As a Christmas present, Madeleine gave me (us!) tickets to see the Residents gig at Hackney Empire last Friday. The only other time either of us had seen them was way back in 1983 at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh when they performed their Mole Show live. We didn’t know each other back then but we both loved the show! As far as I know the only othr concert we have in common like that was a Mother Gong gig at the same venue, although I forget the date.
Anyway, playing hooky and closing the shop on Friday we headed off to the station for the 10.00 train to London, only for it to be delayed for half an hour before leaving, and then even more as the journey progressed towards Berwick. It turned out someone had been killed by an earlier train, causing hold ups all up and down the line. Anyway, it seems that trains can’t make up much time these days and we finally got to King’s Cross around two hours late, tired and a bit annoyed at losing most of the afternoon.
Check into our nearby hotel, and set off after a short rest to top up our Oyster Cards and head for the Hackney Empire Theatre…
The show was great, although I had expected four Residents, not just three! Less elaborate than the Mole Show, it was essentially a singer, an electronic keyboard/computer guy and a guitarist on stage, with some taped sections of several people relating some specific personal events.
Great theatre, with good sight lines and sound, although afterwards the merchandise concession was very awkwardly set up between two ascending staircases so people had to lean over the banisters to see or buy stuff! Very confused and I gave up trying to see just what they had to sell that wasn’t immediately obvious. So, no new Residents t-shirt, and my Mole Show one doesn’t really fit any more!!
The following day we were up early and off to South Kensington to see the Cosmonauts exhibition in the Science Museum. This was an excellent event, showcasing the Soviet soace exploration from the very early days through the glory days of the late 1950s and early 1960s to the last days of the USSR and their last cosmonaut finally de-orbiting to land in the newly-formed Russian Federation! Wonderful early sketches, models, etc. leading to newsreal footage, full scale models of various spacecraft and originals of some, all about Laika and the other space dogs, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova and more.
A Soviet moon buggy – after they cancelled their manned moon mission following the American success, they still went ahead and used what they had already tested to explore the moon’s surface – examples of all sorts of suits, capsules, etc. with various posters and other art depicting their space program.
After that, it was a quick coffee and back to KX to meet a couple of internet friends – local Ortiga, and Nadine, who had flown in from Geneva for a couple of days. None of us had actually met before but Ortiga suggested a tapas restaurant nearby and we all met there for a late lunch that stretched out for hours! That’s tapas for you! Other people took photos but I didn’t, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for them.
Eventually we left there and headed for Waterloo and the nearby Vaults Festival, where there was a play on that M was very keen to see. The venue was a bit difficult to find, being in vaults underneath Waterloo Station itself!
So all four of us ended up going to see it and we all (I hope!) appreciated the festival, venue and also the play itself, a maths-heavy comedy called X + Y. Even the less mathematical among us enjoyed it. Farewell to Ortega afterwards, but an arrangement to see Nadine the next day.
Sunday was another early start; with breakfast with Nadine, who was flying out after lunch, and then we were off to the Tate Modern and the Alexander Calder (no relation!) exhibition.
11 rooms of his art, from his early wire sculptures and Cirque Calder figures to his Mercury Fountain (photos only) and his big, later mobiles. Great stuff, although the gift shop afterwards was really quite pricey. Lunch with Scott, one of M’s friends from the days of Maths Year 2000, in their restaurant and then a stroll along the Thames to Hungerford Bridge, where Scott deserted us, and the tube back to KX and our train home!
It ran almost to schedule and were home drinking hot chocolate by eleven!