London Town

Great weekend here and much thanks to Alex for organising much of it. Started with some tickets for Vampire Weekend I got from Ebay in the cavernous Alexander Palace. Great acoustic and soon everyone was warm from jumping. Friday was a cool party at Farrah’s in Wapping. Lucija, a friend from Oxford came along too and the night ended somewhere around 5am. We skated home via 20 Chicken McNuggets. No explanation possible.

I met up with Andy Taylor from Korea on Saturday for some drinks and followed it up with seeing Frankie Boyle at the Hammersmith Apollo. The man was predictably funny and crude though his handling of the mild cheers and woops seemed pretty damn serious. If only, Newcastle hadn’t got hammered today, it would have been near perfect.

Back in Nottingham now for my last week, gathering books to write and study from, making the plans for the new year (watch this space) and preparing for Arcade Fire this Thursday in Cardiff and some London parties as well as an eight-year hitch to meet up with Maz again on Monday. Ha!

About the right time for a turkey

“But Harrison, a gold medallist at the 2000 Olympics, says there was a strategy behind his approach in the opening rounds of the WBA bout.
“Both styles of feinting and moving was off-setting the both of us in the first two rounds and I was just zoning in on his rhythm when he got through,” said Harrison.
“I give David credit as I never expected him to hurt me as he did, but anyone could see it was a premature stoppage and I should have been allowed to carry on and ride out the rough patch, even if that meant I would have got knocked out.”

The National – Manchester

>Once in, The National are hard band to get out of your head. Not that you would want to as they are now one of the premier bands of the world with four stunning albums in the last decade. Only bands like Spoon can rival that consistency in the indie music world. But The National are much darker and lyrically cryptic than Texas’ more jolly Spoon. Yet you’ll find yourself mumbling their lyrics throughout your days.

Matt Berninger’s baritone voice muses over failed love and disconnection with the modern world, equally in sorrow and angst. Despite this, the band aren’t mournful but powered along by a driving rhythm section, stronger guitars than on previous albums and more brass and strings.

I saw The National in Berlin earlier this year just as their new acclaimed album High Violet was released. However I needed to see them again as I was way too drunk to remember much. Stupid me. This time with the vodka intake under relative control, the memories of the show will stay with me for a long time.

Playing exclusively from their last three albums and for 100 minutes, Alligator, Boxer and High Violet, they mixed it up with parables of being a misfit like Mistaken for Strangers, Lemonworld and Bloodbuzz Ohio to the driving, almost anthemic tunes in Abel and Lit Up and soul-searching, lonesome ballads in Sorrow, Slow Show and the epic Terrible Love. Berninger only threw his mic about four times this time but joined the crowd for Mr November and seemed to be enjoying his wine as usual. They closed it out with a slow, acoustic sing-a-long version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.

The knowing Manchester crowd lapped it up, singing happily, hugging thy neighbour and generally feeling proud to have been there. It was like we’d won the World Cup. It was some gig from some band.

Set List

Mistaken For Strangers, Anyone’s Ghost, Slow Show, Squalor Victoria, Afraid of Everyone, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Lit Up, Conversation 16, Apartment Song, Abel, Sorrow, Green Gloves, England, Fake Empire, Start a War, Lemonworld, Mr November, Terrible Love, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Wow first of December already and I am still patient. The snow has settled on the ground, the country has ground to a near halt and I have been busy in the midst of gig-season, making plans for Christmas and the new year and making those final decisions about next year.

The course has been so easy that it actually inspires me to write some greatness. My dissertation will be about Indonesia and the issues of sovereignty and independence is such a vast country. I am tailoring my modules to accommodate this 20,000 word epic. I am meeting some independence leaders and filmmakers over the next few weeks to broaden and confirm my thoughts. The rest of the essays seem fairly easy to write.

My search for consilience over the years has given me such a rounded knowledge that I find myself bringing together literature, history, economic, politics, international relations as well as healthy dose of realised realism to my writing. I am also still though an optimist at heart.

I’ve seen a few band recently and had a few friends over. Pedro came from Barcelona for the weekend seeing a lovely husband-wife duo called Rue Royale followed by a truly great, punk-rock band from New Jersey, Titus Andronicus. Earlier in the week, Basia and I saw Gaslight Anthem. And last weekend, the Tallest Man on Earth and The National truly rocked our worlds in Manchester. I’ll put the reviews up here as soon as they are published.

I’ve been writing for the university magazine, a mildly shallow rag, shaped like any modern magazine for the modern era. Too little issues and features and too much fashion and generality. It is also reflective of the university itself. Very little about the significant foreign student network and little about the 9,000 post-grads. I could write about numerous issues but so far have focused on music reviews, North Korea and sport. Light-work indeed but I’ve needed to get my head in the door of what seems like a tight clique. Next I want to tackle East Timor and some issues to do with modern travelling and modern life and the lack of clamour in modern society for each other.

So what to do next..well I need to work. Need to write these essays and some free writing. The end of year blog will go up soon too as well as some photos though I sadly have fewer than I wish. I want to get away as well, somewhere I haven’t been. India or Colombia are the favourites. Time and money will tell. Need the latter asap!

Happy December.