Friday, 18 April 2008

The pleasure is ours, darling

Well, the night didn't start as I had imagined. Last year, when I was at Björk's concert at Las Ventas in Madrid, everything went so great that I still think of it as one of the greatest days of my life. Well, yes, that time I forgot my ticket at home, just about 330 miles from the venue, but people I call my friends took care of me and "treat(ed) me like I'm a princess" (I know, this isn't a Björk quote, but I couldn't resist).

So this time I had tickets. Tickets that someone bought for me. A beautiful act. One of the greatest. Tickets that were bought before Christmas last year. Ticket I had kept safe for so long and that I kept with me at all times the last few days so I wouldn't forget it.
So I left work early (thanks!) and I slowly went to the Hammersmith Apollo. I was already in Hammersmith so it was great. When I arrived there, there was very few people and just arriving I already met some girls. One from Brazil and the other from Italia. We engaged in conversations and we were getting along quite well. Björk's concert's queues must have this: meeting people, as I did last year as well. Then arrived the boyfriend of one of them. We were having fun, it was almost time to go in. But he wasn't feeling very well and he threw up right there. Well, this things happen! Let's focus on Björk.
A fat fag-hag and a teenage looking guy behind me destroying "Declare Independence". I want to make them shut up, but I don't know how. They talk so much about that song but they don't even understand it (they are English! If only they were Scots or Irish!) so I show them my t-shirt, which obviously I was wearing. Well, why explaining? I am used to people that detect all the song elements of the design.

Well, it is time to go in and my friend hasn't arrived, so I go in, hoping to get a nice place and wait for him.
We go in, all fine, until I try to get to the Stalls and they tell me that I am not booked for there, but for the REAR END of the GALLERY! Shit! Shit shit shit! I am so pissed off. So upset.
Yes, Gatchan tells me on an SMS that this way the acoustic will be better. Yes, I know, but it isn't the same, you know. I wanted to be down there with the crowd, to jump and dance.
Well, at the end of the day, she is tiny anyway!

As usual, great music while we get in position. I get so happy when I discover that I have few of those songs. Björk and I share taste in music.

The supporting artist was Leyla. For what I had read of her I was hoping she was going to be better. Especially I didn't like that she would have high moments with very good electronica followed by very calm themes. So an up and down that you can only stand if you are on drugs, which wasn't the case.

After a long interval and a much longer wait, Björk came out on stage. I knew she was going to start with Earth Intruders as it is a great hit to start the concert with. She also did it in Madrid and is doing since most of the cases. Though, the intro was Brennið Þið Vitar performed by the Icelandic Choir that has been accompanying her lately. It was a great and funny way to start.

Soon we were jumping with Earth Intruders and followed by Hunter. Oh, so great! I was so excited.

Then we had an "extremely" fabulous gift (or at list I did): Immature, which is one of my Top Ten. We all love when Björk makes mistakes with the lyrics or when she just happens to change a few words. We all do. And this time she truly gave ma a gift: "How could he be so immature". Björk, I thank you for this. Please, record and publish.

Well, a gift is something, but hey darling, you knew that was a good one, huh? She introduced the first guest of the night: Toumani Diabaté for Hope. And she said that herself: "Lucky bastards". His playing of the Kora was just overpowering. (I must say that I was shocked, now I know that he's going to be in the three gigs in London, but I was hoping to have Shlomo).

Then came The Pleasure Is All Mine and it was much better than in Madrid, I must say. It is a song for a good acoustic and that you are not to dance so much. So I did enjoy it.

And then the other gift of the night: Antony Hegarty in Dull Flame Of Desire. I was so excited with that, but I must say that I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping he'd have a better live, but he was very good.

Pagan Poetry was next and that was like crying. And I almost did with the next one, Vertebrae by Vertebrae.
And I certainly did with Desired Constellation where The Icelandic Choir was just awesome. "Repeatedly".

Well, Björk, we all know that although you like the slow thing, your stuff is dancing fast. So let's get started.
Army of Me was the next song and it made shiver. You're so right!
I know that Medúlla is not the album that everybody likes, but Who Is It is just so good... I love that song, and it brings me so many memories. Will this make it change? I hope so.

Good old Homogenic, with Bachelorette. Such a great one. But we all relay on Post, and Cover Me was the perfect one to follow. Isn't it?

I remember when I first bought Volta and I uploaded to my iPod and played it while walking in the streets. I remember when Wanderlust suddenly burst into my ears and I just wanted to jump. Well, that's what I did, and I still think that I might tatoo "I have lost my origin and I don't want to find it again" in my arm. Is such a great sentence, although "I feel at home whenever the unknown surrounds me" is so good that I might need the other arm. Oh, god, with "restlessness"!

Well, the ones who know me a bit, know how I love "Hyperballad" and I was specting it. I was waiting for it. And this time it tasted better than ever.

And what I couldn't imagine was "Pluto" which, since I saw it in Gargandi snilld, I just love it more and more. But Björk, why do you do this to me? Why do you finish my concerts with such a song, when I am totally up for a whole night of dancing?

Well, we still have the encore. It took you too long, we knew you were going to come out, you knew it as well, why did you make us wait so long?

I just couldn't imagine it. Jóga again. And her "Ooh". I just love it.
And, well, which was best way to end: Declare Independence to go with my t-shirt. I just couldn't help it guys, I was overexcited.

And that was the night. Overall it was a great gig. Unfortunately it had a setlist very similar to the one in Madrid, but I loved it. And having those guests! It was great. But I can't help it being jealous of the 14th as she sung Unravel, Innocence and the Anchor Song.

She sounded very good, and she seemed very happy to be there (it isn't the mash, is it?). Björk, London is good for you, but I understand why you are in the US.

I wish there had been a Björk party like last year afterwards, but I didn't hear of any.

As last year, I feel like going to another concert of hers tonight. Londoners still have the opportunity to go on Sunday 20th.

But, why don't we go on a Björk trip in July? Helsinki - Vilnius - Riga!

Both photos from the gig on the 14th.

Sunday, 6 January 2008


Last night I had the opportunity to go to the final rehearsal - although it was treated like a proper show - of Varekai by the Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall. Is the first time this show is in London.
I have to say that this is the first time that I have seen one of their shows, therefore, my opinion is much better than other "fans". For what I hear, Alegria was the best. I missed that show. I had tickets for it when it came for the first time to Spain but, somehow, we got lost on the way to Barcelona.
So here I am, North Circle Bar having a drink before the show. The voice tells us to hurry up to our sits. We go downstairs to our box. It is only 4 of us and it is great to know them. We sit and the sounds start.
I can't even begin to explain how I feel. My tears fight to stay inside but I can't keep them forever. My heart shrinks whenever the acrobats jump around or hung themselves from a string. I know, it is safe, they've rehearsed this many, many times, plus they've been doing this job for years. But I am still scared.
It is a sad story at times, you laugh at others. I liked it, I liked it so much that I want to watch it again, but I can't find my way.

Tips: If you are going to have dinner, you can have it at the Hall. There are few restaurants. All the people leaves a the same time (when the show starts) but this does not mean that you have to be slow. Check your watch and give your credit card to the waitresses with enough time. For a bit more money, get a box, you'll be more comfortable, you'll have space for your bags and you'll be able to keep your drinks. There is an interval, you can have drinks and ice-cream, but don't you think that you are going to be the only one. Toilets: do it at home, the queue is always long - don't leave during the show, because you won't be allowed back in. Try to be on time, especially with this show, because you wont be allowed to go in after ten minutes.

My rate: I can't compare. I had never been to any of their shows, nor to any show like this (this is no common circus). Every time I hear some of the tunes of the soundtrack, my heart explodes. I am giving a 9/10, but will update my thoughts on it.
If you want to see Varekai, go to either the cirque's page or the Hall page. They will be here in London until the [update] the 17th of February. If you miss them, follow them to Amsterdam, Berlin, Oberhausen or Vienna.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Tip of the day

Instead of meeting up with your friends in a busy place such as Oxford Circus,
where everybody meets,
arrange to meet in a less busy area.

My favourite place is the Victoria and Albert museum in South Kensington.
I choose a room (e.g. musical instruments) or I wait outside.
When my friends arrive, we walk around the museum while we talk our things.

This way, you don't have to suffer overcrowded areas and you get some culture.

Pick a different museum, church, park or green, etc., each time and soon you'll know all the city.

Gay night out

If you are gay and you are in London there are several places you can go to.

My first discovery in this new chapter of my life in London has been the Retro Bar in Charing Cross. It was Tuesday and we could enjoy some fun with a pub quiz. And on top, it was Music quiz. And, to add up, it was music with the letter R. We really had fun and the hostess was great and funny. The place is a very traditional English style pub with photos of Gay Icons all around and great music. No discrimination there, all sorts of gay people (mostly men, though). The flayer reads "the only gay alternative" and I trust it. On Saturdays LUSH is the DJ and on Thursdays (except the 2nd of the month) you can be the one if you bring up to 5 of your fave tracks.
Next Wednesday I am repeating with the Halloween party. The ticket costs £3 only and it is for charity. So far, Candy Bar was my favourite gay pub, but now I'll have to reconsider it (I haven't been there for so long, anyway). My rate is high but I don't have much to compare; I give a 9/10 in gay pubs. I felt confortable there, which is not common for me, the music was fantastic, the staff was kind, the DJ great and the hostess a star.

Next we went to Ghetto, very close to Tottenham Court Road. Although it is quite a normal club, I found the music very good. It varied withing the techno and electronica, but I can say I didn't know much of it, which is a plus, because elewhere they just play the same over and over. Perhaps I am wrong and the music is common but just it isn't common to me just yet. One that I could sing was a techno version of Alanis' Uninvited. Which surprised me as never heard it before. Alanis, actually, is a Gay Icon, so not weird. At Retro you'll find flyers that will get you free entrance. Though, it is only £3 (on Tuesdays at least). The wine was bad which got me sick the day after. Next time I'll drink water. For this reason my rate is only 6/10.

Unlucky night out in Westminster

London is a city where you can find something to do any night of the week. You'll find in Harrods pictures of Trafalgar Square without people. That's a really hard thing to see in real life: even at 4am there is people wandering around.
There are many places you could go out and I don't intend to write a list of them. But, slowly, I will be describing the places I go to.

I will start with the so-known Cheers London in Regent Street. The pub is named after the US sitcom, which in turn is inspired in the now same-named pub in Boston. When you go in, you expect to find the characters of the series or some quiet place where to hung around, but what you find, instead, is a quite normal pub, very similar to those newly open British ones. Sports is the main thing. If you don't like them, I wouldn't recommend going there. Followers will just walk in and start shouting chants. The weird thing, you can't have lager (I think that was what it was) in the first bar, so, if your friends are having wine there, you'll have to go order in the other room. The slogan, like in the series and in the pubs in the US, is: "Where everybody knows your name". I guess some time in the day it can be quiet and, if there is a waiter that has been there for long, perhaps will know someone's name. But, certainly, nothing similar to the sitcom. Plus, they don't have a big variety of beers.
My rate: very very low, almost a 1. There are many charming pubs, search for one of them and leave Cheers for the average tourist.

Gaucho is an Argentinian restaurant chain. I am normally against chains but, like the one above, I didn't get to choose. The one I went was the one in Piccadilly. I've eaten Argentinian food before, many times, so I know, as an outsider, more or less what is all about. Meat is major so you can't go there and not have a big piece. Argentinian meet has something different, I am not sure, something about the way it is cut, but, anyhow, it tastes delicious. Though this place is not what you would expect of an Argentinian restaurant. In our mind we all have this old place with old wooden furniture and a big fat grannie who would come to you and tell you what you can eat. No, this place is all but that. It is posh and fashionable. Black and White are the colours, and everything smells a bit of a cow (the leather all around, it must be). The waiters and waitresses are from all around. Australian must be the major thing, though you can find Poles and we had the chance to have an Spanish one in the bar. Talking about the bar, it is too dark to read the menu. The bar is nice, but could be any other country's for what that matters. The restaurant is in the basement and everything looks so fashion that you are a bit scared of touching things. Too loud, but this is normal in this city. God thing is that it is an open kitchen but no smoke goes into the restaurant. Do not look for chimichurri in the menu in the section of sauces for the meat, even though it is the traditional sauce for the asado. Though, they'll bring some with the bread: ask the waiter what it is, he'll pronounce something that doe not sound like it, tease him a bit pronouncing it with your well learned Spanish accent.
The food is good but try not to tell your Argentinian friends about it: they'll bring you to the country side and you'll have a whole meal with as much meat as you want and litters of sauce for the price of one glass of wine in Gaucho.
My rate is low, but not like above: 5/10. Good food but extremely overpriced - but this is no surprise here. Great place but wrong motto.

To finish up the night, you can go to the Roadhouse in Covent Garden. No much to say there: it is a big club with live music. You can be lucky and have a good band, but I was not and I had to listen to covers of 90's Rock, though they thought they were singing the best and they just sung the most known. When all the audience knows the lyrics, you can imagine that it will be a live version of MTV. When the band left, the music turn into plane pop we-all-know-it songs. The best: one of the waitresses, who would server 7 people at once and not even blink. The wine was reasonably good. They prepare cocktails on demand. Though, my rate is still just 5/10. It is definitely just an easy night out.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Spell my country

Yesterday I went to see I for India at the ICA (film link).
It is an inspiring and moving docu/film about the life of the director's family since they moved from India in the 60's. It is a mixure of Super-8, voice recordings, and other footage that explain all the difficulties this immigrant family lived along 40 years.

As an immigrant myself, I felt reflected in most of it. Certainly, when you come from a similar culture, everything is much easier, but still, nothing is as it seems.
We come here looking for what we all want: some peace, and what we find is rejection. Rejection and solitude.

Suri talks about how they can't pronounce your name and, if you misspronounce theirs, they'll surely correct you in a split second.

Immigration. Unfairness.

Some BBC footage shows the demonstrations against immigration. We all have seen them, and not that long ago. Not only in England. From inside the EU, it is a subject we all talk about. I have gone to demonstrations. Most of them when some education law was changed in Spain and affected us so much. And I wonder what makes us demonstrate. Do we think twice what we are shouting? Do we wait a minute to think how does it affect to others, to them? I don't think so.

It is a very good movie and is such a perfect element in this multicultural city.

It is still shown until Wednesday 18th. Two showings a day. Go see it.
Go with some time before or stay later to have a look at the library.

Remember that the BFI 51st London Film Festival is starting tomorrow and the UK Jewish Film Festival on the 3rd of October.

Why this?

Why did I start this blog (especially since I already have two and collaborate in another one)? The answer is easy. As Grenouille would say, I needed to.
The real reason? Because I don't like most of the travel guides.

I am Spanish. I have been living in London for two weeks now, but I lived here for three years before. I am not the person who most knows this city, but I will try do my best and gather some information here on what can you do or shouldn't if you are here or you are planning a trip.

Along those first years in London, I never did any "tourism" for me. I always waited for someone to come visit me and then, with them, I went to all those so-visited spots. Then, there are the Oh-look-what-I-have-accidentally-found places, which are my favourites.

I know this city, yes (althought I always get lost -but this happens to me everywhere, even in my own town-). But I don't KNOW this city. I will try to discover everything and I invite you to come along.