2009年1月12日 星期一

London calling - Move over Madonna

London calling - Move over Madonna

One of the few things that I still like about being in this city is the fact that I have at my disposal every sort of musical entertainment possible. On any given night of the week, and sometimes at lunchtime, there is a choice of thousands of venues ranging from small, dingy pubs to enormous stadiums on which the unfamous, the yet-to-be-famous and the super-famous perform.

Be it classical, opera, pop, indie, world, or whatever category you can think of, London is guaranteed to offer the music lover the best time.

I usually make it a point to go see some sort of performance once a month, so over the years I have accumulated quite an impressive list of gigs, concerts and performances with only a few memorable duds which include Air at Brixton Academy, Aimee Mann at Sheperd's Bush Empire (this definitely gets the award for the most boring gig I have ever seen) and Madonna's Confessions tours at Wembley Arena.

Following my disappointment at the Confessions show, I decided to opt out of Madonna's Sweet and Sticky show, which hit town this week. I can't say I was impressed with any of the material for the new album, and had found Confessions a bit too contrived, so I thought I'd use the money on a few other gigs. For the price of one Madonna ticket, I got two for Hercules and the Love Affair, two for CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy) and - most exciting of all - two for Goldfrapp in November - which I'm very, very excited about.

Last week we went to the first of the lot - held at Koko, a venue that is quite dear to me because it was the first club I ever came to in London way back in 1985. It was then called the Camden Palais, and had two huge papier mâché figures of trapeze artists hanging off the ceiling. For an 18-year-old fresh from an island the size of a postage stamp it was extremely impressive, and so started a love affair with night clubs and partying that - while not as intense as it was in its heyday - is still there in me.

I came across Hercules and the Love Affair when a friend of Significant Other sent us some tracks from their self-titled album which featured Antony Hegarty (of the wonderful Antony and the Johnsons). We had just been to see the band play at Shepherd's Bush Empire and were completely enthralled by the strange melancholy of his voice, and the darkness of his lyrics. Expecting something along those lines, we were surprised to hear his voice accompany a kind of 21st century updated disco beat that sounded at first like early Bronski Beat. SO fell for it immediately, and played it incessantly (he has this habit of latching onto a track or an album and playing it on a loop). It took me some time to catch onto it - which is strange since I grew up listening to disco - but once I did, it became one of my summer favourites.

Hegarty did not accompany the band on tour, so the vocals were left to another two band members: Kim Ann Foxman, and the stunning Nomi Ruiz, a transsexual with legs that go on for miles who I could not get my eyes off all evening.

It was a short gig, played for a mixed crowd which worked very well in the smallish venue. Even a silly tiff with SO a few minutes before the band went on stage, which resulted in us not talking to each other for the rest of the evening (very grown up of us, I know) didn't mar my enjoyment of the evening.

In fact, even if I wanted to talk, by the end of the evening I couldn't because I had lost my voice due to excessive shouting during the gig. (Incidentally, the argument took place after he told me to lower my voice on the phone as it made me sound like "a word which I cannot use on this paper", a comment which I didn't take to very lightly!)

A couple of days later, at a barbecue to celebrate a Maltese friend's birthday, the ones with tickets to see Madonna were trying to tease those without by showing us clips of what we would be missing on YouTube. While I have heard - and seen - that it's a lot better than my last experience, I still have no regrets about not going. If the first of the three gigs I've booked instead is anything to go by, it seems like I've got the better deal. You will be updated.

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