Wow, well I have just been looking at my photos from first arriving here and almost thinking, hey that was nothing interesting, why did include a picture of wild pigs or betel nut chewing? It is funny what becomes the norm. After not even six months it all just seems normal. We are even slipping into Pijin at home, so it is a worry what two years will do…..
I thought I'd dish a quick brief on the recent UB40 concert in Honiara, think "Red, Red Wine" and "Fools Rush In" if you don't know the band. The group is still huge over here and in no way daggy or out-dated and I gotta say the music does match the islands well.
Anyway the buzz was certainly about town so we were in. We opted out of the expat click, been doing that a bit of lately, instead heading to the event with one of the local girls from the market who always looks after us and is an all-round legend. In unpredictable Solomon's style the event changed location on the day of the concert but as you will read, everyone seemed to find it. We arrived to masses on the streets, not surprising given that the event was between 130 and 200 SBD a bit shy of a week's wage for those with a job. The crowd outside included a few of my students who I had a chat with for a while before leaving them with some chicken and rice from one of the 44Gallon drum stalls outside the city. It is a bit hard with the divide in wealth here and I was a bit awkward going into the event and leaving them outside but they seemed happy enough to protect the truck and use it as a viewing platform.
Inside, everything was civil, the concert was mellow, I met another of my students who had saved for the event and obviously new all the words and everyone behaved, for a while…
Oh yeah at this point I should also mention there was a tsunami earlier in the day and it did kill some people and came in a month also including earthquakes and cyclones BUT we were and are completely safe don't let the media beat ups over there worry you.
Now I included that, not only because of everyone's kind words from back home but also because at this point in the story, another form of tsunami was about to hit Lawson Tarma stadium in Honiara. About halfway through the concert, our friend tightly gripped Danielle's arm leading her forward into the crowd. She had heard whispers of rock throwing and trouble at the rear of the field. As I turned to take a look I was amazed to see the fence virtually gone and wave after wave of hundreds of Islanders not able to afford tickets, taking to the field. I have since learned that some police were injured the first confrontation but there was no sign of conflict by this stage, looking to the left of the field, police and army were heading to their vehicles, driving them out of harm's way.
It wasn't long before the students I had left outside identified the giant silhouette in the crowd and popped up next to me to say hello, so I couldn't help but laugh at the situation. Now with the outside groups well entangled with the ticket holders and thousands of people covering the field, UB40 exited the stage. I am not sure if it was a planned encore or the band members were getting worried but it was awkward, whatever it was. There have not been enough concerts in the Solomon's, for people to understand the need to clap and ask for an encore, so there was about five minutes of confused silence and whispering among the crowd, unsure of what had happened, before someone came to the stage to prompt the encore, asking if people wanted to hear more to cheer and also using the opportunity to illustrate to the band that they were not in any danger, saying in a thick islander accent "ok now, everyone must also sit down and for goodness sakes behave yourselves". In a surreal display of obedience, unthinkable in Australia, the crowd of hundreds of ticket holders and thousands of gate crashers all sat down. It was unbelievable; it only lasted until the first strum of a guitar but still never seen anything like it.
Haha, I have since caught several students playing the live recordings of the second half of the show captured on their phones. SEB obviously made up a few of the faces of the tsunami of riffraff that stormed the field too.
Another hour of drop offs from the truck followed as is now tradition with most things I do but that is enough for now. What a night it turned out to be, I have to wonder what UB40's recollection of the night would sound like?