(WARNING: this is not a gig review!)
London! Our former home! We were back there for the first time in ages on Thursday for a very special gig.
It felt very, very strange indeed to walk around the West End - as if we had never left, as if those years in Dorset had never happened... It was slightly trippy!
But also, looking around at all the people surrounding us, we thought "this is their London now, not ours", although most of the people we saw on Thursday were tourists. And, as we spent quite a bit of time not far from Whitehall, we came across loads of civil servants... Funny how you can just spot them among the crowds...
It was all a bit bittersweet.
London has changed. It has morphed, as it's always done.
Only I'm not sure it's changing for the better, but who am I to say?
It's becoming more and more all glass and steel, sanitised. And then, when you step outside of the main roads, you catch glimpses of the old London, full of stories and character...
I keep hearing and reading about venues disappearing, people on good salaries not being able to afford to live there (it was already like that when I was there... Thinking about the living conditions I had to endure all these years make me shudder...) But we do not live there anymore and we don't know what's happening under the surface...
So London is not my home anymore but...
Yet, it did feel like home, strangely.
I don't think I could stand to be surrounded by so many people anymore. And I'd miss the open sea...
We tried to stick to the green (VERY yellow at the moment) spaces. We wandered around and observed people coming and going. My writer's imagination was stimulated every single minute - I'm used to observing people and making up stories about them in my head.
My fifth novel will be set in the capital and I couldn't help thinking about it as I sat there, surrounded by office workers and tourists from all around the world. So much material! I can't wait to get started... But I have two novels to write and publish before I get to this one!
We walked past the brilliant actor Bill Nighy on a pedestrian crossing - he was coming out of Green Park with a book in his hand... I love his work in movies and radio, so this was a extra special treat.
We took refuge for a few minutes in Duck Island Cottage in St James' Park- it was like being back in Dorset in the middle of London!
When we first moved to Dorset five and a half years ago, it was relatively easy to get into London for gigs (we had found a cheeky little free parking area in zone 1 for weekend gigs). But then things got a bit more complicated and it's no longer that convenient or cheap to drive into the capital (and no, not going to go by train, the line is incredibly unreliable).
Add to this the pandemic and the cost of living crisis... Sadly, going to London for a gig is not really something we can do very often... BUT this was such a special occasion that we bought the tickets and decided not to look too closely at the expenses.
And it was all worth it.
I've been in a bit of a creative lurch recently - struggling to find the motivation to complete the first draft of my third novel. And when I'm stuck, I look for inspiration in other writers' books and in music.
For some reason, I had never seen Miranda Sex Garden live before. They disbanded in 2000, which is the year I started writing for music magazines, but I was aware of various bands associated with them. I've seen Katharine Blake's Mediaeval Baebes many times on stage over the years and have been following her career quite closely - she is a true musical genius and force of nature. More recently, I have been very interested in the project she has started with her partner Michael J. York, The Witching Tale. My hope is for them to do a gig in Glastonbury where they are based - it wouldn't be too far for us to drive and would be the perfect environment for their unique songs to be played.
When I saw the announcement for the gig, I didn't hesitate and I pounced on the tickets. I was not going to miss this opportunity!
A big sense of anticipation built up online ahead of the event, and now I feel immensely privileged to have been at the venue to witness this reunion gig. It was very, very special.
It was a very intense performance: dramatic, filmic, loud, eerie, unsettling, seductive, lustful, joyful and obviously emotional for all involved.
The evening started with Timo C. Engel's Bleedingblackwood project: beautifully dark, intriguing and unique, the set was very short (about 20 minutes) and he left us wanting more! Goosebumps all around. Here are two half-decent pictures of Bleedingblackwood.
When I started writing reviews for magazines, I bought myself a good camera worthy of all the press passes I accumulated over the years. I've taken hundreds of pictures to go with my articles...
Now though, I have to make do with my (old) phone which cannot take low light or movement. I will probably have to change it at some point soon and will make it my mission to find the cheapest deal for a phone with a good camera - I'll need it when I open my online bookshop to take professional-looking stock photos!
Miranda Sex Garden's set was simply mesmerising. I didn't manage to take great pictures of the whole band but I've added my best photos of the evening, mostly of Katharine Blake.
You can see the fantastic band members - original members Trevor Sharpe on drums, Teresa Casella on bass and Mike Servent on keyboards, with the great addition of the superb Kavus Torabi and Bev Lee Harding (who was terrific on the violin) - in action in some brilliant videos which have now been posted online by other punters. Enjoy...
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