Wednesday, 13 September 2017

End of the Road Festival 2017 @ Larmer Tree Gardens



There were two parts to this years festival, to quote Jackson Browne 'Before the Deluge' and Sunday.

Before the Deluge.
Volunteered to steward this year, earlies, from 7 to 10:30 from Friday onwards but to 13:00 on Monday. Very enjoyable indeed and great to see the other side of the festival which you miss as a punter. The out of their heads late returners at 6:15 certainly was amusing but the small down side as we glamped again but it was located the furthest distance away from the Stewards Tent. Ok, I lost weight and was probably fitter for it.
The great thing however which I would have missed is that Thursday has become the new Friday. Two acts on Woods and with four in the Tipi Tent.
The Moonlandingz started of brightly but quickly disappeared into tedium which the lead singer did even less to help and Slowdive, ethereal in sound and a group that had gone under my radar.  Did not light my fire so it was back to the Tipi where it certainly was all happening.
Slowcoaches(mmm), The Surfing Magazines (worth investigating further), Brix & The Extricated (oh did enjoy these ex Fall guys, Link to video shot for two numbers) and finally the mad mad, Bo Ningen. If you could think rock could get any stranger, then these Japanese guys certainly delivered.

Friday dawned bright and clear and the sun shone for most of the day, the gravelled roadways becoming increasingly dusty. Completed my shift and then waited for the other half to turn up on the coach from London which was on time. For us Friday consisted of just three acts, All We Are, Jens Lekman and Lucinda Williams.
All We Are were outstanding, not what I was expecting from my only cd. But when the drummer, Richard O'Flynn, who stood up to his sparse kit, removed his tee shirt, the other half was totally sold. And this the day of our wedding anniversary! Great set that was very well received. Left the Big Top, wandered around, grabbed some food, and wandered over to the Piano Stage where guess what, All We Are were about to do a quick acoustic set. O'Flynn kept his shirt on, but four numbers and it was over. We walked away around the back of the stage and the group were there, Shook their hands, explianed to O'Flynn that the other half was disappointed that he did not reveal his torso again where he went and planted a big kiss on her.
Went back to our boutique tent and had an hours kip. more food then made our way over to The Garden Stage to get into position for Lucinda. Jens Lekman was just about to start and made our way down to the front. Knew nothing about him, He came on with an all female backing band who rocked. I liked his Swedish pop and repartee but he sealed it with covering Boyz II Men's song 'End Of The Road'. Video of Jens singing that song at EOTR.  Did not know of the piece at all, but Lekman had most of the audience singing along. It bought a smile to everybody's face.
The crowd disappeared at the end of the set so we got to the front right on the barrier. Now was I influentual in bringing Lucinda to EOTR? who knows? Did she and her manager/husband, who I both bumped into in LA at a gig some three years previous remember that I said she should do the festival again who knows. Did the lobbying between her UK agent and the festival organisers pay dividends, again who knows. But here she was on a now cold evening.
She did not look 100% well, and certainly she dressed for the weather even sporting a beanie. The voice had changed a lot since I last saw her at the Barbican a few weeks before our encounter in LA. But that band of hers, Buick 6 were the heaviest of the whole weekend, so tight, Consisting of drummer Butch Norton, guitarist Stuart Mathis and bassist David Sutton, these guys, as is usual with American bands, are light years better than everybody else. A guy next to us just did not get her lyrics, especially when she sung Righteously....'When you run your hand, All up and run it back down my leg, Get excited and bite my neck, Get me all worked up like that' This was a 64 year old woman singing as if she was a thirty year old. He left.  One song however stuck out like a jewel, she sung ' The Ghosts of Highway 20' solo, it was a breath of fresh air and such a contrast. Lucinda, not the best performance I have seen you perform, but thanks for coming to my favourite festival.
And then it was over, we trouped back out only to witness a huge phalanx half running through the food arena, and there near the front, crowd surfing, was Mac Demarco who had just finished his set on The Woods Stage. The crowd carried him aloft, and we followed,  back down into The Big Top, and down into the pit in front of Pond who were playing at the time. I heard next day, that security ejected him not realising who he was.
Saturday also dawned bright and clear. Did my shift, and then we both went into nearby Blandford Forum for supplies, including suntan lotion. Lunch was had outside but sheltering from the sun. Back to the festival not feeling 100%, a little sun stroke possibly. so back to the tent and had a long kip this time. Suitably refreshed made our way first to watch Sinkane, who was excellant although he did not do his version of William Onyeabor's 'Fantasic Man' which was briefly played before they walked on stage, then over to the Garden Stage, to see Nadine Shah. Again did not know that much of her work, but she was thoroughly engaging, such a good voice, but I thought she could be better served with a less rocky backing. She could be big.
Cant remember much until we were back in the Garden for Car Seat Headrest. The boys delivered and the crowd loved them. It was packed. A number of blow up Killer whales were being waved in the air, so too was an actual car seat headrest. It did get rather lively in the mosh pit so we made our way to the other side and got onto the barrier to the extreme right of the stage. Could not see much except what was going on in the audience. Great set, a couple of years touring and they will be a great group.
We wandered over to Woods where Father John Misty was about to start. We just did not get him, a good voice yes, was it all irony, did not feel like it to us and we left for the tent and sleep. Sounded ok from afar.

Sunday
6am, a sunny glow on the eastern side of the tent, but putting my head out on the west side, and there were dark grey clouds with a little rain in the air. As the shift progressed so did the amount of water coming out of the skies. By 12pm it was heavy and it just did not stop till at least 11pm some nine hours later. We sought solace in the comedy stage which had been moved to the covered 'discoship'. It was an inspired move and three hours were well spent under cover with a big smile on our faces. A big-up to Robin Ince who closed the the comedy for this year. a thirty minute set was not enough. We then dived into the cinema tent and watched a couple of films.
And that was that. Did not fancy standing outside so back to the tent and sleep.
Next day and it was a long shift, the sun started to come out and I watched the festival slowly pack its bags, bring down the stages and food stalls and disappear.

So my awards this year are short.

National Treasure.
Big Jeff.
Finally spoke a couple of times with Big Jeff, who I had seen  at previous festivals. Found when stewarding the entrance into the Tipi end that his tent was the closest to that entrance. A gentleman, veteran of so many festivals and gigs, and who a couple of days later hit his 35rd birthday. May all your festivals be good ones Big Jeff!

Best Band
All We Are.

Second best Band
Car Seat Headrest

Who to watch out for.
The Surfing Magazines and Sinkane



Friday, 16 June 2017

Max Richter @ Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire


Perfect summer's evening in Blenheim Palace's Great Court, with the sky gradually clearing and the stars slowly appearing above our heads as the gig progressed.
First half consisted of his re-composition of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with Darragh Morgan leading impressively on violin.
Short interval at then Three Worlds culminating in 'Tuesday, a twenty minute opus that climaxes eventually, but it is one of those pieces that you just want to keep building.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Chelsea Flower Show 2017


Not impressed at all

Pro's
Artisan Gardens esp Ishihara Kazuyuki’s ‘Gosho No Niwa’
Feel Good Gardens esp Zoe Ball's Listening Garden
Some amazing carnivorous plants
It was sunny

Con's, 
Show Gardens, in particular The Silk Road Garden and The M&G Garden.
The Welcome to Yorkshire garden was no better than our front bank with some water in the front and a pastiche ruin at the rear (read our house)
Crowds
Up market bling for the nouveau-riche
Ghastly sculptures
Pimms and lemonade for £6:80 for a half pint (did the trick though)
Crowds

Trends
Common Oxeye Daisy
Salvia (in various forms but mainly purple)
Digitalis (all forms)


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Lucy McCormick, 'Triple Threat' @ Soho Theatre, London


Did not realise that came from the bible, OMG, so thats what is meant, OMG, I think I know where this is leading, OMG, That is where its leading, OMG, she actually did it, OMG not going to do that, OMG, possibly not. OMG did I just witness that?
The use of OMG is rather apt given that Lucy McCormick's show is about the retelling of a number of key parts in the New Testament. It also describes rather well a number of the set pieces and not least the finale.
McCormick well supported by the two men who keep rather impassive expressions throughout the proceedings except when she has wandered off into the audience by herself and they all but have sex with themselves.
So it was a Thursday evening, nothing of interest at the cinema, a quick look at the Soho Theatre's listing for the evening, Hmm, possibly worth it, and there at the bottom of the list, Over 18s only, some material could cause offence. Ah but this is comedy, what could cause offence, its the territory.
All I can say what there was a degree of shock even for me, There were gasps a plenty from the audience, and with a seat right on the stage, nothing was left to the imagination, except for the sex scene in the middle of the audience which I could not see.
Standing ovation at the end from the packed audience. Bravo Lucy McCormick for taking us on a ride that will stick in the memory for a long time.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Rachael Parris, Best Laid Plans. @ Soho Theatre, London




A Wednesday night, International Women's Day, what else is there to do except go and see a female comedian.
Managed to nab front row seats right next to her baby grand piano, and what followed was just over an hour of laughter. Well supported with a few props, the blackboard and very perfect childlike drawings being exceedingly well used, a number of songs, the use of the melody from Elton John's 'Your Song' linking some, and very amusing observations.

But here is the rub and not aimed at Rachael Parris but young comedians as a whole.
Its ageism.
They somehow think that anyone over say 50 does not exist, or certainly do not inhabit comedy theatres. Parris asked the audience who was over 30 to cheer, then those under 30 to do likewise. Very similar response but then, and probably seeing the audience a little better as this was at the start of the show, realised that there were a dozen or so of us who were much older. A little deflection in saying that if she had asked if the split was above and below 60 would not have worked comically, and she did have a point, but its not the first time we have encountered this apparent divide.
Our last visit to the Soho for the Pappy's Secret Dudes show, a similar theme arose (not by the Pappy boys though), and it was about having young children, Most of the audience we single, some married but without children (it was a Monday evening after all just before Christmas). But we had taken our nigh on thirty year old daughter and her boyfriend with us for their first comedy experience.

Ignoring all of that, Parris deserves the plaudits she has garnered already.
And yet again I have to say, catch her if you can.

Friday, 3 February 2017

St Paul and the Broken Bones @ O2 Forum Kentish Town


First gig of the year, whats to come?
Last gig of a long tour for the band and possibly showed slightly although four encore numbers sent the sold out audience happy enough.
Personally I dont think is was quite as good as their appearance at Koko last year, not enough gospel inspired numbers or slow songs to my mind, probably as more numbers from the Sea of Noise album were performed. But coming back on the tube afterwards there was a young guy with the cover of SoN under his arm that he had managed to get the whole band to sign. He did not think so.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Cirque de Soleil, Amaluma @ Royal Albert Hall, London

First time for Cirque du Soleil and it will also be my last.
This production was 75% bollocks but with 25% of jaw dropping acrobatic stunts. What it had to do with Willy the Shake's Tempest I have no idea.
Technically the staging was indeed very well thought through which cannot be said for the garbage rock music that was played relatively heavily (would imagine that most of the audience thought that it was what rock music was all about, oh little do they know) throughout the nigh on two hours of the performance. No light or shade, no nuances, no tonal differences zilch.
The best was a rather stunning performance from Lara Jacobs Rigolo (as the helpfully-named Balance Goddess) as she creates a boat frame using only canes, her toes and feats of balance that seem impossible. But best of all, no music, only the sound of her very regular but calm breathing. It will be the only I will remember about the whole show.