Brighton, Lawrence Arabia and The Phoenix Foundation

May was very rich in live music I saw that month. After Sundance London, I took two week holiday. The first week I was in The Phoenix Foundation bliss. The guys came back to tour the UK and Europe to promote their new album, Fandango and for me seeing my favourite band from New Zealand just once is not enough.

On Monday May 13th, I went to Brighton to see them at Audio. I went early to spend all day in town, because I hadn’t been there yet. Brighton is very close to London and train tickets are very cheap if bought in advance, so I don’t know why I waited so long. I guess I needed an excuse and the concert was the best one.

From the distance, the Clocktower looked like if it was covered with feathers. When you got closer, you could see that they were shirts being moved by the wind.

I took my new little camera for this trip to save space in my backpack (I stayed over night at a hostel and I didn’t want to carry too much all day). I also didn’t know how long my new camera’s battery would last, so after taking photos through out the day, I was able to record just four or five songs in the evening. Mostly they were of supporting act, Lawrence Arabia.

If you don’t know yet, that I have created and run a fansite about The Phoenix Foundation, this is the best time to reveal it to you, because I’ve already written about their Brighton concert and posted my videos over there. So, if you’re interested in more details about the show, here they are. A few awesome things happened that evening (apart from seeing the guys again after two years and giving them a hug and hearing the new material live): meeting their new drummer, Chris and hearing my name and the name of my website being said by Sam from the stage. What a surreal feeling! On the next day, I find a review of the show in The Guardian with a link to my website! This is serious…

On Tuesday, I continued my TPF marathon. I took my sister and her boyfriend and we saw the band at Electric Ballroom in London, which was I think the best concert of the Phoenixes I’ve seen so far. More about it on my website. On Wednesday, the band had a short set at Rough Trade East music store in the afternoon. Videos here. I was saving my camera this time, because I knew that Sam, Luke and Chris would go in the evening to Lawrence Arabia’s concert at Sebright Arms to help his friend. I was happy I could capture some of the unique moments, like Luke’s first time playing Early Kneecappings on bass guitar or Sam rapping his Dalston Junction song. It’s all here.

In my original plans, I was thinking of following them to Bristol, but then I thought it would be too much. James (Lawrence Arabia) was tempting me having a bit of a laugh at me, but Sam promised they wouldn’t play anything that I hadn’t heard at least three times. I calmed them down that it was the last time they saw me on that tour and I would be flying to Poland next day.

And so I did. I spent the following week at my home looking after my cats while my parents went to a holiday resort by the sea.

Lawrence Arabia at The Lexington

One week later, on September 12th, I found myself surrounded by hipsters at Lawrence Arabia’s gig at The Lexington. Almost everyone was wearing black thick rimmed glasses, some kind of vintage clothes and almost all guys had beards. What a funny feeling.

Lawrence Arabia was promoting his last album, The Sparrow, but the setlist included songs from his earlier albums as well as other projects. It was amazing to hear The Listening Times next to Reduction Agents’ The Pool, the song which Taika Waititi used in his first feature film, Eagle vs Shark. When they came back for the encore, as soon as I thought, ‘I wish I could hear Apple Pie Bed’, I heard the first beats of the song! They read my mind! 😉

James performed together with two band members, Ryan McPhun on drums and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Keoghan. Obviously, I had a great time listening to Mr Milne’s witty songs and catchy tunes.

After the concert, I came up to say hello and check if he remembered me, because I met James before. I doubted he would and quite rightly, because he didn’t. How different the situation turned this year, when I went to see The Phoenix Foundation and he was supporting them during their UK tour! Not that I made such an impression on him, but he had seen me often enough to remember my face and say hello first, when I went to see his solo show at Sebright Arms in May.

The Phoenix Foundation and Fabulous/Arabia

FRIDAY, 7th October

More and more rugby fans were arraving in Wellington for the Quarter Finals. I checked out from my hostel in the morning, but I chilled out in the launge, then went to the Library. I was waiting for my hosts to come back home from work, so I could leave my bag and go to see The Phoenix Foundation at the Fanzone and later Fabulous/Arabia at Mighty Mighty.

Later that afternoon I got a text from J. they were back. J.&R. are my second CouchSurfing hosts. They’re a young couple living on Mt Cook at the end of upper Cuba Street. She’s a New Zealander a couple years younger than me and he’s from the Netherlands (a very hard accent which my ear had to tune into). R. is in my age. He came for his friends’ wedding over three years ago and met J., found a job and so he’s still here. They’re planning to go to South America next year for a six week holiday.

Wellington is a very small world. R. used to share a flat with The Phoenix Foundation’s manager, Matt and sometimes Dan from The Black Seeds visited their place. 😀

We had pizza for dinner and I rushed to the Rugby Village Fanzone. J.&R. joined me later. I was late, so I missed recording first two songs, “Let Me Die A Woman” and “Bitte Bitte”. The rest is all here. The set was similar to the one from last week but in a different order. And they played “Supernatural” again, which I already love.

The crowd was bigger than the week before and luckily the weather got better, although it was still pretty cold. The guys seemed to enjoy themselves.

After the concert I met up with J.&R. They were tired and decided not to go to the Mighty Mighty with me. They gave me the key to his home and said, I could come back whenever I wanted.

I was early enough at the Mighty Mighty to find a seat. Slowly the bar was filling up with the people from the Fanzone. Going pass the bar, I saw Warner Emery, ex-bass player of The Phoenix Foundation. I was wondering what he was doing now, because I haven’t heard about him for a while. As I found out later, he was a supporting act. He got dressed up in a funny suit, wore sunglasses and a witch nose. He played not my type of music, but if you were interested in listening to it, I can still send you the link.

Fabulous/Arabia started playing at around 11:30 p.m. The band consists of Mike Fabulous, who plays the guitar in The Black Seeds (and of course there are many other projects he’s involved in) and Lawrence Arabia whose real name is James Milne. They’ve just released an album, Unlimited Buffet. Mike made music to James’s lyrics and they’re giving just three concerts in New Zealand in Wellington, Auckland and Nelson. The CD is great, but live is even better. It was pretty loud, but I think the recording came out quite well.

I found a video with a song Southern Gentleman from this show.

Some better photos in an awesome photoset on flickr, but not mine. I decided to stay in one place to have a decent sound. I saw there were photographers, so I was hoping some good shots will come up on the internet anyway.

After the concert I talked to Luke from The Phoenix Foundation and then Hayden from the band which had just played, I was introduced to James Milne, saw other guys from TPF, Nige from WIUO and there were probably many more musicians that I wasn’t aware of.

It was already 1:30 a.m. when I left the Mighty Mighty. I didn’t want to be too late at my new hosts’. Besides, it was too much for my fangirl heart.