After what was supposed to be a relaxing city break to Barcelona that turned in to a flight-majorly-delayed, bags-lost, hotel-not-quite-as-advertised, weather-not-great, get-stuck-in-hotel-lift-during-storm ordeal, I'm back!
I had got to the point where my life was stressing me out so much on a day to day level that I needed to destress and unwind. I discovered instead that going on holiday was way more stressful than living my life (even in the hectic periods), therefore I had nothing to worry about and could come home and feel quite happy and relaxed. I know it's not supposed to be that way round but hey, whatever works.
It wasn't all bad - there was some truly stunning Gaudi architecture to marvel at and the sun did eventually shine on the last day. Whatever, my favourite moments during the trip were impromptu ones. Wandering through the city's labarinthine Barri Gotic at around 9pm one evening, I suddenly came out in to a square where hundreds of people had congregated to watch a group of six men singing and playing guitars on a stage overlooked by the Catedral. They sang what I can only guess were traditional Spanish folk songs of some kind, I think to celebrate the start of the festival of the Assumption which runs from August 15th for 10 days every year. They had the most gorgeous deep, rich voices, all the more mystical sounding for me not understanding what they were singing about.
On the last day I stumbled across another square where groups of people danced in circles to some more upbeat folky music. They happily jumped around, bowed to each other and jigged about in perfect unison, in some kind of Spanish country-dancing-hopalong-freakout. Fantastic.
Back home not only have I fulfilled any desires I may have had to address lots of very well dressed people from a church pulpit (reading a passage about love from 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' at a wedding and making some of them cry in the process), I also started a new session job playing for a young singer with a major label deal. It's started off well - the Kooks were rehearsing next door to us the other day and their drummer was so interested that he popped in to have a listen and introduce himself. Our first gig was a rainy seaside affair, complete with seafood snack trailer in the near distance and a neon-lit arcade a few minutes walk from the stage. How utterly British.
I just heard this week that music's most unlikely Scientologist, Beck, is releasing a new album this October. Why does no-one tell me these things?
It's called 'The Information', it's produced by Nigel Godrich and it's due to be released on October 2nd in Europe. Check out excellent new tracks 'Nausea' (set to be the first single off the new record) and 'Strange Apparition' on his My Space page.
He's already made a video for another track, 'Cell Phone's Dead', with my favourite director Michel Gondry ('Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind', multiple Bjork videos, 'Knives Out' - Radiohead). I couldn't find any sneaky clips online, we'll all just have to wait a little longer.
In the meantime, enjoy Beck and Gondry's previous collaboration, 'Deadweight', from 1997 - it only moderately suffers from being associated to that pile-of-pap movie 'A Life Less Ordinary':
Wikipedia Beck Trivia Time - did you know that he made a "very brief voice-only appearance in 1998's The Rugrats Movie"? Neither did I.
Beck plays Shepherds Bush Empire on Saturday 2nd September.
Regina Spektor - Shepherds Bush Empire
Metric - Kings College Student Union
Juana Molina - Ritzy Cinema, Brixton
And now for a quick run down of all the big gigs that look worth seeing over the next few months - get your tickets before the touts do!
2nd - Beck - Shepherds Bush Empire
30th - Jurassic 5 - Brixton Academy
1st - Jurassic 5 - Astoria
11th - Cerys Matthews - Koko
13th - Peaches - The Forum
14th - The Knife - The Forum
19th - James Dean Bradfield - Koko
20th - The Raconteurs - Brixton Academy
1st - Cat Power - Roundhouse
7th - Lily Allen - Astoria
27th - Tool - Wembley Arena
See this column next week for a round up of the little gigs you shouldn't miss either.
This Week's Five
1. Oh Mandy - Spinto Band - link
2. ChemoLimo - Regina Spektor
3. Micael - Juana Molina - link
4. Sunday Morning Ten AM - Popular Workshop - link
5. All Of Me - Som Wardner - link