Friday, August 3, 2007

Back to the sixties

England for me represents my past, my childhood. It seems so strange to hear the crack of a cricket bat and, in my mind, feel the weight of the hard ball as it hits the English hardwood. Same goes with smells as a particular tree fragrance takes me back to the parks of my British youth.

To continue the theme of memories I attended an outdoor festival in a soggy farmers field outside of Wickham in the south of England. The occasion, me bruva's 50th birthday, whose wifely gift was concert tickets to the headliner at tonight's performance- Jethro Tull. The show is under the big top of old travelling circus times, a massive tent held skyward with 4 columns and hundreds of guy wires stretched taut. It is huge and the over capacity crowd is dwarfed by the structure. The stage is close and brightly lit. Nearby is a long tent occupied by 20 mini-bars and long lineups, with cold beer (can you imagine) the beverage of choice. Standing next to the bars, in typical British organized fashion, are the porta potties with equally long lineups. A uniqueness that I have never seen before are the large 'Gents' portas that can occupy ten at a time, much like a revolving door- in one end, out the other, and back to the beer lineup for more.

The festival grounds are much like our own folk festivals, dozens of vendors hawking everything from JT T shirts to typical ex hippie paraphernalia and clothing. The track between the displays is churned mud and it wasn't long before the inevitable mud started to climb the inside of trouser legs. The rain had just ended and, in a god-like fashion, the bigtop was blessed with a huge rainbow ending above the highest point of the tent, the pot of gold waiting for us all inside.

Jethro Tull were phenomenal, Ian Anderson outstanding as he contorted, danced, and slithered across the stage making the finest music with his trademark flute. One old favourite after a another caused time to speed up as the performance raced to it's climatic end and a huge outcry for more. The crowds cacophony was quickly rewarded with the return of the band and an even more rousing rendition of Aqualung. Following the song, Jethro Tull exited with hands held skyward in Churcillish Victory signs and the crowd exited ever so Britishly into the nights darkness. A great evening for all, and the happiest of all was me Bruva.