Iceland Airwaves Day 2 – Reykjavik – 7 Nov 2019

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Fisrt Soley at Slipbarrin and lucky to get there early for a ringside bar stool as the place was packed. I’ve liked Soley for a fair while and saw her play a lovely show in Hull, but not sure if the new material being tried out is for me. Atmospheric, but a bit sombre and depressing! After the best pizza ever in Pizzeria Italia in the evening we took advantage of our Airwaves Plus wristbands to access the upstairs ’VIP’ area for 4 acts in Gamla Bio theatre.

Glass Museum are a keyboards and drums instrumental duo from Belgium, and had some interesting tunes. I came along mainly to see JFDR and Shame, with JFDR on next. The band project of Jófríður Ákadóttir had some nice songs but not as good for me as her previous band Samaris. Next up was Emmsje Gauti (MC, geddit, I think!?). Rappy hip hop is not my cup of tea but seems he is a big thing in Iceland with lots of fans singing along. Who knew?

Finally Shame, who were just brilliant as always. They seem to have been playing the same songs on tour for years since I saw them in Sneaky Pete’s (only a few really) but who cares when they are all such punky bangers and they are now masters at working a crowd into a frenzy. Not quite as frenzied though as bassist Josh who leaps around like a loon, his soon broken strap required constant re-taping up each time he broke it again. A great day gigging had to end of course with a few pints in our new local ‘The Drunk Rabbit’. What a great place (if you can ignore the ridiculous price of a pint!).

Attended by George & Karen – playlist with multiple relevant videos below!

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Iceland Holiday – 8 Nov 2019

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Day 3 in the Airwaves house started with breakfast in Joe & The Juice to prepare us for a freezing walk down to the beautiful Sólfar sculpture we visit every time. What a wonderful sight and the cold and the snow covered hills only emphasise it’s beauty. A quick visit to KEX hostel (nothing on unfortunately) and a bit more Laugavegur wandering led us to get out of the cold with a couple of pints of Bastard beer in the tremendously named ‘Bastard’ bar. A few more in the comfy Drunk Rabbit before a siesta in prep for an evening visit to our favourite fancy restaurant  Humarhúsið (disappointingly now labelled  ‘Lobsterhouse’ in English). Always lovely food, always langoustines for me (both of us this time), always eye-wateringly expensive, but a special treat. We took a quick look in Fríkirkjan, scene of shows we might go to.

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Iceland Airwaves Day 3 – Reykjavik – 8 Nov 2019

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Our target for the evening was Gaukurinn club, which is usually tightly packed and noisy. On the way over there though we stopped for a on-spec look in Iðnó which is a lovely old theatre, restaurant and venue. Lucky we did since Helge was just starting and the show was a real treat. Helge Slikker is a singer songwriter from Holland and the show related the narrative of his driving trip round Iceland illustrated by beautiful backdrop video and songs from his album ‘Polar’. A great concept and dreamlike story with lovely songs. Brilliant stuff, I’m a new fan!

Gaukurinn could not be more different, low ceiling, dark and sweaty … great place with 4 cool bands to see. First up were Broen from Norway, who were quite interesting so will watch out for them. Next Pip Blom who I was not convinced by before but friends raved about. Well they were great fun so consider me convinced! Great enthusiasm and energy with catchy tunes over simple punky backing. Then Boy Azooga from Wales took the stage and I enjoyed the clever songs of Davey Newington.

Finally Snapped Ankles at 2am! Intrigued by them and wanted to see them at Sneaky Pete’s but it sold out. Lucky me now. But though the crowd went mad for them, unfortnately they didn’t do that much for me. Wacky visuals and unusual sound but I was left cold and after a few songs we beat a retreat to the Drunk Rabbit until very late/early o’clock, which we paid for the next day!

Attended by George & Karen – playlist with multiple relevant videos below!

 

 

 

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Iceland Holiday and Airwaves Day 4 – Reykjavik – 9 Nov 2019

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Sandholt bakery is such a classy place for a lovely breakfast, and an ideal start to our last full day in Iceland. A leisurely morning, including a walk past, but not go into, the Punk Museum, since Karen was getting ready to go horse riding in the afternoon. She had a lovely time with Viking Horses tour, riding a lovely Icelandic horse on a nice easy hack.

If Pip Blom was my nice surprise of a band better than I expected, Penelope Isles were my ‘top find’ of the festival and I’m on the way to becoming a super fan! ‘The Current’, a radio station from Minneapolis, ran series of short broadcasts from Hressingarskálinn so I got there in good time to get to the front while Karen was away horse riding. Pip Blom were first up for a second dose in 14 hours, and they were good again of course. Not so enamoured with next act Girl In Red from Norway. Meh! Then Penelope Isles from Isle of Man via Brighton came on and blew me away with only 3 songs … but belters. Love em. New favourite band. In fact I changed the planned evening itinerary to make sure we caught them again at the Art Museum later!

On the way back to meet Karen, where else but in The Drunk Rabbit, I killed some time by dropping into Landsbankinn where Una Schram and then Auður played short sets of their ‘popular in Iceland’ pop … nothing special but cute! After Drunk Rabbit we just had to go back to Italia for more of the best pizza in Iceland, or anywhere really. Perfect, and got us ready for a second dose of Penelope Isles within 5 hours! And they were great again, so good I’m going to catch them on tour in Newcastle soon.

After that I had planned to catch Olof Arnalds at Iðnó then John Grant at Fríkirkjan, but … we were both so tired, Karen particularly, we couldn’t muster up the energy to walk past The Drunk Rabbit. So there we stayed until bedtime before our 3:45am alarm for our 7:30am flight! A tiring journey back but with happy memories of a great trip.

Attended by George & Karen – playlist with multiple relevant videos below!

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Man Of Moon – Sala La Nau, Barcelona – 31 Oct 2019

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The idea of combining a trip to Europe to see Man Of Moon on tour with a few days in the amazing city of Barcelona was too good to resist!  Not long into their European Tour supporting Twilight Sad,  the guys are on top form with a 40 minute set concentrating their best songs. Though the venue was sparsely populated to begin with, it soon filled up and by the end they had earned a lot of new fans! Bravo Señors!

Attended by George, Karen & Mhairi

 

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Holiday in Barcelona – Oct/Nov 2019

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A 4 day trip to Barcelona was in order to co-incide with a visit to see Michael play with Man of Moon on their European Tour. What an amazing city. We loved it!

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Big Big Train – Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh – 26 Oct 2019

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I found out about Big Big Train from twigging that guitar hero Dave Gregory (ex of XTC) was playing with them. Couldn’t miss a chance to see the great man for the first time since 1981 ! I quite liked a few live videos I had seen but listening to some BBT albums I was less impressed. That impression was backed up by this performance. Long ‘pieces’ rather than songs that have typical prog rock sections with impressive dynamics and playing, but short on tunes for me and with lyrics that think they are clever but to me are really just annoying! Dave’s guitar bits were of course my favourite, but additional touches really, that couldn’t transform what I thought were tedious numbers. This is BBTs first ever tour so their loyal fans went wild for it and I was happy for them!

Attended by George

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