Bruce Springsteen at Wembley

20160605_164134Did you read that? AT WEMBLEY!!

I’ve wanted to see a gig at Wembley since I was about 16 years old. Many of my life goals originated around this time in my life; I was reading music mags, coveting obscure indie bands and dreaming about how my life would be when I was a “grown up”. I longed for the massive music festivals of England and America, endless gigs at infamous clubs and the kind of seminal events that define musical eras. Woodstock, Burning man, Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, I read about these festivals in awe.

I had such a romantic idea of these events, and nothing captured my imagination more than Live Aid. Live Aid was a charity event held over at two venues simultaneously Wembley Stadium, London and John F Kennedy stadium in Philadelphia. You all know the Christmas Carol Do they know it’s Christmas? Right? If not here is a refresher. Bob Geldof wrote this to raise aid for famine sufferers in Ethiopia in 1984 and the Live Aid concerts were devised on the back of that to continue to raise money.

The gigs were streamed across the world on TV and according to Wikipedia had a global audience of 1.9 billion. A big deal for its time. I wasn’t one of the audience though, it was 1985 and I wasn’t coming into the world for a couple of years yet.

My friend and I discovered Live Aid in 2005 when Bob Geldof was planning another event to support the aid started with the original concert. At the time a commemorative DVD set of the original concerts was released for the first time and I wanted it so much. It was a shiny box set with 4 DVD’s of the gigs plus unseen footage. My friend and I put our pennies together to buy it and shared it between us for years.

We sat and watched those concerts together over and over. Some of the highlights included a not-quite-yet-mega-star-Madonna; Phil Collins flying between both concerts in a now defunct Concord high speed plane; and oh so many duets. I can’t remember exactly who sang with who now, but there was a big feeling of collaboration and not much pretension. In both gigs the whole stage filled at the end of the night for the final few songs.

The DVD also introduced me to Bruce Springsteen, although he actually didn’t play at the gigs, extra footage was included as he was so big at the time. This is what introduced me to Bruce. After this I picked up a tape at a music warehouse, Real Groovy for my Kiwi mates, and played it over and over in my dinky little car. Even now I still associate Bruce with driving and road trips.

So when I found out that Bruce was playing Wembley, I was going. Of course I didn’t make it easy for myself, I found out a week before he was due to play and spent the week watching ticket reselling sights like a hawk and in the end buying off a lovely lady through Twitter. She sold them to me at face value and didn’t even pass on the booking charges. What a good human? Love her.

So, now for what you were expecting…. a review.20160605_193132We ambled up to the stadium early on the sunny Sunday to soak up the atmosphere. We sat outside eating ice creams and people watching. We were on the younger side of the crowd which we expected. I had worried that it would be a bit quiet up in the stands, but I needn’t have, the oldies still got into it, after a few wines of course. 20160605_164317As we entered the stadium we bought some merch’ and took our seats in the middle tier. We should have bought hats, as we soon realised that the sun was slowly setting right in our eyes. We were sat surrounded by a crowd of people wearing Wembley branded hats as they got in before they sold out. 20160605_174953As the stadium filled and we got through our first couple of drinks..20160605_212822…and selfies.

The Boss ran out from behind the stage and straight down to greet the crowd. No preamble, no roaring introductions just straight into it. He would spend most of the night interacting with those in the front of the stage.

As the first chords rang out and the buzz of the music made its way around the stadium, there sheer size of the place became apparent. We were so far from the stage Bruce and the band were just specks in the distance. The distance is so great that we would see what he was doing on the stage and on the big screens before the wave of sound would wash over us. The sound was epic, roaring around the stadium. The crowds’ cheers echoed in a huge boom around the stands, 70,000 people whooping and screaming sounds like booing when they all converge.20160605_201005So, how do you engage with an audience this size? Well if you’re Bruce that means hanging out with your audience. I have never seen a performer spend so much time with their audience. Right from the get-go he started gathering up signs from the crowd. We soon discovered that these were song requests.  He did about three requests from the audience using the signs to introduce them. One request, I’ll Work For Your Love,  he was so stoaked with, thanking the requester and then struggling to remember the chords it had been that long since he’d played it.

Other crowd antics included chugging a pint of larger from a fan during Spirit In the Night. Donning sunglasses and party hats from the crowd, nearly being upstaged by a gorgeous little girl plucked from the crowd to sing the chorus to Waitin’ On A Sunny Day and probably his most famous party trick, inviting people up to dance on the stage for Dancing In The Dark.

What got me was the sight of thousands of hands swaying in time in front of us to Tougher Than The Rest – dedicated to the late Muhammad Ali who passed away two days before – and The Rising. This is what had me captivated watching Live Aid; a huge crowd all participating in one moment. Swept up in one feeling, I’m completely gushing but it really was magical to see. 20160605_213922The main set ended on one of my favourites Badlands before kicking into an encore of the crowd pleasing stadium filling hits he’s known for including Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark.

Bruce lived up to his reputation playing three and a half hours straight and smiling the whole way through. Really the only way to describe the performance was genuine. He was having a good time and worked hard to ensure his band on the stage and everyone in the crowd had a good one too.20160605_213957And then as if to prove just how much he was enjoying things, not wanting to leave the stage and the crowd after the encore, he settled in for one last tune. An acoustic version of Thunder Road. Bliss… I wanted another 3 hours. 20160605_222602We walked out singing with the crowd on such a high.. 20160605_221557I read he is going to turn this tour into a DVD… You know I’ll be buying it. For the 16 year old dreamer in me.

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Banoffee Cake

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I can’t believe it has taken me this long to share this with you guys. I wrote this post after first making this cake back in November for Thanksgiving. I didn’t get any pictures at the time though so I held the post. I have since made this three times and the latest creation, which is the one I got pictures of, was for our friend’s 1st year wedding anniversary celebration.

Here are my post-Thanksgiving ramblings:_MG_0006

Guys, I think this is an amazing idea! I’m not claiming it’s very original, but I haven’t seen it done before and man it is so good you have to try it.

I was invited to my first Thanksgiving dinner this year and told simply to bring dessert. Our hosts were going full American with a huge turkey and all the trimmings. So I got thinking about American desserts.

When I think of American dessert I always think of pie. Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, key lime pie and of course banoffee pie. To me these are quintessentially American desserts and are a must for the Thanksgiving table. My problem with this was though, I have never made any of them before. In fact, until Thanksgiving I had only ever tried a banoffee pie so although I am very keen to try them all, to make something for a big group of people without even being able to be sure if it was vaguely right was too much of a challenge.

As Thanksgiving got closer and closer and I was still toying with the pie idea I hit on a compromise I thought might work and save me the pressure of feeding pie to Americans. Feed them cake!

So, I pimped out a banana cake, American style. Banana and caramel always go awesome together so why not in a cake? And guys – it totally worked and tasted pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

I make banana loaf all the time. I’m obsessed, I wrote about my love affair with the loaf in one of my first blog posts. I make banana cake very rarely so it was a nice change for me. My banana cake recipe is an Edmonds Classic too and it is a nice change for the loaf as it’s a much lighter and sweeter texture. Mmm sweeter is always good.

Here is the recipe for those following at home:

NZ Banana Cake

  • 125g softened butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons hot milk
  • 2 cups standard plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add mashed banana and mix thoroughly. Stir soda into hot milk and add to creamed mixture. Sift flour and baking powder. Fold into mixture. Turn into greased and lined 20cm round cake tin. Bake at 180°⊂ for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning on to wire rack.

I made 2 layers by splitting the mixture evenly between two 20cm round tins. Bake at 180°⊂ but reduce baking time to 25 minutes.

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How to pimp it: The Banoffee Makeover

Now for the fun part!

As I had two layers I started by layering salted caramel on the base layer. I used store bought but I’m sure homemade caramel would be next level awesome. Then dollop whipped cream on top. Don’t be tempted to add any sugar to the cream as this cake seriously doesn’t need any more sugar. Add the next layer on top and then drizzle over chocolate icing.

I have also done this with one layer of cake by topping with whipped cream, drizzling caramel sauce over the top then sprinkling with dark chocolate shavings.

Delicious.. I’m taking birthday cake orders…