December 10th, 2010

fink whiky

British Museum & PRR Gig

Off into London yesterday for the Pure Reason Revolution gig in the evening, and before that we obviously had to go to the British Museum to look at stuff! ;) We took a slightly different route driving to Cockfosters (via the A120 & A10 rather than straight down the A12), which was a bit more stressful (coz I didn't know what any of the junctions were gonna look like in advance) and took a little longer, but it still beat sitting for half an hour in the roadworks at the A12/M25 junction like we did a couple of weeks ago ;)

Once at the museum we first went to look at the Royal Standard of Ur, in with the Mesopotamian stuff - it had been out on loan when we looked at those galleries. The label pointed out that some of the stuff that's depicted on it can be seen in the rest of the gallery - like a bull headed harp. Which is kinda neat to see :) I'd also not realised it was crushed when they found it & reconstructed, I guess that's why it wasn't taken when the rest of the stuff in that particular tomb was stolen. We then walked through the Egyptian statuary on the way to the Assyrian sculptures. Obviously we didn't just march through, but had a look around. Amongst other things we spent a bit of time looking at someone's sarcophagus that had some of the same scenes (scenes from the Amduat (which means "Book of What Is in the Underworld")) as we'd seen on the shrines that were round Tutankhamun's sarcophagus. We did make it as far as the Assyrian stuff in the end though :) Most of the Assyrian sculptures had strong resemblances to each other, so although any individual piece was pretty striking the lasting impression was pretty one-note. Lots of protective spirits (each with a magic cone and bucket), lots of bearded men (pretty fine beards tho, that's an element of their style that is very distinctive), lots of cuneiform writing slapped across it. In contrast to the Egyptian stuff (where the writing is part of the artistic composition) it felt like the Assyrians made these striking reliefs & statues, then just scribbled all over them! There was a whole series of reliefs from the walls of a palace & they all had this band of text across the centre which repeated the same few paragraphs over & over, and made no concessions to what was going on in the depicted scenes (mostly protective spirits & the king being King).

After a few hours in the museum we headed off to the nearby Pizza Express and grabbed a very quick dinner before heading to the Scala for the gig. I'd forgotten my map, so we decided to get the tube but when we got to Holborn there was a crowd about 10 deep outside the tube station & no-one going anywhere. I bought an A-Z from a newspaper stand, but the guy also told us which bus we could get to Kings Cross, so we did that. I'm guessing this was part of the fall out from the protests/rioting going on elsewhere in central London, but we didn't realise that till after we got home & read the news. Proof that London's a big place, I guess - it just felt like more traffic chaos than usual rush hour, not like there was a law & order problem somewhere nearby.

Got to the Scala in good time, and were actually nearish the front of the queue - surprisingly. There were three support bands before PRR, which made for a fairly varied evening's entertainment. First up were Clean Bandit who aren't really my sort of thing musically ( - they were a string quartet plus keys and drums (electronic drums at that) and vocals (and the vocalist was kinda old-school entertainer). They were great fun to watch though - J said it was a bit "show biz" for his tastes, I'd happily see them (as a support act) again tho, definitely entertaining.

Next up were Losers - one of the guys in this band (Tom Bellamy) was in Cooper Temple Clause and was also involved in writing & producing the current PRR album. J had listened to some of their stuff before the gig & didn't think it'd be our cup of tea (here's something on youtube: but actually they were pretty good live! I quite often find stuff which passes me by on record is more engrossing live, but I think this is the first time I can remember that happening to J (we listened to them on spotify again this morning, and still not really doing anything for either of us on record). Electronic/rock hybrid this time (spot a bit of a theme?), a bit wall of noise in places, but always something interesting going on somewhere even in the noisiest bits. They had rather a neat gimmick of pre-canned intros to the songs done by an entertaining voice over.

Last of the support bands were The Last Republic. Who suffered somewhat from following the other groups - these guys played fairly straightforward (and generic sounding) rock, with an ethos of louder is better to the point where I thought the top end was too distorted. And I thought they were lacking in charisma, too, with the over-the-top theatrics of the bass player in particular just making him look a little daft. Talking about it at the time, J thinks I'm a bit too harsh - and I do think if they'd been the only support I'd've been less underwhelmed. They'd still've felt a bit bland tho ;) And I've never seen someone sing through a megaphone into guitar strings before, so I can't really say they weren't imaginative ;)

And finally! Pure Reason Revolution played for about an hour & a half, which is a longer set than they've usually done. The main set was heavily biased towards the latest album as you'd expect, with a handful of tracks from the second album, the encore was three tracks off the first album (including Bullits Dominae which they've not done live often if ever) with the strings from Clean Bandit joining them. An awesome gig, as always - they're a fantastic live band (and pretty damn good on record too). Standout tracks for me were Deus Ex Machina ( - linked to a live version coz then you get to see the band not just the AVO album cover) as always, it's even better when you're there in the room than it ever sounds when recorded, and Fight Fire With Fire (where they had Tom Bellamy join them on stage, he wrote this song).

And then it was time for the long trek home, arriving at 2am tired but having had a good day :D