Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Wishing Well- The Half Moon Putney

      I ventured south of the river for the most special of gigs last Thursday night. A good friend of mine has been touring Europe for the last 4 months with Australian band, The Wishing Well and they finally landed in London town. Joe Edwards is almost single handily responsible for me surviving my cruise ship contract a year ago. Anyone that has worked on a ship knows that you need a person to keep you sane. Joe was my person. While I was working in the duo, Joe was entertaining guests as a guitar vocalist. He may look like the perfect gentlemen but he’s a mean guitarist and it turns out, a shit hot drummer as well.

The venue, The Half Moon is a charming pub on the corner of Lower Richmond road in Putney, with a live music room with decades of music tradition. It wasn't a particularly busy night in the bar/restaurant area but I found the bar staff particularly friendly and attentive. The burgers were done on the BBQ and were really good. Both food and drink we’re reasonably priced. The Half moon host live music most nights of the week and is definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

9.30pm: Punters were called to the music room and the show began. The Wishing Well are a wonderfully international band,originally hailing from the land down under. They now feature musicians from Oz, Estonia, Romania and good ole Blighty. When they are not gracing the stages of European venues and festivals, The Wishing Well can be found on the streets of the world busking for passer byers. Don’t be fooled by their humble demeanor. The Wishing Well are no small fish. They have independently released 2 albums and have sold over 26,000 C.D’s. The sound is folky, rocky and luscious. Visually there is something mystical about this band. Maybe it’s the outfits. It’s amazing what a corset and a ruffled shirt can do.

The mystical feeling intensifies when they begin to play. This band feel like a family and the audience felt invited in by their stories and tales of their tour so far. They are almost always on tour and have played over 5000 gigs in the 5 years since forming. This line up have been living, eating and playing together continuously throughout their 2013 tour and you can feel the bond they have (described to me as slightly incestuous but that’s another story). I enjoyed that each musician had atleast one song in which they had their time to shine and all solo’s came without a show-off attitude but felt rich and almost emotional. I found myself watching Joe’s drum solo with a tear in my eye thinking “Oh my god! You’re an f’ing drummer”. I liked how Jai, the lead singer and guitarist, watched each musician play with the pride of a father watching his child being born. Strange analogy I know, but I really couldn't describe it another way. He explained how he felt that songs had a life. A birth, perhaps a rebellious adolescence and it matures into adulthood. I think the whole room felt this when they performed "Haunted life". This was my favourite track of the night and saw Violinist Azita rip the stage apart as she bounced through the song with such passion and authority. An absolute pleasure to watch. The band have a great dynamic. Jai’s strong vocals were complimented beautifully by the angelic voice of pianist Maria. The presence of the Viola, Violin and Cello are undoubtedly impressive and bring the essence of the band together. The orchestral tones of the songs really draw the audience in to an almost spellbinding state.  The songs arrangements are epic, taking us all on a journey. The story telling techniques mirror those of an old gypsy tale. This was particularly true in “Cease fire”. I really loved this song. The intro from Cellist Natasha made me feel like we should have been gathered around a fire in a forest. There's an intense crescendo in the song that force the audience to emote. The performance throughout the set felt really genuine. There is something about this band that made me want to throw on a corset, grab a fiddle and join the party. 

The pictures are courtesy of their very own photographer/ sound guy Sam James- Griffiths. He has taken some really cool shots throughout the tour. Here are a few more of my favourites.

The Wishing Well have 2 U.K dates left this year, both in Dorset before they move on to Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Belgium. Check out their website, Facebook page and YouTube channel for dates, videos and more info. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Thank Funk it’s Friday: The Blues kitchen Camden

Since joining the 9 to 5 world a few months ago (actually it’s 8.30am-5.30pm but who’s counting?), I have come to understand the essence of the Friday feeling and why my facebook news feed is littered with “TGIF” statuses from 7am on a Friday morning. Quite frankly there isn’t much more exciting than after- work plans on a Friday evening. I have once or twice found myself skipping out of the office like a kid in a playground on the last day of term. It’s bliss. Last Friday, my good friend Annie and I headed down to The Blues Kitchen on Camden High Street to get our weekend off to a swinging start.

This bar-diner host live music every night of the week and it draws a crowd in consistently. The weekends are particularly busy; I would recommend booking a table should you want dinner. And you should want dinner because the food is fab. It’s an American diner style kitchen with a great selection of burgers and barbeque foods. Fail proof. The menu is physically big enough to shelter a small family from a storm. The bar is small but has a cool vibe. It brings in a real mix. The dress code says “casual” but there is the usual Camden mix of converse's and platforms. The bar staff look like they would hang out here even if they weren't obliged. I wished maybe a few more of them were obliged to be here on this particular Friday evening because it sometimes felt impossible to get served. Though, this is to be expected in a busy London bar. Prices are on the higher side but again this is to be expected.

The band went on around 10pm and the crowd were ready for them. Friday night is Soul Night and tonight was dedicated to the music of Sly and the family stone. Count me in. I wouldn't necessarily name them in a list of my all-time favourite artists but I have never been one to resist some serious funk, especially when it’s live. The band were made up of The Blues Kitchen’s resident musicians and they were tight and slick as expected. The singers had soul by the truck load. The female lead did a beautiful rendition of “Que sera sera”. My favourite thing about this band is my favourite thing about watching any good band: they looked like they were loving it. I love seeing the electricity between the musicians, when the keys player gets hyped during the sax solo, or when the guitarist feeds off of the singers rifts. I love it when they love it. And that room was one big mass of loving it. Oh and the drummer was wearing a funky hat. Did it make me want to “Dance to the music”? Yes sir.

All in all, it was a really fun night. I ate, drank and danced my blues away. 

111-113 Camden High St
twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBluesKitchen @TheBluesKitchen

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