Saturday, October 30, 2010

Robyn at the Concorde 2

I go to a lot of gigs, mostly in seedy pub function rooms or muddy fields at festivals and that's the way I like it. The last time I went to a genuine pop concert was back in 2008, when Neel persuaded me to go and see Kylie at the O2. It was certainly an experience and a brilliant night out with one of my favourite people, but I can't imagine ever wanting to go back to that particular venue. I do really like a fix of uncomplicated, energetic electro-pop, though, so when I saw that Swedish popstrel Robyn was coming to the Concorde 2 (and not the awful Brighton Centre), I was quick to snap up tickets.

I've heard Robyn described as Sweden's answer to Britney before now, presumably because she too was a child star. Certainly both share a history of catchy pop tunes and a massive gay following, but somehow Robyn's Swedishness makes her quirkier and more interesting by default. In the flesh she is less kooky and more unabashedly Euro-pop than you might expect, which endeared her to us even more. It made a pleasant change to be at the Concorde amongst a bouncy crowd of excitable gaylords and giggly girls, as opposed to the usual hipster chin-stroking contingent - although interestingly there were a few of those around too.

There's nothing surprising or challenging about Robyn's material, but it is bloody good pop music. I like to think of it as a cleansing of the musical palette - a sort of sorbet gig, if you will. And she puts on a great show: energetic, enthusiastic and emotive. I couldn't help but dance. Lots. Particular highlights were 'Dancing on my Own' (my favourite track from Body Talk Pt.1) and 'Hang with Me', a more stripped back almost-ballad which showed off her true vocal abilities. The best thing was being so up close and personal with such a big personality and an even bigger sound in an intimate venue. It could only have been better if dear Neel had been here to enjoy it with me instead of thousands of miles away in Melbourne.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Middle Farm Apple Festival 2010

You know autumn's arrived when Apple Festival rolls around. It always seems to be the event for which everyone finally relents and digs out their winter coats and hats and sturdy boots for a stomp around Middle Farm. And even though the sun does tend to shine on Firle for the weekend, the temperature has definitely taken a dive since those last days of summer just a few weeks ago, at the end of September. This year was no exception, with a definite nip in the air and even the faintest hint of dragon breath on Apple Festival revellers. I wished I'd worn more layers, but thankfully inside the tents it was cosy, and a dance around to some of the energetic bands soon got the blood circulating.


This year Apple Festival was extra special because it was my nephew Nat's first festival and a delight to introduce him to the joys of dancing along to live music amongst a rosy cheeked, gently cider fuelled crowd. He seemed to love it - as you can see from the above video - and I'm hoping this will have been the first of many festival outings we'll have together. The grown ups had fun too, especially appreciating the extra food stalls and hot spicy apple juice for those of us who were driving. I went home armed with cheese and biscuits from the food hall and numb fingers from holding my dandelion and burdock ice cream float; what a silly idea on a cold autumn day. But oh, so tasty.

Middle Farm Apple Festival 2007

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waving at Strangers from Trains and Other Childhood Joys Rediscovered

I was travelling back from a meeting in Guildford today, getting frustrated by technology (Macs. Argh.) and staring out of the window, when suddenly I was seized by a compulsion to wave at passengers on a passing train. I can only assume that my inner child was fighting its way out, urging me to break free from the shackles of work responsibilities, if only for a moment. And what a moment it was when after 30 seconds of bemused looks and uncomfortable shifting in seats, someone finally waved back.

From the grin on his face and enthusiastic flailing of arms, it was clear that my fellow waver had also been possessed by, and was utterly embracing, his inner child. It was a good feeling to have passed along a little joy and shared an uncomplicated interaction with a stranger, and to know that there are others out there who still want to act like kids occasionally, too.

It got me thinking about other little things we do that recapture the simple pleasures of childhood. Like the other morning when I arrived at work to observe a colleague slowly collecting and contemplating conkers from the path up to the office. He's six foot four and beardy, but for those few minutes he projected all the calm simplicity of a five year old enthralled by the wonders of nature and the possibilities of conkers. It was heartwarming, truly.

Intrigued by the notion of simple childhood joys, I asked some friends* how they like to release their  own inner child; the responses were prolific and most entertaining. Here are my favourite suggestions, which I encourage you to try (go on, let go a little. You'll feel better for it, I promise). Feel free to add your own.

Top Ten Ways to Stir Your Inner Child

  1. Waving at strangers on a passing train
  2. Collecting conkers
  3. Eating cake mix
  4. Shouting really, really loudly
  5. Writing 'BOOBIES' into a calculator
  6. Turning down the TV and making up dialogue for the actors
  7. Asking "why?" repeatedly
  8. Running (or even better, doing roly-polies) down a steep hill
  9. Splashing in puddles
  10. Making up stupid poems or song lyrics (and saying them loudly)

*Thanks to Nick, Ben, Roger, Katie, Karen and others for their contributions.

Photo by Minusbaby on Flickr