Words by Cory Stumpf
Photos by Robin Arundel
It was the kind of concert that transcends generations. From elderly bikers to high school hipsters, Meat Loaf fans of every ilk filled Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre last night. Whether their first experiences with the legendary artist were streamed on Spotify or cranked loudly on 8-track in a beat up old Volkswagen back in the 70s, all united together under a shared passion for his music, and all went wild when the man took the stage.
If there were any concerns that after more than four decades of performing he might not still have what it takes to stir an audience with his vocal prowess, these were dispelled the instant he opened his mouth. Though his singing at moments came out somewhat gravelly, he did his best to bellow the powerful notes that he is known for, ones that many other singers could never hope to hit throughout their whole careers. And when he did pull them off his voice seemed to permeate and shake the space of every atom in the venue. The impressiveness of his ability to still wail like an angelic mammoth at the age of 68, and to come out and do so a mere week after having collapsed on stage at a separate concert in Edmonton, overshadowed any flaws that might have existed. And those flaws really were few and far between.
Apologies. This blog has been lately neglected in favour of school semesters rooted in upper level English studies, intensive on reading and writing and consequently heavily demanding of my time. And while I greatly enjoyed exploring the realm of Canadian theatre or delving into survival narratives by literary icons ranging from Dickens to Poe to Atwood, it certainly is nice to have some extra time to indulge in written pursuits of my own.
It couldn’t last forever. Alas, our flight home loomed within our futures, and we were soon due to return to Canada. We had fit more into our weeks in Europe than we ever could have hope for, but as the remainder of our time there dwindled we felt determined to squeeze in one more party at the end of it all. Being set to return to Amsterdam for a brief stay before catching a plane from there we decided to find a rowdy concert in the city.
While still in London and a few days away from returning to Amsterdam, I visited the website of Paradiso, the long ago church turned music venue that over the years has hosted a range of talented and inspiring acts. There was only a handful of artists listed whose performances were not yet sold out and which corresponded with our timeline, so of those we picked one on a whim: Beans & Fatback. None of us was familiar with their name or a single song the band had written, but after sampling a couple of tracks we decided theirs was an energetic style that we would be happy to take part in live.
Anyone who knows much of anything about Brussels has likely heard of the Manneken Pis (or “Pissing Boy”), and those who have not would quickly become familiar with the fountain upon visiting the city. Its image is everywhere in gift shops there: printed on shirts, decorating steins, and in the form of miniature figurines each with a corkscrew for a penis. As for the full-scale, authentic statue, he is located near the Grand Place, perched high and urinating into a basin.
The Clash, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, Iron Maiden − modern music might lack much of any edge if not for London, home to some of the biggest catalysts in the history of punk, rock and metal. As a fervent fan of these styles I had long looked forward to seeing the same streets that had birthed so many legendary acts. At last I was on my way to walk those streets myself.
We were feeling quite at home by the end of our stay in Germany, and therefore our leaving was with a degree of regret. This however was mixed with anticipatory delight as we looked forward to visiting another country hitherto unseen by any of our group. We were off to France. Continue reading
While we were in Germany, amidst all the family, food, music, beer, beer and more beer, we managed to find time to rent a car for a couple of long distance excursions. One of these was a planned day trip to Italy.
The drive to the Italian border was to take just over two hours via the Fern Pass through Austria, so by leaving in the morning we could make it to Italy with plenty of afternoon left for us to explore the country before having to drive back. In fact we seemed so unconstrained by time that we decided to make an early stop along the way to see the palaces of Schloss Hohenschwangau and Schloss Neuschwanstein, both of them former residences of King Ludvig II. Days later we would head on a separate drive northward through Germany and visit Heidelberger Schloss while spying several other such fortresses along the way, and cries of “Look at that castle!” would become gradually less enthusiastic with each consecutive sighting until waning down to compulsory acknowledgements of “Oh, look, another castle…” But those structures formerly of Ludvig’s were the first of their kind for us to witness, and so we took time to gaze at their exteriors and wander their vicinity. Perhaps if not in such awe of their majesty our visit might have been briefer, and our timing more propitious.