Panorama Bar at Berghain

I had a little trouble sleeping on Friday night and being slightly restless decided to have a look at what was going on around Berlin. Looking up Berlin’s famous warehouse club, Berghain, I saw that German House DJ, Ian Pooley was playing at set at their Panorama Bar that morning (3am). I did a bit more reading about Berghain, hearing about the picky doormen, and the potential one hour queueing, something I didn’t really need on a cold winter’s night. Spurred on by the fact that Berlin’s underground operates 24 hours and I wasn’t getting any sleep, I decided to head out.

My trick was to look as least touristy as possible. Shiny shoes are a no go, and I threw on my most casual/alternative clothes. This wasn’t going to be a polished club like some of the ones you might find yourself in London. Fortunately I didn’t have to worry and it wasn’t long before I paid my EUR10 entrance.

Photos of the place inside are not tolerated whatsoever. Although I could use my phone inside (checking the time, etc) I’d read stories about people trying to take photos and then being grabbed and thrown out. On the Friday night, Berghain pretty much only hosts the Panorama Bar with a dance floor and bar on the top floor of the warehouse looking out. The crowd was great – a mix of alternative, hip and people just there to enjoy themselves. There wasn’t any of the pretentious crowds and everyone seemed very friendly. The sound system was perfect – not too loud to deafen you but loud enough to bring everyone into a good mood. I left the place shortly after Ian Pooley finished his set at about 6am and found myself collapsing into bed just before 7. Berlin is definitely starting to grow on me as a place to live and work.

The Doves Final Show @ The Warehouse Project

Manchester’s been running with The Warehouse Project for the past several years, setting up shop in the arches below Piccadilly Station. Somehow they manage to get an amazing line up of DJs and musical artists playing sets and gigs for almost two months running. I reckon all those up North are pretty lucky.

I’d got a ticket to see The Doves when they first came out as I remember the amazing gig that Al and Suz brought me to back in Brisbane and how totally stunned I was by their awesome sounds. Trying to get a ticket to their gig is nigh impossible without resorting to the touts, so I was pretty stoked to get one to their show in their own home town.

The gig started really late with the support acts not starting until about 11pm at night. Given that most of the other artists were DJ’s I can understand this underground starting time, but I found it a bit strange for a gig. I don’t think The Doves came on until about 1pm, playing a decent set until about 3am in the uber-packed archways.

They played an amazing set although I think the speakers were set just a touch too loud as the ringing in my ears told me the next morning. I think it was also a pretty special set since they won’t be touring in the UK for a final since they needed a bit of a break.

Jack Johnson at the O2

Yes, the picture below is supposed to be Jack Johnson and his band. I tried taking my new lens to get a really good view of the stage but apparently the lens was too big and I wasn’t allowed to bring it inside. Sarah and I had a laugh at trying to take pictures right at the other side of the stadium, with this big blur the end result.

Jack Johnson hasn’t toured for a while, and that was quite evident with the number of false starts and laid back laughs interrupting, his otherwise really fun set. Of course, this laid back attitude is what you’d expect from someone who puts out tunes best suited for lazy afternoons and the sun setting by the beach. I was thinking how cool it would have been if the O2 could actually open their roof up. Given that the weather has been wonderful, this would have been almost the perfect way you could enjoy some of Jack’s riffs.

I guess the main reason he’s touring is to promote his new album, To The Sea, though playing a mix of lots of his old stuff as well. A great way to spend a Wednesday evening in London.

Pearl Jam at Hard Rock Calling

Summertime in London means festival atmosphere and this year, Gerrod got us some tickets to see Pearl Jam at this year’s Hard Rock Calling. Hard Rock Calling fell on the week where we fortunately had plenty of sunshine and, amazingly, no rain. As a result, Hyde Park ended up a bit like a dust bowl with the number of people, evidenced by the black feet by those brave enough to go barefoot or in thongs (i.e. flip flops) and by the stunning sunset that served to only highlight the low hanging haze.

Although it ran most of the day, I didn’t get a day off work for it, so we turned up to see Ben Harper and the headliners, Pearl Jam. They played for a very long time starting early due to the constraints of playing in Hyde Park, finishing up around 10pm. We managed to get fairly close to the stage – probably about a third of the way from the front where we pick up some decent sounds. Even from this distance, we relied on the big screens to work out what was going on. Given that it was summery and Pearl Jam did put on some decent tunes, it was hard not to enjoy yourself.

Here’s Stac, Gerrod and Wes all enjoying the tunes. What a fantastic evening and time. It was great seeing Stac and Wes as well since I hadn’t seen them for ages and, it being hard to see them when they live all the way up in Aberdeen.

Japandroids at the Relentless Garage

I’d read about the Japandroids a while back and since then have been listening to their music for a while and was pretty excited to hear about them coming to London. Their music is edgy, part punk, part rock and absolutely full of energy. Every review that I’d read about these Vancouverites definitely spoke of the great show they put on.

It was last Thursday I went to go see them perform at Islington’s Relentless Garage was a great place for them as well, with a forgettable support act and a pretty happy crowd buzzing around them. What impressed me so much about them was the fact that they put on an amazing sound considering there was just the two of them. They had a laugh, obviously enjoyed performing and the music simply flowed from their. They played all the tracks from their first released album and a number of songs from a number of their earlier EPs.

Brisbane Music Scene

I used to have a weekly ritual when I worked in Brisbane, dropping into Rockinghorse Records (which I’m happy to report is still operating), and picking up the the free music magazines to find out what was going on in the music scene. The magazines were a great way to get insights into new bands and music as well as providing all the listings for the live music events coming up.

As you can see, all of the magazines seem to be doing really well and prospering and they made for some really good reads in the countless cafes dotting Brisbane.

Spoon at the Electric Ballroom

Tuesday proved to be a very wet evening but that didn’t stop me from heading out to Camden’s Electric Ballroom to watch American Indie band, Spoon. They’ve got plenty of albums and although they never really hit the mainstream, they certainly had enough fans to fill out the Electric Ballroom. When listening to some of their albums, I recognised a few of their songs, although by far probably the most popular is, The Way We Get By off their Kill The Moonlight album.

They were supported by New York band, White Rabbits who also put on a really amazing set. I noticed that they had their own gig at the ICA next week, so I’d definitely recommend checking them out if you happen to be free.

Spoon were here promoting their new album, Transference, which definitely takes a much more experimental take on their style of music, full of songs lacking choruses. Still pretty decent performance. A great night out and a perfect way to beat the poor weather.

2009 A Personal Retrospective

It’s that time of year to look back and see what’s been going on for 2009. It seems like it’s been a quieter year than most before and despite not wanting to do a lot of travel, it still seems like I ended up doing a fair amount.

The year started off in the US where I spent the day getting back from Boston before celebrating the New Year in New York. Since I was travelling to Marlow for work during the week, I didn’t end up going anywhere until March where I met the rest of the family in Japan.

Rather than hitting Tokyo, we met them in Osaka where we headed out to places like Kobe, Nara, Himeji and then spent the rest of the time visiting the temples and shrines of nearby Kyoto. April saw me head up north to visit my old flatmate, now living in York. The start of May then saw me head to Chicago for the first time, for a wedding and catching up with lots of people I knew living there.

I also took advantage of the great weather to head to Brighton for the first time. The end of may, I headed out to Sardinia for a conference where we ended up pretty much isolated from anyone else for the entire week. Great times yet I still remember the water being particularly cold.

It was around this time that I also started doing the weekly commute to Copenhagen for several months. I think I ended up staying over on the weekend twice – once to see what life in Denmark was really like, and then another to head over to Malmo (Sweden) on a very convenient and modern train.

August then saw me returning to Chicago for another conference before finishing off the year with a trip to Edinburgh in November and then Finland for a pre-Christmas holiday. I’d also mention travelling to Cambridge daily since returning from Copenhagen but other than eating out and resting, I don’t really get to see much of Cambridge.

I don’t think I got to see as many bands this year seeing Aussie bands Eskimo Joe and The Living End in April, followed by amazing musician and talented whistler, Andrew Bird in May. I then saw John Butler outshine the Union Chapel in July. October then saw a flurry of activity including The Cribs, Franz Ferdinand and then Scottish musician, Calvin Harris play a sweat inducing performance at The Forum. The year finished off with a performance by Japanese musician, Ryuichi Sakomoto.

I think this was definitely the year of the Michelin-starred restaurants for me. I was very thankful managing to find the only booking open in a three month window for the world’s 3rd best restaurant, Noma. What an unbelievable experience the tasting menu here was.

Amazingly local food accompanied by great service. I still remember the evening sun setting at just before midnight casting an amazing warmth into the converted warehouse when we sat down to eat.

We had just as an amazing meal at Restaurant Paustian v. Bo Bech before leaving Copenhagen. When visiting Chicago for the second time, I made sure to head out to Moto to enjoy the delights of clever cooking techniques and dining dazzlery. I can still picture the sparkling bombs that explode in the mouth for dessert. I also took my sister out to Rhodes 24 for her birthday (admittedly quite late in the year) and also ended up having a lunch at (overrated) Gordon Ramsey’s Maze restaurant. There was plenty of other amazing food places eaten ate but I woulnd’t be able to list them all.