Is the traffic madness finally calming down? Despite Beef turning up late to pick me up, and possible rumours of problems on the M4, we were parking at 7.20 just round the corner from Shepherd's Bush Green, after a journey time of just over 2 hours - just like old times! However, the night didn't continue in such a smooth vein; we got into the Empire to find seats set up in the normal stalls standing area, with our tickets - ordered early so we could be down the front - only good enough to stand around the bar area at the back of the stalls! Not happy about that, but despite my protestations to the box office about being misled by the ticket agency, we had to lump it. Bugger!
Anyway, we got good (as possible) vantage points on the steps leading up to the seated stalls area, making the best of it. Support Stephen Hero, on at 8, was an intriguing prospect - the hero in question was in fact Patrick Fitzgerald, former Kitchens Of Distinction mainman, plus an extra guitarist. The set was mighty fine, not too dissimilar from the glacially cool shimmering ice castles that were The Kitchens' stock in trade. Patrick's voice was as emotive and soaring as ever, which made for a beguiling mix of nostalgia and anticipation. Good to have him back!
Kristin, solo, joined us just after 9, having been delayed due to her 4 year old son Ryder mixing cocktails backstage! Her set, interspersed with a few offbeat laconic stories which suggest a possible alternative career as a raconteur, was largely based on fine new CD "Sunny Border Blue", an absorbing collection of tunes, if lower-key and mellower than the jagged mutant melodies of her Muses days. The highlights for me however were when Kristen delved back into those days, delivering "Delicate Cutters", "Hook In Her Head" and the excellently touching "Cottonmouth", revealing the stark beauty of the songs via these acoustic interpretations. A couple of encores, including the wonderfully haunting (!) "Your Ghost", capped a splendid set, which I'm glad I was well enough to hear this time! Shame about the ticket cock-up, though...
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