Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quiet Is The New Loud.

Ordinarily, a playlist on noise, or at least of noise, would be one I'd leap at, but what with the weekend I was about to have, and it turning up late, it just wasn't the week for me to think about it. Bugger.

On Friday, I went to see a Jandek performance. It was his first in Ireland, only his second ever solo show, and was held in a modern art gallery, with seats strictly limited to 100. An intriguing figure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jandek), this was something of a must-see, but it's really hard to describe the show itself. He came on, played about 8 songs over an hour, and left, facts which in no way capture the intensity of the evening. It felt like I was glued to the seat, in the best possible way. His interaction with the audience was limited to sitting in front of it (not even a casual glance!), but the music was so spellbinding, we just sat in rapt silence. In retrospect, it was quite an odd night, but definitely a one-off in my experience of shows. I can't find any videos of him solo, but this live one with a band should give some indication of what he's like (and make a lie of this post's title):

However, this was really just the appetiser to the weekend's main event, Mr. Leonard Cohen. Well, what can I say? It was, let me repeat, Leonard Cohen. Live. Saturday night, open-air, and quite stunning. It was the middle of a three-night engagement, and for a 73 year old to play three three-hour sets on consecutive nights is pretty damn impressive. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty impressive (sorry, been binging on Curb Your Enthusiasm boxsets this week). Admittedly, it would have been nice to hear some more of the older songs, but there were moments of exquisite beauty throughout, particularly Suzanne, and the video below (from the first night) which doesn't do justice to how beautiful this song was wafting across a pindrop-silent crowd in near darkness. It was also interesting to see the audience reaction to the lyrics of "Democracy", and a fun crowd-pleaser for Mr. Cohen to note that after last week's referendum result, "Ireland continues to bewilder the world". The show also gave me the full set of now having seen Jeff Buckley, John Cale and Leonard Cohen perform "Hallelujah" live. Even more impressive than his stamina was noticing how dignified the man is, he really seems a remarkably genuine gentleman, treating his audience with respect and affection, quietly shaming so many other performers a fraction of his age. A truly memorable evening.

I was supposed to be at Prince tonight, but that show was cancelled. Boo and hiss. Next up, Melt Banana, Sunburned Hand Of Man, and a jaunt to Manchester (where I've never been) for My Bloody Valentine (loud is the new loud?), so if anyone knows anywhere decent to go in Manchester, all suggestions gratefully accepted.


snadfrod said...

Catcher, that is one hell of a weekend, even if Prince did cancel. Boo and hiss indeed (I was listening to 2fm when the announcement was made and Rick O'Shea was almost apopleptic...). Still, I'm down here in South Kerry, so no such chances for me. Sob.

Anyhoo, if its Manchester you're after, then I think I might be able to help. Sadly, though, the gig is at the Apollo which is ok for sound and vision, but utterly awful for eating, drinking or being in a nice place. My best advice would be to head to the University on Oxford road (loads of buses go there from Piccadilly Gardens, you can't miss it). A lot of people will be there pre gig and then will walk down Brunswick Street to the venue. Kro Bar is nice (enough) for pints and it is on the corner of Brunswick Street so is ideal for your walk. Big Hands, also, has a very nice air of dinge and a pretty nifty dukebox.

Whilst you're in Big Hands, treat yourself to a kebab from Abduls next door (look it up on facebook - genuinely the best kebabs in the world) or, if you feel you've got time, head a few stops more down Oxford Road to Rusholme and enjoy a far better curry than you'd be getting in Dublin...

Post-gig, I'm not so sure as its been a few years now since I was going out in Manc, but if you have the chance Night and Day on Oldham Street is always a good bet. If you've got a long time (and like your pubs proper) head over to the Bridgewater Hall and go in the Briton's Protection. Officially Snadfrod's favourite pub of all time (joint top with Tom Collins' in Limerick), replete with damn good pies.

Shopping wise, you can't beat Piccadilly records and Vinyl Exchange on Oldham Street, and the Fopp is very decent too. Check out the Royal Exchange theatre as it is just a beautiful building and if you see my mate Ted, give him a nudge from me.

Er, hope that covers it. Anyone else?

goneforeign said...

Just a quick note, Catcher's initial piece and Snadfrod's comment combine to be one of the nicest and most interesting reads in a long time.
Pats on the head all around.

DarceysDad said...

Catcher, The RR North Social last September was in Manchester. As a bred (if not born) Merseysider, I avoid Mancland like the plague if I can, so my research for the venue was even-handedly suspicious of everywhere!!

Snadfrod's mention of The Briton's Protection reminded me of it, so as my contribution, please excuse the wholesale cut'n'pasting from a pre-Social email that went round us. Have a good time, and hell, if you've got any time, give us a ring, you might find some of us near enough to join you for a drink!
( I'm still wondering how close Snadfrod's S.Wales wedding was to my holiday in Cardigan at the same time .... )

The work I had to come back for was - fortuitously - in Manchester, so after I'd finished yesterday I went on a city-centre pub crawl. Don't look at me like that, it was purely research!! I had to drive home after and there's only so much mineral water I dare drink before immersing myself in the M62 jams.
Rejects from previous suggestions are
Footage - probably only choccybicci would be young enough to avoid being stared at.
The Briton's Protection - punchable duty-manager being as obstructively unhelpful as he could.
Thirsty Scholar - I'm too old to sit in pubs whose interiors are deliberately painted black, no matter how good (and it is, btw) the jukebox.
The Green Room - whoever said that WAS joking, surely??
Ape & Apple - er, actually I couldn't find it again.
Peveril Of The Peak - finally found it open, but it isn't a Tardis PLUS the landlord informed me of one potential problem with our choice of time'n'place. MancU kick off at home to Sunderland at 5.15, and thus many of the pubs in the locale will (i) get very full around 7pm, and (ii) have manned/closed doors for the evening. It being Roy-Keane's-Return-to-Old-Trafford to boot, the Pev has been told there is at least one plane full of Irish headed their way for the night. [Note to self: probably not the occasion for my vintage Liverpool FC shirt, then ... or your Arsenal one ejaydee, IF you're coming?????]
So, The Rain Bar it is then.
Manager Anthony was the antithesis of the bloke at the BP. Both he and Assistant James will be in on the evening of the 1st, and provided I ring him on Thurs/Fri to confirm, Anthony will cordon off a suitably-sized corner for us. One of those possibles is the upstairs outdoor terrace if it's a warm evening: please either dress accordingly or register your displeasure before Thurs!
They serve food (fairly standard American-diner / mock-Italian stuff: starters sub four quid, mains sub tenner) until 8.45pm on a Sat (both Dan & Chris have vouched for its quality), and even Georgina's bottle of Malt will be allowed if it arrives. As far as I can tell the only downer is piped music, but I may just have not seen a jukebox.

The BP was also flagged as being a known BNP-drinking hole, but is undoubtedly a charcterful pub. The Rain Bar and the Peveril o.t.P. are within 200yds of the BP.

snadfrod said...

Well well, I didn't know about the BNP thing. I only ever drank in there on my own, reading a book in the corner and nursing a Jennings' or two. Ah well.

As for Rain Bar (sorry Ra!n Bar), did anyone try the JW Lees' Moonraker? 8. something percent, dark and tastes basically like a pint of stout with a shot of vodka poured in...

And whoever suggested the Green Room, DEFINITELY was having a laugh. Cheers Dsd.

snadfrod said...

Oh and Dsd - it was in Solva, down near St David's. Beautiful part of the world. We travelled there via Aberystwyth, though, cos that's where my grandad lives. So how close were we?...

DarceysDad said...

Damnation, snadfrod! On your journey south from Aberystwyth, you passed within 3 miles of us.

We were on a caravan site overlooking the National Trust beach at Mwnt. Not my choice, but I have to say it was absolutely fantastic. I trust the weather was as good for you at St.Davids as it was for us.

If you had rung me to put the kettle on when you were at the roundabout at Cardigan, it wouldn't have boiled by the time you'd have pulled in!

Catcher said...

With huge apologies for the delay in replying, I'd just like to say thank you to gone foreign for his kind words.

Also, to Snadfrod and DarceysDad, sirs, you went above and beyond in your responses. Particularly Snadfrod, I feel like I know the city now. DsD, I would love to meet up, but I'm in town for less than 24 hours, and my travelling companion is obsessed with Old Trafford, and I'm guessing that's not your thing.

As an example of why I love this site, you two gents are exemplary.

snadfrod said...

Catcher, that's kind of you to say so. It's a pleasure - now just be sure to let us know how you get on. Hearing the reports of the Roundhouse gigs I am somewhat jealous...

DarceysDad said...

You're welcome Catcher. And spot on about Old Trafford too; there's a DsD tale about how the mere prospect of having to go there scuppered my second attempt to get into the Guinness Book Of Records. A shame, as my partner on that aborted venture was killed a couple of years later, and it would have been lovely to be able to look in the GBoR to see his name and ... ach, never mind.

Have a good trip.