Switzerland - Zurich Part 2 - Ed Sherran Concert

by Kimp 18. August 2018 08:22

Welcome !!!

Photo Blog (click to view) Some cropped pictures might not show without selecting a size (I need to fix that someday)

My trip there

Zurich, the home of the $35 breakfast.

At the front desk, I was told it was like brunch.

They obviously did not know that brunch is usually a combination of Breakfast and Lunch food. I did not see any lunch type foods at all.  Food quality was high, but selection meager. All we can eat, however, when the selection is small, the incentive to overeat is also low (probably a good thing in my case). By contrast, the farms in Switzerland are much cheaper. I believe they get some kind of federal subsidy, which might drive their costs down.

In Niles Ohio, there is a mom and pop dinner, called Yankee Kitchen, where I can get a plate full of breakfast food that weights about 2 pounds (1 kg), costs about $7, comes with a bottomless pot of great tasting coffee, and after eating that, you won't need much food the rest of the day. How about modeling a little bit of that, once in a while.

Most of my music and entertainment interests are from my era, but I try to keep somewhat current on music and entertainment from time to time.

I received an email, saying that I was going to need to show my passport at the event. As the ticket I had received for the Ed Sheeran concert, had my name on it, and it was going to be verified at the venue, before I was admitted. Glad I got that email, cause I had received that ticket nearly a year in advance, and had long forgotten about that event.

I am guessing that is Switzerland’s Anti Scalping policy. If so, good on them, I wish all countries/states did that.

Central Western Europe had a three week long heat wave, with most days around 95F (35C), no rain, and no wind. Switzerland is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world, and most of its buildings do not have Air Conditioning. Not even the larger event type buildings. I think they have to apply for a permit, and either those are not granted very often, or the requirements make it cost prohibitive for the one month or so, that it might be used.

The weather prediction was showing no reprieve from the heat that week, so I decided to look to see if the hotel I had booked had air conditioning. It did not, but lucky for me, as I was looking at the reservation, it was the last day that I could cancel it without a fee. Easy decision. I booked another that had air conditioning and was very close to the venue.

My drive to Zurich should have been about 100 minutes or 2 hours with a decent stop. Except on Friday afternoon. I left at 3:30 and finally got to my hotel at 7:30. Traffic towards the hotel was the worst I have seen in a long, long time. Turns out, the Ed Sheeran concert that I was going to on Saturday, was part of a two day stop for him in Zurich. He must be very popular there.  Seemed like everyone in Zurich showed up for the Friday concert.

I thought it was at an indoor stadium. Turns out, it was an outdoor stadium inside the city without any attached parking, nor any decent expressway infrastructure nearby. Built in 1925, when few people had cars, it was probably a great place for it. Used for Football (Soccer), it has a seating capacity of 26,000, however during concerts, the entire pitch (playing surface), is open for standing room. The official concert capacity is 50,000, but they have hit 75,000 before.

The hotel where I was staying, was less than a block away from the stadium.  I arrive at the hotel, and the Police are parked out front, blocking the very small parking area for check-in, and they were motioning me to hurry and move on away from there, as they were attempting to block off the entire street from a nearby corner to the stadium, as pedestrian only.

Quite a dilemma, as I had to find some place to park, that I could, both find the hotel, and return to find where my car was parked the next morning.  Not easy at all, as I had zero knowledge of that area.

Nothing on the or near the main street, within miles and miles. The open space counters on the parking garages on the main street, indicated that there were plenty of open spaces, but I drove through all of them, at a snail’s pace, behind lots of other cars doing the same thing, and did not find any success.

I decided to head off on a side street, a mile away to see if I can find anything at all. I was even contemplating parking in front of a closed store, and coming back very early in the morning to move my car. I just happened to stumble upon a parking sign entrance that headed underground.  I was hesitant, as there were no other cars headed that way, but decided to give it a try at the last possible split second I could, before going by the entrance.

Gee this sure looks like a strange parking garage, as there was no fence thing, and I did not need to get a ticket on the way in. It goes under the road, then circles, up, and up, and up, and up, with my, “you are too close to everything on all sides of the car” alarm, blaring in my ears and distracting me the whole way up. There were no parking levels, just a continuous spiral upwards. Like a carnival ride. I end up on the roof of some ancient, very rundown factory. Looked like it was shutdown many years prior. Only a few cars up there. Some of the cars were abandoned there, as they were covered in thick dust, and their license plates had been removed from them. Maybe a police impound lot?

I have the new Volvo and not too many newer cars were up there. In fact it was sparsely dotted with cars, and only a few spots had reserved signs on them. I had my reservations, but I was exhausted and very hungry, and it met the base criteria, of about a mile from the hotel, and very near the main road. I parked near one of the few, nicer looking cars, loaded up my 25 pounds of gear, and headed out on foot.

A quick survey of the surroundings revealed 4 possible options for exit. Turned out, the only exit to the street was as far away from where I parked as I could have gotten. Lucky for me, there was a working elevator, all of the way, down to the street level.

From the outside, the old offices for the plant, were rented out as kind of low rent looking office spaces. Still about 92 degrees out, with no wind, and the sun was just about to set. I tried to walk mostly in the shade, which offered little reprieve from the heat.

All of the spinning up to the roof made me lose my bearings. As I exited, I looked for something that I would have seen briefly as I was entering, to help me find the main street. Nothing looked even remotely familiar. A 50/50 chance that I would randomly pick the right direction sounded good at the time. After walking a block and then back tracking, I was rethinking those odds. In the Navy we called that 50-50-90. Meaning, if you have a 50/50 chance, 90 percent of the time, you are going to pick the wrong one.

There was a street car tram running down the main street (that is how I knew, the other street I tried, was not the right street), but I didn't have any Swiss cash on me, and they don't take Euro's. So I thought, well it's only a mile, I'll see how the knee feels on the walk. My knees love heat, so they were OK.

I look far down the road and see what appears to be a street blockade. That must be for the concert, so that has to be the right direction to walk.

I walked close to 3/4 of a mile and should have picked up on the clues. No loud crowd sounds, no police, not many people outside, no music.  I reach the blockade and it was for road work. How could I be so stupid?

Nearby, was a Harley dealer, in a small storefront. It was closed, but there was an old leather couch sitting out front, that was calling my name. Eager for a break, I sat down to rest and contemplate my next chess move.

I decided to just take the tram illegally in the opposite direction. I had my hotel printout, so I was going to fake the dumb tourist, if caught. At that point, the $80 or so fine, would not have bothered me a bit. At that point, I would have gladly paid $80 for a ride in a shopping cart, being pushed by a bottle collecting vagrant (unfortunately, no vagrant’s in Zurich, that I can ever remember seeing).

One and half block’s in the right direction was a tram stop. I mustered all my remaining energy and made the trek there. The only available spot on a tram bench, was near a women, who was fussing with her makeup. As I sat down, the sweat was showering off my brow, my shirt was more wet than dry, and my underarm smell, might have been strong, especially with no wind.

She made it a point to look at me in a deliberate manner, and she didn't look happy. I slowly looked away, thinking; Honey, if I could feel any worse right now, your silent tantrum might have an effect me. After what I have been through, it’s just another feather on the stack. Jesus said that I don’t have to let anyone else’s anger towards me, affect me, and at this moment, I am invoking that right, as one of his admirers.

The tram finally came, then she made it a point to wait until I sat down, so she could dramatically head far away from me, and sit frustrated like, facing away from me. Thank you for not facing me.

Next problem. Which tram stop to get off at? I was driving, so I didn't look for a tram stop near the hotel. No wanting to take the chance, I got off at a stop,  that was about 1000 feet before the hotel. As I approached the entrance on foot, with the last few breaths before going into heat exhaustion, I could see the tram stop that was 50 feet away from the hotel entrance. It was kind of hidden, because it was in the middle of a roundabout, and did not look like a normal tram stop.

Air conditioned lobby and a crate full of apples near the front desk. I dropped my gear with a thud, and pounded down 3 apples in about 6 bites. When dehydrated and the body temperature is high, hunger disappears. Apples are perfect, a bit of sugar, lots of juice, and easy to digest. The dude at the front desk was looking at me a little funny, as I was sticking another 6 apples in my backpack. If there was more room, I might have taken even more.

I didn’t ask if those were for the guests or not. The next day, Chef Gunther might have been livid at the produce supplier, for delivering him a partially full crate of apples.

I mentioned to the dude at the front desk, that they should complain to the Police that they were blocking the entrance to their hotel.

From his reply, it sounded like complaining to the Police would not be meet with favorable results. Dude, do you have a Mayor. Cause Mayor's make the police budget, and Mayor's love tourist revenue to help them run the city.

The hotel had my email address. How about a simple, "Mr. Kimpel, we are very excited that you choose to stay with us. I see you are checking in on the most F$%#^d up day of the year. If you are driving, may I suggest that you check-in before 1500, or after 2100 when the street crowd is low, or park your car in garage X and take the tram to stop Y right in front of our hotel.". I would stay at a hotel that did that, over and over.

The hotel staff did have the air conditioning on in my room (I think the front desk dude sent someone ahead of me to turn it on), so it was nice and cool, but I still headed directly into the shower. All clean, I was trying to turn the heat down to get colder water, but it was a strange regulator, and seemed like every way I turned it, it got hotter.

Figured out, that it actually turns all of the way around, and the coldest part was not marked. Water takes a while to get to the shower head, so in my frustration, I was constantly turning it past that point. I got the temperature to what felt cool, but when I got out, by body heat was still fairly high. Took me about an hour more in the air conditioning for my body temperature to feel normal. By then I was starving, but my body just wanted to rest in the air conditioning. So I just laid there, relaxed, and enjoyed a few more apples.

Not the best time I have ever had. But learned that I can still preserver a lot of discomfort and confusion, with a clear head and keep most of my composure. And over all, a few days in Air conditioning, away from this heat wave, was priceless.

The day I went to the Ed Sheeran concert. Sunset was around 2130 (9:30), predicted 92 degrees (30C) and little wind. It starts at 1830 (6:30), but usually at these events there is an opening group, then another sometimes really good group after that, and the main act does not start until around 2130 (9:30) or later. By midnight, the prediction was 86 degrees.

I decided to leave the hotel around 2030 (8:30), just to be on the safe side. I was in my seat by 2100 (9:00), and go thing, as the 2nd act was just finishing her last song.

The roadies cleared the stage quickly, and smiling Ed started about 15 minutes later.

He played non-stop for over 2 hours. Solo, just him, without anyone else on stage, other than the guitar tech, who occasionally brought him out a fresh guitar. I think Ed has a few songs that require a different tuning, so he changes guitar’s, instead of re-tuning them on stage.

Awesome concert. Well worth all of the hassle I went through to get there.

Ed Sheeran 

I am not a huge fan of Ed’s music, but I am a huge fan of the wholesome and down to earth image that exudes from everything that he does.

Ed is from England, but looks more like someone’s Irish skateboarding/surfing cousin, then a major entertainment industry superstar.

Well known for projecting a scruffy fashion statement, he recently stepped up his game, by buying a piece of a fashion firm named “Hoax” and sometimes called “Hoax UK”, founded in 1994, near his hometown of Framingham, in Suffolk England. They are a skateboard themed company that sells both boards and clothes. There entire line of attire consists mostly of tee shirts, hooded sweatshirts, and hats all with the “Hoax” logo on them. Kind of the dude’s version of “Pink”. They have a female type T-shirts, and some swag, but I can imagine those are high sellers, as the “Hoax” logo is very masculine looking.

Wholesome Ed has always supported his roots.  Ed most likely had a large selection of women he could chose to spend time with, and get a very quick Yes. After a few soiree’s with women, who in my opinion, were fairly posh, he hooked up with a good female friend, that he fancied, from his small hometown school. Cherry was an athletic, field hockey star. Good enough, that her athletic ability, award her university scholarships. She is very beautiful, just not posh. They make a great looking couple, as she appears to be good, with Ed being who he really is.

My History

I can relate with that. Not being a superstar, nor a celebrity. But there was a time when a very wealthy women, showed much in love with me. No clue what she was thinking, but she kind of picked me, and she made the first move. She was way out of my league, so I was a bit hesitant from the start, but she just kept trying.

Beth had a Phd from a prominent Ivy university, along with a mater’s and undergraduate degree from name dropping technical universities. She was a technology director at a large company, with 80 people under her direction. She always dressed very swanky, and lived in “Kamm’s Corners” (a suburb just west of Cleveland Ohio). Two of her neighbors where Cleveland Indian’s pitchers. Another was one of the stars of the Cleveland Lumberjack’s (Ice Hockey team that was part of the IHL)

We would go to all of these posh events, which were very nice, but just not me.

Once we attended a play with the two Indians pitcher neighbor’s. One was married to a complete knockout, and the other was courting a complete knockout. Nearly everyone in the place was gawking at them. Not the women, the pitchers’.  Straight dudes gawking at other straight dudes. What’s up with that?

I probably could have hooked up with her, and been set for the rest of my life, but I politely backed away. She chased for a while, until I told her, it just was not going to work for me. I didn’t dread the lavish things that we did, but it didn’t make me happy either.

Another negative trait, was that she would often act like I was more intelligent than she was, and maybe that wasn’t an act, but it most definitely was not true. Maybe someone gave her the bad advice of, “you are never going to attract a man, if he thinks you are more intelligent than he is.”.

I just wanted natural, and not much there, seemed natural to me. She was a “Kamm’s Corners” girl, and I was more of an “Ohio City” boy. “Ohio City” is the oldest suburb of Cleveland, where the early mill workers lived. A kind of hip place now, but in my day, most of it wasn’t so hip.

Back to Ed

Ed dropped out of school when he was 16 to busk, and lived a homeless life in London for a time, before landing some gigs at small venues, then working up from there. At one point, he bought a one-way ticket to LA, and after about a month of sleeping on different peoples couches, he ran into Jamie Fox's manager, and that culminated in a meeting with Jamie Fox, that helped him early on.

Somewhere along the line, he commissioned several sweet tattoo’s. I normally don’t fancy tat’s, but his tat’s are very colorful and whimsical in an ultra-artistic way.  I really like them on him, on me that would never look right.

One of his influences is Joni Mitchell. I can see several parallels in them. Her repertoire kept expanding and she experimented with lots of styles, interesting rhythms, and many interesting topics in her 50+ year career.  I hope Ed is headed in that direction, but I could see him being the type to have kids, then concentrate on family, and drop out of public view for a while.  Whatever path he takes, I am certain it will be a wholesome one.

The Concert

Ed said that most of the dudes who attend his concerts these days, fall into two categories. 1. The ones whose girlfriend’s drug them there, and seem to complain a lot about the traffic on the way (no clue what he is talking about). 2. The super dad’s like his father, who take their kid’s to music that appeals to their children, even if though they don’t necessarily like it (I believe that Ed was and maybe still is, an Eminem fan, and I think his father might have taken him to an Eminem concert and/or some other rap concerts).  Wherever the reference, he shows a fondness for family and his roots.

I would have to say, if you don’t know the words to at least on Ed Sheeran song, “Where the hell have you been?”.  I think every women in the audience, knew every word to every song, and they loved to sing along with him.

Ed say’s, if you don’t sing good, then just sing very loud, that will make up for it. He is right. For about a year, I attended church with a woman who was tone deaf, but that didn’t stop her from singing loud. It is really hard to sing next to a tone deaf person, but the joy in her eye’s was enough to make me feel good. Tone deaf people are imitating what they hear when they listen to music, just like anyone else is. But what they hear sounds like someone beating pots and pans together. Amazing that they can get enjoyment out of that.

One of the great American Classical Composer’s, Charles Ives, was inspired by a person in his dad’s church choir (his father was the choir director), who sang very loudly out of tune. Charles wrote some very strange music, but he was very wealth and could afford to pay great musicians to play it.

Ed has only one white man dance move, which is a kind of awkward hip sway combined with a short, delayed jump (not really a jump as his toes never leave the ground), but it fits him well. The best white man dance moves in my opinion are anything Cyndi Lauper does. She has dozens of White Man dance moves in her repertoire and they all make me laugh. I don’t who that was dancing in Ed’s body in his “Thinking out Load” video, but that Ed has left the building. “Thinking out Load” is probably one of my favorites, as it is very old school soul, both in topic and composition. I think a lot of that had to do with Amy Wadge who was the co-writer. She is a young singer-songwriter from Wales with a very old country soul. I love Amy’s music. That is the only song Ed sing’s with an Electric guitar. It is a beautiful natural wood finished solid body electric, but he still play it like an acoustic guitar. Ed was once interviewed in Germany, and the interviewer, said to him, “Your music before “Thinking out Loud” was such shit!!! What happened???”.

Just Ed and a loop-back station. At first I thought maybe he was trying to save some money, by not having a backup band. But he also has to work a lot harder. Can’t take a break at all, always has to be doing multiple things at the same time. And he played straight for 2.5 hours without a single break.  A loop back station, is a device that allows him to record something, like 8 bars of music, then play it back and record another stack on top of that, to overdub drums, and backing harmonized vocals. Thana Alexa is a modern jazz artist with the voice and looks of a goddess, who works the vocal loop-back, about the best I have ever heard, but she usually also has a band too. The problem with loop-back, is that it takes a long time to get into the actual song.

As I was watching this performance, it reminded me a lot of Joe Pass. Joe Pass is usually in the discussions of the greatest Jazz guitarist of all time. Joe looked like someone’s normal Sicilian Uncle who could flat out play a hollow body Gibson guitar. Joe could play the bass line, the chord’s, and the melody all by himself without a loop back station. As he was ripping through a fast melodic line, he would hit the chord right in a comping rhythm. Joe would play entire concert with just himself, and he said that really took a lot out of him. Never could tell though, cause Joe never broke into a sweat. Another non-loop back great, was Jazz pianist, Art Tatum. Art died in the 1950’s, but I remember hearing all the old timers talk about him. Art could play a different song in each hand at the same time, and we could hear the bass, chords, and melody of both songs simultaneously. Ain’t nobody ever going to top those two.

Ed started off the concert with “Castle on the Hill”, a very up-tempo tune that really gets the crowd going. A reference to the Castle in Framlingham where he grew up. The tempo has a very youthful exuberance that plays well into the words about experiences related to growing up in a small town, then reminiscing about it as an adult, on his way back to visit, knowing that many of the people who had stayed there, went through lots of struggles.  Makes a great video, as do most of his songs.

Then he followed with a few rap tunes. I don’t know how to rate rap, but Ed seems to have a lot of variety and artistry in his delivery.  Some are mostly rap, some are slower songs that build into some seriously fast rap versus. He has a really nice falsetto rap at comes out sometimes, that I almost never have heard from anyone else. Some slow rap, that is almost song like. Some I really like, and some I don’t care for, but then that is art at its finest.

He threw “The ‘A’ Team” in the middle of the rapaganza. A Team, is about a young women who struggles to get by, and eventually ends up selling her body on the street, to support a crack addiction that was brought upon her attempt, to escape the life she has. A real tear jerker. Ed will be singing that song the rest of his life, caused it was his first hit, and he is therefor, feels obliged to always sing it. Ed donates money to a charity that is dedicated to help street prostitutes get off of the street. Back in the day, I used to see a lot of that in the Combat Zone in Boston, and it affected me as well.

He kicked into “Galway Girl”, a Gaelic dance influenced tune, about a carefree Irish Girl from Galway Ireland, who had a pendence for whiskey, and a good time.  It is intermixed with rap, but when he launches into the chorus, “You know, she played the fiddle in an Irish band. But she fell in love with an English man… ”. The whole crowd starts jumping like Gaelic dancers. I love that song. Man, I want, to go, to Galway :)

Most of his songs are up tempo but he has a few down tempo songs that he played back to back, to give the audience a bit of breather. He played “Happier”, a somber song about seeing someone from afar, a month after he had done something that broke their relationship up. She seems much happier with the new Bo, then she seemed with him, so he is using that to try to make himself feel a bit better about what had transpired. Occasionally the sound engineer turns on a bit of echo chamber to his main mike, that sounds great in the slow, mostly a cappella cadenzas, where his great voice really shines.

He sang his very slow, “I See Fire”, the song he was commissioned to write for “The Hobbit”. His emotion really comes out in that one, and people respond by singing along with that as well. Probably one of my favorites, of his ballads. Not for way he sings it, but for him as a person. He takes a lot of flak from the people who want Ed to be one sided and always up tempo and fun. I think it shows depth, and honesty, and the willingness to put out something that he believes in, despite what other people think. Plus, he shows some really nice guitar playing skills on that one. But I would like to hear the cello and violin that is part of the studio version.

Then onto “Perfect”, the autobiographical song he wrote about him and his current and hopefully only Finance. Awesome song, about a popular Tom Boy, who hangs out with mostly dudes, and while he and her are good friends, see seems to be more friendly with several of the other dudes, so he shy’s away and keeps distance. Till one day, sometime later, they meet, and she appears to turn her attention to him in more than a friendly way. Now he is proclaiming to never give her up. If that don’t work, ain’t nothing ever going to work. That would be a very difficult song to sing, if it ever goes South. Ed, hey brother, it is time to get off of the road for a while and firm that promise up.

He followed that up with another Gaelic inspired dance tune, about his Grandmother and Grandfather on his dad’s side. His grandfather was a protestant from Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and his grandmother was a strong Irish Catholic from Wexford in Southern Ireland. Stereotypical Irish is hot headed and very opinionated, and they seldom cross religious lines, but they overcame that to have a 66 year marriage until his grandfather passed away a few years ago.

Then onto another way up-tempo tune called “Sing”. It reminds me a lot of Scottish Singer Rod Stewart’s, “If you love me and you want my body? Come on baby let me know!!!!”. Very similar tempo, feel, and context.

After those two up-tempo song’s ,I know it is near the end. Good performers usually ramp the audience up near the end. A kind of ploy, to get them hyped for an encore.  If they end on a ballad, the audience feels tired, and might just walk out. So when it is a bit quiet for a while, and they start ramping it up, they are about to end.

First Encore song was “Shape of You”. A mid tempo, kind of standard solution, pop-rap tune, that is very catchy. About a dude who is in love with the visionary aspects of a women.

Second Encore song was “You need me, I don’t need you.”. A kind of HipHop Rap. That was a song in Ed’s first studio album “+”. I think it is about an Artist telling his label, to go pack sand, over something they wanted him to do. Ed’s Cousin (Jethro Sherran), is a rapper that goes by the moniker “Alonestar”, and I think Jethro penned in some additional lyrics that Ed might or might not have sung this time. I am not that familiar with this song.

The Ending

On my walk back to the hotel after it was over, I could see that the Politzi had blocked off the fronts of all of the buildings along the main street, except for their main entrance’s. When I arrived at the hotel that night, lots of police and the Hotel Manager were dutifully making sure peace was kept. I was thinking that something bad had probably happened at a concert once there, and this is the solution to keep people safe. Good on them, even if it did cause me a lot of trouble getting there the evening before.

I can remember once in Boston. I was walking with a good friend named John. Just two young white dudes enjoying a stroll on a nice mild summer evening. Mostly quiet, but out of nowhere, a large crowd engulfed us. I was noticing that we seemed to be the only white people in that crowd. Turns out, a Commodores concert had just let out. I was perfectly fine with that, until someone behind us, grabbed John’s arm, slowing him down, and yelling, “Hey Man!!! You got a wallet?”.  John probably only had about $5 in his wallet, but he knocked the dudes arm away and turned around to confront him face to face. That was when a different, big black guy, hit John in the face, with a cane.  They were not messing with me, so I looked around, and just on the other side of the street were several Boston Policemen, just watching. I ran to get them. The cop I was talking to, looked at me and said, “Dude, we ain’t go’in in there!!!”.  So I went back in myself, gabbed John’s arm pits, and drug him to where the Police were standing. They covered until an EMT arrived to take John to the hospital. I rode along with them. It ended up to not be very serious, but there was lots of blood and his head was black and blue for quite a while.

Photo Blog (click to view) Some cropped pictures might not show without selecting a size (I need to fix that someday)

Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time,

Craig

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