Last weekend, we had plans to visit London to see a matinee performance of Wicked and then go see The Divine Comedy (well, Neil Hannon) at Somerset House.
We set off stupidly early on Saturday morning, on the 0730 train to London from Wrexham on the Wrexham & Shropshire service to Marylebone. I was quite excited by this as it's a new route to me, and I'd heard such good things about the service. When we got to the station and found an old Intercity carriage waiting for us my heart didn't quite sink, but it did dip a little bit.
On arrival at Marylebone, as it is an area that neither Jane or I are familiar with we wandered round a bit, grabbed a sandwich (breakfast was a LONG time ago) and decided to wander straight on down to Victoria. It seemed like a good idea at the time to walk it. By the time we got there we were hot, hot, hot, hot and hot.
We hung around the stage door for a while as we'd arrived at the theatre fairly early, hoping we might see someone we recognised. Nobody obvious turned up in the 20 minutes we spent there. Just after we decided to walk away and go in, we heard people running and turned round to see Lee Mead going into the building - gah!
We had _awesome_ seats which were allegedly restricted view. Row B, to the right of the stage, but the view was only ever restricted by members of the ensemble. The show is astonishing. The music grabs you from the opening number and other than the well known show stoppers (Defying Gravity, Popular) the other lesser known songs all work brilliantly.
I managed to get a couple of awesome photos of the proceedings:
They're from the first half, the person I was sat next to managed to take up so much room I could barely move in the 2nd half, despite repeated elbow pokings.
After the show, we waited at the stage door again, but someone told us that the stars wouldn't normally come out between the matinee and evening shows. We gave up and headed straight to the hotel which was officially the Liverpool Street Travelodge. Technically it may have been this, but actually getting there proved altogether more challenging. Google Maps showed it quite close to Aldgate/Aldgate East and as we were on the right line, it seemed like the right thing to do. Took us a while to find the place - Travelodges seem to be good at hiding, or maybe it's just us.
The room was hot, small, bare, "well used" and only just functional (there was a bed, lights, a TV, a kettle & mug with a couple of teabags, and a towel). Don't stay there if you don't have to. It wasn't unpleasant, but it wasn't nice. I decided not to bother taking photos of all the things that were a bit grim or broken and sending them to their customer service, because I couldn't be arsed. I'm not that anal...
We headed straight out after dropping off our bags, and headed to the Strand where Jane had a hankering for Wagamamas which was what Wagamamas is - good, quick and tasty. NomNomNom.
The venue for the Divine Comedy gig was Somerset House. I'd never been there before and it was a pleasant surprise to see it was literally in the courtyard of the building. The support act (someone...) was pleasant but nothing super-special, and Neil came on at about 2115. He played pretty constantly until 2300! Songs from every album, crowd favourites (National Express, Indie Disco) and relatively unknown tracks (Time To Pretend). He made mistakes, but took them in his stride, occasionally stopping mid-song to think what should come next!
It was an astonishing show. I can't decide whether I prefer seeing him with the backing of an orchestra (have seen him perform with a 5-piece string band and a full orchestra) or like this... on his own is special, intimate, but with the full orchestra you get the full-on sound, the complexities in his music that, no matter how good he is, can never be expressed by a piano or a guitar on it's own.
My only complaints: 1:) it was all standing, because damnit my feet were sore after 3 and a half hours of standing up, and 2:) the price of the drinks! £4 for a bottle of Grolsch?
vI also got some photos from the gig - these were harder to get because we were further back, the light was changing quite quickly, and really, how many photos of a man playing the piano can you genuinely want?