So three gigs last night! Started off with Estelle Kokot at The Octave in Covent Garden. The Octave could be a great venue. could be. Sadly, being as it’s in one of the most expensive places to own a bar in London, the guy who owns it is unlikely to actually apply the kind of strictures that would be needed to mean it wasn’t about a band trying desperately to play over the din of 200 people talking loudly. The venue want it both ways, so they book credible acts and charge a door fee, but don’t ask people to STFU. You can’t charge people £7 to listen over that noise.
Anyway, aside from that, Estelle was great, as she always is, as was Neville Malcolm on bass – one of my favourite players in London. Great feel, great sound, and a lovely bloke to boot.
Then Catster, my LJF gig-buddy, and I headed off to the QEH foyer to catch a bit of Marc Ribot doing a scronking improv thing on the free stage. Bits of it were great, bits were unfocussed. Like most squeaky gigs. Seb Rochford was on drums, and was great as ever – that’s three Seb-gigs in two days. Clearly I’m stalking him.
Also ran into lots of other lovely people there – Andrew Cronshaw, whose album Ochre is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time, and I haven’t seen for quite a while, was there, so lovely to catch up with him. He’s got a new gig he’s booking called Half The World – a series at Pizza On The Park in London, that looks amazing. Check that out.
And finally, gig number 3 back to the Vortex, to see Huw Warren and Lleuwen Steffan doing their sublime hymns project, along with some new tracks from Lleuwen’s just-finished-but-not-out-for-a-while album. They were, as expected, amazing. Of course. One of my favourite gigs to see anywhere. The hymns are deeply moving and beautiful, Lleuwen’s own songs are a heady mix of classic jazz with left-field singer/songwriter stuff and a dose of pure originality. And Welsh is such a beautiful sung language. It was made for singing. More people should sing in Welsh, and less loser audiences should feel put off by it. She deserves to be the next Beth Gibbons or Madeleine Peroux. I think she’ll just continue to be the first Lleuwen, which is just fine. And Huw – lovely bloke, great player, writer of stunning music. Always a pleasure to listen to him play.
Home at some god forsaken hour, but a worthwhile late night, fo’ sho’.by