Xenia Lubinos. The Louisiana, Bristol.
Random ticket purchase chosen because I want to support female artists where I can. Venue I’ve only been to once before, above a pub near the harbour.
With limited evenings when I can get out to gigs, this one was chosen because it fell on the right date, wasn’t expensive as I want to support female musicians as much as I can. So I went in without expectation to hear & discover new music.
I knew things would be good when Big Jeff appeared, who assured me that Xenia was going to be bouncy (I like bouncy). Support was from the excellent Lady Nade, who I saw a gazillion years ago playing in Stokes Croft. She has a distinctive, soulful voice so things were off to a good start.
Xenia and her band came on. With presence, attitude & a melee of sounds. When the drummer has an effects board and a computer with big coloured buttons you know things are going to take on a different sonic shape. Within a few songs she was down in the crowd, grooving and creating an atmosphere of playfulness. Lyrically the songs go deep, while the beats do the same in a different way. For all the dancing & smiling there were points to be made; “how do you spell angry brown girl?” It was a heady mix and the crowd were lapping it up, moving with the off beats and responding to the energy on stage. Towards the end there was a wonderful moment when Xenia shook lose her hair and moshed into Jeff, the 2 of them shaking and shimmying at each other.
This was a charged and electric little gig given by multi talented musicians determined to make us move and think. They succeeded.
14 down. 26 to go.
Winter Mountain. The Lantern, Colston Hall, Bristol
A random pick from the Colston Hall flyer based on the name of the band in the little venue that is fast becoming my second home.
I saw the name of this band and thought I’d like them. Winter Mountain. Sounds kinda alt country I thought. The blurb seemed to back this up, electric folk, so I went ahead and got myself a ticket. After gigs 10 & 12 I needed something a little more ‘standard’ as things were getting really quite left field, so all I was hoping for was some guitar and some singing.
The support/joint headliner was Brooke Sharkey, who possesses a wonderful voice and whose songs blend both her native languages of English & French to paint pictures of landscapes in song. So far, so normal.
Winter Mountain did not disappoint on pretty much any score. There were guitars. There was singing. It was rockier than I was expecting, but that’s no bad thing. Joe played a mixture of quieter, more reflective songs alone & acoustic and louder, more rocked out tunes with the rest of his band. I loved it all. The solo acoustic songs were heartfelt & lovely. The full band songs were no less emotional, they just hid the bits that made me cry underneath the guitar riffs. It was a small, older crowd and we were seated (the Lantern can be standing or seated) which made the atmosphere slightly weird – I wanted to get up and move and couldn’t!
A few of the songs really moved me, when Joe introduced the theme of the most recent album and played Open Heart I welled up. The song he wrote for his little sister ditto, the sentiment just set me off. Themes of loss, belonging & rebuilding a life when things veer off course resonate with me. He has a lovely voice (his quiet, polite speaking voice belying the power he sings with) of the type that just cuts into me.
This was gig 13, for some an unlucky number. I felt it lucky tonight. I walked home with a gurt big smile plastered on me face.
13 down. 27 to go.
Manu Delago. The Lantern, Bristol.
Master of the hang. First venue to get a third trip.
Big Jeff was there and as every Bristol music fan knows, that’s a sign it will be a good gig. “This will be a special gig” he said. He wasn’t wrong.
When I saw Evelyn Glennie (gig 4 – keep up!) play the hang I fell in love with the sound of it, so as soon as I saw this gig, I knew I had to go. It’s an unusual and beautiful instrument that can be loud, soft, gentle, violent or lots of other things depending on how it is struck. Manu doesn’t just play the hang. He plays 3 hangs. At once. Which is quite astonishing. And he produces the most beautiful, inventive & lovely sounds.
He had with him a singer/violinist/vocalist/something else player (no idea what it is called, it looked like an Ikea lamp hack) and a percussionist/timpani player who were both just as creative and inspiring to hear. Together they played some beautifully weird music – one song was about sending a blank postcard from a mountain with its tongue sticking out (I think) and another an 18th Century physician, after whom the word mesmerizing is named. The relationship between the three of them was gorgeous to watch, towards the end they played a piece where they were feeding off each other like jazz musicians would – trying to top and outdo each other with the sheer physicality of their playing. It was serene, trippy and well, lush. It was undeniably odd, but it revelled in its eccentricity and made virtue of it. I, of course, loved it.
For the encore they played toothbrushes. They turned brushing their teeth into music. Into art. And I thought Daniel Lanois was strange! I do seem to be picking some eclectic and unusual gigs. Discovering new music, being open to new sounds, was all part of this for me. Embracing music, and indeed life, in all its wide and beautiful manifestations, is very much what 40 gigs is about.
12 down. 28 to go.