Tag Archives: Dj shadow

Weekend in Luxembourg

This week has been one of good omens, or coincidences, which ever you prefer. At the weekend me and the husband were discussing some of our favourite trips, and Luxembourg came back into the conversation – we travelled there for a gig just under 2 years ago to see DJ Shadow. We’ve made city breaks for gigs a bit of thing now, but especially since moving to Oxford where a lot of bigger bands don’t play, particularly non-UK based bands: they’ll often play London and Manchester and sometimes Glasgow. Travelling to London started becoming an unwelcome expense – not just the travel, which sometimes included a horribly basic hotel or having to get a late night coach home that takes 2hrs, but also drinks being incredibly overpriced (£5 for a very bland lager sir, single vodka and redbull that’ll be £9 madam etc..). So we made a concious decision to start travelling, to gigs especially to cities we’ve not visited before and bonus if the venue is just that side of smaller and more intimate.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist at den Atelier

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist at den Atelier

So that is how Luxembourg came about initially, it also helped that at the time I had a fair amount of nectar points that can be exchanged for easyjet flights making the weekend even cheaper. We saw DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist in den Atelier, a really cool intimate venue where you could pretty much see the stage from anywhere, it felt like the crowd was probably only 500 people, but according to their website they can accommodate up to 1200, but it felt like seeing them in a small club.

So the day after we’d been talking about how nice Luxembourg was, another favourite band Interpol* announced a European tour, with UK dates in Manchester and London. So we checked out where else they were playing and narrowed it down to Copenhagen and Luxembourg (both weekend dates). After a quick search it was clear that Luxembourg was going to be the cheapest option by far, so to cut this rambling short: exactly 2 years to the day we saw Interpol play in Amsterdam, we booked tickets to see them in Luxembourg. Also the same day a blog post about Luxembourg came up on my feed, so it felt like all the signs were there.

So two years later, I’m going to tell you about my favourite things in Luxembourg, as it seems I never bothered to blog at the time!

The first thing we did was pick up at Luxembourg Card similar to city cards, its actually valid for the whole country, getting you into many attractions and exhibits for free and to be honest is actually a lot cheaper than most other city cards. We picked up a 2 day card and definitely got some good use out of it just with Luxembourg city. It also includes public transport in the price making it super easy to get around and we actually managed to make it to at least 5 attractions over the 48 hours as I recall (would’ve been 6 but the Bock du Casemates is closed in winter).

mirrors with the worrds Rectum Newt Racoon in a large gallery space with a woman in front taking a self portait with wooden crates in the background

Rectum Newt Racoon – Self portrait in front of sculptures by David Altmejd

These included the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM) a contemporary art museum where the building itself is as impressive as the art it holds (€7) and the next door fortress Museum Dräi Eechelen (€5), Casino Luxembourg (which is now free, but was I think the standard €5) which was full of typography and graphic design. Not to mention the historical Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (€5), Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art (€7) and Villa Vauban – Luxembourg City Art Museum (€5) ~ it’s worth noting that some of these venues we probably wouldn’t have bothered going to without the card, and I’m glad we did because they were in stunning buildings with loads of history. It was good to see art and artefacts that were outside of our usual tastes, and of course all these venues meant seeing parts of the city that we might otherwise have ignored due to the comfort of staying within a certain walking radius. If you have the means and will to go further afield there are breweries and swimming pools and other stuff included in your Luxembourg card that is valid up to 3 days, worth noting the days don’t have to be consecutive either – so if you want to spend a day doing museums, a day travelling or doing nothing, then another day doing something then that’s ok – you just fill out the days you actually use the card.

Luxembourg is also home to a what I was going to simply say, a delightful park to walk along that follows the flow of the river, particularly from where we were based close to the Rue Dr Charles Marx, it was a nice walk into the centre via the infamous Adolphe bridge  but as the Luxembourg website says so much more eloquently “Laid out along more romantic lines, the Pétrusse Parks combine steep slopes, strange rock formations and the ruins of fortifications and bastions to form a harmonious unit”

the blue painted metal Adolphe Bridge, viewed from a distance surrounded by green vegetation and trees

Adolphe Bridge, Luxembourg City

Other things to do include the Notre Dame cathedral, maybe not as impressive as it’s Paris counterpart but still a beautiful church, very close to the gold lady war memorial. In the same area is the Place Guillaume II which has a few statues and the surrounding streets are very picturesque.

So after all this we’re very excited to return, particularly as it will be high summer, rather than winter, so we’d  love to hear any more tips of what to do in the comments!

*not just a favourite band, but a band touring their first album, of which several songs were ‘our songs’ early on in our relationship so actually hold a really special place in our hearts

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Music to my ears

Day 3 of the Writing 101 challenge was – Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?, the first 2 came easily in a flash, but selecting a third and final was infinitely more difficult

Dj Shadow – Organ Donor (Extended Overhaul)

The Extended overhaul version is key here, as it’s the longer version (4 minutes ish) where as the shorter version on Entroducing is just not enough.

DJ Shadow aka Josh Davies performing at Manchester Academy 1 in 2006

DJ Shadow – Manchester 2006

Organ Donor is one of my all time favourite tracks, it must be over 15 years ago when I was introduced to Entroducing (‘scuse the pun)back when I was in University. The opening bars of the creepy almost out of tune organ still sends a chill up my spine when I hear it today. I’ve seen Shadow perform live at least 6 times (and travelled to far flung places such as Cardiff and Prague for a show)and unlike most performers who might tire of playing ‘their most famous / popular track’ it doesn’t seem to bother Shadow, he knows how to please a crowd, and no matter whether his show is Hip Hop based or Dubstep driven he drops this and the crowd goes wild, it becomes one big party!

This track may be heading towards its 20th birthday but I don’t think I’ll be tiring of it any time soon

 

Sigur Ros – Olsen Olsen

If you’re not familiar with the Sigur Ros film Heima then I strongly recommend a viewing, it’s a beautifully shot documentary film from 2006 when the band returned home to Iceland and played a series of free concerts for the people.

One of my favourite parts of the film starts with scenes of people getting ready to watch the band, on a very cold looking mountain side, lit with torches, all huddled together in cosy looking groups of friends and families, young and old and the notes of Olsen Olsen start filtering through, it’s so atmospheric.

Last summer I was fortunate enough to see Sigur Ros perform in the shadows of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank as part of their Transmission series. In stark contrast to a previous concert we’d attended there in June where it was a scorcher (it was so hot I had to buy a commemorative tea towel to wrap around my head and prevent sunstroke it was so hot!), the August bank Holiday instead was quite cool, patches of rain but not enough to ruin the fun of sitting on the grass. Sigur Ros took the stage late evening, and it must have been about 10pm when the field was in darkness save for the stalls around the perimeter, and I was thanking my lucky stars I’d brought a hoodie, as i snuggled up to the husband.

Sigur Ros performing under the Lovell Telescope 2013

Sigur Ros at Jodrell Bank 2013

The telescope was playing host to some wonderful swirling light displays and as the first notes of Olsen Olsen started, we swayed in time to the music and I could have been on that hillside in Iceland back in 2006…

 

Stereophonics – Dakota

This song epitomises summertime for me! It’s a favourite song of my husband and I, we even had it on our wedding reception play-list. I could easily imagine us both driving along a coastal road in an open top car (a girl can dream!) with this blasting out, the wind whipping through our hair, the sun on our backs. In fact the video for this track has Kelly Jones driving around in a red sports car much like the one in my daydreams, but his landscape is far less enjoyable, and having a couple of mates in the back isn’t as fun either. The lyrics are quite romantic as well without sounding overly mushy…

 

Music in Prague from Dubstep to Dvořák

Not doing so well with the daily posting for NaBloPoMo, as I still haven’t finished my posts on Prague and we’ve been back home a week!

Our last night and day in Prague involved music from opposite ends of the spectrum. Thursday evening saw us heading the Archa Theatre for a DJ Shadow DJ set (rather than gig) as a part of the Radio Wave Stimul Festival. Supporting were a band playing ‘psychadelic japanese rock’  called Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO  who were a bit crazy, but the crowd seemed to like them.

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO @ Archa Theatre

The Archa theatre is a great venue, if a little confusing – their tickets seem to have the standard you ‘must not take photos, cameras are not permitted your mobile phone must be switched off during performances’ etc which turned out to be BS, and although we had e-tickets with scanable barcodes, it would seem the door staff are not equipped to deal with this, therefore you have to go to the box office, where they scan your ticket then stamp it/scrawl on it, to present to the door staff. Once inside you can see that health and safety is not an issue, the stairs (the venue appears to be set over at least 3 floors) are littered with people chain smoking, which seems odd when you are free to smoke and drink on the ground floor of the venue. In very pleasant surprise the drink prices unlike UK Gig venues,  are not inflated  as such where as in the average pub /restaurant in Prague you would pay between 27-32 koruna  (85p -£1) for 50cl (almost a pint)  here you paid 28kr for 40cl – of Budvar, no nasty cheap Carling or something equally as tasteless, spirits & mixers were also reasonable as spirits come in 50cl measures so what would be classed as a double vodka & coke back home is about £3 and again, it’s premium brand. It’s one of the things I love about Prague, going out for a drink or food in a major city and not coming away feeling ripped off (if you DO want to feel ripped off, head to the ‘Irish’ pub off the Old Town square, they’ll happily charge you £3-4 for a crappy pint of fosters if it makes you feel at home). Another thing they had was not only the merchandise stalls you get at every gig (also cheaper than back home), but a guy selling CD’s & records, not just of the performing artists which was nice too.

DJ Shadow @ Archa Theatre, Praha

On to the gig, well the venue posted on twitter & facebook incorrect start times which was confusing, but turned out in our favour – they posted that Shadow would be on at 11pm,. rather than 10pm, so meant that we would be out as late, and we ended up leaving at 12:15am earlier than expected (but we still ended up walking all the way back to the hotel as the tram was gonna mean waiting longer than it would take to walk)…

So.. DJ Shadow did his DJ set, not a gig, which was made perfectly clear at time of announcing”All Bases Covered -DJ Set” , but still a lot of the audience seem to have expected a ‘greatest hits gig’  and really didn’t get this new angle he as approaching despite his fairly detailed explanation, that I’m pretty sure most other DJ’s don’t have to give. The comments on the Facebook events page after the fact were unnecessary and ill-informed  – “shitty dubstep” was the general feeling. Shadow explained his reasoning behind choosing the set as well as  mentioning that he performed the Shadowsphere set here also, which to my recollection (sorry if it’s a bit fuzzy, I only saw the show twice) was also fairly dubstep/breakbeat heavy, so I’m not entirely sure why the crowd was seemed so surprised,  if they are the hardcore fans they claim to be, then surely they saw the Shadowsphere tour that was so musically similar?

Crowd enjoying DJ Shadow @ Archa Theatre, Praha

Anyway, I wont waste time over so called fans not getting a show and therefore not dancing enough, the following day was our last in Prague, so we didn’t want to strain ourselves. Both being fans of classical music  the Dvořák museum seemed a natural choice, especially as it is housed in the Villa Amerika about 3 minutes walk from our hotel (the fabulous Miss Sophie’s if you haven’t czeched it out already).

Villa Amerika – Home to the Antonín Dvořák Museum

Although Dvořák never lived here, there is a permanent exhibition  entitled ‘The Journeys of Antonín Dvořák’ which focuses on the journeys he made across Europe and to America where he taught. The museum was undergoing some renovation work when we arrived which meant the entry fee was reduced, there was a piano along with a plethora of artifacts and letters. My favourite part was a wall with headphones where you could listen to re-arranged songs or remixes along with the originals including reggae and electronic interpretations.

Husband at the listening post in the Antonín Dvořák Museum

this was truly one of my highlights of the whole trip to Prague, I hope next time I can visit  a few more sights as there are several within the umbrella of Dvořák Museum’s to see.