Align is a tricky one to classify; not quite a play, nor a lecture. Call it a performance, it's probably as close as we'll get. Taking place, perfectly, mere yards from the actual Bridewell, it is a story of London's sacred geography which never gets too swivel-eyed, is far more 'wouldn't that be interesting?' than making foolhardy statements about what is or isn't true - and yet feels none the less mystical for all that. Rather than hang around afterwards, I feel driven to strike out along the Strand Ley about which we've just been hearing, and it's all delightfully numinous until I hit the smell of a freshers' event at the LSE. I doubt the bacchanals of our ancestors were any more fragrant, but I can edit that detail out of my daydreams.
Also tricky to classify: Neil Gaiman reading his new book Fortunately, The Milk, with Chris Riddell illustrating it live. Already a little multimedia, but then you have it being acted out and sung and generally turned into something quite its own creature through the assistance of TV Smith, Tom Robinson, Mitch Benn, Lenny Henry, Tori Amos' daughter, Andrew O'Neill, and Faith from 'Jimmy's End' (who is much less haunted when she's playing a pirate queen, so that's handy).
Lots of gigs by the people whose gigs I see a lot - to whose ranks the Soft Close-Ups were temporarily restored when augstone was briefly allowed back in the country. Neither show was quite as melancholy as the Sunday afternoon show a few months back, but still, when on a wet Wednesday night they played their adaptation of that Housman poem about death (tautology, I know), any plans I had for a straight edge gig crumbled. Good suppors at both shows, too - Parenthesisdotdotdot, aka Tim from Baxendale dressed as the chap from Dr Caligari, and Marcus Reeves, who is essentially my friend dr_shatterhand playing Marc Almond. At the latter show they also had me returning to the wheels of steel for the first time in some years. I always did prefer playing quieter sets.
Out of Harm's Way - Orlando
Do the Strand - The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
Leaving Hangover Square - Avalanche
Tonite It Shows - Mercury Rev
Bonnie and Clyde - Mick Harvey ft. Anita Lane
Owen Duff live
Oh England My Lionheart - Kate Bush
Johnny, Remember Me - John Leyton
Sweet Smell of Success - The Flaming Stars
I Wish I Had An Evil Twin - The Magnetic Fields
Lolita Elle - Jack
The Soft Close-Ups live
The Queen and Me - Cleaners from Venus
Someday We'll Be Together - The Supremes
Too Clever By Half - The Long Blondes
Marcus Reeves live
Love Is A Bourgeois Construct - Pet Shop Boys
Other shows have been further from my usual orbit:
Martin Newell playing his annual show in a converted Colchester church in the shadow of the appropriately-named Jumbo water tower, bearing a curious resemblance to William Hartnell as a Teddy Boy pirate. He's a charmingly shambolic raconteur, an occasional ranter, and a mostly mediocre poet, but once he's singing, oh, the songs.
A violinist plays Bach in another church, this time right on the border of the City. I conclude that Bach may be the music to whose condition art is said to aspire.
A distinctly white trio, playing the hipster pub sat incongruously opposite the East London Mosque, play a nameless and heavily highlife-influenced jam. Against all odds, it works.
In a bar inexplicably decorated with biscuits stuck to bricks, a jazz band have one singer who thinks Seasick Steve is a role model rather than a terrible warning about the gullibility of authenticity bores. But the other singer sounds far more like Billie Holiday than any modern Briton has a right to.
(And because you can't win them all, there was also the act who appeared to be Jack Whitehall fronting Reef)