Xtina. That doesn’t actually work, does it? Extina. Oh well.
Although impossible to achieve it in totality, I try my very hardest to be as self-aware as I can and not to drift through life unaware of how my failings or shortcomings appear to others. I’m sure most of us do, in mortal fear of becoming one of those goons we occasionally encounter who are completely oblivious to it all. No-one wants to be a Sweetser (approximately one person who might possibly read this will get that reference). Sometimes, however, something occurs that throws everything into a different light. I went to see Christina Aguilera at the NIA on Sunday the 26th, and realised how dodgy I must have looked. Shady geezer going to a concert like that, in a full-length overcoat that has seen better days… hmmm. That flapping sound I heard must have been parents frantically consulting their personal copies of the Sex Offenders Register to see if there was a picture of me with the caption “Two Pin Din Plug” underneath. This impression was only added to when I later found out from a third party that a vague acquaintance I saw and briefly spoke to there (who had brought his kids) thought it was ‘strange’ that I was on my own.
Maybe I should play up to this, for jokes.
Aaaaaaanyway, after spending 381 hours (relativity, not hyperbole) in the queue/scrimmage to buy some beer, I took up my seat right at the back (I’m not joking, three rows from the very back) of the National Indoor Arena. That’ll learn me not to leave it a while before buying my ticket. Squinting, I could just about make out the stage. Periodically a vague impression of motion would alert me to the fact that there might be some people on it.
I was pleased to find not too long before the gig that Akala was opening, since I wanted to hear a bit more of his stuff. He went down a lot better with the audience-as-a-whole than one might have expected, getting quite a lot of people to interact with the showmanly bits of his performance. His varied hip-hop sounded like it had some really good songs and beats, despite suffering a bit (as much music does) from having to project across a building bigger than Thor’s shed.
Christina! Last time she came to Brum (October 2003), she showed every sign of being in the midst of a breakdown of some description. In an otherwise strictly stage-managed show, between songs she kept rambling on with no clear purpose in mind, frequently making references to being tired. Not too far after, tour dates were cancelled with ‘exhaustion’ cited as the reason. Drink ‘n’ drugs or horrific Disney Club flashbacks? You decide.
Right, anyway, her set. Being the tour for the “Back To Basics” album, this was revelling in her current air of “I’m all demure now, the ‘Dirrty’ era is behind me… HA HA! FOOLED YOU! HERE’S MY KNOCKERS!” Bless ‘er. Most of the new stuff sounded fantastic (“Ain’t No Other Man” is surely a strong candidate for the 2006 “Best Thing All Year In Any Field Of Endeavour” award), but older material forced into different shapes wasn’t always effective. “Dirrty” lost a bit of its punch updated to her current sound, and the bizarre cod-reggae version of “What A Girl Wants” was what we in the naysaying business like to call “a bit crap, like.”
Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself (steady). Both times I’ve seen her she’s not been quite as good as I wanted her to be, but there we are. Still fun.
~ Russ L, sippin’ from a bottle of vodka double wine. What on earth is vodka double wine?