpless princess because I cannot do it on my own and I need a husband and a father to my kids and he’s just the perfect man to do it! Why am I always smiling? Why am I speaking my mind? Why do I have an opinion? Why do I fail? Why am I not flawless?

If I fight for the man that I love and I say what I feel than I have no pride and I am an easy catch, so I am not interesting, I left my guards down, he can walk away, if I am indifferent, I play hard to get than I am frigid. Don’t I know men love playing “catch”? Don’t men know that I don’t like playing and I prefer to be me with the ones I love? Being me is not good, it’s not gonna get me the man I love and I have to watch him play “catch” with another, preferably right under my nose and eyes because hey, that’s life, you win some, you lose some and you just have to take it!

If I go out dating and sleeping around I am either a modern woman or a s**t, depends who you’re asking. If I don’t do this, even though everybody else is doing it, and we all have to be a part of the herd to be accepted though originality is demanded more and more nowadays, it is also faked more and more nowadays, I am old fashioned and close-minded. And of course if I don’t go out dating, how am I going to meet my guy? You know, the one that’s meant for me like in the stories? If I knew the answer to this question I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

And at the end of the day, feeling guilty for bailing on the one who needed me, rejected by the man I love because I had the guts to tell him so, not that because of this he should have felt obliged to love me back, disappointed because in the eyes of some men I am still a helpless woman, disgusted because I hate modern hooking for the sake of not being alone because you’re lame if you drink a glass of wine alone, or sad because again I’ve been labelled as not “fit” for whatever norms, I go home to a cold bed and a dinner alone and some binge-watching on Netflix. Because I am not capable of getting myself a good guy, I don’t put myself out there, I don’t play by the rules, I don’t follow the norms, I don’t fake it and I am… whatever. But I have to hold my head up high and deal with this, besides dealing with life in general, you know, the wake up, look human, go to work, take care of yourself stuff, do what you love and smile, I must play the strong independent woman because if I show signs of weakness I am lame and we live in a world where females are super-women and they have to do everything otherwise somebody somewhere is going to point a finger and start. So happy anniversary to me, aren’t I a tough cookie?

Women’s Day changed a lot since it was just the day I used to buy flowers for my mom. And sometimes she didn’t even seem as happy about it as I wanted her to be, you know, like in the movies, though I know she was, but now I kinda understand what other things were on her mind. Kinda, because I am sure she was worrying about totally different things than what I worry about now, but I guess and hope I’ll get there one day. And worry not, life’s good, life’s life in the end. This is just to show the type of “silly” pressures one feels every now and then, women and men likewise, just that sometimes they don’t seem that “silly”…

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A Street Cat Named Bob

fullsizerenderI don’t remember how I ran into this story, probably Facebook popped it up among the hundreds of cat videos that come on my feed. But I do know that in November 2012, when I accidentally got to Covent Garden because of my bad habit of not using a map, I didn’t know anything about Bob nor James. If I did, I would have gone looking for them. Shortly after, however, I ordered the first book about Bob and read it, because yes, it was a book about a cat. And I love cats, if you didn’t realise that by now. What I didn’t know was that this was not a book about a cat. Or not just that. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to give any spoilers. If you are curious about the story buy the book, take it from the library, download it, read it. Or better said, the books. I offered them to some cat people as presents and I haven’t heard one who said they didn’t like it. The best reaction I got from my parents: bought the book for mom, who wasn’t very impressed about me ranting all the time about this great book about a cat, mom started reading it, soon came dad, took the book and finished reading it in less than a day than gave it back to mom so she can enjoy the rest of the story. Both liked it a lot!

Or if you don’t want to read the books, watch the movie. Yes, there is a movie about Street Cat Bob. And Bob plays in it. And he even attended the premiere and was pampered by The Duchess of Cambridge who attended the event as well. I finally watched the movie today. I must say that probably, to someone who is not familiar with the story or all the details in the books, the movie might not make as much sense as to someone who is a fan. Yet, it is a very light and fun film worth watching when one wants to chill. Though Bob is cute when he’s playing himself, the story is not as shallow as it seems. Yes, there are a lot of tearjerking scenes that make things sweet, the books are way better but the movie is worth watching, since both the real Bob and the real James are part of it. And also because now if I think about it, the narrative behind these two popular culture texts teaches us a lesson. The lesson I learnt is that I can’t watch anything without analysing it… Ok, joking. It only reinforced my belief that cats are amazing. And I learnt other stuff about addictions, homelessness  and why I should be buying The Big Issue when I am in London.

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