Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012: top five gigs

radiohead rules again, originally uploaded by julienpaul.

So, who really rocked in 2012? This year was packed with great gigs and festivals so I have had a hard time to cut it down to a top five. Hell, I had enough to make a top ten and then some. Still, lets keep it short, in no particular order:

Grizzly Bear, Brixton Academy, London

Lit by floating glowing jellyfish, Grizzly Bear easily had the best set design of 2012 but don't let this overshadow what was a perfectly executed set. The perfect harmonies and rich instrumentation made GB's beautiful tunes really shine.

M83, Brixton Academy, London

What could go wrong? Lush electronic music, happy tunes and sexy singers. Well, there was worry all around that the sleepy sounds of the CDs might turn into a sleepy concert (XX ahem?). They managed to avoid this completely by injecting the music with a heavy dose of rock, pop and just pure energy that kept the crowd dancing.

For a taste:

Radiohead, Optimus Alive, Lisbon

Oh, this is a hard one. Three days of music in sunny Lisbon, including stand out shows by Justice, Mumford and Sons and The Kills. But Radiohead managed to not only outshine all of the other acts, but also provide the best concert I have ever seen of theirs. Having not played in Lisbon for a while they decided to do a best-of concert, playing a mix from all of their albums except Pablo Honey. What really showed is that Thom is having fun, doing his funny dances, singing his heart out and improvising like hell (something that lacked from the In Rainbows tour). Utterly amazing stuff.

Tori Amos, Royal Albert Hall, London

What is this? Tori Amos?? The singer I once adored, but has made it harder and harder to continue to do so with her recent mediocre records, not to mention having already seen her twice and being sorely disappointed. But here, in the setting of the grand Royal Albert Hall, she pulled together a best-of concert backed by the Metropole Orchestra that succeeded in riding that fine line between emotional and overly indulgent. The kind of concert that makes you feel the world is a little more beautiful.

Black Keys, Alexander Palace, London

Best mosh and biggest sound of 2012 goes to the Black Keys. Nothing much more to say: pure fun.

Honourable Mentions

Oh no, this is where I sneak in a whole lot of other bands instead of just sticking to my top five. Please forgive me:

Justice, Optimus Alive, Lisbon
Wonderful masters of sound, bending it to their will.

Mumford and Sons, Optimus Alive, Lisbon
Toe tapping fun.

New Order, Brixton Academy
This gig was either ruined or made by the 50 year old 120 kilo men in the front row moshing with no mercy.

Other Lives, Oxford
I think every year needs an Other Lives concert to keep it real (and beautiful).

Metronomy, Field Day, London
Amongst quite a few good concerts at Field Day this one and Beirut really stood out as the surprise hits.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


the common, originally uploaded by julienpaul.

11 months in London and I am in my third house. I have left the genteel north-west and made it to the soon-to-be-gentrified south-west. It is still possible to be the only white guy on the street, but if there IS another white guy, chances are that he is either gay or Australian (or both). No surprises that I feel more at home here?

Then again, when I stumbled upon Brixton a year ago while looking for a house it was also the first place in London that felt to me truly alive. There is a bustle of actual locals moving through the streets, with more fresh food shops than anywhere else I have seen in London and a pub on every corner. You will find smoky meat being cooked in large metal drums and served with bountiful rice and peas, fresh fish for a few pounds, stolen bikes, great pizza and madmen preaching to the converted (with two evangelical churches on every street).

Though Brixton has a big Tescos I do like that it isn't its social hub.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

bars in paris

more drinks, originally uploaded by julienpaul.

The North-east

The Kitch Bar
10, rue Oberkampf, 75011
metro: Oberkampf
My favourite bar in Paris, this lounge-room sized bar is a place where if you don’t know everyone’s names on arrival, you will before too long. This goes for English speakers too, I have had many a bilingual conversation here. It’s specialities are cocktails and it is worth trying out the Shrek (think mint slurpey), the nesbite (an long island iced tea, plus two alcohols), or the choufleur (a whipped cream caramel shot). Not a place to come for standard American-style cocktails though (stay away from the bloody mary).

Ethnika cafe
127 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011
Metro : parmentier
3.50 – 4.50 euro cocktails and flavoured rum shots (where the rum has been sitting in huge glasses with figs, honey, carob, for 12 hours) are the draw cards to this crowded bar, though the downstairs area often has djs. The entire stretch of bars around this one offer a range of cheap drinks and fun places to try out. Oh, and remember to check out the toilet here..

Le Lèche-vin
13, rue Daval, 75011
metro : bastille
A bar full of catholic iconography, coupled with the most obscene toilets on earth. The pope will never bless this place.

Ave Maria
1, Rue Jacquard , 75011 Paris
metro: parmentier or oberkampf
Similiar to the Lèche-vin, this is a bar/restaurant with a religious feel, though this one embraces all faiths. The food is great, though pricey, with some interesting “fusion” dishes. Further up the hill, past parmentier (and around the Ethnika café) there are hundreds of small bars for you to also try out.

Le 50
50 Rue de Lancry , 75011
Metro : jacques bonsergent
A bit in the same style as the Kitch, but this place also has good wine, cheese plates, ginger flavoured beer and a series of rooms at the back for when it gets busy. It draws in a very diverse crowd (from 18 to 80) and each different barman has different taste in music.

The Marais

The Lizard Lounge
18 rue Bourg Tibourg 75004
metro: hotel de ville or St Paul
Owned by some English speakers, this one does tend to be a bit of an ex-pat or tourist haunt, but it has a nice vibe, has a mezzanine with board games, a downstairs bar, and some good standard cocktails.

Les étages
35 rue Vieille du Temple, 75004
metro: hotel de ville or St Paul
The barmen and women of this establishment stepped straight out of a world war II French resistance movie and spend more time posing than actually serving drinks, but that’s ok. Famous for strawberry mojitos.

L'Art Brut Bistrot ‎
78 Rue Quincampoix
metro: chatelet or rambuteau
One of my favourite wine bars in the centre of paris. It’s got a good selection and is always bustling.

Le Connétable ‎
55 Rue Archives
75003 Paris, France
metro: rambuteau or arts et metiers
It is a bar that never shuts, slowly collecting the dregs and remains of the night, usually a swarm of desperate, smoking men. It is part tavern, part someone’s home, you can smoke on the top floor, and the owners dogs are usually sitting around.

Le Duplex ‎
25 Rue Michel le Comte
75003 Paris, France
metro: rambuteau or arts et metiers
The gay version of the Connétable, it also shuts late (around 5am), and is designed to give you very strong cocktails, then set you up on the one long table where someone will come and say hi to you within a few minutes.

Les Souffleurs ‎
7 Rue Verrerie
75004 Paris, France
My new favourite gay bar, with friendly bar men, good music and a downstairs with strange video projections and djs. A slightly alternative crowd, the type of people who will end up at the Duplex at 2am (if they haven’t picked up).

More to come soon!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

and so it is the middle of summer...

sunset while leaving, originally uploaded by julienpaul.

Sunset in London: 9:21 pm
Sunset in Paris: 9:58 pm
Sunset in Oslo..... 10:43 pm :)

Sunday, 30 January 2011

welcome to nw3

fine food in the east end, originally uploaded by julienpaul.

So, what do you think of London so far? How can I think of London, when my room, my job and the path between these things are different enough that I haven’t even had a though about which city I am in.

Gone is my spacious room in a small apartment, exchanged for a tiny room in an enormous apartment. Farwell my empty nights, now re-immersed in house share and long bottles of wine. My groceries must fit into one shelf in the fridge and one shelf in the cupboard, I should probably not play music at full blast at 3 am, and I probably shouldn’t let that dirty dish sit there over night.

Goodbye the piling of bodies upon bodies, of lives against lives that is the Parisian apartment house, the Parisian street, the Parisian world. Hello long empty streets, half hour tube rides, listening to my ipod in the dark and the rain, bars being closed at 11, supermarkets open on Sundays.

I jumped from years of three to five people firms to a firm that has over one hundred in London alone, and has another three offices worldwide. In Paris coats went up on the rickety coat rack, the toilet had been leaking for months, there was no cleaner or secretary, I went out to buy a kettle, coffee machine and desk light for the office and on certain days I needed to work on a computer brought from home. Hell, I didn’t have a contract for months on end. Hello fully equipped kitchens with dining rooms where everyone eats in canteen style, hello a thirty person admin team, a sixty page office manual, projects in every country on earth, project teams twice the size of my former firms. Oh, the joys of time sheets.

As to London? How do we experience a city? Is it what it looks like, how we can go out, how we shop, who we meet, how we move around, the parks, the galleries, the bars? I think London is not a city that reveals itself quickly. Here, with the sun setting at four and constant rain, it is hard to find it pretty. And Soho on a Friday night, with its mix of overcrowding (it’s like Chatelet on a Friday night, and why would I go there?) and bars closing really early is a frustrating wonder. I am waiting for the sun to set later, to be able to walk and walk, or maybe buy a bike. This city is rough and raw and not at all easy, but already I love the difference between where I live (West Hampstead) and where I work (Waterloo). I like that in my firm only 10 people are British and 90 are foreigners and that every European language can be heard. I don’t like that the 10 British members include most of the directors, but that’s another story.

I am still in that horrible moment where I can’t help but constantly compare things to Paris. I will need to give London a chance to show me a different way of living, just as Paris showed me an entirely different way of living to Sydney.

Now, if you will leave me, Ken gave me a copy of Down and out in Paris and London and I might just be reading it with a smile on my face.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

a night with dezeen I

While looking up some of the old articles on Dezeen I stumbled upon the above project for lamp clothing for women by French photographer and stylist Marianne Maric and this almost Miyakazi like design for a shale shaped hot air balloon hotel called Manned cloud.

Dezeen is one of my morning-read-while-drinking-coffee sites, along with Questionable Content, XKCD and Cat and Girl (see links to the right). A great place to waste time.