Started Thursday by packing my stuff to get the heck out of the “Holiday Villa” and move on to my next hotel out by the Docklands. Fighting a mild cold and generally feeling crappy. The shower broke for a second morning in a row and I was forced to simply leave it running. The staff were nice, but my god…what pit of a hotel. And, I paid more for it per night than anyplace else on the trip. I plan to let Hotwire know that their 3 star is a 1 star.
Just not wanting to lug my stuff onto and off buses or Tubes for 2 hours, I splurged for a minicab to take me straight to the Novotel at the Excel Centere. It’s a Priceline purchase and a good value, if a bit out of town. They were very nice and put me in my room early since I wasn’t feeling too great. I proceeded to fall onto the bed and sleep the rest of the afternoon. A shame to waste a day, but necessary.
I gathered myself up and headed off for Laura Marling in Hyde Park at the Serpentine Sessions. Some quick KFC (my first meal of the day) and a hike down Park Lane and I entered the mini festival site.
This was like the Anti-Glastonbury…I believe the word here is posh.
Men in suits, free wine samples, “luxury loos”….
I grabbed a free beach chair and kicked back with a diet soda. The first act, Alessi’s Ark was competent in a bland sort of coffee house style. I kept waiting for a version of “smelly cat” or something. Not bad, just not really anything I couldn’t hear in 1000 Starbucks on any random night.
The second act, The Smoke Fairies were marginally better. At least they had some slightly more unique harmonies. I was staring to wonder if I’d ever see a decent opening act in London for any show? I guess they blow the budget on headliners? All of them were faceless, unmemorable and bland.
Then, finally something good…
Fanfarlo were awesome.
Here’s a video
Trumpet, violin and a guy who live sounded a bit like a young Brian Ferry at times. By three songs I was hooked. Finally a decent opener! Their set was far too short and I would have gladly welcomed more.
Sadly, they ended and gave way to one more faceless, nameless act on the smaller stage. It’s amazing the overall quality difference in some of these shows.
Finally, the headliner, Laura Marling.
I suspect you may hear a lot more about her. I know she’s coming to the El Rey later this month on tour and I could see her having the stuff to break in the US.
She did a solid selection of material across both her albums. Stand outs were the songs linked above as well as “Ghosts”, “I speak because I can”, “Alas, I cannot swim” and a nice cover of Neil Young’s “Needle and the damage done”.
Great show and a huge improvement over my previous night’s disappointment.
Off to Hop Farm and Van Morrison next! Hopefully a nights sleep will help me shake this cold.