We missed the first snow of the season this weekend, instead dodging sleet and hail on our first visit to Manchester.
We stayed with an old colleague of mine in the lovely village in a suburb of Chorley. We packed a fair bit in on Saturday, with a visit to the new architecture at Salford Docks as well as the highlights of the city centre, including the beautiful John Ryland library – a great secular temple.
The new stuff was generally pretty bland (though better than anything Scottish) as my preparatory reading of the relevant chapter of The New Ruins of Great Britain had made out.
On Sunday after an adventurous evening that ended up in an eclectic Cuban cafe we pottered around the lovely Whitworth Museum, whose luminous red brick was quite striking against the grey.
Monday we spent exploring the fantastic Northern Quarter in more detail, with great warehouses and fire escapes, along narrow streets combined with the requisite cafes and vintage shops creating our natural habitat 😉
A quick trip to the Captain’s Rest last night for some classic antipodean singer songwriting courtesy of our favourite man from Gympie – Darren Hanlon.
He was great as always, the gig was ned free, lots of old friends present and correct, and he played lots of our old faves as well as a couple more rootsy tracks from his new albumn.
Word up for the Glasgow crews slogging it out on the other side of the country. Especially our favourite actor Judith Williams who is earning rave reviews in the excellent if a little overwraught Orlando. Chhay is working at a couple of productions and spent four days hanging out last week to properly soak up the vibe. We are back tomorrow for some high class festival proper actions with the premier of the adaptation of Murakami’s Wind Up Bird Chronicles.
Last minute gig decision last night – gotta love living in the heart of town. Without their frontman they were a little less entertaining although their fantastically talented musicianship was still on display. The acoustics and shape of the Arches didin’t help either, it was a much less crisp sound compared to when we saw them at ABC a few years ago
We caught a magnificent set from Chilly Gonzales last night at a very intimate ABC2. He was on brilliant form, relentlessly entertaining yet showing true mastery of his piano. Riffing on rap, minority keys and classic show tunes there were definite echos of Flight of the Choncords, with an overlay of a more sophisticated musical palette. It was the sort of school night outing that makes living in the city so great. Next some classical piano – he has hetted our appetites.
We were at the first of three B&S shows prior to Christmas – it has only taken four years to see them in their home town! While we were risking derision from the locals for revealing our taste in twee, nevertheless it was a very enjoyable gig. B&S were extremely polished and although they had perhaps lost some of the quirky intimacy from when we last saw them in Brisbane many years ago (one of the reasons we ended up in Glasgow actually) they certainly know how to put on a show. The set list was focused on Dear Catastrophe Waitress, so perhaps not enough oldies for C’s taste but we managed, and the Barra’s is such a great venue it was hard not to have a good time.
Another historic post coming up for a year ago… I was reminded to post this by our invitation to the fourth Wilton St ‘Deck the Halls’ Christmas party, without us as householders thsi year it will be a very different feeling!
Last years built on the successes of the previous events, upstairs did a marvelous job of decorating and it was packed to the gills again, with the fire and Chhay and Krista’s potent martinis keeping everybody suitably warm. In fact a number of peeps have expressed their disappointment that we won’t be hosting it again this year!
On the even of Bowlie 2 (which we won’t be attending alas) some more from the archives…
A remarkable restrained Les Savvy Fav played at the screening of the ATP Film in Glasgow last year. As local acts often featue heavily on the ATP roster (and indeed Belle and Sebastian starting the whole process with the original Bowlie weekender) expectations were high. The film was enetertaining but a little limited in its scope I felt, Warren Ellis was definitely the highlight.
With the film as a taster later last year we headed back down to Minehead for 10 Years of ATP. As all the acts had played ATP before there was less of a sense of discovery but some fantastic tunes nevertheless. We didn’t quite manage to tap into an appropriate level of hedonistic attitude either – the 10 hour bus ride sapping our energy for the weekend.
We have had old school friend ‘the Guru’ around to stay this week – it has been a fun few days. On Wednesday evening we popped in to the liquid ship to catch our old friend Jamie Flett play, along with his brother Andy (together they are the sometimes duo Feltt). They were both in sparkling form and their sound really suits the intimacy of the Ship, when they play with a bigger band I feel they lose some of their uniqueness.
Listening to Jamie play reminded me to post on his album launch, now over a year ago – at a busy evening at the Griffin’s Head. The support act torturing a guitar with a hairdryer was interesting but knocked the tone of the evening a little and it never really recovered, the album, and its electro remixed cousin Bright but Cold, that wa sonly distributed on the night are excellent little nuggets well worth a listen.
more than a year ago now!…getting older by the day
for our slightly more significant birthday’s last year cousin Claire & I hosted a masquerade Ceilidh in the ballroom of local bolthole Sloan’s. It was a great night, Chhay made a slection of her amazing cupcakes, there were some fantastic masks and the band were superb – particularly patient with our amateur ceilidh attempts.