So, on Christmas Eve, there was a competition I saw on Facebook from a Twitter link.. Write a review of Imagine (see my blog review here) for originality.Both winners-myself and a lovely guy, called Andrew, got to attend the launch.

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Credit: Lesley-Ann Jones.

It was at the Groucho Club, from six to eight, on Tuesday 19TH January.
It was almost akin to a Jazz club-comforting, closed in, with a ‘smokey’ vibe. One person wondered what the walls would say-with the maxim, quickly introduced, of “What goes on in the Groucho, stays in the Groucho!” And to be honest, I liked that. A lot. (Apparently Spike Milligan and the rest of goon show writers, used it as their stomping ground.)
We talked about Queen, other elements of Rock, whilst meandering about the room..
I also got to meet to ‘Indian lady’ of Jones’ books, Hy Money, as well as her agent , Ivan Mulcahy, and Zaria Rich. (They are all utterly lovely people!) There was also some excitement-about something coming anew. (I can’t print-look out for announcements.)
A definite highlight was the speech made by Ivan Mulcahy, Lesley-Ann’s agent: it was a message of goodwill, a little about the writing of the book, and an announcement. (I can’t print yet; see above.) Later, he came and chatted to me-and gave me his card (!) When being a room, unsure of myself, that was very kind.
I finally got to meet Lesley-Ann, the lovely rock biographer who I’ve also interviewed twice here. Imagine is her new book, well worth the read; click here to buy.   (I can’t say much more, due to writing an article.)
 

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The Cafe.

So..yeah. I like Cats, and last week was very lucky to have attended Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. (This was after seeing a feature in Company Magazine-sadly now folded.) It’s a Cat Cafe-and you’re served food, with furry faces all around! As a Christmas gift, I was very grateful to have had this experience.
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Entering the Cafe; I like the very regal motif on the door.

For obvious reasons, you wash your hands first; you are also not allowed to pick up the cats, or disturb Cats who are sleeping..(And, just as a side note: the cats are not kept where the food is prepared. So, therefore, there’s no hair in the food. Because, well, who really wants that?) Not. Me.
However…
Cats are everywhere:
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Surely you have to admire a Cat that’s on a chaise lounge? These two were just above an entrance to the lower floor, where there’s more seating. And, like a fool, it took me two looks, two looks, before I realized that they were real..
Or, you can even take a Cat course. With a student freebie thing, of course.
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He’s hiding! (Probably away from all of the crowds of people, all peering in. Surely a cat may just want to be quiet some days?)
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But what really struck me was the very carefree attitude to playing with the cars. The waitresses willing tapped into the quirks of the cats (good phrase, that, no?) and showed us how to pet them. For example, this was a very pampered rescue cat-and like a spine rub, whilst sat atop a chaise lounge:

Then, just slowly pat on the side of their bottom (!) Wrong, I know how that sounds..
Some very cool top floor graphics. As far as wall art goes, I was very envious. The ones with the cat motifs detail the characteristics of those at the cafe. (Maybe a good present for a cat lover?)
 
And the food was lovely. Really delicious. Far better than I was expecting-complete with a main, drink, and desert. More restaurant than cafe..
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Soup of the day-the name I couldn’t quite recall. Complete with a Brick Lane Bagel. Yum.
Then  came time to explore the building:
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Lady Dinah’s has a huge, custom-made cat wheel installed on the lower floor. It’s like a hamster wheel-only maybe six feet high-and for a cat. I just had to try and sit in it. Which was not a very good idea. Obviously. Call it ‘Thy Clumsy Nature’.
To finish, food-wise: a salted caramel chocolate brownie! Still warm, with gooey insides, and little chips of chocolate.
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But, I digress from my main theme: Cats.
 
I felt very lucky to also have fed Wooky, the marmalade hued cat, when he woke up. It was a fishy treat, finally to finish a very long day.. If you love cats, then this is the place to go.
To book, please click here. Or, to purchase some very cool cat merchandise, please click here.

Well, why not?
Way back in the last few days of December 2015-from the 27th to the 30th-I was lucky enough to spend my time in Liverpool. This-as many before it-is just a post, almost like a photo diary. It details what I was doing, with some bits of history, as well as some ‘shoe envy’:
Around where I visited, there were many really cool, themed bars. Maybe the more literary of you will understand this:

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Lets find Daisy and Nick inside!

This was the exterior shot:
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Well, I assume it was a bar…
Despite walking nearly everywhere, I really envied this mode of transport:
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Because who doesn’t want to ride in a Taxi, branded with Net-A-Porter?!
But, looking in Topshop, I had some serious shoe envy. (Very much like Dorothy, from Wizard of Oz, no?) I just had to buy them..
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Apologies for the bad quality picture…
A quick look in the Fab Four Cafe, prior to boarding the ferry, I saw these really cool statues. Oh, I wish I had been alive during the time of The Beatles!
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And the cafe-in the window-even had a cake with the lyrics to ‘All You Need Is Love’, complete with bright, gaudy hues…
Some general facts about the Ferry ride from Liverpool’s dock:

  • It has been there for over 800 years, in various incarnations.
  • Charles Dickens used it, if only for “the air”.
  • 1965 saw a boom in use.

My ticket:
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On the way back to the apartment, I spotted what I presume to be a Brazilian embassy. This was the building next door-and the shot didn’t manage to capture the vivid flags, hung outside.
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There was also some really cool architecture; if anyone knows anything about these buidings, please comment-I’d really like to know..

A new history for me, written in red..
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And historic statues:
 
Bauhaus, anyone?
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Serious (although fictional) holiday reading.
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Just could not resist:
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And something a little (un)politically correct, although I thought it funny:
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(It reads-as directions for the toilets: ‘Men to the left, because women are always right.’)
And finally..
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I was a little disappointed at first; one end was completely derelict, boarded up, etc. The other was colorful, more developed, yet lacking in its history; for example, the barbershop didn’t appear to be in its original place..
Where did you visit in December?
Lydia

Where do I even begin?!
I’m a recent convert to Lissie’s music-the bluesy, folkish rock singer, who writes her songs. (She had me at ‘I stole your magazines/the one with the beauty queens/on the front/I saw her stare at me/I swear that it is mockingly..) So, for Saturday, it was all the way up for Manchester for me-and ‘press’ guest. It was at Academy Two-a little hard to find in the dark.
A ticket tout directed us-still trying to flog his tickets.
We went in. It was a gaudily bright establishment-possibly a university-complete with a bar that was in full swing. Signs were up though: Lissie not expected until 9:45 PM, due to Hurricane Desmond preventing travel. (All the way from Glasgow!) Fans were eagerly anticipating the artist in question; they even went so far as to track her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. (A lovely train picture can be found-complete with tour manager and support act.) She was delayed further.

I always knew I wanted to be a singer and performer! But I’ve also worked at an ice cream shop, at a pool, sold honey and more!

And we waited. Some left-fed up-but general consensus was “Ya snooze, ya loose!” Patience was, yes, a virtue then. They missed something really cool.

Spirits were raised when a man walks on stage, tuning a guitar on Microphone, complete with a ‘traditional’ Christmas pom-pom hat. “Lissie’s in the building” was met with cheers-and whoops, of sorts. He was apologetic, describing the storm as being a “Prick”. Ryan O’Reilly. He was too modest to say he was the support act. And wouldn’t be playing, due to imposed curfew.

I still have trouble figuring out my “genre”. I always sang and had stories that I wanted to tell. Guitar was a way to accompany myself, so being able to do my own thing & not seek out other people maybe led to being a “singer/ songwriter/ rhythm guitar player” ?

And she just walked through the stage door. No fanfare. No backing music.
In her hand was a very full glass of wine. The guitar and microphone waited. Greeted like old friends. All she needed was a spotlight, microphone, and guitar. No band.
It’s refreshing to see an artist not bothering with fancy clothes, make-up, or any pretense; it could be classed as very unusual in this industry. And yet there was something incredibly beautiful, just staring up at a stage, a room dominated by a voice.
Then came the admission of having had a little cry, just before, and no set list. (Even to chat that candidly is a rarity. Lissie would later take off her shoes, socks, and chat back to a heckler.) The crowd issued their requests. To great result. A show that was very much tailored o the consumer.

 I write when I feel like I have something to say and then I enjoy co-writing with great musicians and writers I’ve met & connected with over the years.

During the second song-and I forget what, so forgive me-the guitar electrification failed. And went out of tune. And yet, Lissie carried on a Capella-with a phenomenal result. (And yes, yours truly had yet to work out, until three songs later!) If you can find the YouTube video-so many were recording-do it, because it was worth seeing. It was stunning!
And that voice. That voice. A huge, bluesy-esque tone, powerhouse, versatile enough to sing ballads and rockers, capable of making so much noise..It was just so big. And it came from a tiny women. I’m in awe. (Okay, so the perception may be a little skewed..) It’s like Anastacia, when she started out, way back when…(I’d love to hear a duet-or maybe a cover of ‘Paid My Dues’.)

Then came the articulation-why write such beautiful songs? Mountaintop Removal was written about what goes on in West Virginia-blowing the tops off, despite people having lived there for years. Lissie described it-in present tense-as something that “Pisses me off”. Then ,Daughters-from My Wild West-written about Mothers who peacefully protested.
Two glasses of wine were consumed, in total. We played until 11:30.
A few people had a little too much to drink, however: a couple had a quite vicious, verbally violent fight at front; a second women kept shouting for her new song, despite having just played it that second. (Queue shouts of ‘Shut up’ all round.)

As soon as I decided that I wasn’t really trying to make an album, I made one. 

And finally, there was a hug for the front row..
A rush for Merch followed; a drunk women tried to make conversation, about ‘that’s it; she’s mainstream now..’ The poor tour manager, though; having to deal with a crowd that size.
My only feedback is that I would have liked to have heard a few more rock-heavy tunes; maybe Shameless, Cold Fish? But go and see Lissie-she is brilliant!
To book tickets, click here. For other news, click here. Thanks to Hayley Foxx for letting me come on the press ticket as a ‘guest’. Also, keep a look out for my interview with Lissie, coming soon..
 
 

A little while ago, I posted an interview with Marc Martel (Click here to read if you didn’t see it.) He’s the lead singer of Queen Extravaganza, the official Queen tribute band, who I got to see perform on Monday night.
They all put on a very good show-including, during the second half, an entire run-through of A Night At The Opera. I liked how they sang songs from the first three albums-such as March Of The Black Queen, Liar, Tenement Funster, Lilly of The Valley, Flick Of The Wrist..And A Night At The Opera in full! (The album-not the song..)  I think I liked Sweet Lady best-but also The Prophets Song..

First record I ever bought with my own money was Milli Vanilli “Girl You Know It’s True” in 1989, on cassette, when I was 12. The irony is not lost on me.

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My VIP pass.

Prior to the show, I collected the pass. After, along with about ten other people, I was ushered to an area nearby the Merch counter and Bar. Just about ten , fifteen minutes to wait..
And they just trooped in..
We were allowed to ask questions, Q&A style. (I still  had ringing in my ears-and had to repeat my question of ‘Has this at all been intimidating?’, because I was speaking too quietly..Tyler Warren answered-but I can’t quite recall the answer, being so late and not hearing.)
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My ticket..

But I got my ticket and Queen book (By Mark Blake-click here for his interview) signed. I even chatted to Marc Martel briefly-just to say thank you for giving his interview..We also chatted about his first record, and why he found it ironic, having bought it..Yes, I’m very small-so he did have to bend his knees to talk to me..
 

Come to a show, and come say hi afterwards and let me know if it was a big enough extravaganza for you!

If you get a chance to see Queen Extravaganza, do go and see them. Roger Taylor put them together very well..