Knoxville Morning in New York City during a weekend in March

Knoxville Morning , a set on Flickr.

I don’t even know where to start on this, and I know a much better story is to come in the following days once I feel a little less tired and a little more able to find the right words for everything (this is definitely one for the Orchard Street tales that I am compiling at the moment, and maybe less so for this blog). All I can say right now is it was a weekend filled with wonderful music, great company and a lot of epic fun – with two really long shifts at work in between. It all started on Friday evening with Knoxville Morning’s brilliant set at Mercury Lounge, followed by some more tunes at the Sixth Ward (including some barstool dancing and a lot of hat switching), moving into another epically long day at Taqueria, followed by more Mercury Lounge, 200 Orchard, Double Down Saloon, Mary O’s and Puck Fair. I’m sure there were other places in between, and much laughter and stupidity at every corner, and more laughter again…

In the meantime, here are the photos I took at the show (see above for a link to the full set) –  I was going to spend time editing them a little to make them a little sharper, but to be honest I like the little blur around the edges on some of them – a little how I feel that this whole weekend has been. I’m also still in love with this lens, it has no zoom, so you need to spend more time actually framing the shots properly, but I like that it gives more of a wider angle than other lenses do. And it reminds me of my film camera, the Canon AE-1.

And here’s a video from the Sixth Ward. Enjoy.


Music Review: Marillion at The Fillmore, SF

 I was blessed growing up with young parents who had amazing tastes in music. While other kids my age were listening to pop music, I was doused in artists such as Tim Buckley and Michael Chapman, Bob Dylan, T-Rex, The Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, The Clash, David Bowie, The Jam, to name a few. We never really had that much money so I just have to assume that record shopping for my mum was just the same as CD shopping was for me in my teens - a lot of browsing and choosing very carefully; saving up just to buy that one coveted album, sometimes making a mistake and sometimes being blown away by something new and amazing.

In 1985 my mother was looking for a new record and came across Misplaced Childhood by a band called Marillion. The record artwork inspired her to buy the album, and that started a 27  year love story that is most likely to continue until they decide to retire from music. I think I see Marillion somewhat as part of the background music of my childhood, a band that I would never really listen to as a personal choice, but would enjoy whenever my mum played them. About 6 months ago they finally decided to tour the US again, after 12 years of not touring here, so my mum decided to buy us all tickets, and also to fly me over from NYC for a vacation that coincided with the show. She also managed to win meet and greet passes, as well as a couple of photo passes for myself and her. Bear in mind that she has waited about 27 years to see them live as she was never able to see them before for multiple different reasons, so this was all pretty huge for her.

Not only was I blown away by an absolutely tremendous live show, with a setlist that spanned their entire catalogue of 17 albums, but seeing the anticipation and happiness on my mother's face all through-out the night was totally priceless. She is still grinning today while uploading her photos, and I am trying to write this so that I can not only do the band, but her, justice as well. There really is something special about going to a show where you really don't know what to expect, and walking away feeling like you have been pulled and tossed through a musical magic house. Magical just because for nearly 3 hours I felt like I was hearing an old friend play for me, while simultaneously it was as if I was seeing a band with completely new ears and eyes. H (Steve Hogarth)'s voice rips over the crowd and soars through the air - from the moment he appeared on one of the side balconies for the first song, til the end of the third encore, where finally he let the audience do most of the singing. While H is a purely natural performer, at times reminding me of Peter Murphy in the way that he is so expressive with his whole body, the rest of the band are just as energetic and expressive in their own ways. Guitar tunes that are emotional, going from light melodies to incessant screams, pounding drum beats, eerie keys and beautiful bass lines, surrounded by that voice that fills the entire venue = Jade music heaven. And the rest of the audience seemed to think the same way too!!

In addition to all of the above - it was my first time at The Fillmore in San Francisco - what an awesome venue! I want to work there (although that would mean moving to San Francisco, and I don't think I could leave NYC just for a concert venue). There are original concert posters framed all around the walls of the upstairs auditorium - from the 60's to today's date. I wanted to take a load of them home with me and hang them in my apartment. Gorgeous psychedelic artwork. I don't know if they do it anymore, but apparently there was a tradition where they would give the audience free copies of the posters when they left the show. Really cool idea.

All in all a really wonderful experience. You can see the rest of my photos HERE, but for a lot more, and much, much better photos (as my mother also happens to be one of the best photographers I know), check out my mum's gallery HERE (link also below). Now I'm going to get her to listen to Spiritualized so that she can join me next time I see them, and experience them live in the same way that I experienced Marillion last night.

Splintering Heart
Cover My Eyes
Slàinte Mhath
The Other Half
Fantastic Place
The Great Escape
Afraid of Sunlight
Sugar Mice
Man of a Thousand Faces
The Invisible Man
Encore 2:
This Strange Engine/Ocean Cloud
Encore 3:
Happiness Is the Road

More information:
Alison Toon - Marillion at The Fillmore photo gallery
The Fillmore

Music: Mogwai at Webster Hall, NYC, June 15th 2012

I spent the beginning of last year listening to Mogwai's last studio album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, while I was trying to figure my life out. Then I spent the last few months of the year listening to their last EP, Earth Divisions, while trying to work out the next steps in my life. It seems to be a pattern in my life, since the late 90's, listening to Mogwai while reflecting on the meaning of life. Or maybe something a little less grandiose than that. Reflecting on what on earth I was doing with myself right at that moment in time and why I had chosen this instead of that.
For me, listening to Mogwai has always been like going for a long walk, where you start off in a quiet, countryside area and then find yourself suddenly standing in the middle of a square packed with people and noise and lights with your feet are stuck to the ground, looking around with wide eyes, not knowing where to go. Until, all of a sudden you are pulled up in the air by an invisible force, and fly over the crowds back to a peaceful calm in a different place, where the journey starts again.
Basically a slow build up of music, bit by bit, layer upon layer, gaining momentum until all you can do is feel it flowing through your entire body. Yes, I seriously love Mogwai.
I didn't think I would actually get to see them on this tour, with the multiple cancellations and the being broke issue and all of that. But I have a fabulous best friend who took me as his plus one, which also meant that we got the best place to sit and watch the show at Webster Hall, right above the stage, where I could just lean on the barrier and absorb the music and float off to different places my mind decided to conjure up. There is not much else to say apart from the fact that I had goosebumps half of the time, and spent the rest of it floating somewhere above Webster Hall, during all of it feeling that I was literally in the music. Not just a part of it, but right inside it. I've been waiting to see them again for so long now, and it was so worth it, just to be there and to see them perform again. Live music is mostly always excellent, but there are some bands that just take it a step further on stage and Mogwai is one of them. Excellent setlist too - a real collection of different pieces from over the years.
I have to say, over the past 9 months I haven't been to anywhere near as many live shows as I usually do, but the ones I have been to have been pretty brilliant, and all thanks to the wonderful friends I have here (Portishead, The Cure, The Kills, Spiritualized and Mogwai).

Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home
White Noise
I Know You Are But What Am I?
San Pedro
Mexican Grand Prix
Stanley Kubrick
Stop Coming To My House
How to Be a Werewolf
2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
Ratts of the Capital

Rano Pano
I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
We're No Here

The Kills 10 Year Anniversary show - Terminal 5 NYC, 02/11/2012

I LOVE The Kills. I don't think I have missed one of their shows in NYC over the past 5 years, and I honestly think that they just get better and better with every album and every tour. It makes me so happy that they have become SO big over the past few years, selling out Terminal 5 and playing to a super diverse crowd. So many super excited teenagers in the front rows that were singing along to every single word, and little Allison Mosshart lookalikes with their wigs and happy smiles. I love that the kids love them as much as the adults - so much better than idolising any of that manufactured crap playing everywhere. From my spot just above the stage I could see so many happy faces, and this just made the show even better for me.

Anyway, as always they delivered a fantastic performance, adding 4 drummers to about half of the songs on the setlist, all dressed up as old-school gangsters and lit up through the drumkits. The beats sounded fucking amazing, a super powerful sound. I can still feel it resonating through my body. On top of playing many of my favourites, they also did a great rendition of Patsy Cline's Crazy, stripped down, with just Jamie Hince and Allison Mosshart sitting at the front of the stage, singing and playing for the crowd of fans. Awesome. Seriously awesome.

Can't wait to see them again, and see them go through 10 more years of awesomeness!

Thanks Kerry <3

MTV also streamed the concert live HERE
The Kills official website HERE

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - June 2001 concert review

Just because I will never ever feel jaded when it comes to music, as long as bands and musicians like this still exist... I wrote this the day after I saw Nick Cave at the Transbordeur in Lyon in 2001, and 11 years on it's still one of the best shows I have ever been to. So here is what I wrote in my diary back in 2001, the day after the show:

Saturday 9th June 2001 - Grenoble, France
I saw the best concert I'd ever been to last night: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Strangely enough I didn't feel as hysterically excited as I did before the Cure concert last year, it was all more calm. Maud and I were the first people to arrive at the Transbordeur (in Lyon), and as we were sitting in the carpark, smoking cigarettes and reading I saw Nick Cave go by... He is as absolutely gorgeous in the flesh as he is in pictures and on the screen. The man is everything: character, humour, uncharacteristic gorgeousness - anyway, he really is just this whole image. First it started with his music (this mini obsession I have with him) - when I was younger Louise used to listen to him all the time and I used to pretend to hate it, and then suddenly I fell in love, and now I can't go a day without listening to him. Anyway, it's a whole: the music, the person, the lyrics... Anyway, where was I?
The doors to the hall were opened around 7pm, and Maud and myself didn't even think of grabbing first row places, we ended up going up the steps, middle back, where we had a great view and we could sit down, and we weren't far from the front at all. The support band was not that good, well I didn't like it anyway. Australian band lacking in many things, especially atmosphere.

And then Nick Cave. It's undescribable really. The band started off with Do You Love Me? (great way to start!), and continued on, with many songs from the last album (at the time was No More Shall We Part), beautiful songs, especially the one I had difficulty containing my tears to, Hallelujah, others like Red Right Hand, The Mercy Seat, Henry, Into My Arms and many more. Nick Cave was wonderful, he's still full of energy, of anger, of pain... So were the Bad Seeds, although I found Blixa to have a little less energy than the rest, maybe he's always like that. Anyway, the audience was great, except for the idiot stagediver, you couldn't hear anyone during the slower songs, total respect, followed by thundering applause and cries.
When they left the stage the first time the whole audience was so heated up, front to back, that everyone felt as one big clap and stamp of the foot. They came back twice, two encores.

Excellent, fabulous, enchanting, too short, but it would never have been long enough. I want to see it again and again and again and again... I feel some kind of sense of fulfillment though, I saw Nick Cave and it was brilliant, even better than I could have expected, and I will see him again in a few years. That voice... So powerful and beautiful. To be honest, they are even better live than on album, and that is extremely difficult. They are all so together on stage. I can't explain all the emotions I felt during the concert, but it's all there and here, in my head and in my heart.

After the concert was the slight problem of getting home. Now Maud and I usually have a total lack of organisation going on, it's like we will organise the logistics of doing something and getting there, and the rest will work itself out. I love it. So we really didn't know how to get back to Grenoble (note: Grenoble is about 100km through the mountains from Lyon). We had the train timetable and saw that the last thing back to Grenoble was a bus from the Part Dieu station. We had 20 minutes to get there. We tried to hitch a ride and thankfully a nice couple dropped us off right in front of the station. We ran around looking for the buses, found where they were and looked for ours. Not there. Ten minutes later I looked at the timetable again and realised that it was only valid from June 10th onwards. That bus didn't even exist yet!!! Thankfully there was a train to Grenoble at twenty past midnight so we drank cappuccinos waiting for it and sang Henry Lee and Do You Love Me? on the train. I tell you we were lucky because otherwise we would have been hanging around in Lyon until 6am!!! Not that we really cared we were on such an emotional high.
Anyway, I have my literature exam on Monday, my last exam this year, so I had better go and finish reading Macbeth again. I hope the exam will be with Mme Blattes and that it will be on The French Lieutenant's Woman... I can't wait for it to be over at last.

Thank God for the pure existence of Nick Cave.

Note: The official live DVD released for this tour was actually the footage of this show in Lyon. Another note: I have seen Nick Cave many a time since then and he is always amazing.

Spindrift/Dead Meadow/Black Angels - 10/30/2011

Spindrift/Dead Meadow/Black Angels – pretty awesome line-up for a Sunday night show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg right before Halloween right? I don't actually think “pretty awesome” are words that do any of the bands justice, but let’s just say that this was one amazingly good show! Everyone knows Dead Meadow and The Black Angels, so I’ll just post a few brief words about them, because I really want to focus more on Spindrift.

I’ve liked Spindrift for a long time. The first time I saw them was back in 2007, at Club Midway in the basement - I had no idea who they were but I was pretty much blown away by how good they sounded. They have played here quite a few times since then, but I hadn’t had a chance to see them again since last night. The line-up has changed (pretty much completely), but they are still just as good, actually maybe even better? I just love their version of psych rock, with a real Western/Western movie feel. Think of campfires, saloons, cowboys, horses and large, vast landscapes, as these all come to mind when you listen to them. I think I have a bit of a girl crush on the only woman in the band, Sasha Vallely-Certik, because she plays the flute and has a lovely voice. She kind of made me want to start singing again. And this song is just too cool:

Spindrift – Shadytown

Listen to the whole album, Spindrift - Classic Soundtracks, Vol.1, it’s a compilation of music made for different movie soundtracks and I’m really enjoying it today. Then listen to the rest of the music available and go and see them live because you honestly will enjoy them. Well I did anyway.

Dead Meadow were as good as they always are – I don’t think I have ever been to a bad Dead Meadow show. My roommate introduced me to them years ago, and I go through times of listening to them constantly, to forgetting about them, to going back to listening to them constantly again. Anyway, they sounded great, and it’s really cool that their original drummer is back with them for good.

The Black Angels were wonderful, and they played all my favourites. They are one of the best live acts I have seen this year – even my friend Rosie was actually moving to the music, and she usually doesn’t move an inch, however good/danceable/amazing the music is. So there you go, if even Rosie is dancing, you know that the main audience were really moving! I really enjoyed the stripped down, slower songs during the encore too, although that may not have been for everyone. I thought it was a great choice (and I was happy to hear them live).

I’m going to go back to pretending I’m in a Western movie. Happy Halloween everyone!

The Portishead Experience - ATP & NY, 2011

How can I even start? In the mid to late 90's my little sister and I listened to very different music. She would go off on 3/4/5 day raves somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the south of France, listening to all sorts of techno/hardcore/dub/goa/drum and bass. I would mainly be found in goth clubs dancing the night away, or at an extreme metal show. Neither of us were very mainstream, and still aren't today, and although I would sometimes jump in a car and go off to find a rave with her, or she would come out dancing with me, there really was no musical common ground between us at that time. Until Portishead and Massive Attack. That musical middle ground between the two of us, bands we could both love equally.

I had never seen Portishead live until this week. And this week I had the amazing opportunity to see them FOUR times. Twice at ATP thanks to my wonderful friends Dana and all of the Thought Forms band members, and twice here in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom, thanks again to my Charlie, Deej and Guy from Thought Forms. They all made a dream come true not just once, but four times. Every single time Portishead played I was blown away by the amazing sound, by the fact that they may just sound even better live than they do recorded (and yes, this IS possible), and by the effect they still have on me. I had goosebumps, cried, laughed, jumped up and down, felt immensely sad and then immensely happy and wanted to tell all my friends I loved them. All within the 90 minutes they played each night. Over and over again, all kinds of different emotions and feelings with every song, every note.

Seeing the same band four times in a row, especially with a setlist that remains very similar on each night could have been a little boring towards the end, but not with Portishead. I was mesmerized from the first note of the first performance to the last note of We Carry On last night. I feel so lucky and privileged that I was able to attend all of these shows...

It was wonderful to see how the crowd reacted in the same way as I did: some had tears pouring down their faces, others were dancing, singing along and just really enjoying the amazing show. I already knew Beth Gibbons had one of the most beautiful, powerful and emotional voices I have ever heard, but live it is so much better than you can imagine. During the stripped down live version of Wandering Star, with just Beth on vocals, Adrian Utley on guitar and Geoff Barrow on bass, Beth's voice sounds so haunting it still sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it. I do wish they had played It's A Fire, just once, because that is the song I send to my sister whenever I feel sad, but honestly, the setlist is amazing enough as it stands.

I don't have the exact setlist for each night, but you are sure to hear most, if not all of the following songs if you are going to see them on this tour: Silence, Nylon, Hunter, Mysterons, The Rip, Sour Times, Magic Doors, Wandering Star, Machine Gun, Over, Glory Box, Chase The Tear, Cowboys, Threads, Roads, We Carry On (if you are front row you may even be lucky enough to give Beth a hug during this last song).

I can't wait for my little sister to see them when they get to California, just so that she can have exactly the same experience I did.

And this is why I love music so damn much, for this amazing effect it has on me. I really don't have anything else to say, as I want to be able to keep some of the experience close to my heart, so just listen, and enjoy.

Anthrax/Megadeth/Slayer/Metallica – The Big Four at Yankee Stadium

(Note: I recorded the videos from the left of the stage, and the image quality isn't very good, but the audio quality really is. Enjoy).

Music often goes hand in hand with nostalgia – a song will immediately bring me back to an instant in time, sometime very powerfully, and for the space of a few minutes I will be back there, in the body of the person I was then. Often one song can take me back to multiple places, because the music I listen to often comes with me through everything. Sometimes it gets forgotten in a corner for a while, but always makes reappearance at some time or another.

I hesitated a few minutes when Dana asked me whether I wanted to go with her to see the big four a few months ago, mainly because the price of the ticket was a little extortionate. All I had to think about was that I was going to see two bands that I actually adored growing up, and who I had never had the chance to see before. Slayer and Metallica on the same day? I’m there.

I didn’t think it was such a big deal for a girl to be a Slayer fan, but from the amount of comments I got on my old ripped up Slayer shirt on my way to the GA area, I suppose it is here? I have never really hung out with any hardcore metallers in NY, not like I used to in France growing up, so I don’t really know what people listen to anymore. I’ve always loved Slayer, and still listen to them today. Best entrance ever into Santa Cruz with my sister Karli last year – blasting Dead Skin Mask from the car, playing air drums and head banging out the window. We like to do our road trips in style.

Metallica really remain in one pocket of time in my life though. I have never listened to an album of their released after 1991 (the album most commonly known as the “black album” was the last, and I LOVE this album). I have many a fond memory of singing (shouting?) along to Blackened in my friend Battle’s old Citroen, and moshing to Battery in the metal room at the Usine… I occasionally listen to Master of Puppets now and again, but my old Ride The Lightning shirt that was given to me by my cousin John in 1996 and which was a staple wardrobe item during the 90’s has long since disappeared.

So back to today. Or yesterday more accurately. I got a great spot against the barrier to the left of the stage and didn’t leave for the entire show (apart from the time that the lovely guy next to me saved my spot so I could go to the loo). I was never really into Anthrax, but they put on an excellent show, and it was a really big deal for them that they were playing there, as they all come from the Bronx. I really enjoyed the energy, even though I actually didn’t know a single song. It’s really hard to play so early in the day (4pm!), in the daylight, but they already had a good crowd who was there just for them, and I think they did a great job.

Then came Megadeth. They were good, but Dave Mustaine was obviously in pain – he actually said that he was going to have surgery/or had just had surgery on his neck, so I guess he shouldn’t really have been there in the first place. I was never a huge Megadeth fan, but in 1996 Youthanasia was on repeat in my room, and there are two songs on that album that mean an awful lot to me for many personal reasons, so when they played A Tout le Monde I was SO HAPPY. Brought back a lot of memories of walking around Grenoble, being a high-school drop-out, smoking hash in the park, hanging out with friends for hours on end just talking about music and books and drinking beer. You know, universal teenage stuff.

I was so excited for Slayer to come on! I had a conversation with a group of guys who were next to me about how I was there for Slayer and not Metallica, as were some of them. Slayer really have this group of hardcore fans, people who have followed them for a long time. Their set was GREAT, not long enough for me, and maybe a little too obvious, as they played all the favourites, but still GREAT. I recorded Dead Skin Mask for my sister on my phone, so she was able to hear them play it live just a few minutes after it was over too (modern technology has it’s pros in these types of moments!). If I figure out how to stream audio from a blog post one day I will post it, but until then you will just have to make do with the videos I have posted. That cry of “War Ensemble!!” just made my day, seriously. I really really REALLY wanted to abandon my handbag and jump in the mosh pit, but restrained myself. Now I regret it a little… Jeff Hanneman was still absent from the stage, I hope he’s doing better and will be able to start touring with them again. And Tom Araya is just one nice-looking devilish person man. So much charisma. It really made my day to actually see them live for the first time in my life!

Slayer - War Ensemble:

Honestly, once Slayer were done, I wasn’t too bothered about the Metallica show, I really just hoped they would play songs that I actually knew. So as I wasn’t expecting anything special I was completely blown away. They seriously, as James Hetfield accurately put it at the beginning of their set, “took it to another level”. I always find stadium shows hit or miss, but they really made this into a hit, into a real show. The music! The energy! The fireworks! The show!! And they only played two “new” songs, everything else came from all of the older albums. I am pretty sure the set lasted about two hours, and they never let up, even on the “slower” stuff, like Nothing Else Matters, was so powerful. I had actually forgotten that song even existed, and now have been listening to it on a loop all day today, nothing wrong with going back to that place again! By the way, how did I never realize how hot James Hetfield was? Yeah, sorry, I’m a girl, can’t help inserting this type of comment in here. There was a girl in the pit in front of me who was completely into the show, dancing like she was all alone in her room, and she was totally reenacting the way I felt inside – I wish I had got a picture of her, she was awesome! I love seeing people become one with music, it’s such a wonderful feeling…

Metallica - Ride The Lightning:

At the end of the Metallica set, all of the other bands came on stage (except Dave Mustaine, which I think was due to the fact that he was in pain, not because he had some kind of beef with the other guys), and they all jammed to Motorhead’s Overkill. So good. SO GOOD. I’m glad we got a different song than they have done on other Big Four dates. Makes you feel kind of special…

The Big Four - Overkill:

Anyway, all in all, a really great day for me, in all aspects. Brilliant show, many a nostalgic moment, and a LOT of fun. Nothing else really matters right now anyway…

Metallica - Welcome Home (Sanitarium):

My Chemical Romance - Terminal 5 - NYC 04/23/2011

Sometimes there are bands that you love that everyone thinks you should hate. Either they are too "young", too popular, too mainstream, too emo, too boring, too whatever. I don't really care. Music to me is not about being "cool" or "hip", it's about FEELING. If a song makes you feel any kind of emotion then it's done it's job - made you FEEL. In my opinion that is what any type of art does - makes you feel, think, create, form thoughts in your mind...

Anyway, I will probably delve into the above more on a different post (but in the meantime, you can read my mum's great post in the same vein HERE). Let me get to my point... I love My Chemical Romance. Dana gave me two tickets to see them here for my Christmas present, but I ended up going alone, as I didn't know anyone else who liked them (I gave the other ticket to a kid outside - hopefully I made him happy!). I think it was probably best I went alone, because I was really able to enjoy it without anyone bothering me, or talking to me, or wanting to leave. I enjoyed the show because they are great performers, but especially because their fans love them SO much. It's amazingly heartwarming... And lastly because MCR tend to have shown their faces at three important points of my life, and in the end will always remind me of where I was and where I am now.

Three Cheers For My Sweet Revenge: randomly picked it up when I lived in London early 2005 and couldn't get enough of it, continued to listen to it a lot the first few months I lived in NYC... Reminds me of feeling at home but out of place, in both countries, finding my footing, getting over F., feeling completely free...

The Black Parade: quite a dark part of my life. Doing things I didn't want to control, losing my own control, feeling tied down and helpless, dark, dark thoughts...

Danger Days: back in a much better place in life, happier, level-headed (as much as I can be), back with my dreams in my hands, ready to move forward, still taking a few steps back, but many many more ahead.

In any case, I was happy on Saturday night... I had a good spot, right where I wanted to be...

Here are some videos... The sound is better than the visual, be warned:

The Pogues, Dirty Old Town, Live 03/15/2011

Terminal 5, my least favourite venue, from the top balcony. I'm, going to get there even earlier tomorrow night to get a spot on the second balcony as it has the best view.
I love The Pogues.