Sunday, November 25, 2012

Liverpool

With all the excitement and planning for Christmas, a weekend off in late November arrived and Pip and I decided that we would tick off one of the last remaining English towns which we'd wanted to visit.

Liverpool is less than an hour by train from our home in Manchester so it was a day out more than a trip away. We arrived in Liverpool late in the morning with only a couple of things in mind which we wanted to do. It was freezing so we followed my map to a cafe I'd looked up online called 'Bold St Cafe'. It's a really beautiful cafe that mixed the rustic theme that I love with a bit of pop culture modernism. This gave it a fresh atmosphere which Pip and I loved. The Mushroom on toast was amazing and although the flatwhites weren't as strong as we're used to, we still loved our experience right down to the lady sitting in the corner promoting a film festival while trying to act like a normal patron.

I wish the rest of our day could have continued in this positive manor but as we strolled around central Liverpool, Pip especially found it was a city that only seemed to have the worst parts of a typical English city, Chaves, Orange tanned woman, and tacky town planning.

We strolled down Mathew Street which is where the famous Cavern Club is and found about ten clubs with similar names and plenty of tackyness. The origional club may have long since closed but they have the enterance marked out and an exact replica next door. We went down for a half pint and watched a guy play Beatles songs on his acoustic guitar.

We got to the Beatles Story museum after a slight Google Maps hiccup and began the tour. This is the main reason we came to Liverpool and we weren't dissapointed. I have read books and watch the entire Beatles Anthology so there was not much for me to learn but the displays were well put together and there was enough origional Beatles guitars, clothing and the like to make the experience complete.

We emerged from the experience and decided to head home. We were lucky to get a trin pretty quickily and although I enjoyed Liverpool more than Pip, she's glad we went and did the things we did.

Saturday night we bought wine and chocolate and spent a night listening to music. Sunday we shopped for a new blanket to help us through the colder months, we also got me a new pillow as our bed is killing my back. I had to leave work early the other day as my neck was had it.

This evening we had a look through the Christmas markets. They are amazing, we ate our way around the market tasting Sausages, crepes, chocolate covered strawberries and German chicken. We cannot wait to take Pip's Dad around them next month.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two gigs in Manchester

Before we left London Pip and I had bought a handful of tickets to gigs up here in Manchester. It was about three months between buying them and the gigs themselves and two of them fell just days apart.

First up was 'The Walkmen' at the HMV Ritz. First of all I love the venue, it's small but well laid out. It's a famous old place which has hosted gig for both The Beatles and The Smiths and has a spring dance floor. After waiting for over half an hour for a taxi, we burst through the front doors to find the room mostly empty. OK so we were a bit early, fortunately this meant we could get a drink and a seat which felt very close to the stage, we watched the gig from here too.

The opening band were OK but as I had been listening to their tracks on Spotify that day I must admit I was a little underwhelmed. The Walkmen themselves turned out to be a fantastic surprise. To sum them up in one sentence I would say: They are now one of my favorite bands. They were just 'that' good. The band were tight and well rehearsed in that size environment and the singer turned out to be an absolute master of his voice. I would say he must be professionally trained as his vocal control was amazing the whole time Pip and I sat in awe of him.

Gig number two was slightly less looked forward to because Muses' new album has seen them alienate us a wee bit. But for the old tunes and the always amazing live set they put on, we decided to head along. We were back at the M.E.N Arena again (Where we saw Morrissey).  We sat in the lower tier at the back but still felt close enough partly due to the stage setup which was slightly forward allowing the crowd to surround them. This was a different Muse to the one I saw at Big Day Out in 2009, this was more of a show which had been very carefully planned. The stage was amazing with a piano that was raised from the ground when needed, a morphing series of screens which resembled a pyramid that at one point ate Dom on his rotating drums. Matt spent more time with just a microphone than usual and although it was a fantastic spectacle (As usual), the Muse I love has moved on and fair enough from their point of view.

As one person put it as we walked home "They have a gone a little 'Boyband-ish'".

Next up is 'The Black Keys' with one of our live favorites 'The Maccabees'.