How I spent my summer vacation. (Queen + Adam Lambert, Fun Runs, Horses & Season Finales)

I awoke to a skiff of snow on my car.  It will be a brief appearance only to remind us that winter is coming.

Yes, it will melt and the days will warm again for a time,

but…Summer is over.  

Since I work at a university this is always marked by students returning. The new ones always look so excited and hopeful.  They haven’t yet cracked a book to study so anything and everything is possible (come December their look will be bleaker, caffeine riddled and hollow-eyed as they cram for exams) but this past week they were busy meeting new study buddies and checking out fraternities and favourite hangouts.

My grandson also started his first day of grade 1.  He was terrified until he met his new teacher, then he smiled from ear to ear in his new school duds, sporting his new shoes and shiny backpack.  Memories of my own back-to-school days reminded me that a common first assignment was to write about our summer vacation.  I hated that because I lived on a farm and every day was the same as the next.  Play, chores, sleep, play, chores, sleep. (yeah, I know, tough life)  As a child nothing seemed to be anything exciting to write about.  Chasing squirrels and catching snakes never seemed that thrilling to me.  

So in keeping with back-to-school, I am going to write about how I spent my summer vacation. Only, I will be doing it as a photo journal since a picture’s worth a thousand words. However, if I posted every photo in one sitting it would be the equivalent of War and Peace. Therefore, I will make this a three part sequel.  

Sit back, grab a coffee and browse some pics, after all, winter is coming.

Part 1.

Probably the highlight of my summer was attending three Queen concerts with Adam Lambert stepping into the formidable shoes of Freddie Mercury. They played 35 shows plus a preview show: across Canada, United States, Korea, Japan, Australia & New Zealand in 81 days, selling out many arenas including Madison Square Gardens. Their final show was in New Zealand on Sept. 4.

Here are a few previously unpublished photos of my concert adventures. The following pics are in no particular order but illustrate their Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver gigs. (All the photos and videos featured in this blog are my own.) 

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I have published this one before but they are having so much fun it's worth repeating!

I have published this one before but they are having so much fun it’s worth repeating!

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Take that bow.Taking their encore bows.

Vancouver after the show.

Vancouver after the show.

City lights

City lights

A final toast to a fabulous tour.

A final toast to a fabulous tour.

  Although the Queen + Adam Lambert tour has wrapped up for now, Brian May has hinted that future shows are not out of the question.  In the meantime, Queen will be busy with other projects which include releasing some previously  unreleased tracks featuring Freddie Mercury and perhaps Michael Jackson.  

Adam Lambert is also heading back into the studio to finish up his third album, of which his fans (myself included) are eagerly awaiting. 

Tomorrow, part 2, Color-Me-Rad

Queen + Adam Lambert, The Tale of Three Cities, part 3.

Before I start on my Vancouver highlights I just want to add a few more snaps from Calgary.  A word of advice to those of you that are planning on following Queen and Adam for more than one show- take a laptop with you.  I had my iphone and iPad with me but found it cumbersome to look through the over 500 photos that were taken.  Now that I am back home, with my iMac, and no this is not an Apple commercial- I have been better able to peruse the photos and have posted some new ones below.

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And that wraps up my photo journal for Calgary.  Now on to part 3:

Vancouver, BC.  June 28th, Rogers Arena

I was fortunate to have rented a condo directly across the street from the arena and had convinced my good friend, Jody, to come with me. She is a huge Queen fan but, thanks to my small obsession, was also familiar with Adam Lambert. And since I had dragged her all the way to Phoenix, Arizona in 2012 to see Adam perform live, she was fairly certain that he could, in his own style, handle the difficult role that Mr. Mercury’s music presented.  I am not even going to repeat the obvious here- that every blogger and journalist feel the need to state, there is only one, yadda, yadda, yadda.  No shit.  We were there for the music of Queen and the charismatic performance of Adam Lambert (with his own fierce vocal range), as were the hordes of other concert goers.

Although it had been pouring rain, for most of the day, the skies were clear and the sun was smiling warm on the long lineups waiting to get into the arena.  The concert appeared to be sold out.  Instead of selling tickets people were calling out to see who had tickets to buy.  This was further confirmed once in the arena.  It was full to the rafters, not a single seat was open around me.  We had upgraded our tickets to the 2nd row, seat 1 and 2 and were positioned left of stage centre.  Wonderful seats for live viewing but not necessarily great for photos without a proper lens due to the angle and lighting.

While the enthusiastic fella behind me was busy explaining the virtues of Mr. Lambert to his buds, strident Queen fans were the dominant force.  Directly in front of me was an especially passionate Queen fan.  He had seen Queen in Vancouver twice previously- 1978 and 1980.  He not only knew every song but also the album they were first recorded on, in addition, to Freddie’s solo work.  It was like getting a Queen history lesson.  He was a lovely man with a generous spirit.  I asked what he thought of Adam Lambert and he said although he wasn’t familar with him he trusted Brian May and Roger Taylor’s judgement.  I figured it would be interesting to see what his opinions were after the show.

There was excitement and the energy was palpable.  As Adam sang the first notes of ‘Now I’m Here’ (written by Brian May) the crowd gasped and needed no further convincing.  They were on their feet- standing, dancing and singing.  The curtain lifted the crowd roared and my final night began.  I would need to soak in every minute.  Later in the evening as Brian May was about to sing ‘Love of My Life’ he encouraged the crowd to singalong if they knew the words.  Well the arena came to life as everyone sang in harmony. (I’m no singer so I listened) Vancouver has some seriously good voices.  Even Brian looked surprised.  When a visual of Freddie appeared on the screen, to sing the final lines, it prompted a woman behind me to sob.

Yup, Queen does that to folks.

Later, after a rousing drum solo and duel between Roger and his son, Rufus; Adam Lambert once again strutted the stage to join Roger to sing ‘Under Pressure’ and EVERYONE was into it.

My friend, Jody said it was the best concert she’s ever been to.  This was a common refrain heard around me.  The ardent fan with the Queen history lesson even let me jump up to front row so I could take some pics.  He was impressed with Adam and loving the show but was very disappointed that ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ got dropped from the setlist for Vancouver.  Not sure why they cut that short, perhaps they were running over.  I also noticed that there didn’t seem to be as much interaction with the VIPers as in the previous two shows.  But overall the show was brilliant and Adam was phenomenal.  Personal highlights for me, were Fat Bottomed Girls, I Want it All, Somebody to Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and my favourites- Love Kills and Who Wants to Live Forever -which Adam soars on.

So before my final set of photos for Vancouver, here are my final takes on the three cities:  Keep in mind that these observations are influenced by my vantage points. Your experience may very well be quite different than mine but rest assured, you will be thoroughly entertained by Queen and Adam Lambert.

Loudest Crowd- Edmonton – also only city where I saw the wave done.  (Mexican wave someone called it, news to me, but some believe that the wave was actually created in Edmonton during sporting events back in the 70’s.)

Most Cowboy Hats- Calgary – Even Brian May got into the act, putting one on for his solo.  Calgary gave the love for sure.

Best Singalong- Vancouver- It sounded amazing.

Now down to business, here is the final set of photos from my little adventure.    Enjoy.

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the end for now…

 

Queen + Adam Lambert, The Tale of Three Cities, part 2.

Calgary, Alberta

The trip to Calgary was filled with delicious anticipation. I had bit the bullet and decided to go for broke and bought an OnStage ticket. I really wanted to get a different perspective and figured this would do it.  The OnStage package included all the bits and bobs that come with VIP packages (T Shirt, souvenir ticket, ect.) with the exception of also sitting on stage and receiving a backstage tour.

Our tour guide, Andy, a carpenter by trade, had the job of building everything that was needed for the massive stage production, which included set up, take down and obvious other tasks (such as tour guide, lol) and apparently that massive metal Q was damn heavy.  He, along with 44 other stage crew would be with Queen throughout their tour, which, so far, is set to finish in Australia.  For the North American leg the crew travels about in one of 13 buses. However, Roger, Brian and Adam (and likely the rest of their band and entourage) fly from venue to venue, usually leaving from the concert to go directly to the airport and rest assured, they do not fly commercial.

Andy showed us around and introduced us to several members of the crew. They were all a lively bunch and seemed to love their jobs- who wouldn’t?!  I found out that the big screen used on stage has a million pixels. Also learned, that some of the guitars Brian May travels with are the same ones he used from the early days. Andy also remarked on Dr. Brian May’s great intellect and how England should be knighting him any day now.

Andy had great praise for Roger, Brian and Adam saying that they are friendly and great fun to work for and often take the time to greet or chat with the crew.

Finally we were shown to the VIP pit and warned that there would be absolutely “no touching the performers”, what? damn!

The VIP pit was situated on the left of the stage beside a ‘screamer’, which is what they call the metal steps that jut up and off the stage on both sides (a performer runs up them and the crowd screams, hence the name).  There were 10 of us and I sat in front, next to one of the screamers.  The pics from this view would mean taking a lot of side shots but the live views would be incredible as Adam’s water station was beside the pit. Most of my fellow VIPers were contest winners. (lucky devils)
Only two of this group had personally met Brain and Roger, during a white hat ceremony, a Calgary tradition apparently, where they presented Brian and Roger with white cowboy hats.  They did not meet Adam.  (We had been told prior to our tour that any meetings with the band would be by chance as they were all in their dressing rooms prepping for the show).

Sitting next to me was a lovely, buxom blonde who amply filled her stunning outfit. (this will have relevance a little later).

I realize I might be biased but the Edmonton crowd were louder and more enthused than that of Calgary.  Edmonton had stomped, sang, and cheered for Queen to come out; the noise level filling the air with such excitement that it had showed on the faces of the band when the curtain went up.  As Adam noted on Twitter with a tweet later that night, Edmonton was pumped!

Whereas Calgary’s crowd seemed willing to patiently wait with sporadic hoots and whistles. I asked my lovely new blonde friend if Calgary seemed quiet to her and she commented that they were a rather reserved crowd in comparison to other cities. (Her boyfriend was a musician for a famous performer, so I figured she should know.)

This is not to say that Calgary didn’t go crazy when the curtain finally went up. Adam was in fine form and gave his all. He sang with emotion and the crowd responded. The day off between shows was evident in his vocal acrobatics as he sang more glory notes and runs than he had in Edmonton, where he had performed back to back concerts. (Saskatoon was the night before Edmonton.)

Brian May, Roger Taylor, Neil Fairclough, Spike Edney and Rufus Taylor all came over to us at some point to say hello and we were close enough to touch the face of any one of them but behaved appropriately (under threat of tackle and expulsion by security, hahaha!).  Roger and Taylor were class acts and their touching songs and nostalgic videos of Freddie and them in their youth brought a tear to the eye for many, I’m sure. Brian’s guitar solo although different from Edmonton was equally impressive as were Roger and Rufus’s drum duelling.

Adam also acknowledged us in the pit as he came over to get water- he waved and smiled, yes- there was swooning. HaHa!  During ‘Somebody to Love’ he walked towards myself and my lovely blonde friend, stared right at us and held the mic up to our faces.  If he wanted us to sing, which he did, it wasn’t happening.  He laughed and joked with my lovely buxom blonde friend and said (to paraphrase, as Adam’s language was much more colourful) that with her large bounty, surely the girls could sing.  We erupted in laughter and with that he twirled about and finished the song. After the show Spike shook our hands and Rufus Taylor presented my lovely blonde friend with one of his drumsticks. (apparently she has quite the collection).

Sitting OnStage was a fabulous experience to get up close to the band and I’m really glad I bit that bullet.  Bear in mind the following pics are from the side stage vantage point.  I also took some short video clips but since I am working on an ipad I am having some issues with loading them and will do that when I am back home.  Next stop, part 3- Vancouver!!

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Queen + Adam Lambert, The Tale of Three Cities, part 1

I have been a fan of Adam Lambert for a couple of years now ever since a co-worker showed me one of his videos.  I guess you could say I fell down the rabbit hole, as I found myself intrigued with his musical journey towards success.

Of course, if you ask any of my friends they will say I am batshit crazy obsessed…haha, well luckily I only need a fix every other year.  The first time I saw Adam Lambert live was in 2012, while he was on his own tour to promote his album, ‘Trespassing’, in Phoenix, Arizona.  He possessed the ability to really captivate his crowd and thrill his rabid throng of Glamberts.  At the time I considered myself a fan, but maybe not crazy enough to label myself a Glambert.

Fast forward to Sept 2013, in Vegas, at the iHeart festival I watched Queen featuring Adam Lambert’s entire set, transfixed. He nailed the complicated vocals easily. Pass me my Glambert badge.

When Brian May and Roger Taylor announced that they would be embarking on a North American tour with Adam Lambert, I knew I was in.  I was thrilled when they listed the cities that would be hosting them. Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver were on the list and I decided then and there that I would do all three cities.

Edmonton had their turn last night.  It was a warm evening and Rexall Place was full to the rafters. You could feel the anticipation; the arena came alive as the crowd of concert goers started a wave that wrapped the stadium and foot stomped, ‘We will rock you’.  When the lights went down the roar went up as everyone leapt to their feet to the first throbs of ‘Now I’m here’.  The curtain came down and Adam Lambert strutted confidently across the stage.  With Roger Taylor on drums (also accompanied by his son, Rufus) and Brain May on one of his many guitars, Queen came alive.  (albeit Freddie in spirit).  I had a great view in row 2, alongside the thrust and was able to capture several photos.  Old Queen fans were all around me and the lady next to me had flown from Tokyo just to see Brian May. I’ll let the following pictures tell the rest of the story.  Next up, Calgary.

 

Edmonton, Rexall Place, June 24, 2014

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2013, A look back to an evening with Oprah and friends.

January once again.  2014!!

I remember back when I was a child thinking ahead to the future, I figured the skies would be filled with flying cars by now (which would be silly considering the number of planes in the air at any given moment) and I also imagined, thanks to Star Trek, that we would speak to someone over a phone while seeing their face on a big screen or have televisions that would take up entire walls and Eureka here it is!!  I had envisioned that we would be travelling back and forth to the moon or some other exotic planet for vacations but that’s not likely to happen in this lifetime.  Instead, technology has moved in other directions giving us 2 year olds that can operate a computer before they can speak.  I mean they have cars that can literally park themselves.  Where were they when I was sweating my drivers test back in the 70′s.

But before I get thinking too far ahead I would like to look back on some of the highlights of this past year.

Two evenings in particular stand out.

Both January 21 and January 22 were memorable thanks to Oprah.

Although I was not a regular viewer of the Oprah Winfrey show, its 25 year longevity, meant I was bound to watch it from time to time.  My friend, Dianne, however was a devoted fan of Oprah’s work, whether it was her syndicated television show, book clubs, interview specials or her ‘O’ magazine; Dianne’s favourite mantra was, “well according to Oprah…” followed by whatever new bits of wisdom Oprah had decided to impart to the world.  So…when I found out Oprah was coming to Calgary (only a 3 hour drive from here) I leaped at the chance to surprise her with tickets.  Dianne’s excitement was contagious, I mean as a fan of Oprah’s or not, her power was undeniable and I looked forward to hearing her speak.  Then tickets went on sale here in Edmonton!!  I grabbed two thinking that I would sell the ones in Calgary.  That was, until Jeanie, my sis-in-law, expressed her love of Oprah, and since it was her birthday (a number I best not disclose here) I figured why not see both shows.

Oprah was brave to come to Edmonton in the middle of winter.  On the evening of her show it was a frigid -37C. The host gave her a painting illustrating Edmonton’s lush green river valley (as it would appear in the summer) which was a stark contrast to her current view of the frozen tundra from her room at the Hotel MacDonald.  She laughed as she wondered aloud why she would think coming here in January was a good idea!  Laughter and applause were abundant throughout her 2 hours on stage.  The last half hour of which she was joined by George Stroumbolopoulos for a Question and Answer period.

Oprah is a talented speaker and she spoke with eloquence and humour.  She recounted her life’s journey from near poverty in Mississippi to her present day Network ownership (with a billionaire status) of OWN.  We all have a purpose she said and “Purpose was really Spirit seeking expression” and that it was not a goal or something that we created but that it was something we would discover.  She said it was “the defining thread that connected all the experiences of our life” and once we had discovered this thread we were to use it in service to others.  Oh, I loved that statement.

Oprah could have been a comedian as she cracked up the audience with her many anecdotes.  One example was when she told us about one of the last times she ever flew commercial.  When visiting the airport washroom she began to notice feet outside her stall, then a few more and finally a small horde of women, standing outside her bathroom stall, all waiting for her to tinkle. I wouldn’t fly commercial after that either.  She also described a telephone call she had received from Steven Spielberg, while at a fat farm (or health retreat, wink wink), desperately trying to lose 50 lbs in 2 weeks.  She had auditioned for a role in The Color Purple and was sure that her weight would keep the part from her.  She had been running around the track in the rain, listening to her thighs slap together, praying and crying that if she couldn’t have that part – that she be able to let the obsession with it go, so that she could find peace.  She surrendered it up and that is when the call came through.  Mr. Spielberg informed her that, if she so much as lost a pound, she could lose the role.  Off to Dairy Queen she ran.  The audience roared.  They clearly loved her.

She told us of the two defining moments in her career that helped shape its future direction.  One of them being the time she attempted to bring some KKK clan members on her television show, which was live at the time, in an effort to figure them out, when in fact she realized to her horror that she had instead, given them a platform.  The other moment occurred when she had a husband, wife and his mistress on the show.  The husband disclosed to his wife, on air, that his mistress was pregnant.  Oprah saw the devastation on the woman’s face and knew that she was done with such sensationalism.  She changed the direction of future shows to bring positive messages to her viewers and became a phenomenal force for inspirational change and personal growth.

Her topic was the same for both nights but she delivered her message in a way that was personal to each audience.  She is a charismatic speaker and I found myself listening intently.  She spoke of how “Life comes in a whisper first.” One must listen to their gut and trust that little voice in their head.  “Your beliefs are the lenses through which you see the world.” “You become what you believe.”  “What you put out is always coming back.”  “Do all that you can do and then let it go.”  She had many gems like that.  And she would use her personal experiences to explain them.  It was an interesting, inspirational and entertaining evening.  I will end this post with something that Oprah said, of course, and that is, “Gratitude is the single force that can change your energy from a negative to a positive”.  I have always believed this to be true in my own life.  Feeling sorry for oneself does not move you forward.  Spending those two evenings with Oprah was memorable and I am especially grateful to have been able to share the experience with my dear friend, Dianne and my lovely sis-in-law, Jeanie. Thank you!!

Glee, Pass the Tissue

Writing about Glee was not my planned post for tonight.

I watched Glee, a high school musical drama, for the first few seasons and really enjoyed the quirky episodes about the glee club at McKinley High.  Finn (played by Cory Monteith) was a key character, a football quarterback, who joined the glee club and would stick up for the rest of the misfits in glee and eventually fall in love with Rachel (played by Lea Michele).  Their love was genuine, however, as Cory and Lea became boyfriend and girlfriend.

Unfortunately, Cory Monteith died of an accidental overdose in real life and the cast including Lea Michele had to deal with real grief during this particular episode. Tonight Finn would be mourned.

It was so sad. Watching it was hard. I think what affected me the most was the scene where Finn’s mother breaks down as she talks about getting the call and sobs, “how do they wake up every day, how do they breath…you have to keep on being a parent even though you don’t have a child anymore”.
The ‘they’ she is referring to here are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, her. Whoa, that was gut-wrenching.

I am a mother. I felt that. The raw emotion of losing someone you love. There are mothers out there, (some, friends of mine) who have lost their sons or daughters either tragically or through illness and how they get through each day is a testament to their strength.  Without forward motion towards healing the memories would be lost in the pain.

I pray I never have to personally experience this.

Bye Bye Birdie

Today I had frost on my windshield and I looked back on the past few months, with a wistful longing.

These Canada geese return each year to nest and raise their goslings in our backyard.  I think they are pretty amazing to watch.  They mate for life as a rule but will take a new mate if one dies and they can live up to 30 years, forming strong family bonds. The gander and goose take turns standing guard while the others feed off of green grasses and grains.  They are primarily herbivores.

I try to remind my husband of this as he grabs a shovel and bucket to clean up after them.  I’d venture to say he isn’t as impressed with them as I am.

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We watch as individual personalities develop.  The goslings always seem to have one rebel in the bunch.
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The ducks get along well with the geese and don’t seem to mind sharing the same grassy knoll.

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This year a Robin decided to use our outdoor speaker as a ledge for its very messy nest. The robinettes (what does one call baby robins) are visible as they await feeding time.

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We have a couple of rabbits that also call our yard home.

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The colours of autumn and the crisp morning air prompt flocks of geese to prepare for a long migratory flight south.

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It’s not long before they’ve streaked across the sky in their familiar V pattern, leaving us with an empty pond and a lonely sky.  Bye Bye Birdie.

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Now, I struggle with what’s ahead.

Goodbye Summer.

Winter don’t rush…last years memories of you are still very fresh!

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