Sunday, April 23, 2006

'Lex Go Crazy

A year would not be complete without a jaunt to see the mighty Calexico and, my goodness, the word was out on Friday night with sixteen hundred enthusiastic followers packing the Bristol Academy to the rafters. The songs were as stunning as ever, a mixture of the trademark Calexico sound, evocative, sparse and atmospheric, and the knowing and intelligent material that dominates the recent and heartily life-affirming recording, Garden Ruin. The musicianship was as perfect as ever, underpinned by a fabulous rhythm section and augmented by layer after layer of joyous sounds. Simply, the group knows how to entertain. This is not a po-faced set of musicians showing off their skills; the humanity, exuberance and passion of the collective just engages the audience and rubs off on it relentlessly. I love this band. Iron and Wine were understated, thoughtful and proved that quiet is the new loud; their/his tender, balladic, oft religious offerings were worthwhile and worthy. A smashing little cameo by the expressive and hugely likeable Flamenco guitarist and singer Salvador Duran, all clicks, quirky animal noises and he-man strumming, completed the bill. More than once I gazed up at the stage where a dozen rare talents were weaving the most delirious wall of sound and reflected on my good fortune. This was a marvellous evening and I shall certainly be there next time.

The prescient S has always maintained that should Vashti Bunyan ever tour then St. George’s Hall, Bristol would be inked in as a venue. By huge chance I picked up a flyer off the pavement last night and discovered to my immense glee that the breathy chanteuse is bringing her intimate and pastoral sounds to that very venue at the start of June. Four tickets were acquired this morning via the worldwide web; all concerned can hardly wait.

Saturday was certainly busy. As usual, the morning was spent in Oxfam, shuffling between warehouse and shop-floor, selecting, pricing and putting out the paperbacks and stocking the shelves with the fiction – mostly – of my choice. I do enjoy that gentle hour or so each week. I found a cracking moleskin duffle coat on one of the racks out the back; it is a sort of camel colour and a touch large but I felt it was ‘me’ so snapped it up. With warmer weather approaching I doubt if I’ll wear it before the autumn but it shall certainly grace my wardrobe until then.

Gloucester’s 31-23 victory against Worcester propelled the famed city club into a European final, rugby’s equivalent, I guess, of the association code’s UEFA Cup. In many ways, this fixture was a carbon copy of last weekend’s league match against the same opponents; the young guns combined to set up some sparkling scores, Worcester fought back with a dogged belligerence and Gloucester’s fitness and undoubted class clinched it in the last quarter through a Mark Foster touchdown. Ryan Lamb’s swagger and reading of the game were delightful again and indicated a maturity and poise beyond his teen years. His sniping run through a canny Worcester defence, clever cut inside to draw more defenders and stunningly timed pass to the earnest and alert Richards not only led to a Simpson-Daniel try but justified, in a fleeting yet beautiful moment or two, the couple of hundred knicker I coughed up for my season ticket back in August. If that were not enough, the vision to spot Foster loitering on the left late on and pick him out with a sublimely judged crosskick was art too. I got home in time to listen to some post-match interviews on BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Foster, articulate and interesting it has to be said, described his try-creating kick as ‘world class’. And who am I to disagree? My only regret is that there are only a handful of games left this season to appreciate the riches that are bestowed upon us lucky punters.

1 comment:

David said...

Agree with your thoughts re. Calexico, Martin. An excellent gig, and an unusual one with the changing on-stage combinations. I thought the cover of All Tomorrow's Parties was great. The only negative aspect was that the packed venue left those of us arriving later with no view of the stage. Thankfully, a couple of tired gig-goers in front of us upstairs chose to sit down after half-an-hour, allowing us to see the band. Oh, and a minor point, the gig was on Saturday!