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Friday night P&J invited us down to Southampton to pick up some food they bought us in France, as usual we were treated to a superb homecooked French meal. We started with rillette and a loaf of bread that Philip baked (his best yet in my opinion) and delicious crab cakes, the main dish was paupiettes de veau from Macsen's French grandmother's recipe book, which she used to cook often. They have two books with the recipe in, one written in the 1800's which simply calls for veal stuffed with farce and tied with fat to impart more flavour and to keep it moist and then cooked in its own juices; the later version of the book published in the 1930's calls for herbs, butter, and mushrooms to be added -- it's interesting to see the evolution of one of the most traditional dishes. Endive with juniper berries was alongside and much excellent wine with 3-year-aged cantal which was salty and crumbly (aged for so long it was almost like parmesan) with a nutty flavour and more bread to finish. I paid attention to every part of the cooking; I believe I am good in the kitchen, but it takes of years of practice to become as perfect at it as they are which is a reason to look forward to becoming older. For Sunday lunch Macsen cooked a boeuf bourguignon with beef they brought back from the butcher in Luçon and we returned home late last night with our gastronomic goods: fleur de sel de guérande, pain d'epices au miel, merguez (lamb sausages), vendéen honey (forêt), chorizo fort, gros sel, beurre demi-sel (from a small producer, pretty fleur-de-lys design printed into the butter), danette, chocolate, shallots, dijon, cornichon, 21-month aged comté, 3yr cantal, and fresh chilies from their garden.

On a sadder note Jackie has been suffering terribly from the side-effects of her cancer meds, they have been leeching the calcium from her bones so she's enduring constant pain and has difficulty walking. At first they weren't sure what was causing it, but when they went to France for 5 days she forgot her medication in the UK so she went to a pharmacist in France to replace what she could; she couldn't remember the name of one of the meds, only that it started with an "A" so the pharmacist told her to come behind the counter to browse the medications to see if anything looked familiar (I can't imagine them doing that in the UK or America!) One of the meds was going to cost €150, but the pharmacist said she would be able to get through 5 days without it so she didn't purchase it. Suddenly once the meds were out of her system she was able to walk with ease and without pain so when she returned to the UK she made the doctor change her medication to one that was less debilitating. Unfortunately, just today she was diagnosed with a degenerative hip disorder and will have to have a hip replacement surgery. It seems that her afflictions are relentless lately, I wish more than anything that I could take her pain away.

paupiettes de veau

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the old french cookbook, 1800's version I believe

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margaux. so good.

cantal and Philip's homemade bread. you can tell it's a real French household when the cheese isn't even
taken out of the wrapper before people start cutting pieces off.

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Macsen's boeuf bourguignon

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Current Music:
Eluder - The Path Leads to the Solution
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I didn't mean to leave this long before posting again, this month ended up being much busier than expected with searching for a house to buy and other events (including my birthday which I spent with friends in Oxford and ate at Benares, which I may write more about at a later date). I returned from a wonderful trip in America in late July, one that I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. Since then we've had intermittent net access thanks to our provider which finally seems to be fixed, but beyond that I've felt a little reluctant to return to the online world. Perhaps I've just needed a break or maybe it is something more than that, but I do want to document this most memorable trip here.
I loved spending time in Seattle, the city will always be close to my heart. We were able to meet up with friends and ate some excellent food (thank you to those who message/emailed me recommendations; we weren't able to get through all of them on this trip, but I will be returning on my own more often in the future so now I will know where to go!) The city is so damn photogenic so it gets its own post, I will post about the rest of the trip in the next few days. I hope that all of you have had a good summer so far, I look forward to catching up. :)

We stayed at Hotel Max as we lucked across a good deal. It had a high hipster quotient, which I guess should be expected, and it seemed to be full with random touring bands. The decor was somewhat bizarre and like most fashion hotels it was more style over function, but overall the beds were comfy and the rooms quiet which is all we need. The lobby with the painting of the nude couple could have been elegant, but then they had to go and ruin with it with the wall pictured below the cut. ;)

Hotel Max

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We had some pretty superb sounding recommendations for breakfast places, but none of them were within walking distance of our hotel so we settled on Lola just by looking at the menu in passing. It turned out to be such a good find that we ate there again the next morning and even for dinner before our flight back to London. I like to watch the expression on people's faces when I tell them about the octopus and belly pork dish, "octopus, for breakfast!?" but it was seriously delicious. The omelette was packed with crab and the sausages as dense as the ones from Lincolnshire.

Philip & Jackie on our first morning in Seattle, they didn't look nearly this perky by the last day of our trip.

pacific octopus, belly pork, giant beans, green garlic, ramps, sunny egg ~ dungeness crab
and fontina cheese omelette with pork-maple sausage, mashed garlic-fried potatoes, toast

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elegantly attired French woman strolling through Pioneer Square

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Thank you to interimlover for recommending Matt's in the Market for dinner; the food and service were excellent. The head waiter sat us down at a table near the door, but he didn't appear satisfied with this so he offered us cocktails while we waited for a better table near the window overlooking the market (at first the Londoner side of me thought this might be a ploy to get us to spend money on cocktails while making it sound as though they were free, but I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't on the bill). My scallops were perfectly cooked and Jackie's octopus in charmoula was probably the best dish of the meal. The red wine was memorable and I searched for a bottle to take back to Jean-Pierre to attempt to prove to him that good wine exists outside of France, but it proved impossible to find. The one thing that's always difficult for us to get used to in American restaurants is how quickly people eat and leave, this is an alien concept to most Europeans. We are very used to spending many hours talking and eating a meal and even though the restaurant was full when we arrived we ended up being the last people to finish; the staff were very good to us and not impatient at all, they sat at a table nearby and enjoyed drinks with their friends while they waited.

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piquillo rellenos - salt cod, potato, olive oil, piquillo peppers, chimichurri ~
seared sea scallops, potato-fennel-leek hash, piquillo pepper-jamon serrano vinaigrette

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I finally got to see the Rem Koolhaas desgined Seattle Public Library in person and once again it was an example of style over function in parts, but overall I loved it (even if it's confusing as hell and Philip and I got lost when we went off exploring). Also they really should have reconsidered using metal for the staircases as I was wearing shoes with wooden heels and I was acutely aware of my every clanging step echoing through the building.

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slow roasted leg of lamb, preserved lemon marmalade
~ tagine of naturally raised goat, dates, pistachio, cinnamon flatbread

The tagines were incredibly good; my goat dish in particular which fell off the bone.
As good as the homecooked tagines I ate in Morocco.

Current Music:
Vaccine - Disappearing Acts
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Photos from last summer in France.

Mme. Augustine Guérin of Vix and her slightly unsettling garden of curiosities.

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Vendée ham and mogette ~ langoustines with homemade mayonnaise

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Jackie buying fresh garlic and looking pretty happy about it.

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grilled garlic and pepper monkfish

garden grown tomatoes and green beans with roast pink veal

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perrier tranche ~ caramel with fleur de sel and pistachio ice cream... omg!

This may come as a surprise, but I only eat meat maybe once or twice a week and on special occasions, the rest of the time I happily live on pulses, fruits, and vegetables. The beef dish above is one of the few meat dishes standing between me and vegetarianism, it is that good. (Not sure if I could ever go all the way vege, the meat dishes I love I really, really love.) It is made by the local butcher in Luçon who bought the butcher shop from the previous owner only on the pretext that he be given the secret recipe and method on how it is made. The process is so lengthy that the butcher only makes it once a year, the most that I know is that it is slow cooked in vegetable stock multiple times and pressed with gelatin and salt until it melts on the tongue as soon as you put in your mouth. It is seriously good and the last two years that we were lucky enough to be there when he made his annual batch the entire block disappeared within minutes, there is no "saving some for later", it is impossible to stop until every last bit is gone.

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Pyrénées pasta and pistachio pesto (bought when we were in Sicily) with squid, octopus,
mussels, and langoustines in a fresh tomato and basil sauce.

I have fond memories of this dish.

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a selection of patisserie

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Current Music:
Brian Eno & David Byrne - America Is Waiting
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"Disaster Area My Bloody Valentine: A plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones, they are generally held to be not only the loudest rock band in the Galaxy, but in fact the loudest noise of any kind at all. Regular concert goers judge that the best sound balance is usually to be heard from within large concrete bunkers some thirty-seven miles from the stage, while the musicians themselves play their instruments by remote control from within a heavily insulated spaceship which stays in orbit around the planet – or more frequently around a completely different planet." - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

The first time I heard My Bloody Valentine I was about 11-12 years old, fresh off the island. Gael took a job at the only good record shop in town, The Business, which was owned and run by Brett Lundsford (Phil Elvrum and Karl Blau frequently worked and performed there as well as other musicians). He made it his goal to showcase as much obscure music to our sleepy little town as possible and for that I will always be grateful. One day Gael brought home a battered looking store preview copy of Loveless and being attracted to the lush colours I listened to it; tentatively at first, and then louder and louder. When we opened The New Bohemian Coffee House we played it often and were constantly asked, "Who is this?" by musically hungry customers and friends (like Brett I think we did our own part on helping to musically educate the town). I searched out more of MBV's back catalogue and they became part of the soundtrack for my teen years. I was too young to get into most venues to see them live the first time around, which in retrospect might have been a good thing -- deafness not being high on my list of life priorities. ;)

I had given up any hope of hearing new material by them or seeing them live a long time ago, but when I heard they were playing two shows in London I couldn't believe my luck to be living here. Of course as soon as the tickets went on sale there was a mad rush, including many people flying over from the states and others buying tickets for every single night, so I wasn't able to secure tickets for the first two dates; I blinked and they were gone and I was heartbroken. Fortunately they extended their tour by several days and I scored tickets for their second to last London date. My tickets arrived in the mail 7 months ago and normally I don't advocate wishing time away, but it felt like June couldn't arrive fast enough.

When we arrived at the Banksy-adorned Roundhouse in Camden a woman at the entrance was handing out earplugs, "You'll need them!" she said in her most motherly tone. I had warnings about the loudness from friends who attended the previous nights, but it's difficult to grasp the exact ear-splitting nature of it until you experience it. Quite a few people, men trying to be macho mostly, declined the earplugs and they later looked like they regretted it as their held their heads in agony.

Graham Coxon from Blur opened and MBV took their time coming out, but when they did they looked as though they had been preserved in amber. Bilinda was as adorable as ever and that's one crush still going strong (for some reason I never had a crush on Kevin -- strange how that works. ;) Normally I try to get as close to the stage as possible, but anticipating the noise we stood near the centre against the mixing desk rail and I think it was a good choice, as much as I would have liked to see them closer. They didn't acknowledge the audience for most of the show, instead to seemingly be in their own private world, but within the first few notes of I Only Said I knew I was in the right place. My God, just being enveloped in that sound. I found the best way to listen was with the earplugs halfway in; too deep and all I could hear was a deep rumble and no melody, too far out and it was a painful aural assault. By the time the room was fully packed in I had difficulty seeing the stage at all, they need to hand out periscopes to anyone 5' 5" or below at gigs! I was happiest when I stopped trying to the see the stage and instead closed my eyes and danced; MBV are surprisingly danceable live, I was sweaty (er, glowing!) and exhausted by the end of the show.

The setlist was practically perfect and I enjoyed the dreamy videos and light shows, loved the videos for Blown a Wish, To Here Knows When, and Thorn in particular. Through the dense noise the songs would emerge, gripping in their familiarity, even with the vocals mixed so low that they were virtually another instrument. The intense finale was You Made Me Realise which mainly consisted of excruciatingly loud white noise and feedback which we timed at 24-minutes (the time varied on each night); I saw pieces of the ceiling come down, people covered their ears in a mixture of intense pleasure/pain, after the first 5 minutes people started to look around at each other in bewilderment and laughing, after 10 minutes it began to force people to either leave or go into a meditative state to cope, some raised their arms in either appreciation or for mercy. I pushed in my earplugs as deep as a babelfish and I'm certain it translated the secrets of the universe to me; by the end of the 24-minutes I felt transported and was trembling. It was as if they were saying, "Hi, we've discovered the sound of the apocalypse and we're going to ensure it's the last thing you ever hear." Having thoroughly molested our cochleas Kevin, Bilinda, Colm, and Debbie slowly walked off the stage without a word, leaving us shaken and unsure what we just experienced.

There aren't many bands I would risk deafness for, normally I'm critical of artists who rely on excessive volume and I think it can be a sign of arrogance or self-indulgence at the expense of enjoyment to the listener (as my Finnish metalhead friend said when told about the noise, "What's the point of that? I like to hear the melody."), but this really was an incredible experience and completely worth it. I've read in the past that Shields said he uses loud volume, "because we know that once you get above one hundred decibels, that causes a physical change in people. Endorphins get get released into the system because the body can sense imminent damage." I believe it now and I've actually come around to the idea that something like that can actually be good and enjoyable, I'm not sure anyone but My Bloody Valentine could have convinced me otherwise. I liked this review from Echoes and Dust regarding the noise:

"And, of course, MBV do loud. Just amazingly loud. It’s a sustained and brutal sonic assault. The effect in the crowd is to be completely enveloped by sound – it takes on a perceptible physical presence around you, you exist within it and as part of it. It’s claustrophobic and frightening and astonishing. It induces waves of nausea, it does things to the internal organs you know instinctively aren’t good and sometimes it just fucking hurts but, by God, you wouldn’t be anywhere else.
There’s much talk of earplugs before MBV take the stage (packs are given away free by the organisers) and, during the apocalyptic 30 minute white-noise demolition of ‘You Made Me Realise’, it’s clear why. As you wear them and MBV bludgeon you from afar, you come to realise that, outside of that 3cm-long piece of silicon wedged in your ear, there exists a seriously hostile environment, a place utterly inhospitable to the human ear. It’s the aural equivalent of running on the surface of Mars in a perilously flimsy spacesuit. Carrying scissors. It is utterly exhilarating.

You Made Me Realise feedback excerpt. Funniest video on the internet.

I originally didn't intend to write very much about this concert as I can't do it justice with words, but once I started writing I couldn't stop. I hear and understand their music differently now and I love it even more, which I didn't think was possible. Listening to MBV on the train ride home, with my eardrums still vibrating, I knew I would never experience something like that again. I spent most of the day after recovering from a throbbing headache, but I didn't regret it one bit.

Most of the videos from the gig are hilarious in their futile attempts to capture anything but sonic sludge, but the links point to a few who managed to do a decent job. Pitchfork gives the best review I've read so far.


I Only Said
When You Sleep
(When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream
You Never Should
Lose My Breath
Come In Alone
Only Shallow
Nothing Much To Lose
To Here Knows When
Blown A Wish
Feed Me With Your Kiss
You Made Me Realise (Holocaust Version)

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Current Music:
My Bloody Valentine - Feed Me with Your Kiss
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Gael is back in Italy after her all too brief visit. I know I have a few new people reading this journal so if you don't know who Gael is and what she means to me read this: Tui Bijoux. The time passed far too quickly, but it was wonderful seeing her again. Took her to Spitalfields for S&M (Sausages & Mash of course, what were you thinking?) Sadly Spitalfields Market, one of London's oldest and largest markets, was closed for "refurbishment" which actually means gentrification; not that gentrification is always a bad thing, but in this case it also means homogenizing with chain stores that are willing to pay higher rent and encroachment of office buildings. It's still better than the alternative which was ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart) attempting to buy the land and raze it for one of their supermarkets. We moved on to Borough Market (which has already been gentrified, but at least the chains have stayed out) and drank hot spiced New Forest cider and stocked up on comté, caerphilly, cantillon kriek, and salted butter (getting harder to find in stores these days). Took a long walk down the river to the Tate Modern where we never made it past the bookshop and ended up spending 2 hours browsing there. The next day we wandered around Shoreditch to go hipster spotting and took her for Vietnamese food (got her hooked on chili salt and peppered squid and lotus and pork salad). The rest of the time was pretty relaxed, just catching up as we hadn't seen each other in person for nearly 2 years. We share a similar sense of humour so we watched as many episodes of Peep Show, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, 15 Storeys High, and Mighty Boosh as we could. It was picnic weather - intermittently - so on her last day here we enjoyed a picnic in Richmond Park, the first of the year. She commented, "It looks like the illustrations in fairytale books." which made me laugh because it was the first thing I said when I saw the forests here, you get the strange feeling that you've seen these trees before. After indulging ourselves we fell asleep in the shade, me under my big floppy hat which I seem to never get to wear (I think I wore the same dress on the last picnic I wrote about here, I guess it is now my official picnic dress). As always it was difficult to say goodbye to each other, but I will most likely visit her in Naples next.

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I love Cantillon Kriek as it is tart like pie cherries, not sweet at all unlike most krieks.
I only had it once before at the brewery in Brussels, but the beer stall in Borough Market have
begun stocking it.

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this ginger beer is so good -- very fiery.

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A little-known fact about south west London where I live is that we have a flock of about 30,000 wild green ring-neck parakeets. I often see them in our backyard or hanging out in the trees at the beer garden of our local pub. There are various theories as to how they came to live and flourish in this area of the city: As The African Queen was being filmed at Shepperton Studios in the 50s they released hundreds into the air (indigenous species awareness not being what it is today), Jimi Hendrix released his breeding pair on Carnaby Street in the 60s, they're castaways from a capsized cargo ship, airport quarantine escapees, or liberated pets.

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Current Music:
Grouper - Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping
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Spine of Glass is the first of the mixes I'd like to share. At first I couldn't decide which to concentrate on, but this one suits my mood best right now and after a not so great week I need a lift. It's taken more work than I expected, they always do. I know a mix is done when I can't imagine the songs without each other anymore. This isn't all ambient material, the artwork is deceptively calm (at least for the first half). Jacaszek's latest album Treny on Deaf Center's Miasmah label is one of the most beautiful albums I've heard all year; he's managed to create a sound that is like the classical compositions and (anti)operatic voices of Zbigniew Preisner crossed with the spaciousness and electronic clicking of Murcof. The Polish do melancholy better than anyone. The first Brian Eno song is in honour of one of my best friends who is Lithuanian and Summer Thunder by Robert Rich is appropriate as most nights I'm sleeping to rumbling thunder and rain fall, I wonder where summer is? This mix is inspired by and dedicated to Daniel Southard a.k.a. d.composed. How this music makes me feel.

keywords: bells, chimes, metal, and glass.

Download links (98 MB zip):

direct download - thanks snej!


"my spine of glass won't hold...

...in the face of this violent storm." - d.composed

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Current Music:
Chequerboard - Konichiwa
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Last night's live performance by Portishead was phenomenal. It took place in the Hammersmith Apollo, which is one of my favourite venues in London with its beautiful art deco style and good acoustics. We had seating tickets which wasn't preferable, but I feel lucky to have gotten any at all. The moment they went on sale Macsen had two phones and the ticket site on the go and they were selling out so fast that as soon as he'd select them and push "buy" they'd be gone. In the end I was glad for the seats with a clear view as the previous night we saw DeVotchKa with friends at the tiny Scala and while it was fun, I could barely see the stage at all (just the top of the tuba bobbing up and down). A Hawk and a Hacksaw was the opening band which was enjoyable, like DeVotchKa and Beirut they're heavily influenced by Balkan orchestras.

There was a vibe and excitement to the audience unlike any I had witnessed before, anticipation had built up so much that by the time Beth, Adrian, Geoff, and crew took to the stage the crowd exploded with cheers and shouts of, "We love you, Beth!" The P3 album cover appeared on the screen behind them and they kicked it off with "Silence" which, just as it does on the album, ends abruptly. Second up was "Hunter" which I love, but the P3 songs were new to most of the audience so there wasn't much initial excitement; you could tell the ones who already had the album as, like me, they were quietly singing along. Once they finished their "unveiling" of two fresh songs the crowd cheered in appreciation. Then the stage went blue as the first notes and record scratches of the familiar "Mysterons" were played and everyone went crazy. Beth's voice was unchanged and as heartbreaking as ever, she filled the room with her presence. After "Mysterons" they had some technical difficulties with the decks, which Beth explained and apologized for in her sweet Bristol accent, so they took 5 minutes to fix the problem and then started up one of their saddest songs "The Rip" which was accompanied by an interesting animated film -- the synth crescendo sounded great live. By the time "Glory Box" and "Numb" were playing I have to admit, I had a few tears. Beth went soft and breathy in all the right places on "Glory Box", it was my favourite song performed that night. The drums kicked in for another new song "Magic Doors" and everyone took it in, there was a good response to it when it finished. Next the stage went dark and Beth sat in a chair under a spotlight for a more acoustic version of "Wandering Star" which was beautifully done. "Machine Gun" was a highlight as it sounded amazing live, so much better than on the album. I wouldn't be surprised if they wrote it simply because they knew it would be mindblowing live, with the drum beats reverberating through bodies and Beth's high piercing vocals. I feel sad that I may not feel the intensity of that song being performed again, but I am grateful for the chance. There were a lot of stunned people after "Machine Gun" followed by cheers. Again when the familiar opening guitar chords for "Over" began people got very excited, same for the "Sour Times" and "Only You" which were passionately performed, but they were not album replicas which made me happy, I don't like live performances to be too "perfect". Another new song "Nylon Smile" also received a positive response, followed by "Cowboys" which Beth executed superbly in the same almost nasal and clipped voice as on the record with plenty of satisfying record scratches. There they stopped and left the stage for a brief pause before being called back out with roaring and stomping calls for an encore. When they retook to the stage the welcome notes of "Threads" started up, the booming guitar at the end didn't go on long enough for my liking but despite that it was still one of the best songs for me and it received a great response. One of the most anticipated songs of the night was the soulful "Roads" which many people seemed unable to stop singing along to at the start; Beth sung it with aching accuracy in the trembling timber of her voice, it floored everyone into rapt silence. The band capped off the evening with the stomping Silver Apples tribute "We Carry On" which was a perfect ending and as the song finished Beth jumped into the audience and began hugging people. I am intensely envious of the ones who were able to hug her, but it's incredibly awesome that she did it at all, it showed her real love and appreciation for the support and it made the crowd go into a frenzy as the band and Beth bowed and said goodbye.

Beth: "thank you so much for being patient, we were a bit dodgy, but you know it's really live!"

They monitored video taking closely so I was only able to get a short clip of "Roads"
and the end of "We Carry On" with Beth hugging audience members. Please pardon
the shaky camerawork, it's not easy keeping it steady at 12x zoom. In the
comments I have provided links to the best live videos I could find, I knew youtube
wouldn't let me down.

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My final thoughts are that this was a concert of a lifetime. I have been to shows that are hard to top, but this has managed to partly down to sheer emotional intensity. Even the technical difficulties was hardly a blip on an otherwise incredible evening. The only downside was the typical London crowds being hyperactive and talking too much (why do they seem completely incapable of sitting still for more than 10 minutes? I wish the venue would spike their pints with ritalin. ;) The new songs all fit in and worked well in the set and yes, they're different from their older material, but they are amazing in their own right and work even better live. whorlpool I wish you could have been there. I'm left with the feeling that I have to see them live again, but I don't know if I will ever get the opportunity. I've already checked out the rest of their European dates for tickets but unsurprisingly they're all sold out, so I think I will just have to be satisfied that I saw them at all. If they make it to North America you must pounce on those tickets as soon as they appear. You will not regret it. :)

The Setlist:

01 Silence
02 Hunter
03 Mysterons
04 The Rip
05 Glory Box
06 Numb
07 Magic Doors
08 Wandering Star
09 Machine Gun
10 Over
11 Sour Times
12 Only You
13 Nylon Smile
14 Cowboys
15 Threads
16 Roads
17 We Carry On

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This post has taken awhile to get out as I've been battling off the German über-flu ever since we returned. I wasn't sure what to expect from Germany, but I ended up enjoying it even more than I thought. As an American it still never fails to amuse me how many countries I can pass through here in the same distance it takes to drive between states. We took the cross-channel ferry and spent four hours driving through France, Belgium, and a grand total of 14 minutes in Holland before crossing the German border (there is no border control between most EU countries anymore so we didn't have to stop). We even considered dipping into Luxembourg for a laugh, but decided we'd prefer to arrive in Cologne during daylight. Our hotel room had a view over the rooftops, Cologne is a city still under constant reconstruction which was evident by the many cranes dotting the skyline.

Germany feels masculine and serious at first, but once you crack the exterior there is honesty, humour, and a laidback straightforwardness to the people which I found refreshing. It was bitterly cold and even snowed, but I was okay with that as I prefer Northern European cities in winter over summer. I like bundling up and taking refuge in cafés where I get to people watch and meet the locals. Macsen remembers most of his school German which made getting by much easier and if they didn't know any English we could fall back on French. I picked up some German, mainly, "Ein kölsch, bitte." which is an important one. ;) I was surprised as to how much I could understand thanks to the German music I've been listening to. I believe Germany is experiencing a remarkable swell of artistic and musical talent right now; while we were waiting for our friends to arrive in Nürburg I listened to my mp3 player and I realized that nearly 50% of the music on it was German. This was unintentional, but it did make me think about how much good stuff is emerging out of that country currently and I felt happy to finally have a better understanding of where it was coming from.

Kölner Dom

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the controversial "pixel window", which was designed by a computer.

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the light.

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Früh Am Dom near the cathedral is probably the best known brauhaus in the city, it was destroyed by the bombings and rebuilt unlike the Päffgen which has remained virtually unchanged since the 19th century. The brauhauses are known for being loud and boisterous, but it was relatively sedate while we were there; however, it was after the Kölner Karneval (they say "if you were at the carnival and saw the carnival, you weren't at the carnival.") so perhaps everyone was still recovering. ;) The local beer in Cologne is kölsch which they serve to you in 200ml glasses called reagenzglas "test tubes" and keep serving them until you beg for mercy or collapse. The chap pictured below quietly knocked them back roughly every 5 minutes. For scientific purposes we tasted kölsch from several different breweries and we both preferred the Früh as it had a smoother taste than the others. The menu was entirely in German and as we struggled to decipher it a mustachioed man there with his daughter sat back with his arms crossed and chuckled at us, finally taking pity on us in broken English he offered his assistance. We asked him what the sauerbraten was like and he replied, "The opposite of sweet."

Früh Am Dom

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another space invader to add to my ever-growing collection!

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Belgian Quarter

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I loved the kolumba church more than the dom, the romanesque churches, or any cathedral built to impress. It was almost destroyed completely by the allied bombings, but on top of the ruins they built a modern structure and continued using it as a church. This fusion of gothic ruin and contemporary architecture gives it a unique appearance, but what I liked the most was the interior. It wasn't full of violent imagery unlike most European cathedrals, the artwork and stained glass were peaceful and there was a quiet stillness that instantly took you away from the noisy city outside.

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On our way to the Nürburgring we took a slight detour.

Berg Eltz

Current Music:
Mister Eden - The Quiet Sounds - Episode 18
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- Leaving for a road trip to Germany on Monday; we were originally going to spend a few days in France and Belgium, but as neither of us have spent much time in Germany and it's only a 4 hour drive through both of those countries to get there we decided to spend the time exploring the Rhineland-Pfalz and Nordhein-Westfalen areas. First we'll be staying in Cologne and then following the Rhine river valley until we decide to stop and go back up to the Nürburgring where we're meeting friends. If anyone has been to this area suggestions as to where to go are welcome. :)

- If any of my San Francisco friends are going to the Flickr Turns 4 party tonight (open to the public) keep your eyes out for my photo which was one of the early photos I posted to Flickr and even commented on by Heather way back when. Take a pic of it on the wall for me if you can!

- I am still obsessed with the new Portishead album, after many listens I think Threads has emerged as my favourite track. Beth's wails and the thundering horn-like sounds at the end gives me shivers every time. I have read that the sudden cut-off of Silence was deliberate and not a fault of the leaked copy, if it is true I think the denial of climax is kind of amusing. If anyone wondered what the Brazilian-Portuguese at the start of the song means here is a translation: "Be aware of the rule of three. What you give will return to you. This lesson you must learn. You only get what you deserve."

- Went hiking in Swinley Forest last weekend which is a thirty-minute drive out of London; not quite the wilderness I'm used to back home, but it still felt great to get out into nature. We're on the lookout for more places to go hiking around Southern England so if anyone has recommendations please share (already been told we should check out the Forest of Dean).

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Current Music:
Peverelist - Die Brucke
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