Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Natahniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

This trip to Shepherds Bush Empire was the idea of my mate James actually. I had never heard of this outfit, although knowing I was coming to this gig I had bought a couple of cds and given them a bit of a play. So I sort of knew what was coming, but in truth it was all so much better.

First up the support act Slim Cessna's Auto Club. Who ought not to have been up to much but were just splendidly entertaining, vastly more than one has a right to expect from an ageing support act. They were interesting to watch, great to listen to. Perhaps vaguely could be described as country, but as I hate country & western, I do mean vaguely. 

And as we arrived early, we got a place at the front, much to James' evident delight. That also explains the good photos - not taken over the top of a crowd.

So then onto the main act, the rather sprawling Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Apparently Nathaniel had ploughed a loan furrow without major success, bt by adding a band he got a real following. As I say, I had never heard of them, but they sold out the Empire three nights running, this being the third.

 What can I say? Nathaniel has a great voice, i a larger than life character, and what a rel man should look like - seriously pot-bellied. And they gave the clear impression that they were loving playing for us. A truly joyous performance. Check them out when next they tour. You won't regret it. Have to be seen.

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena

I think I recently had a rant at what a rubbish venue the O2 is. One worse is Wembley Arena. Partly because it is so hard, or at least time consuming to both get into and get home from. So a band has to be really good to get me out there. Enter Arcade Fire.

Unlike almost all acts, this one was played in the round (as curiously was Julius Caesar which I had seen the night before at the theatre). So the set up was to have a square stage in the middle of the standing area (the pitch one might say) and the centre part of that square stage was a circular slowly revolving part. The keyboards thus were in the centre and slowly revolved for the crowd, while the more mobile members of the band either hopped on to the middle or stood on the outside, and then moved around as they saw fit. Being as numerous as they are they have people to spare and so someone at all points could be facing some part of the crowd. SO much for the logistics.

Arcade Fire are just such an accomplished band. They did not overplay stuff from their new album, but gave us a fair smattering across their work. All brilliant in my view, and indeed of both my mates. Vocals, instruments, varied songs, just terrific. Making up for both the journey and the sweltering heat in the venue.

If you are wondering, above the stage was a further screen on which they could either show videos or enlarged pictures of the live act below.

The show also featured a rather nice little cameo performance from Chrissy Hinde of the Pretenders, singing "Don't get me Wrong"

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Public Service Broadcasting at the Brighton Dome

I think this was my first real jaunt outside London to see a gig, ignoring festivals or where I was staying with friends. I had persuaded my mate John to go, so we made a day of it in Brighton, arriving in time for lunch.

After a bit of pottering we visited the Brighton Art Galley and Museum which was actually next door to the venue. The design stuff on the ground floor in the gallery was rather good. The upstairs scattering of exhibitions much less so. To be really trendy and relevant, and very Brighton, one room was devoted to the first ever Museum of Transology. This was a "collection" relating to sex-changes, but obviously this was something which might work as a magazine article but is utterly unsuited to a museum/at gallery due to the total lack of suitable exhibits. So one case is just a wall of drugs, ie boxes of pills needed for the hormone treatment. So looked very like a wall of a chemists. A collection of dresses looked very like, er any dresses you would see in an Oxfam shop. Just nothing to see at all, but plenty to read, and if museums were the ideal medium for reading we would all go to one to read our newspapers while walking around and squinting over the shoulders of others.

Anyway, by then the sun came out for a few minutes so we went down the pier and then had a cup of tea on the beach. By which time the sun went in again, so we had a walk around the Lanes, primarily an area of narrow lanes mostly consisting of small jewellers. And then to find somewhere for dinner. Having looked at many restaurants we ended up going to the first one, a French restaurant. We were going to a nice looking seafood restaurant, until I  looked it up on Trip Advisor to see a row of truly dreadful reviews. Our choice was a good one. Lovely service, tasty food and not too expensive, although that was partly explained by rather small servings.But we came out happy and went on to the gig. For which purpose we need to cut past the magnificent Brighton Pavilion.

The Dome itself was one of the best venues I have ever been to. Would like to come again. It has a large standing area surrounded by seating in a circle, and we chose seats at the front - you could take your pick. SO we were not as close up as normal for me, but we had a fine view.

This tour by PSB was in support of their latest album Every Valley, themed around the coal industry, hence the imagery with the mining gear.

 But after the opening couple of tracks from the new album they went back into their back catalogue. Overall a cracking set much enjoyed by all, including my mate John. Definitely go and see PSB. Nothing quite like them.

Everyone on stage for Gargarin, complete with dancing cosmonauts

So after all that we were happily heading back to London. Until of course we ht the legendary Southern Region. Due to planned engineering works, there was a replacement bus service to Three Bridges. Whereupon our connecting train was late. Indeed so late that it was touch and go whether it would beat the next rain. Further, if it wasn't for the fact it was around midnight we could have been quite entertained by the battle on the indicator board as first one train then the next was supposed to arrive first. Best of all at one point both trains were expected to arrive simultaneously on the same platform. Eventually the regular Thameslink beat the late running earlier train and we caught that, getting us to St Pancras well after 1am, and home by 2 am. SO much for Brighton being only an hour away from London.