I’ve been to Paris so many times and visiting Jim Morrison’s gravesite has always been on the list. However, the timing never seemed quite right, I wanted some “alone time” with Jim, away from the daily tourist hoards that literally stop by his tomb for a quick moment, ticking the box.
I knew from previous visits to Paris that Parisians are quite relaxed on a Sunday, with many businesses closed and a general quiet atmosphere. Perfect. I set out for the famous Père Lachaise graveyard, which I must say even beats La Recoleta in Argentina for the most majestic graveyard I’ve ever been in. I hoped for a quiet morning alone with Jim.
With The Doors in my headphones, and armed with a $3.49 Père Lachaise app that would take me right to Jim’s grave I entered Père Lachaise Cemetary. Rainy and wet, I couldn’t see many people around which was perfect, glad I came early!
I follow the app map straight to where it says Jim is buried. I see nothing. Surely it wouldn’t be one of these plain gravesites, it would have a flower or two on it??!? Then I hear a truck behind me. I turn around.
In between the rows of gravestones I spot a flash of colour. There it is!! Wet feet in the sopping mud I cut through a few gravestones (sorry!) only to come to a gated off area.
I see the graveyard attendant from the truck hop out of the truck, open the gate and enter Jim’s tomb area. He picks up many empty glass bottles of Jack Daniels, dead flowers, and other random rubbish. I’m assuming Saturday night parties at Jim’s grave is a common thing…
“Can I come sit with Jim for a bit?” I ask the graveyard attendant. I’m really embarrassed at my lack of trying to speak French and obviously this dude spoke not a lick of English.
“No.” he says nicely and carries on cleaning and saying some other sentences I can’t comprehend.
A couple of minutes later I see him about to leave, he opens gate for me and says something to the effect “Quickly, because the guard is watching!”
Omg!! Thank you!!!!
I sit down with Jim, still listening to The Doors, asking him a few questions I had about life, music, etc. You can just feel the energy of the area, all the sadness of people who just wish it wasn’t so….all the people who came to pay tribute to one of the world’s greatest frontmen…telling him his rock and roll legacy still lives on.
I finish up at the site and the guard locks the gate again. Thank you guard dude, how divine was that timing!?! I smile to myself cause I know it’s true. I wished to be alone with Jim and I got my wish. Soon after I leave I see the tourists coming…just in time.
On a closing note and keeping with the theme of “musical greats”, I pass Frederic Chopin’s tomb and say hello. I still remember the day my grade 6 music teacher Mr. Roman Churko told us his life story. Always have loved and been intrigued by his music. He still motivates me to play piano even to this day!
Now, off for a bit of petit dèjeuner, man the French know how to do food!
Noel Gallagher headlined Calling Festival on the weekend, marking his last London gig for who knows how long. Those in attendance were treated to a solid setlist (see below) packed with solo work and Oasis anthems from the past 21 years. London is usually a tough crowd to please but The Chief seemed to enjoy the gig, engaging with the crowd from time to time and acknowledging those who travelled from far away to hear him sing. He dedicated “The Mexican” to two girls in front row centre that had travelled from South Korea to make the festival.
Looking every part rockstar with a sunglass tan, black leather jacket and custom red Nash Telecaster T-72DLX guitar complete with a black star (never seen him use this guitar before), Gallagher sang nostalgic tunes including a beautiful acoustic version of “Champagne Supernova”, “Whatever” (first released Christmastime in 1994), and “Digsy’s Dinner” alongside recently released crowd favourites such as the “controversial” Amorphous Androgynous track “The Mexican”, one of Noel’s favourites from top selling album Chasing Yesterday “The Riverman”, and love ballad for wife Sara, “If I had a Gun”.
Reading the news reviews from the media outlets that covered the story, some criticisms seem to be the same as always, picking at a setlist that “doesn’t change”, and that Gallagher chooses to deliver a somewhat mechanical set with planned anecdotes, banter and gestures. This may appear to be the truth to the average fan, but those of us who remain “mad fer it” know this is not the case. (Although I did have a near heart attack when he slipped out the words “Live Forever” and “Some Might Say” during a bit of crowd banter) With Noel’s as a frontman, yes, you are guaranteed “x”, but if he’s in the mood you might just get a little bit of “y“(you can read about that here).
The Ballad of The Mighty I – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Digsy’s Dinner – Oasis
The Mexican – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Revolution Song – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Flashbax – Oasis
You Know We Can’t Go Back – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Take me Away – Oasis
Angel child (Demo) – Oasis
The Girl with X-Ray Eyes – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman – Oasis
The Riverman – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Champagne Supernova – Oasis
Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
Broadcast live on Smoke Radio Saturday, March 28, 2015, London.
Enjoy the show? Listen to The Mod Journalist with English fan Alex Mearns here:
Fancy being a guest on The Mod Journalist’s show on Smoke Radio and are a hardcore Oasis, Beatles or 60’s rock music fan? Email email@example.com with your ideas and you could be the next guest talking all things music with The Mod Journalist! (Note: You do not have to live in London to be on the show)
Copenhagen holds very special memories for me. I attended Roskilde Festival back in 2009 when Oasis and Coldplay were playing. It was my first European music festival and it was everything I’d always dreamed it would be. Noel called it “One of the bestest” in his blog Tales From the Middle of Nowhere, but that night is another post all on its own (coming soon).
I made the decision to attend Noel’s gig in Copenhagen after seeing his initial European schedule. Sure I lived in London and he’d be playing there, but those large corporate feeling gigs at the O2 (16, 500+ people) usually pale in comparison to more intimate venues (2,000 people).
I flew over the night before on an Easyjet flight full of Danes and was seated beside who looked like a bunch of English blokes, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Turns out they were the supporting band for Noel named Paul Newsome and you can listen to an interview I did with them here. Still a bit ill from a recent chest infection, I put in my headphones and cranked up “Chasing Yesterday” and fell asleep. Man, I’m really digging The Mexican, have had it on repeat for days. Wicked song to go running to in the morning.
My friend Josephine met me at the airport. I met Josephine back in 2009 at that legendary gig I was telling you about. She led me back to her flat and prepared me a lovely welcoming Danish meal. I love the Danes, they are into clean water, and clean organic food. What a lovely welcome.
That wasn’t it though. I went into my room and sitting on the dresser is a framed Maine Road 1996 souvenir booklet from the Manchester Evening News. “I just found that the other day….got it when I lived in Manchester for £20…it’s going to a new home now….yours.” WHAT?!? I couldn’t believe it. As I paged through rock and roll history of the two brothers I’ve loved most all my life I just started crying…so blessed. I slept well that night, dreaming of how I would ask Noel to watch soundcheck the next day. I had planned to ask him for weeks, listen to my radio show earlier in the week where I discuss my plans to ask.
The next day I set off for VEGA quite early, probably around noon. I wasn’t messing around about this soundcheck thing, when do they usually happen? I have no idea. Better early than late. As my taxi dropped me off I spot Scully walking around. Should I join him, where’s he off to? Scully is one of Noel’s mates from way back in the day, you can usually find him outside of Noel’s gigs touting tickets and trying to chat up pretty girls. He won’t tell me his real name. One day… I stroll up to the venue. Nobody in sight. Not a single fan. Josephine was right, the Danes are lazy to line up. Certainly not like the French, but that’s another story.
I wander around a nearby park and wonder if I’ll really ask Noel about soundcheck. He blogged about a chest infection and late nights out. Maybe he’ll be in a bad mood. Yeah, I’m too scared to ask. I head back to the venue and the first fans have arrived. Must be close to soundcheck. One guy comes up to me with a huge camera around his neck. “Will you take a picture of Noel signing his album I bought?”
“Erm…sorry mate, I’ve got a question to ask Noel myself, but I’m sure someone else will help you out.” A small lineup of fans get ready for their autographs and selfies. I’ve never waited outside like this before. I can’t ask, too scared. A white van drives up to the building and The High Flying Birds all file out. Everybody runs to get autographs. No Noel.
About half hour later a black Mercedes Benz pulls up. In the backseat I see Noel sitting there with his leather jacket (Prada, I might add), shades, and no smile. I stood back and watched as the line up of fans went crazy. Noel was really nice to everyone, signing people’s records, posing for pictures, even letting people take selfies and a few hugs are given out. Here’s my chance. As he gets to the last fan before me, I see him peering at me through his amber shades. “Hey, I know you!” he says as he points at me. (Yay, he remembered from like 6 years ago!) “May I listen to soundcheck today Noel?” my body is shaking. Noel shrugs, “Yeah, sure if you want? I’ll send someone for you in about 15 minutes.”
The next 15 mins were hell actually, as I wonder if his people would forget that he said I could watch. I’d always wanted to do this! How amazing I felt inside. Noel’s right hand man Phil came and got me and brought me into the soundcheck. I let out a huge cheer as I saw the stage all set up with the High Flying Birds waiting for Noel, and seeing the stage set up ready to play music was so surreal. Nobody was there except me! Usually I was dealing with a sweaty mosh pit of drunken folk. “You can’t scream, or record this, and you have to stay back here at the bar.” says Phil. “No worries. I’m not even gonna take a picture as I want to hear every note Noel plays.” I’m sure you could just see the gratitude pouring off my aura as I waited for my favourite rockstar to come out and play (for me).
Noel comes on and starts playing with the band. Unbelievable. Instead of the 3-4 half songs I thought would happen, I got SEVEN FULL SONGS. And one of them was my favourite song in the world, Champagne Supernova. There were tears. And dancing. And screaming inside. And playing air guitar to The Mexican as Noel belted out the notes. Love life. After it was over, Phil came up to me with a proper typed out setlist. How classy and professional, but then again you wouldn’t expect anything less from Noel.
Noel, I didn’t get a chance to say “Thank You!” to your face, I hope one of the many people I told to pass along the message to you did. I still haven’t gotten a chance to thank you for 2009 either, you got whisked away in a cab before I had a chance. Anyway, THANK YOU. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, you’ve inspired my life, blah, blah, blah, but you still really do it for me all these years later, from the first time I picked up (What’s The Story) Morning Glory in 1995 and wondered to myself “Who is this man who wrote this whole thing himself?!? His mind is like a scientist, but the formulas are music.”
You’re the reason I quit my job and moved to London to pursue my dream of becoming a music & fashion journalist. Your music and life story continue to provide me with the inspiration to achieve my wildest dreams, and I am forever indebted to you for this. My next dream is to interview you soon, a proper interview, and I swear I won’t piss you off like half the journalists I see doing so recently.
Right, guess I should say something about the gig quick. If you remember I had said this was one of my best/worst days of my life. This is because I fell quite ill with the stomach flu shortly after the gig started, making it very difficult to rock out with The Chief. I got violently ill the minute Noel walked offstage, and it didn’t stop for 20 hours after. Missed my flight home. Was off solid food for a few days. Two Danish doctors involved, thought I was going to die.
I asked Josephine how many people laughed at me while my guts expelled everywhere at VEGA and she replied “How many were at Noel’s soundcheck today?”.
Supporting Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on his most recent European tour Paul Newsome warmed up the crowds with his chilled out and ambient tunes from his most recent and also upcoming solo album. The band supported gigs in Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.
Paul and the band explain how his solo sound differs from his other band Proud Mary, how they got into playing music professionally, and what it’s like to open for one of their favourite musicians from childhood, Noel Gallagher.
Noel Gallagher’s second solo album “Chasing Yesterday” currently sits at #3 in the UK charts. Special guest Alex Mearns joins The Mod Journalist and discusses Noel’s new album, London’s O2 gig, Noel’s upcoming tour, and basically all things “The Chief”.
*Unfortunately the first part of the show was lost in recording, but playlist shows below*