And then, lo and behold, a load of people I wanted to see popped up and I ended up spending a small fortune on tickets. Somehow all these gigs fell into a short two-week period, and by some miracle of miracles there wasn't any overlap in the dates. We subsequently named this intense period 'MONTH OF GIGS,' as although strictly speaking 'FORTNIGHT OF GIGS' would be technically more correct, it doesn't sound anywhere near as dramatic or exciting.
Anyway, MONTH OF GIGS kicked off this week, with back-to-back concerts on Wednesday and Thursday. First up:
Panic! At the Disco at Shepherds Bush Empire!
I think we all know by now that I'm a huge Panic! fan, and was totally blown away by their performance at Bush Hall back in February. As a result, I was very much looking forward to seeing them again, not least because having now heard their new album, 'Vices and Virtues,' in its entirety many times I'm more familiar with the new stuff, but also because I wanted to see what Yazzle thought of them (she's only seen them play briefly at the Decaydance Festival four years ago).
The evening didn't start amazingly well because we slightly underestimated the need to get in the queue early, and ended up not getting out traditional level one balcony front row seats, instead having to go four rows back. But, as Yazzle pointed out, everything happens for a reason, and that reason swiftly became apparent when someone on the level two balcony emptied a pint of beer over the people in our usual seats. That near miss aside, our new seats still afforded us a fine view of the stage.
And how was Panic! this time round, you ask? Quite simply: awesome. As I noted in my write-up of the Bush Hall gig, lead singer Brendon Urie really seems to have upped his game since I saw them back in 2008; his voice is utterly phenomenal, and his onstage performance is a sight to behold; unlike the Bush Hall gig, however, our raised vantage point here allowed us to see Urie's dancing in its entirety - and the dude can throw some seriously incredible moves. I even went so far as to tweet after the gig that I consider him to be the "finest frontman performing today."
I read a review the day after that said Panic! is now "basically the Brendon Urie show," and I don't think that's a bad thing; I mean, look how famous frontmen such as Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury have stolen the limelight. But the fact of the matter is that Urie's backed up by a brilliant band who all contributed to make this one of the best gigs I've been to in a long time.
Awesome moment of the night:
During the song 'Memories' Yazzle and I noticed a young couple of boys in the standing section to the left of our seats who were pogo-ing around to the music with ferocious intensity, swept up, it seemed, by everything from the brilliant music to the vibrant atmosphere of the crowd and their love for each other. We were in hysterics just watching them, although the music journalist they kept bumping into while he sternly tried to take notes seemed somewhat less impressed.
As we were leaving after the gig finished, though, who should we bump into but the very same pogo boys! And of course we couldn't help but tell them how we'd enjoyed watching them dance (which fortunately they were pleased to hear rather than thinking it was a bit weird). Bless them, we chatted for a short while before they pogo'd off into the night.
I can't hear 'Memories' now without thinking of them jumping around like loons. Good times.
Joseph Arthur at Bush Hall!
Yazzle and I saw Joseph Arthur play at Bush Hall with his band The Lonely Astronauts two years ago and were so blown away by how good he was that we vowed we'd definitely go and see him again if ever the opportunity arose. And arise it did, with a single London date the day after the Panic gig.
This time, however, Arthur was playing solo, filling the room with sound by doing that incredible laying thing he does where he records guitar parts or harmonies then puts them on a loop. It's amazing to see - and even more so to hear as it genuinely does sound like there's a full band on stage when in fact there's just one dude, and every now and then he's off to the left of stage working on a painting.
I kid you not: Joseph Arthur paints onstage, often while still singing. It's a sight to behold.
It was a mighty fine gig, slightly ruined at one point by some wench who decided she wanted to stand exactly where I was standing without fully appreciating the fact that two people can't actually occupy the same precise point in space. She moved eventually, but only after Yazzle glared at her and said something like "you're in the way of me talking to my friend."
On the plus side, like all Joseph Arthur's gigs, this one was recorded so I got to take home a CD of the entire evening. And because he's such a down-to-Earth personable chap, Joseph Arthur even manned the merch table to sign everyone's CD cover!
Which in turn led me to awkwardly ask if I could have my photo taken with him.
OK, it's a bit of a crappy photo because it was taken using my iPhone which has a bit of a crappy camera, but: PHOTO WITH JOSEPH ARTHUR! Unfortunately, the crappy camera is no excuse for the weird look on my face. And what the hell's going on with my hair?! It had been awesomely bouffy during the day, but appeared to have gone all flat and 1920s by this point.
I always feel like a bit of dick when I meet famous people.
Anyway, another brilliant evening of fine music.
Awkward moment of the night:
During the encore, Joseph Arthur played a beautiful acoustic version of 'Honey and the Moon' without microphones. Even though Bush Hall is really quite small and we were only half way back, we still had to strain to hear it. Unfortunately, midway through the song, I could hear what sounded like music coming from a phone. This went on and on, to the point where I was ready to have a go at someone. And then a lovely young lady tapped me on the arm and said "I think your phone is ringing."
Turns out when I'd checked my phone between Joseph Arthur leaving the stage and coming back for the encore I'd accidentally swiped my hand on the iPod function, and my phone had started playing a Smashing Pumpkins song. I sheepishly pulled it out of my pocket, stopped it, and slid it back in my pocket.
At which point I did it again.
This time I swore, smiled at nice lady, and hastily turned my phone OFF.
Next time on MONTH OF GIGS: a singer I've been waiting to see live for *YEARS* and a band of Californian rockers!