Monday, February 28, 2005

Well that Nick Cave chap certainly provided us with some entertainment on Saturday evening. In the one of the the most wildly incorrect pieces of promotional material, since a Bristol city chairman promised the fans European football a few years ago, this “solo” show, proved to be anything but. Cave and three members of The Bad Seeds, bludgeoned their way through around two hours of top notch stuff.

The man himself was surprisingly relaxed, joking and taking requests from the audience, whilst keeping his poor “lyric roadie” fully occupied. Eventually the poor chap ran out of patience and emptied a huge carrier bag full of lyrics on the floor, much to the crowd and Mr cave’s amusement.

After the show I managed to find time to nip across to The Bunch of Grapes, to catch 15 mins of my friend Yuki’s blues band who I think are called Mean Red Spider (sound right as that’s an old Muddy Waters song), before heading home for some sleep.

Sunday saw another impressive victory from the Bryan Munich boys. That’s two wins on the trot and no goals conceded in either match, it’s almost like being in a proper team!
After the match we hooked up with Katja and Jon for a belated Sunday lunch at Le Monde. By the way if you are looking for unusual nappies and quite frankly who isn’t these days take a look at Katja’s website.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Whilst the forthcoming weekend won't be as busy as last weekends madhouse, it still promises to be pretty hectic. This evening we are going to a farewell party for one of Orynthia's colleagues who is going of to Sri Lanka for a while.

Tomorrow I'm off to watch City play Blackpool, can we make it 3 wins in row, for the first time in ages? Then straight after the match, I meeting up with Orynthia and several of my old workmates from Imperial Music. It will be good to see how everyone else is getting on 6th months after that fantastic shop closed. Although everything is going really well in my new job, I do
miss the shop in all sorts of ways. As well as the music, I do miss meeting such a vast array of people everyday. I also fear that I'm going to turn into a fat old man, I really used to enjoy being on my feet all day and dashing all over the place. Now I just sit in my chair and wait for that triple chin to emerge!

Actually, I think that one of the reasons I enjoyed last weekend so much, was because I was more or less constantly on the move. I'm lucky that my legs don't really get tired in those sort of situations.

Following the post Imperial bash, a few of us are heading off to see Nick Cave at the Colston Hall, it's around 20 years since he last played in Bristol, and the memories of that night at Trinity are still fresh in my mind. Can he be as good again?

On Sunday morning it's time for the latest match for the mighty Bryan Munich, we are heading all the way out to Backwell for the match, it's our equivalent of going to some far flung part of Europe for a champions league game (without the quality obviously!).

After than the plan is a nice walk on The Downs, we were hoping for some snow but at the moment it looks as though we are going to miss out.

Ohwe've booked a holiday in Sptember, we are off to Berlin and Slovinia!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Well we've had an amazing time since I last wrote anything here!

As previously mentioned Orynthia and I were working as part of the production team at big Oxfam / Tsunami benefit gig last weekend. Initially we thought that we were going to be working from Thursday onwards but a late change of plan meant that we weren't actually needed on site until the Friday morning. So at 9am on Friday the adventure began.

We just helped out in anyway that we could, a lot of our time on Friday was spent ensuring that everyone had enough to eat and drink, whilst the crew were setting up the stage and Massive Attack and Portishead went through initial sound checks. It was really quite odd to be hearing the bands going their stuff with only a handful of people around, on a couple of occasions I found it really difficult to stop myself from clapping! When the bands weren't in the main room everyone came into the impromptu dining area which we had set up, the atmosphere was really relaxed, everyone was chatty and friendly - no over pampered rock stars here.

Then at around Pam we had to dismantle everything as a different event was taking place at the venue that night. After a couple of quick drinks with John and Jane, we were back at home slumped in front of the TV beforeheading off to bed at around 11:30.

On Saturday we left the house at around 9am, to buy some additional nibbles for the day, before people assembled for a large group breakfast. Friday had been busy but Saturday was very busy indeed! As the day wore on more and artists arrived - Patrick and Alex, Fuzz against Junk, The Coral and surprise guest Damon Albarn from Blur. Also vast amounts of snacks and drinks had to be moved around for the dressing room area's later in the evening. By around 4 pm things were really hectic but everyone was still friendly yet focused. Eventually the dressing rooms and storage area's were stacked, all the bands had arrived and everything was falling into place.

It was time for the last servings of food before packing away all the catering stuff for the evening. I then had to give Damon Albarn and three of his friends a lift to a local hotel, in our VERY small car, which proved to be quite entertaining! By the time I got back the Oxfam people had started to arrive, a large group of them were trying to get audience members to donate more money and to get involved in the "end poverty" campaign. It was nice to catch up with a few old friends from Oxfam in the last few minutes before the doors opened and the public came flooding in.

The gig went like a dream, all the bands were brilliant, it was fantastic to be able to hear Liz Frazer and Beth Gibbons wonderful voices ringing out loud and clear on the same evening. What a treat! The audience reaction was fantastic, especially when they did the massed backing vocals for Damons solo version of "Tender". I was still doing a bit of dashing around to make sure that the performers had everything they needed, Including nipping out at around 10pm to buy some milk for Robert Plant and Ciggies for The Coral! Orynthia went one better on Sunday when she bought a kettle for Robert Plant, for use on his forthcoming tour. So if you go to see him, look out for his kettle on stage and think of Orynthia.

We were far to tired to hang around for the after show party, so it off home and into bed at around 2am. It had been a long but glorious day.

On Sunday we all gathered again at around 2:30 pm. Despite some serious hangovers, the mood was one of joy following the undoubted success of the previous evening. That time and atmosphere was one of my happiest memories from a weekend which was overflowing with them. After yet more sound checking the tempo slowed somewhat, everything was in place, for the second evening of entertainment. Orynthia went out on her shopping mission for Mr Plant whilst I listened to lots of men getting very excited about effects pedals!

Once all the food and tables had been cleared away and the dressing rooms prepared, we then said our goodbye to head off to see The Go! Team at The Fleece. Luckily we managed to find somewhere to sit down and rest our weary legs. 1st band up - Attack and Defend were amusing in an ironic art school sort of way. Next up were The Pipettes who provided retro kitsch of the highest order before we suffered a brief and hideous interlude from a crazed MC type. Then finally along came The Go! Team for their 35 minutes of punchy and energetic fun.

Then it was a quick journey across town just in time for the Massive Attack/ Portishead finale, which was suitably awesome.

The only disappointment of the weekend was that our good friend and founder member of Fuzz Against Junk Steve Dew missed out on this amazing event, due to previous commitments. It would have great to have seen him up their on stage in front of that packed crowd. I'm sure his time will come.

You can watch it all at Crisis in Asia

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

So since I've last been here I've seen another miserable performance from BCFC, been to a 65th birthday party (no not mine!), watched Elvis Costello in imperious form and watch the highly rated film "Sideways".

Firstly the sad case of the football, Friday nights home defeat looks like it could be the hammer blow to our hopes of making the promotion play-off's. It's hard to know where to start when talking about city at the moment, the team just are not functioning at any sort of reasonable level.

Still we did have one highlight, the amazingly awful half time entertainment! Now the weather on Friday evening was pretty shocking, the wind and rain swirled around Ashton Gate with an energy that our woeful team never came close to matching. The perfect conditions then for a portly middle aged gentlemen and his two underdressed assistants to wander on to the pitch, in order to confirm his status as "Britain's top Neil Diamond tribute act" The concept of a pecking order for tribute acts such as this is a strange one indeed.

The voluminous sparkly blue shirt and flowing (but thinning) hair where funny enough to observe in this wonderfully inclement weather, then when this entourage reached the centre circle, they turned to face us, just as the backing tapes kicked in. Sadly for them the P.A. is Ashton Gate has long history of being very low quality, so as our main man was frantically gesturing for the volume to be turned up, with the microphone well away from his mouth, it came as quite a shock to hear Mr Diamonds voice coming from the speakers high above our heads. Our poor friend in the middle realised that he had been rumbled, but quickly moved the mic so that he could lip-synch his way through the next five or six minutes of excruciating embarrassment.

So in effect what does the act of "Britain's top Neil Diamond tribute act" consist of? Well as far as I could make out it's a sparkly shirt and an American accent (he did speak to the bemused crowd on a couple of occasions). I hope he was well paid for his work, in a strange sort of way it was the most entertaining thing we saw all evening.

The film "Sideways" has received almost universal price from the critics, however I must admit that initially I did not warm to it. It had the makings of a generic "mismatched buddy" film with little new to say. Yet as the film developed the quality of the script and the performances to it to another level.

As for Elvis - well he was just fantastic, one of his best shows for years in Bristol.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

On Sunday evening we had a chance to enter the strange and mercurial world of Adam Green again. The last time we saw him was, oh yonks ago when he was in full Robin Hood outfit as one half of Mouldy Peaches, when they supported The Strokes at The Fleece.

This time he was headlining the same venue, under his own name. Although the place was not at the crush levels which were witnessed on the night of The Strokes gig a pretty healthy crowd turned up to see what he had in store for us. No costumes to report on this occasion, but the same dry sense of humour was well to fore, as he shimmied his way through a succession of hilariously pathetic "moves", whilst gently putting the people of Bristol in their place.

The music was simple and straightforward, ensuring that the full range of his very strange lyrics could be easily heard. In the main, the crowd loved in it, although one poor chap behind us was obviously distressed that Mr Green made a couple of mistakes regarding geographical references to this part of the world and was so manifestly un-"rock" as to be virtually cotton
wool. That is really the delight of the Adam Green live performance. You feel as though you could be watching some sort of camp, cabaret show from the 1950's a delightfully knowing and self assured performance, some of the songs aren't bad either.

Talking of music our friends Fuzz Against Junk have been added to the bill at forthcoming Tsunami benefit gigs in Bristol. Orynthia and I are actually going to be working as part of the production team for the event. We don't yet know exactly what they have planned for us, but we will be working as part of a small team from Thursday to Sunday trying to ensure that things run as smoothly as they can. Should be an interesting few days!

Less happy news is that The Metropol, the excellent venue in Bedminster which opened before Xmas has fallen foul of licensing laws and has been forced to cancel all upcoming gigs. Hopefully they will able to get the issues resolved, it's exactly the sort of place that Bristol needs.

I must also say how much I am loving the latest album from The Dears - No Cities left. It's just fantastic!

Books - Forgot to say that I finished Murakami's latest - "Kafka On The Shore" a couple of weeks ago. Thoroughly enjoyable, although not quite in the top echelon of his work. At the moment I have a couple of books on the go Francis Wheen's "How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The world" and Jonathan Franzens collection of essays from a few years ago "How To Be Alone". Both of them are great reads, Wheens free wheeling attack on superstition, greed and hypocrisy takes the moral and intellectual high ground from the start, launching into a variety of targets with gusto. Franzens is a slightly more
contemplative book as he ruminates of everything from the death of the American novel, to the state the postal service. They make a good pair, so I've been reading chapters from each book in turn.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Well, what a hectic week off that was.

Firstly we had a leisurely drive through mid and north Wales, for our visit to Snowdonia. The views became increasing more beautiful the further north we travelled. We had an overnight stay in a lovely, if slightly ramshackle B&B in Betws-Y - Coed, before driving around the mountains the next day.

The scenery was spectacular, heightened if anything by the amazing weather fluctuations. One minute rain, then fog, the next bright sunshine, then somehow all three at the same time - leading to bizarre changes in the views as we drove along the narrow and winding roads.

Wednesday saw us staying in Bristol for the day, zipping around in tourist style using our bus pass to hop on and off any bus which took our fancy.

Then on Thursday it was an early start in preparation for our flying visit to Belfast. Given the history of recent years, it's hardly surprising that Belfast has a strange feel to it. Whilst I'm sure huge strides have been made in the past 10 years, the centre of town it somewhat lacking in character. Although it has to be said that The Crown pub is absolutely fantastic, as is City Hall. We took a bus ride around the sights of Belfast which inevitably includes the Shankill and Falls Road area's. The level of division in those communities are still shocking, let's hope that the peace process can run it's full course and that people never have to live in conditions like that again. Some famous words from Johnny Rotten kept ringing through my head as drove round the more desolate parts of town "A cheap holiday in other peoples misery". Whilst things are looking up for the people at the moment it looks as though many of them still have a long way to go before they can live in a situation which most of us in the rest of the UK (or Ireland) would consider normal.

Everyone we spoke to was delightful, friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. I wish them all well for the future.

On Friday we spent our 18th wedding anniversary by having a rather decadent lunch in the luxurious surroundings of the Royal Hotel in Bristol. The meal cost twice as much as our trip to Belfast, it was a chance to put on our glad rags and live the high live for a few hours, and very nice it was too.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Originally uploaded by tomory.
A damp and misty day in Snowdonia.