Thursday, February 28, 2008
Scunthorpe. Sounds grim, yet myself and a couple of friends decided to have a Saturday night out there to coincide with Saints away trip.
The journey up was uneventful except for the Australian rugby league coach using the phrase ‘red hot crack’ on the radio, which became a phrase we were soon using.
Our hotel was next to the football ground on one of these out of town estates with restaurants such as Frankie & Bennys, Kfc and Pizza Hut with a Tom Cobleigh Family Pub and a large Tescos. Tesco allowed us to get a sandwich for lunch and then we had time to find a pub with Sky for the Arsenal game. The one near where we were did not have it nor the other pub on the main road to town. Research is everything and instead of heading into the town centre we headed into one of Scunthorpe’s suburban estates and found a pub called ‘Poacher’. A rough and ready estate pub, this did have Sky and allowed us to have a couple of pints and watch most of the Brum Arsenal game, marred by Eduardo’s horrific yet accidental injury. Nice to see Theo Walcott on the score sheet, but because of the injury time added we had to leave and miss Birminghams last minute penalty.
Scunthorpes football ground was the first new ground to be built in 1988. It is alright but clearly designed for a lower level of football than the championship. As to the game, Saints were rubbish in the first half and did not manage a shot. They fell behind to a penalty, although disputed by the away following and some players, I thought it was pretty clear cut. The second half we played much better and deserved our last minute equaliser (also a penalty). This was less clear cut with only the linesman noticing a shirt pull in the area. Also only myself and Vignal who took our penalty realised that the lino had given it by putting his flag across his chest.
As we left the ground I got a text by a friend we were meeting saying he was in the pub next door which is called The Old Farmhouse. Immediately I phoned him.
‘We are on the way, have you got two pints for us?’
‘Well can you, we’ll only be a couple of minutes’
‘I think I’ve lost my chance’
‘Oh, how much of your pint have you got left?’
‘I’ve just started it, so all but a sip!’
‘Great so the two of us are coming to meet you to watch you drink a pint. I’m hanging up now………..’
Fortunately the pub wasn’t too crowded and I managed to get served quite quickly. After a brief catch up and a check in at the hotel, it was time to see what Scunthorpe had to offer……….
The first pub was one we turned down prior to the game as it had no TV. The Berkeley was a nice Samuel Smiths place. Smiths places are normally cheap in London and the round for three pints here was a fantastic £5.20 which included a bag of crisps! The place was well lit and the furniture and walls a bit golden, reminiscent of a posh place. The taps in the loos were automated and came on just by putting your hands under them. A good place.
A fifteen minute walk was then undertook to town and the first place we came across was The Royal. A large pub not unlike some South London pubs you find on main crossroads. We decided to eat here and the food was surprisingly good. Meanwhile outside there was a car crash with some bloke going into the rear of a taxi, pushing it forward into another taxi. As we left a policeman was brushing up the debris with a broom.
We then got to the high street passed a converted church which one of my colleagues took particular interest in as a couple of girls were wearing very short skirts to get in. However, this appeared to be a nightclub of some sort where rubbish dance music would be played with over expensive drinks so we moved on. Barracuda was our next venue. A lively place that was showing the rugby, playing loud music which was of the chart / dance variety and an eclectric mix of people. Some very young and some very old. Noticeably about Northern places you do get a lot of forty and fifty in pubs aimed at twenty-somethings. In this place we saw a group of girls in bizarre fancy dress who we shall see again. This place had the feel it was new as it was more popular than some of the bars we went to.
Geneva was the next bar and I can’t say I was over impressed. Fairly empty with pumping dance music again. However, most people were propped against the bar making service difficult. We decided only to have a half here.
Walking back we saw the bizarrely dressed girls again who asked one of my companions if he were alright, with seconds later her friend yelled out ‘No-one rapes the bunny!’. Bizarre as they were dressed. A ridiculous cheap venue was next the Bishops Blaise which had the feel that it was about to close. The machine in the gents here had inflatable sheep as well as a ‘pill’ and cylinder shaped toy on sale in it! All very odd.
Time was getting on and I wanted to see the Crosby Hotel and ascertain whether its club ‘the hangar’ was worth going to. We found it without a problem and it seemed the two venues had merged (although the club bit was supposed to be upstairs). The music was good here (Summer of 60 and Huey Lewis) and they were showing Match Of The Day. However, it was fairly empty and had the feel the end of a party to it. We decided to return to town, where on the way the strangely dressed girls were outside an irish pub you could not see into and was charging £4 admission. We decided against this and had a quick one in the Wetherspoons called The Blue Bell. This was heaving with mainly underage drinkers, much like Wetherspoons in town centres across the country. Typically cheap it wasn’t worth spending more time than one drink here though it did have a licence until 1am. It was just gone eleven and we decided rather than pay to get into a club that may be no good, we should go back to Barracuda. Still busy, there were some attractive girls here and we managed to get a seat near the dance floor. Also it remained open til at least one. I seem to remember dancing at some stage but that was late on and purely alcohol influenced. After a couple here it was time for the walk back downhill to the hotel.
All in all it was much better than I expected, not too dissimilar from Sutton or Croydon if you stuck to their High Streets. A bit of a shame we didn’t get time to explore more of the local pubs, or that a club was advertised that look half decent.
The journey back wasn’t too bad (unless you were on a train for more than five hours), and we got home in time to unfortunately see Spurs win a micky mouse cup for the first time in nine years.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The Twang at Shepherds Bush
The Twang performed one of the best gigs of last year at Brixton. Saturday I saw them at the Shepherds Bush Empire.
The day began with the Saints playing fairly dreadfully at home to QPR losing 3-2. We got our goals in the first and last minute and from being play-off hopefuls must now be looking at avoiding relegation.
Ironically I had to get to the hoops location for the gig and went via Clapham Junction to Olympia and walked from there. I had time for a couple in the Richmond pub where there was a free jukebox. Cue plays of Shed Seven’s Ocean Pie and Maidens Run To The Hills. The Twang came on just after ten, and the place was packed, so much so I gave up on getting my normal left hand side space and went to the right hand side. They opened with Ice Cream Sundae and worked their way through the album and several new songs. Unlike Hard-Fi they put their biggest song ‘Either Way’ third in and seemed really up for it. Not quite as good as last time I saw them but still pretty impressive with ‘Push Away The Ghosts’ really getting the crowd going. Only fifty minutes but when they only have one album you wouldn’t expect much more. Will definitely be waiting for a second album and further live dates with interest.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Hard-Fi @ The Koko
So Hard-Fi then. After seeing them twice at Brixton I was looking forward to this. After watching most of Cappellos first match in charge of England I floated along to Camden’s Koko. Here I went to the bar and was shocked to be charged £3.70 a can of Fosters. Glad I did most of my drinking in nearby Belushis at £2.50 a pint.
The problem with bands whose debut is huge, is they have a ‘difficult’ second album to do. My opinion is still out on the ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ follow up and hearing it live has not changed that. A strangely subdued crowd were in too with little applause between songs and it was only till the encore when Mick Jones’s turned up for Should I Stay Or Should I Go was there any enthusiasm shown. I think the main problem was that being a venue that they could sell out for a week, a lot of the crowd were there, just to say they were there rather than pay interest to the music. Also, the fact they left the anthems ‘Stars Of CCTV’ and ‘Living For The Weekend’ as the last two alongside the Clash song did nothing to gee up the crowd through the first half hour. So for the third gig in six days it was again, good but could have been better. Would The Twang live up to my expectations on Saturday?
Friday, February 08, 2008
Paramore At Brixton 1/2/08
On Friday, I wondered into the Brixton Academy to see my current favourite rock band Paramore. Caught the end of the support, New Found Glory, who did a rocked up version of Sixpence None The Richers ‘Kiss Me’ which was fun. As for Paramore, they jigged the set list round from last time at the Astoria. It didn’t quite work with ‘Born For This’ about third song in with the lines, ‘This is the last song you’ll ever sing’ in it. Their normal set ender ‘Keep The Pressure’ was also in the middle and also seemed odd. They saved their best song till last ‘Misery Business’ in which the whole place was moshing. Hayley the singer is a great front person, despite her lack of height, and besides the set order the only slight complaint was that it wasn’t loud enough. Brixton’s sound normally starts poor anyway but here it stayed muffled and not at a volume to drown out audience chatter, which for a guitar based rock band isn’t what you want. Still a good gig though and will look forward to seeing them again. Hopefully they will do a warm-up before they play the Give It A Name festival at Earls Court. Interestingly, I ordered the CD of the show through the concertlive people. Normally you can collect it after the show or have it delivered. I ordered it off the website the next day. However, got an e-mail this week saying that it has been withdrawn from release and due to legal reasons they cannot say why. Whether the band were unhappy with their performance, or the sound was rubbish or whether they played a song without copyright I can only speculate. As an alternative I have been offered a CD from their Manchester show a few days earlier, which at least the only official live recording you can get from this band so far!