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Music: Jason Webley at Underbelly

I'm just going to warn you, this post is going to be disgustingly gushing, praising and full of over-the-top love and sentiments for the performers I saw on Thursday night. I'm not sure I'm even going to be able to put my true feelings into coherent sentences but I'll try my best, so here it goes.

I'm a West London dweller, so I don't get to make it over to the East as much as I'd like, but it's a brilliant area of the city - full of bohemian people, open opinions and eclectic settings. Before I and my teensy tiny friend Ms O (really, she was delighted to tell me she's grown an inch and is now a full 5ft tall!) made our way to Hoxton Square we had a wander around the Old Street area which is full of street and wall art that changes with every visit and positively encourages artists to bring their creativity to the public eye.

An example of the art work around Old Street

The bar at Underbelly
The gig was held at the wonderfully named Zigfrid von Underbelly on Hoxton Square. It was as odd as its name suggests, with the interior comprising of African-esque wooden statues, a bicycle hanging from the ceiling and framed photos of retro rock stars. Downstairs in the basement where the gig was had the most fascinating ceiling art, which I could have stared at for a large part of the evening had the support act come on stage. Like the headliner, Thomas Truax is just one man, but don't be fooled into thinking it'll just be him and a guitar like countless other solo performers. Oh no, Truax is something completely unique, and deliciously bizarre. His stage set up compromises of the Hornicator - a gramaphone speaker connected to a microphone with strings, Hank the Guitar, and Mother Superior - a drum machine made out of a bicycle wheel where the spokes are tweaked to get a particular beat. It really has to be seen to be understood; the homemade inventions really defy any logical explanations. These unconventional instruments managed to provide music that was both jaunty and toe-tapping as well as thought provoking and twisted, as Truax bounced and span around on stage, and at one point wove his way through the intrigued and delighted crowd and even for a brief moment leaving the room altogether! Brilliant fun that kept a smile on my face throughout the entire performance. Thomas Truax has a monthly show at Spice of Life in Soho, and as a friend of mine said, 'You'd be a fool not to go.'

Thomas Truax
And so we were all set for the headliner, Jason Webley. I've never seen him live before, although through assimilation I seem to know a lot of his songs despite only owning two. He's one of those guys that has a dedicated legion of fans, and despite mainly playing relatively small shows fill them with a performance that is arena worthy. I'm not even sure where to start with 'reviewing' because my mind is so jumbled with the experience. Jason's music is beautiful - simply put. It's touching, humorous, romantic, strange and addictive. He drew the audience into the performance, quite literally, as we were all encouraged to provide the backing sounds that are usually provided by an orchestra on CD, to spin around in circles until we all fell into each other, and then to put our arms around each other and sing the Drinking Song (basically a pirate shanty, and I even had a rum based cocktail to complete the illusion!).

He goes from serene and almost on the verge of tears, to frantic and electric, the audience staying with him the whole time. Whether it was one of his own songs or an accordion cover version of an 80s classic (he took requests from the audience which included Girls Girls Girls by Motley Crue and, when the decade was flexible, God Save The Queen by Sex Pistols), Webley performed with every inch of his being, and confirmed himself to me as a genuine human being, who adores his fans as much as they adore him. I can't thank him enough, because wholeheartedly, it was one of the best gigs I've ever been to. And we got a big sweaty hug from him at the end which just topped it off!

Cheesy grins!
Jason Webley will be touring around Europe and the US until his LAST SHOW for at least a year in Seattle on 11 November. Dates are here. Please go and support this guy, you won't regret it - pinky promise!

Ticket: £10
Cocktail: £7
Oyster card: £10
Total: £27

(If you want to use these photos elsewhere, please ask first! All belong to me!)

Explore: London Blogger Meetup

As you can see from scrolling down, I haven't been blogging for all that long. It's still a bit of a strange new world for me, so yesterday's London Blogger Meetup at The Long Acre seemed the perfect opportunity to speak to some pros and meet others from the 'blogosphere' (a blogging term I'm not all too comfortable with using yet!). 

Held in central London almost slap bang in the middle of Leicester Square and Covent Garden tube stations at a corner placed pub called The Long Acre, the event was a chance to put faces to domains and included a presentation by travel blogger Heather Cowper (check out her blog, Heather on Her Travels). I have to say it was all a bit overwhelming as a new kid on the blog ('scuse the pun) but it really is fascinating that people can actually make a living out blogging, or be endorsed by a brand. 

Of course this blog is about my spending, and I wouldn't be writing this post if I hadn't spent some money. I attended the event with two fabulous colleagues of mine, Pink Julep and Pauper Princess and as we went straight from work we grabbed food at Bella Italia (as Pizza Express had a long wait and Angus Steakhouse didn't have enough veggie options for PP). I am such a sucker for calzone whenever I go to an Italian as it's something I never have at home. It was chicken and spinach which was pretty good, but not a touch on the chicken and chili one from Zizzi's - that bad boy will sizzle off your taste buds and leave you with no choice but to order more wine! 

At the event we had a few beers, and I have to say that I'm still struggling with London prices, especially as my local in York was a Sam Smith's pub that didn't charge more than £1.80 a pint. A rare thing I know, and there are Sam Smith's pubs in London - my favourite being the Dover Castle in Marylebone so I'll have to reminisce there soon! 

Did anybody else attend the meetup? It'd be nice to meet more bloggers in the future so keep me posted!

Meal at Bella Italia: £11
3 Peronis: £13.50 
Total: £24.50

Explore: The Museum of Broken Relationships

I feel that now I'm living in London I can start doing all the things that I get constant email and Twitter alerts for - the galleries, the special events, the gigs. So this weekend I (and my not so impressed boyfriend) went to The Museum of Broken Relationships, a temporary exhibition at Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden. Originally shown in Croatia, the exhibit highlights how the most seemingly irrelevant items and trinkets can hold meaning and memories, and how important it is for their owner to give them up to move on. The items on display ranged from the expected (teddy bears, wedding gowns) to the bizarre (feminine hygiene wash, a baby grand piano). All of them had an explanation from their previous owner attached, many with frankly ridiculous metaphors about love lost, but others were amusing, and even bordering on inspiring (in the case of the positive heroin test on show, the result of one woman's loss of trust in her other half and how it persuaded her to move on). It's a cute observation into natural human obsession and passion, however overall it was pretty disappointing. The tense one chord muzak in the background, the dimmed lights and tip-toeing around precariously balanced bric-a-brac made it feel just that little bit pretentious. I think the aim of the exhibit is to be able to look upon the items and relate to them, or even to laugh in places, but the majority of people were treating it like a wake, or at the very least a chance to sneakily grope their other half in a half-hearted attempt to reassure each other that they would NEVER end up in a situation like those in the exhibits. 

So it was only right that we headed to the pub afterwards. It can be a bit frustrating when looking for somewhere to have a drink in central London, not just because of the weekend crowds but also because of all of the choice! There's an underlying pressure to pick somewhere impressive rather than just ending up in a Wetherspoons (which as a former resident of Milton Keynes was normally the only and best option of place to drink). But more often than not it's luck, which is what led us to The Salisbury a few months ago. With the unrelenting rain we found ourselves back there as it offers a few good ales and has no sports colours. It's also right next to Wyndham's Theatre which allowed me to do a little excited geek dance at the crowd of people awaiting David Tennant at the stage door, but then to get dragged away by my boyfriend who is most definitely NOT a Dr Who fan. Does anyone have any recommendations for other places to drink in and around Covent Garden? It's an area of London I love for shopping, but I always struggle to find somewhere to have a drink. As much as I like The Salisbury I'd rather try somewhere new next time so any ideas are appreciated!

Ticket price: £3.50

Two pints of Tribute ale: £8
Oyster top-up: £10
Pret sandwich: £3.95
Total: £25.45

Shopping: Forever 21? No Thanks.

I've decided to ditch my Tumblr blog and transfer it over to this one so I can share all my ramblings in one place (what lucky readers you are!). I'm going to write later about some purchases I made yesterday but in the meantime, this is my post from a couple of weeks ago about my thoughts on the new Forever 21 store recently opened in Oxford St:

Forever 21? No thanks.
Maybe the clue was in the name, but this 22 year old was not impressed with the new Forever 21 store on Oxford Street.
I love the online store, there appears to be a huge variety of clothes and accessories all at a price set somewhere between Primark and H&M. I was always a little miffed at why this huge American high street name had set up shop in Birmingham, but not in London, and now I know why. It wasn’t good enough.
Now obviously Oxford Street is always horrendously busy (and I work on it, so have to deal with it every day), and I knew that the shop would be rammed and this wasn’t a problem. I just put it in my mental checklist of places to never go on a lunchtime/weekend/national holiday which also includes Primark, Selfridges and Topshop. But the masses of people were not helped by the frankly ridiculous layout of the place. What were the designers thinking?! It was like being a Borrower in a laundry basket. I couldn’t tell where I’d been, where I should go next, or if I’d missed something out. Random walkways and islands of clothes were just plonked willy nilly all over the place, and considering this place is half the size of a lot of other West End flagships they should have been more careful.
As is customary with most ‘young’ stores (and I hate using that phrase because I’m young in the grand scheme of….time, I guess), the music was deafening, which only encouraged the screeches of the kids on their summer holidays and made it impossible to hear the replies of the clearly overwhelmed, unenthusiastic and mediocre staff. But the staff were plenty I have to say. When I could hear myself think over the pounding rendition of Rock Lobster (yes, that’s the one Peter Griffin sings in Family Guy. Apparently this is what the customers of F21 are listening to these days), they were pleasant enough and helped me as best they could.
But they couldn’t help me that much, as everything appeared to be ‘out of stock’. There was a severe lack of sizes, no help as to what European size I would even be looking for anyway (because the UK standards of 8/10/12 etc were nowhere to be seen), and seemingly everything that I wanted was unavailable. I find this incredible. Either the staff have been told to do the age old line of ‘We have everything out on the shelves’, or somebody has ordered really badly. After all, they’ve only been open 2 days!
I did however find a couple of things to try on, and I proceeded to one of the fitting room sections in the Basement level. You would never have guessed that this level was underground was it for the actual changing rooms themselves. Now I’m almost 5ft 10, so yes I’m above average height, but there are many girls (including one who was in front of me in the queue) that are taller. A word of warning to them: try a fitting room on a different level. I lifted my arms in the air to put a top on and accidentally punched the ceiling which was only a few inches above me!
Forever 21 tries too hard to exude an aura of youth, of cool and of ‘now’. And maybe I’m just not any of those things, but there are plenty of people who are, and they will ultimately make the store a huge success regardless of criticisms.
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review