Tag Archives: leeds

Modern Declaration

I, having loved ever since I was a child a few things, never having
wavered
In these affections; never through shyness in the houses of the
rich or in the presence of clergymen having denied these
loves;
Never when worked upon by cynics like chiropractors having
grunted or clicked a vertebra to the discredit of those loves;
Never when anxious to land a job having diminished them by a
conniving smile; or when befuddled by drink
Jeered at them through heartache or lazily fondled the fingers of
their alert enemies; declare

That I shall love you always.
No matter what party is in power;
No matter what temporarily expedient combination of allied
interests wins the war;
Shall love you always.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Came upon this poem and hearted it terribly.

Three major updates:

1. I went back to Leeds for one sun-burnt and gloriously nostalgic weekend.  Everything was as it was, but changed.  The people that I left there are still brilliant, and bridges seem to be being built with the ones I pushed away more forcibly.  The pavements of Hyde Park were still hot and booze-addled, the fry-ups were still oozing and fatty, the nights were long and warm and stretched on forever.  When I stood up to do poi in the park everyone yelled “PARK TWAT” at me.  I am sad but happy that I left.

Also, I finally saw The Room. YOU’RE MY FUTURE WI-IIFE.

2. I managed to find a very lovely doctor who prescribed me Melatonin off-license for my insomnia.  I’d read about it a while ago, because you can get it over the counter in America, but you can only get it here on a scrip for over-55s or kids with ADHD.  So, thank you lovely doctor!  I don’t want to jinx things, but it seems to be going really well; I’ve been falling asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed every night, which is almost unheard of for me.  The two downsides are that I really struggle to wake up in the morning, and whenever I wake briefly in the night I’m having hypnopompic hallucinations that something is prowling around in my bedroom.  It crashed into my bed last night, too.  Oo-er.

Theoretically, Melatonin works to reset/ maintain the body clock, so it’s used short-time for jet-lag and shift-workers, and longer-term for insomniacs who (it’s speculated) have a deficiency of Melatonin.  Its production’s linked to light, which explains why I have (even more) trouble sleeping at a full moon. In an act of ultimate badassery, it’s sometimes known as  “The Hormone of Darkness”.  Anyway, it’s all a bit woolly and uncertain at the moment, which is why it isn’t licensed over here.  I daren’t even give myself leave to hope that my years of sleep deprivation are over, we’ll have to wait and see!

3. CLAMERON.  I am basically obsessed with politics at the moment, or at least, lolitics.  EATING UP ALL OF MY TIME.  EATING IT UP MUCH AS GIDS SCOFFS CURLY-WURLIES AND CHOCOLATE COINS (this is basically canon).  My feelings on the coalition are pretty ambiguous.  Of course, I’m not happy about having a mostly Tory gov’t, but I’m glad that the Lib Dems are there to soak up at least a little of the damage, and it’s all very interesting at least; all I really ask from life is that it’s exciting.  It’s making me vaguely ponder how one would go about getting into something political as a career.  The House of Commons looks like literally so much fun.  Anyway, so I joined the Lib Dems yesterday. Hm. At the very least that means I’ll get a snazzy yellow poster to stick up in my window next election time (2015?).

More importantly, the entire media has gone completely slash-happy and are shipping Clegg/Cameron to no end which is providing me with daily (if not a little pervy) squees.  As a ship it has everything that I heart; it’s slightly forbidden & illicit, there’s a lot of power-play involved, the prospect of scandal and media-spotlight at any point, and of COURSE the potential for Nick being seduced to the dark side and/or Dave’s heart being melted by our plucky young hero.  It’s very much a Harry/Malfoy thing.  Obvvvz I love it.  My long-term Aussie gf Rhiannon has written an engaging piece that rather sums up the appeal.

Also, two words: SHIPPER!QUEEN.

Catch-up Blog: Cleggmania, Timey-Wimey Stuff & The Whedonverse

So, a catch up.

General Election 2010

It’s in two days. IT IS IN TWO DAYS. This has been the most exciting election of my young life, and whether that’s because it’s geniunely been exciting or just because it’s the first one where I’ve considered myself informed and involved to any degree, I couldn’t say.  The way I engage with politics has been completely altered (a sceptic would say “dictated”) by twitter, The Guardian CiF and (to a lesser extent) the enforced 3 hours of commuting time sat in the car listening to Radio 4.  *Cough*middle-class-liberal*coughcough*.  Anyway, it’s been really exciting.  Off the back of the first televised election there was a real sense of potential for change, with the rise of so-called “Cleggmania”, and also a (even more exciting) feeling that people were getting very fed up of spin and wouldn’t let the media (*cough* Rupert Murdoch*cough*) dictate what they were going to do.  I have to say, my excitement has worn off now; it’s been replaced by a sense of rising dread now that the election proper is looming and it’s still looking quite likely that we’ll be ushering in David Cameron as our new leader.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

Now, I have no idea whether the Lib Dems could actually run the country, should they get into power, and I hope that they would be able to, but most importantly the increased significance of the third party shows a movement away from the two-party politics that we’ve been stuck with.  Any movement towards people voting for what they actually believe in rather than as a protest or a tactical vote is a good thing as far as I can see.

Presumably, whatever party gets into power next will be so unpopular because of all the cuts they’ll inevitably have to make that they’ll then be absolutely abhorred and drop out of favour for years afterwards.  So possibly the tories getting in right now wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

In terms of a hung parliament, I’m for it.  I think it would be interesting.  And chaotic.  (“And I am interested in chaos” – points for quote naming!) At best, it could be fairer; at worst, it would be an awful disaster that would hopefully lead to the political reform that we do desperately need.  The best thing about the high probability of a hung parliament is that it’s given us all the chance to make what is literally the most elegant joke ever: “Red and blue and yellow mixed together just makes Brown”.  OH MY GOD it is perfect.  It’s almost like it was all prearranged.

Cleggmania

At the weekend I met the Cleggmeister in a very lovely little pub in Malvern called The Nags Head.  I’m not sure what possessed me; I just heard that he was close-by, I was at a loose end waiting for Doctor Who to come on and there was a possibility of a pint of real ale.  NOT EVEN FAKE ALE.  So I drove over; it was a beautiful sunny day and the Malverns were looking stunning.  The pub was rammed, mostly with Lib Dem supporters, but also some Conservative hecklers.  It was all very exciting, standing around with my pint with hundreds of people and waiting.  And waiting.  And then… the enormous yellow Battle Bus pulling up.  A cheer!  And then, waiting.  The sense of apprehension was palpable.  Everyone was silent, staring at the door of the bus.  It opened! A cheer.  Nothing happened.  The door shut again.

It was like waiting for a band to come on at the sort of gig I went to when I was 17.  I was half expecting dry ice and for Nick Clegg to ascend out of a hole in the top of a bus with lasers surrounding him.  But no; he walked out of the door eventually, small and mousy and unassuming.  A small child started jumping up and down next to me yelling “Mummy! Mummy! Nick’s here!”.  People waved their “I AGREE WITH NICK” placards.  I regretted not wearing more yellow.  Or less yellow, perhaps.  I began to wonder whether it looked like I’d purposefully dyed my hair orange to show I was a supporter.  I glanced surreptitiously at the rest of the crowd to see if anyone was looking at my hair funny.  They weren’t.  The jumping child knocked a glass over and the entire crowd went “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”.  He did a speech (Nick, not the child).  I couldn’t hear it.  A man heckled him.  He handled him firmly but calmly.  He greeted people.  He shook my hand.  I swooned.  My little sister sent me a text: “Tell him I’m voting 4 him because he’s a babe”.  He went inside.  We all crammed inside after him.  He handled a pint masterfully.  He shook another girl’s hand; she swooned against a wall and whimpered, “Oh my God! He shook my hand! I’m never washing it again!”.  A lady forced him to kiss a baby’s face.  He cringed.

Doctor Who

We’re five episodes in, so that’s long enough to give my verdict.  Matt is fabulous, and Amy is gorgeous, though I haven’t quite got my head around her properly yet.  Tonally it’s very different from the wooby-angst of RTD’s era, which it does need to be; much more action and clever plotting than drama and despair and love.  On the other hand, whilst I love the general concept of Doctor Who, and the rebel, pacifist, almost anarchist character of the Doctor himself, it was exactly that angst of the RTD-era and of David’s doctor that hooked me, and the intense interpersonal relationships between him and the characters around him.  I feel that’s lacking now (though I know that it’s an omission many will be very happy about), and the closeness of the relationships he does have seems sidestepped a little.  His and Amy’s relationship, in particular, seems to have a faux-closeness about it, thrown together in the last 10 minutes of The Beast Below.  But I suspect this is pretty par for the course with the Moff (who I do adore in all other senses, for his complexity and his knowledge of childhood fears, the eery and the uncanny), who has created close relationships with the Doctor before with no pre-amble or build-up (Madame de Pompadour, River herself).  I don’t know if I trust him to write the type of blossoming, close relationship that RTD was so good at.  But we shall see!  I adore the humour in it, and the horror, and the fairytale element (even if they’re hammering it in a little hard).  I’m very excited about the timey-wimey-ness of it, the probable timeline-skewing and the almost-definite Future!Doc in the forest (and elsewhere), which is so beautifully reminiscent of Hermione with the timeturner in Prizoner of Azkaban <33
RTD always used the time travel business as a plot device, simply in order to get the Doctor to where he needed to be in order to occur, rather than something important in its own right, and it’s about time that was altered (What else is going to be altered?  We shall find out!)

In VERY EXCITING AND RELATED NEWS, I somehow managed to get my hands on three tickets to the Doctor Who Prom today. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  I thought it had sold out and then it hadn’t and then then there was this whole THING and now there are tickets.  I have been on a total spazhigh for half of the day.  I’m just hoping that by the time it happens I have more of a connection to Murray Gold’s score; I’ve been enjoying it, of course, but there’s nothing yet that makes me catch my breath like “The Doctor’s Theme” always does, or burst into tears immediately like “The Rueful Fate of Donna Noble” or “Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home”.  Still!  ERM I WILL SEE MATT SMITH AND KAREN GILLAN ACTUALLY IN FRONT OF ME, ACTUALLY? *SQUEE*

Buffy Season 8/ General Joss Whedon fangirling (POSSIBLE SPOILERZ)

I AM READING BUFFY SEASON 8 AND IT IS AMAZING.  And I’m not a comics fan, but I’ve always wanted to be, and I think this just might be my in.  I can’t quite accept it as canon – Dawn is a giant?!  Buffy is a lesbian?!  Basically EVERYONE can fly?! – but it’s still an absolute funtimes ROMP.  Like fanfic on crack, but with illustrations.  AND THE DOCTOR AND ROSE HAVE A CAMEO <33 And so meta!  I mean, everyone seems to be sort of aware that they’re in a comic, and familiar with its forms and layout etc.  Somehow.  Is this normal for comics?  I kind of… suspect that it is, and perhaps that is why people bum them so much.  If anyone has any recommendations of where to go next with this, let me know.

Other related Joss points: EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH DR HORRIBLE’S SINGALONG BLOG.  It’s sort of dissatisfying and weak-scripted initially, but I found it was a total grower and now I adore it.  Especially the soundtrack.  And the fact that the commentary is another musical on top of it.  I love you Joss!  I am glad to be existing in a post-Buffy landscape!  I am looking forward to your episode of Glee and also the Avengers Movie!

Home

Some sad news at the weekend.  We’ve been bottle-feeding a couple of lambs that had been rejected by their mums at the farm up the road, Bounder and Greg, for a couple of weeks.  Greg has a limp, much like his misanthrope of a namesake.  While most of the lambs we have stay up in the field with their mums, the bottle-reared ones live down in the garden and wander in out of the kitchen occasionally, thinking that they’re people.  Bounder and Greg were always gambolling around the garden or staring at the goat kids through the orchard fence.  On Sunday morning I was woken by distressed bleating, which I grumpily presumed was the lambs thirstin’ for a drink.  It was only when I got up later that I found out that Bounder had died in the night and the bleating was Greg crying over him :( I’m not as hardened to “farm” life as the rest of my family, so it’s made me actually quite upset.  I mostly just feel very sorry for Greg, who’s alone now without Bounder to look after him, and is still bleat-crying two days later.  The ewes won’t have anything to do with him and nor will the goats so he just wanders around the yard looking lost.  Hopefully we’ll get another bottle-fed lamb soon to be his friend, or he’ll manage to make friends with the sheep up the field.

Birmingham

I still can’t abide it.  I do not get the place.  It is incoherent.  Every other city (let alone the second biggest IN THE COUNTRY) has at least made an effort to make the bit of it you see first when alighting from the train look nice.  Not so with Birmingham!  Add to that that it is completely lacking in scene, ambience or atmosphere, and what is the actual point?  Nevertheless, I am trying to engage and get a handle on it, and I’ve found a couple of nights/ promoters that I want to go to/ get involved in, mostly namely Colour, who put on left-field gigs and seem to vaguely be fanboys for Forest in Sound back in Leeds (no bad thing), and Atta Girl, who were – of course – inspired to start up by Suck My Left One.  So, there is certainly potential, once you get past all the drudgery and horror.  And I do like the tram system.

Glitter & Vodka

Righto, time to catch up. My new job is eating my life a little (more on that later) so I’ve fallen behind on blogging, twitter, forums, even the actual news. I have no idea what is happening out there in the world. I missed a Frightened Rabbit gig in Birmingham last night. I haven’t even read a Charlie Brooker column in a fortnight.  This is calamity.

I’m splitting this into two posts, one on my last week in Leeds, and one on my first week in Shropshire.

Last Tuesday Jim & I had a day off work so we headed over to Saltaire, which he’d been nagging me to go to for months because OMGWTF it has a funicular railway. Which is coincidentally the same reason that I’d been nagging at him to go to Bridgnorth. I’d be nagging about Montecatini too, if it wasn’t in another country.  We do put the FUN in funicular!  Unfortunately, the one in Saltaire was closed for repairs the day we went, so we didn’t get to go on it.  Still, there were plenty of other things to see: a pub, and a road, and a squirrel.  We headed over to Salt’s mill, which is now a sort of arts space-cum-gallery-cum-shop-cum-restaurant complex.  It used to be owned by the ridiculously-named philanthropist SIR TITUS SALT.  I learnt a lot about Titus whilst I was there, much of which I have now forgotten, but there were a lot of paintings with alpacas in, and he named all the streets around the mill after members of his family which I thought was quite nice. If I had a name as stonkingly excellent as SIR TITUS SALT, I would probably just name all of the streets after myself, but that is exactly why Titus is a philanthropist and I am not.

After a wander around the arts gallery and exhibitions, we went next door to the Early Musical Shop to look at hurdy-gurdies and psalteries and crum-horns.  I was squealing like a little girl and rushing about poking at things, which I think aggravated the very stern-looking lady proprietor, as she gave me quite a sniffy look.  I thought this was unfair as anyone who doesn’t get excited at the sight of a bass recorder is clearly dead inside, and anyway I don’t see how you can sell something called a HURDY-GURDY and still take yourself that seriously.  Jim followed me about while I squealed at a massive row of enormous recorders and said things like “This is porn to you, isn’t it”.  Yes James.  Yes it is.  After sating ourselves with all that porn, we headed to Fanny’s Ale House for a pinto of Maisels Weise. It was a nice little place, and one of the few real ale pubs that my dad hasn’t visited, so worth it just to brag to him about really!

At the weekend we headed up to Newcastle to see LADY ACTUAL FUCKING GAGA.  I’ve only been to Newcastle once before, and it was to play a gig, so I barely saw any of it at the time.  I found myself quite taken with it this time; everyone was really friendly, the architecture was beaut and it had quite a nice continental-feel to it, probably partly (or entirely) caused by the enormous amount of busking accordian players all over the place.

After arriving, and having a nap, it was time to PREPARE.  We had glitter.  We had vodka.  We had Viva Music’s Top 30 cranked up to full volume on the telly.  I’d been fretting over what to wear for weeks (jump suit? leopard print dress? corset?) and in the end I wore a silly flappy dress, lace tights and a mask. Jim went with jeans and a tshirt. I found this unacceptable.

I expect he is still picking glitter out of his chest hair. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the staff at Premier Inn for the vast amount of glitterfug (probably still) covering room 55.

The concert itself was good, but a bit of a disappointment.  I was expecting the fans to be dressed in ridiculously flamboyant costumes but, aside from a tendency toward sequins, everyone seemed quite conservative.  We were very far away, in seats with “restricted view” (they turned out not to actually have any restricted view really, unless you count the vast amount of space between us and the stage).  Gaga was on form, though I wish she’d played the piano at some point, and somehow I even found the 40 foot sea monster that she battled during Paparazzi a little underwhelming; I mean what were its MOTIVATIONS?  It just came onstage, bobbed its head about for a bit and then sauntered off without doing anything.  This I did not find very realistic.

Thanks to google reviews, we had quite a bit of luck with our restaurant choices; Sachins Punjabi Restaurant is a great indian near to the arena, with more authentic dishes than your bog-standard chicken tikka and lamb rogan josh.  You couldn’t even get chips, so it must’ve been properly posh.  Pani’s Cafe, which we visited the next night, is a lovely italian where I had swordfish ravioli and limoncello, though I wasn’t sure about the decor; it was a little like being sat in an enormous womb.  Which is something I do regularly.  The owners are actual italians though, so the food was excellent, and the italian/geordie hybrid accent was interesting to hear!  We also managed to find one of the oddest (and most brilliant) pubs I’ve ever been in; Bob Trollop, down by the quayside, was a series of labyrinthine rooms, filled with odd parephenalia, old instruments and papers, huge mill cogs and staircases leading to nowhere.  The quayside itself I thought was very impressive, with twisting roads leading down to the river and all the enormous bridges slicing up the skyline.  Very odd to see the juxtaposition between the old, grandiose architecture dwarfed by a huge slab of bridge cutting between the buildings.

The morning after the gig we headed over to Whitley Bay to see the sea and catch a glimpse of St Mary’s Lighthouse.  We’d been meaning to visit a lighthouse ever since we started accidentally collecting them in the Summer, but in the end we got tired out before we’d reached it and just admired from a distance.  I had a nice (very cold and wimpy) paddle though, and we had a happy time examining the rock formations and rock pools on the beach, waiting for the tide to come up and rush through the channels in the stone.  Some crows came over and watched with us.

We also made the trek over to Alnwick Gardens, having found a leaflet for it and squeed over it.  The gardens themselves were a little subdued because of the season, and it was drizzling, which didn’t make things any more pleasant.  We had a tour around the poison garden though, given by a nervous guide who tripped over his words and fiddled with his collar throughout (I think he just wasn’t comfortable with public speaking, though perhaps he’s scared of helebores).  The poison garden is kept behind a locked gate with a skull & crossbones on it, and they have hemlock, wormwood and marijuana, amongst other things.  Nothing was flowering though, and most of what we could see were stubby sticks poking forlornly out of the ground.  Not remotely frightening.

Still, the lack of plants was more than made up for by the cascades, serpent water park, bamboo labyrinth and treehouse.  We went in opposite directions in the labyrinth and ended up quite lost before bumping into each other again and then losing the exit; cue much wailing from me that my GPS wasn’t accurate enough to help us out of the maze.  I suppose I should’ve downloaded a compass app.  The treehouse was amazing; it’s one of the biggest in the world, and has two levels, rope bridges and a restaurant set at the heart of it which is full of twisted branches and fairylights.  We went to the cafe and had a lunch of nettle cheese, spiced sweet potato soup and treehouse lager, which is brewed in a local brewery.  Unfortunately this was accompanied by Jamie Cullen, but you can’t have everything, and at least it gave us an opportunity to look at a lot of pictures of him and Sophie Dahl standing next to each other and snigger at them.

And after that it was back to Leeds to pack up the rest of my stuff in dwindling light and cart it back to Shropshire, ready to start at my new job on Monday.  A week on, my thoughts on the move are still mixed; I have loved Leeds, and the things it has given me, but leaving feels like the right path at the moment.

I do miss you though, Leeds.  Especially you, Balti King.

“Now hollow fires burn out to black
And lights are guttering low
Square your shoulders, lift your pack
And leave your friends and go.”

-A.E. Housman

Cherry Kino

Last week I interviewed the exceptionally lovely Martha Jurksaitis, Programme Coordinator for Leeds International Film Festival, about the experimental/ avant-garde film strand Cherry Kino.  I go to the film festival every year and it’s all very exciting!

You can read the resulting article at over Culture Vulture here.

I also have a November Music Roundup now online.

Live Review: The Miserable Rich/ Random Family/ Ian Williams

The Miserable Rich

The Miserable Rich

The Miserable Rich/ Random Family/ Ian Williams
@ The Library,
Leeds, 14th October 2009

Downstairs at The Library pub is, as every Friday, thronging with rowdy students in fancy dress who are passing through as part of their important and formative Otley Run.  Upstairs, however, it is a different story tonight; and nestled together in a candlelit room are quieter people, dressed (in the most part) slightly more normally.  They are here to see a gig.

Ian Williams of Ian Williams and the Beale Street Whalers – sans Whalers for the night – kicks off the night, with a morose yet buoyant performance which sets the tone for the whole evening.  He is wearing an enormous hat and crooning his heart out in true Leonard Cohen style, alternating between the guitar and keyboard as his instrument of choice.  I am attending the gig with my dad tonight, who seems impressed; “Is he an alcoholic?”, he asks.  Aptly describing his own style as “cracked heartbreak and gloom”, Ian Williams is a melancholy, bearded-toting storm cloud, creating introspective, alt-country-based ramblings about love, death and everything in between.

Next up, The Random Family take to the stage with a plethora of instruments, ranging from double bass to mandolin to wooden flute.  The group make perfectly pleasant and pastoral ditties with well-crafted four-part harmonies, and though initially I find them somewhat languid and lacking in passion, by the end of the set they’ve warmed up and settled in.  The result is whimsical, melodic folk with more than a little Fleet Foxes about it, though the style of the harmonies reminds me perhaps slightly more of The Everly Brothers. Overall, this is beautiful folk-pop of an optimistically sunshiney bent.

Headlining the night are Brighton’s The Miserable Rich, who seem by all accounts to be doing quite well for themselves, having been championed by BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley and recording a couple of live sessions for the same.  The attention is not unmerited, and The Miserable Rich are on top form tonight, creating lush orchestral-pop with stunning harmonies and strong, soaring vocals, all interwoven by aching violin and cello.  Describing their own sound as ‘bar-room chamber pop’, the exultant and dreamy mood of many of the songs sits well against a winsome, caberet-theatrics approach to performance, utilising as they do multi-coloured bells, hand claps and wind-up children’s music boxes.  The result is mature yet playful, full of longing and yet uplifting.  I leave impressed.
You can also read this article over here at Leeds Music Scene.

News

Paul Saunders & the Fever Dreams

Paul Saunders & the Fever Dreams

I have had a very busy slash exhausting weekend of pretending that I am a proper journalist, which mainly involved proudly showing people my dictaphone. It is lovely you see. Shiny and black.

Anyway, on Friday night I did my first ever interview with Haydn from Brainwash Promotions, who was very lovely and gave me some of his houmous. You can read the resulting article (on Brainwash Festival, which is in October, and is always excellent funtimes) over at Culture Vulture.

On Sunday I went down to Xibit to meet up with Susan Platt (aka Ian, who is a sometime tranny & DJ and had just finished walking a mile in enormous pink heels to raise money for breast cancer) to interview her about cultural diversity in Leeds. This one was a bit trickier as I had less of an idea what I wanted to do with the article (still don’t, really – I have to try to write the thing this evening) but, y’know. CHALLENGES, etcetera? It was nice to finally meet him anyway, and I got a roast dinner. Nom.

I also went to a couple of gigs, though I feel ill-equipped to review them due to conflict of interest. On Saturday I saw Epic45/ Yellow6/ El Heath at Royal Park – my friend Eric plays in the former and latter, and made me homesick by dedicating part of his set “to the readers of The Shropshire Magazine” and doing a song about Bishop’s Castle. He had an accordian and lots of twiddly electronics. Someone needs to sort out the leak at Royal Park Cellars, the place smells like an actual drain.

On Sunday I saw Paul Saunders’ new outfit (in terms both musical and his truly astonishing jumper), Paul Saunders and the somethingsomethings (Fever Dreams?), a band that the only woman in my life Lauren has just started playing her enormous violin for (IT’S A CELLO). They were excellent, a very Fleet Foxes/ Animal Collective/ Bon Iver sort of a sound. The support acts were dire, though; one of them was convinced he was Peter Kay, which presumably is an unfortunate enough affliction for Peter himself without having all these cheeky-chappy clones running around the place. Eugh.

That is about everything of import for now, I think. Laters, kids & kittens.

Live Review: David Thomas Broughton/ Twi the Humble Feather

David Thomas Broughton

David Thomas Broughton

David Thomas Broughton/ Twi the Humble Feather
@ The Faversham, Leeds, 21st September 2008

The Faversham is not my favourite Leeds venue, to put it mildly.  I find the layout exasperating; the enormous pillars forever eclipsing your view of the bands, the bland floorboards giving it an odd village-hall type feeling, and the bar so lengthy and omnipresent that, in quieter musical moments, you are often distracted from what you came to see by the perpetual tinkling of ice and clatter of glasses.  Tonight, though, this oddly-shaped and occasionally alienating space has been transformed into one more intimate by the simple means of adding a few tables and flickering candlelight.  The change is an effective one, creating a pleasing cabaret-type feeling, as well as, more practically, giving the impression that the room is fuller than it is; tonight’s gig has heavy competition in the form of Nodzzz at the Brudenell and Florence and the Machine at the O2 Academy.  Despite this, there is respectable turnout and the atmosphere is cosy and inviting.

New York guitar-based trio Twi the Humble Feather open the night with a sound immediately (and inescapably) comparable to that of Animal Collective, though (thankfully) without the enormous flashing strobe lights they so favour dragging around with them when they tour.  The music is acoustic, classically-based and textured, creating echoing soundscapes rather than traditional songs.  They play without drums but nonetheless there is a driving percussion provided by rhythmic, falsetto chanting and sudden taps and slaps at the strings and wood of the guitars.  Their sound is at once folky and spacey, and their first release, Music for Spaceships and Forests, could not be more aptly named.

The performances of David Thomas Broughton are always difficult to review as they are exactly that: performances.  The music almost takes second place as he acts as crazed ringmaster to his own show – I have seen this man leap up on desks and start madly sweeping up with a sweeping brush – and tonight he alternates staring intensely and broodingly into the middle distance with sudden, jerky dance moves and bizarre poses.  Despite this performance-centric approach, his folk-drenched and lyrical songs can often be heart-wrenching, brutally honest and humorous by turns.  After carefully crafting these fragile songs, they are then systematically destroyed; overlaid and distorted by loop after loop and layer after layer until what remains is a disorientating cacophony of sound, through which fragments of the original melody can only be glimpsed in snatches.  Some of the audience look slightly nonplussed, although this is perhaps to be expected.  Wandering amongst the audience bellowing at the top of his lungs and rearranging people’s pint glasses on their tables, David Thomas Broughton is on characteristically unsettling form, massive beard and all.

You can also read this review over at LeedsMusicScene.