Arcade Fire (The Reflektors) at The Roundhouse – 12th November 2013

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The Pen

What was great/ what stood out: Observing the sheer number of band members alone is impressive, not to mention the catalogue of instruments they play! They sound amazing live and have the ability to rejuvenate your enjoyment of a song that maybe you had started to tire of (ahem…Reflektor!)

 What wasn’t great/what was missing: Nothing major that would deter anyone from going to the show. I had just really hoped they would play “Wake Up” from their debut album, Funeral. I held onto this hope even as the lights were coming on AFTER their encore. It was not to be.

 Favourite song/performance: From the new album, “Here Comes the Night”, “Afterlife” and “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” and because they tugged on my nostalgic heartstrings, “Haiti” and “Power Out (Neighbourhood #3)”

 Least favourite song/performance: “Joan of Arc” but that’s just because it’s my least favourite song on the album. I find it too catchy…even though that is a defence I normally employ to justify against my sometimes cringe-worthy taste in cheesy pop! In this case, “Joan of Arc” is just not my cup of tea!

 

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The Cob

I have always thought (as many have) that bands have the ability to have two or three albums that sound similar and follow a similar formula. Many have fallen to the third/fourth album demise: Oasis and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, Stereophonics and Just Enough Education to Perform and Kings of Leon and their Only by the Night, to mention just a few. Bands with massive promise that end up unable to ignore their record sales and therefore produce album after album of the formulaic music. 

So when Arcade Fire brought out their fourth album Reflektor I was worried. Funeral is one of my favourite albums of all time and Neon Bible was also top draw in my books. The Suburbs was a solid third album but it did suggest more of the same. But Reflektor has rekindled the fire (or Arcade Fire) in my belly. I think it has the ingredients that can turn a great band into a legendary band. So after hearing a few songs from the album I was so excited to land tickets for their concert in London.

The performance was extraordinary, it had drama, musical talent and the fervour that a live show needs. The show started with the catchy and mesmeric Reflektor, inviting the entire audience to cease discussing their fancy dress costume and concentrate fully on the performance. It continued from their, the crowd jumping around in their formal attire or recycled Halloween costumes to the tunes of Joan of Arc, Porno and You Already Know. We were also treated to performances of Power Out and Haiti, which reminded us of the historical quality of the Quebecois band. The show never ceased to draw you in and the inevitable encore gave us Sprawl II and Supersymmetry. I must admit that a more livelier ending song would have left me with that ring in my ear that would have left me buzzing all the way home. However, I was left with the feeling that only a gig can produce. If you can catch them on their tour, I recommend making a beeline to wherever you can see them, you won’t be disappointed!

 

When is it OK to start Christmas festivities?

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The Pen

Let me begin this post by saying that both the Pen and the Cob are huge fans of Christmas but the question of when is appropriate to begin the festivities can be a tricky one and really depends on who you ask.

Shops and Malls? Late September it seems for some, by Halloween for all

Radio stations that insist on playing non-stop Christmas music? November 1st

Me personally, I think somewhere around the 4-6 week period before Christmas is perfectly acceptable for those that love to prefer to view Christmas as a season, rather than a holiday; however I completely understand and respect those who prefer to wait until December has begun before they deck their halls.

I justify my enthusiasm about the lead up to Christmas because of my habits post-December 26th (yes, Boxing Day counts as Christmas of course!) As soon as December 27th-28th rolls around, my Christmas spirit dwindles faster than you can unplug the lights on a Christmas tree. Suddenly the decorations that mere days before made my home feel cozy and spirited now make it feel stifling and cluttered.

The only explanation I have for my 180-degree shift is that this was how it worked in my house growing up. Tree and decorations go up early, tree and decorations come down quickly. In fact, I find people who leave their décor up past New Years as puzzling as those who wonder why I have a fully decked out tree by November 23rd.  SO I guess my answer to our Christmas query is that you should get into the Christmas Spirit whenever it feels right for you!

The Cob

Now, Christmas is a time that I love to celebrate, but when is it OK to start getting those decorations out and watching yuletide movies? There are many different theories to this quandary and often these can differ somewhat between men and women, but here is my stance on the issue.

The other day, just over a week ago, I had an appointment just off Oxford Street, early in the morning. I got off at Bond Street station and was faced with the original HMV store on one side of the street and the Disney store on the other. The lights were on, the decorations were at their fullest and the music playing was easily heard from the street. And what was playing? Christmas songs. This was 14th November and it felt too early. However, yesterday, the 23rd, I watched Disney’s A Christmas Carol, not 9 days after, and it felt right. I was ready to begin my seasonal festivities and embrace all that ’tis the season.

There is, what seems to me, a fine line between Christmas spirit rising inside you and the corporate world forcing you to feel Christmassy.  That morning on Oxford Street felt as if I was being told to acknowledge that it was Christmas time, and that I should feel festive. The idea of buying presents, money, thinking up good ideas of what to get my eight nieces and nephews, where am I going to spend New Year’s Eve was what came to mind as I walked past the Disney shop and the jingle of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. As opposed to what I now feel: time to spend with my family, the excited faces of my nieces and nephews, Home Alone, David Bowie and Bing Crosby, roast turkey, Christmas trees, all the things that make my Christmas.

It’s fair to say that I am a big child inside and that I hope never to lose that special Christmas spirit, and in answer to the above question, when is it OK to start Christmas festivities? I guess I would have to say, whenever you are ready! But whatever you do, don’t force yourself to wait until December or Christmas Eve, listen to the child inside and think Christmas whenever you want to!

Pen and Cob…

 

We’ll never know which sex in the best, we are yet to find a neutral judge, but this blog is an attempt to answer some of the questions of how the two genders see the world. Are the stereotypes true? Are women really from Venus and men from Mars? Well, we are unsure of whether this will shed any light, or even be a fair test, but in our truest way possible we aim to make some interesting reading on the weird and wonderful world and how the two sexes see it.

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