As ya’ll know I freakin love Wales. Every time I arrive I get that feeling of going home. It’s strange, I’ve never lived in Wales. It must be something in the blood.
Once we reached Cardiff (the magic starts), we went to have a look around the museum exhibition of the history of Wales from volcanic rock to current time (mostly in Welsh!). Found a fairly nice chain pub for surprisingly good food and then went off to sort out booking a hotel.
Following a series of fortunate events, we booked into The Big Sleep. AMAAAAAZING! This budget hotel is a converted office block centrally located and owned by John Malkovich. The ceilings and floors are still the same office style and the fittings and furniture are sleek, comfortable and clean. The kitsch lobby bar is the cutest thing (and stays open all night) and we had a lovely continental all you can eat breakfast in the morning. The whole design is straight out of Being John Malkovich and there are pictures of him around the place.
But none of that was the best bit: Being on the 9th floor with the original huge office windows in all the rooms, there are panoramic views of Cardiff. You are above the city and can see the rolling hills in the distance. Stunning by day and by night. It did seem as if fate was on our side – the magic/luck always seems to be in Wales!
Off to Clwb Ifor Bach for soundchecks and set up etc. Easy get in to the venue and Chris found parking really close by (magic continues!). The support acts were top notch. First up was Jon Fazal who is a singer/songwriter acoustic guitarist with smart lyrics and a humble onstage charm. Then it was Stokes, William. I had made various assumptions about the young folk band when they arrived to set up, but was proven wrong. All talented musicians in their own right, this band has good onstage chemistry and energetic performance. The lead singer is definitely a future star and mixed a little edginess with the folk style well. The studenty crowd (cool kids) really loved it and I was dancing along at the merch stall.
Half the crowd was very talkative, this always annoys me at gigs (I know I have been guilty of this in the past and make a serious point of never talking while acts are on). During the song Love Is Not Rescue people did start to listen properly. Then, through Chris’s strong songwriting, banter between singing (and a bit of swearing), he won the whole room over. I haven’t seen someone turn around a crowd so successfully like that and comparing it to the Bristol gig (where he hadn’t done that much between song chatter) was a lesson in how to adapt your performance to a crowd and in winning over an audience. They loved it.
Being a bit wired and a bit drunk I tried to convince everyone to come out partying but to no avail! Off to the hotel bar for more drinks and to gaze at the gorgeous views. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re visiting the city.
The next day is hard to put into words.
Woke up in Cardiff with perfect springtime sunshine blazing down and crisp cold air on my face and hands. I got a bus from the town centre up to Tongwynlais, in the lovely Welsh countryside and walked up the wooded hill to Castell Coch, after a recommendation by a good friend. What an amazing place.
The impact that going there has had on me is difficult to describe and a bit too personal for the internets. Needless to say it is beautiful.
A lovely walk back most of the way to town and then I was converted to the Yo Sushi experience by Mr & Mrs PWL. It was yummy. Perfect end to a perfect day out.
Massive thanks to everyone involved! Wish I could’ve tagged along for the rest of the tour too, although wouldn’t have missed my day in Wales for anything.
I’m really proud of my big brother, his new album is so lovely and he has always been a great storyteller through his songwriting. Chris, I reckon I properly converted you to Cardiff too!
Go and see him playing somewhere this month and buy the album. Dates and links are on his site: www.christt.com
Tags: Cardiff, Castell Coch, Chris T-T, Love Is Not Rescue
March so far has been absolutely amazing. As I predicted.
I went to see The Noisettes who were much better than I thought they would be but whose support acts were not.
I hung out with my sister and her two daughters. We had ice cream and played on the swings.
Then I went to Bristol.
I have fallen a little bit in love with this gorgeous city. A friend of mine had drafted a special Anna’s Day Out itinerary for me (with a map and notes and everything!) so I was all set. I visited some lovely vintage shops, St Nick’s Market, the Arnolfini (where there was a sound/images installation exhibition by Imogen Stidworthy), The Watershed, a couple of really good independent music shops, Start the Bus (3 times!), College Green (although I didn’t see any sk8ers) and I took a detour off map to go to Bristol Old Vic. My dad used to be part of the company there many years ago when he was an actor so I just had to sneak inside to have a look around.
Then off to Mother’s Ruin for a night of music and friends. The gig was brilliant.
Pagan Wanderer Lu was up first. This electronic artist has been making music for a while now and I have been trying to learn a lot from him. His album Fight My Battles For Me was one of my favourite albums of last year and his intelligent lyrics matched with fun electro sounds and moody onstage persona make for a fantastic mix. I’m looking forward to hearing his new album.
It was also lovely to catch up with Mrs PWL who I hadn’t seen since last year. Plus Mr PWL managed to accurately summarise my twitterfeed which made me nearly cry with laughter: “I saw a dog. It’s brilliant.” “Then something about boys” “I saw something else. It’s brilliant. Everything is brilliant.” “Then once a month or so a tweet about Wales”
“I don’t know if love is real or if it’s just chemical, but I like you and my chemicals like you too” (PWL)
Then was Oxygen Thief. This guy is like punk folk personified. Acoustic guitar (always acoustic!) and shouty vocals really get the crowd going. Filling his set with a mix of songs and instrumental/solos, he moshes along to the acoustic sound and really hammers it out of his guitar. He has a lot of on stage energy and charm. I always enjoy seeing his stuff live and it was great to hear some new songs too!
“The city makes her restless and she makes him tired” (Suzannah Evans/sung by OT)
Chris T-T played nearly all of Love Is Not Rescue, his new album. It is a beautiful piece of work (I know I am biased but go and listen to it from beginning to end, then argue with me if you like). Nintendo, which is out now as a download single, is a brilliant song as is the title track Love Is Not Rescue. Tall Woman makes me cry every time I hear it. Another example of his skill at lyric-writing and while I live in his shadow, I will always strive to be better with him as an influence.
“Love is not rescue, you need two whole people to work.” (Chris T-T)
Then after a wonderful night of drinking and inspiring chats about music making and creating stuff, Chris and I got in the car and drove to Wales…
Massive thanks to Mr & Mrs OT who put me up on their floor and who have the coolest downstairs loo ever (covered in comics).Tags: Bristol, Chris T-T, Comics, Love Is Not Rescue, Oxygen Thief, Pagan Wanderer Lu
As it turns out, I’ve completely backed up on myself with my blogging. So I’ve decided to skip through the last week and a half or so with a quick summary…
On Saturday 14th November I moved home, I saw Carter USM (who were absolutely awesome, can’t wait to see some of Jim Bob’s upcoming solo stuff), I stormed the stage during the Hoodrats’ set at the afterparty – like their own personal Bez, I found my way back to East London through a storm at 5am…
On 15th woke to find I had already (in less than 24 hours) earned a ‘partygirl’ label by my new flatmates and received an amazing gift of groceries from my gorgeous sister (she knows me so well!)…
A lovely dinner with Hannah and Aubrey on 17th, helped us all compile our latest crush lists…
Sunday 22nd November (one of the best hangovers ever) – woke up in Brighton, went for lush fry-up with 2/4 hoodrats, went to conceptual exhibition by Beatabet Collective at the Phoenix Gallery, got train to London, was cooked a massive gorgeous roast dinner. Slept well…
On 25th November, I saw the Filthy Dukes album launch gig (mindblowing how good they are, hot too, really know how to put on a show, got lovely fans as well) and hung out with lovely Emily at The Flowerpot…
Today is Thanksgiving, I am celebrating with my gorgeous theme-loving American friend and her sexy culinarily-gifted flatmate…
As it is my birthday soon and because I think I’m much more important than I really am, my friends and I are celebrating with 2 weeks of parties, seeing performances, gigs, AtD’s boat party, shopping, and more! The two-week mayhem kicks off with my guest DJ spot at the BBA Thanksgiving Party at the Marie Lloyd Bar tomorrow night, free entry – come along, dance, sing and say hello.Tags: Akira the Don, Blind Baby Animal, Brighton, Chris T-T, fans, Filthy Dukes, Flowerpot, Hackney, JimBob
With Welsh blood flowing through my veins and a passion for stormy weather, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to THE super-cool music festival in Cardiff curated by none other than the Prince of Wales himself Huw Stephens (Adam W, you’re the king of course and Bethan can be whatever she likes cos she is a goddess).
Because I basically have NO time at the moment at all and the memories of swn festival although will stay with me forever are not as clear as they were when I got back last Sunday, here is a very brief summary and links.
Islet – This Cardiff based band with near to no web presence and a retro view of mailing lists (they are sending out a paper newsletter!) are brilliant. The four-piece have superb musicianship and a real hard-to-find chemistry on stage. I loved them and would travel far to see them play again. They also curated the night under the banner of their own indie label and have truly eclectic tastes. This was an amazing start to the weekend. I am now a massive fan of them. Some guys have set up a fansite which is here.
Envy – lovely Envy. This young star rapper is brilliant. She has sponteneity and confidence far beyond her age. Her lyrical flow and ability to improvise and adapt will make her one to watch in the coming years. I was really looking forward to seeing her play and was disappointed when the set was messed up by timings and by lack of a proper audience. Despite these issues, Envy did two storming sets and her energy on stage was not effected.
Soft Toy Emergency – I caught this really great band between Envy’s two sets. They are freakin’ awesome. Proper good rock band with a girl frontwoman, something we don’t really see that often at the moment. I didn’t catch their whole set but I loved their performance and the tunes I heard were really good – I will definitely look to see them again some time soon, (especially since having a look at their online stuff which is quite heavily styled not in a good way, they are surprisingly good live).
Chris T-T – as you know, I am biased when it comes to Chris’s stuff. I can say though, that this was the best I’d ever seen him as a solo performer. He appeared calm and collected (without losing the lovely down-to-earth bimbly personality that his fans admire). He used two guitars and a keyboard which all gave the set a variety not usual for a solo act. The new songs are really really good and my favourite was Nintendo.
Gideon Conn – I really liked this guy, he’s quirky and his songs are good. It took me a while to warm to him as his onstage character appeared to be a bit ‘mannered’ and a bit false. I would have liked to have spoken to him in person to see whether this was a genuine portrayal of himself and he was just nervous or whether it was a ‘put-on’ caricature. A friend who had had a conversation with him previously assured me that he was genuinely a bit weird, which is great!
Internet Forever – this band is definitely gonna be massive soon. I love their quirky rocky keyboardy masky fucked up sound. They could definitely have mainstream success and draw big crowds. I couldn’t hear some of the vocals and I’m not sure if this was the sound they were going for or whether it was technical issues. I’m gonna check them out again. They seem really likeable and really talented.
Pulled Apart By Horses – definitely would have been amazing had I seen them properly. The tiny room was rammed full and the energy from the stage emanated in waves. Unfortunately we were right at the back behind a whole load of tall people who were not dancing and didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. I was quickly frustrated at not being in the heart of the action and at not being able to see the band so we didn’t catch much of the set.
Meh or Unsure:
Girls – we were some of the lucky few who managed to get to the end of the rainsoaked queue to see this much-hyped band. I hadn’t heard any of their backstory or anything and to start with the music sounded a bit too much acid-60s/70s -throw-back for my tastes. However, the drumming was some of the best I’ve seen and as the set progressed the music developed into more Spiritualized-esque white noise sounds which was great. Due to some good songs and honest-looking stage awkwardness by the lead two members, this band came across well and are clearly very good at what they do.
Los Campesinos! – I love a couple of their songs and the energy was of course brilliant for their headlining set. The room was so hot we had to sit down and fan ourselves (not very rock n roll) and the bars were not kitted out with the right booze and were impossible to get to. The band were good. Having not seen them before I’m glad I went but I heard that they had been better at other gigs. Hilarious stage dives and guest spots from the other bands added to the fun but I was gutted I had missed my last opportunity to see Broken Family Band perform as the timings clashed.
I didn’t like Johnny Foreigner, I have to be honest. I thought they were unoriginal and derived, mostly from early 90s indie. This was evident in their songs as well as their stage performance (and even their hair). I sulked until my friends agreed to leave during their set.
Allo Darlin’ – I could see the appeal of this female-led folky/poppy group doing quite sweet twee songs. I didn’t really like it and thought that some of the songs could have been better written.
A massive thanks to Hannah and Mr and Mrs Pagan Wanderer Lu who were lovely hosts and looked after us even when we rolled in at 4am very drunk.
I’ll definitely be at swn next year – one way or another.
xTags: Chris T-T, Envy, Islet, swn
Can’t sleep because I am so excited for Saturday, (solo gig number 4); it is an amazing experience for me to be playing at a Lexapalooza event and the line-up is awesome. I still can’t quite believe I’m on the bill – I am half expecting to arrive at the venue with my gear and someone to go “what’s all that stuff for? you’re not playing here”
This week has been very busy. I’ve been working my boobies off getting a wonderful Limited Edition CD together for all of you lovely people. It is called Robotics and has some home recordings and a couple of live tracks. There’s only going to be 150 in existence. A good friend has done some gorgeous artwork for the front and I’m really pleased with how it all sounds.
The best big brother in the world took me to see Skunk Anansie on Tuesday night in Brighton. It was a small warm-up gig to their big reunion tour and it was amazing to see them performing. Apart from the blokes looking a little older, you couldn’t really tell that they’d been away for so long and they played a couple of really good new songs as well as playing all of their main back-catalogue. One of the new songs we didn’t like (but the crowd seemed to so that will probably end up being a single or something). It was a really great gig. Some of you will already know how significant their music was to me during my teenage years (especially those of you who had to live through my awful attempts to sing their stuff!) so it was brilliant to get to see them live now.
The support band was a bit weird – A Human. The drummer and keyboard/backing vocalist were good musicians but the frontman was like something straight out of some early 90s band. He looked, sounded and danced as if he wanted to be in The Wonderstuff/Ned’s Atomic Dustbin/Sultans etc etc. He even did a really awful Brett Anderson impression for a whole song.
Hope to see you all on Saturday! Do come and say hello – (mine’s a vodka & diet pepsi).
xxTags: Chris T-T, electronic, fans, Heroes, Lexapalooza, performing, Robotics, Skunk Anansie, Vodka and Diet Pepsi
As part of Anthony Gormley’s One & Other project, my big brother had an hour slot on Tuesday 29th July. I tracked his preparations online through his Tweets and went down to the plinth to join the CROWD!
You can watch the hour again here. Chris didn’t censor himself and stood with integrity. This was a brilliant opportunity for Chris to not just “preach to the converted” but reach a wider politically mixed audience. I just hope someone in power was listening.
Of course, my favourite was Plague on Both Your Houses which, although written a few years ago, is accurate and relevant every time you pick up a paper and read of any type of religious war and the innocent victims.Tags: Chris T-T, language, Songwriting
Last night I went to see MJ Hibbett’s Dinosaur Planet. His one-man-and-a-guitar musical comedy (in the style of a sci-fi film) was absolutely brilliant. I laughed, giggled, gasped and very nearly shed an emotional tear (won’t tell you when).
The show, at the Wilmington in Islington, was a preview of his Edinburgh fringe performances and acted by way of a warm-up. The singing was a little bit shaky in a couple of places but this really wasn’t the point of this wonderful show. The story had everything you would wish for in a science fiction adventure and his brilliant spoken/stand-up/narration between songs was perfectly delivered. The focus was on the great songs. My favourite was A Little Bit which I thought was really beautiful. There were a lot of little touches/references aimed at us geeks and the whole concept worked really well – I hope they make a film of it.
Before Dinosaur Planet was Chris T-T. (okay, full disclosure: Chris T-T is my big brother) Chris usually does politically charged folk-rock beardy music. This time he was playing improvised piano!! I loved this, particularly the second piece which seemingly messed around with time-signatures or at least with the accents and weighting so it sounded as if there were different time-signatures – I’m not sure. Bits of the pieces reminded me of well written songs, they seemed to have melody and structure even though they were completely improvised. It might be cheesy of me to say so, but in places his playing reminded me of some of the current american musical theatre composers such as Jason Robert Brown or Adam Guettel (this is meant to be a compliment if you are reading this Chris!). He finished with four of his acoustic songs which went down a treat with the friendly crowd.
The piano in the pub had a sticky key which added to the ambience of the sound (PJ Harvey used the roughness of piano recordings to beautiful effect in her piano album White Chalk on occasion including the sound of a sticky key).
A lovely evening filled with friends and family and hello to new friends too.
p.s. there’s a spider in the room, I tried to pick it up with a newspaper but it ran too fast so I squealed and dropped the newspaper on the floor whilst running away from it. I hope it finds a new home.Tags: Chris T-T, MJ Hibbett, science fiction
This weekend has been different. I have experienced what it feels like to be the other side of the stage/lense etc.
Firstly I went to Lexapalooza. This is an awesome annual one-dayer in aid of breast cancer charity. Because it was a charity gig, I bought a ticket online like a good-gig-goer and even got there at the start in time to catch the first band (Chris T-T and the Hoodrats who ripped it up!). Anyway, I got there a little bit early and although I know the lovely and gorgeous Evan and Dani, I didn’t jump queue or talk my way in early and was quite happy chilling in the sunshine outside the event with the other fans.
Having not had to queue for a gig for quite a long time, this set me up in a different way – I had already decided who out of the crowd I thought was a twonk and who I thought was really cool because of overhearing their in-queue banter (I guess it’s the equivalent of when you’re watching a play and everyone’s going “oh, YES, I saw Patrick Stewart’s one-man show last year and blah blah BLAH” – trying to sound like they really know what they’re talking about). It did also build the anticipation, along with hearing faint bits of the final sound checks etc from inside. Then finally we were let in YIPPEEE – such a good afternoon!
The festival was really really good. I particularly enjoyed the set from Jedethan who are metal rock insane and their guitarist looks a lot like the skinny guy out of series 2 of the Wire (Ziggy). Of course I really enjoyed the aforementioned Hoodrats and CT-T as well, especially their hardcore King of England (without me *sobsob*) and the last song Where Were You? which both rocked hard the bassy and very very loud sound system. Evan and Dani did a really amazing job and I hope they raised lots of money through ticket sales and through the collection boxes dotted around. If you are reading this and didn’t go to the event this year, please do find out how to donate anything you can to them via their various web-presences (search: Lexapalooza).
Although the festival went on well into the evening, I went home early to watch Cronos with Kal. It’s a weird, glorious, influential 1993 film by Guillermo del Toro, I think it might be his first film, I’m not sure. It has hellboy in it playing his uncle’s muscle and a young girl who wears red a lot who has that young girl haircut (fringe and short straight bob a la pan’s labyrinth and leon etc). Won’t say too much cos I hate spoilers. Aces.
The second half of my weekend (sunday) was spent chilling in Victoria Park with my friend Emily looking forward to the Akira the Don gig at the Natural History Museum (one of my very favourite places in London). He did not disappoint.
As you all know, I am a huge Akira the Don fan. To be on the other side like this is a strange feeling. I have seen fandom by proxy before from backstage, from standing around in the wings and from the cosy yet exposed merch stall but not quite so directly from the fan’s-eye-view (apart from a few idols: PJ Harvey, Liam Finn, Bjork, Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip, I don’t get star-struck at all easily but did on this occasion). It was an awesome gig, definitely a harder sound than the first time I saw him live and much more stage involvement from both Joey2Tits and James which added to the atmosphere and did make you want to hear more from them both. The vast array of influences actually gives Akira’s music a completely individual sound and there is such a high quality of live performance from him and his whole band.
The famous Pan Mask made an appearance and the set left the whole crowd wanting more (especially me who was left shouting ‘more more’ after everyone dispersed – embarrassingly a FAIL ha ha!). The lovely Rachel sold me a copy of the early AtD CD and I went home on the tube with a big grin on my face. I hope to see you all at the next gig – avidly awaiting details.
So all in all, this weekend has been a time for turning the tables on myself. To seeing truly what it feels like to be a fan and feel a bit awkward and embarrassed when around your idols is all part of the experience. I only hope my next few tunes/gigs measure up to those I’ve seen this weekend. I’ve got a lot of practicing to do!
xxTags: Akira the Don, Chris T-T, Lexapalooza