Friday, 26 October 2012

In Which There Are Many Happy Things

The full title of the post should really be "In which there is family, and art and museums and friends and Rock and food and beer and meeting people and brownies and lots of fun" but that's a little too long.

You see, Wednesday was the day (night) that Amanda Fucking Palmer was performing in Manchester. when the tickets first went on sale, I had to decide between the London and Manchester shows, and picked Manchester because although it involved more travelling, I got to combine the gig with a visit to my brother, and to introduce him and his girlfriend to Amanda's music, which seemed like a good idea!

I drove up to Manchester in the morning, and was able to meet R for lunch (unfortunately, my visit coincided with the only-available-about-twice-year-and-very-useful training day he needed to do, so he couldn't take the afternoon off, which was a shame, but such is life. R works at the BBC, at Salford Quays. It was odd for me to visits the Quays, as they have changed almost beyond recognition since I lived in Manchester - the area was almost all industrial wasteland in my day...

After lunching, I went to look around the Imperial War Museum North -which has exhibitions relating to modern warfare, and in particular to the impact of war, so there were exhibits about victims of shell shock, and trench warfare, and about prisoners of war, and victims of concentration camps, (and those who were involved in liberating them) as well as about more recent events such as the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks. Not an uplifting experience, but both interesting and thought-provoking.

A little later, after nipping back to R's house to drop off my stuff and park my car, I got a tram into Manchester and spent half an hour in the Manchester Art Gallery. I only had time to visit a small part of it, but it was nice. They have some lovely Victorian decor - I liked the fishes and bees, for instance...

There are also some quite nice pictures - I didn't get as far as the Lowrys, but I did see the William de Morgan tiles, which were always a favourite of mine, and I enjoyed the juxtaposition of old and new art - the butterflies are by an artist called Claire Brewster, and are all cut from ordnance survey maps... I liked them a lot!

I didn't get to stay long, as the gallery closes at 5, and I then had to leave, after which I met up with R and his girlfriend, J, for supper (an American themed meal, involving milkshakes)

and then it was time to head to the cathedral. We went via Sinclair's Oyster Bar, which is a lovely looking half-timbered building (built in 1720, and moved a few hundred yards, after the 1996 IRA bomb and subsequent redevelopment of the area) We had some rather nice beer, and met up with my friend Hellie, who was also heading the the gig.

And so - the main event!

AFP watching the stage
I have been to Manchester Cathedral before, for services, but never for a gig - it made for a pretty awesome space.

 Once inside, we spotted Laurie Pink and Essers (which was good, because it turned out that Twitter had been hiding their DM's from me, when we were trying to work out if we could meet up!)

They had cunningly spotted that there was space to stand around the side of the stage, where there was a good view! So we did standing there, too.  There was some brass band going on at the other end of the nave , then the vicar came to welcome everyone. I suspect he doesn't get massive applause and cheering on a Sunday morning, generally...
Friendly vicar says hello

Jherek Bishoff
Then there was music. Jherek Bischoff played - including a piece called 'Cistern' which, he explained, was written in an empty, underground water cistern and rarely performed, but the cathedral seemed an appropriate space to try it in (for the record, it really, really, worked!)

After the second opening act, Amanda Palmer started her own set (having introduced the others) with an a capella version of 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley', sung from the top of the (medieval) rood screen, above an array of painted angels. It was stunning.

She then came down onto the main stage and was, well, Amanda Fucking Palmer. Most of the show involved songs from the new album,  Theatre is Evil, but we also got 'Leeds United'..

It was an awesome night. We didn't stay for the post-show ninja encore outside the cathedral, on account of having to catch the last tram home, but even without it I was on a high.

And when we got back to the house, R revealed that he had specially baked some chocolate brownies for me, as a bleated birthday treat, and he & J stuck candles in them and sang 'Happy Birthday' to me at midnight, which made for a lovely, if slightly surreal end to the day. (plus, I got a whole lot of delicious brownies to bring home)

(more photos, as usual, on flickr

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