Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Series: On the road with The Biff - Introduction and first stop in Kingston


I haven't written anything for the blog lately because every time I felt like writing it was about scary and depressing stuff like Brexit. This thing turns more and more into a full blown nightmare for the country, for lots of the country's citizens and for me ... that EU foreigner living and working in the UK for a company that sells UK produced goods to customers all over Europe. Basically my whole way of living .. my home, my work .. it all got a question mark behind now by this dump bullshit. Most of the days I just put this aside because it does not make much sense to put energy into things you cannot influence, but it is not easy at times to not freak out. Thankfully Scotland and the people here make me feel at home. I did not hear one stupid comment about EU foreigners going "home" anywhere here at all (and not from my English friends and colleagues either).

ANYWAY ... while this blog is definitely a place to share thoughts and fears and worries it should also be a place to share the love and light and all the good things. I felt there were not enough good things on here for a while now and that although life is - despite the general worries about the downward-spiraling state of the world - pretty good. So I decided to pick up writing again and start a series about my favorite good thing in the world ... The Biff.  Better ... touring with the Biff .. traveling, spending time with friends, seeing great places and enjoying the music. 

I will try to stick to the same pattern for every upcoming installment and tell you about 
  • the trip including accommodation recommendations and such things if I have some. I am old and have a bit more budget than most of the gig travelers so think more affordable but nice hotels than hostels. There might be something about the actual travel destinations as well but do not expect too much. We touring people usually do not see much more than the airport, the hotel and the venue. It is all less exciting than it seems and a lot is about securing some rest, food, drink and acceptable bathrooms. 
  • the show ... obviously because it is about the music mainly 
  • The going home music. I do not know how this works for you but while I can listen to the band I am going to see for hours on the way TO the show I cannot listen to them for a bit AFTER the show. That was always the case and not just for Biffy. After a good show everything from record feels like only the second best choice and I need to give it a break.
    Lucky if you have more than one band / artist you like as much and my man especially for an emotionally fragile state of mind - like the hungover post gig mood - is usually Dragon (Sucioperro, Medals, YesDragon).  At the moment I'm listening mostly to the brand new awesome stuff from the YesDragon EPs and the releases will accompany the tour for a good while. So every gig travel post will feature one YesDragon song that fits to the respective gig trip with streaming and / or video and of course the purchase link.  Give it a listen and if you like what you hear, buy the EPs. They just cost £ 4 each and downloading only takes a quick minute. 

So let's try this out already: 

Stop 1 -  Kingston upon Thames - 9 October 2016

When the acoustic show - as a very fancy version of an "in store" gig for the fabulous Kingston based Banquet Records - was announced I did not expect that I would be able to go. Tickets were rare and hard to get (queuing in person required, which I could not do being hundreds of miles away). It happened though with a lot of voodoo and help of kind souls and good luck that not only I could go but most of my Biffy pals as well. A big part of making this possible was down to the band itself who added a second show before the actual event to give more people a chance to get their hands on a ticket. 

When the Kingston weekend arrived I had actually spent most of that week already in London for work and was not exactly excited to go back to the big city (might be an unpopular opinion but I am not a fan) but what can you do?  I traveled with friends by train down South and that was good fun.
Accommodation for the weekend was the Tune Hotel near Liverpool Street Station / Shoreditch which I can recommend.  It is for London measures quite affordable and brand new. For dinner I took my friends to my favorite Wahaca at Charlotte Street. If you like delicious, reasonably priced Mexican food Wahaca is your place to go. There are several restaurants in London and other cities including a new one in Edinburgh now as well. I hope Glasgow gets one next

On the gig day we escaped London fairly early to travel to Kingston upon Thames, which is an absolutely beautiful little town. I loved it!  
The last proper Biffy tour had been quite a while ago and so the occasion was perfect to catch up with the gig pals over the day.
The band arrived in the early afternoon and were so gracious to take a lot of time to say hello, catch up with everyone, hug, cuddle, laugh, pull faces, take pictures and sign stuff. There were so many happy faces beaming with big smiles - just beautiful. 

At 6 pm the doors opened for the first show which went on for about 45 minutes and then lots of smiling people came out of the venue - many to go back to the queue and re-enter for show 2 because they were lucky enough to secure tickets for both.
I personally just went to the second show and that's more than fine with me because that show was all I had ever hoped for.  I could watch it from a prime first row spot and I enjoyed it so much. Besides the quick in store for the album release in Glasgow it was my first time to see a proper Biffy acoustic gig and the setlist was made of my dreams.
I am not ashamed to admit that music can make me very emotional and when Si put that harmonica holder around his neck my heart almost stopped ... would they ... would they maybe play "Drop It" ... that odd little extra track that they played only half dozen times spread over almost a decade? That little song that has all my heart?  It took maybe half a chord to confirm and yes ... yes ... DROP IT! Let's just say there were tears. Lots of happy tears.
I barely had my shit together again for the next song when accompanied by loud "YESSSS!" shouts from all over the venue the intro of "A Whole Child Ago" kicked in. Another song one barely gets to hear anymore. The one single time I heard it live before at the Barras we had a lyrics hick up that broke my heart a little because it is the first verse I really love. This time all was good on the lyrics front and the song sounds AMAZING played acoustic. When Simon finally announced that the next song after that would be "Breatheher" we got to a point where down in the audience we were giving out Hi5s gratulating each other that we actually made it to this very special night.
The whole set was amazing, but another highlight was definitely "Re-arrange" when the crowd directed by our friend Jamie on the balcony and also a laughing Si and Ben on the stage managed to adjust to the correct hand clapping pattern. Just see yourself - we had the best of times:

To me this day is on the same level of awesome with one of the Barras shows. It was of course a much shorter set, but it was so out of the ordinary (the two sets were btw completely different and had only 2 songs played both times) and very intimate ... something rare in the time of arena shows and festival headliner sets. It was also so close to the feeling of the Barras because the audience was just right .. so so many familiar faces of folks who really love that band and know their business when it comes to lyrics and the appreciation of rarely played tracks. Just perfect.

I think it is safe to say that the band enjoyed the day as well - here is the post show picture proof:

Source: Biffy Clyro on Instagram

YesDragon -  A Game Of Kings 

This song was actually not yet released when the show in Kingston happened but since it is a beautiful acoustic tune that perfectly fits to the feel of that day it is my choice for the first link. 

The "Dick Panto" EP which includes "A Game Of Kings" can be purchased here

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