Monday, February 20, 2006

shits and gigs

february 21st, 2006

Current conviction in own genius: 8
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 0, but have going admin-crazy in pursuit of creativity
Hair day: listless and uninterested in the world

Since esconsed in new tres bijou apartement en Sud Bethnal Green (which, proving how comfortably settled I am, I'm already casually nicknaming 'Bethers' or, in my trademark customizing of Shoho, SoBoGo), having been getting back on the gigging track after a spectacularly scant previous year of live music.

Over the past couple of weeks I have bounced and nodded and wept etc to:

1) The wondrous, spellbinding Folk Brittania: Daughters of Albion gig at the Barbican. The good witches of the north, mother-daughter combo of Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy lorded over the ceremonies, both strumpets endowed with Piaf-esque vibrato. Kathryn Williams and Lou Rhodes from Lamb were lovely, ashen wisps, but paled next to the historically dramatic June Tabor, who introduced her songs with a dark grandeur worthy of Laurence Olivier. It was hold-your-breath exciting for me to see the English/Pakistani singer Sheila Chandra there, too, performing her delicately-inflected version of 'Scarborough Fair' with Martin Carthy. I know folk can seem hardy, horrible nonsense sometimes - I'm no fan of the matter-of-fact singing-style of a lot of the trad male vocalists - but really, when it's just stripped down to the stark bones of a song, an ear-tugging melody and killer lyrics, there's nothing more raw and more intimate.

2) The launch of the No Rest For The Wicked night for live drum 'n' bass night at On the Rocks in Shoho, starring the organiser's band Step 13 - funky, positive, eclectic set and a particularly sexy bass player - and Dead Silence Syndicate, a much colder, jaw-jutting lot who were great but turned the crowd from smiley boogiers into aggressive layabouts boo.

3) The launch of another night, Gonzo, at Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington, with the Matt Dibble Band racing through a crazy set of jazz/funk/pop and funky lo-fi dance Brighton band Speedway5.

4) Eschewing any sign of typical Valentine's night fodder such as candlelit dinners and red roses, Andy and I schlepped down to the Barfly in Camden for a rock gig - we saw the pretty good, atmospheric post-rock trio The Early Years and the very dull Calla (surely the worst name in the world - why have that when you can be called Tits of Death, Meerkat Population Explosion or Control Z! Control Z! ?**) .

5) The very silly but very enjoyable Seven Seconds of Love at the Metro - there are probably not many current bands out there play comedy-ska-punk with lyrics like 'I'm going to flip out/Like a ninja/'Cos that's what ninja's do' and 'Your mum's your dad/Your mum's your dad/Your mum's your dad/Your dad's your mum OI!' whilst attracting adulation from derangedly devout fans who attend their gigs wearing soup cans on their heads (still not sure about that bit).

** NB These are all real bands, oh yes....

Am currently in a whirlwind of self-promotional activity, from helping our new juice manager Rachel to dashing off more solo CDs to unsuspecting-but-about-to-be-amazed records labels to fashioning a proposal for the Arts Council/British Antarctica Survey-sponsored Writers and Artists Programme in Antarctica phew. Am getting hoppingly excited about this, with my lofty plans for the suggested two months sojourn including music-theatre works, choral pieces and text-based work and escalating by the hour grrrr. Of course, the notion of two months at the other end of the globe (and the lengthy plane rides, more to the point) fill me with abject terror; moreover, the idea of me, a girl who wears bedsocks and jimjams even in the heights of a balmy summer, larking about in the coldest place on earth is massively hysterical. But by god! How cool would it be???!!!

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