To Kill A King, The George & Dragon, Chesham, 18/01/13

Well, this is a welcome little change, a band I wanted to see for a while is playing in my sleepy little town of Chesham.
To Kill A King are in the attic of the George & Dragon tonight, I haven’t been back there for years, too busy going into London I guess, so this may just become my fav hang out, you never know.
Popping over to the Pub after work to secure a couple of tickets I’m disappointed to learn that it is in fact a sold out night! No way, I can not miss this opportunity 😦
Luckily I managed to get a couple of guest list spots through the lovely band themselves! Yay, Kathy and I will attend.The George & Dragon, Chesham

That day Chesham was covered in loads of icy snow, I mailed the band first to make sure they are able to make the journey, and Ian responded: “of course we will, we’re coming by train”
So on the night in question Kathy and I togged up and made our way into Chesham, it’s so nice not having to drive or take the train. Once we got there we were told we are too early, ok, lets grab a drink downstairs.
Not long after we were allowed in, names crossed off, hand stamped….wow, it’s a tiny cosy place, awesome.
Becky WixonTaking residence stage left, right near a large speaker, I just hoped it would be a decent sound and not blow me away – as in far too loud 🙂

First on stage was a young girl, Becky Wixon, a local girl from High Wycombe and only 18 years old. I watch her getting the stage ready, she seems confident and only a tad nervous, she also brought along a cluster of fans/friends to support her.
Her first song was “Old Soul“, she explained that the official video featured her Grandad who really wanted to come and see her tonight, but the snow spoiled it for him 😦
The usual annoying people have found their way to Chesham…..chat chat chat chat…..I will never understand, you go and see a gig and talk and laugh out loud all the way through, lack of respect I call it! Still, Becky seems undisturbed, I guess as a musician that is the attitude to have, otherwise your performance would suffer. Becky has a clear, soulful voice, considering female voices aren’t that appealing to Becky Wixon - set listme, I find her very soothing, lovely lyrics and the Cat Stevens cover “Wild World” sounded awesome. And the sound is brilliant, ok, so Becky is playing an acoustic set, still, even standing right by the speakers the sound is clear and just the right volume as far as I’m concerned. Becky played about 8 songs all together, finishing with “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” a traditional American folk song which has been covered by many artists, ‘Lead Belly’, ‘Billy Monroe’ and ‘Nirvana‘…….I have to say, Kathy and I did enjoy her set, well done Becky.

Martin the organiser of tonight’s event took the microphone to thank Becky, a hug and a kiss and a cheeky smile with the words: “…you know who is next…” Martin Freeman who also writes for ‘My Chesham’ organises these music events once a month, the next time it will feature ‘Indigo Earth’, hopefully I can make that one too.
To Kill A KingWe watch how 5 people and their instruments try and make themselves fit on to this tiny stage, finally they are organised and ready to go.
This is a semi acoustic set and from the off we’re mesmerised, starting with the song “Family” followed straight after with the catchy tune of “Bloody Shirt” (my favourite I think, mind you, it changes as I listen to their songs!). The lighting wasn’t brilliant, so I haven’t got any great photos, but you can always check out Stuart Lloyd photos, a local photographer :-). “Choices” was next, Ralph told us that this song has been put online with uTube in the Ralph’s Balcony series, where they used a string section and a brass section, check it out here, it is awesome….AMAZING!!!
These guys are not just a little band playing music, these guys are skilled musicians and are not afraid to experiment and perform out of the ordinary, I’m in total awe of them. Ralph is chatty and funny but not overbearing, most of the audience of The Loft have now stopped talking and are listening. Ralph jokingly says he should get revenue from uTube, he is doing so much advertising tonight. He also encourages the audience to comeTKAK EP and catch up with the band after and hopefully buy some merch, their new EP ‘Word Of Mouth‘ is available.
Finishing the set with “Fictional” which I believe was their first single is a perfect end to a perfect evening. Who would have thought that sleepy little Chesham can produce such a high quality gig. ‘To Kill a King’ say good night, go off stage, just to come back to an appreciatively clapping crowd to perform “Howling”, a song that will cause all sorts of emotions within you if you allow it to. Brilliant performance, both Kathy and I loved you guys, we might just have to come and see you at Scala on the 10th April!

Once finished a quick chat with Martin to congratulate him on tonight and then off to meet the band! And, there was one more person I had to shake hands with, tonight’s soundy Rob Lehane,(also an musician in his own right I believe) as far as I was concerned the sound was spot on, finally I met someone who doesn’t just think turning up the volume makes it all good! I watched him in the cource of the evening checking that the sound was right, if you need a good soundy, get in touch with Rob. 🙂  Of course we are also buying the EP and getting it signed by all of them. Apparently the EP’s are initialled TKAKby individual band members and apparently got one of their kisses printed on the back of the EP, mine is from Josh 🙂
A hug, a kiss and promise of being at another performance soon we brave the cold and snow to make our way home. Brilliant evening!

TOY, Heaven, London, 24/10/12

Another competition win, and a last minute one, my guess is that the original winner couldn’t make it and I was next in line! I’m not complaining..hehehe…just saying ;-), so thank you Fly Magazine, much appreciated. I had a chance last year to see TOY as I had heard great things about them, sadly I couldn’t make it, not sure for what reason now. The gig was at Heaven, a venue I haven’t been to before so another reason Charlie Boyer & The Voyeursto make the trip to London, despite midweek burn out!!
Heaven was easy to get to, Embankment station, up the road into the Arches and there we were. This must have been the latest we’d ever got to a gig, the first support band ‘Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs‘ was already on stage and we hurried inside.

The first thing that hit me like a smack in the face was that wall of music, unbelievably loud. Also the infamous HMV venue smoke machine handler is on the loose, the whole room seemed to be engulfed in fog, my pet hate, straight after bad sound!
This wasn’t boding well, scrambling for my earplugs we moved closer to the stage and soon realised why it was easy to do! The baseline was so loud, your nostrils flared, heart raced, it even came through your feet, very uncomfortable! We were forced to move further back again, such a shame, David was looking forward especially to this band but it was more or less impossible to judge if we like them or not. Hope it doesn’t carry on with the next two bands! I’m not giving up on this band and will try to catch them again at a different venue, I liked the tracks I heard online, so all is not lost!!!

Now the band has finished I get a chance to have a look round, an interesting place, but I don’t feel entirely comfortable, why  I can’t explain. As it is under the Arches, the room is long, the stage quite high with proper steps going up to it on either side. At the end there are more steps leading upstairs to what looks like the sound and lightning desk, I can’t quite see but there seems to be more room for spectators behind it. To the left when facing the stage is a long bar……interesting place.

The next band is called Dark Horses, please let the sound be better! 🙂 I can see large posters mounted on boards being displayed around the stage, a young girl appears dressed in a Poncho type garment, when she turns around it had ‘Dark Horses’ written on it, nice touch. The sound is still far too loud, it’s hard to make out any lyrics, I hear the girl say a couple of things: “Hello Lodonnnn” sounding like she is quite bored to be Dark Horseshere, and “we are all dark horses” in the same dull voice. For me all the songs sounded pretty much the same and I got bored very quickly. Looking around, I think most people feel similar, just standing there and occasionally I see a bobbing head. I glance at the girl next to me, she’s got her fingers over her ears, muffling the volume no doubt. I’m sorry, but it can’t be over fast enough for me, I really don’t like it much, is it the sound volume or the actual band or my dry throat from breathing in all that smoke, who knows…..but it’s not for me 🙂

I’m now getting worried about TOY, David and I agreed to move to the side where the bar is, as we made a pact to leave if it’s as bad as the previous two sets. Other reasons to move is of course that potentially  it could get “moshie” in the middle….:-) It doesn’t take long, and the stage is set, TOY arrive on stage, not much is said. The first song starts quietly and gently, I have hopes for a decent sound….arrrggghhhhh, I was wrong, the drums come in and the guitars are being teased, producing a distorted sound hurting my ears rather than entertaining me. I look at David behind me, I TOYdon’t think he is enjoying it much either, a couple more songs, and if it doesn’t get better we are out of here! I’m sorry to say it doesn’t improve, looking around I’m not sure people are really loving it, I see the odd person wildly head banging but most people just stand there. Shame, I feel I wasn’t given a fair chance to hear these guys potential, well all 3 bands potential. I won’t be rushing out buying their album and will think twice before attending another gig of theirs, especially here at Heaven.

We leave the venue, and trust me, we are not the only ones, the staff seems pretty uninterested why we are leaving, so we wander out. We get stopped by a random guy outside asking us if we’ve had enough, we explain our reasons why we’re going, he tells us he is loving it here and thinks it’s ok.  So, there are some people who did think it was fine, is it me? Am I getting less tolerant in my old age? ok ok, I can see you agreeing with me…lol, let’s stop right here 😉
We turned to go home, I looked up to my left and spotted Herman-ze-German, I wanted to come here for ages! We had to go in, just bought coffee and Bretzels and promised ourselves we’d come back soon for some Sauerkraut and Leberkäse…yummmy! And, we ended up buying one of their T-shirts….hehehehe.
A day later I came across this review on the Gigwise site, I did wonder if it was the same gig I went to, and at the end there was this comment by James:
I think this reviewer was at a different gig to me then. Firstly, I did not see one ‘do’ flailing about, and I was right in the mix of it all. It was filled of people just standing around with their hands in their pockets. Secondly, we couldn’t make out any of the songs as it was WAY too loud. Worst sound I have heard. It was like they were playing underwater. Everything was muffled. We left half way through the set as it was that bad. As I was leaving, I saw DIdz from the Cooper Temple Clause also leaving.”

That made me laugh out loud – hallelujah – it’s not just me!!

XFM Winter Wonderland, O2 Brixton Academy, London, 17/12/12

Yes, we managed to get tickets for this years XFM Winter Wonderland, I did really enjoy it last year, discovered ‘We Are Augustines‘ and loved them ever since.XFM Winter Wonderland

This year’s line-up promises to be equally as good, so I took my last half day holiday to make sure we’ll be at the barriers.
I got to the O2 Academy Brixton at around 3:30pm, I expected quite a queue already and was surprised to find just a handful of people waiting, not even the barriers had been put up. Once I joined them it was easy to get into a conversation, there were Andrew & Maryanna, Jason and Josh from Portsmouth, and for the record, Jason is the No.1 Editors fan (it says so on his hoody), then there was Marsh from Slovenia and Minita from London, all are here mainly for The Editors. Yes, we do like a bit of Tom Smith, even though these guys have all seen The Editors before unlike myself. If only I would have been here a little earlier, apparently the members of Temper Trap walked past and Josh called out “Hello Temper Trap”, they waved back and that was as far as it went. I had a lovely XFM Winter Wonderlandlong chat with Josh about the music scene in Portsmouth, basically it’s non-existent and about his own band and all the music he loves, The Rolling Stones are just one example. More people are turning up, but it is quite slow, we were all surprised that not more people are here to queue, but hey we are not complaining. Eventually the security guys turn up to erect the barriers and once that was done we only had another hour or so to wait, as there were 5 bands on tonight the doors opened at 6:30.  The excitement was growing , we were all getting impatient and just Danny Wallacewanted to go inside….lol, the queue was growing steadily and we were starting to feel quite chilly. The security guys were really nice though, giving out cards for us to read warning everybody of pick pocketing and to make sure we keep our belongings safe.
Finally the doors opened, girls to the left and boys to the right, the race is on! I know “don’t run”…..I wonder how many times this has been shouted to me…hehehehe. As predicted all of us who have been waiting for hours got centre front barrier spaces, now we can relax 🙂

Theme Park
 XFM DJ Danny Wallace (author of ‘Yes Man’) introduced the evening and it kicked off with Theme Park. I haven’t seen them before but there has been a lot of talk about this band and the couple of songs I have heard are pretty good. The London based trio, appear confident and are indeed very very good. This is definitely a band to be watchingTheme Parkout for. Their debut album is due to come out next February and their new single “Tonight” is really catchy! This won’t be the last time I see you guys!
Lucy Rose was next, after a quick change over on stage she arrived, sat down and started without saying a word, it was an acoustic set with a full band behind her. I must say Lucy didn’t do it for me, I couldn’t get into her voice and found her performance a touch dull. There was one song which gained an Lucy Roseaudience participation, within the lyrics there was a part that said: “….you scream…” and some of the crowd obviously knew it well and screamed in the appropriate places. I’m afraid that is all I can say as I had kind of switched off at that point, and looking around I wasn’t the only one. Sorry Lucy Rose, I’m afraid you’re not for me.
Next Danny Wallace announces that Work Experience Steve will do his performance here and now. He is to perform Blur’s song 2 to which he was challenged and practised like mad, will he become the rock star he so knows he is deep Work Experience Stevedown!! As he comes on stage to tune his guitar and to get in the zone, Danny Wallace talks on a bit until finally you can hear the beginning of the song….♫♪…Whoohooo!..Whoohoo!..Whoohoo!….♫♪, instantly the crowd was there to dance along to it and support the boy. It is agreed that this young man rose to the challenge and did really really well! Good on you Steve.
Now it’s starting to get hot in here, the pushing has begun and people moving in closer, The Temper Trap is about to Temper Trapappear on stage. This is one of my highlights tonight, I’m not terribly familiar with their music, but what I’ve heard I do love. This five piece outfit from Melbourne, Australia is fronted by Dougy Mandagi, who I think has an amazing voice…and is quite cute 😉
When they started their set with “Love Lost” I knew I would like these guys, great tunes, great stage presence, brilliant performance. Dougy did a lot of talking in between songs, playing up to the audience and catching his breath it seems.” This Isn’t Happiness” taken from their second album is a lovely mellow Temper Trapsong, close your eyes and let yourself be carried away….I love it. Playing a 9 song set is enough of a teaser and the escalation to the final song “Sweet Disposition” is amazing. The “Drum Song”, second to last, shows Dougy playing a small set of drums right at the edge of the stage. At some point he takes a sip from his bottle of water and pours the rest onto the drum and carries on Temper Trapplaying. From where I was standing it looked amazing, droplets of water dancing to the rhythms of the drums, reflecting in the lights, sweet! For his final song there is no introduction needed, while he waits for a techie to clean up the spilled water Dougy thanks the crowd and promises to be back soon. The audience answers with shouts and screams, especially when near the end Dougy jumps off the stage to climb up on his side of the barrier the energy going around the room is electric, many arms are reaching up trying to touch him. And that is it, far too quickly it’s all over.  I’m glad I managed to see them live, hope I will again in the not too distant future. A set list was thrown off the stage, I tried desperately to get the attention of one of the security guys (usually they really good), but they were far too busy chatting. Eventually a girl nearer to it managed to get a photographer to pick it up for her……:-(
Another quick turn around to make the stage ready for The Couteeners, it has been a long while since I saw them last, iTunes festival 2010. While the stage was being set masses of huge green balloons filled with confetti were thrown into XFM Winter Wonderlandthe crowd, great fun, everybody joined in bouncing them all over the place. It looked a bit like a killer attack of giant peas….hehhehe, but it is a good exercise, it calms the crowd and brings them together having fun rather than aggression,  no doubt it is supposed to prep us for the next two bands, it is going to be mental!!
The Courteeners are next, loads of clapping and shouting as they launch into their first song “Cavorting”, hahhahahaha, it takes no time at all for the pushing, moshing and jumping to start. There is only one thing for it, hold on The Corteenerstight and join in :-). Liam Fry and his band members didn’t need to try too hard, the crowd was at their feet, I guess a lot of the audience are here for them. Playing some new tracks and of course favourites like ” You Overdid It Doll” and “Take Over The World”. There wasn’t too much talking going on at times, it seemed they are just here to play a few songs rather than giving the crowd a performance to remember. Still, it didn’t seem unnecessary to interact too much, the crowd just wanted a huge mosh pit and loose themselves in the frenzy, fair enough! Made it hard to take photos or even video a bit,The Corteeners hehehehe, being pushed around and holding on with one hand and taking pictures, not an easy task. The crowd was ok though, some burly men behind us trying to safeguard girls at the barriers and pushing the mosh pitters back to the middle, mayhem…lol!  Also playing a 9 track set they finished with “What Took You So Long”, said goodbye and left the stage. With a sigh of relief I welcomed the opportunity to let go of the barrier and get some breathing space.  But hey, it’s all in the name of Frontrowstef!!!  And this time I manage to get the attention of a Techie and he passes me a set list….yes!
Before it’s time for the last band John Kennedy appears (the DJ who has been with XFM from the start), he is about to John Kennedyannounce who will get the inspiration award this year, last year it was of course James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers. A film shows various artist giving a spiel of why this person deserves to get this and how amazing he’s been…the award get passed to a totally stunned John Kennedy, he wasn’t expecting this at all. Stuttering a few words of thanks, hugs and smiles they left the stage to make way for the next band on.
The Editors are next and the last band to play tonight, the evening did go rather quickly. While the Techies are preparing the stage I look around, I spot Jason being rather excited, big smile on his face :-). One of the blokes thatmy front row buddiespushed me into the barrier a couple of times earlier is right behind me, I decide to talk to him….make a connection and he is more likely to look after you than ram into you!! I find out his name is Rick, and he has come along from Nottingham with his youngest son, and he is absolutely loving it! He tells me The Editors mean a lot to him, especially a certain song, possibly it was “An End Has A Start”, but in any case it’s an awesome song!

Finally Tom Smith and his fellow musicians turn up on stage to a deafening noise and the pushing starts instantly! First The Editors - Tom Smithsong is “Smokers Outside” followed by “Racing Rats”, this is a great show, great energy in the room, it’s wild and a little rough, and bless him, Rick is trying his best to keep me safe. One girl is pushing herself right onto the barrier, which is ok, but an ‘excuse me’ or ‘is it ok’ would be nice. Loads of Santa hats are flying through the air onto the stage, crowd surfers are being passed across, arms, hands and shoes too close for comfort sometimes….but all in all it’s great fun, even though I would have loved to be able to concentrate more on the band than the crowd. Tom Smith is looking good, dressed in a suit, the jacketThe Editorsdidn’t stay on long though, he swaps his position from guitar to piano to keys to guitar, making playing music look easy. Tom is building up his 11 song set taking the crowd with him, encouraging his fans to jump and dance, the atmosphere is amazing. Another guy is pushing in between the girl and I, he is quite strong and I feel he is actually bruising me, sorry I do not like this at all, a quick bending back of his finger soon makes him release his grip, I think he is under the influence of many things and won’t remember much tomorrow. He asks a security guard to pull him over as he claims he wants to get out, what he really wanted was to run up on stage, no such luck though, the guys in the front are brilliant and stop him in his tracks. Before playing “Not Nineteen Forever” as their second last song Rick taps me on my shoulder to say goodbye, they have to go and catch a train, shame he was really enjoying it. The final song was “Papillion” to which the confetti cannons were released, bathing XFM Winter Wonderlandeverybody in green confetti….what an amazing night, I could have quite happily stayed a bit longer. But it’s time to say Good Night, The Editors take a final bow and wave us good night. Now we can breath again as people make their way out. I hang around hoping to get a set list of The Editorscourse, but it’s not easy…I do watch one of the Techies picking up a Santa hat and putting it on 🙂
Suddenly the young security guard who was right in front of us all the way through came up to me and passed me a set list “for staying your ground and being die hard rockers”, how sweet is that, thank you kind sir!!

With that we make our way out and to the tube station, where I get promptly chatted up by a woman, as we discovered she’s the same age as me and she was very drunk for which she kept apologising….hehhehehe. The one thing she said just before we parted ” …you are responsible for your own destiny….”….ok, I’ll bear that in mind 🙂

Thank you XFM for yet another brilliant WinterWonderland, roll on next year!

Madness, Jo Wiley Radio 2, BBC London, 11/10/12

Radio 2 in concert - MadnessOh yes, yet again lady luck did not desert me, I managed to win a couple of tickets for the Radio 2 recording of Madness.
Having seen Madness numerous times, actually only a couple of weeks ago at the iTunes Festival, but I can’t help but being very very excited ;-).Radio 2 in concert - Madness
David and I left a little earlier than usual, wouldn’t mind securing a front row spot, but I have no idea what the place at BBC Broadcasting House is like, so we have to wait and see.
Joy, it started to rain, it does however not dampen our spirits, singing Madness songs all day already it is just another “Dreary Day”! We found the place not far from Oxford Street Station and joined the queue, which doesn’t seem too long. We were given a sticker with a number to put on our tickets, 108 & 109, hmmm, not exactly first in line are we?  Never mind we will have a blast anyway. The queue moved very slowly, tickets need scanning as much as your bag, jackets and body….lol. And yes, you can bring in a bottle of water, just no nail files!!! They took mine off me, but gave me a receipt so I can get it back from the main reception at the end of the show. 🙂
We made our way into the holding area, oopppss, sorry I mean waiting room, there was a bar for drinks coffee and snacks, and a single bags of beetroot crisps, how awesome is that? Just beetroot crisps, my favourites ! 🙂
The wait is boring, but hey, the nutty boys are worth it! We get chatting to a lady and her son, they have come up from Radio 2 in concert - Madnessthe south coast, quite a way to come, but as I said and told her, they are so worth it!!
Finally there is movement, everybody seems to moving towards the doors, a couple ask us if we knew what was happening, shrugging my shoulders I said I didn’t know but we thought we might as well join in! Ahhh he says, being a sheep!!! Hehehe, yes, today we are!
The people get called in by numbers on the tickets, that is fair, if you were here first you should be able to get the best place! Not sure what the green tickets are about, maybe VIP or disabled….green tickets first, 1 -50 next, 51-100 after that and at last us and 47 others. It’s all very posh looking, at the entrance we were told no photos, buhhh, not fun! I understand that no photos should be taken from the news room, but Sugs and the boys?
Anyway we are led into the theatre, and it’s all seated :-(, we are guided into the fourth row, all the way to the end and offered a couple of spaces in the third row (I don’t quite get it, over 100 people came in before us and we are near the front?)…..I spot two free places at the end of the front row, looking at the security guard I smile and say “Can we sit Radio 2 in concert - Jo Wileythere?” “Sure why not” he replies, result, living up to my name!!
Suddenly we get talked to by a guy called Michael, he tells us he is with Jo Wiley and if it would be ok to interview us after the show? I say “yes of course” but David is adamant not him…we’ll see..heheheh! We told to stay back at the end together with the mother and daughter couple, Sarah & Louise.

And now it’s time!!! The audience get told how to react and to make a LOT of noise as we are on live radio, I don’t think we needed to be told, as Jo runs onto stage the room shouts and claps. She introduces the show, tells us there is no need to stay seated, get up and dance she smiles! Madness arrive on stage, the crowd Radio 2 in concert - Madnesserupts in what sounds like a noise from a thousand people, and we are only about 300!!! And there are the Nutty Boys, omg, I could actually touch them, I have never been that close to them, except of course when the picture with Suggs was taken not so long ago at the Wycombe Swan theatre.
Starting with the expected song “One Step Beyond” straight into “Embarrassment”. David and I don’t need much warming up, we are dancing and singing as are a lot of other people, some need a little more time but it doesn’t take long for P1030906everybody to be on their feet.
Suggs gives us a lot of banter, asking who has seen them before and who are novices (a few actually), who are lucky winners or know people, he is in fine form. After a couple more well loved songs Madness play 7 tracks off their new album, I can’t wait for it to be in the shops, having seen Madness a couple of times recently it feels like we already know the songs. I in particular love ” Kitchen Floor” and “I never knew your name”!  Lee Thompson is right in front of us, being Lee! Pulling faces, having fun playing the Sax with such Radio 2 in concert - Madnessskill( uhhh, I love a man who can play the Sax), behind him is the brass section, watching and smiling (smirking a tiny bit maybe) as people do their best to skank in the tiny space in front of their seat. Again we are lucky, you get more room in the front row, not enough for David though, he steps out into the aisle, not allowed, the security guard comes along and tells him to stay in his seat, tut tut David.  Lee has been watching all this from the stage and sure enough he gestured David to come and dance next to him. I could see this split second thought going on in David’s head and then he climbed onto the stage….brilliant!! The security guard is back trying to pull him off, but gets told that Lee had invited David to join him, he leaves him to it. I see Lee gesturing towards the end of the song  to go back to his seat, but David is oblivious, loving it! I manage to catch his eye and tell him to come back to earth…hehehehe!
There is no let up in banter, jokes, interaction with the audience and each other  on stage, absolutely brilliant, I don’t want this to end. Lee also spots Louise next to me trying to take a photo of her daughter Sarah with Lee in the Radio 2 in concert - Madnessbackground, he promptly comes close and leans in for a great picture, I did take a couple but they haven’t come out brilliantly, never mind it’s all in my head anyway, that is where memories belong in the first place.
The last six songs completely nail it, nobody is able to sit still now, “Our House”, “Baggy Trousers” Radio 2 in concert - Madnessand for the encore “Night boat to Cairo”. I love the way they do their encore, turn their backs, pretending they’ve gone off stage, after enough noise turning back and Suggs says: ” You still here?” As if we would leave…hehehehe. A towel gets put over Sugg’s head and you just know it’s “…♫♪..It’s just gone noon,..♫..half past monsoon on the banks of the river Nile….♫♫♪.
I can’t believe it’s over, I can’t believe I was here, so, so awesome!!!

We are staying behind for the interview, arrgghhhh….Jo Wiley comes to say hello (David get’s a little bit excited, he Radio 2 in concert - Madnesslikes her, a lot!!!), after a doing her radio thing she comes over to us. I was so determined to say “I’m Stefanie, better know as FrontRowStef”, but no, still buzzing from the gig I  twittered on about how Suggs should be my husband…blah blah blah, well done Stef…hahahahaha!  And considering David wasn’t going to do the interview he said a lot.
Jo moves on to Louise and Sarah, we’re still hovering around, as Jo promised we could have a photo taken with her. And yes, she kept her promise, what were her words: ” you are sweaty”…of course we are, if you don’t come out of a Madness gig sweaty you haven’t enjoyed it to the full. 🙂
Radio 2 in concert - MadnessAnd then it’s time to leave…..nooooo, I want more!!!!!!

Round to the main reception, picking up my nail file and off home, not before serenading a lamppost on the way…..
I listened to the concert online the next day, no comparison to being there but still, it comes across brilliantly.

Madness, Radio 2, Jo Wiley……thank you for one of the best evenings, let’s do it again soon!! 🙂

Gotye, Hammersmith Apollo, London, 12/11/12

Gotye tonight, I know I say this every time, but I have been looking forward to this gig.
GotyeIt was kind of weird when I bought his Album ‘Making Mirrors’, when I first listened to it I really didn’t get into it, I loved his famous song “Somebody That I Used To know” but struggled to get into the album. I didn’t quite understand why and listened to it again, and again…….and it is obviously a grower because suddenly it got me, and I love the album!Gotye
I had bought 2 standing tickets originally, and because Martina is over from Switzerland I tried to purchase a third ticket, and Seatwave came shinning through! It was very last minute but we managed to get a seated ticket for her right at the centre front and it cost no more than ours did weeks ago. Martina went into London earlier as she needed to get to Moorgate to get her ticket, once it was in her hand she started queuing at the Apollo, good girl!
David and I managed to get to Hammersmith about 6ish, there was quite a queue already and I don’t think people were terribly impressed with us joining Martina right at the front! We only had 4 people in front of us, brilliant, but poor Martina looked frozen. She pointed at a bloke beside her for me to look at him….omg…he could have been my father, same height  looks and possibly age (actually I think this guy was about 10 years younger, my Dad is 85)…..good for him, I hope I still go to gigs when I’m that age. It wasn’t long until we were let inside, JontiMartina climbed upstairs and David and I raced to the barrier!! YES, centre front space, sweet!
And there is Martina, same space as us just higher up…hehehhe, a quick wave to her, look around at our front row buddies, and we’re set, let’s the fun begin!

There are two support acts tonight, I’m not familiar with either of them. First one up is Jonti, a one man band with a lot of instruments around him, some of them look decidedly home made.  He comes across as a shy and unassuming guy, Jontiproducing weird and wonderful sounds. I wasn’t sure if I liked his music, but the energy and passion he displayed on stage kind of takes you over, you can’t help but be carried away with it. Jonti alternates between instruments made from a lunch box to an amplifier (?), he really is quite different. I’m not sure I will be his number one fan, but it certainly was entertaining and if he comes around again I will go and see him.

The ChapThe Chap was on next, appearing on stage you could tell it was going to be different! The lead singer dressed smartly in a suit, the drummer sporting a wild beard looking as though he’d escaped from the Hammer Fest, the girl just stepped out of a Mary Quant shop window and then there was the PE teacher. Actually they could all be teachers…hehehe, Math, English, PE and RE….you guess which could be which.
Well, the audience was pretty much split, some people really got into their style of dance music, including me, others really hated them. I found them brilliant,the energy being thrown into the room really worked for me, they basically looked like they were having the time of their lives. Alternating instruments, playing to each other rather than just to the audience, not sure what The Chapthe fluffy bit on the end of the bows were, but they got used on the strings of the fiddle and contrabass alike. If you get a chance check them out! I know Martina up on the seats couldn’t get into either of these bands, maybe you had to be at the front row to feel the energy.

At last, it’s time for Gotye! Again, this artist gets mixed reactions from friends of mine, some love him, others hate him, there doesn’t seem to be a middle way. Well, I think he is amazing and I can’t wait for him to appear on stage. The lights are Gotyedimmed, screaming and clapping fills the room, there he is, right at the back of the stage with the spotlight on him, his first song “Making Mirrors” from the same named album…..awesome, I’m hooked immediately! Not only do we get treated with perfect sound quality and performances but there is also a huge screen at the back of the stage playing animation to each song. All senses get stimulated and it is hard at times to know what to concentrate on, basically you have to give up your logical mind and let everything soak into your subconscious, don’t think, just feel! I don’t know what is going on behind me I’m just so mesmerised by this performance, it does help knowing the album and being able to sing along even if it’s just in my head! Gotye or Wally (yes, that’s apparently his name) moves around a lot, he comes to the front, goes back to his starting point, goes and plays a second set of drums, for “Smoke And Mirrors” for instance, lets his band members take the lead, he is just like a kid Gotyewho doesn’t know where to go first. At some point all 5 band members lined up near the front of the stage to play “Thanks For Your Time” together, ok, so it looked like a computer lesson, but hey this is what this band is all about and it looks like a lot of fun from where I’m standing, I loved all the percussions and xylophones. Mind you, Gotye does like drumming, anything it seems ;-), but he is also brilliant on keys and electronic effects, all this while his vocals are in perfect harmony. For a couple of slower numbers he asked the crowd to simmer down and listen and it pleased me when he complained a little afterwards as not all people obliged, why are these people here if they don’t want to listen to the music? I will never understand that! Gotye played a great mix of tracks from his second album  ‘Like Drawing Blood’, “Dig Your Own Hole” the B-side of Making Mirrors I believe, ” What Do You Want” from his first album ‘Broadface’ and most of ‘Making Mirrors’ of course, 16 songs all together plus 3 for the encore. Gotye shouldn’t just be famous for his chart topping hit “Somebody That I used To Know”, there is so much more to him, and just before playing “the” song he asked the audience: “So, do you want to hear that one song you’ve all come to hear?” as if he was testing the crowds reaction, which Gotyewas a bit subdued until the first few notes were played and then all hell seems to break lose. The crowd joined in singing or was it shouting, especially the young girl next to me who knew every word and wasn’t shy letting it out. What struck me as mind blowing was when Kimbra’s part was due and Gotye sang nothing, the audience started singing her part quietly at first, realising that is what Gotye wanted them to do the voices got louder and louder. Even though this is an overplayed song that moment I found really moving, how clever to making us part of his show not just the adoring crowd, brilliant!  He was also using the tiniest cymbals I have ever seen….to get that certain “ding”!
Finishing with the soulful “Hearts A Mess” , they say thank you and goodbye, big smiles as the band  leaves the stage, big noise from the room as we are sad it’s all over already. But of course there is an encore!!
When the band arrives back on stage they seem to be huddling in front of the drums for a group hug, when in fact the drummer took a photo with the audience behind. We get treated to “Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver” and another of favourites “I Feel Better” before finishing with Gotye“Learnalilgivinanlovin”…………..I don’t want this to finish, I loved this blissfulness!

You know Gotye may not be cool, and yes, it is electro-pop, but who cares if he can make you feel that good? Of course I speak for myself, I know that David walked away from the gig not feeling it at all! Luckily Martina did, she loved him too, maybe it’s a girl thing? Whatever it was, I can’t wait for Gotye to come round again!
I did try for the set list, no luck, oh well, you can’t win them all!