Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stockholm and Sweden

I was in Sweden during the work for week. I'd never visited before and I liked it. I flew from Prestwich to Skatsva about 100km south of Stockholm before getting a coach into the city. It was about 1130PM when I arrived at Stockholm Central Station. I jumped into a taxi to get to my hotel.

The bus journey up to Stockhom was great, even though it was getting dark. The roadside trees and buildings were stunning. The scenery reminds me of rural Scotland but the clear sky made everything seem crisper. I kept thinking of 'let the right one in', the Swedish vampire film I saw a few weeks ago. I'm reading the book just now.

My hotel wasn't great. Due to an unforseeable credit card fuck up I had to pay for everything in cash. My room was directly above a rail freight loading terminal and shuddered every time a train went past. Lots of trains went past. I bought ear plugs as soon as I could.

The nights were short. Stockholm was only dark between 11pm and 3am messing up my sleep even more. One night I stayed out drinking in the city centre with some Irish people and it was dawn as I left the pub at 3am.

I had a lot of early starts for work so I was a bit sleep deprived by the end of the week. The hotel curtains couldn't keep the light out. The TV stations were filled with imported American comedy shows.

Everyone I met spoke English. It reminds me how crap I am. I wish I could speak another language. I could almost believe that I was in a British city. A beautiful, clean British city. No British city could ever be as beautiful or as clean as Stockholm.

Stockholm is on a series of islands connected by bridges and tunnels. Water flows around the old buildings that have not been bombed unlike other European cities. It's a m,ajestic, fairytale sort of place.

I didn't have much time to walk around the city because of work. I didn't get to any museums or art galleries. I did spend a day walking around the old town of Gamla Stan. I could have spent a few days there. I hope I get a chance to go back.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Deerhunter live at Glasgow Stereo

This gig had been rescheduled so I was rather excited to finally see Deerhunter. I really like their Microcastle album. I think there may have been two support bands but I only saw one of them, a female fronted band with an attractive singer who sounded a bit gothy. They were ok but I didn't really get into their music.

Stereo is an industrial venue. I like the expensive bar upstairs but the sound in the basement isn't great. Deerhunter had to contend with a bass heavy sound which seemed to interfere with the vocals. Despite the shitty sound the band put on an entertaining show combining material from Microcastle and the new Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP with older stuff.

The My Bloody Valentine 'wall-of-sound'/dreampop elements of Deerhunter were defeated a bit by the technical limitations of the venue. The krautrock/Neu beats survived well. Brandon Cox is a good frontman and he interacted well with the crowd. He kept trying to play 'smells like teen spirit' to comic effect.

Some interesting merchandise was available to buy. I bought an audio-cassette for the first time in several years. It was a limited edition copy of the Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP and it looks kinda cool. I actually still have a working cassette machine in my flat so I was able to listen to it last night.

I did enjoy the show but I want to see Deerhunter again in a better venue.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Handsome Family and Otis Gibbs live at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow

I'm pretty lucky. I like to think that I'm unlucky but in reality my life is filled with good luck. I have a good job, I own a nice flat and I live in a cool city. Life is fair to me. On top of all of that, I won tickets from The List magazine to see the Handsome Family and Otis Gibbs live.

I had some vague awareness of the Handsome Family before the show. I managed to hear some tracks on Spotify a few hours early. They were good. I was reminded of Nick Cave and Johnny Cash.

Otis Gibbs was more of a revelation. One man, one guitar, one beard. He had a strong stage presence and stronger songs. His between song banter was quality. He trades in acoustic protest songs with a punky edge. He was worth the price of the (free) ticket alone.

The Handsome Family have a more gothic quality. Their songs all sound like the aural equivalent of Sandman comics or missing tracks the Nick Caves' Murder Ballads album. The husband and wife team at the core of the band have a good grasp of slightly spooky humour. I enjoyed the show but I think I would have got more out of it if I had listened to a few of their albums beforehand. I'll probably check them out in the future.

So, thanks again to the List magazine. I'm a lucky guy.

Wolverine - film review

I expected this film to be rubbish. It wasn't the worst film I've ever seen but it was bad.

The story was full of holes and internal inconsistencies. There is just a bit too much casual violence. Some of the emotional validity of the story is destroyed by the writers' inability to let a character stay dead.

It's not the worst film I've seen. It's not as bad as The Spirit but it's not very good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pivot - live at the Captain's Rest, Glasgow

I'd never been to the Captain's Rest before. It used to be an old mans pub but in recent years it has been taken over by new management and it now seems to be aiming at more of an alternative market. Items on the menu are named after Big Black songs. It's at the St. Georges Cross end of Great Western Road which has become a wee bit more upmarket in the past 15 years.

My friend bought me a ticket to see Pivot. I saw them about 6 months ago and I enjoyed the show. Last night they were troubled by bad sound. Despite such technical problems they put on an energetic show.

This venue would probably suit smaller punky or folky bands more. I may go back in the future for a pint.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Morrissey live at the Glasgow Barrowlands

It was interesting.

I got into the Smiths at a late age. I was probably about 20 when I first started to like them. I had a dim awareness of them as a child as a friends elder sibling was a fan. I was never keen on Morrissey. I had some doubts about his politics. The music of the Smiths is great.

I bought the tickets for this in December. I was very curious to see the show. Last night I was glad to be one of the younger members of the audience (unusual these days). The t-shirt stand was a bit disturbing. I didn't like the t-shirt of naked Morrissey and band. I didn't like the Union Jack t-shirts. It was all very expensive.

The support band 'Doll & the Kicks' were ok. The singer was nice to look at. The tunes were a bit like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Morrissey opened with a punked up version of 'this charming man' which was workmanlike. I did recognise a few of his solo songs but I only own 'viva hate' and a greatest hits CD. 'How soon is now' sounded better than 'this charming man' but some of the more intricate guitar parts were missing. We also got 'girlfriend in a coma' and 'some girls are bigger than others'. It was OK but I wasn't blown away.

Glad I went. Not sure I'd go again.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Let the right one in - film review

Let the right one in is a Swedish vampire film. It's about Oskar, a 12 year old boy from a broken home who is bullied at school. He lives a solitary life and dreams of retaliating against the kids at school. He meets Eli, a girl who moves in next door, who is a bit different. She's a 200 year old vampire.

The film is in Swedish with subtitles. It's visually interesting and well made. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes foreign films and horror films.