Ryuichi Sakomoto

Sunday evening say a long trek into Sloane Square to arrive at Cadogan Hall to see Japanese composer and musician, Ryuichi Sakomoto. It was pretty tough getting there with the heavy rain and the tube network down. I’d been invited to see this musician perform, with him being pretty famous for creating enchanting soundtracks for many movies and events. It’s not normally my thing for live music, and thought I’d still give it a go.

Cadogan Hall is quite small, probably the same size as the Union Chapel and it’s acoustics were definitely great with rich sounds coming from all angles. It seems pretty modernly built with comfy cushion backed seats.


The show had been sold out when I looked it up earlier that day, so I was still surprised to see handfuls of seats empty on the night. The inclement weather explains some of it no doubt.

Watching a pianist perform was quite an experience. Being fairly tired and warm from the outside cold, I honestly couldn’t help myself feeling drowsy at the start of the performance. It didn’t help that Sakomoto started off with long, fairly abstract pieces that whilst enchanting, also didn’t help me feel less drowsy.

Towards the end the pieces definitely became more lively, and the accompanying visualisation projected on the screen matching it’s vibrancy. I think I even recognised a number of the songs, perhaps backing tracks to some anime movie or something.

The performance was very impressive and whilst I wasn’t compelled to give a standing ovation like some members of the audience, I still found it a nice contrast to the week.

Gigs Galore

October ended up as a busy month for seeing some live music. A couple of Fridays ago I ended up at Brixton Academy to see Franz Ferdinand. I’d last seen them at the massive Alexandra Palace and was stoked to see them in a much smaller venue. Although they hadn’t actually produced any new material for a while, they certainly put on a very impressive audience that kept the entire Academy packed throughout. They had amazing video and lights accompanying them and just put on an awesome show.

Wednesday this week, I returned to The Forum, this time to see the Scottish based DJ performance, Calvin Harris. I’d seen him live a few years back at a festival and although he was simply DJing then, he definitely got the audience up and jumping.

Calvin Harris

That night was the same and I can’t imagine that The Forum has ever been so hot with so many people jumping around. We arrived to see the support act, Mr Hudson who seemed to have a bit of a following of his own and did well to warm up the audience. I’m glad that I didn’t bother to bring my coat as I saw a number of people with sweaters and coats suffering from their layers in such an energised audience. Great night, great music and what a way to enjoy a good night out in London.

John Butler at the Union Chapel

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up at Islington’s wonderful Union Chapel, to see John Butler perform. It’s a wicked venue and with most of the pews filled on all sides, I have no reason to doubt it was a sold out show.

John Butler

It was a great way to unwind after getting back from the weekly overseas commute and he played an awesome show for all. There’s some great photos of the gig on Flickr including the one above. He played a lot of songs from old albums, a few new songs and even dedicated a Michael Jackson cover song the king of pop.

Andrew Bird @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Despite being slightly jet lagged from my trip to Chicago, I still ending up going to see the amazingly talented Andrew Bird at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. It was a ticket I had booked way back when. Strangely enough, I found out recently he’s based out of Chicago and here I was seeing him away from his country having just returned from his home city. Strange? Definitely.

The ground floor of Shepherd’s Bush was completely packed by the time he came on and from what I could tell there were plenty of Americans, English and a handful of antipodes around. Andrew Bird’s style of music is definitely unique. It’s laid back, almost music-box like and absolutely enchanting. Just perfect when you want some easy listening tunes. I realise that it doesn’t really do him that much justice however I don’t think words can really describe the performance he puts on for a live show.

For his first song, he made recorded snippets of him playing different instruments, playing them back almost immediately, effectively turning him into his own backing track while he carried on with the main melody. It was completely mesmerising both visually and audibly. It seems like he plays a bazillion instruments and I never realised that the whistling you hear in his songs is also him and not some sort of synthesiser, able to replicate the strength, pitch and tones perfectly in a live show just as much as on the albums.

As a musician, Andrew Bird produces some stunning sounds. As a performer, he’s even more captivating by the way that he produces these intricate sounds with what looks like such minimal fuss on stage that I always thought were produced using some sort of synthesiser.

thekua.com rating: 9 out of 10

The Living End at Koko

Wednesday night saw a huge number of antipodeans (and others) descend upon Koko to watch Aussie rock band, The Living End. Good doesn’t really begin to describe how the night went. It helped that they had some really decent support acts, including Tellison and I think the other people were called To The Bones. Both served to warm up a full house audience on all floors.


We stood fairly close to front of stage, close enough to be pushed around and jump around in some of the audience, but far enough not to be involved in the crazy antics that probably happens at most of The Living End’s gigs. They did an awesome job cycling through plenty of their classic tracks across their five albums, as well as a number from their newest, White Noise which I can highly recommend.

It was definitely a high energy audience, fuelled by an equally high as energy band churning out some amazing tracks. Everyone was friendly, made happy with the great tunes and the only people that ended up dragged out of there were those that were crowd surfing their way to the security at the front of stage. An awesome night that probably left most people pretty sweaty and satisfied.


(Picture above is linked to the original source and that you can tell that I didn’t take with my camera phone).

Eskimo Joe at Koko

Wednesday night saw Australian band, Eskimo Joe take to the stage at Camden’s Koko. I love the venue having been here multiple times but I didn’t even know about the other floors that tower high above. We ended up in the JD lounge on the top most floor where you need to pass through a menacing leather bound door that make it looks like some sort of private members club. On the way back from the toilets, I passed a couple who looked cautious about entering and was about to turn around when I told them that it was fine and open to everyone. Unlike other venues with multiple floors, you still got a great view of all the action down on stage.


I can barely remember the name of the support act. It was a bloke from Leicester who had a decent voice but played some fairly average tunes. He played about five or so songs before handing the stage over to Eskimo Joe who came on at quarter past nine. Having seen them several times back home, what always impressed me about them is that they made some decent effort to connect with the audience and chat such as giving a bit of a brief background to some songs without turning it into some sort of soppy lecture. They always joke between themselves and seem pretty down to earth. As an example, their lead singer, Kavyen apologised to the entire audience when he realised his fly wasn’t done up somewhere through the set. None of this dashing off stage or anything like that.


Eskimo Joe played a great selection of plenty of songs mainly from their last two albums, and a handful of newer ones that will be coming out for their new album in a couple of months. What struck me about their newer songs is that they sounded very retro, very 80s-like and you can see that they’ve been experimenting with their sounds. Even their third album compared to the previous two was a lot moodier and sombre than the upbeat tunes you’d find on the first two.

It was a nice mid-week break to go and watch some live music. Particularly listening to some live music from a band that I enjoyed listening to when I was back home. It seemed like the very heavily anti-podean crowd enjoyed them just as much.

TheKua.com Rating: 8 out of 10

Music, music, music

The last two weeks have been fairly busy and in between travelling away on long weekends, I’ve managed to get to a few concerts around townw. Last Monday (December 1, 2008), I caught The Kooks at one of my favourite venues, The Roundhouse. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that their music is indie pop, but regardless of genre, their high energy songs and enthusiasm mean that they just put on an amazing set. They played a mixture of their first and second albums with a couple of new songs thrown in just for the mix. Of course, the only downer at the end of the evening was trying to escape The Roundhouse with their main staircase the only way to exit. I can’t imagine what it would be like there if they ever had a fire (although fortunately they also have the lovely outdoor terrace to escape to I guess).

The Wednesday after (December 3, 2008), I saw Coheed and Cambria’s Neverender Tour at The Astoria. This was my first, and sadly, probably my last time to go to see a gig in one of the more relatively intimate venues in London (since it will be demolished to make way for the crossrail). It’s a great sized venue with the standing area being slightly wider than it is deep meaning that pretty much every gets a great view of the stage. Anyway, back to CoCa… I was surprised to first read about CoCa’s Neverender Tour, a series of gigs, one night after another where they would play one of their albums each night, with a bonus acoustic set for those fans that went every single night. Although I like them, four nights in a row was a bit excessive (and impossible since I was leaving the country for a long weekend) yet it still seemed to sell out. Gerrod and his mate Al, were one of the many that went every night.

As far as the evening went, their progressive rock went down a treat with the audience with a lot of people in the audience singing along to many of their songs. Funnily enough, their lyrics are quite different from your typical band, instead reflecting the storyline and tales of the fictional universe from The Armory Wars comics, written by one of the band members.

Finally, on Tuesday this week (December 9, 2008), I saw Californian born and Texan raised musician, Ben Kweller at the Union Chapel. Firstly, the venue is simply amazing with fantastic acoustics and an extremely intimate feel. Unfortunately I found the pews to be quite uncomfortable by the end of the evening. Extremely talkative and obviously very friendly, Ben Kweller struck me as an American version of Ben Lee. Kweller seemed to have some story to tell about a lot of his songs and talked casually to the audience. Also, considering it was just him and his buddy, Kitt Kitterman, I liked the way that he still seemed to be energised, and unphased by anything, such as when a guitar string broke for their “specially tuned” encore song and he simply shrugged it off and changed songs until Kitt mended his guitar.

Franco Battiato at Koko

Luca had another spare ticket to see yet another Italian artist, although warned me that he wouldn’t be like any of the artists that we’d seen recently. Looking up Franco Battiato, it’s no wonder since he’s a 63 year old singer who’s been wowing Italians for several generations and continues to publish albums without any visible end in sight.

Held at Koko on Tuesday night (the night it snowed across the country), I stood in line with, what seemed like, only Italians around me. Even the ticketing people spoke Italian rather than English! Inside it was quite the mix of different ages yet the common thing that bound them together was their appreciation for Battiato’s music as made evident from how many songs everyone seemed to sing along to.

I find it hard, even now, after listening to him perform how to describe his music. It’s surprisingly contemporary mixing together elements from many different styles with his vocals. He sang alongside a fairly large band with a number of string instruments, a pianist, and a few guitarists (two of whom were extremely attractive dread-locked ladies) and had a phenomenal amount of energy for such an elderly performer.

Despite not knowing any of his songs, and only understanding the one or two songs he sang in English, Battiato impressed me by simply putting on a great performance. I can’t say that I’m going to listen to his songs anytime soon, but it was a enjoyable night experiencing something I wouldn’t go out of my way to do myself. All the Italians present seemed to enjoy it and it clearly obvious he enjoyed performing for them, so what more do you need?