We are back with our review… a day or so late, but one thing I didn’t get all that much of was sleep. So it took me a bit longer to get this finished.
This bygone week was, again, heavily in the sign of Necronomidol. After having had a chance to meet them at the record signing session at Sister Ray Ace in Shoreditch I was in for two days of waiting – following all the tweets and fb posts about their gigs up north (Manchester, Birmingham) with excitement and growing anticipation – before finally being able to see them live at The Underworld in London’s Camden Town. Now, I’m well aware that I sound full-on fanboy here, but if it hits you, it hits you. Music has always been something pretty well able to wake my inner enthusiast, and while – and because – there have been time where I’d become pretty jaded, I now know to cherish this excitement and go with whatever entertains me.
Now, the London gig was pretty much phenomenal. There were two support acts, 2& (Double And aka Saki), who delivered an energetic punky pop set to an immediately pretty hyped up audience. I must admit I had only checked out a couple of her songs previously to seeing her on Wednesday, and while they were decent, I wasn’t immediately sold. He live set, however, was of a different calibre and she quickly won me over. I was much impressed with her gymnastics demonstration, where she did somersaults across stage towards the end of her set! I had a chance to chat to her briefly during Cheki* time, and her enthusiasm and gratefulness for being able to play in the UK were inspiring.
Next up was Screaming 60s, who normally are a duo consisting of Kai and Montero, but unfortunately due to Montero experiencing visa issues, consisted of Kai alone for this gig. Before the gig the tour organiser came on stage annoucing that Montera was playin at the same time in Tokyo (4AM in the morning there) so that the two would be performing together in spirit!
Hard to say how much that influenced Kai’s performance, but it has to be said that she did great – heavily supported by an, at that time already pretty frenetic audience, delivering a raw, rocking set with seemingly sheer endless energy. The Oscar-clip moment from that set must’ve been when she jumped into the audience crowdsurfing onto a near collision with a pillar in the centre of the room which, irony of ironies, has a large “No Crowdsurfing” sign on the other side. (If there’s any photo of this, I haven’t yet come across it! Please, send it my way!)
Of course I also had to get a cheki with Kai, who was also very hyped about her UK experience and promised she’ll return with Montero… if not I’ll definitely have to make sure I’ll see them live when and if my plans for a Japan trip materialise. Hopefully next year!
Necronomidol had brought the Necroma band (the live band they play with on occasion, a lot of their gigs – and such also the previous two in UK – are done with instrumental playbacks) for their first overseas gig to London, making this a special occasion for band and fans alike!
It definitely was for me, who’s been looking forward to this gig since March. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. From the first notes of “Dawnslayer” to the last chords of “Skulls in the Stars” the girls commanded the room! Two MCs in English, some with notes written on wrists or crib sheets were met with cheers & Happy Birthday chants for Hina.
As the next day was a workday I’d refrained from drinking before the gig, but after I just needed a pint (honestly, only 1) of Guinness to replenish on electrolytes and re-hydrate. And then it was time to hit the Cheki queues. Got to speak to a couple of other folks while queuing and it’s fair to say that no one I spoke to was anything other than hyper-excited.
I’ll spare you the details of the Necroma cheki session for now, as you will be reading more about them a bit further down.
First, let’s travel by mind, as I did by train, south. Under the sea and across land to a little town called Paris. Starting out Friday morning for a long weekend, doing 2 things I’d not done before at once. Firstly travel to Paris twice within a year. This was only my 3rd time there, having previously been for a few days last August and, before that, sometimes in the last century. Secondly, follow a band for a few shows. Neither of these I regret.
During last years trip I’d absolved quite a full cultural program visiting the Centre Pompidou, Pantheon, Musee des Arts et Metiers and the Espace Dali with its permanent exhibition of sculptures and paintings by the Catalan Master. Besides museums I spent my time walking the Ile de la Cite visiting the spot where purportedly Jacques de Molays grand master of the Knights Templar was burned at the stake, before haunting the Quartier Latin & checking out Shakespeare and Company. I went down south for breakfast in the Jardin du Luxembourg, headed west for La Defense and La Grande Arche de la Défense before returning to the centre to have a sandwich dinner in the Tuilleries. And, as befits a librarian, I visited the Bibliotheque Nationale du France Francois Mitterand, not to mention Montmartre & Sacre Coeur at night. And then I finished the trip off with a walk up the Canal du St. Denis. (I realize that, after trying to write about last years trip shortly thereafter, and failing to get further than a 1 1/2 page draft, I just managed to sum it up in a paragraph… a rare moment of succinctness?!) Pictures from that trip are, currently, only available on my fb.
This time I took it considerably easier, saving some of my energy for the evening entertainment. I also decided that this time round I wanted to focus less on Museums or Galleries, explore the city a bit more and practise my street photography a bit more. As with so many things in life, anything that is done well, looks like it’s really simple &/or easy. When you look at great photos it’s often easy to forget what went into them. Of course there are complex staged shots, or those with plenty of visible post processing, and to those the previous statement may not apply. What I mean specifically, I think, is how much goes into a great shot where you have the feeling that the photographer simply picked up the camera, framed what’s before them and pressed the shutter – and yet, when you start going out on the street that is hardly ever what happens. You start noticing interesting motives and yet the photos you end up with are somehow not what you’ve seen in your mind. And to make this happen, this transition from an observation into an exposition, to capture not just something or somebody, but an idea, a narrative – while at the same time having to overcome a certain fear to simply take photos of strangers – that’s a different matter altogether.
Working on this has positive side effects: for one you end up working on overcoming useless reservations and start approaching others more openly. And you develop a deeper awareness for your surroundings- not just visually. I’ve followed some sage advice not to listen to music on headphones while about taking pics. Because for one thing you want to be approachable, appear open for communication to those whose pictures you’re taking, but also keep your ears out for what is going on – they might lead you to your motive. Apart from that it’s generally a good idea when traveling in a country whose language you’re learning as you pick up a lot of little things and start to get some measure for how much – or little you already understand.
Still working on my confidence at the moment I picked some tourist heavy spots for shooting – Champs Elysee, Boulevard Hausmann, the fleamarket at Porte de Ouen, Les Halles – for my photo excursions, rather than venturing into maybe more interesting, but also more challenging spots. And got 2-3 nice shots, a couple more decent ones and a lot that I can learn from.
Friday evening I went to the Musee du quai Branly for a ‘museum late’ style event called Before l’enfer around their current, very interesting exhibition L’enfer Asie – about hell, demons and beliefs about afterlife in East-Asian art and culture. This was quite a fascinating trip into a different world, presenting old beliefs and current horror stories and movies. After taking in the exhibition it was time to head to the Theatre Claude Levi-Strauss (a part of the Musee) where the performances were being held. The first one I saw was a music & dance performance by Yôko Higashi, after that were Necronomidol. Having a large stage before a huge backdrop of their logo for themselves, their dance routines unfolded magnificently.
For the gig at La Boule Noire the next day I’d gone with a VIP ticket which meant a meet and greet (& a signed poster among other things) before the gig and, most importantly, the opportunity to get myself to a front row spot!
The support act, a Japanese goth/punk outfit called X Made Alcoholic Santaclaus were tolerably good (and further proof that in Japan you can, apparently, just take a bunch of English words, string them together and, voila, have a perfect band name – anyone remember the “reggae hairstyle rock’n’roll” t-shirt from pretend Japanese Friends on the Simpsons? Yeah, like that.)
Anyways, shortly after that the Necroma band took to the stage and soon the girls came up as well, started proceedings with Psychopomp, did their best trying (and almost fully succeeding MCing in French and delivered an amazing show playing a great many of my favourite tunes, such as Dawnslayer, R’lyeh and the fantastic Keres Thanatoio. They would have deserved a larger audience, but other than that the evening was pretty much perfect. If not more. After they were done people shouted for an encore and, quite unusual for them – or idol gigs in general, I am told – they did one! The drummer of the Necroma band asked which song, and they ended up playing my suggestion: End of Days, the sublime opener from their Deathless album.
After a short wait the girls came out for Cheki time. Whereas in London, where there were so many doing a cheki I’d only gone for a group shot and one shot with Himari, here I took a pic with each of the members. You also get a chance to talk to them for a minute or two, giving me a chance to “impress” (read: test their politeness) with the first couple of Japanese words I’d picked up so far. Which did help my motivation to stick to this new endeavour hoping that I will eventually manage to get to a modest level in this rather difficult language.
It was also nice to meet some of the French fans, as well as folks who’d travelled to Paris from Germany and some Japanese fans who’d come to Europe to follow them around for the whole tour!
Sunday I was too tired (being woken up early by rather noisy Hotel-neighbours and having had to get up and check out) for any big adventures. So the green and, apart from a horde of joggers, rather tranquil surroundings of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont were a great space to chill out for a while before taking the Eurostar back home.
I have to say: while this definitely was a memorable week and held some of the highlights of this year, which is only about half over, I am looking forward to one or two calmer weeks… before, in early July… but wait, that’s the future.
*Cheki are small polaroid pictures you can do with the group or single members.
Below, again, some of the pictures from this week! These and more are also here.
As I’ve got, thanks to burst shooting, literally 1000s of pics from the Necronomidol gigs, those will mostly come later. Today just a few from the gig at the Musee…