Saturday, 5 December 2015

Bloc Party

we're here

When Morgan said Bloc Party Manchester 3 December it seemed conveniently the day after the 2 December and the YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Leeds Town Hall Concert.

And so I found myself on the train to Picadilly, and then, having unloaded the detritus of bags, en route for Manchester Albert Hall with the (not so) Little One. And this was a proper venue for any rock band let alone and especially an alternative edgy affair such as the Bloc.

not listening to S
The support act was obviously designed to make Bloc Party look good. This was not necessary, and really it was a half-hour endurance test. The barman had said to Morgan, Steve was loud, and so she was-  she was loud, and lacked talent, charisma and and any sort of attempt of audience rapport. I saw this as an opportunity to drink more beer and check out audience behaviour, and the glorious window frames .

At last Kele and the Gang appeared, all lights and no spotlights, new bass player and drummer. I had absolutely loved Matt, but Louise stepped up beautifully. I had last time seen them at the GMEX Manchester, cold and impersonal. The Albert Hall Manchester was so much better. BP mostly played new stuff and it was good, but the old stuff was just lovely.
For the encore the spotlights were less prominent and you got them all in view [but blurred in the picture below].
without spots

Walked home through the roadworks that was and is New Manchester. We bought some merchandise, mugs and bobble hat, called at the supermarket for crackers and porridge and headed back to Asia House, wherein to round off the night with tunes from Bombay Bicycle Club and more BP.
packing away
packing away
the morning after
Let deface architecture with advertising

Friday, 4 December 2015

The London Trip Andy Narrell at the Tabernacle

As soon as I spied that the wonderful Andy Narell was playing at the Tabernacle in London, I booked my ticket, and worked my London weekend around that.
fireworks from kitchen window
at the bus stop
Grafton had made a single second for Charlotte E's player, Tracy, so I took a soft pan case and a trolley with me, in order to pick it up from Charlotte  B's flat. Arrive at Clapham Junction at dinner-time in which a jacket potato is waiting. Yippee! Watch the Battersea fireworks out of the kitchen window, after Skye goes to sleep we put the world to rights with the help of mulled wine.

band at Off the Cuff

Sunday it is two buses with a push chair, carved wooden standard lamp in three pieces,  pan on a trolley, rucksack to Herne Hill South London. This is as awkward as it sounds. It is one thing carrying a soprano (tenor) pan around but a single second is another bunch of geese.

The benefit gig at Herne Hill's Off the Cuff Club is for a family, friends of Charlotte's who have been evicted from their rented house after living there for 21 years! hey Landlordism is alive and well north and south. Charlotte is donating the Indian lamp to the raffle for the family.

In Herne Hill street market is the greatest ever vegetarian roti stall.

In the world.

Next stop is Sheila's house in Waterloo, for tea, buns and more world to rights.  Here Sheila sees and hears for the first time right up close one of Grafton's new pans.  And it is a beaut.

view from the 3rd floor
I take the tube to Paddington. It would have a 12 minute walk to my hotel in the Leinsters in Notting Hill/ Bayswater, had I not initially set off east from the station. One and hour hours later, hopelessly following maps on the phone on which I have 1% charge left  I present myself at the hotel. The friendly concierge doesn't share my amusement at this fact and directs me, the pans and the rucksack to the third floor of his bosses' establishment. Third floor! I can barely move.

me and  Haroun and co
One happy little accident happens however to make the whole getting lost thing serendipitous. A man stops me, and asks - is this a pan I am trolleying and it turns out he too is a pannist. We exchange names (he is known as Ghost, and now I forget his real name), he knows that Andy Narell is on at the Tabernacle. he says he might go.

me[Victoria] and Andy N
I don't even bother with a coat to go to the Tabernacle, and carrying the slightest of bags, I skip along Westbourne and Colville. The Tabernacle is a beautiful venue, Andy and the band is just starting. I spot friend, Haroun and family and friends at the tables and then, here's Ghost.
I have seen and heard Andy twice before. In 2002 he played, standing next to Ellie Manette, at the European Steel Band Event in Sete; then about 8 years ago at Ronnie Scott's, when I had meant to meet Anita, bit she was ill on the day, so I didn't. And Andy is the only solo panniste that I love hearing. I loved the performance this evening; I loved the junior competition winner who played first and then joined him later. Love it all.
Victoria and Ghost

I go say hullo to Haroun and we all pose for each other, then over to Andy to buy a CD and pose with him (shameless). With Morgan and Georgia I had once stayed in Paris with his partner, Anita and her kids. We were all doing some pan masterclasses with Laurent and Calypsociation in this wonderful but cold old cinema in Montmatre.
Andy N and Dudley D

Andy and Dudley
Then have a drink with Ghost, talk also with pan tuner, Dudley Dickson, and then Ghost tells me he was saying hullo to Tony Charles. Aargh!  I missed him. Tony made all the first pans I ever learnt to play on at Foxwood School. Seeing and listening to Andy, meeting all the pan people of London, just so good.

Back at the hotel George Clooney has just shot someone he has just slept with. that's not very nice; the sound works only intermittently on the tele, and offers no other channel but this one. It's Radio 3 on the old iPod for me. Sleep? Not really. An interesting beetle appeared on the covers.

Monday morning. The last lap is Baywater to Edgware to Kings Cross. And then Leeds. Back home Tracy comes to collect her pan, which I know will change her life!
me Tracy and pan

Friday, 20 November 2015

Soul Circle, Tidal, Marina and Aleaxander D Great

It started with Soul Circle at the Chemic. Walt and I nipped down to see Alan (kit) and John (bass), and catch up with Ann. Soul Circle were on form, and I wished I had driven down, but I have yet to learn the fine art of soft drinks in da pub. This is best done with mental preparation and generally going down nearer to closing time, neither of which I had done. [the picture above comes from a selection of Soul Circle, none of which either Alan or John.]

We bumped into Lynn and Oliver. Lynn was pleased to meet Walt for the first time as she had heard so much about him from his grandmother. Amit, however opined that going for a drink with my very grown-up (only in age!) son was just increasing my own age!

On Friday I attended This Changes Everything at Woodhouse Community Centre. This powerful film was part of the start of the Tidal Conference. Turns out I should have been watching Alexander D Great in Mirfield (which I had in my diary as Saturday night). So I didn't deserve it when Marina, Glenn and Alexander himself turned up for a few tunes and poems at Woodhouse. First time I had heard Marina declaiming, and not surprised to learn she had won several poetry slams.

They went busking in Leeds Centre. I skipped off with them. There I met Emma B doing some art outside the Art Gallery, and also met my old friend Journalist John, who first sat me down and showed me how to make a blog when I campaigning for City of Leeds School to stay just that.
Emma B plus

Next day I took the mother to see some black and white footage of the old suffragette days. Just loving my new regular trips to the Hyde Park cinema.
From there I race off to Mirfield St Paul's for Alexander's last set and Marina's Carnival workshops in St Paul's Church. Here I decide to sign up for some salsa dancing at Inkwell, have a professional photo taken for conferences an' 'at, and take Alexander to the station on my way home.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Bill Viola at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Light Night Fright Night

Victoria and Staveley reflecting with camera
As the Sparrows bandleader, I often get invited to the opening of exhibitions and events at Yorkshire Sculpture Park., but rarely have been able  to attend them. This time I can and now I have new pal, Staveley the Photographer who will appreciate art and I am hoping explain it all to me.

It's a nice day There's a few hundred of us. We listen to the speeches, have a glass of juice and enter the weird world of Bill Viola. Well, it's underground installations, films of disintegrating people dissolving into water and what have you. The first few made me feel quite faint. In a good way.

In the last room we were invited to take a cup of green tea and watch a video that Bill had made, on the one side his mother dying and on the other his child being born, and other such stuff. There were stories on the walls, including how he fell into a pond as a child and remembered seeing the world through water.
Sort of validated for me how accidents are entitled to form and formulate your life theories.
Staveley and I arranged to met for Light Night in Leeds, but then Marina phoned to ask if I would march with her for the Day of the Dead.
And that is how I came to spend Friday evening dressed as a Mexican peasant woman with scary face make-up, bringing up the rear of the Lantern parade. I decided against going out further for reasons of the face make-up, and as my cracked my ribs were still playing up it was just as well.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Nick Sparham aka Harvey managed 40

Nick Sparham aka Harvey managed 40
 This fact deserves a post to all to itself.
Nicky was in my tutor group at Foxwood; he was in my steelband; he was one of the best soprano pan players ever; he was one of top GCSE hopefuls of his year; he took no exams.

He used to babysit for me; he was gay; he and Derek told me in Yr 10 that they would come out in Yr 11. I told them that my support for them was not going to be replicated by the hoi poloi of Seacroft and Foxwood School - this was two and half decades ago - and I advised them both against it, but would stand by them if needed..

Anyway two weeks into term another kid asked me if Nick was gay [probably not the word he used]; proud, but nervous for these two, I said, You will have to ask him yourself. Turned out that they both denied it for the remaining,

It was a tough old world,
but lovely Nick was a survivior, is a survivor, so although I had recently taken my back steps at speed and face first, and was now suffering the mothers and sisters of all bruised ribs, I just had to honour the occasion.

En route, and ever thus, we had to meet Charlotte to return the pan she left in the van. At which point, in the middle of Briggate we bumped into Daisy and Lola, so it seemed only appropriate to take loads of pics.

Then on to M and S for some flowers and down to Lower Briggate for the do. Bit of a trip down Memory lane meeting his mum, uncle and aunt and some ex-students. And it been 19 years ago when Max's late partner, Dave and I saw Nick safely through his 21st at the Jester in Bradford. I do live in hope that he will return to Foxwood Steel. Above is a picture of him from schooldays circa 1990 treading the old boards at Harehills Community Centre.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Camping at Hunters Greave August 2015

Charlotte B is here from London with daughter Skye. We are practising for Carnival Village Leeds, and we are going camping. On Thursday I take Fehmina and cat to the vets in Meanwood, then turn about for Leeds Station, where Charlotte has wandered off into City Square, and it takes a while to recapture them!

Angie and me
Charlotte by locks
Next day we rehearse some of our tunes in the living room. As Charlotte normally plays with marching band, Nostalgia, she is more than happy to take on the single guitar. This just means no root notes for the E flat chords which seems to pop up everywhere. And that means a double take before rubber strikes metal.

Anyway, it's half four and we hit the Leeds Bradford Road; at the campsite we find Daisy Lola Ben Joe plus lots of old friends. We set up the tent in a leisurely way with no-one trying to help us - always a bonus.

That evening it is proper camp fire with wine and chat. Next day I am still arranging players, sets and setlists from the trusty mobile, and then 24 hours after we arrived we set off back to Hyde Park. Best thing was that Lizzie Connor and the girls have arrived minus tent poles so they decide to use our tent, and we get not to have to pack it away!
Find out that Angie and I are both preparing for Carnival - me and Charlotte on pans, Angie has been making costumes with friend, Marina.