Sunday, 18 May 2014

Guide to London Gigs

OK I admit it, I like London. Despite all the moaning about work and the weather there IS actually a lot to do here. There's definitely a high speed momentum that propels you to go out and try to see it all. After all, if you know your time is limited in a place, you want to make the most of it. Here's my review of the shows and gigs we've been to so far. 

The Drowned Man at Temple Studios
Best show I've ever been to. A truly unique experience that immerses you into a whole new world as opposed to merely watching something from afar. Set in a three storey building, you wander around the various sets and watch different scenes play out. You're asked to wear masks which adds an air of mystery. 

The sets are so detailed, a bit creepy and often surprising. A whole floor of sand dunes, a deserted trailer park, a film studio and a western saloon. You follow whichever characters you want, Kevin and I had vastly different experiences (Kevin got covered in theatre blood and got holed up in a spooky room with one of the actors). 

I read a review that described the production as a whale, too large to appreciate in its entirety but that's what's amazing about it. You don't have to 'get it', you just appreciate that you came out feeling completely different from when you walked in. Mind blowing. 10/10

Book of Mormon at Prince of Wales Theatre
Yes it's about Mormons but don't let the name put you off. It's produced by the guys who did South Park so you know it's probably going to be satirical with hilarious results. Supposed to be THE play to see and yes, it was funny and the songs were catchy but I wouldn't say it completely changed my life or anything. Still worth seeing just to hear the words 'I'm going to man up, do what Jesus did and grow a pair'. 8/10

Matilda at Cambridge Theatre
This one I just spontaneously decided to go to because timeout were doing cheap 20 pound tickets for a random Tuesday I had off work. Despite thinking it was going to be more a kids kind of show, which was re-affirmed by all the high school kids in the audience I was blown away by the witty dialogue, the absurd yet hilarious twists and the catchy tunes. Ms Trunchbull was by far the best thing about this play. A villain who was both villainous yet inexplicably endearing at the same time. There's nothing like a tall man with giant bosoms swinging a small girl around the stage by her pigtails to get that funny bone going. Wish we had invested in better seats but all in all, a gem of a play.

Avenue Q at Greenwich Theatre
A show about muppets who are struggling to figure out what they want out of life in New York, the themes are very contemporary and hit home. Young people who are confused and are fumbling through life. Funny yet slightly awkward watching a sex scene with muppets but overall a funny show with great muppet work. 7/10

Titus Andronicus at Globe Theatre
What a great atmosphere, I love the feel of this place. I think if you're in London you'd be remiss if you didn't squeeze in a Shakespeare play. Big bonus that we got to see my favourite play, the gruesomest of all Shakespeare plays. And it didn't disappoint, pretty much every character dies in a pretty spectacular manner. The set design was dynamic, the acting brilliant and the overall interpretation spot on. 9/10


War Horse at New London Theatre
There wasn't much appeal at first glance for me with this one but it was highly recommended by a friend so we thought we'd give it a go. Also helped that we snagged 15 pound tickets. Well it far exceeded all expectations. The puppetry with the horses was so well done that by the end I forgot they weren't real. I laughed, I cried and overall I was just super impressed. 9/10

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas at the Vault
This show has scarred me for life. I thought it'd be kind of cool going to see a play in  the vaults underneath Waterloo station, it's kind of cool that you walk through graffiti tunnels to get there. However, the venue itself is pretty crappy though with benches for seats which they cram you into. I'm not young anymore, I need to lean back! Also the set design was dismal and I really didn't need to see an fat guy's wiener or ass crack thanks very much. So terrible we had to leave halfway. 1/10

Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at Harold Pinter Theatre
An unexpected rendition of one the best plays ever written. The twist is that the beginning of the play starts with the actors gathering at one of their houses to rehearse. It's a bit disorienting when the first thing you see is one of the actors walk on stage wearing a pair of red Nike's on but the more you settle into the play the more you appreciate the effort they've made to differentiate this production from all the countless productions before them. And yet it keeps the essential bones of the play with it all it's scathing witticisms and social commentary on the British upper crust. Also, stunning stage design. 9/10.

Janelle Monae at the Brixton Academy
I like the slanted floors in this venue, great for short folks like myself. Also Janelle Monae herself blew my mind. The amount of energy she put into her show was almost physically impossible. To be dancing that much and that well whilst singing was impressive. We had crowd pillow fights, confetti, she crowd surfed and made us all crouch down low. Her voice is so much better live. Best concert thus far. 10/10

First Aid Kit at the Islington Assembly Hall
There were a surprising number of over 50s at this gig, regardless it was a good gig. They sound great live but there wasn't that much energy in the crowd which was a bit of a downer. I guess that folky kind of music doesn't lend itself to bouncy dancing.  7/10

Lucius at the Oslo
Great smallish venue, I didn't know that much about this Brooklyn band before the show but both Lucius and their supporting act Cousin Marnie made me get my dancing shoes out and dance like it was a Saturday night. Great band, great performance. 9/10

Two Door Cinema Club at the O2 Arena
I honestly didn't really want to go as I didn't know their music that well but I'm glad I did because even though it was mostly under 18s at the show (some with their parents, awkward!) they had great energy and with a cider in me we danced the night away like it was 1999. I even saw one dad bob his head a bit, good on ya for trying dude. Massive venue though, a bit impersonal. 7/10

Tim Kasher at the Brixton Windmill
Very weird venue, you get a BBQ cooked by some old dudes beforehand. Hilarious that there were two dogs in a balcony above us staring down at the sausages, drooling all over the place, the longing clearly in their eyes. The room is tiny and awkwardly shaped for a music venue but we did get quite close to the stage, like REALLY close which was nice. Good songs and great humour in between. A decent effort.7/10

Chvrches at Scala
Sadly I can't comment too much on this gig as Kevin and I were suffering from severe food poisoning and really should have stayed at home. Kevin even fainted at the gig! From what I could hear they sounded great and the crowd was getting into it for the whole 30 minutes that we stayed there before deciding to crawl home.  

Sarah Blasko at the Islington Assembly Hall
I've seen Sarah live a few times now and she never disappoints. Despite the slightly awkward but adorable dancing that looks more like marching) her voice is amazing and this venue was perfect for her. Small but charming environs and great acoustics. Funny when she forgot the lyrics to one of her songs and was quite embarrassed about it. We all have those moments. 8/10

Lorde at the Shepherd's Bush Empire
Sure, she's only 17. But she's got an amazing voice that is even better live. Her songs are cool and catchy and oh so modern. Even if I only really like 4 of her songs, her crazy dance moves and lack of self-consciousness makes for a cool performance and I thoroughly enjoyed dancing to half of the songs in the gig that were good. 8/10

Camera Obscura at the Forum, Camden
I only went to this gig because a friend of mine had a spare ticket and it was her favouritest band in the whole world. They play the kind of folky, indie stuff I like but I couldn't get over just how bored and detached the lead singer was. Everyone else in the band was getting into it but she had this perpetual frown and kept turning her back on the audience. A bit disrespectful if you ask me. But other than that, solid performance. 6/10.

Coming up: Daughter, Conor Oberst

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