Lincoln and Newark, Lincolnshire

I got stuck. It’s taken me ages to finish this post! I get the urge to write something more often, but then I get busy, distracted by other things, hence the delay. I wish I had more time, but one has to earn money and live a little… Still, one year delay is pretty shameful… I’ll just humbly proceed with the posts…

I was getting itchy feet again and in October (last year, of course, lol) my usual English co-traveller contacted me asking if and where I would like to go to next. The way we made the choice was quite spooky. I just finished watching Simon Schama’s ‘The Story of Jews’ where in one episode he talked about the story of the Jewish community in Lincoln and I THOUGHT, ‘I wish I went there’. In the next message from my friend she asked me, ‘How about Lincoln?’ Whoa! Mind reader!

So the first weekend of November we went to Lincoln and Newark nearby.

It was easier and more economical for me to go to Lincoln by train, meet my friends there, who came by car and continue the trip together. I left sunny King’s Cross & St Pancras behind, had a change at Nottingham to more crowded and non air-conditioned train (felt like being back in Poland), passed Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station with gigantic chimneys which looked like the ones used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and finally arrived in Lincoln after midday. Saturday was wet. Frequent showers ‘forced’ us to frequent visits to second hand bookshops and tea rooms on the way up the hill where the Cathedral and Castle were. One of them was Jewish House, where I bought Gombrich’s “The Story of Art” for £2.50!

Entry to the Cathedral was paid and the Castle ‘next door’ was already closed, because it was off season, so we decided to eat dinner by Brayford Pool, bought some cheese and wine, because on the next day was my Name Day and head to our hostel to have a rest. After taking shower, we enjoyed wine while watching 50 Years of National Theatre Live on BBC2.

On Sunday the weather was much better. We strolled familiar streets and went up the hill again. We visited the Castle. The ticket was very cheap, only £2 to enter Castle Square. The Castle itself was closed, because of the renovations. We could go inside only with a guided tour which was in an hour, but we didn’t want to wait. The view on the Cathedral from the wall was a disappointment. One side was blocked with rubbish and the tower with the best view was closed to the visitors without the guide.

Good thing we managed to go into the Cathedral for free, because it was right after the Sunday Mass. The highlight of this trip for me was to see one of the copies of Magna Carta from 1215 signed by King John.

After having one foot long hot dogs, we went to Newark, a small town with a lovely square and castle ruins. When we walked around the town, I had a bizarre feeling, because I didn’t hear any English, just Polish absolutely everywhere! I felt that my friends were only English in town. It wasn’t a complete truth, but seriously, it was too much.

In the evening my friends left and I waited in a pub for my train back to London.

That was on 2-3 November, 2013.

Peter Gabriel – Back to Front tour at O2 Arena

Last weekend I went to a concert and it reminded me how far behind I am with my blog.

So, back to October last year, which was pretty busy with concerts.

About one week after I came back from Poland, I went to see a guy who most of you must have heard of, not like the previous shows I wrote about.

I had seen Peter Gabriel years ago in Poland when he was promoting ‘UP’. The concert was on a comparatively small stage, so the possibilities of special effects were limited and I left the show not completely satisfied. After watching Secret World DVD many times, I hoped Peter would come back with a similar show some day. Back to Front wasn’t as theatrical as Secret World, but never the less, spectacular.

The show was divided into three parts. The first one was acoustic with full lights on on stage and the audience. Some people between the songs were yelling to turn them off, as if they didn’t want to understand that it was part of the show. Then, in the middle of one of the songs (I’m not going to give away which one, because Peter is coming back with the show this year and I don’t want to spoil it for you), the lights went off and the second part started, ‘savory’, ‘main dish’ as Peter called it. The transition from one part to the other gave me shivers and ‘wow’ moment. Third part was a ‘dessert’ – full album SO live from beginning to the last song. We all knew the order of the songs on the album and I had thought it would be boring, but actually we had so much fun waiting for the first notes of the next songs. Before Sledgehammer, we even started singing them and then the band joined us.

I recorded some footage, but the quality isn’t the best, because I was far away from the stage and my camera struggled with getting the focus, so here’s only one song I’ve uploaded.

It’s amazing how great effects they could create using lights on those cranes. YouTube is full of films from the whole tour, but I wanted to post here my all time favourite song of Peter.

Thanks to my sister who bought me ‘Encore’ album, which is a complete show recorded live off the soundboard, I can re-live the concert any time.

22 October, 2013

The Guitar Festival in Szczytno, Poland

Initially, I was supposed to come back to London on Saturday. I even had a plane ticket. But my friend, who is a musician and was about to release his debut album, said that he was going to have an album release concert on that Saturday as part of the Guitar Festival in our home town. Luckily, Ryanair came through, because they changed the airport I was to depart from, so I cancelled my ticket, got my money back and then bought a new ticket for Sunday. And so, right after seeing Poluzjanci in Warsaw on Friday, the next day we were all three in a car to Szczytno.

We came late to the concert, so they gave us the seats in the front row.
fotograf
Photo by Marek Zawrotny. See more photos from that evening.

We were right on time for my friend to take the stage. The blue light was a killer to my camera, so sometimes you barely see him, but I hope you’ll enjoy his music. If you do, you can buy his whole album from his website.


One very annoying thing was, and I can even hear it in those videos, that the official photographer was allowed to take photos through out the whole concert and it was so distracting. Not only the noise of the shutter, but he was walking from one side to the other and if you were sitting in the first front rows, he was destroying the whole atmosphere. A big fail.

My friend wasn’t the only one who played that evening. He also invited a very promising young guitarist, Piotr Szumlas…

…and the star of the evening, Jon Gomm! It was his only concert in Poland and I couldn’t believe he came to our little town. I saw that that my other friend was recording official videos, so didn’t film anything from Jon’s performance. Unfortunately, nothing has been posted online from that show since then, so here’s a video from Gomm’s YouTube channel, a song he performed in Szczytno and is available on his new CD, which he was selling weeks before its release in the UK.

My sister’s boyfriend loved his performance so much that he went straight after it to buy the CD. That was a pretty good score – out of three shows we went together, he liked two. My sis liked them all.

On Sunday morning my tour ended when I went back to London to my regular ordered days.

12 October

Poluzjanci at Palladium, Warszawa

Polucjanci, Palladium

Poluzjanci were one of my favourite Polish bands back in my twenties, but I hadn’t had the chance to see them live when I was still in Poland. What a great coincidence that was, when I saw they were performing just two days after Dylan and in the same place as him. Again, I went with my sister and her boyfriend. Poluzjanci’s songs are mostly about love and all that romantic stuff, so me and my sis loved the show while for B. there was too much sugar and he couldn’t wait until the concert was over. He couldn’t stand the vocalist (who was pretty handsome) and he hated him even more when my sister told B. he sometimes looked like him. LOL.

After the concert, Jola said she finally got the sense of living in Warsaw. This was a cool place to be and we were cool, because we were there. We were sitting in the 3rd row, behind us there was sitting Tatiana Okupnik, an ex-vocalist of Blue Cafe, another cool Polish band (by the way, my ex-housemate said she used to be in his old band as well) and she sits on the Polish X Factor jury and just a few seats to the centre, there was sitting Aleksandra Kwasniewska, the daughter of ex-President of Poland. She’s actually the vocalist’s wife, so her presence was justified.

Enough about the audience and gossips. Back to what was happening on stage. Poluzjanci played a lot of new songs, but I was waiting for the ones from their first album, which I love the most. Sorry they’re in Polish, but I hope you’ll enjoy them anyway.

One of the fun moments was, when at one point, the drummer sat down behind a mini drum kit and the bass player took out a home made bass guitar. How it sounded, you can check out in this video.

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As I had said, I liked the concert and it was worth the wait. But it wasn’t the only thing I was enjoying that weekend that I had to wait for quite a few years… t.b.c.

11 October, 2013

Warsaw / Warszawa, Poland

A month after my last post, I’m writing about what happened on the next day. The fact that I’m back blogging is a good sign, because since February I didn’t have a week when I didn’t stress out over anything. Now my days have settled down and I can finally catch up on my Internet stuff.

Just recently, I came up with this idea to see the capitals of Europe. I don’t know how I’m going to do that, whether it’s going to be one trip through Europe or if I should divide Europe into parts and see them in a few tours or take plenty of 2-3 day trips, every time to a different city. I’ll have to do some research.

In the meantime, I can already tick the capital of Poland off. Even though I had lived there for 8 years, every time I visit it now, I see the city in a different way. I miss Warsaw, but I think I miss it from my student years. The capital keeps changing and yet it saves its own character. My regular place I usually go to is E. Wedel’s Chocolate Lounges. I haven’t found anything like that here in London. It’s a great place to meet up and catch up with friends while having a wide variety of thick hot chocolate to drink. And this is what I did on the next day afternoon and then in the evening we took a stroll along Krakowskie Przedmiescie and Old Town. I noticed there were many milkbars with cheap, but very delicious home-made food – something I was missing years ago.

On Friday, the weather was beautiful and perfect to admire famous golden Polish autumn in The Park and Palace of King Jan III’s at Wilanów. Before the sunset, my sister and me headed to Praga quarter to have dinner at my friend’s restaurant Himalayamomo which specializes in Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine and then we went to the city centre, to the very same venue as two days before to see another concert… t.b.c.

10-11 October, 2013

Yeah, Yeah – Dylan Moran at Palladium, Warszawa

My apologies for this longer break: first the trip to Israel in February, then soon after that an emergency trip to Poland in family matters and now I’ve just taken up a third job, so not much time for life and posting about it.

My last entry was about how sick I was at Fat Freddy’s Drop concert. I lost about 3 kg during that time, but don’t worry, got them back when I felt better. I had to get back to form pretty quickly. The concert was on Saturday and on Wednesday the week after I flew to Poland to see Dylan Moran and go to two other concerts and all that I was to do in four days.

Wait… going to Poland to see an Irish comedian? Wouldn’t it be easier to see him in London or Ireland (he actually lives in Scotland)? Well, no, because he was touring Europe outside of the UK.

Since I saw his cult comedy show “Black Books”, I really wanted to see Dylan live and as soon as I saw he was coming to Warsaw, I bought tickets for my sister, her boyfriend and myself. That Wednesday was a crazy day. I worked from 5 to 9am in my shop, then went straight to the Luton airport to catch my plane to Warsaw. No delays there, luckily, so I landed at 5:40pm. Dylan’s show was at 7:30pm in the city centre. Plan A was, that first I would go to my sister’s, leave luggage and go together to the show, but she missed the last bus to the airport to pick me up (public transport in Warsaw is not that easy as here), I didn’t have any bus to her place, so we decided to meet up at the venue. I got on the next bus to the centre, but just as we managed to reach the first stop, one of the passengers had an epilepsy attack. Don’t get me wrong, I felt for that girl, one of my closest family members suffers from epilepsy, but it sucks when something like that happens when you’re in a hurry. The bus driver called an ambulance, told the rest of us that the course was cancelled, so we all had to wait for the next bus. To cut the story short, I got to the venue about 5-10 minutes before the show started.

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Dylan Moran was absolutely amazing. He quickly got our love when he showed appreciation for coming to see his stand-up, even though he couldn’t speak Polish, apart from few words. Then he made some jokes that Poles like travelling and making coffee in the West and he also showed he knew what was on the recent news in the media (Polish Catholic priest named Michalik blamed children, who didn’t get enough love at home for pushing priests to pedophilia, which was a good joke on its own).

The whole 90 min show was a lough out loud delight. Someone uploaded an audio of the whole thing, so if you find some time, have a listen. Or rather, you must listen!

I was wondering if I could see anyone famous in the audience and I did. There was Hubert Urbanski, a guy who hosts “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” Polish edition. He was much taller than I had thought he was! That was a nice welcome back to Warszawa.

9th October

Fat Freddy’s Drop at O2 Academy Brixton

It was the first weekend of October. That evening was a fail. Not because of the band, but because of my poor health. The band was great, people loved them and the show was sold out, but I was ill.

I don’t often get sick, maybe once every second year, but when I do, I just have to stay in bed for 2-3 days, because I don’t have enough strength to get up. On Friday I didn’t feel well and didn’t eat much. I tried to stay at work as long as I could, but when I started getting shivers, I thought it was time to leave early and go to bed. I spent whole Saturday in bed without eating hardly anything and I felt weak. But at the back of my mind I remembered I had a ticket to a concert that evening bought in summer and it cost me over £20, so it would be a great waste if I didn’t use it. Going to a crowded venue was the last thing I needed, so I thought that if I manage to go, maybe I’ll be able to sell the ticket and go back to bed.

So I did get up from bed, went to Brixton and once I got there, I thought I felt well enough to go inside. I managed to listen to the concert just for half an hour, because the crowd, the smell of sweat and smoked pot, loud music and flicking lights made me feel sick and weak again that if I stayed there any minute longer I’d faint. The fresh air outside woke me up. I decided not to torture myself going back inside and just went home.

Sorry, Fat Freddy’s Drop fans. I really wanted to film a full song, but I struggled to stand at all. Besides, the music was very loud so I’m not sure if my camera would bear it. Someone posted over 30 minute footage, so you can see how it was. The guys were great, but I was too sick to enjoy it. Here are just some screencaps from short videos I recorded.

FFD are playing at Alexandra Palace in October. It’s pretty far north from me, but who knows where I’ll be living by then? My housemates are expecting a baby and are looking for a house to buy. Changes… life…

Simon Schama at Queen Elizabeth Hall

This is something absolutely not related with New Zealand, but it’s got a lot to do with my next longer than weekend trip.

The event I attended wasn’t a concert.

A variety!

When I studied English philology back in Poland a few years ago, Simon Schama’s ‘History of Britain’ BBC series was very helpful in finishing the course with the top mark. In one of the Southbank Centre newsletters, I saw that he was going to have a talk on 25th September about his latest book, ‘The Story of the Jews’ as part of Southbank Centre Literature Autumn Season 2013. I also did a research and found out that he did another tv series for the BBC under the same title as his new book (the programme is already on DVD). Luckily, all the episodes were still available on the BBC iPlayer and I was able to catch up on the series before I went to see the author himself.

The talk was very interesting, informative, often entertaining, because Mr Schama knows many Jewish anecdotes. I really enjoyed that change in my going out habits.

The BBC series was amazing, touching and listening to Simon Schama very enjoyable. Soon after that I watched a very so called ‘provocative’ but for me very brave, inspired by actual events Polish film called Aftermath at the Raindance Film Festival on 30th September. The film tells a story of a man who discovers that his parents and the rest of the older generation of the villagers are responsible for mass murder of their Jewish neighbours during the World War 2. Poland is generally antisemitic and the actor who played the main character had a really hard time during the interviews. People were writing horrible things about him on the Internet, but he stood tall and it all made me admire and love him even more after that.

Anyway, I used to study theology (years ago!) and always hoped to visit the places I read about in the Bible. All this woke up my old interest in Jews and the desire to go to Israel ‘some day’. So, since I’m doing ok with my saving money to go back to New Zealand plan, and I’m still working and can save even more, why not go now? It’s always closer from here than from NZ. I got in touch with an organization from Poland which I knew from my Theological Seminary years and learned that their next tour was planned in February and the deadline to book the tour with them was in October! I didn’t want to go alone this time for safety reasons, of course.

When I was booking my place, I thought impatiently how long I would have to wait until my holiday comes and I can’t believe that this time NEXT WEEK I’ll be already going to the airport to meet the rest of the group and fly together to Tel Aviv!

headphones on and off

I didn’t have my camera with me, so I tried to take a photo of the rainbow over the East side of London on my phone. I also wanted to test how it films (poor quality as you can see). At the same time I was listening to music on my headphones. How surprised and shocked I was later when I watched and heard what I had recorded!

September 2013

Connan Mockasin at Village Underground

I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and New Year holiday. It does look it’s almost over, because the trains are getting busier and the life pace goes back to normal.

I’ll come back to my holidays later. First, I want to catch up on last events from 2013 and a concert in September.

Usually, if I enjoy a concert, I want to discover more about the artist, buy the albums I haven’t bought yet and listen to their music quite often after the show. It wasn’t like that after the last show of Connan Mockasin. I still haven’t bought his last album, which was released in November and critics love it and I haven’t come back to listening to his first album. I didn’t want to start this year with a negative post and I don’t usually complain about NZ artists. I rather adore them, but this time I was pretty disappointed and still feel put off when I think of that evening.

After seeing Connan Mockasin playing with Charlotte Gainsbourgh last year, I was looking forward to having a chance to see Connan’s own show and as soon as it was announced, I bought the ticket, which was I think early summer. In the meantime, a 16 year old artist from New Zealand called Lorde became a shooting star and announced her first and only show in a small club in London on the very same day as Connan’s, 18th September. My thinking was that since I had already bought the ticket to Connan and Lorde was just starting her career, then there should be more opportunities to see her another time. I stuck with Connan Mockasin.

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The supporting band, Connan’s band member Rory McCarthy’s was great, then there was a DJ set for about 40 minutes. Connan was supposed to play from 9:45 to 11pm. He was 15 min late. He played great, although I was expecting him to play more from his coming album to promote it, but he just did the first single, ‘I’m The Man That Will Find You’ and the rest 25 min were songs from his debut album, ‘Please, Turn Me Into The Snat’.

After playing just for half an hour, he said he had to finish, because of the curfew, which was at 11, but he announced this already at about 10:30. People started shouting, ‘What?!’, ‘No!’, ‘You were late!’, ‘F*ck off!’, but he pointed to his wrist (not sure if he had a watch, because clearly he didn’t know what time it was), played one more song and left the stage. No one left the venue, at first some people were clapping and cheering as you usually do when you wait for an encore but not with great enthusiasm. Everyone was just waiting, talking to each other and expecting him to come back, because it was just bullsh*t. And he did after maybe 4 min, played a veeeery long version of ‘Forever Dolphin Love’, but not long enough, because when he finished, there was still about 5 min left till 11 and he wasn’t sure if he should start playing one more song or just talk to us. I thought it would be the waste of my time if I stayed there any minute longer and left feeling sorry that I didn’t go to see Lorde in the end. My friend, who saw her that night said, that she played a short set as well, but I would be more understanding to her, because she was just starting.

Connan is playing at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in January. I haven’t bought the ticket yet, because I’m still a little angry with him after the last time. Should I give him a chance? Three times lucky? After all, I still like his music, but I’d hate to be disappointed again.

EDITED to add: