Tuesday, January 30, 2007


It was one of those times when everything just came together and worked perfectly.

It started with a phone call and ended with a totally perfect night of gigs.

Right the way through, it all just fell into place.

For example, I’m mad busy at work at the moment and have leave booked for Friday as it is, so whilst taking another half day’s leave isn’t really what I need right now given the present workload, Wednesday morning was about the one time in the past and coming weeks that is free of meetings and so can be taken off with short notice. Perfect.

Similarly Tuesday’s commitments are all early and so, with laptop in hand so I can work on the train, I manage to get away at 4pm and walking at a pace I make it to the station just in time to catch the ‘earlier’ of the two train options. Perfect.

I find the last ‘power point’ seat in standard class, get my presentation for the training next week finished off and even have time to read a little (a few pages of The Prince by Machiavelli, before deciding low-brow relaxation is more in order and so I pick up that bastion of fine journalism and cultural reflection that is Heat magazine). Perfect.

After what Andy from little Britain might call a minor kerfuffle at the Euston taxi rank (exactly how long does it take to organise a party of 20 into taxis people?), I make it to Jude’s offices, to dump my bag.

There are a few clues that Jude works in a different sort of office to me – for one thing the piles of CDs and other debris everywhere would never pass our ‘clean-desk’ policy and for that matter their desks are so small you’d never be able to lay out an A1 engineering drawing. Other than that it’s just like any other open plan office, well except maybe that we’re followed into the office by Steve Lamacq, Tom Robinson can be seen hard at work next door and as the small lift opens to allow us to head back downstairs Jude catches up with a tall friendly ginger man called Chris Evans…

At the Italian across the road we get a swift, but scrummy, risotto. We walk out of the bistro and wave down the taxi that is passing at that exact moment. Perfect.

We make it to St John’s Smith Square by about 8pm and although it’s already full (not least due to the numbers of Coldplay and Snow Patrol present), it’s a fairly intimate and truly lovely venue so seats at the back aren’t a problem.

At 8.30pm, with allusions to the choir processionals that would once have started off events in this old church, Arcade Fire process in, playing acoustically. As they pause in the middle of the space for the first song before heading to the stage – the atmosphere is electric.

Our anticipation is not unrewarded and after the sound problems on the first few songs are resolved the music is just sublime. One of those gigs that take you up out of yourself, as you surrender totally to the aural beauty.

So musical, so alive, so soaring, so physical and so, so beautiful.

So perfect.

Part way through I lean to Jude and state that she not only owns my ass, but in the unlikely (typed unlucky there – how Freudian!) event of me having a first-born she now officially owns their ass as well.

This gig would be wonderful enough as it is, but being there with Jude is just the icing on the cake. It’s always best to go to a gig like this with someone who understands why your insides are squealing like a kid at Christmas. Perfect.

Apparently I’m forbidden from blogging the exact phrase Jude used to express the visceral effect the French Horn kicking in was having on her, but suffice to say it was a class expression that if it were relayed to you in a pub would have you snorting beer out your nose in laughter.

Fittingly given the venue, they concentrate mainly on the forthcoming second album, the Neon Bible, with a few older tunes thrown in. The new tunes are instant winners and tonight’s offering only confirms what I’ve gathered from preview snippets on the internet, the follow up to Funeral is looking like it’ll be one of ‘the’ albums of 2007.

A top, top gig and with the sounds of the final song Laika still ringing sublimely in our ears, we rush out onto Millbank for we have another gig to get to yet (we should only miss the first half hour at most if we’re lucky). Almost magically given our need for speed, a taxi immediately appears and whisks us over to the Astoria. Perfect.

En route Jude’s friend W texts to check we’re on our way and arranges to meet us in the Keith Moon bar; accordingly when we arrive not only are the VIP passes waiting for us on the door, but a couple of vodkas are thrust into our hands as we make it in to see the rest of the Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. set. Perfect.

It’s Sam’s 21st birthday and the first time he's sold out a venue of this size and status, which all adds up to something of a party atmosphere. Generally that means a great atmosphere, with fans so keen that already he’s achieving that point of not having to sing all of his songs at times and just letting the crowd (whose voices were in fine fettle) carry the tune. By the after show however, the outbreak of party hats and blowers is a little trying and we decide it’s starting to feel a bit like a youth group outing (great cake though!).

Although the live performance doesn't yet quite measure up to the achingly lovely album, it's not at all bad and it’s good to see him holding a venue this size well enough. Not bad for a 21 year old on his first album. The songs are cracking and played with enthusiasm and whilst it’s very evident that he’s still at the start of his career, the signs are he’ll grow into things just fine.

His guitar playing is amazing, just so casually executed, I’m in awe of how he makes such complex rippling sounds appear so effortlessly. Jude remarks that his guitar skills are pretty amazing for one so young and that he must have spent his teenage years practising. I reply that given his dress sense he perhaps had plenty of time on his hands through those traditionally hormone driven years. Perhaps we’re judging the lad too harshly though, as Jude points out, given the date, the tank top might be a birthday gift from his mother. We both turn our glances back to the stage and reassess the offending garment and then simultaneously turn back to each other and say “or maybe his grandmother?”. As I say, you need to go to gigs with people that think alike. Perfect.

Overall though, a good showing and whilst rather dwarfed by our earlier gig, I’m more convinced than ever that Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly would go down well at Greenbelt if we could get him (Ok Arcade Fire would be even better, but somewhat less likely let’s face it).

During the aftershow Jude sneaks off to find somewhere quiet to phone in her review. For the next week you can ‘listen again’ here (head about 1hr 33mins in) and hear for yourself what a music loving, wonderful, sharp and witty goddess she is and why she’s everything you could want in a gig buddy.

After a couple of drinks, we walk back to Jude’s office to grab my bag. Exiting the office, the Mr Ben magic is at play again and ‘as if by magic’ a taxi appears and takes us tired and happy back to Jude’s, where we promptly blow the lighting ring fuse, but that, as they say, is another story (and one involving the most wonderful Orbital style torch/glasses).

Tired and happy I curl up a very contented bunny.


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