Amelia’s Magazine | Caitlin Rose at the Windmill Brixton: Live Review

Find Your Feet-Bollywood
By Stamo A/W 2011 by Rebecca Strickson
By Stamo A/W 2011 by Rebecca Strickson.

On Sunday 13th March Find Your Feet hosted an ethical fashion show at the Mint Leaf restaurant in the Haymarket. I was invited to donate a copy of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration for We Are What We Wear by the show stylist, abortion the lovely Zoe Robinson of Think Style – a women with many sustainable strings to her bow. She works as an actress, a writer (for Egg Mag) and an ethical image consultant.

Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet Honey's Dance Academy, Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet Honey's Dance Academy, Photography by Amelia GregoryBollywood dancing by Jane Young
Bollywood dancing from Honey’s Dance Academy by Jane Young.

We were treated to some very energetic Bollywood dancing thanks to Honey’s Dance Academy, followed by two short catwalk shows which took place on walkways surrounding the sunken restaurant. Models included youngsters and a couple of more mature women from Close Models, which provided a really uplifting touch.

Junky Styling by YesGo IllustrationJunky Styling by YesGo Illustration
Junky Styling by YesGo Illustration.

Find Your Feet-Junky Styling. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Junky Styling. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Junky Styling. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Junky Styling. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Find Your Feet-People Tree. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-People Tree. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-People Tree. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-People Tree. Photography by Amelia Gregory
People Tree.

Find Your Feet-Bhavna. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Bhavna. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Bhavna. Photography by Amelia Gregory

Find Your Feet Outsider. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

During the first show we saw a fabulous multi layered pink maxi dress from ACOFI featured designer Junky Styling, cute dresses from People Tree, embellished bamboo dresses from Bhavna, and gorgeous silk classics from Outsider, who I discovered at Ecoluxe this season.

Find Your Feet- Amisha, Zoe, Orsola and the kids. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Amisha, Zoe, Orsola and the kids.

As I had a bar ticket I was able to roam around, and between shows sat with Zoe, Amisha Ghadalli, Maria Papadimitriou of Slowly the Eggs/Plastic Seconds and Orsola de Castro of From Somewhere, who was entertaining her young daughter and her friend. We ate some yummy canapes and watched a magician bend forks, then a Find Your Feet ambassador described the work done by this charity, which includes helping to fund sustainable farming practices. Fittingly, she described how a group of women in rural India bandied together to make the most of the mint growing on local farms – they now have a successful essential oil business.

Find Your Feet-magician. Photography by Amelia Gregory
The magician entertains the kids.

Find Your Feet- Charley Speed and bottle top bag. Photography by Amelia Gregory.Find Your Feet- Charley Speed and bottle top bag. Photography by Amelia Gregory.
Charley Speed and bottle top bag.

Then it was on to the auction, where any mention of my book was usurped by the lure of an Outsider dress, as worn by a celebrity – the presenter Charley Speed dashing maniacally around the room to squeeze as much money as possible out of the generous crowd. The whole lot (including a bottle top bag) went for £300, and I can only hope that the recipient appreciated my donation because he probably had no clue what it was.

Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Gareth A Hopkins
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011 by Gareth A Hopkins.

Round two featured three Amelia’s Magazine favourites from ACOFI: off-cut drama courtesy of From Somewhere, amazing sculptural pieces from Ada Zanditon and colourful dresses with sunflower decorations from By Stamo. There was also some playful printed dresses from Love Phool.

From Somewhere by Gareth A Hopkins
From Somewhere by Gareth A Hopkins.

Find Your Feet-From Somewhere. Photography by Amelia Gregory
From Somewhere.

Find Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Ada Zanditon. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Ada Zanditon S/S 2011.

Find Your Feet-Lovephool. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Love Phool. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Love Phool. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Love Phool. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Love Phool. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-Love Phool. Photography by Amelia Gregory
Love Phool.

Find Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia GregoryFind Your Feet-By Stamo. Photography by Amelia Gregory
By Stamo A/W 2011.

A range of ethical accessories were used to style the show, amongst them some old favourites: LeJu, Nina Dolcetti and Joanna Cave… and some new discoveries: Meher Kakalia, who adapts ancient shoemaking techniques from her home town of Karachi to create modern footwear in Brixton, and Kumvana Gomani, who creates delicate jewellery out of plastic waste.

By Stamo A/W 2011 by Maria del Carmen SmithBy Stamo A/W 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith
By Stamo A/W 2011 by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Exposing ethical design to more people and raising money for sustainable projects are good things to do, but We Aren’t JUST What We Wear, we are also What We Do in every aspect of life. On my return home I was somewhat saddened to read about a couple of other auction sponsors: it was also possible to win a test track experience with Jaguar or a BMW for the weekend. I know that money has to come from somewhere but there is a distinct lack of joined up thinking in ethical practice: a Mint Leaf waiter could not tell me whether the chicken they served us was freerange or organic.

We Are What We Wear was a massive success: raising over £10,000 to support sustainable weaving projects in India, but I wish that there was more recognition within the charity sector that sustainable practice involves more than donating money for dinner to support those less fortunate on the other side of the world, it’s about a holistic way of being. Within this world view I do not include hyping the desirability of extremely expensive energy guzzling cars. Needless to say, mine was the only bike tied up outside the Mint Leaf restaurant.

Caitlin Rose by Hayley Akins
Illustration by Hayley Akins.

Such had been the anticipation surrounding Caitlin Rose’s return to the UK, adiposity especially after the release of her acclaimed debut album, Own Side Now, that her shows in the capital soon sold out. Being the smallest of those venues, but organised by such thoughtful fellows, Brixton’s Windmill quickly arranged a special early evening show to cater for any disappointed punters. Needless to say, the tickets flew for that one as well.

Illustration by Donya Todd

I’d been caught out too many times by being when buying tickets in the past, so I’d got in sharpish and, as a result, I drew the straw for the late show. I arrived quite early (well, 9.00pm) and caught the support band, Treetop Flyers, limbering up for their second performance of the evening. A London based band, and purveyors of the finest Americana, tonight they were playing a more stripped back acoustic set. I’d never caught them before, but I liked what I heard. They set the mood nicely for the evening, even throwing in a Townes Van Zandt cover.

caitlin rose-stephanie thieullent
Illustration by Stephanie Thieullent

By the time Caitlin Rose took to the stage, the Windmill was pretty rammed. I’d seen her live a couple of times before (and all but once at the Windmill), though this was the first time with a full band (apparently they couldn’t afford to fly out the drummer from the US on the last tour). After having obviously enjoyed a few refreshments between sets, Rose cheerfully exclaimed “two of us haven’t slept!”, as the band launched into New York.

caitlin rose by mary ferfyri
Illustration by Mary Ferfiry

Own Side Now has seen Caitlin Rose expand on the fairly traditional country sound of her debut release, the Dead Flowers EP (as hinted at in an interview with Amelia’s Magazine last summer). The intimacy of the Windmill really lent itself to her songs (and especially that voice!), as we sampled such bittersweet treats as For The Rabbits and Learning To Ride.

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There was a particularly affecting rendition of Own Side, which brought a lump to the throat of even this old cynic. Answer In One Of These Bottles (from Dead Flowers) sparked a raucous sing-along, before everyone rocked out to Shanghai Cigarettes.

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Caitlin Rose by Ashley Fauguel
Illustration by Ashley Fauguel

Rose switched from acoustic guitar to electric and back again, there was plenty of banter, and there were all the hallmarks for a special night in place. After a couple more UK dates before a return to the US, and then a trip to the Antipodes, we’re not likely to see Ms Rose on these shores again before some festival appearances in the summer – given her current ascendency, one wonders whether we’ll ever see her play in such a venue as the Windmill again.

Caitlin Rose by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs
Illustration by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly the Eggs

Categories ,americana, ,Ashley Fauguel, ,Brixton, ,Caitlin Rose, ,country, ,Dead Flowers EP, ,Donya Todd, ,Hayley Akins, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,Mary Ferfiry, ,Nashville, ,Own Side Now, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,Stéphanie Thieullent, ,Townes van Zandt, ,Treetop Flyers, ,Windmill

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Amelia’s Magazine | Kate Bush at the Eventim Apollo 2014: Live Review

kate bush 1 by daria hlazatova

Kate Bush by Daria Hlazatova

This could never be an ordinary show. Not like some 20 minute set at the Windmill, oh no. This was Kate Bush, and Kate Bush never does ordinary. After a completely unexpected announcement, having not performed live for 35 years (aside from charity duets with the likes of David Gilmour and Rowan Atkinson)? No, this was going to be spectacular.

The thought of ever seeing Kate Bush on stage again had seemed inconceivable, so it was no surprise that, come the fateful day when no doubt tens of thousands of index fingers hovered expectantly over the refresh button, awaiting the inevitable crash of over-subscribed ticketing websites, her mammoth 22 date stint at the Eventim Apollo sold out in minutes (I was actually very lucky, and got my ticket at the second attempt). And what were we to expect from the shows themselves? There was the promotional photo, of Bush in a lifejacket adrift in the sea, and the enigmatic title, Before The Dawn. There were rumours, as there always are, of what might be performed, but nothing else. We would have to wait and see.

Kate Bush by Sam Parr

Kate Bush by Sam Parr

Why the enduring appeal of Kate Bush? I guess it’s partly because her music is so, well, different. When she first appeared on the scene in the late 70s, popular music pretty much fell into two distinct camps, New Wave and Disco, and Kate Bush was most definitely neither. Also, there’s her continuing influence, both musically and artistically, taking firm control of her career from an early stage in a very male dominated music industry.

So here we are, on a pleasant late summer’s evening in West London. The Eventim Apollo (better known as the old Hammersmith Odeon) is a fitting venue – the stage where David Bowie famously “retired” Ziggy Stardust now marking the return of Kate Bush (who also closed her only previous tour here) as a live performer. With showtime starting promptly at 7.45, there was already a sizeable queue snaking its way indoors when I got there, making its way past a forlorn figure with her homemade placard saying “it’s my birthday today, I need two tickets.” The recently renovated foyer was buzzing with an excitement I don’t ever recall seeing before a gig, with people laying siege to the merch stall. As I’d gathered from assorted posts on Twitter over the last few days, there would be plenty of scope for celebrity spotting, and sure enough I saw film director Danny Boyle at the bar, the comedy actor Stephen Mangan and someone who may or may not have been Miranda Richardson (short of actually going up and asking her, I wasn’t entirely sure). It had been so long since I’d last been to the Apollo, I’d forgotten how small the auditorium is (certainly for a venue of its ilk), so even though I was right at the back of the stalls in the “standing room only” section, I still had a really good view of the stage.


Kate Bush by Lizzie Donegan

By now, almost two weeks into the run of Before The Dawn, the set list was pretty well known (as it remained unchanged for each performance), so although there wasn’t the element of complete surprise about what was (or wasn’t) played that there was on the opening night, it didn’t really matter because you were seeing Kate Bush.


Kate Bush by Gilly Rochester

The lights dimmed and with the spoken word introduction to Lily echoing over the PA, a barefoot Kate Bush led a procession of her backing singers out on to the stage, to an immediate standing ovation. It’s Kate Bush! On stage, in front of you! With her band spread out behind her, filling the stage on different sized pedestals (including a serious amount of percussion), she moved on to that perennial classic, Hounds Of Love, with the backdrop to the stage transforming into a forest at night. This first part of the show was the “hits” section, and (as we soon found out) the most conventionally gig-like part of the night. Anyone expecting any of her older songs would have been disappointed as Bush stuck to post mid-80s material – Joanni from 2005’s Aerial was followed by Top Of The City from 1993’s The Red Shoes, featuring a performance proving that any cobwebs on those vocal chords had well and truly been dusted off. A fair bit of interpretive arm waving had been going on from a girl just along the row from me during Top Of The City, and I think she must have gone into overdrive at the unmistakable opening of (an extended) Running Up That Hill. The opening part of the show finished with King Of The Mountain, another song from Aerial, before a screen dropped in front of the stage, with a projection of storm clouds thrown upon it, and the auditorium was showered with what at first seemed like confetti, but which upon closer inspection turned out to be intricate slivers of paper bearing lines from Tennyson’s The Coming Of Arthur, heralding the onset of The Ninth Wave.

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The Ninth Wave (based around the idea of a woman adrift at sea at night) is the conceptual second side of the Hounds Of Love album and, along with An Endless Sky Of Honey (from Aerial), forms the centrepiece of the Before The Dawn show. This is where we transcend the regular notion of a concert and move into something which is more theatrical, yet not quite theatre – with costumed dancers, impressive props, filmed inserts and a “helicopter” buzzing the audience, it’s more of a multi-media experience. Indeed, as Kate Bush notes in the beautifully created programme, she enlisted the help of renowned theatre director Adrian Noble and author David Mitchell (who provided some of the dialogue) to help realise the production. It also explains, on the one hand, why Before The Dawn hasn’t toured other venues (the logistics of continually dismantling and then reassembling the set) and also why the Apollo was chosen over other venues (intimacy versus an aircraft hangar sized auditorium).

kate bush by daria hlazatova

Kate Bush by Daria Hlazatova

Starting with a short film depicting an amateur astronomer (played by Kevin Doyle) who picks up a ship’s distress call, we then move to another filmed piece (shot in a water tank at Pinewood Studios, resulting in a case of mild hypothermia!) with Bush in a life jacket lost at sea, singing And Dream Of Sheep. The stage is transformed with what resembles the remains of a sunken ship’s hull, with billowing fabric mimicking the rolling waves, dancers in skeletal fish heads attempting to claim the heroine for the Deep, and later on a giant buoy appears to offer hope for salvation. Before Watching You Without Me a surreal, Lynchian living room set is wheeled on stage for a brief sketch featuring the heroine’s husband and son, with Bush making the kind of appearance from nowhere that could easily grace a Japanese horror film!

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After a 20 minute interval, we were on to the Sky Of Honey segment, with the band repositioned stage right and, instead of a cold forbidding atmosphere, it’s all warm hues and a backdrop of beautifully rendered projections of birds. On Aerial, this section has less of a narrative arc, compared to the Ninth WaveBush explains that Sky Of Honey was originally intended to be about the relationship between light and birdsong, and about “us, observing nature.” On stage, it’s fleshed out with a fuller role given to the character of the painter, now played by Bush’s teenage son, Bertie (who even gets his own song, a new composition called Tawny Moon). Bush spends most of this set at the piano, and, for me, there are also two actual WTF moments that crop up too (more of which later).

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As the Prelude plays, the scene is set with one of the two protagonists of the piece, a child size wooden artist’s dummy (operated in an unusual, unique but very effective way by an ever present puppeteer) being locked out of a giant set of doors. The dummy then generally wanders around, interacting with the band and the other performers, and generally getting in the way of the other main protagonist, the painter. Musically, the pace picks up as we go along, from gentle piano led pieces to a spot of Spanish guitar at the end of Sunset which I noticed persuaded some of the seated audience in front of me to have a bit of a boogie. The cool groove of Somewhere In Between carries on into Nocturn before the surreal finale that accompanies Aerial – as the band members don bird masks, the artist’s dummy returns on stage and it becomes alive, and starts hitting the puppeteer before running off! Didn’t see that one coming… Even more remarkable, as the stage goes black at the end of Aerial, the lights then briefly come back on and you see Kate Bush suspended in the air, her outstretched arms are wings, and the stage goes black again. Kate Bush has turned into a bird!

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Well, how do you follow that? With an encore, of course. Bush returned to the piano for a solo rendition of Among Angels, the final track on her most recent album, 50 Words For Snow, before the band came back out for a run through that other Hounds Of Love hit, Cloudbusting. I’d lost count of standing ovations by this stage, as a smiling waving Kate Bush thanked everyone and wished us all a safe trip home. It was a strange sensation, coming back out into the foyer (past Danny Boyle getting his photo taken with random audience members), after experiencing all that, having actually seen Kate Bush on stage. I hadn’t noticed floods of joyous tears (as reports from earlier shows suggested there had been) from people in the crowd, but I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Well, that was that. Kate Bush on stage again after 35 years. Something we never thought we’d see happen, but will we see it again? Who knows, but if nothing else, tonight (and indeed this whole 22 date epic) has shown that Kate Bush can still surprise us.

Categories ,Adrian Noble, ,Before The Dawn, ,Danny Boyle, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,David Bowie, ,David Gilmour, ,David Lynch, ,David Mitchell, ,Eventim Apollo, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Kate Bush, ,Kevin Doyle, ,live, ,Lizzie Donegan, ,Miranda Richardson, ,Pinewood Studios, ,review, ,Rowan Atkinson, ,Sam Parr, ,Stephen Mangan, ,Tennyson, ,Windmill, ,Ziggy Stardust

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Amelia’s Magazine | Depeche Mode at the O2 Arena: Live Review

Depeche Mode by Sam Parr

Depeche Mode by Sam Parr

I was definitely in unknown territory, trying to make sure I took the right exit from North Greenwich station on a bitterly cold evening, with literally minutes to spare before stage time. I’d been reassured by a friend who had already gone ahead to the venue “don’t worry, Depeche Mode won’t be on until 9.30”, only to subsequently receive a text (with many exclamation marks) that it was actually half an hour earlier. It didn’t help that I’d never actually been to the O2 before (well, not since the days of its original incarnation as the Millennium Dome), so I was flying blind in terms of where I had to go. Luckily, after scaling two sets of escalators, I’d made it to my seat just in time, perched precariously in the top tier of the venue (the O2 is definitely not for those of a vertiginous disposition).

Depeche Mode by Daria Hlazatova

Depeche Mode by Daria Hlazatova

The O2 Arena seems to get mixed reviews, certainly in terms of the sound quality (though on the night, from where I was sat, it seemed fine to me), but being so far from the stage does, I think, make a difference to the whole gig experience, it tends to feel a bit more detached (especially if, like me, you’re more used to venues like the Lexington, the Windmill or the Buffalo Bar – about as much contrast as you can get!).

Depeche Mode by Claire Kearns

Depeche Mode by Claire Kearns

Well, what is there left to say about Depeche Mode that hasn’t already been said? Formed in Basildon, Essex, they first appeared as part of the synth pop scene that coalesced in the wake of acts such as John Foxx, Gary Numan, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and the (original) Human League, and whilst many of their contemporaries have long since been consigned to the annals of music history, Depeche Mode recently released their thirteenth studio album, Delta Machine.

Depeche Mode by Laura Collins

Depeche Mode by Laura Collins

Tonight’s appearance was the band’s third gig in London this year (after two nights at the same venue in May), with the current Delta Machine tour apparently being their biggest in around 20 years. Still comprising of core members Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, the live band is complemented by Peter Gordeno on additional keyboards and Christian Eigner giving the songs some beef on drums.

Coming on to a darkened stage, backed by giant video screens, Depeche Mode kicked off with the opening track from the new album, Welcome To My World – all brooding synths and Dave Gahan’s typically lugubrious vocals. Another new track, the pounding Angel, followed, before old favourite Walking In My Shoes made an appearance. A fair few tracks from the generally well received Delta Machine album cropped up during the set, including the single Heaven (accompanied by a black and white film from long time collaborator Anton Corbijn), whilst Martin Gore took over vocal duties for The Child Inside. Accompanied solely by Peter Gordeno on keyboards, Gore did a couple of other solo numbers, including a mid 1980s B-side, But Not Tonight, which got the crowd singing along, and a reworking of an even older song, Leave In Silence (from 1982’s A Broken Frame album). The inclusion of oddities like these, at the expense of some of the more well known tracks from Depeche Mode’s extensive back catalogue, meant that this was no greatest hits set, but the crowd (made up of a real mix of ages) didn’t mind.

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Depeche Mode by Daria Hlazatova

Depeche Mode by Daria Hlazatova

On stage, you could see the band had three very different roles – Dave Gahan was very much playing the rock star, spending much of the set bare-chested and spinning his mic stand, leaving Martin Gore to divide his time between playing keyboards and guitar (when not taking centre stage himself), with the bespectacled Andy Fletcher diligently prodding away at his keyboards and waving to get the crowd clapping along. All the while, a series of dazzling visuals, both specially recorded films and treated close-ups of the band, filled the wall behind them.

There were a few crowd pleasers thrown in too, with some selections from the band’s late 80s breakthrough albums, Black Celebration, Music For The Masses and Violator. As the set approached its end (well, until the encore at least), we got an extended version of Enjoy The Silence, which at times seemed in danger of morphing into New Order’s True Faith, and a slow, bluesy opening to Personal Jesus, before the song just took the O2’s roof off.

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During the encore, Depeche Mode went back to basics with that staple of student discos (and having played it as a student DJ myself, I should know) Just Can’t Get Enough, though it did seem a bit odd, especially considering how much darker the band’s material subsequently became, to see a tattooed, 50 year old Dave Gahan singing this light and breezy electro pop classic. The band finished the set with an imperious Never Let Me Down Again, with Gahan getting the crowd (when they weren’t all singing along) to wave their arms in the air.

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Depeche Mode by Daria Hlazatova

Depeche Mode by Daria Hlazatova

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And so we departed from the arena, some people braving the queues to get on to the Jubilee Line, some deciding to let the moment linger in the bar that was having a Depeche Mode theme night, with cocktails named after various DM songs and a playlist consisting (with the exception of the odd incursion from Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys) of songs from Basildon’s finest. One thing is for sure though, and that is, after over 30 years, Depeche Mode are showing no signs of slowing down, and they can still deliver an amazing show. Music for the masses, indeed.

Categories ,Andy Fletcher, ,Anton Corbijn, ,Buffalo Bar, ,Christian Eigner, ,Claire Kearns, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,dave gahan, ,Depeche Mode, ,Erasure, ,Gary Numan, ,Human League, ,John Foxx, ,Laura Collins, ,Lexington, ,Martin Gore, ,new order, ,O2 Arena, ,Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, ,pet shop boys, ,Peter Gordeno, ,Sam Parr, ,Windmill

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Amelia’s Magazine | Austra, Viv Albertine & Daughter at the Windmill: music review

Sarah Baardarani, search illustrated by Naomi Law

With Fashion Scout releasing their Ones to Watch for the coming season last week, it was only going to be a matter of fashion minutes before the British Fashion Council announced who was going to feature on the stands this A/W 2011 fashion week. And here they are!

I like the exhibitions a lot. You get to really get a feel for the collections – you can see them up close and touch them – hell, you can even smell them if that’s your bag. While a big-budget catwalk show has the atmosphere to accompany the clothes, I often miss many of the design quirks and fabric features because I’m just too damn busy photographing, tweeting and scribbling what will later become illegible notes. With the stands, you can see the colossal effort that a designer has put into their collection and often they’re hanging around, so you can EVEN chat to them too.

It’s also a great place to find up-an-coming design talent: fresh ideas and new ways of doing things. Sod the oldies on the catwalks. This year looks like it won’t disappoint. Here’s a round of the ‘Emerging Designers’ that the BFC has added to its roster:
austra by anko
Austra by Anko

It may have been a typically miserable Monday night in January, thumb but we were safe from the elements within the hallowed hall that is the Windmill in Brixton. This unassuming little pub just off the busy thoroughfare of Brixton Hill (and in the shadow of a real windmill, the only one remaining in London), has seen many upcoming bands and surprise appearances from old faces grace its stage over the years. My favourite music venue in London (and my second gig there in 48 hours), I’ve had a lot of nights at the Windmill that have been great (including my second New Year’s Eve in London), hazy (ditto) and just plain bizarre.

elena tonra by ellie sutton
Elena Tonra by Ellie Sutton.

The evening began with some haunting acoustica from Daughter, aka Elena Tonra. Plucking at an acoustic guitar, and backed by some subtle electric guitar washes, Tonra’s hushed vocals delivered some daintily dark lyrics that drew the onlookers in. As the Windmill began to fill up, Viv Albertine took to the stage with her new band, Limerence. Once the guitarist and co-songwriter with iconic punk band The Slits, Albertine had been off the music scene for over 20 years after pursuing a career in TV and film directing, but she recently made a return to the stage (indeed, her debut was here at the Windmill) and has gone on to release an EP on the label of Sonic Youth’s very own Thurston Moore.

Viv Albertine by Karina Yarv
Viv Albertine by Karina Yarv.

“Limerence” was a term coined to describe a near-obsessive form of romantic love, though Albertine joked that her songs were generally about pretty much the opposite. Limerence the band is a loose collective of musicians – I’d seen them play at the George Tavern in Stepney last year with pretty much a full compliment, but tonight it was just a pairing of violin and a combo of keyboard, guitar and ukulele. Musically, Albertine has moved on from the reggae infused sound of her old band, though her guitar is still as distinctive as it was on songs like Typical Girls. If anything, there’s a hint of Syd Barrett about songs like Fairytale and the twisted pop of Never Come, and the lyrics are as witty and spiky as you’d expect. Void references a darker part of her punk past, and was introduced with a few reminiscences of 1976. The paired down line-up actually gave an extra edge to Albertine’s songs, highlighted on the unsettling set closer, Confessions Of A Milf, which descended into a one-chord riff on suburban paranoia.

Canadian headliners Austra have been causing a bit of a buzz of late. Hailing from Toronto, and centred on vocalist Katie Stelmanis, with Maya Postepski on programming and Dorian Wolf on bass, they recently renamed themselves (having previously been going under Stelmanis’ moniker), signed to Domino and currently have a 12” single out, with an album in the pipeline for later this year.

Austra gig at The Windmill by Laura Godfrey
Austra gig at The Windmill by Laura Godfrey.

For the UK leg of a whistle-stop European tour, starting tonight, Stelmanis and co were joined by a drummer, keyboard player and two extra vocalists. There was a bit of a shaky start with a technical hitch before things got into their stride. It would be easy to make comparisons with Fever Ray and Glasser (especially as I’d seen both live fairly recently), and Austra do fall into that category of brooding female vocals over dark electronic beats. However, they’re not as dense as Fever Ray or as spectral as Glasser, especially live. I’d read somewhere that Austra were like “Fever Ray gone disco”, which actually isn’t a million miles off the mark. The single, Beat & the Pulse, is distinctly dance-friendly, and while Stelmanis’ vocal delivery may be reminiscent of Karin Dreijer Andersson, the general vibe is more akin to the early to mid 80’s indie-dance crossover. In the confined space of the Windmill, Austra’s songs become much more organic, with the live drums and bass giving an added kick. There was also plenty of theatricality, with Stelmanis and her sidekicks whirling and dipping during each song.

It was a typically great and varied mix of bands and styles tonight, another in a long line of great nights that I’ve experienced at the Windmill, and another one I’m sure that the venue’s legendary Roof Dog would approve of.

Categories ,acoustic, ,Anko, ,Austra, ,Brixton, ,dance, ,Daughter, ,domino, ,electronic, ,Elena Tonra, ,Ellie Sutton, ,Fever Ray, ,George Tavern, ,Glasser, ,Karin Dreijer Andersson, ,Karina Yarv, ,Laura Godfrey, ,Limerence, ,LJG Art, ,punk, ,reggae, ,Roof Dog, ,Sonic Youth, ,Stepney, ,Syd Barrett, ,the slits, ,Thurston Moore, ,Toronto, ,Typical Girls, ,viv albertine, ,Windmill

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Amelia’s Magazine | Shonen Knife at the Scala: Live Review

Shonen Knife by Sally Jane Thompson
Shonen Knife by Sally Jane Thompson

After a month long tour around Europe which kicked off in, information pills of all places, more about Brixton’s Windmill, viagra Shonen Knife arrived at the Scala for their 30th birthday bash. Originally formed in Osaka by sisters Naoko and Atsuko Yamano, along with their friend Michie Nakatani, and influenced as much by 1960’s girl groups as by punk bands (especially the Ramones), Shonen Knife created an energetic, upbeat, irresistibly catchy yet still underground sound (packaged in colourful, often homemade outfits). Their music made its way to the US alt-rock scene and they eventually found unlikely champions in such luminaries as Sonic Youth and, especially, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain (who invited Shonen Knife on a tour of the UK in the early 90’s). Now on their (at the last count) eighteenth studio album (a set of classic Ramones covers), Shonen Knife were back in town and ready to rock Kings Cross.

Shonen Knife by Fi Blog
Shonen Knife by Fi Blog

I’d first caught Shonen Knife at their Windmill gig in August (I think only their second or third in London in around 15 years) when they were in the guise of the Osaka Ramones, and it was an exhilarating run through of the Ramones’ finest. The Windmill was pretty rammed that night and, filing into the auditorium of this old cinema with our special Shonen Knife wristbands, I could see that the Scala was going to be pretty busy too.

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The trio cheerily took to the stage holding bright orange scarves aloft, and then we were underway. On lead vocals and guitar, Naoko is the only remaining founder member, but she is more than capably supported by the ever smiling Ritsuko Taneda on bass, and the band’s newest member, Emi Morimoto, is certainly no slouch on drums.

Shonen Knife by Claire Kearns
Shonen Knife by Claire Kearns

Kicking off with Konnichiwa and Twist Barbie, Shonen Knife started as they meant to continue – fast and frenetic. Their songs may be uncomplicated, they may be about such everyday things as candy or furry animals, but they’re played with such energy and delivered with such enthusiasm that even the biggest grump would find it hard not to enjoy them. Shonen Knife are all about fun!

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As well as assorted gems from their back catalogue, there were a couple of tracks from their more recent albums, such as Super Group, the reggae-ish and intensely catchy Capybara (about, yes, a furry animal) and Perfect Freedom (both from last year’s Free Time LP). Ritsuko took time between thrashing her bass for lead vocals on Devil House, whilst Emi was also on vocal duty for the very 1960’s sounding I Am A Cat. Naoko was not to be outdone by the youngsters as Shonen Knife properly rocked out at the end of the set with Economic Crisis (see, they don’t just sing about furry animals!), which had just a hint of Motörhead about it, and Cobra Vs Mongoose.

Shonen Knife by Louise Wright
Shonen Knife by Louise Wright

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To the particular delight of the mosh pit that had formed in front of Naoko, the band returned as their alter egos, the Osaka Ramones, and, with Ritsuko once again on lead vocals, launched into Sheena Is A Punk Rocker. Emi took over for The KKK Took My Baby Away before we headed, inevitably (and with the help of a stage diver), towards Blitzkrieg Bop. I’m pretty sure the whole of the Scala was shouting “hey ho, let’s go!” There was no rest for Shonen Knife, though, as they straight away headed to the foyer to sign autographs for the throng of ecstatic (and exhausted) fans afterwards.

Shonen Knife by Gabriel Ayala
Shonen Knife by Gabriel Ayala

As Shonen Knife return home to Japan for some more shows, and with the prospect of a US tour on the horizon, it certainly looks like the party isn’t over just yet!

Categories ,alt-rock, ,Brixton, ,Claire Kearns, ,Fi Blog, ,Gabriel Ayala, ,Girl-Groups, ,japan, ,Kings Cross, ,Kurt Cobain, ,Louise Wright, ,Motörhead, ,nirvana, ,Osaka, ,Osaka Ramones, ,punk, ,Ramones, ,Sally Jane Thompson, ,Scala, ,Shonen Knife, ,Sonic Youth, ,underground, ,Windmill

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Amelia’s Magazine | Saint Saviour at Bush Hall: Live Review

saintsaviour genie espinosa
saintsaviour genie espinosa
Saint Saviour by Genie Espinosa.

Fresh from touring with Groove Armada, treat with whom she collaborated on the album Black Light, viagra order Saint Saviour played her debut solo show at Bush Hall, in deepest Shepherds Bush. It must have been a bit bewildering, a week since playing at Brixton Academy after a run of shows that earned her rave reviews and numerous admirers (including the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant) to be appearing in a renovated dance hall on the Uxbridge Road, but the intimate setting was perfect to showcase her new material.

Photo courtesy of Saint Saviour.

Saint Saviour is no stranger to the pages of Amelia’s Magazine, having been reviewed a couple of times (including once by yours truly) with her old band, the ever-spangly RGBs (who were once described by the NME, no less, as delivering “almighty fem-pop… with an eccentric blitzkrieg wallop”). I’d seen them a few times around town, and I’d also caught her debut with Groove Armada at the climax of last year’s Lovebox festival. It’s actually one of those rare times, if you endlessly follow bands around gigs, where someone you’ve seen play often is plucked from little venues in Kilburn, Brixton or Shoreditch to tour the world.

Taking to the stage with what looked like a giant jellyfish umbrella (“make of that what you will” quipped Saint Saviour, aka Becky Jones), the set started off hypnotically – anyone expecting a set of pumping dance anthems was in for a bit of a shock. In fact, Saint Saviour’s set proved what a versatile performer she is, mixing up her styles and tempos – whether accompanying herself on keyboards on songs like the delicate Fallen Trees and Hurricanes, or upping a gear (backed with a full band and, for a couple of numbers, a string section) with tracks like Birdsong and the kick-ass current single, Woman Scorned: watch the video here:

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The stage presence that I’d seen in places like the Windmill or the Old Blue Last, and witnessed by anyone who saw her on tour with Groove Armada, was there in spades tonight, whether entrancing a hushed crowd on the slower numbers with her voice (which has been compared to people like Kate Bush, and I think has a touch of Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins about it) or totally throwing herself into the up-tempo songs.

Saint Saviour by Karolina Burdon
Saint Saviour by Karolina Burdon.

To thunderous cheers from the crowd, Saint Saviour was tempted back out for an encore of the touching When You Smile, backed solely by harpist Jharda, before leaving once more to the rapturous applause of an appreciative audience. As a debut show, stepping out of the shadow of Groove Armada, it was great success for Saint Saviour and justifies the praise that she’d already received. It was also a bit of a strange moment for me, having seen her back in the day with her old band, and here she is (deservedly so) on the verge of playing bigger stages as a star in her own right.

Catch my post-gig interview with Saint Saviour here.

Categories ,Brixton Academy, ,Bush Hall, ,Cocteau Twins, ,Elizabeth Fraser, ,Genie Espinosa, ,Groove Armada, ,Jharda, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Kate Bush, ,Lovebox, ,Neil Tennant, ,NME, ,Old Blue Last, ,pet shop boys, ,RGBs, ,Saint Saviour, ,SaintSaviour, ,Windmill, ,Woman Scorned

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Amelia’s Magazine | Las Kellies at Oslo Hackney: Live Review

Las Kellies by Sam Parr

Las Kellies by Sam Parr

Very much the new kid on the block in terms of East London music destinations, Oslo Hackney has been attracting some interesting (and surprisingly big name) acts in the short time that it’s been open. Owned by the same people behind Bristol’s Thekla and, according to the website, pretty much every venue in Nottingham, Oslo Hackney has transformed the original (but long empty) Hackney Central station building into a Nordic themed (hence the name) bar and restaurant with a pretty substantial stage upstairs to cater for gigs and club nights.

Las Kellies by Thomasina Smith

Las Kellies by Thomasina Smith

First on stage tonight was Scraps, otherwise known as Brisbane’s Laura Hill. Crouched over pulsing and warbling synths, with her vocals drenched in reverb, Scraps’ songs invoke memories of early 80s electro-pop bands, interspersed with dry asides to the audience. I’d actually seen her the previous week at the Windmill, supporting September Girls, and had been impressed.

Las Kellies by Gilly Rochester

Las Kellies by Gilly Rochester

Scraps’ labelmates Las Kellies are another band I’d seen before at the Windmill. Originally from Buenos Aires, they released their fourth album, Total Exposure, last year and were back in town to promote it. Combining the post punk sounds of the Slits and the minimal funk of New York No Wavers ESG with a Latin twist, Las Kellies offer scratchy guitar over a bounding bass and some no frills drum fills to get even the most stubborn soul grooving.

Las Kellies by Nicola Porter

Las Kellies by Nicola Porter

With main vocal duties taken by guitarist Cecilia Kelly, Silvina Costa chipping in on harmonies from behind her drum kit stage right, and bass player Adriana Navarro swooping and swaying between them, Las Kellies ran through favourites old and new like King Lion, Post Post, Scotch Whisky and Keep The Horse. A busy crowd was treated to a cover of ESG’s Erase You and, a bit unexpectedly, Beat On The Brat by the Ramones. The Total Exposure album introduces keyboards to the Las Kellies sound, and the slower Golden Love reminded me of one of Tom Tom Club’s more mellow moments. The band closed their set with another ESG cover, Cecilia Kelly swapping her guitar for a cowbell on My Love For You.

Las Kellies by Mark Squire

Las Kellies by Mark Squire

Las Kellies are now touring Europe before heading back across the Atlantic, but hopefully we’ll see them back in the UK sometime soon.

Categories ,Adriana Navarro, ,Argentina, ,Cecilia Kelly, ,ESG, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Las Kellies, ,Laura Hill, ,Mark Squire, ,Nicola Porter, ,Oslo Hackney, ,Sam Parr, ,Scraps, ,September Girls, ,Silvina Costa, ,the Ramones, ,the slits, ,thekla, ,Thomasina Smith, ,Tom Tom Club, ,Windmill

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jennifer Evans at the Windmill: Live Review

Taking the stage at a pretty busy Windmill was the hotly tipped Jennifer Evans. Although largely an unknown quantity in the UK, she’s been picking up a fair bit of good press back home in Ireland for a while, and with the release of her debut LP, Works From The Dip And Foul, last year she’s already drawn comparisons with Anna Calvi and St. Vincent. So no pressure, then!

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A diminutive figure with a big voice, and backed by Shane Holly on drums and Sean Maynard Smith on bass, Evans took us through some choice cuts from her album. With a sound that combines elements of blues and jazz, she doesn’t play your average four to the floor – if anything, it reminded me at times of a less urban take on Frank, Amy Winehouse’s debut, and early Noisettes (Evans’ vocal style and mannerisms, such as on the song Uncomfortable Word, are similar to those of Shingai Shoniwa). She’s a sparky performer, rarely staying still for a moment and the music, too, dips and dives, catching you off-guard with sudden tempo changes.

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Even when there was a slight hitch in the set, when Evans couldn’t find the capo for her guitar, the band styled it out with an extended jam, and effortlessly slotted back into place when she was ready to go. There was also a radically reworked version of Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy – I only realised what it was right at the end, when Evans told us, even though I should have clocked it from the lyrics (a black mark for yours truly, there).

There’s another small London gig coming up, and you can’t help feeling, on the strength of tonight, that with a bit more exposure Jennifer Evans could really live up to those comparisons and become as recognised a name in the UK as she is back home.

Categories ,amy winehouse, ,Anna Calvi, ,ireland, ,Irish, ,Jennifer Evans, ,Massive Attack, ,Noisettes, ,review, ,Sean Maynard Smith, ,Shane Holly, ,Shingai Shoniwa, ,St Vincent, ,Windmill

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