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06 June 2013 @ 09:12 pm
In which Sam Tom fades to grey  
Less than two weeks until we move out of House of Fail! I'm so glad to be moving out of Walthamstow. I don't like to slag it off too much on The Other Place as I know people who are stuck there, but I will be pleased not to live there any more. It's not as rough as a lot of places I've lived, but it's pretty inconvenient and not really that nice. It does have some features that are popular with people who would like to live in Stoke Newington but can't afford to, however they're not really things I'm interested in - the park gives me hayfever and I'm not that into "gentrified" fambly pubs that charge £4.50 for a pint of cider. The old Edwardian worker housing looks quaint but is pretty much unliveable unless you are actually an Edwardian factory worker.

Will Leyton be better? Well, it'll be closer to Stratford Westfield, and it'll be a whole house with its own garden, so that's something. It's also cheap and very near the tube station, as well as in cycling distance of the places we want to go (Walthamstow is just that bit too far from everything if you are a person-about-town).

We had such a nice time in the North this weekend though. We went to scummoth's fun party, which had a Louis XIV/Joan Crawford theme. Many alarming aspics were served, as well as more appealing foods including a Special Brew cake with Bailey's icing. There was also a party game, a version of pin the tail on the donkey involving a drawing of Louis XIV and some sores. I did all right but did not win. I did not incur any of the terrible penalties either, although Jack got an orange jam tart crushed into him for allegedly cheating. In fact I was confused by the orange jam tarts, as surely that is just a marmalade tart? Anyway, fun times abounded.

We found our room at the Holiday Inn on the comically named Blonk Street to be very comfortable, in a businesslike way. It overlooked the river and had a choice of pillows, soft and firm, which were tied together in pairs with denim belts like fat little men. The shower was lovely and forceful, and the bed was very comfy.

The following day we went to the Peak District and sat on a hill admiring the rocks and sheep, before consuming a picnic. Jack was very impressed at how quickly you can get to the countryside from the city centre, and said he wouldn't mind living somewhere like that at some point. On the drive back, we went through Derbyshire, and found the scenery in Matlock especially beautiful, with soot-blackened stone houses and a huge, wooded cliff face towering over the whole town.

Last night saw some entertainment I never expected to witness - a Visage concert at a small-ish venue called Hoxton Bar and Kitchen! Even in the 80s they didn't really play as a live band, and all those years ago when I listened repeatedly to "Fade to Grey" on a compilation cassette I bought from a second-hand book and record shop in Montpellier, I never thought they would reform, let alone that I would see them in action. The line-up has changed rather - Rusty Egan is no longer involved, and in fact there is acrimony between him and Steve Strange over the reformation. However, the drummer who replaced him was extremely able. There is also a new synth player, a relatively young man called Logan Skye, who in fact used to be in a really good band called Riviera F that were produced by Nick Rhodes.

They played many old favourites - the best was The Anvil - and material from the new album. I appreciated the visuals that were projected behind the band, including new and old studio pics of Steve trowelled in make-up, as well as video clips from his fabulous 80s heyday. The new songs are pretty good, better than I had hoped for really. They still sound like Visage, and haven't just tried to jump on any recent musical bandwagons. It's better than the Human League or Duran's latest offerings, in my opinion. The musicians all performed really well, as did Lauren Duvall, a Welsh lady who was providing extra vocals alongside Steve. Steve was a bit shaky but was a good entertainer, engaging the audience with some slightly shambolic chat between the numbers. Halfway through, the two singers went off-stage to get changed (just as well as they were initially wearing army camouflage, no idea why), and returned in more formal wear for the final numbers. During the interval, the musicians remained on stage and played The Dancer, a song they had been expressly forbidden from playing by Rusty, or "Crusty Rusty" as Steve called him in retaliation for Rusty's negative comments on the interweb. It's a shame they can't all get on but it was still a good night. I wonder what Ronny thinks about it all!

Funnily enough, today my band received a glowing review on a French blog comparing us to Visage! Or rather, they said we showed the traces of bands like Visage, but added enough originality to be appealing rather than just sounding "80s". I think this is the nicest review we have had, and it gets extra points for using one of my favourite French turns of phrase, "sombrer dans les poncifs" ("descending into clichés" - which it said we DON'T do, by the way! *loll*). It didn't lump us in with coldwave/minimal wave/goth lot, which I appreciated - although I do like some of those bands, we are not really like them. The article is here if anyone cares to read it, although it is in French. Plus it picked up on the whole poncing-about-in-the-face-of-the-crisis thing, which is quite a big part of the A Terrible Splendour approach, and pop culture in general in fact.
Even androids feel...: artisticartistic
TV sounds: David Bowie - All the Young Dudes
Joy Silence: Redjoysilence on June 10th, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
I am currently enjoying Christopher Fowler's book The Water Room, an occult/mystery novel which is set in a street of 19th century workers back-to-back houses in the throes of regeneration. You can always count on Fowler to skewer such unpleasant trends in property development.

Well done on the review! I'm glad the concert was good - I can't believe it's nearly ten years since I saw Steve Strange myself. Duffy and I were very sorry we couldn't attend Mo's party though. We were just too tired after moving house and everything.

By the way, we have finally erected a double bed in the first guest room and are expecting the mattress any day now, so perhaps you and Jack would like to visit soon for an overnight stay. I'm sure London has nothing on the High Wycombe Chair Museum or the recently resurrected medieval Feast of Chalfont St Peters.

Lyle: Patrick Nagelsam_tom_sam on June 11th, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
That sounds great. I love chairs so that is a must-see. Or maybe we can just enjoy a sit-down on a chair from your own private collection.

When we were in the Peak Village shopping centre in the Peak District, we went inside a whole shop that just sells footstools. I was very tempted. We also met a very friendly duck.

That sounds like a good topic for a horror book. There is something unpleasant about this place. Vieanne doesn't sleep well here, and it is always abnormally cold. It's as if the decades of working-class disgruntlement had permeated the walls. I don't feel scared but I do feel kind of oppressed when I am here. The flat has a peevish, sullen character rather than a truly malevolent one, I think.