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 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 (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:

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.

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!

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:

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:

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:

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!


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!