lovelondonscenes 136 – Heavy skies in central London – the Ophelia effect

The British Isles caught the late throes of Hurricane Ophelia today. Ireland got the full force. London, tucked away in England’s south east corner, escaped the worst, but still had a very windy day and some strange skies. They’ve been widely reported – the unusually red glow of the sun to the fore. This, apparently, was due to dust from the Sahara, thrown in our direction by the storm.

There was a weird feeling in the atmosphere this afternoon. It was grey and strangely dark for the time of day, but the grey felt heavy, with a hint of pink and yellow. It was that Macbeth feeling – all feels unnatural. It was the talk of the office. I walked out of the office; it was the talk in the lift as I came back in. An American colleague said it was like when they were waiting for a tornado. That didn’t happen; but for us, with our rather moderate weather, this was a strange day.

I  took a few photos outside with my iPhone 5S. They all looked a bit standard grey, which was not what the eye was transmitting. I’ve slightly enhanced them to bring them closer to what I was seeing.


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Music and colour at the Tate Modern

There has been a great exhibition at the Tate Modern, which is just coming to an end. “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” A fascinating account of, mainly, art in the 60s and 70s by a range of black American artists. Some very real, related to the conflicts of the time; other pieces abstract, testing the imagination. Amongst the latter were two works which related music to colour and shape.

The first was a canvass by William T.Williams, entitled “Trane”. An abstract work which the artist saw as a reflection of the abstraction of John Coltrane’s music, that wild, emotional saxophone. I could see that – once I had read the description on the wall, of course.

The second was an artefact, a piece of wood, a sculpture, I guess. By the artist Daniel LaRue Johnson, and called D9 Flat 5th. A bebop jazz chord, comprising D, F, A flat, C and E. Way beyond my guitar capability!  Which colour is which note? I don’t know. But think of the combination as the chord.

It’s all about perception, this stuff. You have to put yourself in the minds of the artists, think about how a sound might be represented by a colour. We’d all give varied answers to the same sounds. Because we are all different, and our perceptions of the same things vary widely. We all need to understand that and respect the differences. Which, of course, doesn’t happen a lot of the time.

But maybe art, including music, can help us understand what unites us, and what reflects our differences.


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lovelondonscenes 135 – The swings at Tate Modern

The latest attraction in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern is a load of swings. Brought back the child in people, and was nice for the children – probably more fun than looking at abstract art with their parents! There’s also a big colourful carpet stretched over the slope, which, from above, looks like steps. people were finding it very comfortable to lie on!

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A Thames walk from Henley to Marlow

Kath and I and our friends Jon and Maggie are finishing off our walk along the Thames, from the source to Erith, on the estuary. There’s still a chunk upstream and downstream of Oxford; but otherwise it’s now filling in the gaps. This was one of them, and a lovely one at that. In the heart of prosperous and beautiful England.

We finished a walk at Henley back in May.  I didn’t get around to blogging on that one, but start the photos for this one with a picture as we came into Henley. It’s a place associated with rowing and toffs; and yeah, both associations are justified. It’s a place that oozes money. And it is beautiful too! It’s fair to say that the people of this place will vote Conservative until the planet Earth is sucked into the sun.

In fact, the whole walk reminds you why some people think things are OK, while others rail against injustice. The Thames flows through the land of plenty – and brought that plenty in the first place, no doubt.

The approach to Henley, from upstream in May.

Leaving Henley today.

The English countryside is an ever-lovely thing.

A White House!

Who can resist a weeping willow?

The grand view.

The family swan. Five cygnets have survived to what looks like the swan equivalent of teenage. Ain’t that wonderful? And soon to make their own way?

A typical Thames picture in this part of the world. Loads of posh boats moored. Not many out today. A summer trifle?

Heading into Marlow, I liked this set up. Looks like the front end of an oligarch’s yacht on the Mediterranean. But the space inside must be brilliant, with an awesome view outside.

Marlow and its bridge. Like Henley, the church tower dominates.







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Have You heard? – (84) “Poison Dart” by The Bug ft Warrior Queen

I got home from work reasonably early on Friday. Did my favourite thing. Can of beer and a bit of BBC 6 Music. While lying on the bed and reading Macbeth! There are reasons for the latter. So I heard a bit of Steve Lamacq – a great DJ, but one I usually miss. And he played this track. Immediately I thought, what is this? That bass line, it is awesome. Every time it kicks in you just want to do something. Dance, punch the air, something.

It’s by The Bug. “Poison Dart”. With rap by Warrior Queen. Gets classified as dubstep, I think, but it’s the reggae bass line that makes it a great tune. I would love to hear this on a massive PA. It would be amazing. A rib crusher.

It’s from 2008. Passed me by at the time. Shame! On an album called “London Zoo”. And it is a London tune par excellence. The video here is a bit shorter than the album version, but you get into the meat of the tune straightaway. Won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but let me tell you, I love it!

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Honeyblood, White Lies, Superfood at the Goose Island LDN Block Party, Shoreditch, 24 September 2017

A few weeks ago, I saw on Honeyblood’s Facebook page that they were playing a beer festival in Shoreditch. A place called Red Market, on Old Street.  I was intrigued. My favourite band right now, performing in Hipsterville.  And a great beer – Goose Island, from Chicago. Their IPA is one of the best. My favourite band and a top beer – sounded like a good combination!

Honeyblood were second on the bill. White Lies were the headliners. They got onto my radar in 2009, with the song (and album) “To Lose My Life”. Great song – it was Joy Division with a New Romantic pop inflection. All very  80s – a little contrived, but good, singalong stuff. I bought the album, but never really got into anything else.

Kath and I got there at about 5.30, and third band on the bill, Superfood, were about to start. I didn’t know them, but had a listen to Spotify and watched a couple of videos in the morning to get a sense of where they were coming from. I liked their sound. A modern, pop-indie, in a similar vein to bands like Two Door Cinema Club and  Bombay Bicycle Club, with just a hint of reggae in the beats too. That reggae beat came out strongly in the live performance – and the guitars rocked at the right moments. They were good. A band to follow up.

I was there for Honeyblood – and really they can do no wrong. They played the same rock’n’roll set as they did at Latitude, with one addition, “Sister Wolf”. Every song a winner. I was surprised they didn’t play their new single “Swell Love”, but I guess they thought it wasn’t going to be greeted that enthusiastically by a combination of Shoreditch hipsters and White Lies fans. That was a good call. They were brilliant, as always, but the reaction was not as lively as I’ve seen before. Because of the crowd. Over 18, too cool to mosh, and there to see White Lies. But hopefully, it all helps to build the reputation. A long haul if you aren’t playing shiny pop and get lucky.

White Lies went down a storm. We realised at that point what the crowd were there for.  We found a high up spot to watch from for a while. “To Lose My Life” was the second song. And it was great. The rest sounded like variants. The crowd loved it and showed it,  and I was thinking, why didn’t you do this for Honeyblood? They are so much better! But not for this crowd.

They were good, and likeable – in fact a bit more light-hearted than I would have expected from the musical content. Every song became a singalong experience. Which is great, but we didn’t really feel part of it, and decided, about half way through, to go for a pizza.

A really good evening. Superfood were a band I’d like to get to know better. White Lies were entertaining for a bit. And Honeyblood – well, I love their music so much, and this show just cemented that.

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lovelondonscenes 134 – St George’s Tower from Vauxhall station

7pm yesterday evening, as the sun began to set. Just round the corner from this view were some very threatening grey clouds.

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