London — Football, Carnival and Muse

I was in London for a couple of weeks in August/September and in-between work commitments, meetings, and various outings with friends, I had time to take in quite a few events of interest. Among them were the Chelsea matches at home against Stoke City and away against West Ham. Both matches were victories, I am glad to say.

Notting Hill Carnival
I arrived in town on England's traditional end-of-August bank holiday weekend when there are parties and festivals galore. One of them is the Notting Hill Carnival, when that whole section of the city is blocked off from traffic and thousands and thousands (if not millions!) of people take to the streets to enjoy food, music, dancing and revelry.

Any British readers will know what I'm talking about, but for me this was my first experience with this event and I loved it. There's a large Caribbean influence in Notting Hill and that is reflected in the carnival where you can have some jerk chicken, rice & beans or a roti as you grab a beer from the local off-license store and dance to some reggae at one of the many stages where DJs had set up their soundsystems. There is a parade down one of the main thoroughfares with floats and dancers following along.

I spent much of my time in the northern part of the borough where the Good Times and Sancho Panza stands were. The DJs at both of these zones played mainly house music, with Norman Jay's Good Times stand adding in some disco and funk to the mix.

I enjoyed it so much on the first day, Sunday, that I returned on Monday for another run. Fortunately, I had some friends around on both days so thanks to them for keeping my company. I'm already thinking about scheduling a trip for next year! I’ll post some photos soon.

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Muse Concert at Wembley
I have been to Wembley Stadium for football matches and even for a couple of American football games but hadn't yet taken in a concert at the venue. When I heard that Muse was playing, with Lily Allen opening, I jumped at the chance to see them.

Sadly, my friends and I arrived halfway through Lily Allen's set and I'm not sure her sound is quite stadium-friendly, but I enjoyed hearing it nonetheless. I had already seen her full show at the Exit Festival last year. Allen is a guilty pleasure of mine. No reason why I should like her brand of pop but I enjoy her witty, very-English lyrics and (probably fake) singing accent. I know…

Muse came on after and did very well. I had never realized what a stadium rock band they are, but the fact that they'd filled Wembley and the serious attention paid to lights, visuals and performance tricks (eg. the suit with the lights, the rising mid-crowd platform, the member of the band floating up into the air for one song, etc.) showed me they really wanted to put on a show and put a lot of effort into it. Apparently they do this once a year or so, or so I heard.

Turns out I know a lot more Muse songs than I thought and it was good to see them live. Couldn't really find fault with their performance.

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