alexsarll: (default)
Just over a week now since I got back from Prague; the now-traditional late anniversary trip which has taken us ever further afield, first Margate, then Bruges, and this year Mitteleuropa. The first time I've flown in getting on for a decade, too, and I still can't abide the ridiculous mixture of security theatre and profiteering which we still have to go through on account of one half-arsed terror scheme all those years ago.
In Berlin, which even more than Paris seems to have made too many concessions to the automobile, we almost wholly failed even to skirt the fringes of the city's famous nightlife. True, it can't have helped that we were there on weeknights in January, but mostly we tired ourselves out sufficiently doing the hits (museums, Wall fragments, the Brandenburg Gate) that evenings in with Lidl fizz were a welcome wind-down. The exception being the black light crazy golf, which was a truly consciousness-expanding experience (not something one often hears said of golf), even given we left the cocktails until after. And then, a train along the Elbe, all castles and crags. Well, I say that; first there were interminable plains which made East Anglia look fascinating, but I try to forget those. But then the romantic riverside, and then Prague itself, one of the very few cities which to me is a thing in itself rather than a monoculture ultimately traceable to a cutting from one London district. This was my third visit, and I hope it won't be my last, for each time there are new riches, or at least new riches to me - the Cubist cafe, the old Jewish cemetery and the Municipal Hall have all been standing since long before my first time there, way back in the nineties. There's a lot more English spoken now, which I put down to the stag parties and the Internet; also a lot more Thai massage places, which I'm pretty sure will just be the stag parties. But it's still Prague, still cheap by any standards other than the past's, still enchanted. And long may it remain so.

Since I returned, I've managed to be busy without being particularly social, in part because I was already booked elsewhere on the night of the month's big people-I-know-gig. Still, worth missing the odd show to see Daniel Kitson, who remains, well, Kitson - more comedic this time than sometimes, more play than storyteller, but still a law unto himself. Ditto Birdman, a film I like despite it being up for awards from the Academy, whose general cluelessness is finally beginning to become more widely apparent now they've snubbed The Lego Movie (I'm not saying they're the world figures most in need of hanging from lamp-posts, but I would like to see them on that list). Even at the Union Chapel, for my first Daylight Music of the season, I managed to miss many of the people I knew on account of it being unusually full of people I didn't. Who could have known that the mainstream draw they needed was Amelia Fletcher singing about chickens, Sarah Cracknell's new sixties-style side-project, and Darren Hayman doing William Morris?

There's still a ton of other stuff I should write up - most of Autumn and Winter is jotted in drafts somewhere - but let's post this now, at a sensible length, rather than strive eternally for something compressed and complete.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Had one of my occasional weekends at places outside the usual orbit - gay pop night Duckie on the Saturday, country at Come Down And Meet The Folks on Sunday. The former would be in my usual orbit if only it were as easy getting back from Vauxhall as it is getting down there; I can't recall the last time I went to a club and they didn't play a single dud song. The same cannot altogether be said of Come Down..., but they did adopt one innovation which would be welcome at other gigs: the opening acts do two songs each. Enough to whet the appetite, not enough to bore anyone. I've seen so many support acts who'd have benefitted from being restricted to that sort of teaser.
I did two numbers myself at Bingo Master's Breakout a couple of weeks back, covering GK Chesterton and Alphaville (and even my apophenia struggles to divine a common thread between those two). Ciccone were there as part of their comeback tour; one of the first bands I ever saw in London, quite by chance, long before I could know I'd end up knowing them, walking the other Parkland Walk with one of the core personnel. It all knits together, one way or another. The other show was at the Windmill, whose gents' is not exactly salubrious, but at least no longer reeks of piss. Likewise, returning to the Rhythm Factory for the first time in a decade or thereabouts, I was pleased to find it no longer full of bad drugs (even if they had been replaced by furries and steampunks; nowhere's perfect). These small tidyings-up, I can forgive; I'm not against all renovation, even all gentrification, but when a once-welcoming boozer like the Noble ends up looking like the departure lounge at a shit airport, something's awry. I try not to worry about London, knowing that every generation is convinced it lives at the end of an era - but sometimes, even knowing that, it's hard to resist.

What else? James Ward, formerly of this parish, seems to be attaining mild celebrity with his Adventures in Stationery; I went to the launch, where he was interviewed by fellow ex-LJ star Rhodri, and it ended up altogether too much fun for a Monday. John Watterson aka Fake Thackray is another for the list of tribute acts I've caught lately, though readier than most to play the hits, in so far as Jake Thackray had hits. The X-Wing habit is proving hard to kick, even if my results remain patchy. [livejournal.com profile] tigerpig returned to the other side of the world, her passing marked by events including a noise gig which, perhaps down to the occasion, managed to fit a surprising amount of feeling in amongst those dissonant frequencies. Albeit not quite so emotional a show as Martin Newell's Golden Afternoon; Gershwin's 'Summertime' is one of the first songs I remember, one of the first things to make me feel melancholy, long before I knew the word 'melancholy'. Combine that with Newell's natural affinity for the moment where summer's waving goodbye, turn it into a duet with Lorraine Bowen on that most poignant of days, Sunday...yes. Bless the mad old bastard.
alexsarll: (default)
It is, as has been widely observed, Spring. Markedly earlier than last year, albeit marred by the loss of several trees which always made my commute a little less of a chore (lost to developers' cupidity, too, rather than the storms). Though I did also get to see some of the more impressive consequences of the storms when I took a trip down to the margin of the English Riviera to see the Dawlish destruction (and peculiar retail complex Trago Mills, which was a scene of carnage in an existential rather than a weather-damage sense).

Back in London, I've been to a model railway show, which apart from its inherent delights (tiny trains!) was a real corrective to any idea that the crowd at the Geeks Inc Doctor Who and comics pub quizzes could be considered particularly male-heavy or poorly-socialised. I've learned that some pubs think a table booking is for a two-hour stretch (yes, that is 'pub', not 'prestigious restaurant'). I attended a late opening at the Wallace Collection and enjoyed the empty rooms more than the performances, especially when we found the armour you could try on. I've taken pointlessly precarious routes across the junction of the Limehouse Cut and Bow Creek, had the first ice creams of the season, marked Purim and encountered the usual run of new pubs, some to be cherished (the North Pole and its range of oddly appropriate ciders) and others less so.

Not very many gigs lately, and two of the ones there were were at Paper Dress, a thoroughly Hoxton boutique/venue hybrid which is a lot less annoying than that description would have guaranteed a few years back. Both Mikey Georgeson and the Soft Close-Ups did pretty well there, which I suppose indicates that they at least pay proper attention to sound &c, rather than treating the juxtaposition of functions as sufficient gimmick in itself. Would that all venues could say the same. The last time I went to Power Lunches, they were steadily running out of drinks through the evening, in the manner of shambolic venues everywhere. This time, they had a solution to that - don't have anyone serving (upstairs) until the first band takes to the stage (downstairs). And, just to make absolutely sure there's a rude cunt talking at the back of gigs at your venue, why not hire him as the sound engineer? Though even he had the sense to shut up during Quimper. As who wouldn't, because while they're lovely folk offstage, during the performance they seem to channel something altogether alien and unfriendly (this is a good thing, obviously). Next up was Pete Um, of whom I've heard much and by whom I've heard a little, but whom I've never seen live. This turns out to have been a major oversight. Somewhere, in a world where the story of pop begins with and is dominated by John Shuttleworth, punk sounded like this.
Had something of a disagreement with the minicab driver after; fortunately, weaponised posh accents won the day for the cause of justice. See, they're not just for destroying the structure of the nation.
alexsarll: (pangolin)
Very nearly went a whole calendar month without seeing any gigs there, which is most uncharacteristic. Just managed to avert that on January 31st, courtesy of Desperate Journalist at the Monarch, whose Friday nights were once Nuisance &c, and are now hip hop nights for tiny children in very few clothes. It was well Polanski. The next night, Joanne Joanne at the Dublin Castle, which has not changed, nor is it ever likely to; and since then, Gene covers at Nuisance and the newly-expanded Soft Close-Ups. Which is to say, I'm back in the swing. Earlier gigs I never got round to writing about include Dream Themes in Kiss make-up, the McDonalds (who are apparently not a novelty band), or Untitled Musical Project's drummer having some kind of meltdown at their comeback show. Alexander's Festival Hall have gone pleasingly 'el, and [livejournal.com profile] exliontamer's third band, Violet Hours, make the best musical use of 'The Waste Land' I've heard since the late nineties, when it was incorporated into one of the few bits of DJ mixing I've ever appreciated.
I've also been to more Daylight Musics than usual. Somewhat to my surprise, it really suited the Penny Orchids - when they're a little quieter, in a much bigger space, the nuances of the sound get much more room to affect, especially when [livejournal.com profile] hospitalsoup takes lead vocals for the first time I've seen in far too long. The festive Festivus show was also a joy but, as ever with Daylight Music, you don't half get some odd stuff turning up on the bills. When it's a man playing Philip Glass on the massive organ, that's a joy. But it might equally be someone like We Used To Make Things, a large band who are half brilliant (a suave brass section, a black Rosie the Riveter with an almost holy voice) and half terrible (four Mumfords, one played by Robert Webb, plus a singer who appears to be the horrible result of the realisation that Bobby Gillespie = Bee Gee).

Aside from gigs, there's been X-Wing and arm-wrestling, brunch and - most of all - Bruges. Which really is, as a wise man once observed, a fairytale fucking town. Some of its sillier museums (plus the one thing we wanted to see while changing trains in Brussels) were closed due to our visit being slightly too off-season, but we could still see the Belfort and the Bosch, canals and churches, the windmills and cormorants guarding the perimeter from the modern day. It's remarkable how it can be so mediaeval and yet still alive; you'll see a wall decorated with memorial medallions, assume they're all centuries-old, then look at the dates and realise that while some are, others come up to the 1990s. Yet still the continuity and style are maintained. In that sense it feels far less stuck in its own past than an ossified city-that-was such as Paris. I can also see exactly why they're filming Wolf Hall there; accordingly, it made for the perfect holiday read. But of all its strange and marvellous sights, the most remarkable must be the Michaelangelo sculpture. Not because it made its way outside Italy in his lifetime, but because it's a woman who actually looks like a woman. Madness.

Viewing: Anchorman 2 and Hobbit 2 are both much what you'd expect from their predecessors, and of course that works better for the former than the latter, which is still fundamentally a mess. There's simply too much happening, and too much of that jars with the original story even if it's ostensibly part of the same world. The abiding impression is of those stories which, in trying to make the most of a shared universe, instead simply draw attention to its cracks, and leave you wondering why Superman doesn't sort out all those non-powered crooks in Gotham. On the other hand, I also watched the first American Horror Story and while that's likewise wildly overstuffed with characters and incidents, the effect is much less queasy - simply because they were always conceived as parts of the same whole in the way the Necromancer and comedy dwarves so clearly weren't.
alexsarll: (crest)
Been playing Space Crusade again, after a gap of a couple of decades. Back then, I imagine people thought it would lose its appeal once I worked up the courage to talk to girls. More fool them.

Align is a tricky one to classify; not quite a play, nor a lecture. Call it a performance, it's probably as close as we'll get. Taking place, perfectly, mere yards from the actual Bridewell, it is a story of London's sacred geography which never gets too swivel-eyed, is far more 'wouldn't that be interesting?' than making foolhardy statements about what is or isn't true - and yet feels none the less mystical for all that. Rather than hang around afterwards, I feel driven to strike out along the Strand Ley about which we've just been hearing, and it's all delightfully numinous until I hit the smell of a freshers' event at the LSE. I doubt the bacchanals of our ancestors were any more fragrant, but I can edit that detail out of my daydreams.
Also tricky to classify: Neil Gaiman reading his new book Fortunately, The Milk, with Chris Riddell illustrating it live. Already a little multimedia, but then you have it being acted out and sung and generally turned into something quite its own creature through the assistance of TV Smith, Tom Robinson, Mitch Benn, Lenny Henry, Tori Amos' daughter, Andrew O'Neill, and Faith from 'Jimmy's End' (who is much less haunted when she's playing a pirate queen, so that's handy).

Lots of gigs by the people whose gigs I see a lot - to whose ranks the Soft Close-Ups were temporarily restored when [livejournal.com profile] augstone was briefly allowed back in the country. Neither show was quite as melancholy as the Sunday afternoon show a few months back, but still, when on a wet Wednesday night they played their adaptation of that Housman poem about death (tautology, I know), any plans I had for a straight edge gig crumbled. Good suppors at both shows, too - Parenthesisdotdotdot, aka Tim from Baxendale dressed as the chap from Dr Caligari, and Marcus Reeves, who is essentially my friend [livejournal.com profile] dr_shatterhand playing Marc Almond. At the latter show they also had me returning to the wheels of steel for the first time in some years. I always did prefer playing quieter sets. Read more... )

Other shows have been further from my usual orbit:
Martin Newell playing his annual show in a converted Colchester church in the shadow of the appropriately-named Jumbo water tower, bearing a curious resemblance to William Hartnell as a Teddy Boy pirate. He's a charmingly shambolic raconteur, an occasional ranter, and a mostly mediocre poet, but once he's singing, oh, the songs.
A violinist plays Bach in another church, this time right on the border of the City. I conclude that Bach may be the music to whose condition art is said to aspire.
A distinctly white trio, playing the hipster pub sat incongruously opposite the East London Mosque, play a nameless and heavily highlife-influenced jam. Against all odds, it works.
In a bar inexplicably decorated with biscuits stuck to bricks, a jazz band have one singer who thinks Seasick Steve is a role model rather than a terrible warning about the gullibility of authenticity bores. But the other singer sounds far more like Billie Holiday than any modern Briton has a right to.
(And because you can't win them all, there was also the act who appeared to be Jack Whitehall fronting Reef)
alexsarll: (default)
Just finished reading The Thin Veil of London, a book loosely concerning the great Arthur Machen, and a companion to a walk I went on a couple of Sundays back. Elements which could have felt like am-dram instead felt like they were genuinely ruffling the surface and some Thing might chance through at any moment, as we walked streets I'd never seen within ten minutes of where I've been working for two years. And Machen's grandson was there, now old enough to resemble the great man's jacket pictures. Truly an experience to treasure.
Other London adventures:
- Victoria Park, which I have passed but never entered, finally visited. Would be lovely if it didn't have so many wasps and men who think they're it.
- The Archway Tavern has now become a tiki bar, and not in the half-arsed manner one might expect - there's even an indoors water feature. Also tequila girls and bog trolls. They come with the venue. The night, being loosely glam, had attracted a bafflingly mixed crowd, including some full-on townies and what looked like US-style good old boys as well as the obvious. Most terrifying, though - one man who looked like a seventies TV presenter, and one girl wearing the classic 'sexy school uniform' look. In defiance of all laws of comedy, they didn't seem to know each other.
- I've never sat in Greenwich Park and not faced the view North before. Around the bandstand it feels like another park, less London, older. I like it.

Saw Menswear again on Friday; I say 'again', last time it was Johnny Dean and the Nuisance band, but a rose by any other name would smell as Britpop. When I wear a suit, I can even confuse other nineties indie celebrities into thinking I am him.

I was dimly aware Art Everywhere was coming, but it was very much background knowledge until I glanced at a billboard and thought, hang on, what the Hell are they trying to sell with John Martin's fire and brimstone? And they weren't; it was just saying 'Hey, look at John Martin! Isn't he good?' Second one was Samuel Palmer. I don't go to a lot of single-artist exhibitions, but I've been to see both of them. Approved.

War of the Waleses is, by its dramaturge's own admission, 'sillier and nastier' in its current version that first time out. I can see how the shorter version, with fewer actors, is much better suited to the practicalities of Fringe life, and making any play crueller about Princess Di is fine by me (the new line about her "simpering sedition" absolutely nails it), but I miss some of the Shakespeare resonances lost - especially when it comes to John Major and the vanished John Smith. The comparison of the two takes set me thinking - Major was our Yeltsin, wasn't he? By which I mean, a very long way from perfect, and you can entirely understand the pisstaking at the time, but it was a brief glimpse of doing things a slightly different way before the ancien regime reasserted itself, more dickish than before in so far as that dickishness was veiled around with a new insincerity.

I'm up to the end of Breaking Bad's third season, whose pacing and tone seemed a little off - too often the show overegged the comedy, before slipping into mawkishness when it pulled back from that. Too much old ground was re-covered in the tension between the leads. And then I saw an interview with Bryan Cranston where he claimed that other TV shows were about familiarity, about seeing the same character each week, and nobody on TV has ever changed like Walter White. And I thought, no. Absolutely take your point about most network crap, and even some very good shows, but never say never. Because Babylon 5 had Londo and G'kar, and they changed like nobody's business. So this nudged me back towards my paused rewatch of B5's second season, and I realised, it wasn't just the general principle of a character who changes: Walter is Londo. He's a proud man, feeling his time has passed, staring the end in the face. So he makes a deal with the devil and at first he's thrilled by the power, before realising that he has become something he hates, and there's no way to get off the ride. He even has a conflicted relationship with a younger sidekick possessed of a certain inherent haplessness!
Other television: Justified got a fair few articles this time around about how it deserved more attention, which is more attention that it used to get, but still not as much as it deserves. I'm intrigued by the way other characters were built up this time out, especially among the Marshals - it could almost survive without Timothy Olyphant, I think, not that I'm in any hurry to see it try. The Revenants was good, even if it did cop out a little by going to a second series WHICH HAD BETTER BLOODY ANSWER EVERYTHING. Speaking of cops, French police uniforms suck. I did love how unashamedly Gallic it was in scattering sexy superpowers around the populace. And BBC4 continues to brutally beat down every traitor who ever dissed the holy BBC. Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Burton and Taylor was a suitably meta final outing for their big dramas; just as Cleopatra marked the end of Hollywood's grand era, so this brought down the curtain on BBC4's days of riches (at least, until I rule the world, when the accumulated wealth of the entire Murdoch mob - and the proceeds from sale of their organs - will all go to bolster the licence fee). But they still have their documentaries, the sort of shows other factual broadcasters pretend they're going to make, before wheeling out a load of gimmicky recreations, recaps and silly music. Consider the recent show about Ludwig II of Bavaria; I'm by no means unfamiliar with him, but there was so much here I didn't know. His grand castle Neuschwanstein is the basis for the Disney castle - but I had no idea it was itself a theme park, with modern architecture and engineering hidden behind the scenes, council chambers which were never used - essentially a private playpen. All this was the work of a constitutional monarch conscious modelling his private realm on absolute monarchies - yet at the end they talk to young citizens of Bavaria who acclaim him as too modern for his time. Most broadcasters would be unable to resist a honking noise then, a reminder of the mistake, but BBC4 trusts us to make our own connections.
alexsarll: (default)
A few weeks back, Livejournal stirred into something approaching life, and in the manner of the old days there was A Meme. About what people were up to a year ago, five years, ten. And the nostalgia of it all...well, people sometimes forget that the '-algia' in there is pain. That was an apt precursor to The World's End. Shaun of the Dead was already a film about the pain of growing up, so stack the best part of another decade on top of that, then go see it with some approximation of the old gang, and even a film assembling this much comic talent (and there are plenty of laughs) is going to feel like a twisted knife in places. I can't recall such a bittersweet comedy which is still so successful qua comedy since Withnail. Part of the power is in the way it dodges polemic: yes, refusing to grow up is seen as a sad and sorry way to live, but so is growing up. In so far as there's any kind of answer, it's the knowingly grand and ridiculous grab for another, impossible option which reminds me of the Indelicates' 'Dovahkiin'. It's not just a self-regarding elegy, mind - it also has lots to say about how the new cinema ideal of bromance is no more realistic or healthy than the Hollywood take on romance. Which is obviously no less saddening. I'm going to miss the Cornetto Trilogy, not mollified by their being in part films about missing the films you grew up on.
Also seen at the cinema (on the same day, which I don't believe I've ever done before - it does the trailers no favours): Pacific Rim, in which Guillermo del Toro has giant robots punch monsters, and vice versa, in a delightfully solid way which always feels like a Guillermo del Toro film, until the humans start interacting with each other when his normal sureness of touch deserts him, and even normally dependable actors fall oddly flat (one excellent and un-publicised cameo aside). And not at the cinema, but on the same day as its cinematic release, A Field in England. Which I applaud, even while thinking that a little more forethought about the casting might have made it more instantly convincing as the psychedelic horror it wants to be, rather than the oddball comedy as which it inadvertently opens.

More nostalgia: the Buffy-themed bash at the GNRT. Even more so, back to the Woodbine for the first time in a while, and the last time was itself the first time in a while too. As if to emphasise how long it is since that was a regular haunt, there's foliage growing into the Gents' and a wine called Tempus. Subtle symbolism there, Life. Still, there have been times of living too. Celebrating the Solstice atop Primrose Hill, and walking back from Mr B and the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra along the dusky Parkland Walk, eternal moments when the level of drunk and the setting are exactly as they should be and one feels no longer apart from the world but in contact with the infinite and suffused with joy and peace. Took [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue to Devon and, in the five years or so my parents have been there, this was the first time I swam in the sea, as against paddling, because for once I'd timed it right weatherwise. And we found a dragon skull on the beach. Then to lovely little Sherborne, and up Dancing Hill, which is in fact rather steep for dancing but I guess satyrs are nimble. Back in London, we were greeted by St Paul's and it's blue trees as a reminder that, lovely as holidays can be, this is the place to be. Though we did then go see Eddie Argos in an Edinburgh show about holidays, which might have made more sense before rather than after our own. Still lovely, mind.
(Other Edinburgh previews seen: Henry Paker, being powerfully bald, and Jeff Goldblum and his prawn (aka Ben Partridge). Not seen near so many this year as the last couple)

Wrapping up, since who knows when I'll get round to posting again: having chance to dance to Pink for the first time since Don't Stop Moving stopped moving, and 'Elephant Elephant' for the first time full stop, was a delight; I like the view from Telegraph Hill, though not the walk there in the sun (and it should have kept the old name, Plowed Garlic Hill); and I love how in a European city the Holy Thorn Reliquary would be in the cathedral, what with having part of Jesus' crown of thorns inside, but in London we just stick it in a back room of the museum, because we basically have the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark but let tourists wander around it 'cos we're cool like that.

*I've seen the Indelicates and Keith Totp (&c) twice since I last posted, and the Indelicates don't even play London that often anymore. Even seen the very seldom-sighted Quimper, who are coming into their own with the new live set-up, all disturbing projections and shadowed lurking. Also Desperate Journalist, who already had a good soundscape going, but are a lot more compelling now [livejournal.com profile] exliontamer has started really going for it on stage. And Mikey Georgeson aka Vessel aka Mr Solo, formerly a frequent fixture (and I think probably still the performer I've seen live the most times) for the first time in a year or so. He was, of course, excellent - the new tracks as good as ever, in particular 'I See What You Did There' and the waltz which sounds like imperial phase Bowie working with Tom Waits.
alexsarll: (bernard)
First weekend of June was very much the first big weekend of the summer. Started early by playing to stereotypical associations of 'Japan', packing out [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue's local sushi place and all being a bit disturbing. Saturday was her official birthday, in Highgate Woods, with a pinata who died too easy. I the interests of keeping the jovial violence going, wrestling ensued, as a result of which I am still nursing a slightly stiff ankle I SAID ANKLE. In between - Nuisance with JOHNNY RUDDY DEAN FROM MENSWEAR fronting the house band for a set of Bowie covers - and, inevitably, an encore of his own material. All of it excellent, except perhaps the rather idiosyncratic choice of 'Crash' among the latter. The final track was a version of 'All the Young Dudes', which also featured Jaime from Marion and the word 'YOLO'. A perfect fusion of seventies, nineties and 2010s, right?
On the Sunday, my Cthulhuson was most impressed by all the diggers and forklifts clearing up after the Stone Roses clusterfucked Finsbury Park. I can't say I was quite so fascinated, but it was certainly more appealing that watching a tuneless homophobe and three hypocrites massacre songs that used to be quite good.

The week after that had little to report here - certainly not our ignominious placing in the Doctor Who pub quiz, which wasn't even the only Whocentric socialising that week, not that I am a geek or anything. Then a quieter weekend, off to deepest Middlesex to see where [livejournal.com profile] wardytron lives now he's allegedly a grown-up. Say what you like about the suburbs, and I do, but I will always be likely to approve of any party with a friendly dog. Then home via another party, with me refusing vodka on the train - not because I hold to the laws on that, or had suddenly turned abstemious, but simply because it tasted like Malibu. Ick.

Made my first visit to Finsbury Park's new theatre last night. They've had various exciting new dramatists' stuff already, so obviously I went for the classic - School for Scandal. I've never seen any Sheridan before, and I'm still not entirely convinced that watching Sheridan is as good as reading Cabell's chapter about Sheridan as epitome of the "glorious mountebank" in Beyond Life, but the sheer wit and deviousness and moral vacancy of the whole affair was a delight. Could perhaps have done with spending more time on choreographing the key farce scene, though, and less on the musical interludes they'd added.
alexsarll: (default)
Feels like life has been fairly quiet of late, (except when it hasn't, of course - Hyde Park picnics, Leyton pubs that are at least decently apologetic about hating my people, SE14's answer to the Shaftesbury). But in early summer, especially this year as it's still picking up from the tardy spring, I don't mind that. The evenings are still simply beautiful, without that complex melancholy they acquire later on - though it would help if I had the park for them, when instead it's being turned into some sort of prison camp for Madchester arseholes (sorry, tautology, I know). Still, I've had my chances to go a-roaming - up trees, over banks, through hedges and across a Heath resplendent with buttercups like I've never seen. Even got to share a tree with a jay at one point - a much better companion than parakeets, who may be beautiful, but in prolonged proximity are no better than the sort of person who wears Beats By Dre headspeakers. Guessed a stranger's dog's name, too - though given my guess was Slobberchops, based on obvious physical features, I don't think that's much proof of psychic potential.

Been watching a lot of adventure series lately - The Avengers, Brisco County Jr, Adventure Time - and hardly any films. One exception: Night of the Eagle, which as the name suggests is close kin to the MR James adaptation Night of the Demon. Peter Wyngarde - excellent value as ever - plays a sixties Richard Dawkins who discovers his wife's a closet witch and makes her burn her "protections", after which their lives go about as smoothly as you'd expect. There are loose plot threads all over the place and it doesn't even seem quite sure whether magic works or not in its world, but it's thoroughly eerie nonetheless. Spartacus ended for good, and Doctor Who for now; the former was the downer it was always going to be, the latter much better than I'd dared expect, though it may have helped that I had the contrast of having just finished the rambling Reign of Terror, the first full Hartnell I've attempted in a decade or more.

And then after 'The Name of the Doctor' there was Eurovision, in which as ever the worthy victor was robbed - this time it was Romania (or rather Romoania) with the gay dubstep vampire. We left after that and Bonnie Tyler to see The French Electric live down the road, sounding like the National before they went boring, covering songs from Dare! and getting away with it. They were followed by a tragic act who could have sounded like Mazzy Star or Lana del Rey if only the drums had been turned down (or preferably off), which was my cue to depart. Thee Faction and Joanne Joanne at the Buffalo Bar were excellent, same as last time they played there together, and once again I drank entirely too much. Possibly because I'd realised that, if they're a genderswapped Duran Duran and Keith and I had been hanging with them in the pub earlier, that made us genderswapped 'Girls on Film' video babes. I should possibly be seeing them again tonight, but outside was calling, and I'm still in a certain amount of gig-shock after seeing the Art Brut birthday gig on what they weren't allowed to call the Glass Ceiling Tour. Ten years! They've learned a lot in that time, though. And the Scala...I'd forgotten how much I liked that venue. I'd forgotten how much I like the rare big gig - and it turns out they do still exist - where the crowd Get It. And the support slot from Keith et al wasn't bad either - I think the best show I've seen them do since the Devant support with the spiralling, near-infinite 'One Thing After Another'. They're a big band, a big stage suits them.

Anyway, my dears, I think I need another cup of decaf tea before Justified. It's a rock'n'roll life and no mistake.
alexsarll: (default)
Had a couple of weddings last month, out of London to varying degrees - one in a home counties barn, the other in Compton Verney, which is not the most accessible location but does mean you can have a reception surrounded by Cranachs, Holbeins and a coral nativity diorama which some enterprising Neapolitan crafted centuries back, and climb atop a bloody big rock if you need a break from the band. I'd decided to go straight from there to Devon the next day, simply because going back into and then out of London again appalled my sense of progress. This might have been a false time-economy, but the resulting vaguely diagonal journey did take me in a reasonably straight line across large swathes of the country I don't often see - a real 'How fares England? sort of journey. And despite what one might fear, every train involved was punctual bar one which was deeply apologetic over being a minute behind schedule. Inevitably, by the time I got to the seaside the warm spell had passed, so it was all sea mist and chopping up telegraph poles and being disappointed when local country acts didn't emphasise the side of their oeuvre which most appealed to me (the unspeakable bastards).

Other exotic locales I've visited include Walthamstow Village, where I attempted to convince people even less conversant with the area than myself that model butterflies were simply the giant fauna of Zone 3, and Peckham Rye, which seems to have a higher concentration of brilliant dogs than anywhere else in London (also a boy trapped in a tent, which is always good entertainment). And, as the year has made its stuttering advance into Spring, the Edinburgh previews have begun: I've already seen Thom Tuck (excellent as ever, even in the very early stages), Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe and, as a late sub for Ben Target, Matthew Highton - who looks like Frank Quitely drew him and tells stories (perhaps not wholly true) of a life Peter Milligan could easily have conceived.

Not a great deal of clubbing lately - though Poptimism did offer a chance to dance to 'Only Losers Take The Bus', so what more does one need? - and my pub quizzing, if successful, has been sparse. But there have, as ever, been gigs. The Bull and Gate is no more, because apparently Kentish Town needs another damn gastropub, so Keith TotP et al played a send-off - the first time in a while that I've seen the Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band on a stage large enough to contain them. In support, Dom Green's latest band, with a very apt set formed by pulling together songs from all the bands he'd been in before that had played there - and yet ending with a new one which may be the best thing he's ever written (but then, I was always a sucker for epics about London). Rebekah Delgado, supporting a bunch of steampunk tits at a rock pub, then off to Shenanigans. The Indelicates, still the best band of the moment, ever more romantic and ever more doomed. But I think my favourite overall event was the Soft Close-Ups show which was the only reason [livejournal.com profile] augstone was allowed back over to visit us. They've always been a fairly melancholy band, but with the immigration-based reminder of how fleeting things can be, and a Housman poem set to music, this outing was especially mis. And yet, gorgeous. [livejournal.com profile] icecoldinalex supported and, for a note of bathos, the venue was decorated in vintage soft p0rn. The sort of inexplicable afternoon which comes along too seldom.

The current series of Who has for the most part continued on its profoundly underwhelming course, with a revival of hopes occasioned by 'Hide', 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS' and Gatiss' campathon undermined by last night's inexplicably middling Gaiman effort, but between Bluestone 42, It's Kevin and Parks and Rec's second season, there has at least been plenty of good comedy on the box, and these are surely times in which we need cheering up, so thank heavens for that. I've barely seen any films of late: Iron Man 3 at the cinema, which was a joy; Skyfall and Terror by Night on DVD, which were a little less so. I just can't quite buy Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, he's far too socially adroit - even clubbable.

When this goes up, I'll still have more than a year's worth of posts on one page, where once a page would have not been sufficient for some months. And yet, we persevere, in some limping fashion.
alexsarll: (crest)
Last time I posted here, I wasn't really aware of the comedian and Being Human star Colin Hoult. Since then, I've beaten him at a comics-themed pub quiz, where he was teamed with Stewart Lee (of whom I am very much aware), and seen him play the romantic lead in a musical also featuring Thom Tuck, Kevin Eldon and [livejournal.com profile] catbo (ditto). So well done Colin Hoult for effectively increasing awareness of your work among the key [livejournal.com profile] barrysarll demographic. Because I was watching Kevin Eldon narrate [livejournal.com profile] martylog's adaptation of ETA Hoffman's "last and worst" book, I had to iPlayer the first episode of his deeply uneven sketch show, and then further wonder why it was scheduled against another BBC show clearly appealing to much the same audience, the excellent zombie rehab drama In the Flesh, which has been by some distance the best thing on TV recently. And Bluestone 42's not bad either - between the two of them, they're in danger of giving BBC3 a good reputation. Doctor Who, on the other hand...well, I went in to the mid-season whatever you call 'The Bells of St John' with low expectations after Moffat's last two episodes, and it was at least better than I expected, but I still can't decide whether it was actually any good.

In less grand gig news, not taking place in hidden Hoxton music halls, I've caught up with Bevan 17 successor entity Desperate Journalist, who have a very Banshees sound, and otherwise mainly seen former members of Luxembourg. 60% of them were playing 'Mishandled' and 'The 2 of Us' at a Suede tribute night in the Boogaloo, which was spine-tingling, and another 20% was taking pictures. I asked if he'd fancied joining in, but he insisted that it would only dent the chances of a big money reunion a few years down the line. And then the final 20%, Jonny Cola, was playing his first gig in a while, but given he's now down two of his old kidneys and up one of his fiancee's, maybe it was more like 19%? It's like a glam rock Ship of Theseus. Anyway, they were all better than hearing an oompah band covering Coldplay in a venue devoted to the consumption of beer and wurst, followed by a trip to Covent Garden's Roadhouse, a club where I suspect rohypnol and Red Bull is the house cocktail. A shame, as that day had previously been going pretty well, if you count loud discussions of dogging and Ulysses in a riverside pub as a good afternoon, which clearly I do.

Other than that? Photo exhibition launches, book launches, the general whirl of media scumbaggery. Waiting for the Spring to finally arrive, like everyone. Watching Yahoo Serious' Mr Accident (it's no Young Einstein). Being astonished that an unremarkable Earl's Court pub can charge £4.55 for a pint. Hoping that the Leisure Hive does well, because clubs like that make me feel a little less old. Writing this at a gallop because if I dither now it'll take another fortnight.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Last weekend, I got the equivalent of one of those experiences where people who baffle me go into a sauna (bad enough in itself), then run out into the snow. Saturday night: the first big gig I've been too in a year or more, Crystal Castles. Who at least have an audience smaller than those at the last big gig I went to, Magazine - they mostly appeared to be tiny children with brightly-coloured hair or Siouxsie Sioux eye make-up, which makes for an adorable agglomerate. Brixton Academy remains a great venue, despite the management's best efforts, and Crystal Castles continue to be one of the few modern electronic bands who really impress me, on account of having a bit of Digital Hardcore somewhere in their make-up - that old idea of a song at once physically painful and catchy. Plus, all the lightshow one generally only sees at gigs which are supposed to be A Bit Much in films. In short: delicious overstimulation. And then, on Sunday, Boring, a day of talks devoted to the mundane. Obviously the idea is that considered in enough detail, the most superficially tedious things can reveal fascination - or terror, in the case of ASMR, a subculture of which I was happily unaware before [livejournal.com profile] rhodri's talk.
Conclusion: they were both lots of fun. But I still have no intention of rushing out of a sauna into the snow, thanks all the same.

Otherwise: went for a wander with Paynter and found various odd little London delights along our way, all of which were supposed to be closed but, because it was one of those evenings, weren't. Such as a Soho gallery full of clocks become castles, and mutant taxidermy. Or an enormous free tire slide plonked in Leicester Square as promotion for a film where Wolverine plays the Easter Bunny. Finally managed to beat Charlie Higson and David Arnold at the pub quiz - but on a week where they weren't on form, so as to still only make third. Perhaps we shouldn't have named ourselves after a supervillain team, given their success rate? Saw the Pre-Raphaelite and Turner Prize exhibitions, each containing some good stuff alongside a great deal of embarrassing filler, though obviously the dead guys' ratio was a bit better. Went to another gig, at more my usual level, where Joanne Joanne were again delightful (they've started to incorporate songs from the cocaine soul years now), and Shrag played their song very well. Went on a Tubewalk, and discovered that in Lambeth it's easier to find leopard pigs than a bearable pub; the first was playing the sort of jazz that gives jazz a bad name, the second too full and too gastro for words (and had signs urging us to 'follow our banter online'), and the third was set on closing half of its floorspace for no apparent reason. And they wonder why people prefer to drink at home now.

The Guard is a black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson, a man whose face is so expressive that I could happily watch a film of him doing his weekly shop. It somehow comes across as low key in spite of all the swearing and violence - much like In Bruges, which also stars him and whose director is The Guard's director's brother. Also like In Bruges, the rest of the cast is packed with great actors - Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong as a particularly philosophical drug dealer, Don Cheadle as the FBI agent out of water in rural Ireland. Strangely moving, unlike How to Steal a Million, which I'd seen years ago and which is still as gorgeously empty as prime Wodehouse, a beautiful insubstantial rainbow which would evaporate without Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn anchoring it by sheer charm. Both are of course vastly better than Prometheus, two hours of sound and fury signifying nothing but the bleeding obvious. But then, I've already discussed that on Facebook, haven't I? The same place we all now tend to put anything pithy, anything intended to get a mass response. The latest wave of spambots has taken me back to a few old entries on here, just to delete their spoor, and I'm amazed each time by what a busy poster I was. So young, too - there's a spot of anti-RTD hysteria in one of the entries I saw which makes me sound about 12. Even some of the longer, more considered content isn't here anymore - my book reviews are on Goodreads now. And yet, this is kept going, in part simply because it has been kept going, and so it would seem crazy to abandon it now - a very London attitude, beyond which, I never did like lines drawn under the past. And I suppose now, unlike February, June, July and October 2012, I've made it at least one more month with more than a single post. Livejournal Abides.
alexsarll: (Default)
Once again, I've failed to post anything here in approximately forever. First of all there's not enough for a post, and then there's too much but not enough for two, and so on and let's just bloody write something, eh? So:
I went on a walk around London locations from The Prisoner. Walking down the corridor from the credits was quite an experience, though I can exclusively reveal that the reason he looks so disgusted, and perhaps for the resignation itself, is the overpowering smell of urine. Some of the rest was a bit niche for me, and that was aside from the brief detour into the inevitably schismatic politics of UK Prisoner fandom.
I went on another walk across the Heath, and then down for a pint. And another pint. And a couple more, and half a bottle of wine. But it started with a walk, and thus it was a very healthy day, right?
I found out where Hither Green is (seriously, I hadn't even known compass points a few months back), and that not every 'Something Cottage' in London is bullshitting with the name.
Outnumbered, I was part of a quiz team up against a celebrity all-star line-up of Caitlin Moran, Charlie Higson, David Arnold and friends. And we almost beat them, holding it to the second tie-break. A brave effort, if I do say so myself.
I saw a play about a haunted sock in my normal comedy venue of choice, and a dozen or more acts on one evening's bill elsewhere. In the latter instance, I was there for Rich Hurley, who was as full of hate - and as funny - as I'd have expected from my first meeting with the splenetic bastard, more years ago than I care to put in writing.
I've had some quiet weekends, but also managed some clubbing - Nuisance twice, new boy Some Weird Sin, Black Plastic, [livejournal.com profile] retro_geek's glam night in the implausible Cakey Muto.
I went to an alliterative gig, featuring Mikey aka Mr Solo and the Melting Ice Caps and Alexander's Festival Hall (who don't begin with M, but now sound like the Monochrome Set, so that's OK) at the Monarch, except it was the Madness for the night because it was hosting an album playback.
Best of all, though, Rebekah Delgado's album launch at Bush Hall. Which is the perfect setting for the Drugstore-y, Mazzy Star-like, late-night music she makes, all ballroom grandeur - but better still than the gig was being on the balcony early on and seeing [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue sweep across in her grand new winter coat and getting one of those moments of yes, this life is a film, and sometimes it's a bloody good one. And rather than just throwing some other friendly acts on the bill there was a guitarist as we filtered in, and an acrobat, and human puppets, and the whole evening felt like a Moment. Even if I did miss much of the main support because I was talking to Art Brut about dogs in the bar, he had something too - a young man, but with an old man's voice and suit, like he'd just regenerated. Name of Tom Hickox, and deserves to go far.
alexsarll: (Default)
Went to 333 last night for the first time since it was still vaguely cool. It's a lot better now it isn't, although there were still residual traces of venue-that-thinks-they're-it cluelessness. The ground floor has become essentially a normal pub called the London Apprentice, to the extent that I was wandering baffled around the frontage looking for where the venue entrance had gone to hide, and had to be assisted by one of the Ethical Debating Society (who are much tighter these days, though seemed surprised to hear it). Then there was another band who had a keytar in their favour but not much else, before The Murder Act who were looking very striking and sounding more so, somewhere between Gallon Drunk and One More Grain. After which we pissed off to drink cans in the street because we are that cool. Q and I, both having recently been touched for funds by our alma mater, got a picture complete with cap in hand, which we may or may not send them by way of explaining our refusal.

Other gigs seen since I last posted about gigs seen:
[livejournal.com profile] augstone in acoustic troubadour mode on Upper Street, on the day when Upper Street was haunted by a most unpleasant smell. No connection, I should add. At least, not so far as I'm aware.
Brontosaurus Chorus Dom's new band, who were a bit loud for the 12 Bar, supporting Rebekah Delgado and her sexy weeping angels.
The Gonzo Dog-Do Bar Band, whose Bonzos tribute bafflingly omitted 'Sport (The Odd Boy)' in spite of the show coming right before the Olympics. Still, they finished with a damn fine 'Mr Apollo', and generally did justice to songs which can easily lose the appropriate strangeness. [livejournal.com profile] martylog's Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra supported, with a very eerie new song about allotments the high-point.
The Thlyds - or rather a tribute - in a show which can be heard here. If The Thlyds did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them - a voice for disaffected young Britain which, crucially, isn't the risible Plan B. 'Let's Have A Riot' at the Olympics fell a little flat, what with us doomsayers having been proven wrong for once - but the rest was brilliantly sneering.
Gyratory System, in the perfect venue of the Social, which is to say a fashionable breeze block. They sounded - or more than sounded, felt - like a burning robot factory - but with a groove.
Thee Faction, incendiary in another sense of the word, and Joanne Joanne, an all-female tribute to...you can work it out. But only the early stuff. More punk than Rhodes, Taylor and le Bon ever sounded on record, but that works.
Keith ToTP and Dream Themes. I've written about them both plenty on here before. Whatever it is they have, they've still got it.
alexsarll: (crest)
So. Last night I saw Hugh Grant and Newsnight's Michael Crick at close range. The former does a proper Clark Kent act when not in public, such that you initially think 'That guy would look like Hugh Grant if he didn't have those rubbish glassesOMGIT'SHUGHBLOODYGRANT!' In other words, Lois Lane is still a bit of a dolt for taking so long to catch on. Michael Crick, on the other hand, looks exactly like Michael Crick. And I saw them because I was at the Labour History Group, where floor-crossing MP Shaun Woodward, veteran journalist Peter Kellner, and a man named Neil who confusingly used to mind Neil Kinnock, were talking about the 1992 election, and why John Major surprised everyone by winning it. Turns out the whole idea about Kinnock's unelectability is an after-the-fact myth, certainly not matching with what was believed within the Tories at the time, or the polls then - even if some of the life-long Labour members still thought, with hindsight, that it was at least in part a fair assessment. Instead, it was specific tactical mis-steps which undid Labour, particular moments of luck which boosted the Conservatives. And the feelings towards John Smith were, to put it mildly, not as nostalgic as I'd expected. But apart from the Hugh Hefner-like image of Robin Cook in his dressing gown on a train (because I've suffered it, so now you must all suffer it too), the main thing with which I came away was the general consensus that both Kinnock and Major were fundamentally decent men, who had a good deal of respect for each other. How alien and long-ago does that sound now?
This talk was, of course, by way of a 20th anniversary post-mortem, but was nonetheless handy in its proximity to [livejournal.com profile] perfectlyvague's rather good War of the Waleses, Which was officially summarised as "KDC's modern take on a Shakespearean history", though I would describe it more as a Shakespearean take on modern history. Not least in resisting the temptation to do recent politics as an impressions show* (sorry, Michael Sheen, but it has got tiresome). So 1992-7 is held up to the light and rotated, different facets seen - 'Honest John' Major becomes a tragic hero, Diana (not even blonde, but still perfect) recalls Oedipus at Colonus as she feels her mere humanity falling away, and the press magnate declaims and schemes with the earthy evil one expects of the classic malcontent. Not every character can be reinvented, of course - the horror of Blair is still too fresh for him to be played as anything but the loathsome shill he always was. If I go and see friends in plays, then it's because they're talented friends, yet still I don't expect to come away thinking more than 'that was promising, and scenes X and Y, or character Z, was very good'. But this, this was something properly special.

Otherwise: two front-room Edinburgh previews, Who is Nish Kumar? and Stu Goldsmith: Prick. Both good, but the latter more to my taste, not least because I was the audience target for the section on men's misconceptions about lesbians. The return of Black Plastic, now in a Dalston club which if it only had some dry ice would look like the nightspot from an eighties film, and which would seemingly rather you take in a 9/11 Truther sticker than chewing gum. The Melting Ice Caps back to the solo setting which suits David's songs best, and a new White Stripes-style live line-up for Philip Jeays. Plus shadow puppets from another act I suspect I wouldn't find terribly interesting without the shadow puppets.

*There was a Camilla Parker-Bowles lookalike, but she was only in the audience, so that's OK. Well, except maybe for her.
alexsarll: (Default)
Most of the people I know in bands appear to be off in the Midlands this weekend. So what better time to be nice about them online, when I will feel less like I'm sucking up? Yes, I am totally brilliant at logic, why do you ask? In no particular order:
[livejournal.com profile] steve586's new project aka Ladies & Gentlemen aka Steven Dogs In The Wild, who get points just for knowing certain members of the audience might be 'pedantic about Greek myths' and are influenced principally by Scott Walker when he was good. They are able to overcome even the fact of making their debut in a shamelessly greenwashed venue whose eco-cred seems to consist of predictions about car use in 2010 still collaged to the walls, a chandelier made of 'recycled' (by which they mean full) biros, and flogging Strongbow for £3.50 a can.
Jonny Cola & the A-Grades, playing the much more pleasing (but equally new to me) Black Heart in Camden (which I would definitely recommend next time someone asks me for venue ideas). Somewhere along the way, they appear to have become a proper band. They are also part of a theme where bands have supports who, if not good, are at least on the same wavelength as them. Here it's Thee Orphans, some of whom used to be the glorious These Animal Men, but who now sound like Slade without the songs.
Similarly with the lovely, bruised-but-unbowed slow anthems of Rebekah Delgado at the Lexington. The late-night-whiskey sound of Madam makes for a perfectly matched support, and while the third act is not to my taste (one Regina Spektor is enough for me, thanks), if she is going to find an audience then it will likely be among fans of Delgado and Madam.
The bands playing at Flabby Dagger in Dalston are none of them my thing. In fact, they're all making a bloody racket. And yet, they make complementary rackets, and rackets which do somehow fit with the excellent fare the DJs are mostly playing, everything from 'Ring My Bell' to the Dead Kennedys.
And then, of course, you have the exception, the more common London gigging experience. Quimper are playing a night which is running a week late, thus clashing with the comeback show by the New Royal Family. Apparently this was because the promoter told the headliners the 31st. It's unclear whether this referred to the headliners who don't show up, or the ones who have a Keith TotP-style revolving line-up and lack of rehearsals, and as such could presumably have done the 24th just as well. Fortunately, in spite of the thrown-together situation, Quimper's electronic poems of malice win converts, so the experience wasn't a total fiasco.

Otherwise: I've visited the new look King's Cross, and wished that all temples to consumerism could at least be this pretty. There's a station bookshop called Watermark, part of an American/Australian chain who seem to be aiming higher than those grisly WH Smith outlets which stations normally use. There's the Parcel Yard, which we decided could be London's biggest pub, though its labyrinthine structure makes it difficult to be sure.
I've been on a psychogeographical odyssey (and not, as one friend on whom I cancelled had thought, a pub crawl) in Shooter's Hill, where the palace of the moon goddess rises amidst sunny suburban streets straight out of a Ladybird book, in that strange patchwork land where London flickers out at the edges.
I've danced to girl pop in Stokey, and remembered how much I've missed pop in clubs, and got excited to have a new night about which to get excited for the first time in ages.
Life's pretty good.
alexsarll: (Default)
Almost managed two posts in a week again there, then instead decided to wait, consider, compress. Who knows why? Once things like the Spring view over the East juxtaposed with a spot of tabletop WAR, then White Russians the next evening, would have sufficed for a paragraph's worth of pondering, if not a post's. What remains? The Avengers, for one. Not the film - though it is currently monopolising my forthcoming cinema excitement reserves - but the old series which has necessitated its UK renaming, and by that I do mean the *old* series. I'd never seen anything before the episodes with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel before, and Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale feels, for the most part, like her prototype. What's more surprising is the other elements - the plots which are more conventional espionage, even at times faintly CSI, as against the ludicrous carnival of British eccentricity which comes later. In particular, three of the episodes we watched had an obsession with missiles which made the whole thing more Cold War, less Kinks. The one exception, the one which felt like classic Avengers, was 'Intercrime' by Doctor Who mainstays Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke. But even there the quips don't quite work, Steed feels a little too much the secret agent rather than the perfect gentleman, and so forth. They're not bad shows, certainly not by the standards of the time (and I'd still take them over most current investigative TV) - they're just not yet The Avengers.

Underworld was the first Doctor Who story to be shown in my lifetime. And blow me, special effects have improved a lot during that time. There was sod all money available to film it, but whereas the new series approaches that by constructing ingenious plays in lifts like 'Midnight', or just effects-light, small-cast affairs, Underworld tells what's probably one of the TV series' more would-be epic tales - a race disastrously uplifted by the Time Lords, a ship which has been questing for a hundred thousand years, another around which a degenerate civilisation has arisen, never knowing anything is outside. The mismatch between ambition and budget is dealt with by having all the scenery back-projected. Now, some people think this looks dodgy and fake in modern attempts like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but trust me, you've not seen dodgy and fake until you see the seventies version. On the plus side, at least the cast can't bump into the scenery - even if that means their feet are either floating above it or disappearing into it instead.

Gigs: Quimper again, at Nambucca, which has acknowledged its place as the absolute limit by adopting the sign of Omega. If they claimed to be the Ω of live music, wit might be demonstrated; instead, some claims have them as the ohmhm of live music, and others as the ohmme. Nitwits. The bill makes no sense, but at least one of the support bands has one song which suggests they like McLusky. Quimper accidentally headline, which is only right and proper but leaves them pretty much preaching to the choir. 'The King in Yellow' remains my favourite, but then I'm biased.
Also: the DDR of R'n'B down in Putney. Even more than most of the West, Putney reminds me of cities in the first Civilisation; it has a set store of elements, but most of them move around between visits. Once I finally locate the Half Moon, I am not entirely surprised to find that the famous blues venue is now a gastropub. It does still have a great venue room out back, which I would certainly recommend to people wanting to do a night were it not, as I may have mentioned, in Putney. The Nuns are, as ever, electric; and Blindness impress me with their echoes of the good bits of Curve. But even though it's Thee Faction's night, I'm not wholly sold on them in these surrounds. In a crumbling Clapton halfway house, their socialist R'n'B felt urgent and true; there's nothing wrong with how they play this time, but the moneyed surroundings seem to neutralise some of their fire, and leave it feeling like the schtick for which (again, in a fairly posh venue) I initially mistook it.

Neverland

Feb. 13th, 2012 08:14 pm
alexsarll: (bernard)
Not that I ever documented everything on here, because I am not that flavour of insane, but I do miss the old entries which, taken together, formed almost an encyclopaedia of oneself. Now it's just glimpses from the window of a speeding train, while the passing observations, the news and the baiting get spat out on Facebook instead. At least the Timeline over there, for all the inevitable complaints, mean that one has an archive of sorts again. So. What to report in this particular fragment? There was snow, wasn't there? And fine snow, of whose methods I approved: come down heavy for a couple of hours; turn Highbury Fields (my favourite part of London for snow) into a wonderland just in time for me to walk across it to Glam Racket in my big new boots, with Kate Bush in my ears and flakes settling on my shoulders; stick around one more day so that there can be snowball fights and snow Daleks on the Parkland Walk; and then off. The odd snowman can still be seen here and there, slowly shifting form like Ovid went monochrome, but there are no pavements of miserable slush, no desperate clinging on. I appreciate this sense of timing in a weather condition, and hope other seasons learn from it.

Oh yes, and I went to the Windmill - where I could also have been tonight, but there's only so much time and energy for jaunts to the wilds, and I must to Putney later this week. The Indelicates have a new song, in which Simon sings about disgust. I think he may inadvertently have nicked the intro from Jeays' 'Arles', though he denies it, and if he keeps telling his bandmates that since they don't know it, they'll just ruin it if he joins in, then I shan't complain. Pop needs more scorn.
alexsarll: (bernard)
London life appears to be cycling up again, the diary filling and the weeks of temperance (through illness or lack of event, not some talismanic fool belief in detox) coming to an end; if doubt remains, then you always know for sure that it's kicking off again once you're stood in the back room of the Wilmington watching giant robots fight off space dinosaurs with the help of indie rock. Back to the clubs and pubs and dinner parties - and back to Kentish Town. Did ever a district combine side street charm with high street horror to such an extent? Four places I wanted to go before Ale Meat Cider - one simply failed me, and three were on unscheduled shutdown (one by the fire brigade). In the meantime, I've been reading, and putting the new Necron list throught its paces on the tabletop*, and relishing Gregg Araki's Kaboom, which mixes his usual polymorphous perversity with apocalyptic conspiracy and creative swearing, and less so Arrietty which is, like every non-Miyazaki Ghibli film I've seen, faintly disappointing. The visual richness, the gardens into which you just want to melt, are present and correct - but the characters and the plot just feel a little...conventional, up until an ending which is at once conventional and not even a logical conclusion of what has gone before.

And, most importantly, I've been to the Isle of Wight with [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue. Yes, it's still definitely England, even if it's not Great Britain, but it's my first time overseas in years, or with her. So we meandered around the island on a bus that seemed to be the equivalent of the Circle Line if it had a view and was faintly reliable, and saw clicking owls and cartwheeling monkeys and a Roman mosaic of a cock-headed man (NOT LIKE THAT), and stayed in a hotel on a lake, and because she's a city girl she seemed almost as excited to have rabbits and sheep pointed out from the train window as to travel on a hovercraft. Though it was noticeable that the other passengers were a lot more subdued on the return trip, presumably because of the Costa Concordia footage on the screens in the waiting room. I don't know why, given we were using a totally different means of transport and the captain wasn't Italian. Though in his shoes I wouldn't have been able to resist a loud 'Mamma mia!' or two within earshot of the nervous travellers.

*With most pleasing results, except against Blood Angels.
alexsarll: (bernard)
So I'm reading back through the week's LJ, and seeing excited posts about the return of Soul Mole/Don't Stop Moving - which from the vantage point of The Future, I now know to have been gazumped, because most London venues are run by vermin. And I have a rotten cold. At the weekend. Thus far, 2012 is not going entirely to plan.
However! I did manage to drag myself out last night for a bit, so I've finally been inside Aces & Eights, which I've passed dozens of times and thought looked interesting - and indeed it does, having that American bar (but still doing pints) vibe that T Bird used to before their identity crisis. And on Friday Guided Missile put on a whole bill of bands who are all about the live experience (Keith TotP, the Angry Bees and the London Dirthole Company), and made me think Bill Drummond-influenced thoughts about the limitations of recorded music as a medium. Not that I'd go as far as Bill and write it off entirely, you understand, but part of the point of Bill Drummond is that he goes further than everyone else.
Also this week: I watched Hussein stand-in flick The Devil's Double, which is almost as good as I'd heard, and saw a Celeb! getting Papped! in Soho without having the faintest glimmer of a clue who she was.
Right. More Lemsip, then I need to brave Tesco. If nothing else, I suppose I can spread my sniffles to the gormless hordes who infest it on Sundays.

January 2016

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