But first, I’ll wrap up winter. So – it’s been over a month since I wrote anything. I think I got over that little period of ridiculous gig-attendance, and just collapsed. But I’ve been gradually getting back into the swing of things.
Rodrigo y Gabriela – a him & her of ridiculously talented guitarists. Check out some videos of them – it’s just annoying how stupidly good they are. And they’ve gone and surrounded themselves with some other unbelievable talent – for example, it was the first time I thought “holy shit, that guy is ROCKIN’ that piano” – (such as the second half of this terrible quality video).
The Drums – indie pop. Wasn’t really sure on this one, but it was at the Roundhouse – so I figured that even if it was crap, I could relax in my member’s bar. It wasn’t crap – it wasn’t amazing either… but I don’t regret going. Except that Boy George came out and did a song or two with them. I guess I can now cross Boy George off my list, but he was never on the list in the first place. But yeah, decent gig – if a bit camp.
To kick off March, I headed along to the Barbican for some “alt-country”: Lambchop. Again – those big comfy chairs, with my sitting up the front with acres of legroom, several glasses of wine, and rather mellow tunes – threatened to send me off to sleep. But – managed to stay awake for what was a rather good gig. Two encores. Extremely mellow, ‘intimate‘ gig, plenty of chatting with crowd etc. Cool.
The following Wednesday – another old-timer, Nick Lowe. Again – got myself a sweet comfy seat, in the wings, with a corridor of legroom. And right next to the bar. And enjoyed a rather good gig. I can’t find any videos of it, but there are a couple from other dates on the tour.
The very next night – some youngsters to even things up… The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Very good – a gig which made me think about what makes a band good, or even great – as opposed to ‘alright’. The opening bands – I listened, and then thought something was missing. Just that extra ‘something’ which makes a band become something special. And then these guys came on – and they had it. Not necessarily something completely different – but “something” (“something” which doesn’t really come across in video). And listening to them I suddenly realised how many of their songs are my current favourites… I’m quite bad at going on a binge of accruing music – so end up with trying to listen to a couple of dozen new albums, by sticking them all in a playlist on random. Which of course means one rarely realises who is singing particular songs. But anyway – these guys are quite good. Hopefully they’ll be getting more widespread kudos.
Following night – Justin forced me to go see Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Some awesome old-school lounge/funk/soul – or something. With a crazy lead-singer who made a lot of young ladies happy by getting them all on stage for one of the last songs. Great fun for a gig, and thanks Justin for dragging me along.
At some point over those couple of weeks – there’d also been a night on Bibby’s boat-community, where a couple of ladies had created a ‘pop-up restaurant’ – which I went along to with Jess, and enjoyed some good food/drinks/company/etc – while raising funds for some charity. Pretty much your average middle-class middle-age hobby nowadays – do something you want to do, but under the banner of raising money for charity. Not that I’m putting it down – it’s brilliant. You get to do stuff you’d normally feel guilty about, while also finally getting around to doing that ‘charity work’ which you always promise yourself you’d do, but never get around to. So yeah – have a dinner party but charge for it and give money to charity. Simple. Drive a tuk-tuk across some country you wanted to visit anyway, but raise money for it and give it to charity. Sweet.
Anyways – leading from the pop-up restaurant evening, it was decided to do a series of dinners ourselves – but in a competitive manner. And without the raising money. ie: redirect the effort from helping people into competing against people. Not sure how we arrived at that but… the idea was: Jess would cook us an 8-course dinner. Of course, we managed to reach this decision by Bibby & myself suggesting we would later do the same ourselves. We’ll see about that. But yeah – Jess cooked an 8-course meal on a Tuesday evening. Bibby & I had promised to match wines to each and every course, but we didn’t really fully follow through on that either. But it was an excellent night – with a surprise guest Nic Whitson, and others. We got through 8 courses – all rather good, and in total – perfectly balanced/sized. We also got through several bottles of wine – some perfectly matched to the course, and some not so. But all in all – an excellent evening. And then Jess nearly burned down her apartment – and in fact did have to spend the night with all windows open, in an attempt to disperse the noxious gas from a burnt candle-holder, the fumes from which had built up in the bathroom for a couple of hours – before she opened the door to release black black smoke – which instantly filled the flat with poison. Like a true gentleman, I made the appropriate noises and then promptly left her to deal with it.
On the Sunday – I had a ticket to the Roundhouse to see some tiny little band called Hush War Cry. I’d never heard of them, but got the email from the Roundhouse – and tickets were £6, so I figured why not – Member’s Bar, right? Except it turns out they were actually playing in a side-room – the Studio Theatre – with Paul Weller playing the main stage. I got there, and tried to find my way to the Studio Theatre. But the security kept waving me through into the main area. And suddenly I’ve got myself into Paul Weller (tickets sold out in hours, £40 worth). I figured I’d see if I could get into the member’s bar – while being quite happy to head off to the place I was supposed to be at if so demanded. But I got into the bar, and settled in to watch a much more expensive and ‘prestigious’ gig. Which was alright. Had previously never really listened to The Style Council or The Jam – but it seemed fine.
And then, finally, The Felice Brothers. I was supposed to see these guys last year – but they claimed to get shingles of the face or something, and delayed the gig. And I guess that’s not something you’d make up as an excuse. This was one of my more anticipated gigs of last year – after the very very good last album, and with the delay – anticipation had grown even more. And it was an excellent gig. Really very good. Unfortunately – the only video I can find is of a cover. It was an excellent gig – very very happy they finally made it here, and it didn’t clash with anything else. Well done Felice Brothers – well done.
Following that up – was another very small gig at my local venue – Kindness at XOYO. Another guy on the rise – I get the impression that this guy could be described as a ‘tortured genius’ – but only because that term has become such a trite generic term for anybody slightly good and eccentric. This guy is probably more aptly described as an eccentric talented perfectionist nutter. Just an impression. Possibly because he reminded me of Darcy Clay in some way – although I couldn’t really justify that. Anyway – a lot of effort put into the stage show, with a relatively small number of songs. But good. Very good – if this guy sticks around, I foresee some success.
The following night – I caught up with a couple of guys from university days, for the first time in many many years… over a decade easily. Chris Lambert – star of the Highlander movies – and John McIntosh. We got drunk, caught up with progress in life (them: both married, me: not so much), talked about the “good old days”, and all that one would expect from such an evening.
Which meant I was very hungover the next day – and slow-witted – and stuck in a meeting with two company directors, and therefore missed out on buying tickets to three gigs that went on sale that morning. Jack White, Eddie Vedder, and Gossip. Not pleased. Bought consolation ticket to Kill It Kid for Monday evening. And then my web hosting company somehow deleted half my emails – including the tickets to the gig. So bought another one today. About to head off to that now. They had better be bloody good.