Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Strange Days and New Years

Hogmanay celebrations are a tricky thing to get right. If you try to implement a strategy of immense detail you will inevitably fail. Doomed to see in the New Year in a crowd of people you are not particularly bothered about, which won’t matter too much anyway because you will spend most of your evening in a queue for an overpriced bar before concluding the proceedings being driven to a homicidal, insane rage searching for that completely elusive taxi home.

Leaving your plans to chance can often be a preferable option however can sometimes result in watching the BBC celebrations on the TV whilst eating shortbread with your Gran. Mind you, given that my wee Granny has been gone two years now I wouldn’t say no to that option if it were to suddenly present itself. That’s a bit maudlin...I probably wouldn’t like that, Zombie Gran Invasion is not the optimal activity.

Therefore when it was (semi) drunkenly decided on the spur of the moment, via text, with a good mate whilst I was in the pub and she was at home, to book a trip to London to see Sonic Youth and Shellac play the ATP Strange Days gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, the stress of trying to arrange something fun whilst keeping everyone else happy was suddenly alleviated.

I’ve always been of the opinion that the specific activity chosen for your Hogmanay doesn’t really matter so long as you are spending it with the people that are important to you. For me, this year, the numbers were very much narrowed to two very special folks therefore it made sense.

Of course, there are a couple of other people whom had they been able to join us would have made the whole trip absolutely perfect however if you do decide to hop over the border for a party then it is to be expected that not everyone you love will be able to join you. Them’s the breaks.

That being said, this year’s Hogmanay was the best I have had in long and weary; there was very little pressure being placed on anyone and it was just, well, awesome.
With regards to the gig itself, the bands were tremendous; Shellac were particularly fantastic, I was reminded of just how amazingly tight they actually are. And Sonic Youth brought in the bells with a blistering opening to their consistently excellent set.

The DJs that accompanied the continued New Year debauchery until 3am were equally ace and my friend and I danced like complete tits. A video of this has been provided for your enjoyment and blackmail purposes.

Another thoroughly lovely element to this trip was the fact that we were very kindly put up by two friends who live in London. It was really refreshing to spend this particular time of year in the company of some really cool people that due to geography I just don’t get to see. Myself and my party had a really awesome, beer fuelled, banterific two days in their company.

They also introduced us to a phenomenon surrounding a movie called Troll 2 which, frankly, I am completely baffled as to how I led my life unaware of. What will follow in 2011 will be a number of Troll 2 social events in which I systematically pass on the knowledge of Troll 2 to everyone I come into contact with.

What else did we manage to squeeze into a very short two days? As we were in London it felt rude to not try and go to the theatre. Our first choice, given that post-Hogmanay drunken shenanigans had instilled the need for something silly, was Legally Blond. However, this plan was thwarted due to exorbitant West End ticket prices.

Instead, we settled on a deal for End of the Rainbow at Trafalgar Studios; a biographical piece of drama based on the final few months of the life of Judy Garland. Now, I have been an avid fan of Judy Garland my entire life so this was a fine option for me however my two friends were, it’s perhaps fair to say, less enthused.

Fortunately, my companions being appreciative of high-quality drama were not disappointed with End of the Rainbow, as that is exactly what it is. The whole evenings entertainment ended with a standing ovation and me in floods of tears...(I swear I must have been a gay man in a previous life!) Not exactly the silly shenanigans we had hoped for but fulfilling none the less.

So Hogmanay celebrations 2011 were a resounding success, I'm thinking a foray into the wilds of the North of Scotland might be on the cards next year.

The one and only disappointment, if I had to locate one, was that in my absence from shiny Glasvegas I missed one of my best mates performing for the first time under the banner of a new musical creation of his. Franks Wild Band is Scotlands only Tom Waits tribute and very good he is too! Franks Wild Band has a residency in uber-trendy and Waits inspired gin bar, The Long Way Home. The disappointment of missing him the first time was fortunately short lived as he is making a triumphant return on the 6th February for a "Blue Valentine" gig.

So roll on 2011 and all your new adventures.

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