Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Xmas Fayre

"Now for the 5 th today lets' see what happening in Albert square"

The BEEB'S Xmas schedules out, here's some first reactions:

Dr Who and Kylie:

Hasn't let us down yet apart from the shrieking Catherine Tate episode. The jury's still out on the french maid costume!

To the Manor Born:
Do we really need this , everyone forgets it was a hit when we still only had three channels the pubs were closed on Sundays and sex had not spread to every corner of these sodden isles.

Liverpool Nativity: Stop already, this presumably is based on the Manchester Passion which it self was based on the tenuous thread that the Stone Roses had a song with "I am the Resurrections" in it.

The whole thing seems to be set up so the BEEBs own comedy shows have ready made material , cue jokes about Mary and Joseph fleeing for Egypt in a stolen car, the problems finding wisemen /virgins in Toxteith, you know the stuff. Worth tuning to see how they work "Ferry" into the plot and for the inevitable siting of Pete Wylie.

Richard Hammond meets Evel Kinevel: My Nana saw a biopic of Mr Knivel and declared him a "bad lot" plus our S got the wind up stunt bike not me, so I won't watching this nonsense, so there.

Heston Blumenthal's perfect Christmas. Surely this should have been shown in August as there is no way 2 weeks is long enough to cook a turkey at 30c and also we will need to borrow one of those Iranian centrifuged to make the pudding and there'll lots of paper work and that.

Definition : Christmas Special :
usually funny* 30 minute comedy show stretched to 60-90 mins but containing no more jokes, usually shot outside possible in Australian, can lead to a feeling of bleak disappointment on an otherwise happy day.

* NB Doesn't apply to French and Saunders who aren't even that funny normally.

Monday, 26 November 2007

cool things

Step into winter!

I was going to have a rant, late running trains leaking neighbours bath, but I thought why bother and then I saw these lovely chaps of City of London Borough Council putting the lights on this humongous Xmas tree next to St Paul's.

So here’s some more reasons why winter's great:

Now the leaves are off the trees I can see the
London Eye lit up when I'm washing up.
There’s more excuse for eating pork!
There's an R in the month so you can eat oysters.

You can wear daft hats to keep warm.

If only it was cold enough for snow, well there’s always ski Sunday

After sports night you could light a nice log fire

If you are going out breakdancing have some ready brek!

You can always stay in and watch great films

What's your favourite thing about winter?

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Things you see when you leave the House

Museum Of Street Semiotics

Holy Crud that's what happened to them, they spent the brass from Never Never on founding a bloody church , run for your lives...

I always wanted to go to this club, it looks so mysterious it's probably fairly ordinary but you know...

Something for Xmas in the Hood.
A m**tha F**ki* bad ass Gangsta Stocking
Dear Santa..
I want a Glock, a 9mm, a big bag of Benjamins......

Northern Soul

Poems of The Month
Continuing on a poetic bent, I recently got hold of Simon Armitage's latest collection "Tyrannosaurus Rex versus the Corduroy Kid" Faber and Faber 2006.

I have loved his work for years and must have most of his books (some are even signed, making me a poetry groupie!).

You may have heard his work, he appears from time to time on Mark Radcliffe's Radio Show and has written a number of verse films for Channel 4, the most recent was about the post conflict experiences of Britain's war heroes who came home and was as touching and insightful as his other work.

Armitage's style builds on the work of other local talent such as Ted Hughes and Tony Harrison. He tries to write in his everyday voice and coming from Marsden in West Yorkshire he revels in flat vowels and the wonderful dialectically nouns and verbs of the area. He avoids too many academic poetry games and has a sensibility inspired by the Smiths and The Premiership but is also at ease with poetry's past.

Anyway I always think that poetry's genius is to say things that can't be said in in any other way, so I'll stop now and leave you with my favourite verse (so far) from his new book . It has a wonderful "carpa diem" feel and a lovely use of the word "Royd".


You’re twelve. Thirteen at most.
You’re leaving the house by the back door.
There’s still time. You’ve promised
not to be long, not to go far.

One day you’ll learn the names of the trees.
You fork left under the ridge,
pick up the bridleway between two streams.
Here is Wool Clough. Here is Royd Edge.

The peak still lit by sun. But
evening. Evening overtakes you up the slopes.
Dusk walks its fingers up the knuckles of your spine.
Turn on your heel. Back home

your child sleeps in her bed, too big for a cot.
Your wife makes and mends under light.
You’re sorry. You thought
It was early. How did it get so late?

©Simon Armitage 2006

Hear him read his own work here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

and now on BBC1 an appeal on behalf....

HELP PLEASE: Does anyone know how to layout pictures on blogger so they stay where you put them? The BSP post below looks fine in edit and even preview but when I post it, it reverts to a mess. Help please.

Tearful Tyke

From Yahoo news :
"Parky makes emotional farewell to TV" they misssed the "AGAIN" off the end.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

British Sea Power
Amersham Arms
New Cross
Nov 21st 2007

Bugger the footy I'm off out to watch SEEEEAAAA POOOWWEER at the end of my road, how cool is that, literally just round the corner.

I haven't been to the Amersham since it's been relaunched, it hasn't changed much. The gig was supposed to be secret but in this age of the t'web, it was a bit of an open secret and was sold out. Inside the crowd slowly swelled, the usual mixed of Deptford diehards, the younger college crowd and BSP fans from farther a field, one chap seemingly from the States, oh and the obligatory duo of Japanese female fans (there’s at least 2 at every gig FACT).

I missed the first support act but caught French duo John & Jehn, who were intriguing, starting off with guitar and organ. A striking sexy pair, he tall and gaunt, she chic and cute (is there a law that say’s all French female pop singers are gorgeous? No just centuries institutional systemic Sexism Feminist Ed!) They play drum machine driven Velvet tinged pop rock, with added yelps. Jehn then moved onto bass , cue more driving rhythms, more yelps, bops and screams and a really good song called “sister” (?).

Next in short order come T’ Power, what to say, this is where I start to admire music journos, because I like the band so much and had such a good time I won’t make much sense. Here goes:
it takes a while to warm up the crowd, the (on record) storming new song “Atom” not fully taking flight. Quickly though everything comes together, new and old songs meld together, there’s storming version “Carrion” and a personal fave “Larson B” (the only song ever about an iceberg?).

The band bring their striking stage craft, Yan and Hamilton aloofly avoiding the mire of the mosh pit, contrasted with onstage interventions by Jack Black look a like Phil their screeching cornet player and guitarist Noble being carried shoulder high through the crowd. The whole show ended with a riotous rendition of “Spirit of St Louis”.
One of the best gigs of the year.


Oh and I got home and got those curtains closed and the big light on in under 5 mins bliss, now are there and bourbons left…..


Yan – vocals/guitar.
Noble – guitar.
Hamilton – bass/vocals.
Wood – drums

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

These aren't the dinner ladies you are looking for

Learn you must, reach targets you must....

Jolly spoof the Governments attempts to run faith schools in the London Borough of Tatooine!

History Lessons

Myths and legends:

Most Primary school children as part of their history classes learn the difference between a Myth, a Legend and a Fact. This isn’t to denigrate for folk tales or the like but to help them learn the language and ideas of historical study. Here’s a catch up if you need it.

A Myth is story usually based in the past which has no basis in historical evidence or fact (but may have an underlying truth) and based on historical figures or events. The Viking tales of the World being made from the body of giant is myth in that it is based on any evidence but it did hold a underlying important truth for the peoples of the high north.

A legend is a historical story that is grounded in known fact/background but isn’t in its self true. King Canute commanding (and failing) the tide not to come in is a legend because king Canute existed and may well have been to the seaside but we have no record of him ever commanding the sea.

A fact. Is a known idea, event, person etc that we have written evidence of, from (ideally) a number of sources some hopefully contemporary to the event etc.
To test your knowledge here’s some examples from today’s news:

Which is the myth, the legend or fact?
a. In prehistoric times giant scorpions existed that where bigger than a man.

b. Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome where raised in a cave by wolves.

c. That in the age of interconnected computers it’s sensible or ethical to centralised delicate personal information into hands of
the government or similar agency.

Up until this morning this could well have been a myth but apparently it is a fact.

b. This was a legend in that Rome existed and was believed to have named after Romulus but it’s doubtful the wolf thing was true, it was just the Romans trying show they we special (by having no antecedents) and or hard (grrr wolves are scary). The Romans are now trying to show it’s not legend but fact.

c. The moment our information is put on a computer it is unsafe; it can shared world wide in seconds either by accident or malicious intent (or by posting some cd’s). Add to this that even though we invented the thing the UK governments can’t buy computer systems that work and you have total mess. So the idea that ID card will swift, efficient and safe system to use is a dangerous MYTH.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Wav(e) file

What no tiny bucket and spade?
Heston bless spent his usual six months researching making a fish pie tonight, it will undoubtedly be tasty but you know a fish pie that takes 2 days to make, you may have just left the path wisdom (it looked a bit tepid as well).
However I do like the idea of listening to the sea while you are eat your tea, so can I offer my ultimate fish finger sandwich..... oh, just use good bread (toasted on one side), ad some tartare sauce , you could make your own fingers here, just don't take too long.
Here's the best free soundsz (of the sea) .

Poem of the Month Pt 2


There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was,
And clouds like sheep
Stream o'er the steep
Grey skies where the lark was.
Nought warm where your hand was,
Nought gold where your hair was,
But phantom, forlorn,
Beneath the thorn,
Your ghost where your face was.
Cold wind where your voice was,
Tears, tears where my heart was,
And ever with me,
Child, ever with me,
Silence where hope was.

By Walter de la Mare
1873 -1956

a rainy night in Soho....

Edwyn Collins and friends:
the Arts theatre 19 th Nov

Dodging the puddles and the spray from surging taxis, we splashed our way towards the Arts theatre, the pavements brightly reflecting the west end lights. My friend L was trapped in Wales so a friendly German Subway Sect fan took my spare ticket. The bar filled with slightly grizzled couples in their 40's, leather jackets with hoodies beneath, sequined berets and quiffs, late comers at the back would've been dazzled by all the bald pates and the swamped bar quickly sold out of Guinness.

I was curiously nervous about the gig having looked forward to it for so long. I was worried it would be mawkish, the musical equivalent of hospital visiting. The support Vic Goddard thrashed and shouted his way through his set, throwing away his hit before most people had settled into their seats, a dapper high waisted chap in a suit with pen in his pocket.

After the break (during which a first at a gig the queue for the men's was longer then the ladies), the lights went down and a curious bunch ambled on stage, dapper to a man, Roddy Frame sharp looking and friendly , some younger guys (one alarmingly Eddy Grundy like) backed by a marvelously waistcoated drummer (did anyone catch his name?),
Then after a short wait and an introduction, the main man. Helped along by his roadie Edwyn eased on to stage and his seat at a lectern, the crowd on their feet cheering and clapping.
What followed was marvelous; the most telling thing was that it was great gig regardless of all that has happened to Edwyn in the last 3 years. I knew this because for long periods I was taken away totally by the music with no thoughts but the playing and singing.
It helps that Edwyn has a brilliant pool of work to draw on, any gig that starts with "falling and laughing" is never going to be shabby.

This morning on start the week the famous psychiatrist Dr Anthony Sachs was telling of the restorative nature of music on the damage mind. This was clearly the case with Edwyn, who stumbled over simple words in his between song banter , but was transported by particular his older songs. The odd high note may have not been there but richness of his baritone shone through particularly when he sang just accompanied by Roddy Frame.
It's strange when we live in a world were you don't hear or see what you like for large parts of the time, to go to a concert we you can sing every song is just bliss. There was one of his new songs which faltered a little and the sound could have been a tad sharper but considering this gig could well have never happened, nothing worth dwelling on.
If I had to choose a highlight it would be a close run thing between "rip it up and start again" and the finale of "Blue Boy". After which Edwyn carefully stood up and left aided by his old (and selfless) mate Roddy, the rest of us on our feet whooping and cheering . A perfect gig.

One marvelous bonus in an already great evening was meeting up with the delightful Ms Woo and her long lost friend. We retired to the mirrored cosiness of the Salisbury and as they say on test match special, drinks were taken.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Case not proven?

Alisher Usmanov, Attack on Free speech update!

It isn't necessary for Blogs to be balanced but that doesn't mean that they can't be, a few months ago a Russian oligarch "a posh word for thieving robbing nere do well" Alisher Usmanov was trying to use the UK libel laws to prevent free speech in Britain by closing down blog servers.
This back fired as the web went wild reposting the entries he tried to take down.
In this long Guardian piece he tries to clear his name, thanks to relatively free speech we have Britain you are free to decide for yourself.

However because Russia's recent history is so murky, in my opinion he fails to do so. Even if he was Innocent of the crimes he was imprisoned for, the way that he and his fellow oligarchs carved up the natural resources of Russian was if not illegal, immoral. They have basically robbed the people of Russia of much needed cash, to help fund their failing health and social systems and to invest generally in their country.
If you think hedge fund slime balls pay low taxes imagine how little Ushamov and his greedy gold plated yacht sailing Chelsea buying sushi poisoning mates pay.

Basically any organisation like Arsenal that believes it self to progressive fair minded community based endeavour should not accept a brass farthing from the likes of Usmanov.

But as I said above you are more than free to make up your own. mind.

Poem of the Month

Written when fog was thicker but still good for today

No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day
No sky--no earthly view
No distance looking blue
No road--no street
No "t'other side the way"
No end to any Row
No indications where the Crescents go
No top to any steeple
No recognitions of familiar people
No courtesies for showing 'em
No knowing 'em!
No mail--no post
No news from any foreign coast
No park--no ring--no afternoon gentility
No company--no nobility
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
"November" by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

Listen to me carefully I shall say this only once.

Be beret, beret careful….
Friends will attest that when it comes to what Basildon’s finest synth combo would probably not call the “hurrying mode” I may not be at the leading edge or even the bleeding edge (what does that mean?) but living in town you do get see what people are buying as this seasons “must haves”.

It seems Berets are back, which is all fine and dandy, except as usual with fashion some of the early adopters weren’t around to see earlier less successful attempts at the style.

I’ve seen several young women in the street with berets on, one was distinctly frank Spencerish, another sadly was a yellow mac away from asking me if “I’d seen Kimberly”.The last more successfully "chic chick" had the whole belted raincoat, long dark tresses, Gallic look thing going on which was probably sold to her as "Che meets Noirish femme Fatale" sadly it looked more like Michel Dubois resistance queenpin from ‘allo ‘allo!

Having worn a beret (with a brain numbingly tight head band) in Scouts I am ambivalent about them but then again I still think Tribys make you look like a granddad and white flat caps say Bournemouth bowling competition or best in breed dairy show to me, not fashion must have.

Whilst looking for "Kimberly pics" I found this talented bunch; Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell’s wild looks make them look like cartoon puppets don’t you think ? With Willy as the lion (Rory, Rory tell us story) out of the Animal Kwackers and Bleasdale as a moptop Humphrey from Rainbow. Speaking of Humphrey didn't Alan Bennet do the the voice.....

UPDATED 1:30 pm: the G2 of section is more positive about the whole Beret look than me. The writer probably thinks "the fallen Madonna with the big boobies" refers to dear old Madge : )

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Load of Bankers

Street semiotics slight return:
That'll be Barclays latest ad campaign then.

One louder

Those work shy fops of pops My Bloody Valentine have announced a series of gigs next year. I might just pass I went to see them in Leiscester in 1991 and my hearing only just recovered!
Ps. Without getting all "it was better in my day..." when did we start having to book concerts so bloody far in advance?

Friday, 16 November 2007

Blast Off

British Space Programme blasts off!!
I know it's an old joke (issue 4 of Private Eye fact fans). Sorry even earlier The Goons
:it's the view from our office.

Fat'll do nicely

Obesity Timebomb solved:
There has been shed loads of talk about this lately, it's variously the fault of : video games, school dinners, tescos, big Macs, Cars, the government.
All wrong it's WH Smith's Fault.

Whenever I buy a paper etc in the once great stationers, their check out staff are always pushing huge bars of Aero, tobelerone or Dairy Milk on me.
Why when I've remembered to buy some whole reinforcing rings, Richard Hammonds Autobiography(subtitled:"I crashed that rocket car to escape being Clarkson's bitch) and my Bi-monthly treat of "Mega Carp News(incorporating What Barbel)" would I suddenly forget to pick up an outer of Ferro Roche and a kings size Twix.?
Stop it ,you Nestle pushing gimps, I don't want any Half price chocolate, 2 for 1 Caramacs or even a kinder surprise!
Ps: If obesity really is a "time bomb" should we get Anthony Andrews and the Boys from UXB to defuse the worse cases, you know carry out controlled explosions on the customers of Greggs....

Thursday, 15 November 2007

the centre cannot hold

Word of the day

A new one to me, I saw it in another top Obit the fuller meaning is below but they used it to refer to resistance groups infighting and splitting up . Shall we all try to use it at least once today?

Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin fissus, past participle of findere + English -parous
Date: 1874 : tending to break up into parts : divisive
— fis·sip·a·rous·ness noun
(adj) : Factious, tending to break into pieces; causing division or fragmenting something
synonyms: factious, unstable, divisive, fragmenting

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

and then we escaped to Iran

What did you do for your country today?
Nolan Herndon 1918-2007

I've talked about Obit columns before, this one is a real humdinger of a "Boys Own story". The way that the Second World War transformed people's lives and made them do extraordinary things is truly humbling.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

concert pics

Excellent pictures from the National concert the other day, very nicely done b/w.

Grilling time...

A nice spot of lunch:
We've moved to a new office just off Leather lane, so lunch time is a bit less celebtastic compared to Oxford st but the foods is 10 times better. Sadly, many of people still go to chain food outlets Pret Macdonalds Manger, Subway and even good old Greggs.
But there are stacks of other local run places, one fave is Brothers Cafe which is a Turkish run place at the north end of leather lane. Brother's is a straightforwardly good place to eat, sarnies, breakfast, Lahmacun and fresh grilled kebabs delish.Friendly staff too.
Why not get a pound of coxs on the way back to your desk.
I think the picture sums up London's continuing evolution as the most mixed up culinary place going.
Visit yogurtland to make your own Turkish treats

Monday, 12 November 2007

By public demand

The Searchers
Checking my site stats and as usual they are often more perplexing than enlightening.

God love the place but I'm not sure anyone really wants to see "Porn films made in Barnsley"

Can I also clear up an important medical point if you want to cure a boil don't use Turkish delight go here they are right proper doctors and that.

the next selection I'm calling "long dark nights of the soul":
What new levels of depravity would lead someone in City of London at 3am Sunday morning to search for "naked Pictures of Lynne Perrie"! It makes the regular search for "Julia Bradbury in stockings and boots" seem rather vanilla, don't you think?


Sunday night stuff:

The future is already here:
There’s a regular piece of media shtick where they show a clip of tomorrows world etc from the 60’s where James Burke or Raymond Baxter are enthusing about some potential innovation and predicting how we will use them in the future (i.e. today). They then cut back to the present and the two presenters (neither of whom can rewire a plug or attach a file to an email) make jokes: cue talk of hover cars and pills instead of meals etc

Well as far I can see we just didn’t deserve hover cars, tinfoil clothes well that’s down to Topshop and as for pills for meals well apart from the meat and two veg pill, we gobble plenty of omega 3 etc now don’t we. Of course the future wasn’t the Jetsons but it isn’t that bad. No one jokes about wrist watch TV anymore, now we have I phones and we have other minor miracles too.

Take the thumb drive, USB memory stick, doggle call it what you will, they are science fiction. My first computer was a Dragon 32 i.e. it had 32 kilobytes of memory (that wiped it self when you turned it off) I now have 2 USB sticks that hold 4 Giga bytes of memory, in my pocket that is almost 500 3 min pop songs, they are truly amazing and they cost less than tenner from Argos. The memory card in my phone is even tinier (about 4-5mm square). It’s predicted that very soon your entire hard drive will fit on USB stick and you can carry it around plug it in where ever you go, that's a laptop in your jeans!
Of course back in the studio Kirsty and Dermot will joke about not being able to understand the instruction book and then cut to Darfur and talk to Kate Addie over a satellite video phone, we some times forget how far we’ve come.

Friday night is comedy night:
Speaking of innovation, do yourself a favour and download the podcast of the Newsquiz the first 5 mins of this edition is worth it alone. Andy Hamliton makes an excellent gag about a proposed British Motto being “ I keep thinking it’s Tuesday” which is so accurately sublime and even Mark steel is funny, check it out.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sign of times

Just looked out of the window and it's officially late autumn, in the bright sunshine against a blue sky, the ash tree is bright yellow, although most of the leaves have blown off, there's the empty cardboard tube of a firework rocket on the roof of a car and in the middle of it all a grey squirrel was busy burying something in the leaves...

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Friday, 9 November 2007

Freedom for Tooting

Stars Spotted Exactly Where They Should Be (SSEWTSB):

The actress Hilda Braid has sadly died (although at a good age) known mainly as Nana Moon and of course Wolfie (sorry “foxy”) Smith’s prospective in law in “Citizen Smith”.

I did Spot Hilda Braid Exactly Where She Should Be:
Being from “up north” my view of London (before moving here) was a little stereotypical (much like Londoner’s view of the North). It took a while living in Tooting not to walk out of the Tube station and clench my fist and shout “freedom for Tooting”.

It was at this time that I saw her on the tube. She looked old even then and dithered some what on and got off and on again at the wrong stop (maybe her characters were close to home) but she chatted to the lady next her and seemed perfectly charming.

To my great joy she got off at Tooting Broadway, presumably off to get Wolfy and the rest of TPF some cling peaches for their tea1

The time I saw Paul Weller walking down Wardour St: My inner 12 year old was desperate to run straight up to Kings Cross and get on a train home, track down that lying Get Nigel “my dad’s a sharp shooter in army” Bailey grab him by his lapels and tell him “I’ve just seen Paul Weller “from the Jam” for real” and he say’s in early 80’s he didn’t hang out with you on Saturday afternoon in Wimpy when you had to got to your Nan’s, in Sheffield, you big spinning Get.

*Reader I was a very naïve child *

I could then claim to be the ace face of our village once and for all.

I was failed Pop fan vol 1

On a similar note on the way to the match the other day, we saw some heroes from our youth.

Barnsley Mods: With excellent mirrored up scooters to boot.

This is an excellent opportunity to remind people of the best badge (of which no self respecting skaster was seen without) of the 80’s mod revival. Nestling next to your “Barnsley Mods” or “Nutty Boys badge” Was
“We put the ska into Scarborough”

Sadly my mod badges lasted just few minutes in my possession, having bought them surreptitiously off the market with my mate Franny (I don’t know why I was hiding the fact from my parents but I did) anyway I lost them on the bus home and my not quite Harrington (well anorak) had to go unadorned. We did go back to his house and listen to “All Mod Cons” right loud, because nobody else was in and also because they were dead posh had coke out of cans from the fridge, At Home! (Now there’s living for you)

Next time on “I was failed pop fan” marvel how I fail to spend my Christmas money on an ex-army jacket (so I would look like Echo and the Bunny men) but bought a mac instead and ended up looking like a young farmer……

Don't tell anyone the Iphone's a bit crap actually

The best telly I’ve seen in along while….
The worst telly I’ve seen in while….
Only joking it’s a crap camera phone (it can’t do video!), that’s not that good at texting, that costs a packet, that Apple won’t mend when it breaks and yet will sell like hot cakes, funny old world isn’t it.

Time and tide waits for no man

King Canute and the £60,000 Beach hut...

Storm surge:
BBC Breakfast news' coverage this morning was a bit strange. I tuned in to see some pictures of what the sea was doing and they insisted on interviewing some moany old ladys eating toast in a village hall. (the reprter didn't even press them when they claimed the "council" had been selling sandbags to locals!) There was the usual cries for us to spend even more shoreing up the coast line.

Yes, it's sad that peoples homes are in danger, but how much are we willing to spend saving a seaside bungalow? As an Island we need to live in harmony with the sea a bit more, events like today are a reminder that nature isn't easily tamed. Oh and yes I have 3rd floor flat.

Those pastel coloured huts don't seem such a great buy now.

Squalid Victorians

The National: Shepherd Bush Empire 8th Nov 2007
To west London (relax I’ve had my jabs) to a concert. I’m going to commit the crime we all accuse the rock press of doing, in that I had no clue what the National were like until they first struck up. It might seem odd but my friend A invited me along and I hadn’t been to gig in a while, so I went along. And boy am I glad I did. (To continue the clueless theme I haven’t looked up anything for this review so it will be short on song titles etc.)

We got to the venue late and saw only a bit of the support act Broken Family band who were good but didn’t really engage. One clue guys if you want to win crowd over maybe the bass player should stand up and look a bit more interested! Just an idea!
Bass how low can you go?

After the usual wait The National ambled on. I’d heard from A that the lead singer had a deep voice and was expected something like Stuart Staples from the Tindersticks but he sings slightly higher and is less pub singery. That being said he was quiet a character, a tall fair type who had a lot of Forrest Gump about him with strange stiff arms sort of like autistic kid at an air show. But for all this shyness and stiff clapping he could sing and move with the crowd impressively. I’ll need to hear the lp to get the lyrics clearly but at one point he seemed to be shouting “squalid Victorian” repeatedly, along with tales of having painted finger nails, astronauts and waiting for "the English" to arrive. The vocals went from light crooning to cathartic screaming it was truly impressive, he seemed to just let go.
"Now do some pointing.. "
The singing was backed by an excellent band, anchored by a tight rhythm section. Next was your standard looking but excellent sounding American indie guitarists and last but not least a keyboard/viola player. The later had the air of an adult Ed pottery teacher, but played his fiddle closer to John Cale than the devil came to Georgia, which was very good. Sadly he’d taken keyboard lessons from School of Rock jerking about as if his synth was badly earthed. The National's music was the whole post Joy Division, Elbow, Doves loud quiet raga thing and was stunning. I was really impressed. They must be doing something right as there wasn’t the annoying hubbub at the bar and even the morons texting and chatting in the crowd were reduced. So in conclusion the National are great and I must go and listen to their album now!

Here’s a idea for their next album cover a top café just of the Bush.