England, Music

Invisible Riverside

It’s been quite a tough week really. On Thursday I was supposed to go to see Ryan Adams at the Union Chapel in Angel which would quite literally been my dream concert; sat right at the front of my favourite venue to see Ryan would have been wonderful. Unfortunately the website selling my ticket let me down and the ticket never came leaving me incredibly disappointed. On reflection though this was perhaps a blessing in disguise as it meant I could get a little more work done.

I have to spend all Sunday at work so we are taking it easy today. I picked up a parcel from the post office this morning which turned out to be my Ashes & Fire Limited Vinyl set. So although I didn’t get to see Ryan this week as planned, I have been lying on the floor listening to his latest album all afternoon. And yes, those ARE official Ryan Adams 3D glasses… : )

Ryan Adams Ashes & Fire Deluxe Vinyl Limited Edition 6

Ryan Adams Ashes & Fire Deluxe Vinyl Limited Edition 13

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Music

Street Piano London

Dotted through London at the moment are twenty pianos, free for anyone to play, anytime. It’s an art project that has been running internationally for the last 3 years or so. Find out more here Street Pianos London

I accidentally came across the piano on Millenium Bridge earlier this week so on Friday I planned a route that would take me past 5 of them, on the way to meet friends in the pub. I had never really thought about how rare it must be to play piano outside but the social aspect of this project was what really struck me. Playing an instrument for many people is a very private thing and the wonderful player I met at One New Change said he was terrified of playing in public. I have to say, it didn’t show. Another player joined (a brilliant concert pianist) and they spent time turning pages for each other and sharing stories. Many city projects try to get strangers talking with little success, but Street Piano seems to do it effortlessly.

Street Piano London 2011 1

Street Piano London 2011 2

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England, Music

Jesse Malin – Denmark Street

Having heard about the unplanned gig at the 12 Bar on Denmark Street at the first Barbican show, we quickly called to get tickets the following morning. We were half-hoping Ryan would join Jesse but cannot say we were even slightly disappointed. The venue is fantastic; a tiny, sweaty 400 year-old blacksmith’s forge on Denmark Street. Jesse was the middle act of a 3-part session but he must have been on stage for 2 hours maybe, it was an amazing acoustic set shared with only maybe 100 people, all crammed together in one room.

It was so hot and packed I couldn’t even move my feet at times (I certainly couldn’t change my camera-lens!), thankfully they opened the back door out to a small courtyard filled with the recording studios and tattoo parlours, so some air came in. It was cool to be listening to Jesse onstage but also have people drinking and chatting in the yard and police sirens passing on the street not too far away.

We came away feeling we had seen Jesse play in a place way more suited to his style than the big theatre halls, I have lost count the number of times we have seen Jesse now, but this historic venue made this impromptu concert easily the most special.

Jesse Malin 12 Bar Denmark Street 1

Jesse Malin 12 Bar Denmark Street 2

Jesse Malin 12 Bar Denmark Street 3

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England, Music

Ryan Adams – Barbican (Monday)

I think it’s incredible that despite being quite a long-time listener of Ryan Adams, at an acoustic set, old songs can suddenly seem new again. Some were played differently but other songs I simply hadn’t listened to in ages. He’s probably released around 14 albums in 10 years and there is a wealth of unreleased material too, so that’s a lot of songs.

As he flipped through his songbook on-stage, there were a few nice surprises last night, a couple of tracks I never would have dreamed to hear and it was totally different to Sunday, he seemed a little more at ease with things and there was less guitar-tuning.

Many people think I am crazy to see him once, let alone twice in a row, but the chances to see him are few and far between so I am really happy we saw him both nights. People were again pretty respectful of the no-pictures rules through the show, I have just this one picture as he settled on-stage for the encore.

Ryan Adams Barbican Monday 1

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England, Music

Ryan Adams – Barbican (Sunday)

I had been waiting a while since the last time I saw him, but Sunday finally came and we went to see Ryan Adams play the first night of his two ‘Acoustic Nightmare’ sets in London.

The fact that this was a no-phones / no-taping / no photography gig really did make a difference; no bright screens to distract from the music. There was a very short burst of photographs as he left at the end of the show, and I took advantage of that, but to sit in darkness for 2.5 hours listening to him play acoustically alone was heaven. Despite a few guitar-tuning issues, the sound in the Barbican was amazing, it shocks me every time to hear just how good his voice sounds and how skilled a guitar player he is.

The acoustic black-metal / spanish-guitar improvised song made us laugh, as did his stories of norway. The two new songs he played were brilliant and I can hardly wait to hear the new album.

Ryan Adams Barbican Sunday 1

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England, Music

Ray Lamontagne – Royal Festival Hall

Tuesday night we were at the Royal Festival Hall to see Ray Lamontagne. Though we were sat quite far back, it was a magical show, his voice is of course incredible; unique and powerful. He played with the arrangement of some of his better known songs so it was like listening to him for the first time again in parts. ‘Repo Man’ was great, as it is on the album, and his electic harmonica (yes, electric harmonica) on ‘Henry Nearly Killed Me’ left us tingling. The quieter parts of the show were as intimate as a big music hall gets, ‘You Are The Best Thing’ was paired back and played without any of the unneccessary trumpets on the album version. Small parts of the show were predictable but moments like that I will remember that for a long time.

We were sat pretty far away so I didn’t even try to take photos but there are some on flickr by a guy called Jeff G, who has kindley given permission for us to post this one here. See the rest of Jeff’s pictures of Ray Lamontagne and the supporting Secret Sisters here….

Ray Lamontagne Royal Festival Hall Jeff G

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England, Music

Dave Mwaniki – Covent Garden

After drinks (a few too many Belgian beers) with friends, I passed Covent Garden on route back to the train where I stopped to watch a guy singing a couple of Carole King songs, he was pretty good. His name is Dave and is a regular and quite a favourite here it seems. You can find him on YouTube if you search CoventGardenSinger.

Couldn’t get the colour settings right for these photos so opted for black and white in the end…

Dave Mwaniki Covent Garden 1

Dave Mwaniki Covent Garden 3

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