Showing posts with label just for fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label just for fun. Show all posts

Friday, 23 September 2011

Live Music: Hard-Fi at The Junction, Cambridge

Back in 2005, Staines based Brit-rock/pop band HARD-FI stormed the charts with debut album Stars of CCTV, packed full with popular indie anthems that received radio play long after the band stepped out of the spotlight. It feels like yesterday that my sister and I crushed up against the metal barriers in the Junction's main arena and sang along to front man Richard Archer's brooding, urban lyrics about "Living for the Weekend" and nights on the streets of Staines as the "Stars of CCTV", watching the red lights of Heathrow's planes.

Last night, after a three year break from the music scene, HARD-FI celebrated their long-awaited brand new third album with another exciting gig at the Junction in Cambridge. Six years older but still bursting with energy, the band were clearly pleased to be back. Performing old favourites, like opener "Tied up too tight" and "Cash Machine", the boys put on a polished, passionate show. With Richard Archer's fantastic stage presence and witty banter, the crowd were loving it. Far more than a one or two hit wonder, the band reminded their Cambridge fans of a whole range of hits - including upbeat "Gotta Reason", "Hard to Beat" and "Suburban Nights". Still sounding as fresh and unique as ever, the band wowed the crowd as usual with their musical talent, story telling songs and confidence.

Reminiscing the soundtrack to my student days would have been more than enough to send me home happy and humming about 'getting my boots on' and 'flashing blue lights camera action'. Yet, the best was still to come. New tracks "Love Song" and "Fire in the House" took the unmistakably HARD-FI indie anthem style to a whole new level - mixed-tempo, funky, bordering on dance music. I enjoyed the band's jerky and excitable moves almost as much as the original and fascinating new sounds they were blasting out. A cover of the Boomtown Rats' "I don't like Mondays" topped off the night - Archer's cheeky quips, humility and total inability to say a sentence without at least five F words made it even better.

The verdict? HARD-FI's music is indie pop for grown ups. And effortlessly making a comeback is the definition of cool. Buy the album!!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The waiting game

Anyone venturing into the Spa at my gym on Friday night would probably have thought nothing of the scene they found inside. Me lying back in the sauna, seemingly enjoying a few minutes of relaxation after a hard week and workout; a fellow gym-goer in the hot tub, swallowed by the bubbles and easing his aching muscles. However, all was not as it seemed. At least from my point of view.

I was fuming. I had happened to be one of the last people in the gym before it closed for the evening, so I was banking on the idea of having the Spa all to myself. More specifically, I was looking forward to claiming the hot tub for the last twenty or so minutes of my gym visit. I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who thinks it is weird, slightly unpleasant at least, to share the hot tub with a stranger. It's too small, it's like you're having a bath together, and it means you might actually have to interact. All too much for me - I want to relax and enjoy the deafening noise of the jets.

So, this is how I came to be roasting myself in the sauna, seething, and sending surreptious glances of disgust to the man in the hot tub. One should note, however, that throughout this ridiculous internal tantrum, I was very careful to ensure that the hot tub man had no idea that I was desperate to use it and continued to act like 15 minutes in a scorching sauna is my idea of heaven. At one point I had to bend my legs into a most uncomfortable and unflattering position because the skin of my arched knees felt like it was about to burst into flames. I lay there willing hot tub man to leave (quickly realising that was silly - if it was me I'd be in there until the bitter end) and simultaneously trying to calculate the length of the, um, bubble cycle (there must be a correct term). I reasoned with myself that, surely it can't be longer than 10 to 15 minutes. I checked the sand spilling through the timer on the wall: I hadn't even been in there for 10 minutes.

I was nearing my pain threshold (now that I'm writing this down I realise exactly how ridiculous this is) when the bubbles started to recede, the jets quietened, and, glancing through the tinted glass of the sauna, I saw the water in the hot tub swirl around and become flat. Excellent. Hot tub man is done. I wondered all of a sudden what I would do if he joined me in the sauna; how horrendous! Slowly sitting up and trying not to pass out - I really should take my bottle of water into the sauna in these self-imposed hostage situations - I planned to casually amble out, shower and have the hot tub all to myself by the time the man reached his changing rooms. Oh wouldn't that have made the waiting game from hell worthwhile? But, no. Hot tub man, the gall of him I remember angrily saying to myself, got up out of the water ... and pressed the bubble buttons again!!! How selfish!

Well. I couldn't bear it any longer. I jumped off the wooden slats of the sauna, pretty much burning any bit of skin that I had managed to keep on my towel up to that point, swung the door open, marched across the Spa ... and into the Steam Room.

Dripping with eucalyptus-infused sweat (lovely), I huddled in the steam, glaring at the opaque glass in the general direction of the hot tub hogger. Grumbling to myself (in my head, I hope) I peered at the clock - only 15 minutes until closing time. Too late to wait out the next bubble cycle and enjoy my turn in the tub. Beaten, I slipped out of the steam room, grabbed my towel and, at the last second before I pushed through the door to the ladies' changing rooms, I shot back at hot tub man.... "see you, have a nice evening". He actually looked shocked - until then I had been sure that this battle was all in my head, but perhaps he knew exactly what he was doing ... oh here I go again!!

Human nature's a funny thing. Next week: queuing. Only joking - I'm not that boring.