The Downs Concert

Back in May, Tim and I queued for two hours for tickets to see Massive Attack’s first concert in Bristol for 13 years. Yesterday, the big day finally dawned and it was wet and windy but excitement won out over cold and we headed up to the Downs.

Kate Tempest

The concert had expanded from a handful of special guests into a small festival, with three stages packed with acts. The one I was most excited about, after Massive Attack themselves of course, was Kate Tempest. After seeing her on TV and in YouTube videos, I had the brief pleasure of experiencing her live last year and have been itching ever since to see more of her. Yesterday, I got my wish.

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Musical interlude: The Heavy

Last week was an especially musical time in the life of Kate and Tim. On Wednesday we went to see The Heavy, a rock band from Bath that Tim’s been following for a couple of years without me paying much attention. Their live show was phenomenal and I am now totally on board. A few of their songs were used in adverts a couple of years back so you may well find you recognise some of their stuff if you look them up.

Friday morning found us awake at 6 a.m. – that’s an hour and a half earlier than usual; we are not early birds – so that we could go and queue to buy tickets for the Massive Attack gig on Clifton Downs announced just days beforehand. It was a total success – nice weather, nice crowd, tickets obtained – but I had to break my usual one-coffee-per-day rule to get through! (Shout out to Hayles who brought me a coffee while I was queuing after I complained on Twitter that I needed some!)

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Musical interlude: Sound of the Sirens

On Monday night Tim and I saw out the end of the bank holiday weekend at venerable local music venue the Louisiana, where we saw Sound of the Sirens. They’re a female folk-rock duo who create magic with great harmonies, lyrics and energy. It was a truly brilliant gig that can’t be captured in a YouTube video but here’s a taster of what they do. Enjoy!

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Sunday Salon: All culture is here (except the bits that are elsewhere)

The Sunday SalonIt’s been a bit busy of late. This weekend I’ve finally had a chance to relax after the crazy that was last weekend. We crammed a lot of stuff into too short a time, and my energy levels are showing it. So shockingly (or not) I still haven’t written any of those long-promised book reviews. I have, however, done lots of fun cultural stuff I thought I might share.

We kicked off with a gig here in Bristol. Local rock band Reef were playing what I thought was a reunion tour, but it turns out they’ve been back together since 2010 and I just hadn’t noticed before. Still, it was a great night. Tim and I relived the Reef gig we went to together about 12 years ago and wandered home late on a balmy spring evening. Spring is teasing us with its gradual arrival this year but I think it might just have got here now.

Next up we headed to London. We spent an afternoon at the Science Museum, mostly in the Cosmonauts exhibition (which ended last Sunday) but we also caught a couple of photography shows there. All were excellent, but especially Cosmonauts, which follows the Russian space story.

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Sunday Salon: the week of awesome

The Sunday Salon

I have been looking forward to this week for a long time, and though life threw a bit of a spanner in the works it still turned out pretty great.

The thing is that we had tickets to not one but two awesome events and our dear friends H and G were throwing a big party for their wedding anniversary. We were pretty excited. Then at the last minute Tim had to go away on a work trip Monday to Friday, missing the first two evenings of fun and being pretty jetlagged for the last one. However, I still got to have all the fun, just with a teensy bit of guilt about Tim missing out.

But what were these amazing events we had tickets to? Well, Thursday night I went to the first UK performance of Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band. Who were brilliant. Here is a terrible photo I took from up in the gods of the Colston Hall.

Copper Bottom Band

This group are possibly the most amazingly talented musicians I have ever seen perform. Hugh Laurie plays piano, sings (though not for all the songs) and acts as band leader. Which he of course does with humour and grace and loveliness. I had such a wonderful night. And I really badly want to go to New Orleans and hang out in jazz bars now.

Then Friday night I went to the first event on Neil Gaiman’s promotional tour for his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which actually comes out next week but attendees were able to buy the book early. It was held in Bath, hosted by Topping & Co Bookshop, although I can see why it wasn’t held in the bookshop itself as there were I’d guess a couple of thousand people there. Neil Gaiman has a lot of adoring fans. Understandably. He was charming, funny, intelligent and interesting, as you might expect, and clearly an old pro at this kind of thing. I don’t have any photos from the event itself (my friend T took some photos that she said I could have copies of but we have yet to co-ordinate on that) but here is what I came away with:

I met Neil Gaiman

I should add that we queued for two and a quarter hours for our brief meeting with Neil and narrowly missed our train home, so had to get a taxi but that just added to the adventure! And the queuing was fine because we had this great new book to read… My brother (who I gave Tim’s ticket to), T and I were all about halfway through the book by the time we got to the front of the queue and then a very nice lady offered us chocolate by way of apology for the long wait!

(I realise that I haven’t really said anything much about the interview Neil gave, mostly because I am rubbish and didn’t take any notes, but I will roll what I do remember into my review of the book. And if you want to know more, Gav of Gav Reads actually did take notes and blogged about the evening over here.)

And that was just the start of the weekend. I then headed to London, met up with Tim, very briefly checked out the new Alan Turing exhibition at the Science Museum, then went to H and G’s party, which was brilliant but I think I shall choose not to share any photos of drunken me on here. Suffice to say there was a lot of fun and then there were hangovers.

So…what have you all been up to?

Easter read-a-thon – Friday

Easter Read-a-thon with Nose in a book

I meant to blog this update last night but it was a bit of a late one. So far the read-a-thon is going well. I’ve read one and a half books – Room by Emma Donoghue and a chunk of The Small Hand by Susan Hill. Both disturbing, in different ways.

One of the reasons for this read-a-thon is that Tim has visitors all weekend. They have basically taken over the house but I have created myself a book cave in the dining room. It’s pretty awesome. I have fairy lights, a reading lamp, some cushions and all of the books. If we’d already got round to buying me that special reading chair we’ve talked about, it would be perfect.

Reading corner

Really, I don’t think I would have left my reading corner at all yesterday except that we had tickets to see Eels. Oh yeah. So we nipped out for that. It was a fantastic gig, supported by a singer called Nicole Atkins who I’d never heard of but who was excellent. The band did lots of hugging on stage and mostly played their rockier stuff, which I don’t know so well but completely suited the mood of the crowd. They squeezed in a cover of “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces and a mash-up of “My beloved monster” and “Mr E’s beautiful blues”. And my favourite moment was when we were ever-so-slowly shuffling out toward the exit and the band came back on stage, Mr E said “Fuck it” into the mike and they played a third encore with house lights up and the roadies clearing the stage around them.

Anyway, enough reminiscing over yesterday, time for more reading! How are you all doing?