Friday, 22 February 2008


This is turning into a bit of a culture blog at the moment (well, TV and music anyway) but we've had a couple of really good gigs this week so I thought I would document them for posterity. Now that it's nearly a year since my first post, it's quite nice looking back and seeing what we've done over the previous months, especially since I started to tag up my posts with basic categories. Much more interesting than my tightly maintained 'home calendar' spreadsheet which is actually very useful for planning weekends away etc but when all's said and done is just a boring bit of excel.

So this week we had Hot Chip at the Oxford Academy on Tuesday night, and last night we saw the Gutter Twins at Koko. It's lovely going into Oxford for a night out - don't have to leave work early, and can eat a normal dinner at home, drive in and park up near the venue, and have a swift pint or two beforehand, all before the main act comes on. Then at the end, it's a mere 15 minute drive back up the A34 and home to bed at a relatively normal time for a school night. Bonzer! Hot Chip were great too - one of those kind of contented gigs, where the music doesn't massively lift you, and you don't go mental down the front, but you leave smiling and seem to have been bouncing up and down on the spot for the entirety of the show. The new album's great and they were on top form live.

I wasn't massively looking forward to the Gutter Twins, it has to be said. The combination of trekking into London after work, having to find somewhere to eat, seeing a band who had the potential to be very dark and depressing, and then haring back to Paddington for the last train home only to get to bed in the wee small hours of the morning and get up a mere 5 hours later to go to work, seemed all too much to take after having already been out once this week (and following a full on weekend at Center Parcs, more of which in another post). However - all in all it was a pretty amazing night. Got into town by 6.30 and we went up to Camden to find somewhere to eat, with vague ideas of consuming Japanese food in a Time Out-tipped restaurant a stone's throw from the venue. We were turned away as we hadn't booked, so wandered up (or frog-marched - Ali was ravenous) into Camden in search of a Wagamama or the like. We didn't find Wagamama, but we did find another Japanese place which had an article in its window from the Observer Food Monthly advertising it as Julian Clary's Favourite Table. Based on this recommendation alone (!) and the fact that the menu offered quite a bit of additional stuff for a sushi-hater like me, we got a table and started to eat - the food was way better than Wagamama's and they even gave us some carved fruit at the end as a little freebie dessert. Fortified we made our way back to Koko for the gig.

First nice surprise was that Ed Harcourt had been drafted in as a last minute replacement support act - his set was only half an hour and very enjoyable (not quite taking away the sting of the £3.80 charge for a pint though). Then the Gutter Twins came on. What surprised me most was how ROCK they were - I was prepared for an hour and a half of doom-laden gloominess, given the 2 frontmen (Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan) aren't renowned for their chirpy pop sensibilities. There were some tracks that were really upbeat and almost headbanging, and overall it was just good, LOUD raw rock music in a great venue. We had to leave before the last encore (Martina Topley-Bird didn't add *anything* to the track she came on for) and sadly (for us) Dulli announced as we were leaving 'now for some stuff you'll know'. Boo sucks to First Great Western timetables. Still, home by 1am, knackered today, but very glad we made the effort and didn't wimp out.

Coming up, we've got Eels in Oxford on Easter Sunday, Elbow in Oxford in April, and Radiohead twice(!!!!) in Milan and London in June so it's shaping up to be a great year for music so far.

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