Category Archives: Gigs

Shadow Orchestra back at the Queen of Hoxton – Soundcrash with Anchorsong and Elan Tamara

Soundcrash billingFor the second time in as many months, the Shadow Orchestra found ourselves back at the Queen of Hoxton – this time as guests of Soundcrash, playing with Anchorsong and Elan Tamara.

I’m really growing to love the place as a great venue for a gig (although the sound system was a bit badly-behaved compared to last time…) – it’s easy to get to, the stage isn’t teeny tiny, it’s a good size but feels intimate, and there’s a great green room to chill out and get changed in, unlike many venues in this fair city.

Despite a tricky soundcheck, we played a great gig to a fantastic crowd. It was my first gig standing up (more of that on the blog later this week), and I had a great time. Not so impressed about spending 30 minutes painstakingly putting my stage makeup on, only to sweat it off in about 30 seconds. It was as hot as Hades up on stage, and not much cooler in the audience.

Huge thanks to Rob and the Soundcrash team for pulling together a great night, and booking us, of course 🙂   I only heard Elan Tamara’s set distantly from backstage as I was getting ready, but it was great to meet such a nice and friendly band (and help them lug their equipment upstairs – any time, ladies!). They seem to be playing a lot around London, so I’m sure I’ll get the chance to hear them properly soon.

I was totally blown away by Anchorsong’s amazing set – meaty beats and dreamy harmonies, played by a guy hammering away on a keyboard and mpc, and backed up by live strings. Awesome. Can’t wait to see him at KOKO in November at the Soundcrash/Tru Thoughts night with Belleruche and a whole bunch of other great acts.

There are some fantastic pics of the night taken by Vent Photosgo and check out their Flickr set. This one is my favourite (luckily you can’t see how much I’m sweating…):

Shadow Orchestra @ Queen of Hoxton, London, 5th October 2011

Pic courtesy of - thanks Jon!

And here are a few rather less professional snaps from me:

Shadow Orchestra

New fairy lights! Flowers on the harp, pink lights for Mary's mic stand


Anchorsong in action

Backstage Queen of Hoxton

Dave and Mary chill out backstage


Sunday Driver play the NightShift, Queen Elizabeth Hall


Off to the South Bank last week for Sunday Driver’s penultimate gig of the year (as far as I know…), warming up for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

We even had our own dressing room!



It was a lovely, intimate gig for us, especially as we only had percussion rather than a full drum kit. Big thanks to everyone who came to see us, especially my nerd chums from Twitter 🙂


Sunday Driver album launch – Portland Arms, Cambridge

Sunday Driver poster


Last Friday I headed back up the M11 to Sunday Driver’s old stamping ground – The Portland Arms in Cambridge – to launch the special pre-release limited edition of our new album, The Mutiny. Scene of many a great gig for us (remember our 10th birthday party last year?), this was no exception.

We were supported by the incredible Steph Brown, who split her set between gutwrenching piano ballads and more jazzy numbers accompanied by Mel and Scott from Sunday Driver. She’s a mesmerising and charismatic performer – do go and see her play live if you possibly can, although her recordings go some of the way to capturing her spirit.



It was our first gig with our tabla player Amit since he broke his hand, and it was good to have the Boy Wonder back on stage with us. Thanks to the lovely Aiysha for taking the pics:



The Boy Wonder in action


I attempt to play bass clarinet standing up. It nearly works. I also nearly lose some front teeth.

And of course there were home-baked goodies. I made a double batch of delicious chocolate brownies, and got everyone in the band to decorate some vanilla cookies. As might be expected, this led to some rather NSFW designs:


Sunday Driver play The Asylum

This was the third year that Sunday Driver were invited back to play at The Asylum, the UK’s largest “Steampunk Convivial” – regular readers may remember my dispatches from the 2009 and 2010 gigs.

This year was the biggest gathering yet – in fact, the organisers were going for a World record attempt at the largest number of Steampunks in any one place. This picture doesn’t really capture the scale but there were a lot!


Sadly I can barely remember a thing about this year’s event because I was struck down by an evil cold. I spent the day flopping about with a raging temperature whilst leaking a potent mix of snot and viruses out of my face. I have heard whispered rumours on Facebook of “Asylum lurgy”, and fear that I may in fact be Patient Zero in this case.

I vaguely remember spending the afternoon manning the Sunday Driver listening station, forcing poor unsuspecting passers by to listen to our brand new album, The Mutiny, while plying them with free gin and homemade chocolate brownies.


This turned out to be a remarkably successful sales tactic, only slightly spoiled by thinking we’d managed to lose the resulting cash (I discovered it 6 hours later down the back of a sofa).

Because our tabla player Amit is still AWOL with a broken hand, we were honoured to be joined on stage for our gig by the legendary Kuljit Bhamra MBE  – one of the finest Asian musicians working in Britain today. I was a little distracted by trying not to blow snot out of my nose at the same time as blowing down my clarinet (not my finest or most attractive hour, I admit) but it was an incredible experience to play with such a talented musician.

Here’s a pic of us on stage from David Wilson:


Not much else to report, except that the next day I discovered that the only thing worse than waking up in  Travelodge is waking up in a Travelodge with a stinking cold and knowing that you have to drive 120 miles home and then do a 4-hour recording session. FML.

Music on Mondays – I *hEaRt* TuNeYaRdS


Last week I went to see the amazing Tune-Yards at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. Performing as a four-piece band – with a bassist and two sax players – she played most of her recent album, WhoKill, along with a few tunes from her first (BirdBrains).

Seeing her play live was an inspirational experience – her voice is incredible, and I love how she works with a looper to create vocal textures and drum patterns.

Even better was getting the chance to talk to her before the gig in the toilets while she was putting her eyeliner on (an experience I know well, having got ready in more venue toilets than I care to remember). I probably came across as a gabbling idiot, but she was really nice about it!

Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of WhoKill – it’s fantastic. Here’s her last single Bizness as a taster:

Shadow Orchestra play Queen of Hoxton for WahWah45s

My life over the past week has been a horrific explosion of gigs, admin, sorting out stuff, driving, Travelodging, baking and working, topped off with a dose of a rather nasty cold. Sadly, it has left little time for blogging, sleeping, eating and dressing myself properly.

Here are a few pics from the Shadow Orchestra’s gig last Friday night at the Queen of Hoxton for WahWah45s, supporting the fantastic Hackney Colliery Band. Thanks to my unfortunate schedule I was gutted not to actually manage to see their gig, as I had to be up at 8am the next day to drive to Lincoln. More of that later…


Shadow Orchestra billing

On the bill at the Queen of Hoxton


Dave Shadow orchestra

Dave feed his massive coke habit in the Green Room (as an aside, it was nice to have a proper backstage area to get changed and hang out before our gig. Made a change from the toilets...)


Shadow Orchestra Soundcheck

The ubiquitous soundcheck shot



The lovely WahWah45s boys - Dom and Chris


Vivien of Holloway dress

New dress! News dress! I got this in the Vivien of Holloway sale


Shadow Orchestra plays Off The Tracks

Another weekend, another gig bloody miles away. After last week’s epic trip to Galtres festival, the 120-mile drive to Castle Donington near Derby for a Shadow Orchestra gig at the small-but-perfectly-formed Off The Tracks festival seemed like a mere hop up the motorway.

The festival seemed quieter than when we’ve been in previous years, and the second stage (which we were headlining) had been moved to a much smaller barn than last time, with the world’s teeniest stage.

But we had a great little crowd, despite being programmed at the same time as Dhol Foundation, the mainstage headliners.  They sounded brilliant from the little I heard, and I was gutted to be missing them

I’m bloody knackered though – I think I may have festival fatigue. Still, only gigs on 8th, 9th, 10th, 16th and 23rd September to go, then I can relax a bit…

Here are some pics:

Here’s Manchester reggae band Extra Love giving it some, err, extra love:


Shadow Orchestra billing Off The Tracks

We *really* need to get some new blurb...

King Capische

Sheffield's King Capisce - Thanks to guitarist Tim for booking us for the stage!

King Capisce

Shadow Orchestra

Soundchecking on the smallest stage EVER

Shadow Orchestra

Oooh arty pic!

Sunday Driver play Galtres festival – mud, mud, glorious mud

In summary: 500 miles of driving in one day; rip-off motorway service stations; knee deep in mud;  nowhere to sit down; “Levellers only” backstage area harumph; the worst cup of coffee I’ve had for a long time (I’ve excreted urine with more caffeine in it…); Chandy and Joel stricken by food poisoning; I hate the universe; sooooo glad I didn’t bring the harp; oh God the mud… the mud…; getting changed in the car; “It can’t get any worse, I suppose, let’s go for it”; playing an amazing gig to a fantastic crowd; doing the can-can in my wellies on stage to a Bollywood song; car stuck in the mud (thanks to the carpark stewards for pushing me out backwards!); an amazing sunset; drive drive drive drive; tired tired tired tired;  £4.50 for a panino*??!!!; home at last; sleep.

*the world seems reluctant to adopt my alternative singularisation, paninus

I think it may have been some kind of terrible dream. Luckily, I have photographic evidence:

Mud at Galtres festival 2011

This was the mud backstage

Sujit at Galtres festival 2011

Stand-in tabla player Sujit was not impressed


Backstage area Galtres festival 2011

The impressive 3-room marquee backstage...


...which we weren't allowed to use 😦

Backstage trailer

The boys got changed in the storage trailer

Glamorous backstage area at Galtres festival 2011

Mine and Chandy's glamorous changing room - a.k.a my car



What the best-dressed steampunk musicians are wearing this year - half a costume, wellies, and a pissed-off face

Disgusting coffee

The coffee was revolting

Beautiful sunset

The pay-off - an amazing sunset as I drove 250 miles back home

Sunday Driver play Norwich Arts Centre

Finally catching up with myself after a couple of crazy weeks. Here are some pics from Sunday Driver‘s trip to Norwich Arts Centre earlier in August to support the amazing Raghu Dixit, currently visiting the UK from Bangalore. He’s been on telly with Jools Holland, dontcha know…

This gig almost didn’t happen, as our bassist Mel was on holiday that week. Booo! Luckily, it turned out he was on holiday only a few miles away from Norwich. Hurrah! (and huge thanks to his girlfriend Maya for letting us borrow him for the night…)

Then came the really bad news. Amit, our tabla player, broke his hand the day before the gig. Boo! But we were honoured to have tabla and sitar maestro Baluji Shrivastav as a stand-in. Hurrah!

It was an incredible experience to play with Baluji – he has more musicality in his little finger than I have in my entire body and he blended in seamlessly.

Thanks to everyone who came along to see us, especiallyJohn, Liz, Cat, Ruth and Russ. A brilliant (but very late) night all round. Here are some pictures:

On the bill at Norwich Arts Centre

On the bill at Norwich Arts Centre

Sunday Driver soundcheck

The now-obligatory soundcheck shot


Raghu's band got the dressing room - we got the cleaners' cupboard. It was not glamorous

Raghu Dixit - Norwich Arts Centre

The man himself - he has an incredible voice, just beautiful

GigFAIL and GigWIN: Shadow Orchestra at Bimble Bandada and Soundcrash

Oh the irony – on Friday I was happily larking about on Twitter, retweeting the Guardian’s excellent Worst Gigs Ever piece, and linking to my post of Best, Worst and Weirdest gigs. Little did I know that in the space of 2 days, I would experience both ends of the “awful to awesome” gig spectrum.

It started as I got in the car with Nick from the Shadow Orchestra, and headed down to a field just outside Lewes for the Bimble Bandada festival. The traffic was a bit sticky leaving London through the Blackwall Tunnel, as it usually is.

Then it got really slow just before we reached the junction we needed off the M25, but we made it with plenty of time to chill out at the festival before our set at 7.30pm.


Dave turned up uncharacteristically late but still in good time, so we grabbed some tasty food while we waited for Chris and Mary. And waited, and waited, and waited. Our stage time crept closer, then passed, and the sun went down.


Unfortunately Chris and Mary never made it. They’d got stuck in the worst traffic jam on the M25 for years, and ended up motionless for four or five hours. Despite our desperate negotiations for a later timeslot, they were still over an hour away by 9pm and it simply wasn’t going to work.

Dave, Nick and I headed home utterly dejected. It’s one thing to play a bad gig but at least know you gave it your best shot – it’s another entirely to not be able to play at all due to circumstances completely out of your control. I’ve been gigging for more than 15 years and I don’t think that’s ever happened to me.

So we were understandably a bit nervous about Saturday’s gig for Soundcrash up on the Dalston Roof Park. But luckily (despite a couple of dicey moments, especially when it started tipping with rain 10 minutes before our set and screwed the electrics) our experience was completely brilliant.

We played a total blinder to a fantastic up-for-it crowd, and ended the night on a total high. I was so overexcited I nearly crashed the car on the way home. Ooops…

Here are some pics:

Shadow Orchestra soundcrash soundcheck

Soundchecking an' that

Soundcrash soundman

Sound engineer MJ does his best with the world's smallest PA

Soundcrash roof party 2 running order

The cunningly waterproofed running order


Dave and Nick Shadow Orchestra

Dave and Nick hang out in the sunshine

View from Dalston roof park

Worth it for the incredible view alone


There were strawberries growing in tubs on the roof - I ate one, it was delicious (sorry)

Collectif Sindy dress Kat Shadow Orchestra

Rocking my new dress - and terrible damp hair

Double rainbows all the way

Double rainbows all the way

Dalston roof park

The end of a great night