I knew I had taken too much of my cold and flu cocktail immediately after I woke up. Prior to that I had been sat in a large arena at half capacity.
Earlier, the watch on my wrist had told me it was 7:30, and it seemed oddly early for a concert to start. But then again, this wasn't the kind of concert that catered to an adult audience. All my international student friends and I scurried for our seats that were to a smaller side of the stage as soon as we heard sounds from the arena doors.
The arena was built around a rectangular courtyard that had been elevated so that everyone had a decent vantage. While the action focused on the larger sides of the rectangle, facing us on one of the short sides was the backing band, led by one W. Axl Rose.
It seemed unusual to see him performing again. He'd lost the plot 20 years ago, and this time his hair had seemed to have gone with it. For what it is worth he seemed to know his way around the guitar, but playing lead in Britney Spears' backing band doesn't exactly require Frank Zappa levels of talent.
I couldn't believe my friends had dragged me to this concert, I would rather have been anywhere than sat there listening to this drivel.
Britney pranced around the stage in a parade of clumsiness. It was as if she had swallowed a bag of percocets and was fighting off the impending sleep. It would also explain how she had become numb to the taunts being thrown her.
It wasn't as if they weren't justified, she seemed to be toying with the idea of time signatures and rhythm. She held onto one note, melisma-ing it to the point of 30 syllables, for what seemed an eternity. As the notes kept warbling her face turned from the microphone, indicating that sonic crime of lip-syncing. The boos got louder, and being no stranger to them Axl did his best to curtail the situation.
He asked the audience if we knew where we were, only to answer immediately "you're in the jungle baby!". It was pitch perfect from 1989, but when he delivered his next speech his it was like a ventriloquist had their invisible hand up his arse. The timbre, the tone and the timing had all left him. We immediately knew he was lip-syncing from the same hymn sheet.
The audience revolted. It was like no other show I had ever been to. Chairs flew from the audience to the stage, and the ones that didn't have large enough wings to make the flight took out other members of the crowd. The animosity was switching from the performers to the crowd itself. I did my best to avoid the melee but the angry guy above me didn't notice. His chair throw, though vicious, was from too far away. The chair hit the back of my head and before I could react to the assault I was awake, laying back in my bed in snowy Amherst.
My nose was still blocked, my body ached - though not as bad as before - and I was still coughing. I fell back asleep and awoke a few hours later feeling much better. Clearly, I had taken too much of that sugary medicine. The journey it took me on was odd, like cutting through a field of snow instead of taking the cleared path, yet it got me where I wanted to be quicker than it would have otherwise. Maybe, every once in a while, it is worth getting your feet frozen and traversing through the snow.
And just so you know, I feel much better today, and am thankfully out of cough syrup.
Pearl Jam - Light Years
Binaural is probably my favourite album, and the least favourite by anyone who has followed the band beyond 1994. The artwork is perfect, with the cover being one of my favourite pictures of all time. The binaural recording on the tracks marked with an * has a warmth to it you couldn't get from any fireplace. It's like they were recorded for high quality vinyl, but at the pinnacle of cd sales. The bass guitar on every song sounds completely different, yet they get it right every time. Sonic swoon.