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Inspiral Carpets and ear plugs

17 March 2007

Last week I went to see the Inspiral Carpets at Shepherds Bush Empire. I've uploaded my photos today.

I was right down the front, which was hard work (it was a rough crowd) but worth it to feel so involved with the music. At one point Tom took my glasses off and put them on. The whole band looked like they were having a great time and the fans were really into it. If you don't already know, Carpets fans 'moo' between songs.

I've had a long relationship with the the music of the Inspirals, which goes right back to when I was at school. I first saw the band at Alexandra Palace, around the launch of The Beast Inside. I'll always have a soft spot for that album, so it was a treat to hear 'Sleep Well Tonight' last week. I saw the band in Norwich too, where my friend Mark, who introduced me to their music, was studying. We had recorded the then forthcoming single 'Dragging me Down' off the radio so we could familiarise ourselves with it before the show. I also saw the band at my own university and on the recent reunion tours, and at the launch party for the 'Cool As' compilation.

This tour was to promote the release of a new download-only album of b-sides and rarities, but the only concession to that in the setlist was the inclusion of 'Plane Crash'. The gig was the fan favourites, with a few surprises thrown in (including Cobra). I particularly enjoyed upbeat comeback single 'Come Back Tomorrow' as well.

This was the first gig I've been to since last May. I've had problems with my hearing lately, so for this show I was armed with earplugs. For the support acts, I wore the standard foam earplugs you can buy in any chemist (for about £2 for two pairs). They made a massive difference in cutting the volume of sound, and had tested well in my highly unscientific experiment trying out earplugs in front of my stereo. They did deaden the sound a bit though.

I also had some plastic earplugs which are made especially for concerts and clubbing, but which didn't seem to do anything at all when I tried them at home. When I tried them at the gig, I was surprised to find they were excellent. When I swapped the earplugs over, the dedicated concert ones had clearer sound and still dramatically cut the volume. It's possible I lost some of the music, or some parts might just have been mixed low. But it's the first gig I remember, where my ears weren't ringing the next day.

So, if you want to get some good earplugs for a concert, try the Elacin ER20-S which cost about £15. The manufacturers' website has a list of stockists. The RNID has created a website called Don't lose the music to help music fans to protect their hearing.

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