Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog #10 - Top Ten of 2010

I have never top a top ten albums of the year blog before. I didn't plan on doing one for 2010 either, but after all of the Grammy controversy, I decided to give it a try. Now remember, this is my list. I know most of you will not agree with it, so feel free to do your own list or leave your opinions below.

10. Murder By Death - Good Morning, Magpie - 4/6/10

I had heard of this band a while ago. Their name is the same as one of my favorite movies of all time, but that's another blog for another time. One of my best friends is a major Murder By Death fan, and we decided to go see the band together.

The are one of the best live bands I have ever seen. The band was so into it, so energetic, so alive in the moment. The crowd never stopped moving. I love the new album and am slowly starting to get into their other albums.

9. Hot Chip - One Life Stand - 2/9/10

I think I was the last person in the world to discover this band. Chatting on Facebook about music one night, a friend suggested I listen to this band. It was right before this album came out. Now I love their stuff. My childhood music roots are in synth-pop so this band clicks with me.

They played at Lollapalooza 2010, and we had a blast dancing and singing along with friends outside on a hot summer afternoon.

8. The Black Keys - Brothers - 5/18/10

I started getting into this band maybe two years ago. This album rocks. There is no other way to describe it. I got to see them live twice last year, at their Lollapalooza after show and their New Year's Eve show. Blog #9 has more about that show. I can't wait to see what they do next.

7. The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards - 5/11/10

I didn't know anything about them until I saw them at the Austin City Limits Festival in October 2009. Talk about energy on stage. Damn. I became a fan at that moment. I got to see them again in 2010. This album is perfect for just about any mood I am in, happy, angry, hyper, etc. I really hope we get another album out of them before they quit for their other bands.

6. M.I.A. - 7/13/10

I have never seen a more complicated, multi-layered artist. There is so much to her background, lifestyle, influences, talents, interests, everything. She is just fantastic and there is no other word for her. The new album slapped me in the face in a good way. I didn't listen to anything else the first two weeks it was out.

We saw her on this past tour. It was like a concert meets a dance club. She climbed the speakers and brought some of the crowd up on stage at the end of the show. It was so much fun. Drinking, dancing, people watching, all with a great soundtrack. I would very much like to see her again.

5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs - 8/3/10

Arcade Fire was one of my husband's favorite bands before he passed away. He introduced me to their music when their second album came out in 2007. This makes the new album mean that much more to me, knowing that he would have loved it. One of my good friends lost a friend a few years ago that also loved Arcade Fire. After their Grammy win last weekend, she told me that both guys are smiling about that in heaven right now.

Now, I know I didn't name The Suburbs as my favorite album of the year. But that doesn't mean I didn't agree with The Grammy's naming it album of the year. If you look at the list of nominees, Lady Gaga couldn't be on my top 10 of 2010 because The Fame Monster was released in late 2009. As for the the other Grammy nominees, clearly Arcade Fire wins.

They headlined Lollapalooza 2010, but we didn't watch their entire set. The sound system was not set up right for them or something. I need to see them again inside a venue, rather than outside where you lose some control over the sound quality.

4. Bruno Mars - Doo Wops & Hooligans - 10/5/2010

I can't get enough of this man's voice. He has a heart and a passion that I don't see in male singers very often. A voice that literally touches my soul. He can play just about any instrument and write lyrics that truly come from within. And his music is fun.

Two songs from the album stand out for me. The first is "Grenade." I think we have all had feelings for someone that didn't return them. It could have been puppy love or actually falling in love with someone who doesn't love you back, but we all know what that pain is like on some level.

The other song is "Marry You." It is just fun and romantic and sappy sweet. What woman wouldn't want this song dedicated to them at some point? And yeah, the Glee cover was amazing. That helps too. I see a Glee blog in my future when this season ends.

3. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid - 5/18/10

My boyfriend bought her EP after hearing a story about her on NPR, and he was uber excited for her full length album to be released. The second I heard it, I was hooked. There is talent just oozing out of this woman.

I can't hold still when I listen to her. You have to dance or sing along. It's a great album to get me moving and make anything more fun. It's great for the gym, road trips, running errands. Yeah, that doesn't sound like the best thing to say about an album, but let's be honest. We don't sit around in front of our radio only listening to music. Music is part of our busy multi-tasking world.

I hope she has a long successful career. Later this year, we get to see her with Bruno Mars. I already know it will be one of my highlight concerts of the year.

2. Interpol - Interpol - 9/7/10

Almost any band inspired by Joy Division is a favorite of mine. But seriously, Interpol is amazing. They have been one of my favorite bands for a long time. Seeing them is almost a religious experience. There is a lot of emotion tied up in the music for me. Maybe I will elaborate on that sometime. I saw them on the first leg of the current tour, maybe a week before the album came out. It was an amazing show, but we didn't know the new songs. I saw them again a week ago, and it was a much better experience, knowing all of the new tracks.

1. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown - 10/18/10

I have always loved this band. It's not just their Oklahoma roots, it's their beautiful musical talent. But, there is nothing like seeing them live in Oklahoma. The last time I saw them was at the Ford Center (now OKC Arena) in 2009 with my brother and some of my closest friends. You could feel the energy in the air. The band thanked their friends and family, shared Oklahoma memories, talked about their love for the OU Sooners, and reminded everyone that OSU sucks. Ha.

I can't make it to the next show (Band Of Horses is the opening act) and it saddens me.

The day the new album was released, I purchased it on my phone (Thanks Amazon mp3) and headed downtown to have lunch with my boyfriend. The rest of my afternoon was free, so I put in my headphones and wandered around the city. I think I listened to the album three times in a row before I headed home. The mood of the album fit perfectly for walking around on a cloudy fall day. But it isn't depressing. While at times it sounds chillingly haunting, it maintains an undertone of positivity to me. I don't know if others see it that way, but again, this is my list.

The sixth track really stands out for me. It is "The Immortals." To me, it's about moving forward no matter what, and not forgetting what's most important: LOVE.

"Spill out on the streets of stars
And ride away
Find out what you are
Face to face
Once you've had enough
Carry on
Don't forget to love
'Fore you're gone"

Especially that last line. Don't forget to love before you're gone.

Honorable mention goes to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Between the How to Destroy Angels EP and The Social Network score, they did some mighty fine work this year.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blog #9 – Goodbye 2010

New Year’s Eve always comes with a ton of pressure. It’s one of those nights that everyone expects to be perfect. Perfect outfit, perfect date, perfect plans, perfect midnight kiss.

You are supposed to be in a hotel ballroom dressed for a red carpet with Cary Grant.

Way too much pressure if you ask me, but I still love New Year’s Eve. I love the feeling of hope I get at midnight, the feeling of having a clean slate and knowing the next year will be better than the one before.

I hadn’t done anything big in three years. It was time to do it up right again. A band that I adore, The Black Keys, was playing three nights in a row at The Aragon Ballroom, which happens to be in our neighborhood. My man & I purchased tickets for New Year’s Eve.

A ton of our friends did too, so one of the girls organized a dinner before the show. We had two big tables at a noodle house close to the venue. After a delicious dinner and a bottle of wine, we moved to one of my favorite bars for another drink or two before on our way to the show.

The venue was packed and it was too difficult to keep the entire group together. So my man & I hung out with another couple towards the back. It turned out to be the perfect spot, as we got amazing pictures of the silver ball that rose up from the sound area at midnight.

And yes, I got that midnight kiss.

After the show, everyone came back to our apartment for a champagne toast and order some pizza. It was a delicious first meal of 2011.

All in all, it was a damn near perfect New Year’s Eve. I didn’t think about the perfect night pressure while we were out. Maybe the pressure was internal, having seen too many old black and white movies with that perfect date night. We were in color and wore jeans and snow boots, but it was fabulous.

Someday I will be in a sequin dress and my man in a tuxedo, and we get those silly party hats and sip champagne all night and the high heels will magically not hurt my feet.

And he will have a Cary Grant accent.

But just until midnight.

Then we will have a midnight kiss and make the next year better than the one before.

Blog #8 – A Widow’s Playlist (part 2)

My 2nd “sadiversary” has come and gone. And needless to say, I survived that dreaded day. I survived because I have a wonderful support system, and of course, music.

I started the day by listening to music. After one or two of the songs off of my previous blog post, I switched to happier music that had been released more recently. This is a good way to use music to pick my mood up off the floor. I guess I don’t really have a playlist for part 2 of my life, not yet anyway.

Next on my agenda for the day was having breakfast with a girlfriend of mine. She’s a newer friend, so naturally she wanted to know a bit more about my back story, since she knew the significance of the day. When she started to tear up, my eyes began to water too. You can imagine how awesome we looked with tears in our eyes over our breakfast and coffee. But it felt good to talk about him that day, spreading his story to my new friends.

Our next stop was a comedy improv show raising money for charity. We hung out there for a bit waiting on another girlfriend. This one and I left the first one to enjoy the comedy while we went shopping. Nothing clears the mind like looking for the perfect bargain.

That evening I had dinner and relaxed at home with my boyfriend. It was completely different then the year before. It showed me that each anniversary will get better, will get easier, be a little less painful. This widow is healing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog #7 - A Widow's Playlist (part 1)

My 2nd "sadiversary" is fast approaching...

Yes. Almost 2 years since my husband Jason lost his battle to cancer. Blogging about my favorite singers earlier got me thinking about songs that have stood out in my mind in these past 24 months. So now I gots to type about them.

When Jason passed away in the ICU unit of the hospital, I was up there for another 2 hours or so. I had to make sure people that wanted to see him and say their final goodbyes got the chance, I had to sign a lot of paperwork, and pack up our stuff in the waiting room. I stayed until the funeral home picked up his body, and figured out who would stay with me that first night as a widow. I wasn't quite ready to face our apartment as only my apartment, so a big group of family & friends decided that I needed to go with them to Johnny Carino's where I could drown my pain with alcohol, and they could all try to feed me. I insisted on driving there alone. It was down the street, and to be honest, I just needed 5 minutes to myself. When I started up my car, my mp3 player started where it had left off.

I was in the middle of "The Block" (New Kids On The Block). Say what you want about NKOTB, but I have adored them since the age of 10, and that will never change.
The first song that I heard in my widowhood was "Don't Cry." It is a ballad about the end of a relationship.

"Oh, what if God wants to take me away? Oh, you better take me like it's the last time. Love me like it's the first time. I'll kiss you like it's the last time. And I'll love you like it's the first time."

Oh shit. God just took Jason away. We already shared our last kiss. I will never get to kiss him, hold him, be held by him again.

I let my car warm up while I sobbed all over my steering wheel cover. I needed those precious few minutes alone to start mourning my love.

The next few days I listened to a lot of music. I had to pick songs for his funeral. I had to pick music to mark the end of our marriage, just as we had done together for our wedding day to mark the start of our marriage. The two songs I decided on were covered in my Ink blog post, but just to refresh your memory:

Alanis Morissette "Torch"

"Miss your approach to life and your body in my bed"

How long would I sleep on top of the covers? I can't sleep under them. He slept there. It probably still smells like him.

"One step, one prayer, I soldier on. Simulating, moving on."

Time to pretend I have control of my life.

Depeche Mode "Death's Door"

"Father are you pacing? I'm coming home."

His father passed away a decade ago. Do you really get to meet in Heaven?

"Well, I'm knocking on death's door. Will I take my rest? Have I passed the test?"

I know there is a heaven and he is there. No doubt. Only faith.

There was a third song I wanted to play at the funeral, but it's an industrial song. I knew my friends would appreciate the lyrics, but I didn't want to scare everyone else. The song is "Beloved" VNV Nation.

I can't find a good video of it, so you just gotta go look it up. It is beautiful. Trust me.

"Moments lost, no time remains. I am so proud of what we were. No pain remains, no feeling. Eternity awaits."

I am extremely proud of the life Jason led and the relationship we shared. He is not in pain anymore. An eternity of peace is his now.

When I saw the band several months later, I had the opportunity to meet the lead singer at an after party. I told him my story and what those lyrics meant to me, and thanked him for writing them. He started to tear up and hugged me, telling me that this is why he loves meeting fans, to hear their stories and what the music does for them. It was a very healing moment for me.

Songs always bring emotions to the surface for me. And it can be from any part of my life, childhood, my high school love, my 20's with Jason, the start of my 30's with my new love, old friends, family I am close to, family I don't speak to, random memories. The following songs were on heavy rotation at the start of my widowhood.

The Dreaming "Whole"

"And I cry to the angels to bring you home to me. But that is not destined to be in this life. Now I'm lost and alone. Only you can make me whole. I am broken and alone. You have left this gaping hole in my soul."

Will this pain ever go away? How can I be complete without my other half?

I did think my life had ended too. But as I healed, I learned to be a complete person on my own, allowing me to love again.

The Dreaming "Let It Burn"

I can't pick one line from this song. You must look this up. Seriously.

I have met this band since Jason's passing. And again, I thanked the lead singer for writing lyrics that helped me through the darkest time in my life.

Band of Horses "No One's Gonna Love You"

"And anything to make you smile, you are, the ever living ghost of what once was. And no one is ever gonna love you more than I do. No one's gonna love you more than I do."

Is that true? Will I never find another love? Am I done with love at 28?

I now look at this song from the other perspective. No one will love Jason more than I did. He told me all the time during treatment that he fought hard to stay alive for me. He didn't think he would have fought at all had we not found eachother.

The Offspring "Gone Away"

This song has always affected me. I have always turned to this song for comfort when someone dies. It because especially important when one of Jason's best friends died 3 months after him.

"Pulled away before your time. I can't deal, it's so unfair."

Evanescence "My Immortal"

Yes, a bit of a silly band. Jason didn't care for them at all. He drove my brother and I to their concert and picked us up. He didn't have to go, and we got a designated driver. Say what you want, but her voice is amazing.

"Now I'm bound by the life you left behind."

He apologized for leaving me behind to deal with his mother. Long story short, we don't speak anymore. And he predicted that.

"These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just to real. There's just too much that time can not erase."

For a long time, I didn't think I would ever heal. Now I know it is an ongoing process and I am in a good place.

Tori Amos "Parasol"

"When I come to terms, to terms with this, my world will change for me."

"I stare at the wall, knowing on the other side, the storm that waits for me."

Again, this song relates to Jason preparing me for what was next. He told me he felt a guilty peace about dying. His problems would be over then, but mine would be far from over.

There are songs that remind me of us, of that chapter of my life that will be in a seperate blog entry.

Music helps to heal the soul.

Blog #6 - Top 10 Lead Singers

A friend of mine Tweeted a link to a top 30 lead singer list, and didn't agree with their rankings. So I asked him to do his own top 10 list. He has done it, my brother has done it, and now it is my turn.

In alphabetical order, I present my top 10 favorite lead singers, at this moment in time. It could change after another album or concert or something.

#1 Brian Aubert - Silversun Pickups
I had not heard of this band until I saw them in concert in 2007. My (deceased) husband Jason was a fan, and asked me to go see them with him. The show was at The Conservatory in Oklahoma City, hands down the worst concert venue I have ever been to. Halfway through the show, the cheap club equipment broke and they couldn't finish the show. They stuck around to sign autographs and take pictures with everyone, which I thought was a super nice gesture. I have been a fan ever since that night. The last album, Swoon, would be on my top 10 album list if I did one. I have seen them live 6 times, and can't wait to see what else they do in the future.

#2 Ben Bridwell - Band of Horses
I discovered this band when one of their songs was featured during a scene of the NBC show "Chuck." (Sometime I have to do a blog about my love for TV, specifically HBO and NBC.) I immediately jumped on my computer to find out who this band was with the haunting vocalist. Ben Bridwell's voice is gentle, comforting and haunting all at the same time. When I got the schedule for Lollapalooza 2009, I was heartbroken to see that they would be playing at the same time as Silversun Pickups. Thankfully, when the after shows were announced, Band of Horses had one. This left my brother & I free to see SSPU at Lollapalooza, and Band of Horses at midnight. The show was at the House of Blues in Chicago, and beyond capacity. Seeing a room full of sun & alcohol exhausted Lollapalooza fans swaying back and forth to their haunting melodies was a beautiful sight.

#3 Ian Curtis - Joy Division
Joy Division was a big part of my falling in love with music. Digging for their vinyl with my boyfriend and my little brother in record stores on the weekends are some of my happiest memories from my teenage years. Perfect. Brilliant. Missed.

#4 Dave Gahan & Martin Gore - Depeche Mode
As Depeche Mode is my favorite band, their two singers are going to be on my list. The combination of Dave Gahan's voice and stage presence is just amazing. This man is one of the reasons I fell in love with music when I was growing up. He is also on my brother's list (who calls him a bad dancer, but he doesn't know what he is talking about). Martin Gore, the principal songwriter, is the heart and soul of Depeche Mode. He sings one or two songs on each album, and performs one or two of them at every concert. His live performances are some of my all time favorite concert highlights. I have seen DM 6 times.

#5 Caleb Followill - Kings of Leon
This was Jason's favorite band. The first time we saw them was in a shitty little club in Bricktown after their first album came out. There were maybe 200 people there. The second (and last) time we saw them together was at the Diamond Ballroom, on Jason's birthday, with maybe 2,000 people. It was after their second or third album, the timeline escapes me. Cancer treatment made him too sick for concerts after this, so the next time I saw KOL it was years later after Jason had passed. I went with a group to see them rock the sold out Ford Center (Now OKC Arena - home of the NBA Thunder). It is amazing to see them in such a variety of venues. I didn't get to see them headline Lollapalooza 2009, as they played at the same time as Depeche Mode. And sorry Kings of Leon, I know you got Oklahoma roots, but Depeche Mode wins every time. But I congratulate you Caleb Followill, your voice can bring tears to my eyes, and you win in the category of Southern rock inspired vocalists. And their new album may be my favorite album of 2010.

#6 Christopher Hall - Stabbing Westward & The Dreaming
In high school, I was a total junkie for Stabbing Westward. I just adored everything this band did. I got to see them once (God Lives Underwater was the opening act - bonus) in like 1999. I think I was the only person in the state of Oklahoma that purchased their last album (self-titled from 2001). But that last album totally showcased the beautiful voice that is Christopher Hall. Then in 2007, I had the chance to see his new band, The Dreaming, at The Whiskey in Hollywood with my cousin. Totally hooked from that moment. I have seen them two more times since then, just adore these guys, and can't wait for the new album coming soon.

#7 Ronan Harris - VNV Nation
Very few singers can make me cry during a concert. Ronan Harris is one of them. This man is my industrial music hero. You will read more about him in my next blog, which I promise to publish before the end of the year.

#8 Maynard James Keenan - Tool & A Perfect Circle + various acts
I can thank my little brothers for introducing me to Tool. I first saw them in 2001, on the first leg of the Lateralus tour. I liked them, but wasn't a major fan. It all changed when I saw them live. Maynard has the best voice in rock, hands down. It is the perfect combination of all the emotions brought to the surface in their music, hatred, love, pain, hope, confusion, angst. This past summer, I went with a group to see Tool again. And we ended up with 2nd row seats. Hot damn. Talk about an amazing night with an amazing band and amazing people. Sammy happy.

#9 Pete Loeffler - Chevelle
I have adored this band since their first album. I remember seeing the video for "Point #1" on Much Music, which we got on our Primestar Satellite. Yeah buddy. Late 90's. Pete has one of those great rock voices that can range from melodic singing to metal screaming in the same track. There is a lot of emotion in his voice, and combined with his lyric writing, it resonates with fans. There is a reason why everyone still sings along to "Send The Pain Below" at every show after all of these years. My boyfriend Brad and I had the opportunity to see them recently at The Metro in Chicago (their hometown) for the taping of their soon to be released live DVD. I have seen them 5 times, and can't wait to see them a million times more.

#10 Justin Warfield - She Wants Revenge
I remember the first time I heard about this band. My husband Jason called me on my cell phone. I was in between classes at UCO. He had read about them in a magazine just now and had to call me immediately to tell me about their influences, about their album review, that they would be opening for Depeche Mode at the show we were preparing to road trip for, and to let me know he was on his way out the door to buy their album right now. Justin Warfield has one of those haunting, dark, mysterious, hollow yet full, deep, perfect rock/industrial voices. This man can put you in a trance when he is on stage. And he is just a nice guy on top of that. We had a conversation about death (my widowhood and he losing a friend) and he just couldn't have been nicer and more open. He seems to be that way with all of his fans, always signing autographs and taking pictures after shows. I have seen them 4 times now, including over the summer when they opened for The Psychadelic Furs. It was the last concert of my 20's. Fabulous night.

Honorable Mention

Paul Banks - Interpol
I guess Interpol would be in that "inspired by Joy Division category" and that is fine with me. Discovering Joy Division was a big part of my formative years, and was probably a big part of his formative years too. I have seen Interpol twice, and already have tickets for another show in a few months. The first time I saw them is another treasured concert memory for me. Jason & I had tickets to see them around our one month wedding anniversary, but he could not go to the show because he had been deployed to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina clean up right after we got married. So my brother Tim went with me. We share a love of music that reflects growing up together and discovering music together. While it sucked that my new husband had to miss the show, it was a great brother/sister night.

Matthew Bellamy - Muse
I think he is more of a frontman than a lead singer to me. Now don't get me wrong, I adore Muse, but I think his guitar playing is better than his singing, and therefore he can't be in my top 10.

Davey Havok - AFI
Let me say right now, I don't know everything about AFI, like most of their other fans do. Yes, my friend James could kick my butt easily in a AFI fan contest. I have like 4 albums, but love everything I have heard. Because I am a newer fan, I will keep him out of my top 10. But I have seen them 3 times, and love the range and beauty in Davey Havok's voice. And he got hot last year, so that's a plus. :-)

Harry McVeigh - White Lies
This band would also be in that "inspired by Joy Division" category. They were the first band I saw at Lollapalooza 2009. I walked in, got a drink, saw them setting up in the rain wearing all black, and thought I should check it out. I was hooked as soon as I heard Harry McVeigh's voice. A few months later, I saw them open for Kings of Leon, met them after the show and thanked them for making such beautiful music. They are preparing to release their second album, and I look forward to watching this band grow.

Trent Reznor - Nine Inch Nails
Yes, I know people debate about this. It's one guy, but it's a band, blah, blah, blah. Nine Inch Nails is my boyfriend's favorite band, and has been for 15 years at least. While I am not that level of a fan, I do really like them. (I don't care what my brother says, Pretty Hate Machine is amazing and always will be.) But I don't think that Trent Reznor has a voice that is stronger than my top 10. He does seem to be a better frontman and musician to me than a singer.

Remember, this is my top 10 list. I know everyone has their own opinion. But this is mine. So there. :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog #5 - Tour of the Universe

As you know by now, my favorite band of all time is Depeche Mode. No one else has ever written music that touches my soul in so many ways. I am one of the devout, forever. I was aware of them growing up (spending my childhood watching music videos since I didn’t really play outside with my allergies and arthritis), but I fell in love with them in high school. My friends & I would spend all of our free time on the weekends in three different independent record stores in OKC. We devoured everything we could get our hands on. It was actually more exciting than downloading whatever you want from the internet now. By the time Ultra was released in 1997, I was a senior in high school, and completely in love with Depeche Mode.

They didn’t really tour for that album, but they toured the next year for the singles collection. I was a freshman in college, with no money to road trip to see them. Finally, when Exciter was released in 2001, I could go. I had just turned 21. Watching my favorite band, outside under the stars, with my brother & a cold drink in my hand was an amazing experience. The track list was magical. My favorite song (Halo) and my brother’s favorite (Home) were included. The show started before sunset, and seeing them play Waiting for the Night during sunset was magical.

Tuesday, July 17th 2001 - Dallas, TX - Smirnoff Music Center

Intro - Easy Tiger / Dream On (acoustic)
The Dead of Night
The Sweetest Condition
Walking In My Shoes
Dream On
When the Body Speaks
Waiting for the Night
Sister of Night (Martin)
Breathe (Martin)
Enjoy the Silence
I Feel You
In Your Room
It's No Good
I Feel Loved
Personal Jesus

Home (Martin)
Black Celebration
Never Let Me Down Again

My next opportunity to see them was in 2005, on the first leg of Touring the Angel. This time I was a newlywed, and seeing my favorite band with my husband and brother rocked. Now that I think about it, it was the only time I have seen them indoors. Hm. Again, my brother heard his favorite song, Home. The encore began with Somebody, the song that meant so much to Jason & I. He held me and kissed me and we swayed along. We were very much in that newlywed high, each of us so happy to find our Somebody.

Tuesday, November 8th 2005 - Dallas, TX - American Airlines Center

A Pain That I'm Used To
John the Revelator
A Question of Time
Policy of Truth
Walking In My Shoes
Suffer Well
Damaged People
Home (Martin)
I Want It All
The Sinner In Me
I Feel You
Behind The Wheel
World In My Eyes
Personal Jesus
Enjoy the Silence

(Encore #1)
Somebody (Martin)
Just Can't Get Enough
Everything Counts

(Encore #2)
Never Let Me Down Again
Goodnight Lovers (acoustic)

The following spring, we decided to drive to Kansas City to see them on the second leg of Touring the Angel. It turned out to be the most unique Depeche Mode show of all time. When it started, we noticed that Dave Gahan’s (lead singer) voice sounded quite strained. After six songs, he was taken to the hospital. It was exhaustion or something. So we stood there for a bit, wondering what would happen next. Martin Gore (principal songwriter and sometimes singer) performed six more songs before they ended the show. Being there to see Martin sing six (instead of 2 or 3) in a show was too amazing for words. I could write a book about how magical that performance was.

Wednesday, May 10th 2006 - Kansas City, MO - Starlight Amphitheater

(Dave Gahan)
A Pain That I'm Used To
A Question of Time
Suffer Well
Walking In My Shoes

(Martin Gore)
It Doesn't Matter Two
Leave In Silence
A Question of Lust
Damaged People

That brings us to this summer. I had the opportunity to see them three times in the month of August. The first was the Lollapalooza festival. Depeche Mode was announced as one of the headliners, along with Tool, my brother’s other favorite band. We knew there would never be another opportunity to see two such amazing bands in the same weekend, so we decided to go. We bought the VIP tickets (worth every penny) to have access to real bathrooms, unlimited alcohol & food, and premium viewing at the three day festival. Depeche Mode headlined the first night. My mood was up and down. The thought occurred to me that I had come full circle. The first time I saw them perform, it was just me and my brother. The second and third time, Jason was alive and married to me. Now as a widow, I was seeing them with just my brother again. Widows have these thoughts from time to time. “First time I have done blank without him.” “First time I have gone to blank without him.” It felt good though. This was me moving on with my life, being strong and happy and enjoying myself. Seeing over 100,000 people wave their arms during Never Let Me Down Again was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The Chicago skyline as a backdrop was nice too.

Friday, August 7th 2009 - Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza

In Chains
Hole to Feed
Walking in My Shoes
It's No Good
Question of Time
Fly on the Windscreen
Home (Martin solo)
Come Back
Policy of Truth
In Your Room
I Feel You
Enjoy the Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

Personal Jesus

Three weeks later, we drove to Dallas to see them again. Two things made this show super exciting.

One – with the time restraints of a festival, the set list for Lollapalooza had been shortened. We would get the full set list now.
Two – There was a group of nine of us going together. I had never been to any concert with that many friends before.

In Chains has to be the best opener I have ever heard. The way the song slowly builds into a sexy grind, just immediately gets the crowd warmed up. I could go on forever about this track. If you haven’t heard it, watch the video below. Yes, it’s the Dallas show. No, I didn’t shoot this. We were on the lawn.

The first encore started with Martin singing Somebody. When I heard the opening chord of the song, I swear that I went into an out of body experience. I saw myself spin in a circle, sit on the blanket, and burst into tears. I had not seen this song live without Jason, ever. Everyone reached down to hug me and tell me they love me, but I think I just needed a good cry. Blaine held me and we swayed back and forth. I asked him the question I had not spoken out loud until that moment. “Will I find a Somebody again?” All of my emotions came out. At the same time, I was sad to be a widow, proud of my marriage, scared about the future, hopeful that I will find someone new, grateful for having such amazing friends, and in awe of the talent on stage in front of us. Thank you Martin Gore. Thank you for writing that song, and thank you for playing it live.

Again, not my video, but the show I am talking about.

Saturday, August 29th 2009 - Dallas, TX - Center

In Chains
Hole to Feed
Walking In My Shoes
It's No Good
A Question of Time
Fly On the Windscreen
Jezebel (Martin)
Judas (Martin)
Miles Away / The Truth Is
Policy of Truth
In Your Room
I Feel You
Enjoy the Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

Encore #1
Somebody (Martin)
Behind The Wheel

Encore #2
Personal Jesus
Waiting For the Night (Bare Version)

After the show, we all partied the night away at the W Hotel. Have I mentioned how much I love my friends?

The next day, I flew to Houston, to welcome my friend Marline home from basic training (Jason inspired her to join the Texas Army National Guard), and see Depeche Mode with her. This was her first time to see them, and we managed to get 5th row tickets. I had never been this close before. I was a little disappointed in the majority of the fans in the front 7 rows (pit section). Most of them didn’t know any of the songs from the new album. Even the reviewer commented on that the next day.

Ignoring those folks, the show was amazing. Let me get all girly for a second. I can’t believe how sexy Dave & Martin are! Okay, I had to get that out of my system! Martin played Home again, so Marline texted my brother to tell him that I got a short video of it for him. Personal Jesus is one of the most amazing live tracks now, thanks to Martin’s little guitar intro. Here’s my video of that.

Sunday, August 30th 2009 - Houston, TX - Woodlands Pavilion

In Chains
Hole To Feed
Walking In My Shoes
It's No Good
A Question Of Time
Fly On The Windscreen
Little Soul (Martin)
Home (Martin)
Miles Away / The Truth Is
Policy Of Truth
In Your Room
I Feel You
Enjoy The Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

Encore #1
A Question Of Lust (Martin)
Behind The Wheel

Encore #2
Personal Jesus
Waiting For The Night (Bare Version)

I realized that the first tour I went to was one show. The second tour was two shows. And this, my third tour, was three shows. I have already started saving money to hit four shows on the next tour. If you have never seen Depeche Mode live, you must see them next time around.

Blog #4 - ink

I have always loved tattoos. I got my first one at the age of 20. It wasn't legal in Oklahoma yet, so I drove to Texas with my roommate & my on & off again boyfriend from high school. I had done my research, with the help of the legal piercing shop I had been to, and found a good studio.

The design I picked was tiny & typical. It was really a test to see if I could take the pain. 30 minutes & $50 later, I had ink.

I never had the urge to get a second one until my husband died. He passed away in the middle of December, and I convinced myself that I needed a memorial tattoo before the end of the year. I had to get it before I started a new year, a year he had never lived in. Inspired by the song Torch (Alanis Morissette), my friend Blaine & I began working with our tattoo artist on an idea. For the design, we chose a wooden torch, with the Thunderbird representing the Oklahoma Army National Guard in the flames. Jason loved being a member of the Guard. It was family tradition for him. He was my soldier, and fought hard to stay alive as long as he could. We added small wings to the torch, with our (Jason & I) favorite colors. The placement of the tattoo could only be one spot. Jason had a port implanted in his chest, to avoid having his arm stuck for chemotherapy & blood work all the time. It was his first cancer surgery, and a painful one. The port was placed in his upper right chest, connected to a major vein in his neck. This was the part of his body trying to save his life. My tattoo went in this spot. I will always carry a Torch for him.

Blaine got the same tattoo in the same spot. It was important for him too.

Blaine & I met in high school at a drama tournament. We became fast friends. He & his husband took care of me, those first few days of my widowhood. We all used to joke, that if Jason had been gay, he would have married Blaine instead of me. They were a “bromance” before anyone used that term. It meant a lot to me that Blaine wanted the same tattoo. We both carry that torch.

We went together, with several other friends to get the tattoo. Blaine went first, because I had to go to the ATM. He also had more tattoo experience than me, and I was more than nervous about the physical and emotional pain of a memorial tattoo. When it was my turn, sitting there with the stencil on my chest, watching my artist arrange the colors on her desk, we started to smell smoke. The machine that prints out the stencils had caught on fire, after printing out my stencil. 10 minutes of chaos followed, while the fire was put out and everyone had the adrenaline rush. I think it was Jason. I think he wanted me to see flames before getting flames tattooed on my body for him. The adrenaline rush completely calmed me, to the point that I almost fell asleep during the tattoo. I felt no pain. It was calming, and felt very healing at the same time. Perhaps he is my guardian angel now.

After that, I was hooked on ink. Two months later, I got the Depeche Mode tattoo I had been wanting forever. It's the Violator rose. The outline is taken directly from the vinyl (it was important to me to have the correct size and scale for such an important piece), but instead of doing it in solid red, my artist used more color and detailed it as a realistic rose. Most people who look at it just see a rose. You have to love Depeche Mode to understand it. I love it.

Then less than 3 months after my husband died, one of his best friends died. Vince was 29 years old & his heart stopped. He was obese, depressed, and lived a, uh, unhealthy lifestyle. Jason & the other guys (that all grew up together) constantly worried about Vince. They were always trying to help him, to get him to take care of himself. Vince's funeral was the first time everyone was together again after Jason's funeral. It's so wrong to lose two people in the same group in such a short amount of time. I decided I needed another memorial tattoo.

I needed something to show my love for all of my family & friends. Working with my tattoo artist, I decided on two roses. A large red rose for my family, and a smaller yellow rose for my friends. It's on my upper left chest, opposite my torch for Jason.

My most recent tattoo is a halo on the back of my neck. I got it for four reasons.

1. My favorite song from Violator is Halo, and Depeche Mode played it the first time I saw them live.

2. I grew up (and am) Catholic. I wanted something religious to represent that.

3. I believe that everyone has a bit of good in them.

4. I needed to see how I handle the pain of ink on the spine. I don't handle it well at all.

There are more tattoos to come. They will be blogged about when they happen. I look at tattoo work as artistic therapy. The pain is an emotional release, and you are left with a visual reminder of a memory, something you love, someone you love, something beautiful.

Recently, I have watched two good friends get tattoos for emotional therapy. One marked her divorce with ink, the other losing a fiancé to infidelity. They both felt a weight lifted when it was over. It really is a healing tool.

Many (mainly older) people have asked me about the future, when the tattoos fade or sag or whatever. I won't mind. I will be honored if I live long enough to see those changes. The tattoos become a part of your body, and they will change with the rest of your body. The ink is a part of who I am, and I love it.

No Regrets Tattoo
1712 NW 16th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 702-0088