The recovery score card gets another tick

The rain pelted down. It ran in streams and sheets down the gentle slope. It had started as a few warning drops around 5.45 pm, but turned into a steady rain by 6pm. Of course, we knew it was coming. We’d driven through 3 hours of rain on the way there, only out-driving the rain in the last 30 minutes.

So we knew our Midnight Oil concert was going to be wet. We came prepared. We had rain pants and rain jackets. Nigel had waterproof snow boots. I had brought a spare pair of shoes to leave at the motel to wear the next day.

The rain has just started at 5.50 pm. I’m ready to rock with my raincoat and N95 mask taped to my face. (Nigel says I look like Lawrence of Arabia ready to go into covid battle). This is the BEFORE shot. There is no AFTER shot because there is too much water everywhere and the phone touchscreen gets too wet to respond to touch. And once back to the motel, all we wanted to do was peel everything off and get in a hot shower.

But there was no way to be prepared for the deluge that was to come. Stage 88 in Canberra is an outdoor venue with an open area in the centre and open stands of poplar trees along the edges. It is all gently sloping to the stage, so a good view can be had by all.  We are standing sorta toward the back under the poplar trees.

Our group (we’ve met 3 of Nigel’s friends here) hunkers down as the rain gets harder. And harder. The first act comes on at 6.30pm. Midway through the first act, there is a lightning flash immediately followed by thunder. Shit. The first act continues as the rain gets harder still. It’s windscreen wiper-on-super high-but-still-can’t-see-anything sort of rain.

The second act comes on at 7.30pm. We’re pretty wet by now. It’s been raining steady to hard since 6pm. We’re out of daylight savings now, so it’s dark by 6pm, so you can’t really see what weather is coming or not. Unless you look at radar on your phone. The people standing near us say it looks like the rain is backfilling and it’s going to rain most of the concert. Oh well, once you are wet, you’re wet. We’re dedicated and riding it out.

And then the storm really hits. Sheets of rain pass in front of the stage lights like curtains. Still the band plays on. It is a total tempest and everyone is dripping wet. The water is halfway up the rubber on my shoe and every step is a splash. My feet are completely soaked. And the lightning is now every five minutes. It’s disconcerting when you are standing under trees near an open field. But still the band plays on, and the crowd gets wetter and wetter. And colder and colder. It’s only 11C.

The second act finishes. The entire crowd is now one united, soggy mess enduring two hours of a storm to see Midnight Oil on their farewell tour. We figure that at least once they come on to play, the crowd is going to be electric and feed that energy into the band. We’re all united now, one soggy, cold crowd gritting it out to see their band.

At 8.15 pm a guy comes on stage and says Midnight Oil will come on a half hour late. He advises us to go shelter in our cars and get out of the storm, and the Oils will start at 9pm. Yet hardly anyone has cars to go back to because most everyone arrived by public transport, uber or taxi. So we all stay put. And endure. And endure. It does not matter how prepared you were, everyone is soaking wet and cold now.

More lightning and thunder. More pelting rain. Nigel can no longer feel his legs or hands. He’s having trouble holding his beer. Many of us are jumping around to the background music just to stay warm.

9pm. No Oils. 9.05pm. A man comes on stage and says due to the severe weather that the concert will not proceed. We are to leave and seek shelter immediately. We’ll get full refunds.

What the fuck!!! We’ve now been standing in pelting rain and lightning for 3 hours. The woman next to us is looking at the radar on her phone and says, “No way, it’s clearing!! It won’t be raining in 30 minutes!”

There is audible and palpable shock in the crowd. We just stood through 3 hours of rain and lightning and now you call it? If you were going to call it, it should have been after the first act back two hours ago about 7pm.

We all proceed to the exits in disbelief. We slip and slide our way out. There is mud everywhere and lots of people are falling over because it’s so slippery.  Apparently, the people standing down the front were standing in ankle deep water. 33mms of rain in 3 hours will do that.

Lead singer’s tweet the following day.

So it was the Midnight Oil concert that wasn’t.  The real kicker is that after enduring a 3-hour storm, with Nigel starting into hypothermia, and getting so wet we were completely pruned, the rain and lightning completely finished 30 minutes later.  It had stopped raining by the time we got back to the motel. I cannot tell you how disappointed we were, especially after spending $300 on fuel and accommodation to attend the show.

But all is not lost. We have tickets to see Midnight Oil again on Sunday, just five days later. This was the concert we were supposed to go to on my birthday. But the drummer got covid then, so the concert was postponed to Nigel’s birthday instead.

Sunday comes. It’s warm and clear, but it cools right off to 14C as the sun sets. We go pretty early to stake out our spot near the front. (When you pay $200 for a ticket, you want to make it worth it.)

Staking out a spot near the front. That is a fly that has staked out a spot on Nigel’s forehead. Enjoy Nigel’s smile – he is only happy 0.5% of the time. Smiles are exceedingly rare. It did happen to be his birthday, as well.

The support acts are both good. The crowd squeezes in as Midnight Oil is about to start. Nigel and I are both nearly in tears when the show starts with We Resist.

The show starts with “We Resist”, the song about the importance of protest. The lead singer is standing up the back there as images of protest rallies and environmental destruction are shown on the screen. It’s powerful, and the atmosphere is tense and expectant.

And we then jump and bounce for the next 2 hours.

We spend the first half of the show up the very front and then move back to a more open area in the Premium Standing section for the second half where there is more room to jump around.

I only take two photos, because I’m too busy jumping and bouncing and just enjoying the show. Sorry to all those people who watched the show through their phone and might have gotten my pumping arm or bouncing head in their video shots.

My shirt ends up wetter than it did at the Canberra show. It’s all sweat this time. My entire head is wet. There is sweat dripping off my hair. I’ve just done the equivalent of frenzied jumping jacks for 2 hours straight without a rest. I’m airborne as much as I am on the ground. I prove that you can be asthmatic and do strenuous activity with an N95 mask taped to your face. And I love every second of it. I cannot get enough. They play both of the songs, “Read About It” and “Short Memory”, that are my favourites to hear at a concert.

No average songs about love or relationships. Every song a protest song. This one demands so much jumping and arm pumping and every audience member screaming out the first three verses, and some of us yelling out the whole song. Nigel and I were both hoarse once we got back to the car. You’d never know these guys are in their mid-60s and the drummer and lead singer have both had covid during the tour.

Awesome. It almost makes up for the loss of the Canberra concert. Nigel and I are both very, very happy with the night. We have no idea what it was like in the seated or general admission sections, but it was tremendous fun in Premium Standing. And the set list was fantastic – better than any of the other concert set lists on this tour that I’ve seen online except, maybe, the concert at Orange.

Last song of the encore: Hercules. You can’t really hear the lead singer of the band because the videographer is yelling out the lyrics. But I was too! And jumping more than anyone you see in this shot 🙂 This is the song that cemented Nigel and I’s Midnight Oil bond shortly after we first met. We had a live album on in his 1975 Ford Landau as he drove at high speed with all the gum trees screaming past. This song came on (it’s mostly about nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific), and the section where he sings, “This is something I’ll remember”, is a memory from that drive that we’ll both always remember. That might have been the moment I knew I was in love. Awwww…

And the biggest victory for me: I drove there and back (45 mins each way), including the night drive back that requires full concentration looking for kangaroo hazards. We stood for 2.5-3 hours before Midnight Oil came on. And then I did high intensity exercise for 2 hours straight.

There were times in the past 4.5 years when I could not stand for more than 15 minutes without exhausting myself. There were times I could not do that same 45-minute drive because the brain fog was so bad I could not drive very far at all.

And so the 24th of April, 2022, saw me jumping more than most everyone else at the concert. And there was no post-exertional malaise the next day. The fatigue never hit. I just had the tiredness a normal person would have the next day. It’s the biggest tick on the recovery scorecard yet! 

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In bike news, procurement of bike bits continues. I have most of the mountain bike repair kit together now. My parents have sourced a Salsa cradle and bag for me in America. I’m working my way through tyre research. I’ve decided that I will take the mountain bike for a shakedown run for the first part of the tour later this year if I can get the handlebars in time. I’m still getting over the thought of not taking The Wizard, but I think it will be wise to really test out the mountain bike before we get to the high country.

Here is the latest thought on the first part of the tour. Of course, this is just an idea and will change on the road. I have no specific roads or routes planned. And I never will. But this kind of shows how I think I’ll link up all the state forests, parks and national parks that I want to visit.

Starting top right and heading counter-clockwise. The map looks eerily like a fire perimeter map. Of course, with climate change inaction……

And Part 2 of the tour into the high country might look something like this. Head down towards Mansfield and then work my way east, popping out of the forest for resupply before heading back in several times. This is very, very rough, but I think I’ve settled on starting in the west and heading east instead of the opposite.

Start up the top at the yellow dot near “Transport”, head down, then head east. Eventually get back to the purple dot.

But who knows? I’m really loving the idea of a “take it as it comes” approach. I’ve certainly got the time and headspace for that on this tour. And it’s coming quickly. I only have 9 weeks of work left! I’ve got to put together a to-do list because the next two months will be a bit crazy wrapping things up and getting the America trip all sorted out, too. Plus, I’m starting four days of work per week this week, so there’s less free time to play with for the next nine weeks, also. I cannot tell you how excited I am, that as things ramp up, I’ve got the energy to match. 

Now just cross your fingers I did not get covid at the Midnight Oil concert on Sunday (I guess I should know by Friday if I’m in the clear). Because that could certainly un-do a lot of things.

9 thoughts on “The recovery score card gets another tick

  • Been out of touch for awhile. It’s great to hear about your energy recovery.

    Looking forward to hearing about your next tour!

    • Hi Terry – great to hear from you. I hope you are going well with your annual goals (we’re almost approaching halfway!). Do you have a big garden planted again this year? Seems like seedlings would be starting to really grow by now. And yes, it’s wonderful to be feeling so much better!

  • Glad to read your account of getting to see one of your favorite bands in concert. It was not so nice to see that you waited through those hours of lightning, thunder and rain, only to have it all shut down. That had to be very disconcerting. (Get it? DisCONCERTing? Sorry.)

    I never got to see most of my favorite bands live, even though I did go to a lot of rock concerts back in the day. Most of the best ones were in very small venues. I think the most memorable huge outdoor concert, though, was in St. Paul. Jimmy Buffet opened and he was boring and very drunk. But when an American band called Little Feat took over, my friends and I were bouncing up and down on our toes like you described. I never did get to apologize to the people behind us. Maybe we didn’t do it for two hours–beer and weed slowed us down–but pretty close.

    • Very nice with the disconcerting comment 🙂 I agree that some of the best shows I’ve been to were in small venues. The Oils were playing some big stadium shows on this tour, but also these smaller outdoor concerts. They weren’t all that huge – max capacity of 10,000 and not that many people showed. Covid is still going strong here so that turns some people away, plus the event was rescheduled and some couldn’t do the new date. However, the vibe was really good and they had the sound just perfect. Several people commented on how good they had the mix and no instrument or voice overpowering.

      I did not apologize to the people behind me for the jumping. If you are down the front, that is why you are there. Get with it or go home 🙂 Or at least sit up the back. And yes, this was airborne leaping/jumping, not just bouncing on toes (though we did do that for the opening act Hoodoo Gurus – who were really playing quite tight and very energetic for old farts). This was good ol’ punk pogoing at its finest. I think most people were slowed down by being old and unfit, lol, since the Oils audience skews toward over 40. Maybe their knees wouldn’t take it either. There was definitely beer and weed around though, but not like there would have been back in the day 🙂

      I know Little Feat because one of my friends used to take her mom’s car cruising and her mom had that in the tape deck and we’d listen to it. I always thought the instrumental bits dragged on too long (I already liked fast 2.30 min punk songs by then) – but gosh, I haven’t heard any of that since I was 15 or 16 and in that Chrysler Le Baron. Lol.

      • Oh, to be in that Chrysler Le Baron. Lowell George wrote some pretty good lyrics (some of them were kind of love songs, but not sappy love songs) but the instrumental jams were my favorite part of Little Feat songs. Their live album “Waiting for Columbus”– with a professional horn section–was particularly fun. Of course, the beauty of music is that everybody has their own opinions.

        I’m am so happy to learn you were pogo-ing, not just toe bouncing. That takes an awful lot of energy. Somehow I can picture you going crazy, arms flailing wildly, shouting out the lyrics, having a blast. I’m jealous. I haven’t been to a high energy concert in years.

        Lest you think I’ve gone soft in my relatively old age, I’ve got one more story. I’ve been meeting up with some old college buddies every year for at least 30 years. We used to go camping in tents in the northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin, but lately the other guys wanted to go the cabin route. It’s still fun.

        Loud music is always one of our staples. Only a few years ago we fell into an impromptu slam dance in our cabin to Nirvana, Pavement, Green Day, etc. (Okay, some Rolling Stones too.) Thanks to my athletic background, I wasn’t as sore as those guys the next day.

        One last thing: I watched all of the videos of energetic bands you provided in your last post. Good stuff.

        One more last thing: I’m pretty sure that in the U.S., bands are required to exit the stage at the first sign of lightning.

      • The lightning – yes, we were all surprised they didn’t send us home after the lightning started in the first act. I have no idea what weather info they had access to that we didn’t. But sending us home when they did made no sense. If you’ve stood in lightning and nearly 1.5 inches of rain for 3 hours, what’s another 15 minutes before it started to clear?

        That is awesome that you still get together with those college guys all these years later. Are they the same ones you did the river trip that had the cicadas? I’m assuming you are the only one of your buddies that can still do handstands, as well. Do you bust those out, too? 🙂

        Yes, mild-mannered, quiet, calm Em was definitely flailing and yelling and generally not giving a crap what other people thought. None of those people would know what I’ve been through and what it meant to me to be able to go wild again without ill effects. The second half of the show when we moved toward the back of that section, we ended up jumping around with 3 guys in their 20s. Everyone was giving them plenty of room so we just joined in. Most people that would know me through work would have no idea I have a punk spirit hidden inside 🙂

  • Wonderful blog entry, Emily. How good it must be to get your health back. Plus, 4 days a week for 9 weeks (more cash for bike bits) with freedom and a family visit getting closer. You must feel so good right now.

    PS: Greg – I remember Little Feat. I had a couple of their albums which eventually disappeared during moves etc.

    • Yes, I am so, so pleased with my energy levels. You forget what it feels like to feel normal after feeling crappy for so long. If I were going to get the post-exertional malaise it would have been late yesterday or today, and I feel good! Hope you and Sue are doing well and still dodging covid.

    • Hi Tony. Sorry for your Little Feat loss. They really were a pretty good band for the times.

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