Friday, 24 December 2010

Hello.

Hello blog.
It's been a while. I haven't forgotten about you, or stopped writing here.
The truth is, the last two months have been pretty quiet, pretty gig free and not much has been happening except for work and sleeping. I promise to pick the pace back up.
From me.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Pooh Watercolour finished!

So, early in October (only slightly later than planned), I put the final stitches to my Pooh Watercolour cross stitch. This year is going well for stitching so far, I'm on track to finish the 4 pieces I had in mind by the end of the year, although with the dark evenings, it's a little trickier.

I think it turned out pretty well, it's going to a work colleague, so hopefully her daughter will enjoy it.

Here's a little piccie of the finished piece.

Showcase:Live, Queen of Hoxton

My first time downstairs at the Queen of Hoxton, and what a super little venue!

This was my first time at Showcase:Live, and I'll definitely be going back. We had the pleasure of seeing Polar Night, The Pictures and finally Steve Appleton.

First on, Polar Night had that lovely full band sound, and to say this was their first London show I was mighty impressed. The room was already packed when we arrived, and I could feel my feet tapping along as I stood at the bar, I could happily listen to this music anytime, I look forward to seeing what's next for them.

The Pictures played a two person acoustic set. Apparently these guys were well known from the TV show Must Be The Music, which I have to admit I never watched, so really, not a clue what to expect. Bizarrely, the two people who played the set were the lead singer and the one who appears to be the drummer in the full band setup, but here was playing guitar. I have to say that the three of us were TOTALLY mesmerised by the drummer's cheeky grin...this was lighting up the room with his smile territory, not many people can do that. The lead singer was a bit nuts, but they were really excellent, so I'd love to see them as a full band. Here's the video from Must Be The Music.

Finally, Steve Appleton. You'll see that we saw Steve Appleton earlier in the year, and he was the main draw for us to this gig. A little bit different to last time, and without a full band, he played a couple of older songs, but mostly demo'd some new ones, which were really great. This man has more talent in his little finger than I have in my whole body, and between the guitar, the keyboard and using his new loop station, the sound was full and interesting. He even managed to pull off Twist and Shout out at the end for an encore. I very much look forward to hearing more from him.

Gotan Project, Troxy

And now for something completely different.

I really don't know how to describe the Gotan Project. They make sexy, sultry Tango music. I wasn't sure how this would translate to a live show, but with the Troxy as a venue, and a packed house to play to, it worked well.

Gotan Project are a band that I hear a lot, Rob likes to play this as music to relax to, and this works well for both of us. Their sound is distinctive, chilled out, and people at the gig moved to the back of the standing area to dance with each other...the type of live music where you're able to do that, despite being in a room with well over 2000 other people, well, that's a bit special.

I was worried that it'd all sound a bit samey, but thankfully the songs all sounded sufficiently different. The background projected visually interesting videos, a feast for the eyes and with the guys and ladies on the stage radiating sexiness, the Tango 3.0 show was enjoyable from beginning to end.

If you're not familiar with these guys, check them out... here is the new video Rayuela.

McFly



I had a lot of comments and eyerolling from people when I said I was going to see McFly. This I do not understand, because I think secretly some of these people guiltily like them. I think there was some jealousy going on because I was openly able to admit that I like them and I was going to see them live.

There's a bit of a backstory here... In the place where I work, there also used to work a grown man, we will call him M. On Fridays, M would get woken up by the radio wishing him a Happy McFly Day and with the playing of the McFly track 'Star Girl'. M would then make his way into the office, and pass on Happy McFly Day with the playing of the track out loud to the office and singing along with it. This reminded me how good and fun and silly they actually are, and that I really enjoy their music. Therefore when the show came along, we got tickets to see it, but sadly M couldn't come along with me, so I took my cousin instead.

So... the gig!

The boys kicked off with the track 'Party Girl' from the new album (Above the Noise, released 15th November 2010). Now, the video for this track is rather a lot raunchier than the McFly that I'd seen before. Interesting for me that they are taking this new direction, McFly are getting sexy. They are also releasing their first mini-feature film, which has 7 of the songs from the new album. More information on that is on their website, but it seems that they've been very busy boys!

The live version of Party Girl sounded pretty close to the recorded one, and I'd say that most of the audience knew it, so from the first note, everyone was up and jumping and dancing around and singing their little hearts out. The vibe was one of pure entertainment, and that's the reason I love bands like this, it's a complete pleasure to be at their gigs, and the audience ranged from pre-teen kids all the way to people my age, older and a few with white hair! Fun for all the family :)

The band played through a number of the tracks from older albums... I felt especially giddy at hearing them do Star Girl live... but they also tried out some of the material from the new album. I very much liked it, and I'm sure it'll only grow on me... a little bit older and wiser but still with a polished sound and lights show that makes you feel on top of the world, these boys really do know how to throw a concert.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Mayday Parade, Islington O2 Academy

8th October & 11th October
------------------------------
Yep, Mayday Parade were double-headlining alongside The Maine. I decided to write them up separately. For me, these were dream gigs. Two of my top 5 bands playing on the same night.

I love both the Mayday Parade albums, they are two of the favourite albums that I own, love every song from both of them. The last time I saw them in April, the sound in the Forum was terrible. I wasn't sure what to expect this time.

Almost as soon as The Maine had left the stage, the pushing forward started. It was the same in April, I don't know what makes these fans go nuts for Mayday, but the queues round the block and the crazy fan moshing are unlike anything I've ever seen for any other band. It's like they spray some magic potion into the air. The thing is, Mayday are good live, if you know the songs, but they are not the most brilliant band ever - at some points they sound like just a lot of noise. They are a bit wild, a bit wacky, they jump around a lot and play their guitars over their heads.

Yes, I love the songs, I really get into it and sing along, and jump a lot, but whereas The Maine improved on their songs by singing them live, this wasn't the case for Mayday - which was disappointing for me - the recorded stuff sounds much better. A couple of times, the band stopped mid song to speak to the audience, which felt a bit gimmicky and I don't think went down particularly well.

However, they did pull together an impressive setlist from their songbook, and it made the set seem longer than just over the hour that it actually was. Everyone got to sing along to the hugely popular 'Miserable at Best', which was pretty sweet, and with both Black Cat and Jamie All Over in there as well, it made it a good gig for me. Given that the tickets for both The Maine and Mayday Parade were only £12, I'm giving it 7.5/10.

The Maine, Islington O2 Academy


8th October & 11th October
--------------------------------
Tight.
That was the thought I had. It was the same comment that Steve made on Monday. Rob was also impressed with the live show and said he'd see them live again.
It's the first time I've seen the same group more than once on the same tour. I wouldn't do it for just anyone. But there's something about The Maine.
They were only on the stage for just over an hour, but they blasted through all of my favourite songs from both Can't Stop, Won't Stop and their new album Black and White.

They also kickstarted the evening with a romping, stomping new track, a bit of audience participation, and given that there was no support act, this was a great way to kick off the show and get everyone moving.

It's pretty clear how seriously The Maine take their jobs. They look like they are having fun, but everything is spot on. They've grown up a little with the second album - in every sense - music, lyrics, visually - gone is the long hair and young band look, replaced by something a bit mature, a bit edgier. John's voice has matured, it's more rock-n-rolly, quite a unique sound to it, and I actually thought that many of the songs they sang from the first album sounded better than on that album - whether this was more down to the 'liveness' or the maturity, I'm not sure.

How well known the band are over here in the UK is hard to say. This is their second trip to the UK, and certainly the songs from Can't Stop, Won't Stop were well known amongst the audience, the newer songs that were played have been publicised on www.wearethemaine.net, but I've not really seen Black and White selling over here in retail stores, I had to order mine from the US. Having said that, it didn't seem to stop the members of the audience getting right into the newer music, all the people right next to me were very much getting involved (the boys and the girls).

I can see massive potential in these guys, and I hope that they continue to tour the UK periodically. I'd love for them to get enough of a following to play somewhere like Somerset House and record a live album once they have another album or so under their belts. More than anything else, they work damn hard and they are likeable guys. I want them to succeed :)

Their live show was one of the most enjoyable I've seen, I just wish I'd been closer to the front. I woke up at 6am the next morning, grinning, counting myself lucky, and unable to get back to sleep for thinking about how good it was. 9/10

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Eurogamer Expo, Earls Court

At the beginning of October, I headed on down the Earls Court for this years Eurogamer Expo 2010. A whole roomful of fun, many teenage geeky boys and a handful of bored looking girls tagging along after them. Ok, I'm being sexist, there were some girls like me who went to actually have a go on the games, but the majority of the crowd were the boy variety.

This was a chance to see what's up and coming on the gaming scene, to oooh and aaaah at the graphics and to try on some of those silly 3D specs, which actually were a big improvement from the ones you get at the cinema.

I'm not a big fan of playing shoot-em-ups, I find the whole thing rather time consuming and dull and a bit repetitive, but it was obvious that a big focus of the show was the latest Assassins Creed game that took up the most floor space.

One of the more interesting games for me was seeing Killzone 3 with the 3D gaming. It being my first experience of 3D games, I popped on the glasses and watched one of the other guys having a go. It was a pretty immersive experience, but I'm sure that, like with most of the 3D games I saw, you have to be close to the screen and also that you couldn't play this for any long period of time as it's just too in your face. I tried out the GT5 game for PS3 with the 3D glasses and it was a similar story, really good for a while, but I think it'd get tiresome. However, looking at GT5 without the 3D was a pretty impressive experience. The graphics looked amazing - smooth and sleek, and this will definitely be a game that I buy. When it finally comes out.

Other driving games on show were F1 2010 and the new Motorstorm: Apocolypse, which, if I'm honest just seemed really frustrating - half of the time it was impossible to see where you were driving, so I felt that the only way to win at this game was to learn what obstacles appeared where, which takes the fun out of it a bit.

However, by far the most spectacular demo of 3D was with Starcraft II for the PC. Oh my word, the clarity and the popping out of the screen, I just wanted to put my hand out and touch things that weren't even really there. It stood out way ahead of any of the other 3D games.

I also had a go on the Playstation Move, playing table tennis. To me, it seemed a lot like playing on the Wii, and seeing as I already have one of those, I can't see myself investing in the PS Move any time soon.

The similar offering from Xbox, Kinect, has no controllers, you control it with your body. This made for some interesting demos, as I watched people playing table tennis with their hands, driving a car with their hands but no steering wheel, and jumping up and down in some water rafting game. Not very impressed with this, I like the feedback that I get from holding something in my hands. However, there was also Dance Central, using the same equipment, which looked huge amounts of fun, and was a game that I could really see this tech working for. Having said that, the kit is pretty expensive at £129, I doubt I'll be likely to buy it until it comes down in price or until there are more games that I want to play with it.

Saving the best for last, the new kit for Rock Band 3 was on show, with the extended drum kit (now 4 pads, 3 cymbals), the new keyboard, and of course the guitars for the Pro version. My word the guitars look complex. not only do you now have to hit the right colour, but you also have to hit the correct button (e.g. red 5, blue 3 etc). I'm more a fan of the drums myself, but I'm only just levelling up to medium, so it'll be a while until I get anywhere near pro. All good fun though, and I fully expect to buy RB3.

Most ridiculous looking game of the show I think had to go to Def Jam Rapstar - I imagine if you like rapping it might be quite good fun, but it had me in hysterics even at the idea of it, let alone the couple giving it a go (even though they were quite good!) Just a step too far for me!

Overall then, the show was really interesting and gave me a lot of ideas for what I'll be looking out for in the coming months. Its always nice to go and try out the new stuff, the show was really well organised, with a separate area for the over 18 games, everyone was well behaved and the queues weren't too big for any of the games. There were also some workshops and developer sessions, although I didn't attend any of these. And for £8, I thought it was an absolute bargin.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Innocent Cafe

A couple of weeks ago, the Innocent newsletter plonked into our inbox containing some good news. Innocent were opening a cafe for a week, and oh, how much excitement, it was just around the corner from our office. Two things excited me about this... the mention of food, and the fact that they were offering 5 portions of fruit/veg for a fiver, to show people how easy it is to get your five portions a day. Can't really go wrong then, can we?

Yesterday, 6 of us headed out for lunch at the Innocent 5 for 5 cafe in the Tramshed just close to Hoxton Square. It's only open for a week, and this was their first day.

We were greeted by some very happy smiley innocent employees, all far too hyped up, but well they should be because the Tramshed looked great. All big long wooden tables, twinkly fairy lights, lots of cute little pot plants, and well, it looked magic.



The deal is that you get two courses, either starter and main or main and pudding for £5. Drinks are an extra £1.50 on top, and you can choose from one of the innocent smoothies, some This Water, or else if you want to bring your own wine or beer, they charge £1.50 a head for that too. All is good so far. The menu sounds great, and we are seated opposite a big hotplate where the food comes out before delivery. We spot food that looks delicious, fresh and colourful. We get excited.

Ok, it's their first day. but it seemed to take a long time to get anyone to give us any attention. We were one of the first groups of people through the door, and we had to ask someone to come and take our order. And it seemed that he could only do drinks. We had to ask again for someone to take our meal order. Three of our starters arrived. We had to ask for the other two. The drinks weren't all right. It was sort of funny really. A bit fawlty towers. If you had been in a hurry, it would have been a problem. But, it was their first day, and the tramshed is huge, a lot of pressure and the waiters looked a tad lost and all very stressed out. I'm sure they just need to work through it.

The food itself was really tasty. I enjoyed Beetroot and horseradish pierogi with sour cream, pickled red cabbage and paprika.

This was followed by Sweet potato brik with roasted pepper, courgette and chickpea salad. Here's a photo:



The brik was really great, I thought very tasty and something I'd consider making at home. Which is cool really, cos on the way out we also were given a pack full of tasty recipes that they are preparing this week, one of them being the delicious sweet potato brik. You can also find a whole bunch of recipes on their website here.

So, I guess that I'd say that it was a lunchtime well spent. Apart from the few hiccups with the waiters, the atmosphere was great and fun and exciting, the food was really very tasty and the price was a total bargin. The cafe will be serving until the 8th of October, but is sadly sold out now, so if you're one of the lucky ones who bagged yourself a £5 lunch, enjoy it!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Muse, Wembley Stadium

Any die hard Muse fan will probably tell you that this was the best gig they've ever been to. I knew almost nothing about them, apart from the odd song I might have heard Rob play in the house, but that I wouldn't necessarily have known was them.

Support was from I Am Arrows, White Lies and Biffy Clyro who I've not seen live before but thought they were all really good and got the crowd geared up for the main act... although they didn't turn the volume up until they played Green Day's Holiday right before Muse came on.

So, it was September 11th, and Muse kicked off their show with silver suits, a procession of flags and the song Uprising. All at once, everyone on the pitch standing put up an arm, and there started the sound and lighting spectacular that would carry on for 2 hours.

The pace was pretty furious as they went through their songs, and then a few slower ones which kicked into crowd stompers half way through. But by three quarters of the way through the show I was really ready for a break. Even from the back of the stadium, it was so loud and so full on that it made me feel a bit sick, so I can't imagine what it would have been like in the pit.

The thing I took away from this, not knowing much about them was that Muse are space-agey. The set was an impressive spacey looking building built in a V shape pointing out toward the audience, with screens down both sides and lights over the band pointing out towards the audience. There was a flying saucer complete with alien girl doing acrobatics on a wire which came all the way around the stadium, and a very bright light up suit on one of Muse, which made my eyes go all funny, so I have no idea how he coped with wearing it while playing the guitar. Also a podium in the middle that spun round in a spaceship fashion, and the usual streamers and big balloon type objects filled with paper. All in all though, there wasn't much talking to the crowd, they just came in and got on with it. They know how to command the stage and the audience though - I've never seen a mosh pit where the entire floor from the front to the very back was jumping in unison, but this was it.

I think perhaps had I known more of the tracks I'd have found it better, but by the end, I was just tired of the lightshow, and the songs were beginning to sound the same. So for die-hard fans of Muse, it was probably the gig of their life. I thought it was pretty good, but definitely not gig of the year, for me anyway. 8/10.

Here's one of the videos to give you a feel for the show, and this was probably my favourite part, but there are plenty on youtube so go have a look.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Boy Soldiers



Last week I got a tip off about a new show opening up around the corner from my office. I didn't manage to get to the opening night, but I caught the show during the next day.

The idea is simple, 30 Street/Contemporary/Fine artists, each customising Schoony's Boy Soldier. I found the results pretty amazing, just because each piece was so vastly different, imaginative and interesting.

The show moves on to the Graffik Gallery on Portobello Road from tomorrow, it's well worth checking out... As always, the art is so much better viewed when it's right in front of you.

Those of you who can't make it, here's a selection of images.






Thursday, 26 August 2010

Tap Dogs, Novello Theatre

If you've been around in London recently, you'll most likely have seen the adverts as you go up the escalator in the tube stations for Tap Dogs, with Adam Garcia's face grinning back at you. I've never been to a purely dance show, but I saw tickets on lastminute.com for 10 quid to sit in the balcony, so I convinced a friend to come with me and off we went.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from the show, for a start, because it's a dance show, it's shorter than most things you'd see in a theatre at only an hour and a half. But it felt like a full length show. Now imagine the tone of the show. It's like tap dancing, crossed with watching the chippendales (with less nudity). These guys are FIT, there are muscles everywhere. Their precision is impressive, I found myself holding my breath and staring in awe a lot. It was exhausting to watch them, but huge amounts of fun.

The show itself I found very inventive. I did wonder how they would keep us entertained just by tapping for an hour and a half, but there was a huge amount of set changing, cool lighting and sound effects, props... I don't want to give too much away, but I was mighty impressed with what they did. The only thing I'd say to be wary of was that sitting in the balcony, you don't get to see a couple of things... firstly, the girls beating a rhythm on the drums, and secondly there's a short section where one of the dancers is hoisted up - but the others are still on the floor, so I thought it was ok.

For the price we paid, I think it was an absolute steal. I probably wouldn't have gone to see the show if it had been much more expensive, but having seen it, I'd probably have paid maybe up to £20-£25 for a ticket because it feels like a proper full on show like a musical or a gig. I'm so glad that I went, and I can highly recommend it...especially while you can get cheap tickets on lastminute.com (a note though, the trailer REALLY doesn't do the show justice).

Just a warning though, if you're in the front two rows, better get your poncho on!

Grab a ticket now - it's only on until the 5th September.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Jamie's Italian, Canary Wharf

It's been a while now since my favourite restaurant in London shut down. That was Passione, owned by Gennaro Contaldo, who just so happened to be one of the mentors Jamie learned from when he was working on his series in Italy. What upset me most when Passione shut down was that I thought I'd never again taste olives so amazing. I was wrong, and when I saw them on the menu last night, I think I got a bit over-excited.

This was the second time that we had tried to get into Jamie's Italian. The first, it was packed out and the wait time was too long. This time we got straight in, and the staff were kind enough to give us a lovely big table by the window. We arrived at 7pm on a Saturday evening, and there were quite a lot of families with young children. It's quite a big restaurant though, and in the course of the evening, there were hen parties, families, couples...basically, it's good for anyone. We were able to take our time with the food, never felt pressured to eat quickly or give the table back, and the staff were really friendly.

The food itself was delicious. I had the World's Best Olives on ice - and they aren't lying. Haven't tasted olives this amazing since I used to eat them in Passione, and I've been looking for them ever since. Hooray that I've found them again! I also had the Mozzarella Di Bufala (creamy and delicious!) as a starter, followed by the Feather Steak for my main (yummy!), with a side of the Posh Chips (crunchy!)... and then I just about managed some of my pudding - Ultimate Chocolate, Raspberry and Amaretto Brownie (rich and melty!) - although I did need help to finish it.

Overall then, I really enjoyed the food, and the restaurant itself was pretty lovely, although there's quite a bit of hustle and bustle because of the size and the number of families in there. Well worth trying out though! 8/10

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

VNA 12 launch


At some point last year, I decided that I liked graffiti art. It might have been during my many treks down the south bank during my lunch hour, watching the artwork changing on a weekly basis where the kids hang around on their skateboards; I think it was definitely before I went to see the Green Day art project. Anyway, the Green Day show opened up to me a whole new world of artists.

Because of that and because I pinged around a bit on twitter taking a closer look at some of them, I found VNA (Very Nearly Almost). This is a really good quality, quarterly magazine which has interviews and photos of some of the best graffiti artwork around. Not only that but as I found out last week, they throw a cracking issue launch party. I bought my first issue, and really enjoyed it. I'm a girl who likes to look at the pictures, but it's very cool to also read the interviews and find out how the artists got to where they are now. I shall be a regular reader from here on in.

It's 100 pages of deliciousness. Grab a copy here.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Stitchy catchup

Alrighty then! It's the middle of August and so time to have a little checkup of where I'm at with the stitching. I'm currently working on a great Winnie the Pooh design...I like to stitch with the recipient in mind, so before I started, I offered it up to see who wanted it when I'm done (I only have so much wall space and family members to palm things off on) and it's going to a work friend for her little one. Also, this keeps me motivated to keep going and stay on track.

Anyways, I think I'm about halfway through now, I've finished Tigger and Piglet and the edging at the bottom of the piece, so I'll be moving onto Eeyore and Pooh next. I was hoping to finish 4 pieces in total this year, so I reckon this one needs to be completed some time in September, or before if possible, so I can get a head start on the next piece.

So, I'm doing ok, and this is how it's looking... I have a rare couple of weeks without any gigs, so I'm hoping to really crack on with it while I have the evenings free, although it's starting to get darker earlier which makes things more difficult!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Madina Lake

So in a change to the kind of thing I normally write, this is going to be a bit of a hybrid post, one because I have a gig to write up, but two, said gig involves digging into personal feelings. Probably for the best that I'm also writing this late at night with the lights down low and in that whole headspace.

So, the gig in question is Madina Lake, who came over to the UK to fulfil their gig commitments without Matthew (read the background here). When I heard what happened to him, I happened to be at work, and I spent the entire day with tears in my eyes, hardly able to talk to anyone and feeling like I was holding my breath. I didn't know the band all that well, never met them personally and my only experience of them really was the gig back in April where I thought they were all totally crazy monkeys jumping all over the stage. Pretty strange then that I should find myself crying big fat tears in the toilet and spending every quiet moment wishing and hoping to I don't know who that Matthew would pull through. When I read that same evening that he was awake, I could hardly believe it. I think some of my friends think I'm crazy, but hey, you can't help how you feel and this just got to me like nothing else.

When the guys said they were still coming over without Matthew to play all their shows, I was pretty surprised, but having been to the gig at the Barfly on Wednesday evening, I can sort of see that they felt it was the right thing to do. With an audience of just 200 people, the atmosphere was supercharged, and from my point of view, if Nathan, Mateo and Dan could come out onto that stage and give it everything they had, then I could do the same from the audience, because this show was about us showing support for them and for Matthew. For about the hundredth time in a month, Nathan's words brought tears to my eyes as he kept saying that we were their family, and listening to him, I really believe that's how he feels, no matter what any of the cynical people I know might say.

I have no idea how Nathan manages to sing while the audience is holding him up and stroking him, his newly shaved head was getting rather a lot of attention. I knew all of the songs this time around (my enjoyment of gigs seems to be determined by how many songs I can sing along to) and I absolutely let rip singing and dancing...not bad to say I'm way past being a teenager...although why I got ID'd at an over 14's gig when I'm old enough to be the parent of a 14 year old...gah!!! I'm supposed to be thankful or some such nonsense that I look young? I was obviously old enough to be holding the gin and soda in my hand. At least it gave a few people a laugh :-)

I was hoping to meet the guys after the gig, but sadly, we hung around for as long as we could and they still hadn't come out - to be honest, I just want to put my arms round each of them. What's become clear to me is that these guys are really, really nice, decent guys. So, however quietly I support them, whether any of them realise it or not, the support will be there for life, that's just the way I work.

So for me, this gig has beaten all others I've been to in my lifetime. It was emotional, and personal and intimate. I think the only thing that's going to top this gig for me is the one where we have Matthew back, and that's a gig I can hardly wait for.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Glow @IndigO2

Rob and I headed out to a showcase of unsigned talent last night at the Indigo in the O2 arena. This is a 2350 capacity venue inside the O2 dome. I've only been here a couple of times, but as a gig venue I absolutely love it. There is seating upstairs which can be used for certain gigs, but when the main O2 arena was built, this smaller piece clearly wasn't an afterthought. The sound is fantastic, and they've put in extra special features like beer taps which can pour a pint in 7 seconds, and the back of the stage opens up after the gig straight out onto the carpark for easy loading and unloading for the band!

Rob was lucky enough to get himself a press pass to the event, and so managed to get in front of the barrier for the whole gig. I was standing front row for the whole evening as well, and was lucky enough to be able to grab his spare camera to take some snaps myself.

The lineup for the evening was pretty varied, we saw 6 different bands - 'til Dusk kicked off the evening, and they were a cracking start, their whole rock and roll thing was right up my street and they obviously had personality and a sense of humour, despite their friends in the audience trying to put them off! Check out their music here:
http://www.myspace.com/tildusk

Second up was Kellie-Leigh, and this lady has an amazingly strong voice. She looked and sounded every inch the star and looked like she was having a whale of a time up on the stage. To be honest, I can't believe she's unsigned, I reckon she's got a brilliant career in front of her, I'd quite happily buy her music any day.
http://www.kellileigh.co.uk/

Edit Select came next, I wasn't sure what to make of them, at various points they sounded a little like madness, they were pretty quirky, catchy and good fun!
http://www.myspace.com/editselectband

Fourth in the line-up was Kites. Really wasn't sure about this band at all, but out of nowhere this huge following of people appeared behind me and was really going for it. Check them out for yourselves: http://www.wearekites.com/

Chasing Ora was next. Again, not really my kind of music, I like something a bit heavier, but make up your own mind by having a listen here: http://www.myspace.com/chasingora

Finally, the reason Rob and I were there, Morning Lane. These guys clearly have the look down perfectly, I was thinking Jared Leto meets Jeffrey Dean Morgan for the lead singer, but they played a really solid set and an encore. Have a listen and see what you think: http://www.morning-lane.com

Pictures to follow soon!

Black And White

So, a few weeks ago, the lovely shiny new album from The Maine came out. I was a bit slow off the mark with this one, and didn't order the deluxe edition, I seem to have something against pre-ordering, not sure why. Anyways, I did order it on the website a week or so later. And it's sooooooo pretty. In the deluxe edition, you basically get handwritten notes by the band on the making of the album. I love this... all the behind the scenes stuff fascinates me. I'm the one who watches the extras on DVDs, lol.

I'd heard a couple of tracks from the album on the band website, and I would say that the album as a whole has a completely different feel from the first one - Cant Stop, Won't Stop. This one feels somehow more grown up, John's voice is much more rock and roll, and as I listen to the album, I can't help thinking that it has a distinctly classic rock sound. I'm not completely sure yet if this is a good or bad thing, but of all the songs on the album I'd say that I really like most of them - although particular favourites for me are Right Girl, Inside Of You, Fuel To The Fire and Listen To Your Heart which are all insanely catchy and make me want to sing my head off and dance around.

I'm glad that these guys are now on their second full length album - to celebrate the release of Black and White, these crazy guys did 24 hours straight of promotion and live video streams - just when I was getting up one morning, it was about 2am their time, they all looked totally shattered, but I caught the live stream of Pat (the drummer) learning how to make doughnuts I think it was... I love these little insights, and I thought he was a real sweetie!

So anyways, go buy the album, or check out the music on their website here.

I'm also terribly terribly pleased and excited that they will be coming over to the UK at the beginning of October to do a double headliner with Mayday Parade, one of my other top 5 bands. Better be quick though, some shows are already sold out!

Bim

Ok, so I'm really late with this. But I wanted to tell you about Bim. They played at one of the EQ live nights that I am completely addicted to, and as such I completely missed everything they did as I was sat at the other side of the bar, talking to friends I'd not seen for ages. Needless to say, Rob told me that they were great, so when I saw that they were doing a small gig at the end of July, my guilt and interest prompted me to get tickets, and Rob and I ended up in the very cool but very tiny Workshop (under the Roadtrip bar) in Old Street.

So Bim are Tim and Rebecca. They are both terribly adorable. The gig that they were doing was for the launch of their album, Scatterheart. I love the artwork for this album, and the songs are just beautiful. Particular favourites of mine are Stay in My Memory and The Battle, and I've found myself listening to the album on my phone when I need some chillout music.

You can catch Bim at Cargo on 28th August, go check out their website and music here!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Graffiti6

26th July in a packed, baking hot room in the Vibe Bar, East London. A couple of hundred people were there for the single launch of Graffiti6 song 'Annie You Save Me'. The single has been getting good airplay in the UK, and it's a corker of a song.

Graffiti6 is a collaboration between producer Tommy D and singer/songwriter Jamie Scott. To be honest, it's like no sound I've heard before, and its this sound that has been on my headphones a lot recently. It's pretty chilled out and uplifting, and as a live 6 piece they are absolutely cracking. On top of all that, they are both friendly and funny. Their collaboration is completed with the addition of artist Jimi Crayon, whose artwork is distinctive, unusual and used in their live shows in background projections, and on their merchandise... (my pink graffiti6 t-shirt is absolutely one of the favourite things I own now).

Graffiti6 have already played a mini uk tour and have had sold out shows in the Netherlands. Definitely one to watch, here's the video for the single Annie You Save Me.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Temper Trap, Somerset House

Last night I went with friends to see The Temper Trap. I don't remember exactly what first got me listening to them, it was a while ago, but this is an Aussie band that I really like, although I can't exactly put my finger on why.

The lead singer knows how to work the stage, he moved around it all snake hips like, and switched between instruments a number of times - my favourite moment being a drum bashing once they'd poured water onto the top. The bass player mainly stuck out to me for his wacky hair and lovely black shiny bass guitar.

It had been a while since I'd listened through the album, and I couldn't really remember most of the songs, but I found that the stage show, the lighting and just the general atmosphere made up for that. They finished with the fantastic Sweet Disposition, and set against the backdrop of Somerset House, where the sound always comes across so well, and the beautiful lighting, it just added so much to the atmosphere. One of the best all round shows I've seen this year.

AIR, Somerset House

I'd never really heard of AIR, but Rob is quite a fan, so we got tickets to see them in the Somerset House summer season.

I did know a few more songs than I thought I did, Cherry Blossom Girl being one of them.

Overally, I thought the gig was OK, but thought the tickets were a bit overpriced. For £30 a head once you've added on the fees, it would normally be a band I really liked who would get me to spend that much to see them live. I found the music quite repetitive, but the other people in the crowd seemed to be having a good time, so maybe it was just me.

All in all, a more chilled out affair than the gigs we saw last year. I think I prefer to listen to that sort of music straight off a CD, the live gig-ness doesn't add much for me personally.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

L'Autre Pied

Last year, E and I went to the restaurant Pied à Terre and munched through 10 courses of goodness. Birthday time came around again, and this year we decided to try the sister restaurant, L'Autre Pied.

It really wasn't difficult for either of us to decide on the 7 course tasting menu, and being a little bit cheeky this time I got the camera out to take a snap of each course. E decided to also have the six wine sampler with each of the courses. Knowing that I struggle with posh food and fancy wine together, I decided to be good and stuck with the gin.

So, first up... Chiled Carrot and Ginger Soup, Blood Orange, Cristallized Ginger, Coriander Cress



Very impressive from the first mouthful, it was deliciously velvety and we were able to taste all the different flavours individually. I found it quite filling, it looked like a small portion in the bowl, but there was more in there than I expected! We had some tasty olive bread to go alongside.

Second course... Poached and Roasted Breast of Quail, Broad Beans, Wild Garlic and Herb Broth



Again, great flavours. The egg was a lovely touch, the quail was tender and the broth was just light and delicious. I could have happily drunk a pint of it. The portion was the perfect size and not too heavy.

Third up...Pan Fried Cod, Wye Valley Asparagus, Jersey Royal Potatoes, Lightly Smoked Sabayon



The cod was falling apart lovliness, the potatoes were perfectly crushed underneath and again, each of the flavours individually stood out - even the tiniest piece of herb on the top of the fish.

Onto four...Roasted Loin of Pork, Potato Fondant, Peas a la Francaise, Tarragon Jus



Starting to get a bit full at this point, but the pork was deliciously tender. The potato and peas had a lovely bit of bite and the sauce was delicious (I love sauce of any kind really).

Fifth course... almost there now... Selection of French and British Farm House Cheeses



Bit disappointing here... the waitress brought out a platter of 6 cheeses and explained them each to us, but then it seemed like we couldn't say 'all of them please' so we ended up picking 3. We ate them along with some tasty crackers and I thought they were all nice but not outstanding.

Number six course... Vanilla Panacotta, Cinnamon Foam, Poached Rhubarb



After a decent selection of meat, fish, bird and veg, it was nice to have something light here. It was melty in the mouth, again the flavour of vanilla, cinnamon and rhubarb coming through in equal measure.

Finally at the end...White Chocolate Mousse, Toasted Almonds, Strawberry Sorbet, Almond Foam



I'm not personally a fan of white chocolate or strawberry sorbet, but this was perfectly fine to finish off with... light and tasty and a nice ending to the meal. Being very full at this point, I really didn't need anything heavy.

As with all the dishes, the presentation of the food was immaculate, as you can see from the photographs. The ambience of L'Autre Pied is very very different from that of Pied à Terre. The former has more of a bustle to it, it's a little more for casual eating with groups of friends. The latter you talk to your dining companions in whispers and it is a much calmer atmosphere. All in all though, the food was excellent, I'd definitely eat here again. 8.5/10.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Green Day, Wembley Stadium

Well, it took a whole 24 hours to sink in. At times I could hardly believe that since buying my tickets in November, the time was finally here, and this wonderful band were standing in front of me, doing their thing which they do so amazingly well. The Idiot Club members were posting their arrival times to the site and checking in with each other, saying how close to the front they were and happily chatting about having their tickets to the golden circle. Knowing that I can't stand for that long, we arrived in the queue at about 2pm (for a 4.30 door opening) and were easily able to choose front row seats instead.

Support was provided from Frank Turner, who was clearly having an amazing time on stage, giving it the full 'Hello, Wembley!!!' treatment and rocking out with his band.
Main support was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, who I was only familiar with for two of her songs, 'I Love Rock n Roll' and the fabulous 'Bad Reputation'. I thought she was absolutely brilliant, clearly the band had been doing this for a long time, they were incredibly tight, and as the stadium filled out, she got the audience prepped for the main act. I'm not sure GD could have picked a better support.

Rolling on to a couple of minutes to 8, out came the drunken bunny and the whole of the stadium got on their feet and joined in with YMCA. At bang on 8, the bunny wandered off, the intro to 21st Century Breakdown started, and Tre Cool came storming down the runway to huge cheers before launching his drumsticks back towards his kit. Billie Joe Armstrong didn't need to tell everyone to get up, we already were, although he did anyway. And so started a fantastic, storming, almost 3 hour long set, played at super speed and covering a huge amount of songs from the very early to the most recent. Fans were brought up on stage to join in with songs, super soakers and to stage dive. And you couldn't help but feel that for the band, this might just be a little bit special too... Billie Joe describing it as the 'Biggest show of our F***ing lives'.

Favourite parts for me was the whole audience singing along to Hey Jude, and even better, a whole verse of Boulevard of Broken Dreams - this being my first time at Wembley Stadium, this just made the whole evening amazing, the sound of that many voices, all beautifully clear and reverberating around the stadium. Billie Joe got to his knees, head to the floor and arms behind his back, Tre came out from behind the drums to listen and Mike held his fist to his heart. It sounded amazing from my seats, I can't even imagine how it was from the stage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rh0fQxZVK8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P9cAD3QO54

Tre Cool swapped places with Billie Joe to sing Dominated Love Slave, and both Tre and Mike had fun with Shout, kicking their legs up in the air and having a whale of a time - this is a band who knows how to make their shows fun, there are plenty of pyrotechnics - I could feel the heat from halfway back in the stadium, and couldn't help but squeal like a big wussy girl every time one of the big bangs happened, even when I remembered there was one coming. There was also plenty of funky camera stuff on the big screens. They are masters at totally engaging with the audience, although I always have the feeling that a huge amount of planning is there in the background as the various changeovers are so smooth. There wasn't a huge amount of change to the setlist from the October show last year, but that was to be expected really, these guys always seem to be on the road doing what they love. Their voices are as perfect live as they are on the studio recording.

Being fairly new to the whole Green Day experience, I'd had time to go back to the older songs and get familiar with them, and I enjoyed the gig a lot more for this. I loved that whole families seemed to have turned out for the event, the kids and their parents enjoying it in equal amounts, and you can't help but feel that Green Day actually give a stuff about their fans - the tickets aren't ridiculously expensive as for many shows these days, there are many benefits for the true fans - golden circle for those arriving early, plus early entry giveaways for fan club members, t-shirts fired into the crowd through the gig...these guys make an effort to engage with people as much as possible and the audience get to sing along and join in at many points in the gig. This time, '21 Guns' got an amazing reception, and as part of the encore, we also got to hear the new song 'When It's Time', which was spine tingling.

It's impossible to describe how amazing it was, but here are some of my favourite videos of the show from youtube:
American Idiot (look out for the wall of death!)
Second Encore - Billie Joe signing off / When it's Time / Wake Me Up When September Ends / Good Riddance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGgqsbKA1pA

As my friends who were in the mosh pit commented - Green Day set the bar so high for all other gigs, especially with the Wembley show. I just hope there's a DVD of the show in the pipeline. It's going to take a lot to beat these guys, they sure know how to Rock and Roll.

See the setlist on NME here.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Wicked

On Friday night I went to see Wicked for the second time at Apollo Victoria. I first saw it last October. This was one of the few shows I've been to see knowing almost nothing about it beforehand.

The set and costumes are big and beautiful, and I was surprised how many of the songs I remembered well from the first time, and happy to find that the hair on the back of my neck still stood up when the two main characters sang. They've had a pretty major cast change since last time, and the highlight again for me was the end of Act 1, when Elpheba sings Defying Gravity.

A nice surprise was Lee Mead in the role of Fiyero, he was spot on in the role and I'd definitely go and see another show of his.

If you like musicals and you haven't seen this one, go see it, it's one of the best I've ever seen.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Brum and Bang

Yesterday I went over to Canary Wharf after work to meet a friend and found that they had the motor expo on. As if Canary Wharf isn't shiny enough, there was even more shine as everyone tried to sell their super polished motors. The minis were very cute, white soft-top was adorable, but really I don't like the wibbly window on the back (I don't drive anyways, so it's not like it would actually matter to me). The purple Bentley was big and meaty...The James Bond car (no, I have no idea what type of car it is, I'm not even going to pretend I do) was my fave I think. Here's a picture:



Today, I spent the morning playing the drums on Green Day Rock Band. This was going to be quite interesting for me as I've got the kit for Band Hero, which is more closely aligned to Guitar Hero, so the first cymbal on the BH drum kit is the same as the second drum in the RB kit and this takes a little getting used to.

It looks like there's tons of stuff on the disc, including a whole heap of drumming tutorials which is great for a beginner. I played on easy, which I found had trickier combos than Band Hero does - you get thrown straight in playing more than one pad at a time - but thankfully it doesn't fail you if you play a few notes in a row badly, you at least get a chance to recover. I particularly enjoyed playing Warning and Minority at beginner level, as they weren't too tricky and made me feel like I was getting some aggression out!

If you're a big Green Day fan, it's perfect and great fun. I find it easy to pick up for 30 minutes and then leave for a while.

Here's the site, check it out:
http://www.greendayrockband.com/

Monday, 31 May 2010

Little girl...

So, I'm pretty on track stitching wise at the moment. I wanted to complete 4 kits this year... I'm halfway through the year almost and I've finished the Iris and also now I've finished the Banksy picture of the little girl with the balloon.

This one I'm definitely keeping, I love how it looks, and it's stitched up really well. The black took almost no time, but there were a lot of little stitches in many other colours which meant it took longer than I had anticipated once I started.

The fact that it's finished before the end of June gives me a little breathing space, which I'm quite happy about, although I find if I stick in the routine of doing a little every day, whether on my main project or a little side project, this helps keep me going and keeps me relaxed.

So, here's my little girl, I think I'll call her Gloria.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Drumtastic

This week was my birthday, and after nagging quite a lot for quite a long time, I was given the Band Hero kit (we totally have room for a set of drums... honest!)

After a bit of a slow start, I've spent a few days playing now and finally got into it... the drums are just great fun. I'd played a little guitar hero, but found that it gave me sore hands to play for too long as I'd be gripping the guitar too hard. The drum kit is much easier for me... although I am only playing on easy so far...I think anything more than that is gonna need a lot of practice.

Favourite song for when I'm feeling a bit grumpy has to be Joan Jett singing Bad Reputation, once you get the hang of it, it's a good speed and a lot of fun.

Of course, now the equipment is also compatible with the Rock Band games, I am mainly waiting for Green Day Rock Band, which is due out in a couple of weeks time. I'm thinking a little practice every night in the run up to then will be great. I'm sure it also counts as exercise... surely your arms and feet are getting a workout while you play drums, even if they are only a teeny gaming version!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Finished stitchy!

So I'm pretty happy. I've finished the cross stitch that I was doing. It's an Iris design that I bought around 5 years ago and only got round to starting at the start of this year. I'm impressed that it stitched up pretty quickly, it's probably the largest design I've done so far.

Here's a photo:



So that's the penguins done, the Iris done. Next up, Banksy's little girl with the balloon... (the Banksy design is one of the few that I'll actually keep).

Saturday, 1 May 2010

By the Seaside


This time last week, I reached the end of a very lovely holiday up on the North Yorkshire coast.

The base for the week was in Filey, which I didn't really remember much about - most of the times we went to the seaside when I was younger, we usually went to Scarborough.

Filey was a pleasant surprise. Although it's fairly small, it was clean, it had a lovely and huge sandy beach when the tide was out. There were enough shops and coffee shops and things to do. It was really quiet, especially at this time of the year. The weather for the week was mostly sunny, but fairly cold still. That didn't matter though, we got wrapped up and managed plenty of walks with my sister's dog. The arcades were fantastically old fashioned. 2p slots were plentiful, we won a fantastic Wall-E toy (amongst other things) without having spent more than a couple of quid.

The only real downside that we found was that for a lovely view of a beach in a self catering apartment, you have to give up any kind of internet connection or phone reception. Up in town, it worked fine, but to be honest I'd rather have the beach and the sound of the sea and the sunrise. We just had to do a little more planning between the 6 of us.

Later in the week, we made a special journey to Whitby for fish and chips. The best in the country, I swear, and believe me, I have sampled many. Here's a photo.



We stayed in St Kitts Holiday Flats 2 and 3, 2 The Beach, Filey.
We ate in Whitby at the Magpie Cafe, and for posh nosh at the Downcliffe House Hotel, The Beach, Filey.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Stitchy update



Well, it's the middle of April and I thought time for an update on my current stitchy project. This is the Iris I've been working on.

I now reckon I'm about three quarters of the way through it. It's been quite a nice project as it's been big blocks of colour. Having said that, I'm getting close to the end now and this is normally the point where I just want to get it finished so that I can move onto the next one.

The frame Rob bought me for xmas is working out well, it's much easier to do a big project when I haven't got to handle the material, and as this is a slightly bigger project than I'm used to, it is keeping everything nice and neat and easy to do.

Fingers crossed I'll have it finished in the next month.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Jo and Rob go to the Forum

8th April. The Forum. Adelaide. Mayday Parade. We are the Ocean. Madina Lake.

When I booked this I wondered if it was bad form to be going to a gig purely to see one of the support acts. I think it's pretty bad planning if the doors open at 7 and the first band on starts at 7.10. Particularly if the queue goes the whole way round the block and most people miss the whole of Adelaide. I was a little grumpy about that, it surely could have been avoided.

Thankfully, we made it in with minutes to spare for Mayday Parade. And I sang my little socks off, danced as much as possible and thoroughly enjoyed the goosebumps shooting through my body from this lovely band. I mean, honestly, with song titles like 'If you can't live without me, why aren't you dead yet?' it's so easy to love them. They kept things lively, which meant I didn't get a couple of my faves, but it fitted the gig well and the crowd loved it. In my opinion, they should have had higher billing. They had flown over from the US afterall.

We Are The Ocean. I really don't know what to say about them. Neither of us knew who they were, although they were a local band by the sound of things. The guitarist had a great voice and led most of the songs, I liked his sound a lot. The other singer seemed more content screaming. Ruined it for me, I wasn't sure at all, but I'll go and have a listen to some of their recorded stuff, I suspect it's better than it was live.

Finally, the headliners, Madina Lake. I had gone some way to listen to their album on Spotify knowing that I was going to their gig. The songs I knew, I really enjoyed. A lot. The ones I didn't, not so much. They all have a bit of an out of space theme, which is quite funky. Highlights for me were Never Take Us Alive (the first song, kicked their set off nicely), Let's Get Outta Here and Welcome to Oblivion. They clearly put some thought into it, there were huge balloons at one point and streamers during another. Good fun, but wish I'd known more of the songs. The sound wasn't the best at times, but perhaps that was my hearing. I've seen a recording on youtube since and it sounds better than I remember.

Not too often that we get US bands that I quite like over here, so I'm pretty chuffed that I managed to see two in one go. I'll keep my fingers crossed for a Mayday Parade headline gig here at some point, I think they are definitely good enough and have a pretty loyal fanbase building over here.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Jo and Timmy go to a gig...

31st March and Timmy and I hit Shepherds Bush, Bush Hall to be exact. We were there to see Steve Appleton, someone Timmy had discovered a while ago.

Firstly, Bush Hall. It's gorgeous. Big chandeliers, pretty lighting, a lovely balcony and terrace outside. It's hosted many big names when they were still small fry - think Kings of Leon, Killers, Lily Allen, Florence and the Machine, the list just goes on and on.

Having listened to his stuff on his website and decided it was quite funky sounding(and moreso because the tickets were pretty cheap), we decided to give it a try - to be honest, I think this is a guy who is much better live. For a start, he looks like he's turned from a kid with a guitar into a grown up. He has funky hair, piercings and a bit of a swagger. The teenage girls are going totally nuts - it's been a while since I've been to a gig with such a young mostly female crowd and I felt like I was 16 again. It also makes a massive difference with a live band, and in the course of the show, he manages to show off his skill on both acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard and saxaphone. This is one talented guy, which makes me feel he's definitely going to be one to watch out for.

If you're in the UK and have spotify, go look him up on a sunny day and whack up Dirty Funk.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Foodie nights out

This week, I have been lucky enough to eat out twice at two very different but equally fabulous venues.

Monday night was more of a gimmick than anything else, my dining companion wanted to try a funky place in Soho called Inamo - mainly because you order your food via a touchscreen table. Having got very excited about the prospect of this, I was a little disappointed to find it wasn't actually the whole table which was touchscreen, but rather a small corner of the table worked like a mouse pointer on the rest of the table. After 10 minutes of faffing about with it (and ignoring each other - don't go here on a first date!) we finally plucked up the courage to click and order some drinks, followed by thin cut beef with garlic, tempura, spring rolls, black cod and rice. Everything was delicious and the evening flew by, although we could only have the table for an hour and a half which was a shame, as we could have done with maybe 20 more minutes.

The advantage is that you order what you feel like when you want it, so no waiting around or trying to attract attention, and the dishes are brought to the table within 15 minutes of ordering. Highly recommend this place, but more than 2 people and I felt it would have become overly complicated to try and organise all the ordering.

My second evening out was at the lovely 1901@Andaz which is right next to Liverpool Street Station, although once you are inside, it could be as far away as you like. I have been here before, but I'd happily eat here anytime. The atmosphere is relaxing, you aren't too close to the other tables and can hear each other talking, and the chairs are more comfy than my sofa at home.

We ate on the Toptable £21 for three courses deal, but where the bill creeps up here is the wine. There is a book with about 20 pages of wine inside it. If you don't know what you are looking for there is also a helpful Sommelier. Use him, he knows his stuff. Our table happily munched through salmon or wood pigeon starters, but we all immediately went for the braised rib of beef for the main. Delicious and falling to pieces, it was perfect. Trying to behave like proper grown ups, we ordered a dessert wine which the girls weren't that keen on (I think I was a bit tipsy at this point and described it like tasting shoe polish), but the boys seemed happy enough to drink.

I'd happily eat here any time, probably for a special occasion so we could have a half decent bottle of wine, and with the toptable deals the food really is worth the money, so worth watching out for one of them.

All in all, I have spent this week happily stuffing my face. What could be better than that?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Tons of music



This week I had the pleasure of seeing Fightstar do an acoustic gig in a teeny venue in Camden to celebrate the re-release of Be Human with the live DVD and a few new songs. A few hundred of us packed into Dingwalls to listen to them play songs from all their albums plus a couple of covers. My two favourites from Be Human were on the set list, along with the lovely 'Vincent' covered simply with just Charlie and his guitar. I had shivers.

All in all a fantastic gig, which didn't cost a fortune. Support acts were half of Lower than Atlantis who were particularly amusing when they made up the words when they couldn't remember the lyrics to a song they were going to cover without missing a beat.

Also supporting were Watford group Spy Catcher who I've been following for a while, but sadly hadn't managed to get along to one of their gigs. As luck would have it, I already had the tickets before I realised they were supporting, so that made it all the more fab for me. But live they were excellent, really rock and roll and I can see them going far. I came away with a copy of the EP and their catchy songs playing in my head for the whole tube journey home. If you get a chance to see them live then do it!

Finally, I'm not too sure why, as I'm a normally very chilled out and happy girly, but this song has been floating around in my head ever since I heard it yesterday - there's something soothing to me about singing along to angry songs - and the lyrics of this one just make me grin, it's kind of angry and a purge of bad feeling all in one. Take Cover - Resolution.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Dancing! And, well, more Dancing!

The West Side Story workshop was fun. From the first second to the last (I didn't want to go home). Slightly harder than I expected, it was straight into it, no mucking around, but thankfully I picked it up. The routines gave my whole body a good workout, but the aches that I was expecting the next day never came. Fantastic!
I'm definitely going to be taking more classes, and if you're in London you can check out what's on offer here.

So onto Friday night, and time for one of my favourite nights out in London, EQ Live. A chance to see newish acts in a fantastic bar with a great atmosphere. I grabbed a group of friends and headed over to Bar Music Hall last night to see what was on offer. As usual, the evening didn't disappoint, all the acts were fab, but it was the Red Blooded Women who had the whole crowd packing out the floor (they sure know how to work it). Amazing as ever, and I now have some new music ideas to listen to, thanks to Raj again for making it all happen. And because I was utterly sensible, I am hangover free and happily kicking off my weekend with a fantastic Full English brekkie. Life is Good.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Tonight, Tonight, it all began tonight

It's been well over a year since I did an actual proper dance class. There was a whole period in the middle where I went to the gym, but sadly it had no dance of any sort. Now I've moved office again and there's a dance place just a few minutes around the corner.

I seem to have a problem with restarting things gently (I always have - last time I did a step class I couldn't walk properly for about a week), and so tonight, I am off to a 2 hour workshop, themed around West Side Story. This is one of my favourite films of all time. It's taught by someone who was actually in the show in the West End. Can't really get much better than that unless Arlene came along to teach it. And I'm sure if that happened I'd be crying a couple of minutes in.

Thankfully, Frame sells itself as exercise whilst having fun. Phew and thank goodness for that, I am a little bit scared as I tend to get with new places. Sadly, I'm no longer a spring chicken and I'm one hip operation down, so getting down to the floor and up again can be somewhat challenging. But whatever, I just feel pretty unfit and I'd be happy to do something I love and have some fun.

I shall report back on how it goes!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

February check-in

It's funny really, isn't it, how something which seems small and insignificant can balloon into something much bigger.

I'm trying to think back to what I would do with my free time roughly a year ago. I think that the answer is not much. Probably play a few computer games, watch some TV, go for walks, that sort of thing.

Less than a year ago, I was re-introduced to Green Day. Not that I didn't like them before, but the only song I really remembered was Basket Case. I guess I must have liked them way back then though, because I remember very vividly that I was sitting in the spare room of my parents house on the computer listening to it, spinning around on the office chair, with my dad telling me to turn the volume down.

I've been back and listened to their recent stuff (I'm pretty addicted now). It made me realise there's a heap of music that I'd not even considered. So, point one, more music. This in turn led to more gigs. Rob and I over the last year must have gone to at least 20 gigs or concerts, a huge amount more than in previous years. We've tried some favourites, we've also been to ones that were hosted by the Electroqueer blog that I found early last year. They mainly host new artists, so this is interesting and the gigs have been incredible so far.

We went to the Green Day Art Of Rock project which was on at the same time as the gigs at the O2. I loved the art so much, I went and looked up the artists. I discovered that I really really like stencil art. So I'm going and taking a bunch of my friends to the Eelus show in London at the end of Feb. and I've also decided to try some simple stencilling for myself. Thanks to Ed Roth of Stencil 1, there are books which help me to have a go.




On top of that, I've also started up my stitching again. The penguins are complete. The Iris is a quarter done. I've joined a photography group so that I can try some modelling. The results from the first shoot were promising, but gave me ideas of things I need to work on. The experience was incredible fun.

I wonder what I used to do with my free time - compared to how things are now, it seems like I used to do nothing but waste it.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Pick up a Penguin

Only a week late of my deadline (lets face it, after this amount of time an extra week is hardly going to make the difference), I have finally finished cross stitching 22 little penguins. I thought the day would never come. But spurred on by the prospect of a new project to continue after this one, plus the boots I would buy myself once I had finished, I managed to complete them last night. Hooray!

Below you can find one of them, but if you want to see the full set, please take a look here.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Last day of Jan

So, we've reached the end of January. I have been successful in one of my tasks - No Shopping January... All I have spent money on over the last month has been food and drink. No books, toys, cds or games. I am pretty glad that January is at an end though, because tomorrow, I've seen some vinyl that I would like to buy, and I want to order a couple of books that I really cannot do without. Still, then I think I'll go back to the no spending for a while longer.

The task that I haven't managed, and not sure that I will now, is the one set by Rob in the middle of the month before he went away, to finish my Penguins on Ice cross stitch by the last day of the month. I'm not too far off, but sickness and distractions (ok, yes I decided to go to the pub a couple of times when I should just have come home and stitched) have meant that I didn't make it. I guess the boots he promised me will not be mine. Even I cannot be bribed all that well. Tiredness and drinking usually wins.

So, that's all for January... it kind of went by in a bit of a blur... but that's ok because it is winter. However, the daffodils are appearing in the shops and people are selling spring flowers, when I leave work it is daylight and after each weekend things seem just a little better...February is already looking like it's going to be busy, hopefully it will also be fun.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Warning: rant.

I'm going to have a rant.

Today at work, I got a lovely and unexpected gift of flowers from my other half who is spending 2 weeks in the US. They came in a lovely bag, with pretty pink tissue paper. I decided to bring them home, and left the office early to avoid the mega-crush on the central line.

I was lucky, I managed to get a seat, the tube was not that busy. I sat down, handbag on knee, flowers between my skinny legs and tucked back as far as they would go.

At the next stop a woman got on. Despite there being ample space where the doors where, she chose to come and stand OVER my flowers. I spent the journey home giving her legs the death stare, biting my lip and grinding my teeth whenever those legs in their annoying black tights dared to brush against MY pink tissue paper. Why, with all that space, would someone want to come and stand directly over something they could crush as the tube lurched about. Jealousy, I'll bet.

Anyway, my flowers survived the journey (see below) and I learnt that I really don't like people in my space or in my face.

Rant Over.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Twittering along

This year I've managed to get myself very much into Twitter. People ask why I like it so much. The reason I guess is that I like information. I like data. I like to suck it all up and filter it in my head. I have always been good at skim reading, so Twitter is pretty perfect for me to suck in huge amount of data and read only what I want to.

I admit, it started off fairly small. I had an account where I followed mainly people I knew. They followed me back. My account was publicly open, I got a lot of spammy followers. And then I got hacked. Aaargh.

So I started again. I made my account private. This meant that I had to approve any followers. Sure I might not get as many, but at least I can check that they aren't spam. I put back onto the list the people that I knew. I added bands that I loved. I added websites that I liked. Pretty soon I was following about 100 people, and I couldn't read all of the messages. This was (thankfully) around the same time that twitter added lists.

At the moment I'm following around 900 people. These are a combination of people with hobbies similar to mine, music that I like, design sources for things that I might like to try myself at some point, photography sites etc... you get the picture. I have a list for each category which means I can go straight to the thing I want to look at. I also have a private list for those people whose tweets I really don't want to miss. When I'm short on time, I just read this one.

So, my top 5 tips for using Twitter:

1. Start small - build up a private list with the stuff you don't want to miss.

2. Categorise as you follow new people - then when you follow many people you can find the one you want much more easily.

3. Use favourites - If you're short on time, mark things you want to come back to as favourites. You can read these at your leisure and they won't vanish.

4. Retweet things that interest you - I was happy to learn that people I know have found some of the retweets interesting and informative.

5. Don't try and read everything. It's impossible. Just let it go.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Musical Interlude

Over the last year, I've started to get more into music. Since in the UK we have the wonderful and free (if you don't mind the adverts) Spotify application, which contains a huge amount of music, it's rare that I really want to listen to something that I cannot find.

This application is wonderful to me, as it suggests similar artists and has an excellent variety of new releases. Perhaps if your tastes are a little more 'out there' you might see some limitations. But it led me to discover a whole heap of new albums - many that I went on to buy and load onto my phone. I love how the music and lyrics can take my mind to a completely different place.

Here are my favourites from the last year that I spent my lunch-hours stomping down the Thames to:
Plain White T's - Big Bad World
Fightstar - Be Human
Pink - Funhouse
McFly - Radio:Active
Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
Frankmusik - Complete Me
Pendulum - In Silico
Hey Monday - Hold on Tight
The Maine - Can't Stop, Won't Stop
Mayday Parade - A Lesson in Romantics
Colbie Caillat - Breakthrough

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snowy Snowy

The snow started where I live on Tuesday evening. It continued all day through Wednesday and settled into a big fluffy deep pile over most of the area. Thankfully, I live in a place where a path has been cleared down to the tube station, so when I did venture out to try and go to work on Friday I was successful. It's snowed a little bit over the weekend but it's finally melting! Hooray! Don't get me wrong, I love snow, but for the usual one day a year that we normally get it. This extended snow period has made me grumpy because it has also been horribly, bitterly cold. We went out for brunch yesterday and when we got back I could barely feel my hands well enough to type the PIN in for my food shopping. What made me laugh most this week though was that it still didn't stop some women walking around in ridiculously high heels. Some people will do anything for fashion. I'm more on the common sense side myself.

The couple of snowy images that stuck out for me this week are these:
Snowy UK from satellite
Self Rolling Snow Balls

Thursday, 7 January 2010

About Me.

Now that I'm settling into blogging a bit more I thought maybe it was time to tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in Sheffield, which is a really lovely place to grow up, I thought it was wonderful. I was always terribly shy at school, teased a lot (mainly because they could get away with it and I would still smile I think), but I worked hard and got ok grades. I enjoyed drama and for some period in my life I wanted to act. The I realised I probably would never make it and thought where else might I make decent money? The answer seemed to be IT, so I became a geek (well, more of a geek than I already was)!

I studied Information Systems at university, which meant that I didn't have to do any of the real hard horrible programming that I loathe. Sorry, but my brain just doesn't seem to think in that way. I did a placement designing websites for a company in London which I loved every minute of. When my degree was finished I came back to work for the company and I now work on a massive database system. In September I'll have worked for them for 10 years. I hope I make it that far.

Outside of work I have many many interests, a few of which I've only discovered in the last year or so, but more about those in a separate post. The main one which I've had for many years is dancing, since I used to have lessons and do exams when I was younger. In the days when I started it was called Disco dancing, but that just brings up a retro image of legwarmers and sweatbands... if only I had been so cool back then instead of the horrible blue leotard and tights I was forced to wear. Nowadays the dance classes have much funkier names - I'm talking about you MTV Moves and Street Jazz! I've been away for a while, but 2010 is the year I make my return.

Other than dancing I like a whole heap of regular stuff like DVDs, books, and gaming. And one not so regular thing that always gets me wierd looks. Cross Stitching. Yes, I love it. My grandma was a cross stitcher and she got me into it. I've tackled a heap of small designs for cards and quilts for poorly kiddies, and I've had one particular design on the go for about 11 years now... (Don't ask). I'm determined to finish that one and also work my way up to something much bigger... I have a large Tiger, a Winnie the Pooh piece and a floral one all in my collection, along with a very very cool urban cross stitch of a Banksy (the little girl with the heart balloon) for a bit of something different. My challenge for this year is to get them all started, finished and find homes for them. It's going to be hard work, but I enjoy it, so it'll be fun too.

Phew, so that's a little intro... I like pretty simple, straightforward things. I'll be nice to anyone who is nice to me. And I live by the rule to treat others how you'd like to be treated. It seems to have worked so far.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Money, Money, Money

So, It's January 4th. I am 4 days into No Shopping January. Let's call it NSJ. This was something that I did last year in an attempt to get my credit card bill down after Christmas spending. I'm pretty much a shopaholic, I find it hard not to walk into a shop with a magic red banner screaming 'SALE'. Even if I restrict myself to only the £10 in my wallet, I am usually able to stretch it to find many many things that I probably don't need. To be honest, every space in the flat is bursting with Stuff. I really don't need any more. Except boots. I always need those.

Last year, I spent most of January familiarising myself with the game World Of Warcraft. I found it used up huge amounts of time, was quite good fun and most importantly kept me away from the shops. NSJ was a great success, and so this year I am repeating it.

The rules of NSJ are as follows. I can spend any money or vouchers given to me by other people, for Christmas etc. I can buy food and drink, either from a supermarket, or eating out (I have to have some kind of enjoyment). I cannot buy clothes, books, games, CDs, DVDs, gadgets, etc etc, you get the picture. Browsing is allowed. Buying presents for other people is allowed.

We are at January 4th. On January 3rd, in order to just mess with my head I think, I went to Oxford Street. I went in shops. I looked at stuff. I was happily relieved that anything I thought I might want, I was able to think to myself 'you can't buy it', and if I still really really want it when February comes along, I'll probably get it then. But it's nice to stop and think; I'm sure my small but bursting wardrobe will be glad of it.