London

May. 23rd, 2017 11:34 am
vinceconaway: (Default)
[personal profile] vinceconaway
What an amazing trip. It's been a week and I'm still marvelling.

I turned forty a few months ago, and to celebrate midlife I made the decision to double down on my traveling. So I spent the beginning of the year busking my way around Chile before heading to Peru to spend the big day in Machu Picchu.

I also scheduled a 3-month European tour for the summer, two months in familiar Italy, a few weeks in too-long-neglected Croatia, and a week breaking new ground in Bosnia. And then I learned that my favourite musician was hosting Lost Evenings, a 4-night concert series in London.

Frank Turner writes about life on the road in a way I've never heard from any other artist. From the glories of travel to the challenges of friendship and the disintegration of relationships, he covers it all, and he's an expert because his tour schedule makes me look like a homebody. And I was scheduled to be an $80 EasyJet flight (round trip!) away from one of his performing highlights.

Of course I bought it. I ruthlessly budgeted out the costs, and decided to see the final two nights (Sunday and Monday) so I would still have 3/4 of a weekend to busk before heading out. I caught a 5:30am train to Milan after a very short night of anxious sleep, grabbed a shuttle bus from the train station to the Linate airport, flew into London, grabbed a train into the city, wandered around a bit, checked into my hotel (Hotwire found me a 3-star room for just a few dollars more than a hostel bed), and took a nap.

And then had my mind blown by the best concert I've ever seen.

Sunday was acoustic night, where Frank headlined with a solo show following Beans on Toast (who I'd seen open for Frank in New York in 2015) and Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit. It was incredible. I'm not a big fan of the acoustic versions Frank has recorded, but live they were breathtaking. His song introductions were intimate and vulnerable and everything I could have wanted from a favourite artist. He truly captured the flavour of an open-mic night in a venue of over 3000 people.

Monday found me again wandering London, meeting up with an old friend for drinks before the show. Skinny Lister opened for Frank, a band I fell in love with when they also opened for him in NYC in 2015 then whose Brooklyn concert I had caught the following Thursday, and who I saw headline a small show in New Orleans last fall. It was a fantastic concert and I hugged a stranger at Frank's prompting, but I don't think anything will ever compare to that "Sensible Sunday Revival" lineup the night before.

I took a long stroll around the city before flying out early Tuesday afternoon, and I was thrilled to discover my budget had been dead-on. Of course, I splurged on meals and a concert t-shirt (which I never buy but which was too good a commemoration to pass up), but the credit card statement is a problem for August. The entire experience was a case study in how to feel alive.
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