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Part 3 - Sunday
Sunday morning was just about my only rest over the last few days, in which I allowed myself to sleep in until 10am (seemingly a rare luxury, and possibly undermined by the fact that I was also up and about between 7am and 8am anyway).. Still, it was good to get a lie in - presumably my next one of those will be this coming weekend...

So at around lunchtime, I grabbed the coach to Oxford, and from there took a couple of trains to get to Naomi's. We had a nice (if slightly embarrassing) afternoon in which I demonstrated quite clearly that I am not the world's best table tennis player. Shock! Still good fun though :o)

Then in the evening, it was time to go out into London to see Aqualung live. The gig was in Notting Hill, which is actually a tremendous scum-hole in a lot of areas - who knew? There was a little drama with the train tickets - they don't actually tell you that they're invalid for the journey you propose to make until after you've bought them - clever, eh? Still, managed to get to the right area roughly on time, and went to an Italian restaurant for dinner - Centonove on Westbourne Park Road.

It is worth noting at this point that in spite of my (apparent) aversion to vinegar, I consumed more than my fair share of bread dipped in some sort of vinegar dressing while we were there. I think that counts as trying a new food, for the purposes of my mighty list, but I'd need to double check that... If that doesn't, then trying Naomi's pumpkin ravioli will probably qualify. Either way, the meal was seriously delicious, and exactly what I needed. And it's always nice to take Naomi out to dinner - she usually makes it so difficult for me ;o)

So from there, to the Tabernacle, whose interior is technically a theatre by design. The majority of the gig was spent sitting on the floor patiently, since it's not really get-up-and-dance music.. We arrived in time to see half the set of the first support act, Foreign Slippers. They were pretty good - she had a nice voice, the songs were well put together, can't really ask for more than that.. Quality support was a theme for the evening really.

Next up were KaiserCartel, who were absolutely excellent. One of their songs ("Okay", I believe) was enough to give me tingles, which is not the most common thing for a song I've never heard by a band I've never heard. For that one, they had Foreign Slippers out on stage, along with Matt/Aqualung, so it was just a big ensemble piece. Worked brilliantly well. For their last song they went entirely acoustic, and walked around the audience singing it, which was ever so slightly kooky, but it worked well enough for what it was trying to do..

And then Aqualung. Holy shit is that man good. If we measure the quality of a gig by the degree to which the performance was faithful to the studio material, while being enhanced by the live environment, then he scores big. Where Erasure failed to modify their music for a live feel, or Joseph Arthur failed to play the songs as they were known to people, Aqualung had no such problems. In terms of quality alone, it was just as good as Elbow - on a personal level, the gig lost a few marks because I was slightly less familiar with the material, but gained a few for being in one of the most intimate venues I've ever been to for a gig. Only Lifehouse really beats that...

Unfortunately, due to my lack of familiarity with the material, I couldn't really say which songs got played.. But he covered a great many, if not all, of the ones that I know, which is more than a couple. I just don't know the names... He certainly played Garden of Love and Pressure Suit, which are two of my absolute favourites (and the former is where Naomi's LJ username is from).. For the most part he was accompanied on the guitar by his brother Ben, with Foreign Slippers and KaiserCartel coming out from time to time to help out on other songs. But for several of the songs, it was just man and (synthesised) piano, and it was excellent :o)

Upon his return for the encore, he explained that he was open to suggestions for songs from the audience, at which point somebody shouted out "Beach Boys", and we were treated to a rather splendid rendition of God Only Knows, first Matt on his own, and gradually joined by all the other artists who'd performed, all picking up various instruments. It's just so good to be in the presence of musicians as opposed to entertainers.

In short, he really knows how to put on an excellent gig, and I'm sure it fits comfortably within my top five. On which note, my (unordered) top five gigs, as rated based on the objective quality, would probably be Lifehouse, Easyworld, Stars, Elbow, Aqualung. Very glad that we went - it exceeded all my expectations :o)

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I was shocked by how weirdly scummy Notting Hill is in parts.. I was expecting a load of mansions and rich people. It wasn't like that at all.

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