Saturday, July 25, 2009

Joseph Arthur was awesome **UPDATED**

The last few weeks have been crazy mad-busy for me, primarily because I've been trying to squeeze in yoga sessions whenever there's been the slightest gap in my schedule. But five successive days in which I did yoga, yoga, badminton, a 9.5k run, and another yoga, was probably pushing it just a little too much. I was pretty much pooped by the time I got to that last yoga. So pooped, in fact, that I couldn't quite lift my arms up sufficiently during full locust pose (that's Poorna* Salabhasan to those in the know) and ended up accidently, albeit rather tenderly, caressing the vulumptuous arse of the young lady next to me.

And, of course, being typically British, neither of us acknowledged this in the slightest. Good times.

Anyway, after so much exercise, I definitely needed a few days off to recuperate, so it was just as well that I was heading off to the delightful Bush Hall on Thursday to see a gig. After my previous visit to Bush Hall to see Priscilla Ahn, Marcosy had said that he'd like to go there - not necessarily to see anyone in particular, but rather to wallow in the glory of its ornate chandeliers and Edwardian splendor. As a result, I kept my eyes on the gig listings in the hope that something awesome might appear.

Something awesome appeared.

Back when The OC was on telly I bought all the soundtrack CDs, and, through them discovered lots of rather wonderful singers and bands who I'd not previously heard of; Sufjan Stevens, Modest Mouse, and Imogen Heap being just a few examples. Also on that list was Joseph Arthur, whose song 'Honey and the Moon' featured on The OC: Mix 1. A few years after that another of his songs, 'Even Tho,' got a bit of airplay on the radio over here and I bought it on iTunes. I loved both tracks, but strangely never bought any of his albums.

Any-hoo, on one of the Bush Hall gig listing emails I got a few months back I noticed that Joseph Arthur was playing there on Thursady July 23rd, and I thought that would be the perfect way to a) introduce Marcosy to the delights of Bush Hall, and b) have a damn fine evening. So I emailed Marcosy and Yazzle Dazzle; Marcosy got back to me in about 15 seconds with an affirmative. Yazzle Dazzle took slightly longer, but after about two weeks she said that, yes, she'd like to come too. That's how she rolls.

So, Thursday came around, and we all met up in Shepherds Bush. Before heading down to Bush Hall Marcosy and I decided we needed to grab some food, and plumped for a KFC because it was nearby, cheap, and tastes like a close approximation of chicken. After an initial problem where Marcosy's relatively simple request for a Zinger burger was answered with a bag of boned chicken (two words which quite possibly should never be linked together due to the horrific images it brings to mind), we ended up on Shepherds Bush Green munching our fries and close approximation of chicken.

Now, for those who've never visited Shepherds Bush Green, let me tell you that it has the potential to be a really lovely part of West London. Unfortunately, in order to help it fulfill its potential the vast number of winos who congregate there on a daily basis to down two litre bottles of White Lightning and lurch alarmingly at passersby would need to be encouraged to move somewhere else. Were I on the local council I'd maybe suggest a tag-and-release scheme whereby they were tranq-darted and relocated to a new habitat.

Anyway, we're sitting in one of the few wino-free areas of the green when I notice that Yazzle Dazzle is staring off into the distance, like she's in the midst of some sort of Scrubs-style fantasy. She was in fact, being incredibly conscientious and fretting about someone who was curled up and, she thought, possibly dead in the middle of the green.

It was about this time that I wanted to walk down to Bush Hall so we could start queuing, but Yazzle Dazzle was really quite concerned about this corpse chap and was looking around for a policeman she could alert. Unfortunately, like buses, none were about when you needed one. I insisted that it was just an old drunk passed out from too much booze, but she argued that even if that was the case he could choke on his own vomit if he was unconscious. I countered by noting that he'd rather intelligently passed out in the recovery position (possibly as a result of a previous experience) and we really should be making a move. She was undeterred, however.

That being the case, to ease her concerns I huffed a bit and said if it would make her hurry up I'd walk over with her so she could poke him with a stick or something. Marcosy giggled and continued eating his Zinger burger on the bench while I stomped over to the centre of the green with the concerned Yazzle Dazzle. When we got within about five metres of the wino I stopped and refused to go any further because a) I didn't want to go anywhere near a dead person, if he was in fact dead, and b) didn't want to get too close incase he was still with us and decided to hurl himself at us like a startled raccoon as we loomed over him. Yazzle Dazzle looked at me in a somewhat disgruntled fashion and tentatively stepped closer.

After about 30 seconds of scrunching up her nose and peering down at him she scurried back to me. "He's snoring," she said. I rolled my eyes, gestured towards a couple of kids sprawled out on a bench, and asked if she wanted to go check them for a pulse too, or could we please just get to the venue? She shouted "RUDE!" at me, and after collecting Marcosy we headed off to Bush Hall.

So, Joseph Arthur - there's a musician with no pretenses. He and his band, The Lonely Astronauts, strolled genially past us while we were queuing rather than jump out of a car and scurry in without acknowledging us civilians, and then about half an hour after we'd gotten inside - and with no support act - he ambled out onto the stage alone and just started playing his guitar. And it. Was. Awesome. He did that cool thing where he played something, recorded it, then looped it back (I think it's officially referred to as 'that cool loopy thing') so by the time the song was reaching its end it sounded like he had a full band up there with him.

Here's Joseph Arthur doing the weird-but-awesome loopy thing.

After about five or six songs playing solo The Lonely Astronauts joined him on stage, and the gig was kicked up a notch. Seriously, I actually couldn't quite believe how much noise four people could make - and by 'noise' I mean 'really fantastic music.'

Marcosy disagreed, but I thought the bass player, Sibyl Buck, looked a bit like Angelina Jolie dancing the robot. She was very cool.

About halfway through the gig they off-handedly mentioned that they were recording the gig and we could buy it on CD when it finished (according to wiki Joseph Arthur does this at every show). I decided I was definitely going to buy one, but we had about two or three encores to go before the show was over, so I kicked back and enjoyed it.

When the show did finish, I headed out to the merchandise table. Note the word 'table' there rather than 'stand' - it gives an indication of exactly how small Bush Hall is. I would use the word intimate, but seeing as the initial reasoning behind going to this gig was so Marcosy could check out the building I think it might infer a level of inappropriateness. Anyway, as I was hanging out there the bass player, Sibyl Buck walked past me and stood behind the table. Then, before I knew it, Joseph Arthur appeared with a guitar, took up a position beside her, and started playing some more songs while the gig CDs were being burnt. It was a really rather wonderful and (OK, I'm going to use it here) intimate moment.

Here's Joseph Arthur playing some tunes at the merchandise table. Yazzle Dazzle is the pixilated figure on the stairs; she was most surprised to come down from a brief sojourn to the balcony to find this going on. I've pixilated her to protect her identity as a botherer of unconscious alcoholics.

I think he played about three songs, and while he was doing so batches of the gig CDs started filtering down. I bought mine off Sibyl. It was a simple affair - two CDRs in a white CD envelope - but a fitting reminder off a fantastic evening. Oh, and did I mention that Joseph Arthur personalised it for me with his autograph and a sketch?

Cool huh? I scanned it in to use as the cover art in my iTunes library! Unfortunately, at the moment no tracklisting is available for the gig, so apart from 'Honey and the Moon,' which I know, all the songs are merely listed in my iTunes as Track 01, Track 02, etc. Let me tell you, though, Track 07 is bloody amazing; I've had it on repeat since Friday morning and it makes me well-up a bit. Just a bit, though, because I'm well 'ard.

Of course Yazzle Dazzle had to go one better by getting all of the band to sign hers. RUDE. I think she was flirting with the drummer as well. Actually, Joseph Arthur was doing a lot of personalising; posters, CDs, people's arms … he clearly has a lot of time for his fans. And he can count me as one of them now: I went into Bush Hall knowing two of his songs and came out wanting to buy his entire back catalogue and wondering when he would be playing London again.

I recommend you catch him if you can.


Some enterprising person has uploaded one of the merch table songs to youtube. I was standing just to the right of this mysterious stranger and I think that's my hand you can see waving a £10 note at Sibyl around the 1:16 mark. I salute you, mysterious stranger - nice video!

*Porno!? WTF!!!


Inexplicable DeVice said...

Lawks! First, and all that!

Bush Hall interior looks like a small stately home. Mmmm... Opulent.

All this yoga, badders and running probably means you're fitter than ever, hmm?

* resolves to schedule in some quality stalking time *

CyberPete said...

It all sounds pretty kool.

I love the gig cd idea.

CyberPete said...

Sibyl is quite pretty isn't she.

watch*paint*dry*news said...

I love Joseph Arthur. I didn't know he was playing. Bah!

Wv: theakem.
oh all right then!

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Bush Hall is lovely. I think it's my new favourite gig venue … and yes, I am probably at my buffest at the moment. Don't go changing your schedule on my account though, please. No, really. DON'T.

Cyberpete - Yeah, I've been to a view gigs where they do CDs like that. It's a great souvenir - and obviously a bit of a cash cow for the artist!

And yes she is!!

Watch*Paint*Dry - Do you!? Dude, I didn't know!! You couldn't have come, though - that was your special night! Which reminds me - must sort out a time to come and be all arty!

The Tall Red Head said...

How rude of the YouTuber not to cover Yazzel's face as well! I hope she has been safe from all the drunks she has lurked over while checking them for signs of life.

Tara said...

You had me at badminton. That sounds really cool.

I just did a mental yoga session and sent an email to a guy expressing myself to him (I've had a crush on him since it seems forever). I'm kicking myself and rewarding myself at the same time. Yikes. (biting my nails to death).

Emma said...

Mmm, I've been thinking I should expand my musical tastes a bit further than my limited CD collection. And debating whether to take the plunge and buy an ipod or MP3? Which is best do you think?

Of course, we can see Yazzy Que quite clearly in the YouTube video. Lets hope she doesn't get stalked by any bothered Shepherd Bush green zombies.

missyandchrissy said...

what a fun evening! i think 'poking sleeping winos with a stick' is going to be my newe favorite park activity.

Tim said...

The Tall Red Head - I know! Mind you, if she's that worried she should really pixelate her own face permanently.

Tara - *Gasp!* Oh, good for you Tara!! Fingers crossed for you!!!

Emma - Ooo, get an iPod Nano - they're wonderful, easy to use devices without all the bells and whistles of the iPod Touch. There'll be new ones out in September, and apparently they're going to have cameras in too, so if you can wait till then I'd recommend that. I'll put together a list of bands and artists you should check out, too, if you'd like?

MissyandChrissy - Do it! But make sure you run away quickly!

CyberPete said...

I only wish Kylie would do that but I suppose she doesn't need the cash.

It really is a great idea and singing while they made the CDs was ace. I suppose that's sort of like singing for your supper.

Tim said...

Not only that, but I think it shows a genuine respect and affection for your fans, something that is lacking with some acts, I think.

As for Kylie, aren't here shows more a combination of music and visuals? What you want there is an on-the-spot DVD…

CyberPete said...

An on the spot DVD. That would be very ambitious but pretty kool. I'd settle for the audio though.