Music

London-Music-Gigs-Concerts

Last night I watched Justin Krook’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. I happened upon it by accident as is the beauty of Netflix.

On the heels of The Get Down which I binged watched over the weekend from Friday, I was looking for something with either music or a love story at the heart of it. I wasn’t fussed what it was going to be. I just wanted something in the background as I made notes on the novel I’m writing. So when this documentary on the superstar DJ and music producer Steve Aoki started, I really didn’t know what I was in for.

You see, I’m stuck in a time warp. My book is inspired by the ’90s club scene and if there was anything I was getting excited about it was Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down: New York in the 70s and the history of hip hop with the legendary Grandmaster Flash thrown in? Yes, please!

But LA in the early 2000s, that wasn’t my scene so when watching I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead it was great to discover the world that Steve Aoki was responsible for through his label’s club nights: Dim Mak Tuesdays and Banana Split. And with the likes of Pete Tong, Diplo and will.i.am adorning Aoki with their respect, it’s difficult not to admire Aoki’s work ethic that makes you wonder if he is going to burn out anytime soon. It’s been 10 years and he still hasn’t.

Krook’s documentary doesn’t just follow Aoki around the world to parties in awe-inspiring places. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead also tells the story of Aoki’s background that was heavily influenced by his absent father, Rocky Aoki – the founder of the worldwide restaurant chain Benihana which can also be found on the King’s Road.

Whilst the documentary flagged up that I still haven’t visited Benihana, it also showed a man driven to prove his worth to his father. Rocky Aoki was a larger than life character; he was an adrenaline junkie and it’s not difficult to see that his son has a similar way of living.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a good documentary to watch if you love music; you don’t have to particularly like Aoki’s music but you can’t ignore his influence on the club scene over the years. It’s also a great watch because it shows us what you can achieve if you’re hungry enough to make your dream come true.

Anarchy In Knightsbridge!

As if cocking a snook at the surrounding glitz and glamour, I found this anarchic gem of a window by Gina on Sloane Street. Riffing on the iconic 1977 Jamie Reid “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” album cover, Gina are clearly having a tongue-in-cheek moment with their “God Save Gina”, and “Anarchy In Knightsbridge” tag lines.

What an appropriate way to merge the heritage of the nearby King’s Road and the Sex Pistols’ fashion connection with Vivienne Westwood to Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday. Full marks to Gina for creativity and humour, my favourite combo.

Of course, when the original artwork for the Sex Pistols’ album came out it was hugely controversial. The record sleeve was originally intended to read “God Save Sex Pistols”, but  just before its release Steve Jones – the Pistols’ only functioning guitarist – provided an admonishment he’d overheard from a pair of fans and replaced it with “Never mind the bollocks”, meaning “stop talking rubbish”. Many of the mainstream record stores refused to carry the album, album charts refused to list it, and shops refused to display the artwork in their windows on grounds that the word “bollocks” was offensive.

Eventually the band was taken to court under the antiquated obscenity laws of the day, but were able to prove that in the context of the album sleeve it means something akin to “nonsense”. On trial for indecency and inciting moral outrage, they were acquitted on all counts.

Jamie Reid broke down the conventions of record sleeve design by pointedly not including a shot of the band on the cover. Instead, opting for an acid yellow background as offensive to the eye as possible and crudely cut out lettering. An artist’s two fingered salute to the storied traditions of typesetting and commercial graphic design.

The lurid yellow album sleeve, the ripped and safety-pinned Union Flag poster for “Anarchy In The UK” established an unforgettable visual aesthetic for the punk movement. A design language that was provocative and unsettling at the time has mellowed with age, and has become as comfortable and familiar as a favourite armchair. But it’s worth noting that this most recognisable of brand languages almost never saw the light of day. Amid a storm of controversy the Sex Pistols were dropped by their label A&M on the eve of the album’s release, resulting in thousands of already pressed “God Save The Queen” singles being destroyed. The band were subsequently rejected by CBS, Polydor, Pye and Decca until finally an eleventh-hour deal was struck with Richard Branson. With the ink still wet on their contract with Virgin, the record was rushed into production.

I’m not sure what Jamie Reid would make of the modern day commercial derivatives of his groundbreaking graphic art. Reid was involved with the Situationists, an appropriately left-wing anti-authoritarian movement attempting to critique capitalism. But then again, although shunned by the big retailers, the album sold extremely well through independent record shops in exchange for capitalist money tokens. So perhaps by now he’d regard Gina’s window with good humour and marvel at his design’s long-lived cachet.

I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me so long to write this post especially as I visited Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery on the first day of its opening; at 11am, the first walk-in time slot.

What’s more, I absolutely loved the exhibition which I’m keen to see again before it ends in September.

Thinking about it, it’s probably because I’m not what you may consider a bona fide fan of The Rolling Stones. I appreciate their classics and their legacy but I don’t think I’ve ever bought any of their music. So I wasn’t sure what I could say about the exhibition.

Perhaps I’ll start with … So why did I enjoy it so much?

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

As much as Exhibitionism is about The Rolling Stones, it’s also about the integrity of music. We get to see the showpieces over time, from the instruments to the costumes and in one section an actual 3-D show performance of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction that makes you feel as if you’re front row at a live show. It is amazing.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

And of course there is the local nostalgia from The Rolling Stones’ early days when they lived on Edith Grove, which is very close to where I live now.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

The authenticity of their first Chelsea digs is also testimony that these musicians struggled at the start of their careers. And the romantic in me imagines their passion for music driving them to their global success spanning decades as it continues to do so today.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

There’s a glimpse into the way they work and throughout the exhibition there are chances to hear their different sounds. After all, an exhibition about rock gods needs to have some music. And fans of The Rolling Stones have plenty to delight in.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

Throughout the exhibition there is an element of the wow factor, so much so you feel like there’s a need to return to appreciate the full spectrum of what The Rolling Stones have achieved.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery on Duke of York Square

But what I got most of all from Exhibitionism is the level of energy these musicians still have. Whether it’s from their live shows or the excitement they create in their fans, one thing is for certain: there aren’t many music groups that can keep up with these guys. And it’s no wonder why.

Exhibitionism runs until 4th September at Saatchi Gallery on Duke of York Square.

Chelsea Girl

I was never lucky enough to meet the music legend David Bowie, I never had a chance to see him in concert and only the other day when I was in a meeting, I expressed my regret that I never made it to the David Bowie is… exhibition at the V&A even though I’m a member. But like countless people around the world, Bowie’s music affected me for no other reason than because of its beauty: the melodies, the lyrics, the vast ideas which Bowie explored and the theatricality of his persona. Everything about this musician inspired me and today a lot of people woke up to the sad news that he had passed away.

There really were no words. The world was shocked and saddened.

But let’s not forget what a music icon David Bowie was and to celebrate what he left behind I just wanted to share three of my favourite Bowie songs, the ones I tend to play over again when I start listening to them – as I did today.

RIP David Bowie and thank you for the beautiful music.

Chelsea Girl

1. Visit the Michelin-starred Chinese dim sum teahouse Yauatcha for lunch or afternoon tea.

Not only to try the limited edition desserts: Red Macarons filled with mandarin ganache and mandarin pâte de fruit as well as the Red Petits Gateaux, which are jasmine mousse filled with a honey panna cotta centre, caramelised mandarins and sesame brittle. But also because …

YAUATCHA AND HARVEY NICHOLS TO CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR

… each guest at Yauatcha will receive a red envelope containing vouchers for fashion and beauty treats, along with a bespoke Chinese New Year cocktail created by the Yauatcha and Harvey Nichols bar managers. The cocktail is also available at the Fifth Floor Bar.

Eight special golden tickets will also be given to guests at random, containing lavish prizes such as meals and cocktail masterclasses at Yauatcha and makeovers at Harvey Nichols.

2. Head to the White Horse pub in Parsons Green for Burns Night supper. Each of the five courses will be matched with a Brewmeister beer. You can see the full menu here.

3. Catch the last weekend of Daumier, 1808-1879, Visions of Paris at the Royal Academy of Arts. London Evening Standard describes the exhibition as “An exciting and astonishing exhibition, an aesthetic boxer’s blow to the heart.” More information

4. If you’re a Hobbs shoes fan, hurry to the Hobbs three day sample sale from 24th until 26th January 2014, at The Music Rooms. Here are the opening times as well as a list of other sample sales at the same venue.

5. If you love music soundtracks and fancy a nostalgic evening of live music locally. The Pink Singers will be performing A Night at the Movies at Cadogan Hall on Saturday night from 7pm. You can book your tickets here.

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