Monday, May 22, 2006

Rugby/Shack Double Header

Eurpean Challenge Cup Final

Gloucester 36 - London Irish 34 (after extra time)

It is refreshing to complete a rugby season and wish it could last just a few weeks longer especially after one or two terms where I was willing the season to conclude so that I could forget about hapless performances for a month or two. These last few months have been heady and exhilarating and I’m sure I’m not alone in regretting the absence of Lamb, Morgan, Allen and company from my sporting horizon for a while. I hope Lampard, Owen and Gerrard are able to make up for the lack of oval ball action over the next month.

The European Challenge Cup Final was a fitting denouement to a cracking few months of splendid football. The stagnant, conservative play of autumn and winter is a distant memory and, again, yesterday, the youngsters, albeit in testing conditions, carved up some marvellous action. The victory was fulfilling for a number of reasons. It was pleasing to witness old-fashioned Glawster Dog as the team refused to lie down and die in the face of relentless London Irish pressure. Coming from behind was mightily exciting too and, while I felt at least three times that all hope was gone, I am delighted to report that the team didn’t share my lack of belief. The lads wanted it. Finally, this team can only improve and I am sure we have only seen half of what the youngsters can aspire to. The new signings shall add some grit and gloss and experience and that essential strength in depth. I have rarely left an old season and looked forward to a new one with such pleasure and optimism.

Shack at Fleece and Firkin, Bristol

S considers Shack to be the finest band in the country right now and who am I to disagree? Last night at Bristol’s Fleece and Firkin, the swagger and strut of their remarkable tunes and soaring harmonies proved the perfect end to a fine day. The new album tracks sounded sharp and life-affirming while the older stuff (Comedy, Pull Together, X Hits the Spot) was as fresh and gorgeous as ever. Shack possess the knack of being deeply moving and thought-provoking while lacking any pretension whatever and I appreciate that balance being struck. Ultimately though, they write songs that improve one’s life better than most and that is why I admire them greatly.

Jim Noir and his band supported Shack. They jangled and jingled like The Beatles and The Byrds circa 1966 and I appreciated the fellows’ wholehearted enjoyment of making popular music. I quite liked them. Jim wore a bowler hat and a coat on stage but I am yet to decide whether this is a good or bad thing.

I'll post some photos of both yesterday's events later this week

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