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Family Secret

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I am not sure if I should even disclose this, but my little family harbours a secret.  I have tried to keep this secret, but in the past two years or so, I have had to share it with some others.  And in doing so, I was relieved to find that my family is not alone.

The secret is – my husband has a strange taste in music.  He LOVES the music of boy bands.  Well, not just of boy bands.  Also of former boy bands. 

As well as the likes of Justin Bieber.  Some of his favourite Bieber songs include ‘Sorry’.

Another perennial favourite is ‘Love Yourself”.

Alvis is a little concerned about the future of Justin’s music, given that he is now happily married.  The genius that are the lyrics of ‘Love Yourself’ germinated in the pain of the breakup of Bieber’s first love.  I guess we will have to wait and see the direction Mr. Bieber will take musically.  Until then, Alvis can wait it out by enjoying a dramatic reading of the lyrics of ‘Love Yourself’ by the classically trained and universally acclaimed actor – Mr. Morgan Freeman.

The fact that Alvis enjoys Bieber’s music, somehow seemed to open up an new universe for him – musically.  Now, he also loves the music of Sean Mendez.  (The fact that he is from Toronto tickles him pink.)  Alvis also enjoys the music of Dua Lipa.  If you think that you don’t know any of her music, give this a listen:

I’m the type of person who prefers quiet.  If I am home alone, the house will be quiet.  I have to be in a certain mood, and then I will play music that suits that mood.  I will enjoy it for a while, and then I will shut it off again.

Alvis is the complete opposite.  Music is always on in the car, and often in the house, while he is doing chores etc.  Over the course of our 25 year marriage, I have expanded my limited musical boundaries, in large part, due to Alvis’ enjoyment of all types of music.  And also by playing the game called ‘Who Sings This’ – a game devised by Alvi.  He will hear a song playing, and then he’ll say to me ‘Who Sings This?’.  And then I have 3 chances to guess the name of the band or singer.  For many years, I was a complete disaster at this game.  I could never accurately guess The Beatles (No judgment please…..They were well before my time, and not really my thing….)  Nor could I discern the voices of Page or Plant, and many others.  However, I did come to know and love many artists including Canada’s own Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Zucchero etc.  Nowadays, I will state the name of the artist before Alvi even has the chance to start the game….!

Since we’ve moved to Europe, we have started a new tradition – that of going to see some of our favourite musicians live in concert.   Aside from being a super fun way to spend an evening, it is also a wonderful way to explore Croatia and places that we haven’t seen in Europe.

We had the opportunity to explore the charming Lljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) the afternoon of the Leonard Cohen concert.  What an absolute personal joy for me to see him live, and lose myself in his gravel-ly, yet smooth voice, honed by a long life lived.  Leonard passed away a year later, so I was grateful for having had the opportunity to see him live.

We used the same logic to book tickets in Lucca, Italy, to see the legendary Rolling Stones.  This trip was made more special as friends and family from Toronto travelled to join us.  We explored Modena and area, Cinque Terre, parts of Tuscany before descending onto Lucca to hear the Stones ‘Start It Up’.  I cheered my fool head off when Keith Richards took his place on stage – the OG rock star – still grinning devilishly and looking like he was thoroughly enjoying himself.  I danced my head off while Charlie watts got it done, and while Mik Jagger, festooned with bedazzled sparkly outfits, shimmied his skinny ass across the stage.  An epic evening!

We have been bowled over by the romantic Pula Arena (a well preserved Roman amphitheatre in Pula, on the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula), where we discovered  ‘2 Cellos’ – a Croatian duo, who rock out their electric cellos to popular music.  Check out that concert out here:

Skip ahead to 7:10, and see if you can name that song……!  It is awesome!  If you guessed the song, leave the name in the comments section below.

You simply must see the official video of their rendition of AC/DC’s  ‘Thunderstruck’:

If you have the chance to see ‘2 Cellos’ live – do yourself a favour  – go and ENJOY!

We also had the good fortune to see Zucchero and his Black Cat Tour live in Arena Pula two summers ago.  Check out this great song about a ‘Salami sandwich’ called ’13 Buone Ragione’:

Zucchero played this crowd favourite called ‘Baila’:

And he closed out the concert with ‘Il Volo’:

Alvi has now pushed the envelope with the whole concert thing.  Lately he has taken to booking tickets to acts that I’ve never heard of.  Two of note are Niall Horan, and Ben Howard.  I know, right!…..Who?

Well, there once was an English – Irish boy band called ‘One Direction’, whose lead singer was Harry Styles.  The second guy best known guy is Zayn Malik.  The third best known member of One Direction was Louis Tomlinson.  Niall Horan is the 4th best known member of One Direction, ahead of guy #5 called Liam Payne.  For some reason, One Direction broke up, and following Zayn’s lead, Niall struck out on his own, and produced his own music.  His first solo effort called ‘This Town’ landed at Number 9 on the UK pop charts, his next song hit BIG.  It is called ‘Slow Hands’.  Take a listen here:

as well as ‘On the Loose’:

After Alvi purchased the tickets, I booked some sightseeing in Bavaria, and arranged to drop in on some friends.  We set off.  Along the way, we managed to enjoy some sights such as these:

Bavaria 1

…and these…

Bavaria 2

…and these…

Bavaria 3

…and these….


…and these….

Bergen 2

After sharing this delicious breakfast….

Bergen 3

…and sharing in the good fortune of our friends…

Bergen 4

…we made our way to Munich while checking out sights such as these:

Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner. It is also the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle at Disney World in Florida.

Castle 1

Hohenschwangau Castle or Schloss Hohenschwangau is a 19th-century palace in southern Germany. It was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.

Castle 2

Castle 3

Linderhof Palace is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.

Castle 4

And finally, we arrive to Munich, to the Tonne Halle, to see Mr. Niall Horan – live.  As the warm-up act performs, and while Alvis is singing along, I take a moment to survey the crowd.  It is ALL girls.  Some two thousand, pre- and post-pubescent girls, all waiting anxiously for Niall to come on stage.  And when he does, the crowd erupts into a shrieking frenzy.  The high-pitched screaming may have pierced my ear drums, causing permanent damage….

Niall Horan

Niall checked out his audience and said, ‘Oh, you are so lovely…’.  More ear piercing shrieking.

As he started singing, all 2000 or so German girls sang along perfectly, to every single word, to every syllable of every word.  Niall seemed somewhat taken aback, and after he praised their singing – more shrieking.

Just prior to singing a particularly emotional song, Niall asked everyone to put down their phones, and to quietly imagine where they were in their lives, when they first heard his next song.  The girls obediently lowered their phones.  Everyone quieted down.  As he started to sing a poignant song about love lost, I noticed some of the girls crying……or more accurately….weeping…  The drama of young love lost….ouch.  As I turned my head to check out the crowd behind me, I noticed a lone tear rolling down Alvis’ cheek.  Naill’s song is that good… :0)

It was at this point that I noticed that in addition to the energy in the Tonne Halle, there seemed to be an undercurrent of something else ……  something that I couldn’t identify, until it hit me……. Teenage female hormones!  The air was dense with them.  If you squinted your eyes a little, you could actually see the hormones zipping along the lightbeams of the stage lights…..all directed from the audience to Niall.  At the zenith of his sad love song, not just the frequency of the zipping hormones increased, but also the intensity.  At one point, I marvelled that Niall was able to remain upright….!

After a great concert, during his last encore, after wiping Alvis’ tears away, we tried to slip out the door, past all of the weary parents waiting for their daughters, to the taxi stand.  All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this concert.  The music was good, the crowd was well-behaved, and Niall is a triple threat – a talented kid.  He plays guitar and piano, he sings, and he writes his own music.  Here’s hoping you have a long career, Niall!

The next morning, as I woke up, I noticed my ears were still ringing, I had a zit on my cheek, the wrinkles on my forehead has smoothed out, and I was four-and-a-half months younger.  All hail the power of female teenage hormones….!

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