Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Fashion Fix #2 – I heart Vivienne Westwood

Today's fashion fix is dedicated to my current obsession... my beautiful tassel and chain bag by Vivienne Westwood. This little baby is the perfect size for evening with just enough space for your phone, keys, cards and lipstick.

A big thank you to my beautiful girls at GMC Publications for the best leaving gift in the world. If I'd known they were going to spoil me like that I would have left months ago!

Now I just need to save up for the Louboutins to go with it...

I heart Vivienne Westwood


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Fighting With Wire at The Hydrant, Brighton

Last week I went to see Fighting With Wire at The Hydrant in Brighton. Hailing from Derry, Northern Ireland and formed in 2003, this band, quite frankly, baffles me.

They are loud yet melodic, their songs stay stuck in your head in the best possible way and they make more noise than most three pieces could ever hope to, they’re pretty near perfect in fact – but there were only thirty people in the audience. Thirty people? How is that even possible? We travelled an hour to be there and this is Brighton, surely there are plenty of people who are just a five minute stroll away!

I first saw Fighting With Wire on the back of their first album Man Vs Monster in 2008. It was at the The Hamptons in Southampton, which is a small venue by all accounts, and it was one of those nights where you think, “I’m so freakin’ lucky to be here because before long the secret will be out and they will never play venues this small again.”

The second time I saw them was in the Prince Albert in Brighton, where they played to a crowd so small that it felt slightly uncomfortable and stalker-ish to be singing along to their songs. And now in 2012, here we were again – in a venue that seemed fitting only for local bands. But these guys? They should be so much bigger than that and the depressing thing is that they know it too.

After what appears to be a series of cock-ups by management and labels they still aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. But finally they are releasing what front man Cahir O’Doherty laughingly refers to as the ‘new’ album, Colonel Blood, made what must feel like a billion years ago. Hopefully very soon they will be consistently playing to the size crowd that they deserve, because hell I’ve seen some pretty average bands play some pretty big venues in my time and these three need to be heard.

To be fair they have had success, they have toured with bands such as Biffy Clyro and InMe, which must make the incredibly delayed release of their second album even more frustrating for them. They bought out an EP, I Am Ursus, in 2010 to fill the void but I’m sure it did little to eliminate the frustration that they must have been feeling.

So there you go, a bit of a rant today from a bemused lady who for the third time saw Fighting With Wire play to an unbelievably small crowd but still give it their all and sound every bit as good as they do on their records. Everyone Needs a Nemesis puts a smile on my face every time!

The moral of this story is go and check out Man Vs Monster today, and if you don’t like it? I. Will. Fight You. Not really, if you don’t like Fighting With Wire that is absolutely fine, but at least give them a try, they are damn well worth a listen.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Friday Fashion Fix – Hello sunshine!

There has been a lot of rock and not much runway lately, so it is time to change that.
In loving memory of my shades that ended their life in a portaloo at Download and
because the sun is finally shining, today's fashion fix is dedicated to sunglasses.

I'm often guilty of sticking to the same two styles; classic aviators or the kind of large frames favoured by footballers' wives and LA socialites. The latter actually work better for me as they are more robust and can withstand the battering that I inevitably put them through!

However summer is about having fun and as you can see, whether you have cash to burn through or are on a budget there are plenty of designs to liven up your wardrobe and make you smile. I love the leopard print Zac Posen!

As far as cheap sunglasses go (a better choice for me and my nasty habit of losing them, squashing them and generally destroying them), River Island do some great styles for under £20 that last a long time and can withstand being thrown in a handbag.

New Look do some good options for as little as £2.99 but you often get what you pay for, so beware lenses falling out, arms snapping off etc.

I get through sunglasses quite quickly so I am always looking for new stores to try. Any recommendations would be much appreciated!


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Download 2012 – bands, beer and sunshine... honestly!

Three days, 140 bands and copious amounts of beer consumed… yes, Download festival is over for another year. And despite losing my favourite pair of sunglasses down a portaloo (a vision that will haunt me for life) it was a hell of a weekend.

There is always one moment at any festival where you really know you have got your money’s worth and if I had to pick that one highlight that will stay with me forever it would be Refused playing New Noise – every bit as amazing as I had hoped and definitely worth the ten year wait.

Refused (minus that classic emo bowl cut)

There are also a few moments that disappoint you and for me that was probably Soundgarden. It’s not that they weren’t good, it’s just that it wasn't as special as I had wanted. Maybe this was simply due to the fact that we were miles away (having just trekked over from the second stage) but for some reason it just wasn't a highlight.

Still, there are plenty of other moments worthy of a mention, including Metallica playing the black album (although sadly in reverse order!), the superb sound of Slash and Myles Kennedy (seriously, Axl who?), the energy of Rise Against and Biffy Clyro, who effortlessly proved that extensive Radio 1 airplay hasn’t ruined them one bit.

As for the weather, I got one thing right; my Hunters definitely became my new best friends. Although by the end of three very muddy days they also became my worst enemies when they began to rub and somehow I managed to get mud inside one of them! (Don’t ask, I really don’t know how.)

Funnily enough, despite the ground being a sea of mud by the time we arrived on Friday, it was probably the driest Download Festival I’ve been to – by Sunday I was in shorts and cursing the fact I had a hoody and jacket with me!

Here are a few of my personal highlights in no particular order…

Four Year Strong
Biffy Clyro
Ugly Kid Joe
Billy Talent
Slash and Myles Kennedy

Other standout performances included:

    Rise Against
    Tenacious D
    Never Means Maybe
    Kyuss Lives!
    Rival Sons

For reviews and more visit


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Tenacious D at Brixton Academy

I glimpsed a little Download preview last night with Tenacious D’s gig at Brixton Academy. It was exactly as I expected; a highly entertaining night with damn good sing along potential. The first part of the set was devoted to their new album Rize of the Fenix before they cracked on with the classics.

Yes The D can be puerile and yes some people are put off by the crude content (the stage was adorned with a giant inflatable phallus of a phoenix), but let’s not forget the fact that these guys are genuinely talented musicians and they put on a hell of a show. Would Dave Grohl really endorse anything less?

The only downside to the evening was entirely my own doing, well almost… It was partly Nando’s fault (too much food and beer hits me hard sometimes) and partly due to the fact that Brixton Academy was hotter than usual - a combination that made me feel seriously nauseous about 20 minutes in.

I headed out to the bar to sit down for a minute and quietly judge myself for being so pathetic, when a random guy decided to join me and question me about my taste in music. It turns out that he was the one thing guaranteed to turn a nauseous lady into a completely sick one… an enthusiastic Coldplay fan. Oh dear lord.

The night's highlights included Tribute, Double Team and Beelzeboss and I can safely say I’m looking forward to seeing Tenacious D again on Saturday, but this time I will be staying well away from Nandos and Coldplay fans. Can’t promise the same for the beer…

Right, I’m off to pack for Download and to prepare myself for the mud. After a week of rain I think my Hunters are about to become my new best friends!


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The taste of freedom

Hurrah! I’m self-employed once again! And what better way to celebrate my new-found freedom than with a trip to Download Festival.

Ok, so it’s not exactly freedom. I’ve done this before and I do recall the pitfalls of freelancing; the uncertainty, the tax returns, the undignified begging to be paid... But after a few restrictive, desk-bound years I’m ready to do it all again, hence why I refer to it as freedom.

So back to Download - a rarity in that it’s a festival that it is actually about the music. After all, who wants to go to a festival where the vast majority are more concerned with simply being at a festival and their sartorial choices than the bands that are playing. (Reading anyone?! Sorry, but even The Gaslight Anthem couldn’t drag me to a festival which also boasts a dance stage…)

But not Download, where the masses still gather to worship the masters of metal at the sacred grounds of Donington and where the average age hovers somewhere around 35 and not 13. After the epic headliners of 2010 (AC/DC, Rage and Aerosmith) it’s proving a little difficult to come up with a line-up that generates quite as much excitement but there is plenty to look forward to, including Metallica playing the black album, the return of Ugly Kid Joe and the glorious news that Refused aren’t fucking dead after all.

Now I do have one little confession to make­, I absolutely refuse to camp. I can survive on a diet of beer and rock music for three days straight, I’ll party with the best of them and I’m far from high maintenance, but when the sun goes down and the final act exits the main stage, I will be hopping into a taxi and heading straight back to my hotel.

Why? Because I’m 27 years old dammit and I’m buggered if I’m going to sleep on the floor in close proximity of hordes of drunken strangers and wash in a bucket. (Hmm… not sure if people actually do that, I really do have a limited knowledge of camping.) Trust me, after a good night’s sleep, a hot shower and a cooked breakfast, the next day is always more appealing.

So there you have it, my plans for the weekend! Now let’s just pray for the sunshine to hold out. I might have a beautiful pair of Hunters in the boot of my car but I feel the same way about mud as I do about camping. Best avoided unless absolutely necessary.

© Rock & Runway

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