alexsarll: (default)
Went to the eerie free-standing church tower in Crouch End last night for an evening of music and ghost stories. They had it done up wonderfully, at once properly uncanny and not too terrifying for such kids as were brought along...and then blew it completely. The first teller seemed to be reading his tale for the first time, and it wasn't like the material was going to save him when it had Mayor Richard Whittington in the 17th century (or, at one point, the 19th) and gargoyles falling where no gargoyle had been. Site-specificity is not a cheap way to add heft, it needs work. We left still disagreeing over whether the subsequent cellist's faux-rap was outright racist, or just really shit. A missed opportunity.

Last weekend, though - that was the first big weekend of the summer. You could even measure it from Wednesday (because normally Thursday is the new Friday, and I had Friday off) when, in a happier use of a normally disregarded space, the funny little community hall on Whittington Park hosted Philip Jeays' comeback show. At first a little uncertain after 18 months away, by the end he looked ten years younger and reminded what a gift he has. The support included two acts who were good if they were character comedy and alarming if they were not, plus - most unusually - a quite good poet, Sophia Blackwell. Don't think I've seen that happen since Murray Lachlan Young.

Then into the long weekend proper, celebrating lovely [ profile] xandratheblue's birthday. First comedy; Josie Long (whom I'd never seen do a full set before) and Thom Tuck. Thom's show this year didn't make me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe, unlike his last one (and unlike John-Luke Roberts, who with Nat Metcalfe had done the first Edinburgh preview show I caught this year - yay local comedy mafia). But it's lingering with me like few comedy shows I've seen. I'd like him to get famous, at least cultishly Kitson-style (because I somehow can't see him doing arenas). Then on Friday, to East London and its already famous (though oddly, not to other cult East London businesses) cat cafe. Which does indeed have a lot of cats, even if only two of them seemed particularly keen to talk to us. I suppose if you wanted guaranteed friendliness, you'd have a dog cafe instead. Up to the Geffrye Museum, one of the dwindling band of London museums I'd never visited (it has good chairs), and pubwards for the evening. Saturday, picnic; no pinata this year, but my first ever go on Cards Against Humanity, which is every bit as excellent as the Daily Mail's hatred of it suggests. Plus, someone brought a dog! See above re: friendliness thereof.

On Sunday, because it was if anything an even lovelier sunny day, I went to sit in a municipal building to listen to a grumpy man. But it was Jonathan Meades, one of our finest grumpy men, so that's OK. The Stoke Newington Literary Festival is somehow even more North London than I'd expected; you even get given a free atheist periodical on the way in.
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 [ 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: (bernard)
Apparently David Cameron's not just a Smiths fan, he likes Modest Mouse too. He's certainly doing his bit to keep their album titles topical. I skirted the edge of the protests yesterday. I wasn't in town to agitate or demonstrate - I did that the last time a party students trusted turned out to be lying about tuition fees, and I don't see that my contribution would achieve any more this time around - but since one of the routes I could take would combine the journey I was making anyway with a little disaster tourism, why not? With the lines of riot police blocking empty streets, the searchlight helicopter, the riot vans haring around in sixes, it all felt very Eastern European.

This was on my way to see the Jeays festive show at the Battersea Barge which - perhaps because of the disruptions? - wasn't as full as the past couple of years. The raffle format bore fruit, as it usually does - even when audience members chose songs I don't love on record like 'The Man from Del Monte', Phil's live performance has enough of Brel's demonic side to make them fascinating. The regrettably obligatory support slot from performance poet the Speech Painter was introduced by Phil in verse. A lengthy poem which was far more savage, and much funnier, than any of the supposed poet's work. It almost seemed too cruel. Almost.
Other shows seen this week include Brontosaurus Chorus (on excellent form - album-in-full shows are so much less depressing when it's a new album rather than a sanctioned classic), Jonny Cola (still with the new line-up), Boy Stood Alone On Mountaintop (solo acoustic singer-songwriters aren't really my thing, alas), Bleech (Amy Pond's sister and a slightly out of date Hoxtonista trying to be Elastica, but not as good as that sounds) and Pan. Apparently two thirds of Pan used to be Le Tetsuo, a name I knew but not a band I ever heard. The name doesn't really suit them, the sound being very tight and constrained, and their singer looking like David Morrissey as the young Gordon Brown. These are not bad things, you understand - simply things which contradict the name. I can't quite make out the lyrics, but the words I catch in one chorus include 'lesbian' and 'exes', which are both good words to have in your chorus.
alexsarll: (Default)
Does that massive new tower at Elephant & Castle have a name yet? I got my first proper look at it vaguely finished over the weekend and assumed it must be the Cheese Grater what with the wind turbine holes and slope making the top of it look exactly like a cheese grater, but no, apparently that's the one at Leadenhall. It certainly deserves a name, I rather like it.

I love music, but I've never felt I had much to contribute by making it. I'm very happy to write effusive posts on here about bands, or appear in their videos (another of which has just gone up), but they told me at school that I wasn't musical and I know this story is meant to be about horrid teachers failing to spot one's astonishing potential but no, in my case they had a point. Since coming to London, I have been in one band (for a given value of the word) for one night - The17, with Bill Drummond. I thought I'd best leave it there, because how do you top being one degree from the KLF?
By being on the next Indelicates album, apparently. [ profile] augstone passed on an invite so I headed up to Walthamstow with him, his fellow Soft Close-Up David (who was also in the same The17 performance as me, as it happens), [ profile] keith_totp and [ profile] thedavidx, to all of whom a recording studio is pretty much a second home. I just tried my best not to a) break anything or b) lose my cool, even when I realised that Denim had recorded there. And Baxendale! And The Long Blondes! And that we were singing along as a sort of backing choir for Philip bloody Jeays (not physically present)! It's not as if I'm going to be individually audible or anything, but nonetheless, I'm on the next Indelicates album. Bloody Hell.

Otherwise, it's been a relatively quiet week and weekend - albeit also very pleasant, with Friday in the Ewok village and Sunday's barbeque managing a decent amount of cooking before the downpour, plus Prom Night on Saturday, the first time I've had a solid reason to wear a bow tie out after watching Matt Smith rock one in Doctor Who (and remember how ahead of time we thought "Geronimo!" was going to be his catchphrase and that it would soon get irritating? By my reckoning he's now said "Bow ties are cool" just as often as "Geronimo!"). Good little episode on Saturday - yes, it essentially stitched together three Buffy episodes ('Normal Again' for the basic premise, 'The Gift''s "What makes you think the other world is any better?" "It has to be" and the demonic ringmaster performance from 'Once More With Feeling'), then borrowed evil geriatrics from Hot Fuzz with a zombie film twist, but the seams didn't show, and even if they never used the name, the villain was the ruddy Valeyard! And still, those wonderful central performances - for the second week in a row my favourite bit in among so very many choices was a little, gestural thing, when the Doctor thinks the baby is due and adopts that panicked wicket-keeper stance. And because the BBC is utterly marvellous, it also gave us a penultimate Ashes to Ashes which has left me with no clue how they're going to resolve this, but a burning need to find out. I think I'm going to be a bit late to Nuisance tomorrow night.
alexsarll: (bill)
Saw two of my favourite bands over the past few days - also, incidentally, the two bands I think of whenever some fool asks why young bands aren't addressing the issues of the day. Any time you see such a diatribe, remember the options: the writer is unaware of The Vichy Government or The Indelicates, and hence too ignorant for anything he says to be worth attention; or else the writer could not understand their lyrics, or did not consider them sufficiently political because they made no mention of 'Tony B Liar more like', in which case he is too stupid for anything he says to be worth attention. Both bands are confident enough that their sets were pretty much stripped of the old favourites, and both are creative enough that it barely registered because the new stuff is at least as good. Where matters diverged was in the support. The Indelicates had England's finest chanson man, Philip Jeays, solo and even better that way, wowing an incongruously young section of the audience; a particularly melodic and vaguely Springsteen incarnation of Keith TOTP & his etcetera; and the increasingly lovely Lily Rae. Vichy, on the other hand, were lumbered with one Joyride. Given they caused only sorrow, and stayed in one place (the stage) when we really wished they'd depart, I wondered whether this name might be cause for a Trade Descriptions case, but apparently not. Ripping off The Fall and the Mary Chain as ineptly as I've ever seen, and that's saying something, they managed to be thoroughly rubbish in spite of having one member in a Girls Aloud t-shirt and a song with the chorus "I'm the Bishop of Southwark, it's what I do".

Just finished Max Adams' The Firebringers - At, science and the struggle for liberty in nineteenth-century Britain, which is a frustrating bloody book. The main problem I had was no fault of Adams' - he overlaps quite a bit with Richard Holmes' Age of Wonder, which I'd not long read. But the comparison does show how Holmes' 'relay race' structure serves him brilliantly, while Adams lacks restraint and tries to tell too many stories at once, breeding confusion and occasional repetition. I was mainly reading the book in so far as I wanted to know more about John Martin, the painter who "single-handedly invented, mastered and exhausted an entire genre of painting, the apocalyptic sublime". I've loved his work ever since I saw his final great trilogy, Judgment, in what is now Tate Britain - it hangs there still, though very badly situated. He was big news in his time, though critical opinion was not kind then and is even less so now; as far as I'm concerned he still sits only a very little behind his friend and contemporary Turner as one of the best painters, never mind British painters, ever. Adams, on the other hand, likes him more than the critics but less than the Regency public. Then, for whatever reason, he has attempted to make this a group biography - perhaps because he was told they sell better now, on which more later. So we also get the other Martin brothers: Richard the soldier (his autobiography is alas lost, so he mainly appears in 'mights'); Jonathan (yes, confusing, but in an age of high child mortality it happened a lot) the religious maniac who set York Minster ablaze; and William, who started as inventor and ended another lunatic, riding around on a self-designed velocipede with a brass-bound tortoiseshell as a helmet, selling pamphlets about how he'd been swindled, a few of the stories true but most sheer paranoia.
Except the Martin brothers are still not enough, so they become a spine for 'the Prometheans', an undeclared, unrealised movement united in their desire to free mankind. Their membership includes Shelley, Godwin, the Brunels, various politicians...or does it? Because Adams' definitin of Promethean ideals seems more Procrustean; obviously most of his posthumous conscripts don't quite fit it, for which they are ticked off. Shelley was too extreme in his declarations, hence unpublishable and useless - but the Reform Bills were too timid and compromised. There is still good stuff to be salvaged from among this historical kangaroo court, but it's a trial.
And then, of course, the publishers clearly told Adams that The Prometheans wouldn't sell, so the title had to be dumbed down to The Firebringers. It's a bit of a mess, but not an uninteresting one.
alexsarll: (menswear)
'The Solitary Life of Cranes' is a lovely, strange little programme; the men who operate those towering cranes one sees dotted about explaining their experiences and perspective, over beautiful footage of London from a vantage point most of us will never share - high enough to be silent and detached, but low enough to recognise individual people. They come across quite like Wim Wenders' take on angels.

Two launch parties for [ profile] augstone products this week; the H Bird single release and the Oxford Dons premiere. The former was fairly subdued; the latter, I think it is fair to say, got a bit out of hand, culminating in a spontaneous performance by Keith TOTP & His Minor 18 Carat All Star Backing Close-Ups (Featuring [ profile] exliontamer), or something like that, which I'm hoping hasn't got us all barred from the N19 because I'm doing my birthday there this year. The show/film/artefact itself is hilarious, and coming soon to an internet near you. And I'm only an extra in this one.
In between launches, went to the Serpentine Gallery for the first time. Which is silly, but I hadn't realised a) it's free and b) one of the attendants is a friend. Small for a London gallery, but it has the advantage of being set in a ruddy great park, albeit one where the squirrels are no respecters of personal space. The current show, Design Real, is simply well-designed items laid out like artworks, and labelled only with a generic - SHOES, KNIFE, ARMOUR. If you want more, you can check the website - or go the central room, where there are Kindles with the same information. And never having used a Kindle before, I did find them very intuitive and pleasant to use, but they're considerably less portable than a paperback so I don't think text's iPod moment has come quite yet. After that, [ profile] xandratheblue took me for veggie fish and chips, a matter on which I must respectfully disagree with both her and [ profile] hoshuteki. I think the problem is, they both eat fish and expected something along similar lines. Whereas if someone presents me with chunks of deep-fried halloumi, I don't really mind what they call it, I just murmur 'cheeeeeeese' and adopt a blissed-out expression. Cheeeeeeeeese.

Philip Jeays' Christmas shows on the Barge have often tended towards the drunken (not least the time we took a trip to the beach afterwards), but last night still felt unusually tinged with chaos. The first sign was when, after the usual pleasant-but-would-work-better-in-the-background set from Peacock, the annual Speech Painter ordeal began. Except - he had a new poem. A reworking of Phil's 'Geoff', the song in which Phil talks about wanting to kill Geoff for his house, and shagging his wife. The reworking is called 'Phil', and you can imagine the general tone. The natural order is overturned! The Speech Painter is fighting back, and stranger, getting laughs!
From then on, everything feels slightly rackety. The boat is shaking more than usual. The new song with which Phil opens has the chorus "They're all whores!" (repeat x 3). I'm the first person whose number comes up (well, except the berk who requested 'Idiots In Uniform', but they clearly don't count) and when I ask on a sudden whim for 'London' instead of 'The Raj', there's confusion as to which version I mean. Lots of people are claiming tickets they don't have - including, in a moment of Epic Fail, the one Jeays took himself. Busted. One request is actually refused, which I don't think I've ever seen before. One table have to be reprimanded for talking.
And yet, amongst it all, the songs. There are some strange choices made, but also some of the best - 'Here I Am', 'Midnight in Trieste', 'Perry County'. In a world which has embraced Richard Hawley, there really should be broadsheet features for Philip Jeays too.
alexsarll: (crest)
Visited Kew Gardens for the first time yesterday, and it's magical. For somewhere so popular, it still doesn't feel crowded; for somehere so labelled, it doesn't feel lifeless. I suppose it's a combination of two of my favourite things, a mad old-style library manifest as a country house garden. Plus, dragonflies! The day before I'd been worrying that I'd yet to see any this year, but clearly that's because they're all getting busy down in Kew.
We also saw some guinea fowl. Even speaking as a vegetarian of nearly two decades, their combination of unflappability and fat-assedness screamed 'lunch'.
Then on to see the magnificent Philip Jeays, chanson supergroup in tow, launch his new album (and yes, I'm going to keep linking to him whenever the subject arises until you all become fans, buy his albums and send him straight in at Number One). The Jeays Battersea Barge shows are the social event of the season, but that season is early December; I have seen him here at other times of year before, but not for bloody ages. The usual supports make jokes about this, and it turns out that last December, when I thought the Speech Painter was maybe improving, I was just overwhelmed by red wine and christmas spirit; his presence is once more justified only by the extra piquancy he gives 'Geoff', Phil's song about shagging the Speech Painter's wife. We expect the new album set to be followed by a hits encore, but in spite of finishing early, there are only three old tracks. Stranger still, the new album doesn't include 'Thank You British Airways' - but then, 'Mr Jeays' was being played two albums before it was released. The new stuff is, however, brilliant - and he seems to be playing to his strengths, with fewer 'war is stupid' songs than ever, more lovelorn and timeworn heartbreakers. Thank you, Mr Jeays.

For the first time since he died, yesterday I deliberately listened to a Michael Jackson track. Not one of the ones blaring out of every car and shop, but the last one I remember having any interest in, before it became clear how wrong he'd gone: 'Scream'. And it's a bloody mess. In his paranoia, you can tell he's almost approaching that wonderfully dehumanised sound R&B revelled in around the late nineties and early noughties, but perfectionism and endless second-guessing just leaves it clattering and confused. Shame. For a happier Youtube experience, I recommend Nathan Fillion from Firefly as Green Lantern; alas, this is a fan-made trailer for a film that does not exist but still, how good does it look? That was from the mailout of one of the UK's best comics shops, Page 45; the other, Gosh, also alerted me to a gem: Comics creator stopped by Transportation Security Administration for carrying script about writer under suspicion by Transportation Security Administration.

Read Poul Anderson's Brainwave on Tuesday - a novel in which the Earth exits the intelligence-dampening field in which it's been stuck for millennia, and everybody suddenly gets a lot smarter. Reading it in the park at least served to keep me posted that no, this was not really happening, but it's still an astonishing book - and one with which I especially sympathise in weather like this, because I can feel the heat making me dumber. It's from four years before Flowers for Algernon, and while I've never read that (science fiction which gets mainstream critical acclaim usually leaves me suspicious), I've read enough things which riff on it to suspect that it got a lot of inspiration here. Poul Anderson is a weird one - my dad is a fan, so realistically I must have read some of his stuff as a kid, but I have no idea what. The only one I could tell you for sure is The Broken Sword, an impressively bleak fantasy novel he wrote before fantasy became entirely codified, set in the real Middle Ages (complete with all the stuff people then knew about but we tend to ignore) rather than an analogue, which always gets me on side. This...this has almost nothing in common with that, except a certain majestic clarity of vision. It's not flawless; it does at times feel like the cosmic vision of Olaf Stapledon forced into a format which looks something a little more like a novel, and suffering accordingly (Anderson's evolved humans, for instance, still all seem to be locked into heterosexual monogamy - because he was more stuck in his ways than Stapledon 20 years earlier, or just because he had less space?). And the idea that the superbrains of future Man find no consolation or worth in any of the species' past achievements...well, I'm as contemptuous of humanity as the next person who'd gladly sell us out to the first civilised species that made contact, but I don't buy that. Anderson's brain-boosted humans abandon TV for magazines, then magazines for books; after the change, one simpleton thinks 'I can read a comic book. Maybe I can read a real book now.' Well, as someone who can happily go from Ulysses to Mighty Avengers, and always hated John Stuart Mill's spurious distinction betweem 'higher' and 'lower' pleasures, you can guess how I feel about that. In the end, the advanced humans become something not unlike Iain Banks' Culture - just a bit less fun. But still, that's an awful lot to fit in 160 pages. Plus, you know that thing from...Mickey Spillane, maybe? 'Whenever I don't know what happens next, a guy comes through the door with a gun?' Poul Anderson goes one better. One chapter ends when a chimp comes in with a gun. On an elephant.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Does anybody happen to have a copy of Children of the Revolution? It's one of those offbeat comedies the Australians do so well, featuring several of the usual suspects - Rachel Griffiths, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush - and concerning Stalin's secret son growing up in Cold War Australia. I taped it off TV a couple of weeks back and, watching it on Monday, was really getting into it when the tape cut out; further investigation showed that the film had been pushed back by (what else?) sportism.

I like Richmond. Not its slightly provincial clone high street, but once you get even a little off that, you get theatres and libraries and cheap but not nasty pubs around greens where the kids disporting themselves are all sufficiently middle-class not to be threatening, only endearingly Skins-esque, and where bluff old gents stomp past with their beards, pipes and fisherman's caps, looking for all the world like they could have helped Jerome K Jerome out of a spot of comic difficulty that very afternoon. Not perhaps the first place one would expect to find Philip Jeays playing, but if he hadn't been I wouldn't have been there, so can't complain, eh?

Am still attempting to process Mervyn Peake's Mr Pye. It's no kin to Gormenghast, that's for sure; it lacks the Dickensian squalor, the dustiness, the constriction. Nor does it seem to me a simple 'christian allegory', one popular assessment; I suppose for a time it is, but apart from anything else every 40 pages or so it seems to become a totally different story, and all this without leaving the strange, tiny and very real island of Sark. At one point it seemed to me like Iris Murdoch attempting to complete a book from an outline left by PG Wodehouse; later like one of the South American magic realists had taken a holiday to the Channel Islands. Strangest of all, for all its marriage of lightheartedness to the deep power of faith, not once did it remind me of GK Chesterton. Perhaps I should simply accept it as a good read from the days before the genre walls went up.

Taped Channel 4's Life After People on Monday, but that review was enough to convince me that I don't need to watch it. I'm reading The World Without Us at the moment, and as much as I find the idea of the post-human world both fascinating and soothing, I'm not sufficiently obsessed with it to watch one of those bad CGI pseudo-documentaries about it. Maybe the one being adapted from the book will be sufficiently well-done for me to make an exception. It's not like films can never manage the same elegiac sense of our exit; Children of Men did a pretty good job of it. Of course, on some level I'm not daydreaming about the world without all humans, so much as the world without all the ones who are just cluttering the place up; ideally there should still be enough unspecified tech and supplies for me and mine to be comfortable in between wandering around appreciating the quiet decay. In the meantime, even an empty street can have something of the same piquancy - witness Woodrow Phoenix's Rumble Strip*, a haunting, damning commentary on car culture in which the art consists entirely of pictures of empty roads and carparks, street furniture, lane markings - for these streets no longer welcome people, and like most monsters the automobiles work better as unseen menaces. Even out among the bustle, it sounds as though ghost bikes have something of the same eloquence of absence.

*For the record, another fine 'graphic novel' which is clearly not a novel.
alexsarll: (seal)
Those of you who've been paying attention may notice that my Current Music all December has been christmas music, and today it's not. Why so? Well, there's a lot of good christmas music one can't sensibly listen to during the rest of the year, but there are even fewer occasions when it makes so much sense to listen to songs about being five years from the end of the world. Which is not to say that I am definitely expecting the Eschaton - I've seen far too many supposed Last Days pass for that (though I do remember being terrified on my first one, back in the eighties. Stupidly, I don't remember the date, only the fear, and being pulled around in a sledge by my parents, which helped somewhat). It's more that I see the world filled with so many vectors towards a bad apocalypse (climate change, superbugs, fundamentalism, the list goes on) that if I want to feel any hope at all for the future, it seems worth half-believing that a good apocalypse might arrive first. I'm all too aware that we might all wake up on December 22nd 2012 having made no evolutionary leap to the hypercontext, no contact with benevolent aliens, no progress at all. But the chance that we might seems distinctly more plausible than the alternative. The effort and ingenuity of the small portion of humanity who understand how bad things are being sufficient to get us out of this hole? That's just crazy talk.

Maddening selection of good gigs on Wednesday, but I couldn't abandon the annual Jeays extravaganza. Not quite so crowded this year - I think maybe the advance sales backfired, with people who knew they wouldn't get seats deciding not to bother. But still excellent. Peacock still does one song I really like ("you change and adapt"), and the Speech Painter finally deployed some (not bad) new material even if I am now convinced he's Sylar (watchmaker by day + eyebrows). And Jeays was on fine form, complete with messiah complex, no navel and a really good corduroy frock coat-type-thing. Maybe it was a duster, I've never been entirely sure what dusters are. Our numbers came up, so that was 'Richenda' and 'Midnight In Trieste' guaranteed, and the rest of the crowd didn't choose anything too dreadful.

As against the genteel Jeays show, all civilised and seated, Patrick Wolf's crowd look like the cast of Skins let loose on a Manics fan's wardrobe (except that like so many real young people, most of them are not actually that attractive when you stop and look). This goes double for Wolf himself: in the flesh he looks about 12, and may I be permitted a rockist moment if I say that I found the raven he was wearing on his head for the early set somewhat distracting? He clearly doesn't have an insincere bone in his body, which is essential if you're going to go this OTT musically while dancing in the fake snow against a backdrop of giant snowflakes. He's a star like they used to make, except somehow more fragile. I think part of what makes me feel so old watching him is that at the back of my mind I can't help but worry about him, especially in light of his live problems earlier this year (no sign last night, thank heavens).

Oh yeah, and speaking of feeling old - my birthday's all been organised by Facebook and email this year, hasn't it? If I don't know you via those channels then you're probably a creepy stalker and not even a very good one - December 27th, The Noble, Crouch Hill, from 7pm.
alexsarll: (menswear)
The pub downstairs seem to think that early Saturday morning is a good time to do noisy things with barrels. I can't agree, but I do feel more or less rested, and it meant I got to see a rather promising augury - a magpie (one for sorrow, plus I hate the songbird-murdering scum anyway) being chased around and beaten up by one of my favourite birds, the crow.

As much as I'm never going to turn down a free Jeays and Project Adorno show, or the free booze thereat, I can't help but feel a little guilty that, said show being in a library, the funding for that is presumably coming from the libraries budget, which pretty much by definition these days won't have enough to spend on books anyway. Hmmm. Still, good shows (Jeays unveiled one new song which, to me at least, sounded a bit Justin Timberlake) and the third act was Pog, aka the Stapletons' drummer, who had a sort of poppier Another Sunny Day thing going on.

You stand against HBO - you're the bad guy. It really is that simple.

HP Lovecraft - THE CABARET. "I made my mind up back in Arkham, when I go...I'm going to have my soul turned inside out by nameless horrors from beyond space and time."

January 2016



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