International readers of this blog may already be sneering at the concept of the ‘The Great British Seaside’, but as the Greenwich National Maritime Museum’s nostalgic exhibition shows, there’s plenty that’s wonderful and interesting about a British beach – it just rarely includes sunshine.
Following a cracking gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire last Friday, with some time off this week I’ve been rediscovering The Wonder Stuff via Miles Hunt’s engaging ‘Diaries 86-89′, accompanied by a trip through my vinyl back catalogue, and the Stuffies’ sparking, hard-edged indie-pop.
Another great gig from Middle Kids this week makes me thinks these Aussie newcomers are going to be special. On Wednesday night sixty or so privileged punters squeezed into The Waiting Room, a nicely refurbished box of a venue below the Three Crowns in Stoke Newington. Limited space meant bassist, Tim Fitz, was curtailed in his usual stage prowling, but the band showed no such constraint in delivering a powerful collection of indie-pop songs.
Bradford, a northern English boomtown in the industrial revolution, has suffered a two century accolade deficit. Very few outsiders have ever had anything good to say about the place and yet on a recent visit markontour discovered fascinating history, great bars, a unique peace museum, thriving community radio and, above all, huge energy and optimism. Thus follows a very partial markontour guide to Bradford.
Austin lives up to its own billing as the live music capital of the world. Admittedly, markontour was visiting during the legendary South By South West (SXSW) tech/film/music festival, but you can only make judgements based on available data. On this basis Sixth Street is a gig-goers dream, where every bar and almost every restaurant has constant live bands from 4pm until past the midnight hour. If the evidence that I am alive wasn’t so overwhelming, a few nights in Austin might have convinced me that I had died and gone to heaven (putting to one side the anthropocene nightmare that is urban American traffic).
I have to be honest, I had low expectations of Edmonton, a sprawling, million-plus city in oil-rich Alberta, Canada. But a week there was full of surprises, from great record shops, a fantastic gallery, incisive improv-comedy, tasty vegetarian restaurants, an introduction to ice-hockey, and guitar rental, all the way through to ultra-friendly people. I almost don’t mind not seeing the promised Northern Lights. Here follows the markontour guide to Edmonton.
Peter Von Tiesenhausen is an ecologically-minded artist, who salvages to create. His extraordinary ‘Relief’ – a mountain-scape sculpted from the clapperboards of an abandoned community hall – conveys beauty and sadness in equal quantities and is going to stay in my mind for a long time. As will the Art Gallery of Alberta’s retrospective exhibition ‘Undaunted: Canadian Women Painters of the 19th Century”. Who knew there was such a great gallery in Edmonton!