Not much new to report from London. I find myself exhausted if I’ve gotten anything less than 9 hours of sleep, which is strange and irrational. Tonight, I fell asleep on my bare mattress waiting for my laundry to get done.
What I really wanted to talk about was last Friday’s Boy George concert that I attended at the Shaw Theatre. My aunt had extra tickets and although I would’ve never thought to go otherwise, I was more entertained by Boy George than by most of the other performer I’ve seen. His on-stage banter was top notch and his singing, despite a self-described comparison to Rod Stewart as a result of a sore throat, was great. Of course, he made fun of himself and his past arrests while also reminding the audience that he wasn’t “just a street sweeper. I write songs too!”
I was really impressed by his repetoire. Before seeing him, I only knew “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”. But he played some other Boy George originals that I really enjoyed as well as some really good reggae and covers like blues classic “I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl” and “Everything I Own.”
Boy George really surprised me and while going to see him was a bit of a joke at first, I’ve definitely learned not to judge 80s pop stars before giving them a chance. Who would’ve thought Boy George was better than Van Morrison?
This video is from (one of) his performances at Shaw Theatre where I saw him on Friday. I’m not sure if this is the show I went to but he played this song. Really good.
Bee bop ba-wa doo… no one cares you can scat, Van Morrison. Also, no one cares that you can play the tenor sax OR that you’re band is bluesy enough to take turns soloing for each and every song. It’s safe to say that Van the Man was a little disappointing to me. Number one, he played a really short set. Number two, he didn’t balance artistic freedom with crowd-pleasers. I could forgive him if he omitted Brown-Eyed Girl. But I can’t forgive him for leaving out every song on Astral Weeks and every song, besides the title song, from Moondance. I don’t know what the hell he played, but from that concert, the only thing that I can really say is that I saw Van Morrison live. One highlight was Van walking off-stage and dropping the microphone to the ground with a huge THUMP. Then he returned and walked off about three more times in a bizarre showing that confirms that he’s a crazy, crazy man.
Alright, that’s a bit of a harsh review, but I’m sticking to it. In happier music news, I ventured to Dingwalls in Camden Town tonight to catch Jaymay opening for Teddy Thompson, the son of famed guitarist/folk singer Richard Thompson. I bought a ticket to it very last minute and couldn’t have been happier with my choice. The venue was very State Theater in Falls Church, VA meets 9:30 Club in DC, a bit of seating with the nicer atmosphere of the 9:30 Club. It was also my first ever concert alone, because convincing someone else to go to this with me was a battle I didn’t want to fight. Going alone was actually a good experience. The last time I was in Camden Town, I was a bit overwhelmed by the Goth/Punk atmosphere. I think the piercing/tattoo studio to human ratio is staggeringly high there. Tonight, they were closed down for the night and I felt less out of place than I did during the day. Anyways, the first guy that came on had a crazy Glasgow accent. Insane. He was really good, though the crowd wasn’t overly impressed. Then Jaymay came on and no one cared until she started singing. She did a really solid six song set and during Teddy Thompson, she came out to sell her cds. I could tell she’s just really into the music because when teenage kids came up to her to buy her cd and it looked they didn’t have enough money, she told them she’d take whatever. Made me happy to see it. Sigh.
Lastly, I’ve been rock climbing again and I’m crap… again. But to motivate myself, I have booked tickets to the Easter Break rock climbing trip to Sardinia. Maybe this will be me in 3 months?
It’s only Tuesday night yet it has been a week full of art and culture already. Yesterday between classes, I browsed the books and cds at Fopp, a small chain of independent record stores in the UK. It’s really a cool store with about half the cds priced at 3-5 pounds. There’s also a pretty good book selection in the 1-5 pound range. I may have gone a little overboard, so let’s just say I’ll be reading a lot in the next few weeks. But can I turn down “The Little Prince” for 1 pound? Apparently no. Although I set out to buy a Belle & Sebastian 2-disc collection, I ended up walking out with the new Magnetic Fields album.
Here’s some interesting facts about Fopp: They used to have 105 stores located around the UK, but were forced to shut down during Summer ’07 due to poor sales. Luckily, HMV, a much bigger UK chain, bought Fopp and reopened 7 of the 105 stores which were profitable at the time of closing. It’s sad to know that one of the places in London that I have enjoyed and visited repeatedly has already died and risen from the dead. Close call.
In other music news, I read today in the gloriously free London Paper that London-based EMI announced it was planning to “make redundant” 1/3 of their employees. Why must the British use euphemisms like this? When Ford fires its employees, I feel like they’re a bit more straightforward. Anyways, Robbie Williams and the Verve are protesting in a seemingly pointless protest. EMI can’t employ people for charity. I think that I may need to revise my life goal of working in the music industry because every time I read about something like this (which is often), a little warning whistle goes off in my head. Hmm.
In uplifting music news, I also went to Rough Trade East on Monday for a free in-store with Lightspeed Champion. I predict that this guy will be embraced by the mp3 blogosphere and indie hipsters worldwide when his album comes out in a few weeks. True, he looks like the craziest indie kid you’ve ever seen (see video below) but he sounds great. Solid voice with solid guitar work, with fun splashes of violin and doo-da-doo’s. I’m buying the cd when it comes out. I’m aware the video is weird, but I like the song.
Lastly, I saw “Swimming with Sharks” starring Christian Slater with Jared tonight. Besides MacBeth, I’ve never seen a play (as opposed to musical) on Broadway or in Theatreland (that’s what they call it here…). I enjoyed it a lot, because I understood what was going on without mental acrobatics AND of course… the American accents. Christian Slater was great playing an asshole movie producer and the other actors were also pretty good, aside from terrible attempts at New York/American accents. When the play began, I thought the other main character, Guy, was a Hungarian immigrant strangely interested in making it big in Hollywood. No… they improved as the play went on and I was able to forgive them. Overall, very good and I would recommend it to others.
Not working Wednesdays is the best decision I’ve made in a while. Sleeping in. Night all.
Oh. And I am deeply saddened about Gtown’s loss to Pitt. Sigh. I guess we needed a demoralizing loss for a little dose of reality.
“Roy Hibbert knew it.His Georgetown teammates and coach John Thompson III knew it.Now Connecticut and the rest of the country knows it, too.”
After work tonight, I hustled over to Bodeans BBQ near Picadilly Circus to catch the Georgetown vs. UConn game with my work friend Ed, a basketball enthusiast. I was excited to a.) actually see a Georgetown basketball game instead of reading ESPN’s live Gamecast and b.) to show Ed how awesome it is to root for Georgetown in a room full of Hoyas.
I was a little surprised by how many Georgetown kids that actually showed up for the game, but it created a perfect atmosphere for the nail-biter of a game that ensued. We were up for most of the first half, but never really held a comfortable lead. The second half caused Duke-level nervousness for me, probably owing to the fact that I haven’t seen Gtown play in over 9 months. I was biting my hands and screaming and shaking people next to me for exciting plays and it felt like I was home. I should’ve taken out my ATM card and waved it during half-time for old time’s sake.
Roy’s three-pointer, which you should all read about when it is more thoroughly praised on ESPN.com, was possibly the most dramatic finish I’ve ever seen in my time watching Gtown basketball. Sure, it didn’t mean as much as Jeff Green’s shot against Vandy to enter the Elite 8, but it was perfect. The night ended, as it should, with the Georgetown Fight Song. Ahhh, college sports. This is what Europe lacks, in addition to actual dedication to academics (slightly exaggerated, but not completely).
It certainly wasn’t the best game we played this season, but it was the perfect game to watch in London to remind me why I love Georgetown.
Today is the end of the first week of Lent Term at LSE and it is the same as last term, except that exams are more imminent.
I haven’t really been mentioning what I’ve been up to, so here’s a run-down. I went to St. James Park for New Years and saw the fireworks display that took place at the London Eye. It was surreal to watch fireworks on an occasion that wasn’t the Fourth of July. Even more surreal was seeing every single person on the tube with a bottle or more in hand. I love this country! No paper bags, just out and proud, if you will. St. James Park wasn’t too crowded and it was nice to have our own space for the countdown to midnight. It did feel weird to be entering 2008 in London and it rolled in with more of a sigh than a shout, if that makes sense.
What else? I read two books over break, which should be shocking and terrifying to those that know me, and possibly speaks of my desperation for mental stimulation. Unfortunately or fortunately, my health has returned just in time for the Lent term. So I wasn’t able to take advantage of my break like I wanted to, but at least I’m better for school. My cousin Matt has been in town, so I’m once again donning the my fanny pack (figuratively) and visiting the sites. I revisited some favorites and seen some newbies. I have finally visited St. Paul’s and climbed to the top (only 8.50 pounds to climb 500+ stairs), which was well worth the exercise. I’m not one for boring scenery photos, but I had to post them since it was such a clear, blue day. We also visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was as enjoyable as any other museum until we stumbled across the gigantic casts of Trajan’s Column from Rome. Holy mother, it was huge. I also recognized some pieces from my Art History class, which is always slightly gratifying. My uncle and Matt treated me to multiple meals and pints all week, and we also saw Spamalot, the Monty Python musical. I’ve been spoiled by the two of them, so next week will be the real re-entry into the routine of school.
Anyways… I’ve run on. Exciting things coming up are: the Gtown vs. UConn game tomorrow, Van Morrison at the Hammersmith Apollo, and finally Lightspeed Champion at Rough Trade Records. Talk to you soon.
I’ve finally stumbled upon the local London music scene, particularly the anti-folk scene which is teeming with talented artists I’ve begun to obsess over. I obsess over finding mp3s, then YouTube videos, then local shows, etc. I had been beginning to feel “old,” in that I seemed to like few new bands surfacing in the past year. But hope has arrived in the form of Noah & the Whale, Laura Marling, Jeremy Warmsley, Emmy the Great, and Jaymay. They are all London-based (yet another reason London is great) and I’m already marking my calendar for their shows.
Another find that’s kept me up until dawn… the Black Cab Sessions, not to be confused with HBO’s racier Taxi Cab Confessions. Basically, musicians passing through London are filmed performing a song (usually) unplugged in the back of a cab. Check out the website for some cool performances, my favorites being The New Pornographers, The Raveonettes, Noah & the Whale/Laura Marling, St. Vincent, and the Daniel Johnston videos.
This post seemingly belongs on my other blog, Touch My Clickwheel, but it’s somewhat relevant. Hooray for music! I also love the Juno soundtrack and flaunt the fact that they used two of my favorite Belle & Sebastian songs. Alas… the actual movie doesn’t come out in London until February. Good things come to those who wait I suppose.
I re-entered the world of human beings today for a whole eight hours and returned to work at the fine establishment Ellis Brigham. I was all smiles because despite the good company of my flatmate Tom, it was sooooooo nice to see friends again. Sure, I have to zip jackets a million times and tag racks of clothing and answer phones. But it was great! I probably won’t be singing this tune all the time, but working at EB has possibly been one of the best decisions I’ve made out here in London. I feel more at home in the store than I do at LSE and for sure, I see a lot more friendly faces. This isn’t to stress that LSE is crap; it isn’t. It’s to stress that EB is great, at least for me (since I only work 3 days a week).
Yesterday I went out and took advantage of some winter sales that made London prices seem almost as cheap as the US. I bought myself a Christmas present or two and it felt damn good. I’m seeing a friend from high school tomorrow, which is yet another crazy example of how I see more friends passing through London than DC. Cheers.