Tuesday, 21 April 2009

PJ Harvey

Finally. For now.

After years of waiting, I got to see the lady of mysteries, PJ Harvey. She was the only artist I named without hesitation as my top one to see, so dear readers can now imagine my anticipation and excitement. However, however, the gig being PJ Harvey and John Parish and not PJ alone hinted at my possible future disappointment but how wrong I was. For PJ Harvey is a queen is PJ Harvey is a queen. Immaculate. Her voice is perfect, her moves accentuate the rhythm or melody. Needless to say, she is utterly sexy. And as much as I would like to avoid describing female acts in sexual terms, I cannot help it. The highlight was Pig Will Not - one of the most amusing songs on the album, on 20th April in Shepherd's Bush Empire, live, not only amusing but also neurotic.

What else can I add? PJ Harvey's performance was very moving, she sounded genuinely grateful that the audience was listening to songs. Acting out every song, she took me on a spiritual journey, however hackneyed it may sound. Forgive me this personal remark, dear readers, but I forgot myself completely, that during the last song, seeing yellow stars in front of my eyes, I was battling my body to prevent fainting and failing miserably, seeing the darkness and repeating 'I cannot see anything'. So my last memory is PJ Harvey surrounded by the stars. One more remark, this time about the photos, it seems not only my mind but also my mobile was overcome by the artist. Most of my pictures feature a white ghost of an ageless girl, with hard to distinguish features. Someone could blame the lighting or poor health for the above mentioned abnormalities but I would say it is PJ Harvey's black magic.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Whitest Boy Alive

Had I walked to Rough Trade East, I would have managed to collect a wristband but, sadly, on 17th April it was raining without end so the tube seemed to be a safe bet. To my disappointment, it was not. The wristbands were gone, it was raining and I was queuing again. This time quite close and desperate, because in the rain. Why desperate? Because I really like The Whitest Boy Alive, and have great memories from their gig in Electric Ballroom and I sadly failed to secure tickets for at least one of their London dates this year, so Rough Trade East was an answer to my prayers and it was god patting me on the head, there you go girl, for your pleasure. But no, I failed, queuing there I was thinking about the past, precisely, what my mum used to tell me when I was a child - you are not made of sugar, it is just rain. However, if you pray and wait and pray, sometimes it pays, so I was let in. The Whitest Boy Alive were playing songs from their latest album, catchy and lighthearted it would seem. However, a record store is a place where musicians, I would guess, are haunted. So it seemed Erlend Øye was haunted by the ghosts of music industry and digital downloads coupled with memories of the past, records, artwork and playing instruments as opposed to software generated output and so on and so forth. And they have their own label Bubbles. And they never play same gigs as audiences are different, and in two hours in Cargo they will play a completely different gig because people will be different. And probably ghosts as well, sir. So I set out to describe the gig and I ended up summarising what the lead singer was saying throughout the gig but I thought it to be significant. I am sometimes wondering how musicians are making their living. Touring must be so exhausting. God bless all record buying freaks, then.

Marianne Faithfull

You are probably wondering, dearest readers, how low I can go when it comes to the quality of my pictures but I fear I have to tell you, there is no limit. Yet another terrible photo for your pleasure or not. With half closed eyes, I let my imagination run free so I see a beauty, a beast, a woman. Or simply recollect, as I was there, in Rough Trade East on 15th April, after queuing for ages and jumping from skepticism to optimism. Skepticism at the beginning and a bit of optimism when already in the shop, moving forward to collect the wristband only to be denied at the very end and spend most of the gig outside only to be let in in the middle. So you may say it does not count as a Marianne Faithfull experience but it does, in my eyes. A little rough, perhaps unrehearsed but utterly charming the intimate gig was, with audience so happy to be there and applauding, applauding and applauding. I say unrehearsed perhaps because I witnessed the session musicians' rehearsal and they seemed unprepared but, what can we do, they still have some time. As to Marianne, with her voice and personality, there was no flaw. In my eyes.

Monday, 13 April 2009


Dear readers, please see reasons why photo quality is so low in the post below. Just to make sure, the above picture represents two gentlemen from Röyskopp joined by Karin Dreijer-Andersson of Fever Ray whose performance I reviewed in the above mentioned post below. In this post, I wanted to touch upon the performance of the Norwegian duo but, for reasons detailed in the post below, I may not be suited to do so. Dear readers, forgive my persistent advertising of the post below but it may be the key to why I could not take Röyskopp seriously. Assuming you have read it, let me start. Royal Festival Hall, 9th April, Ether Festival, minutes after Fever Ray's performance I was subjected to strobe lights, top hats, Eurovision trained singer but with exceptions. I do not know why I feel so bitter about this performance but now with a painful memory of how they slaughtered my cherished What else is there? I guess it nailed it. So back to exceptions, Robyn who showed the miserable performer of a woman whose name I think I know as it can be found in credits on Röyskopp's latest album and who was not a skillful playback singer how to rock the show. So the audience abandoned their seats and was swaying till the end. And then, oh lord, how they were swaying, like it is 1992, some of them at least. I started to enjoy looking at the audience more than anything else, and I also started to dance like it is 1992, which is quite enjoyable. Until Karin took the stage, in her black shiny-feathered bird disguise and finally, but finally, performed a song, Tricky Tricky to be more precise, but it was worth the waiting.

Seriously, Röyksopp are great performers, and have a couple of fantastic songs but Royal Festival Hall is not the place. After Fever is not the time (for me). And stage signing language is so passe.

Dear readers, forgive my being bitter.

Fever Ray

I had been looking forward to this performance for years. Anything The Knife I always wanted. Anything. Introduced to The Knife by my friend who was so obsessed with them that he would log in to all music forums to spread the word - hey, check out The Knife, they are awesome. Grassroot marketing, free of charge. The follies of youth. Or rather plenty of time. But I digress. Royal Festival Hall, 9th April, Ether Festival, Fever Ray + Royskopp, bloody back seats. I try not to complain about the audience or seats but this time, my dear readers will forgive me, I have to. Rear stalls for me, a person who is addicted to the front row exclusively who derives great pleasure in observing interactions and technicalities of making live music. It is a disgrace, albeit, well-deserved, you snooze you lose.

But back to Fever Ray, with mysterious lamp shades, two laser beams, they came - Karin and musicians - to sweep me off my feet, to take me to my roots, to instil fear and hint at the unknown. Even in the back row, with people coming in and out - which would be unheard-of under any other circumstances in Royal Festival Hall but I guess it was 'it is a festival after all' thinking so between me and Fever Ray there were individual making their way in and out. But I did not let it distract me. Sound was immaculate, perfect acoustics so now I pity my former self who thought Fever Ray was not perfect for full-blast. I may be getting old, but, once again, tears in my eyes at the beauty of the performance - surprisingly organic sound, tribal and primal coupled with stunning visuals dark misty woods stabbed by beams of light.

Needless to say, dear readers, I am determined to experience Fever Ray again.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo

If I could just recommend one movie now, this would be Il Divo - Paolo Sorrentino's masterpiece. It is a film skilfully crafted, photography is breathtaking, the protagonist Shakespearean - all so surreal and moving that, dear readers, that I cried - cathartic experience. Hardly ever do I get this excited and, I know, you may have high expectations now, but let me just warn you that it is not a movie for all audiences and requires patience. Being a hopeless book lover, I must say the following - what a piece of literature! Divine!

On Holiday

There was lots of snow in the mountains on 31st March in Karpacz. Having taken the photo I rescued my friend, Aldona.

Animal Collective

23rd March saw people heading for the Forum to experience what seemed impossible. Dear readers know Animal Collective, even I, in my homeland, had a chance to see them live a few years back and oh how my friend loved them, we were dancing and raving, dancing and raving. Energy on the stage. Transient. Now that I think of it, transient. What was experienced on the above mentioned day was different, the three men were focussed, terribly focussed on the delivery and deliver they did. I liked the gig a lot, I even enjoyed the audience who got a chocolate bunny from Animal Collective. Which means I also got a chocolate bunny. The story with Animal Collective is they recorded a great album and they are great live but, the way I see it, had to sacrifice interaction with audience. She is rambling you must be thinking. And she did not even explain the break. If I say I was on holiday and felt so lazy, would my readers forgive me?

A Mummy - British Museum