Paul and Bruce

Who are Paul and Bruce you might wonder? If I said the names Simon and Springsteen, you might just have a better idea of who I’m talking about.

Last Friday Nicky and I went to see Paul Simon in the O2, the second Irish gig of his ‘Graceland’ 25th anniversary tour. We took O J and Ralph, who stayed in the radio control room during the gig because it would have been too noisy. It wasn’t actually as loud as I was expecting, probably since we were seated in the wheelchair section. I learned at Victoria Stilwell’s seminar that dogs hear at 67,000HZ, compared to humans hearing at 20,000, so I think we made the right decision. The staff in the venue were great with the dogs and couldn’t have been more helpful.

The gig was amazing, and the African musicians added a fantastic sound to Simon and his regular band. ‘The obvious child’ and ‘the boxer’ were personal highlights. The funniest moment came near the beginning of the gig, when a girl shouted “we love you Paul” to which he quickly replied, “I love me too. 28% of the time anyway.” Maybe you had to be there 😀

On Wednesday we were back in Dublin to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, for the second of his Irish shows, and my third time seeing him. As usual he was incredible, playing for three and a half hours like he did the previous night, only leaving the stage for about a minute. He changed sixteen songs in the thirty-two song set list from the previous night, which is impressive, especially if you were lucky enough to go to both. The death of Clarence Clemence last year had a noticeable effect, but he was well remembered. His nephew Jake Clemence did a great job, despite sneezing and pulling his back the night before, and playing his sax from  a wheelchair. I was ridiculously jealous of the kids who were taken on stage, and the people who got their signs read and requests played. Some day I will be in that front row!! You can read reviews about the gig

<a HREF=””>here</a>


<a HREF=””>this blog review</a>

And there’s lots more online, which describe the gig better than I ever could.

Both Simon and Springsteen proved that they still absolutely love what they do, even after all these years of touring and performing. Paul Simon’s band sounded very tight and polished, while Bruce’s, even though they played effortlessly, sounded more like they were session musicians having fun. Both singers showed great respect for their band members, introducing them and name-checking them more than once. It’s nice to see the main performer not steeling the limelight all the time, and these two seemed happy to share it often. I know that my  musical highlights for the year are over, and nothing can beat or even equal the last week of music. Hopefully Simon and Springsteen enjoyed Ireland so much that they intend coming back very soon. I’ll be saving for tickets for both in the meantime!

Set lists below, thanks to

<a HREF=””>Swear I’m Not Paul</a>

The second Paul Simon Graceland 25th Anniversary Tour show at the O2 featured a very special guest – legendary Irish fiddle player Martin Hayes. Martin guested on Simon & Garfunkel song ‘The Boxer’

Set list:
Gone at last
Dazzling blue
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Mother & child
Hearts & bones
Mystery train/wheel
Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Slip Sliding Away
Obvious child
Hello my baby
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
I Know What I Know
Boy in the bubble
Crazy Love vol II
African Sunset
Under African skies
You Can Call Me Al
Sound of Silence
The Boxer (with Martin Hayes)
Late In The Evening
Still crazy After All These Years

Night two of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s stop over at the RDS on the Wrecking Ball Tour brought many more classics to Irish shores, including the fantastic ‘Atlantic City’ and ‘The Promise’ as well as a sign request of ‘Jackson Cage’.

1. This Hard Land (acoustic)
2. No Surrender
3. Two Hearts
4. The Ties the Bind
5. We Take Care of Our Own
6. Badlands
7. Something In The Night
8. Adam Raised a Cain
9. Wrecking Ball
10. Death to My Hometown
11. My City of Ruins
12. Spirit In The Night
13. Jackson Cage
14. She’s The One
15. Jack of All Trades
16. Atlantic City
17. Because The Night
18. Darlington County
19. Easy Money
20. Waitin’ On a Sunny Day
21. The Promise (solo piano)
22. The River
23. Backstreets
24. Land of Hope & Dreams

25. Born in the USA
26. Born To Run
27. Glory Days
28. Seven Nights To Rock
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. Rocky Ground
32. American Land

A Positive Dog Weekend

Working at reception in the office means that I can listen to the radio clearly, unlike when I’m at my usual desk at the opposite end of the room straining to hear. A couple of weeks ago, I sat there while the receptionist went out for fifteen minutes. I happened to catch the end of an interview on Today FM, with dog trainer and behaviourist
Victoria Stilwell.
She was talking about the only Irish seminar she was giving, and it just happened to be in Letterkenny in Donegal on Saturday 7th July.

Victoria Stilwell has been training dogs for the past fifteen years. It all started when she set up her own dog walking business, where she noticed the increasing need for professional trainers to help pet owners manage their dog’s unwanted behaviour. Since then, Victoria has become one of the leading behaviourists in her field, working all over the world, setting up and helping many organisations, and even creating her own TV show ‘its me or the dog’, which is currently showing in fifty countries around the globe. What makes Victoria’s work so popular is her positive reinforcement based dog training, where the dog is never dominated by a human to behave in a particular way. As you can see, attending this positively dog training seminar was an opportunity not to be missed.

Victoria’s seminar was organised by Clare Boyle from
Lupanast Dog Training an organisation in Donegal which I had never heard of but was delighted to have discovered. I hope to learn more about what they do in the future. Nicky and I brought Ralph and O J, and we all couldn’t have been looked after better.

I was a bit concerned that Victoria’s seminar would be quite out of my depth since I’m so new to dog training, but I didn’t get that impression at all. Victoria captured everyone’s attention instantly, and maintained that until she left the stage at half five that evening. Her admiration and respect for dogs was obvious, and her relaxed and often humourous delivery made her a pleasure to listen too. Three dogs were brought on stage during the day to demonstrate different behaviours, and O J barked at the first one. I was so embarrassed! Topics discussed included body language, a dog’s senses, separation anxiety and dog aggression. There was opportunities to ask questions, and footage from ‘its me or the dog’ was used effectively to demonstrate some situations that owners and their dogs find themselves in. Children were made very welcome, and Victoria gave important tips on how they should interact with dogs, especially when meeting them for the first time.

When Nicky and I were returning to our seats after lunch, Victoria came over to introduce herself. It was lovely to meet her and have an oppourtunity to ask her a few questions. I kept mine to a minimum because I would have kept her there all day! We were both interested to hear her opinion on guide dog training and how they are used as working animals. She said that she doesn’t agree with certain aspects of training, but her foundation has worked with, and raised a lot of money for assistance dogs. As long as the dogs get enough free time out of harness to just be dogs, then its all good.

Victoria encouraged her audience to se the world from a dog’s point of view. This will help us all to better understand our dog’s behaviour, and to get the best out of these great animals.She mentioned O J and Ralph briefly, as examples of how dogs can help people so much, which is why we humans should always treat them positively with the respect that they deserve.

I came away after the seminar feeling inspired, and very glad I went. I purposely didn’t look at Victoria’s website
beforehand, but have spent a lot of time on it since. It’s a great resource for any dog lover, with articles, newsletters, a podcast and lots of advice on positive dog training. Victoria is also regularly on facebook and twitter, so you can follow her there. And if, like me, you ever randomly get the opportunity to hear her speak, make sure you go, because its definitely worth it.