Night in Hampstead Heath (Air Studios & Goldfrapp)

This is a night we’d been waiting for and working towards for quite a long time (so I may be a little biased but I’m willing to swear under oath!).  The musical marvels that are Goldfrapp released a film and live performance combo, in conjunction with their latest album ‘Tales of Us’.

Listen to ‘Tales of Us’ via Spotify

Directed by Lisa Gunning (Cap Gun Collective) who has edited movies such as ‘Nowhere Boy’ and ‘Seven Psychopaths’ the five short films were transmitted into cinemas across the globe on March 4th and we were lucky enough to be sat in Air Studios for the live performance.

The studios are located within a stunning church on Hampstead Heath and have one of the largest studios in the world, Lyndhurst Hall.

air studios

The space had been expertly decorated in line with Goldfrapp’s current style and love for all things dreamy, eerie, woodland-esque but strangely romantic; so think bare trees, structured chair pyramids and moody lighting…

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Event Cinema is relatively new on the entertainment scene but it is growing incredibly rapidly, enticing more and more artists to use this platform to reach a broader and higher volume of audience simultaneously across many territories.

You really could have heard a tiny, lonesome twig snap just before Alison Goldfrapp threw off her black coat to reveal a crisp white suit and introduce the thousands of fans to the first of many songs on the hour long set list.

Whether you’re a fan or not, there is no denying that this woman can sing (and evidently whistle) beautifully and she captivated us so much with her powerful and truly electric vocals that I swear no-one around me moved a muscle, until the euphoric beat kicked in for ‘Little Bird’ that is and we jigged as much as we could on seats.

We were asked by production beforehand not to clap at all, so it didn’t affect the live broadcast for cinema-goers.  This is the hardest thing to do when you were just ‘wowed’ by every song.  It was like eating a fresh, hot doughnut and being told you can’t lick your lips otherwise fairies will die.

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My favourite quote of the night from Alison: “this song was inspired by a trip to Iceland…the country, not the supermarket”.

The event was for one night only, but with any luck, there will be some encores coming to a cinema near you, soon.

 

 

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Night in Stoke Newington (Birthdays)

So burgers are a bit of a thing at the moment aren’t they?  It seems everyone has a recommendation for the best-new-place-with-a-twist to eat one.  I’ve been around burger town and I feel a bit of a pro now.  For me, a good burger is made from some juicy beef, special sauce all held within a brioche for a little sweetness and using the freshest ingredients of course.

If you agree, then head to Birthdays for their Psychic Burger and you’ll be in food heaven.  I’d happily eat one of these for breakfast, lunch and dinner…maybe supper too.  If only they didn’t make you fat with excessive consumption.  Nevertheless, it’d be worth the love handles for this, the ultimate taste sensation.

Burger

They have a varied combination of other options too, (soft shell crab, sweet potato, lamb, chicken burgers) with tasty sides.

Try your best not to go overboard with the food if you’re going downstairs for a dance though, it’s not a recommended move.

We were there to see Glitches who are a three-piece indietronica band (drums, guitar, keyboard) with what has to be one of the most captivating male lead vocals I’ve heard since seeing Tom Smith from Editors.  Glitches’ music lifts you up, the voice takes you in and soon you’re dancing like a loon and high as a kite on life.

Experience the sixth-sense for music.  Go.  See.

glitches

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Night in Chinatown (Opium Bar)

Like ‘hidden’ bars that have a bouncer with a clipboard?  Then Opium Bar is a good start…but don’t think that this is the usual wannabe, pretentious bar because the staff are actually nice and know what they’re doing.

We went along on Halloween night for some cocktails at my friend’s recommendation and when we arrived, I’ll admit I didn’t really want to go in.  I had a batman t-shirt and DMs on so not exactly bouncer-approved, but I probably got away with it as it was the official night of horror.

Anyway, all the staff had been given a scary makeover, having come in early to get their faces painted by a professional make-up artist and all looked fantastic.  I didn’t take any pictures but I found this one on their Instagram:

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I had one of their Halloween specials; the Corpse Reviver “An enlivening mixture of Plymouth Gin, Lillet Blanc, Blue Curacao, Lemon Juice and Pernod Absinthe sure to reawaken the dead.”  

Their signature Opium cocktail looks pretty special but unfortunately wasn’t as ‘long’ as my friend had hoped, but when it looks like this, surely it’s kind of worth it…no?

opium

The dim sum menu is pretty good but I was surprised to hear it’s actually made by the restaurant downstairs so I’d love to know the mark-up on that!  Our ‘salt and pepper aubergines’ were £9 but really tasty…I even ate all the garlic bits.

I’d recommend this bar for a good catch up with a friend or two, or an after-dinner-date night-drink (or two).

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Nights at Oxjam (Shoreditch and Angel)

I attended two of Oxfam’s Oxjam festivals recently, it’s always nice to do something for charity, especially when there’s music involved…win-win!

Both nights were quite different, one being DJ sets in a hot room and the other being live bands across multiple venues, there is something for everyone and there are still events planned around the country, so book your nearest gig now!

DJ sets aren’t really my thing but it was great fun, we just danced around like lunatics, yes, we were those people.

The only downside to the “pub crawl festivals” is that the bands you most want to see are playing in different pubs at or near the same time, so you end up just staying in one venue most of the time.  I managed to see three bands in total out of the 100 listed, but that might be because we went for Thai food at Rabieng inbetween!

Bad for Lazarus are worth mentioning, they were great live, real metal-pop-rock that left you wanting more.  Add to your watchlist now!

Bad-For-Lazarus

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Night in Angel (Afghan Kitchen)

If you’re after simple, tasty and cheap then Afghan Kitchen is for you.  This small but cosy restaurant offers delicious, home-cooked comfort food and is located near Tesco opposite the hustle and bustle of Islington Green and Upper Street.  You’d do well to get there before 6pm or after 8pm as it gets extremely busy.

The staff can be a bit slow during prime-time so don’t expect a fast dinner if you’re heading somewhere afterwards.

I love it because I could eat a bath full of their chicken in yoghurt dish, it’s divine, well maybe not literally but I’d give it a good go!  The mixture of slow-cooked chicken and the different spices is an amazing combination and is best (in my opinion) just with some flatbread – and a wine of course.

afghan

Take cash, as they don’t accept card payments.

Then if you want a drink nearby, The New Rose is quite cool and laid back.  They sell Hendrick’s and probably have the best no-frills website.

rose

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Night in Soho (Burger & Lobster)

Yet another new(ish) restaurant-on-the-block, Burger and Lobster has quickly gained popularity, mostly through word of mouth.

I’m not a fan of lobster but do love a well-made and tasty burger, so jumped at the chance to be taken there.

Having tried-and-failed to eat there before on a busy Friday night and being told there was a 2-hour wait (you can’t book ahead) I made sure this time, I’d get there early to put our names on the waiting list.  I got there at 6.30 on a Wednesday and there was still an hour wait, so we put our name down and waited with a drink (it’s a quicker wait if you choose to eat at the bar).

We decided to go for their combo meal for £30 each which consisted of a burger, salad, half a lobster and desert.  It certainly looked impressive when it came out and quickly.

BL

Unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype for me personally.  I thought I’d just create a pros and cons list below for ease:

Pros:

  • Great service
  • Nice enough atmosphere
  • Food was nicely presented
  • They don’t put a time on your stay (I hate those 2-hour windows some give you to finish)

Cons:

  • Long waiting list
  • Burger was a bit bland (I’ve had better in a pub – Brixton’s Grand Union does an amazing mushroom and emmental topped beef burger)
  • Lobster was a bit over-cooked
  • Desert was in a plastic pot á la school packed lunch

It’s hard to be too mean about this place, as I did enjoy the overall experience, it’s just a shame the food was such a let down.  Sounds like I was just unlucky though as other friends liked the food.

So maybe see for yourself and let me know what you think!

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Night in Clapham (Pepper Tree, Picturehouse Cinema)

It’s not often you can tick off two of your favourite things for a night out, but Thai food and a movie deal?  Sign me up!

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Pepper Tree is one of those canteen-style restaurants where you have to awkwardly twist your legs around without flashing someone when climbing into your seat.  Once safely seated, the waiters are quick to take your order and even quicker to deliver your food.

The food itself is very good and reasonably priced.  They now have a meal and movie deal for £13.50, which includes a curry, rice and a cinema ticket at Clapham Picturehouse.

Clapham Picturehouse is part of the UK cinema chain, Picturehouse Cinemas, but they are much nicer than the huge mega-cinema chains.  It has its own bar AND you can take your drinks into the cinema too.    Although, once I arrived to find this sign…

Popcorn

This is a fantastic deal which also allows for you to use the movie voucher later in the year instead of on the same night.  However, the meal and movie deal doesn’t include special cinema events or 3D movies.

The only thing you have to worry about is picking a rubbish movie!

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Night in Camden (Silks and Spice, Spiritual Caparinha Bar)

Why has it taken this long for me to find out about Yum Cha?  I’m sure everyone else in the world already knows how good it is, but I’m recommending Silks and Spice Yum Cha in Camden as it was really amazing*.  I’m officially changing my answer to that age-old question…“if you had to choose one cuisine to live on for the rest of your life, what would it be”….my answer has now changed from Italian to YUM CHA!

We had quite a few dishes between us and I could have stayed there all night, possibly until my belly burst a la gluttony scene from the movie Se7en (Google it).  The food is very fresh, well made and quick to come out to the table too.  The service was brilliant, there are many waiters and waitresses there rushing around constantly and you can signal to any of them to order more dishes.  Their frozen margaritas were also very tasty (and strong!).  I would have taken a picture of this Chinese banquet but I didn’t want to be that person.  So here is one from the website:

yum

They offer 50% off your Yum Cha bill on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays AND they have karaoke rooms downstairs, so it would be great place for combining dinner, drinks and bad singing with friends.

The restaurant is between Camden Town and Chalk Farm stations, near to Roundhouse.  It has quite a large capacity and we got a table right away at around 7pm, but it was full from 8pm, so I’d recommend booking at the weekend.

After dinner mint?  Nah, after dinner drink!

If you can prize yourself away, I recommend the Spiritual Caparinha Bar about five metres away.  It’s incredibly small, but quirky and cosy and has more character than some of the other bars in the area.  They host live music nights there too, we were there to see evanjack (who are amazing by the way) and the vibe was perfect for it.  Intimate and friendly.  A lot of us just sat on the floor like we were in a mate’s front room.

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Definitely a couple of real gems in North London worth visiting.

 

*unless you are allergic to anything, as they can’t be relied upon to eliminate the offending ingredient, as I found out on another recent visit!

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Night in Canary Wharf (The Apocalypse Gameshow)

If you’re looking for an alternative night out, it doesn’t get more alternative than The Apocalypse Gameshow.  Here are some bullet points to tell you why:

  • It’s on a ship (Stubnitz to be exact)
  • Your hosts are a bunch of always-in-character “crew”
  • You are put through their initiation from the moment you get on board
  • You have to exchange your money for their currency (if you want any drinks!)
  • The game….well I shouldn’t give everything away….

You’re basically in for a good few hours of craziness, right up to the very end.  If you are lucky(?!) enough to be picked to play, just hope you aren’t given vegetables…

marrow

Photo: The Apocalypse Gameshow gallery

If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be near the end of the world as we know it, I imagine this isn’t far off.

Yes, it is quite random to say the least, but you might as well just play along.  You might even forget reality for a while…to quote the inestimable JR “Bob” Dobbs – “The world ends tomorrow and YOU MAY DIE!”  Or not.  But you never know, do you?

NUN

Photo: The Apocalypse Gameshow Facebook Gallery

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Night in Hoxton (Queen of Hoxton)

Queen of Hoxton is a great all-rounder and it’s massive, so technically there should be enough room for everyone, but it’s always packed at weekends, so get there early!

QOH is like three places in one; in the basement they have regular live music nights, ground floor is for the DJ and main bar and the rooftop is used all year round for BBQs in the sun or BBQs in their ‘WigWamBam’.

queen-of-hoxton

 

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Being inbetween Shoreditch and Moorgate, this place attracts quite a diverse crowd from the new wannabe hipsters fresh on the scene and young city-slickers, so it perhaps doesn’t have that “unique coolness” it used to have a few years ago (although they do currently have a Ukulele Hootenany on Mondays!).

Don’t let that put you off though, it’s still a good place to go for an amazing view across London before going to the basement to see your fave band of the moment.  Just get there before 9pm, (way before 9 on weekends due to long queues) otherwise you have to pay to get in.

Oh and in case you don’t like stairs….they have a lot of stairs….

room

 

 

…but it does have some cool art strewn about the place….

2MX5744

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