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Road Trip Diary: Brendan Benson, Manchester

Cocktails in Walrus, Manchester

A couple of weeks ago I shared my road trip diary from the London leg of a mini holiday I took with my girlfriends. From there we travelled to Manchester with a wee stop off at my house in Leeds to grab the car which we used from then on. It’s so good to get some ‘home time’ in between, however brief.

We arrived in Manchester in pretty good time, but completely got lost in the loop system trying to get into the Arndale Centre car park. You have to approach the shopping centre with it on your left to enter, but trying to get your car in the correct position on the correct road is an art in itself. We dined in Bella Italia which was tasty enough and then headed out to find somewhere to have a nice pre-gig drink.

On the way to the Norther Quarter (recommended by my lovely friend MaMagasin!) we ran into Brendan and the guys and he noticed the necklace that my friend Sarah was wearing. It’s a bit of a secret project at the moment, but I have designed a small range of jewellery pieces with a ‘Brendan Benson’ theme (I’d love to know if anyone would be interested in purchasing these when they’re ready). I had brought them along to show him, but didn’t expect to have the meeting in the street in the middle of Manchester, haha. Brendan immediately stole one of the pin badges and I attached it to his jacket before they went off to grab dinner. I put that one down as a win ;)

Walrus bar, Manchester

We had a drink in the Night & Day Cafe which is probably my favourite Manchester gig venue, despite being so teeny – tiny (the sound is awesome!) and then we headed to a bar called Walrus. It’s got a bit of a diner style feel inside, but much more upmarket and kooky. The bar man was super friendly and we ordered some great cocktails which were two for £10 as we’d hit just before the end of Happy Hour.

The gig was at The Ruby Lounge which is always a disappointment for me; The bar area is nice but the ceiling is so low in the venue area making the sound not great, especially the more grunge-y the band. Plus there are huge pillars – always a no-no in a venue!
It was even worse this time around when I got to the ticket desk and I hadn’t been put on the guest list. Granted, that wasn’t the door staff’s fault, but they were rude and unhelpful and made me go outside and contact my friend to sort it out. If you’re ever in that situation the door staff should actually have the promoter’s phone number on the list and they should call for you. Thankfully I have great friends and we got sorted eventually, but sadly missing Future Monarchs’ set due to the mix up :( This is why you go to more than one show!!

Cocktails, Warlus Manchester

The gig was a strange one… There were a couple of ‘Raconteurs’ fans shouting out the wrong song requests and wittering to each other about Jack White. People even thought it was acceptable to climb onto the stage. As a Northern girl I always find it odd that I never enjoy a gig as much in Manchester as I do in London, but I really wish bands would come to Leeds more. In the end, Brendan and the guys put on a great show and you just have to try and focus on that. It took me three Death Cab For Cutie gigs before I could really enjoy the actual show; Gig goers can be really inconsiderate so I recommend you get there early and be as close to the front as possible as that’s where the big fans hang out who are actually there to enjoy the music and not talk over it ;)

Loves x xx

(Follow my journey onto the Newcastle show by subscribing to my blog or follow me on Twitter – Other Road Trip Diaries can be found, here.)

posted by onetenzeroseven in Music,On Tour,Photo Diary,Photography,Review,Travel and have No Comments

Road Trip Diary: Brendan Benson, London

Crafting in Public, Mini Bunting, Craft, DIY

I spent the past week road tripping with my girlies; We went to see our friends’ band play four shows across the country. Starting in London we took the first leg by train and stopped off at Kingly Court so I could set up my new display for the jewellery I sell at Things British. Of course I completely ran out of time to make some mini bunting for it so we attempted some impromptu bunting making in the train station which was rather successful and got us a few intrigued glances; I’d quite like to do some more public crafting!

Crafting in Public, Mini Bunting, Craft, DIY

Image courtesy of JumbleJess on Instagram

The gig was in Camden so we stopped by our favourite London haunt, ‘The Milkshake Place’ or better known as Inhabition. They make the best milkshakes in the world with ice cream and twisty straws and super cool flavours such as Mexican Mocha and Chocolate Mint. We then headed for Dingwalls for Brendan Benson with Future Monarchs and Leah Mason on the bill. Getting into Dingwalls can be a little… confusing. It’s the big wooden, almost barn style, doors that face inwards towards the Courtyard. If you arrive there early it seems like there’s no way in, but after ‘doors open’ the box office and security are revealed. Don’t panic! ;)

London, Camden, Milkshakes

Brendan has become a sweet friend of mine over the past couple of years, but first and foremost I was a fan of his music. If you think you’ve never heard of him, you probably have; he headed up The Raconteurs with Jack White from The White Stripes and he is for sure the better musician. That probably sounds biased, but before the first Raconteurs gig I ever went to I was a huge Jack White fan. Absolutely HUGE. But Brendan Benson caught my attention that night and I’ve just fallen more and more in love with his music ever since.

The show kicked off with Chicago based band, Future Monarchs who I think have a ‘portfolio’ of sound. Their songs range from a vocal harmony, ‘Simon & Garfunkel’ style to a ‘lighter Queens of the Stone Age’ feel. The guys are super fun too; you can listen to them, here.
Second on the bill was British artist, Leah Mason who has worked with Brendan on some of her music. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as I’ve never been a huge fan of female vocalists, but she surprised me with her heavier sound and the quality of her guitar playing.

Brendan Benson London, UK Tour, August 2013, Dingwalls

Brendan didn’t play any songs from his newly released ‘set’, but brought out ancient favourites such as ‘Tiny Spark’ as well as tracks from his most recent album such as, ‘Bad For Me’ which is achingly beautiful played live. There was a little controversy slipped in there too in the form of a couple of Brendan-Benson-penned Raconteurs songs: ‘Hands’ and ‘Steady as She Goes’. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those songs but I’m a bit of a Brendan Benson purist and think those spots on the setlist could have been filled with a better selection. However Steady.. did allow the rest of the band to really get into the set, with touring guitarist/keyboardist Mark Watrous taking the lead of the vocal ’round’ at the end of the song. It was great to hear his talents more prominently as I know he has them in vast supply!

Mark is also a good friend of mine and our relationship has developed over many years of touring. He used to be a member of American alternative rock band, Loudermilk/Gosling and currently performs as a touring member with the likes of Karen Elson and The Shins. Every time I see him I push more for him to bring out his own music (which is excellent and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it!). He did a split EP with Hannah Georgas a couple of years ago – go and check it out as a treat for your ears!

Brendan Benson, London, UK Tour, August 2013, Dingwalls

After the show we hung out in the green room and I drank my first (half a..) beer: Stella! Not the best choice, but it was free and beggar’s can’t be choosers, eh? We then headed to The Lock Tavern just up the road from Dingwalls where I bought a very expensive couple of drinks and ended up with an acid tasting glass of red wine that I had to down when we got kicked out super early. I don’t know why everywhere in the big smoke closes so early! London, you fail at drinking.

London also fails at providing anything for a reasonable price. We stayed at the Belgrave House in a four bed room for £85, which was reasonable, but grim. I had a horrendously disturbed sleep as the thermostat flashed bright green every minute or so and lit up the room (which really freaked me out at first!) and the doorbell was pressed every 20 minutes until 5am. The taxi to there from Camden also cost over £27… eek. It’s a good job I love those boys ;))

Loves x xx

(Follow my journey on to the Manchester show by subscribing to my blog or finding me on Twitter.)
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