October 28, 2014, Posted by Tom in Culture, Live reviews, Music

Gig review round-up: The Antlers and British Sea Power

Everyone loves a good gig, and we’ve been to a few recently. Here’s what we thought of them…

The Antlers at Hackney Empire

Rolling in to East London to promote their fifth full-length studio album, the excellent Familiars, The Antlers lit up the Empire with their atmospheric brand of indie rock.

Sounding something like a ruddy lovely blend of Local Natives and Sigur Rós, the Brooklyn-based three-piece (plus an extra pianist/trombonist to beef up the sound – he even played them both at the same time! Hero) barely said a word as they drifted their way through an almost flawless set. Opening with the devastatingly beautiful ‘Palace’, they played a large chunk of material from the recent LP, but dipped into their back catalogue for choice cuts such as ‘Kettering’, ‘Widows’, and a surprisingly heavy rendition of ‘I Don’t Want Love’.

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The Empire is a properly beautiful venue, and was well-suited to hosting a band like this. The audience spent the majority of the gig in respectful silence, but the rapturous applause the band received as they made their way off stage following the main portion of the set showed how much of an impact they’d had.

They returned for a two song encore of ‘Refuge’ and ‘Epilogue’ that was perhaps even more hypnotic than what had come earlier. They’ve been on a steady rise for the past few years and, although they might be a bit too ‘weird’ to ever be a festival-headlining commercial success, The Antlers proved again that they’re a formidable live act, more than capable of replicating the exquisite sounds of their records live. If you’ve never given them a spin before, you know what to do.

Also, a shout out for the brilliant support act, singer/songwriter Marika Hackman. Having toured with the likes of Laura Marling and appeared on alt-J’s recent second album, she’s definitely one to watch.

The Antlers played:

No Widows
I Don’t Want Love
Putting the Dog to Sleep

British Sea Power ‘Sea of Brass’ at the Barbican

Cancelled due to a power cut, unfortunately. Disappointing.


October 28, 2014, Posted by Richard in Books, Culture, Exhibitions, Uncategorized

Sherlock Holmes: ‘The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die’ Exhibition Review

We’d checked out the place where he gets his bacon butty in the morning, and now we were off to the Museum of London to see a thrilling exhibition that leaves no stone unturned in the quest to show us the real Sherlock Holmes.

The joy of ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Man who Never Lived and Never Died’ is in the perfect balance of showing us the fictional Holmes and the real world that he inhabited. For example, one of the most fascinating exhibits – the piece of paper where Arthur Conan Doyle first sketched out an idea for ‘Mr Sherrinford Holmes’ and his sidekick ‘Ormond Sacker’ – sits neatly near a wonderful Turner painting of the The Reichenbach Falls.

The early Doyle details and early artefacts sit artfully alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s now iconic trench coat and scarf. Along the way there is a glut of typewriters, telephones and contemporary maps that add a wonderful richness.

Inevitably, given that the lads at Guinness have Sherlock down as the most played character in screen history, there are video clips galore. It’s certainly interesting to see the difference in how, say, Christopher Lee tackled the character as opposed to Mr Cumberbatch, but to some extent it did show up how the many actors who’ve played Dr Watson over the years have really only been forced to articulate wide-eyed, jowel-quivering incredulity (‘By Jove, Holmes. How could you possibly have known I’d had Findus Crispy Pancakes for dinner?’ Etc…).

This is an expertly collated exhibition that will appeal to die-hard Doyle fans and curious Cumberbatchians alike. One word of advice – take fifteen minutes or so to read The Adventure of the Dancing Men, one of Doyle’s 56 short Sherlock stories, which curls round the wall outside the exhibition. It’s a reminder of what a genius Doyle really was, and why Sherlock is such an enduring character.

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Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die is at the Museum of London until 12 April 2015
Book tickets here

IMAGES: Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock © Mr Pics / Shutterstock.com,
Baker Street station © littlesam / Shutterstock.com

October 23, 2014, Posted by Richard in Baking Bad, Culture, Food, Recipes

Baking Bad – Paul Hollywood special

As soon as a copy of Paul Hollywood’s new tome slammed onto the MWSAB desk, we were eagerly thumbing through it, deciding what slice of gold we were going to bake the hell out of. And, gosh-darn it, when even the Silver Fox himself demanded we document the process, it was clear this called for another round of BAKING BAD.

Since our last adventure, Tom Noble had seen fit to leave behind his ‘characterful’ Islington flat for some delightful new lodgings in London’s exotic Crouch End.

‘It’s like a Spanish Villa!’ Ben Willis spluttered, washing the tobacco and more miscellaneous filth from his fingers as he prepared to cook.

‘Tell me about it,’ Tom rejoined, thrusting cans of lager into the fridge and inexplicably spreading plain flour on top of the dishwasher.

Tom flours the dishwasher

Bakewell Pudding

With compliments offered and filthy fingers scrubbed, it was time to crack open a can and get bloody baking.

Sweat coursing down his cheek and into the gap where he accidentally shaved without the guard on his razor, Tom grappled manfully with the puff pastry. Before long the top of his dishwasher was adorned with a golden crown. Mesmerised, I watched him inserting it into a cake tin with the care and affection of a young lad applying glue to his first Spitfire Airfix kit.

The pastry placed, it was now time for me to shine. After a brief debate about what’s a dessert spoon and what’s a table spoon, I dutifully dolloped some raspberry jam into the mix. Textbook.

Wearied by our exertions, we stuck the brute into the fridge (post-lager removal), and headed to the soft embrace of the lounge area to watch a beleaguered Liverpool stretched apart by Real Madrid like the very pastry we had just been manipulating.

Half-time, and back to the kitchen. It was time to whack the rest of the ingredients into a bowl. Wham! No bother. Cristiano Ronaldo might have an extraordinary goalscoring record in the champions league, but by God I’d be surprised if he could combine eggs and milk this well. Mixture now added to the cooled jam and pastry party, it was time to bang the whole thing into a pre-heated oven and let that bad boy bake.

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They call me the dollop king (unfortunately)



Ben Willis may have turned up an hour late after taking the wrong train, having to take solace in a nearby kebab shop as the kindly proprietors juiced his iPhone5 and offered him cigarettes, but that wasn’t going to hinder him, especially after Tom and I had already sorted out the mixture.

To describe the breathtaking dexterity with which he fingered the dough is nigh on impossible. He reminded me of a master-puppeteer, who, with a flick of his pinkie, could create such nuanced changes in his puppets’ movements as to make us think those wooden sods were real.

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A master at work

Later, we crowded around the oven like excited kiddiewinks on Christmas morn. Had Santa been? You better believe it. The golden treats which awaited us in that piping prison were nothing short of basically edible. Tom in particular was so taken aback by the sight and smell of the slightly charred pastry that he became overcome with nostalgia for his northern childhood. Proust had his madeleines, Noble had his Bakewell Pudding.

Bidding our host and, dare I say it – friend – adieu, Ben and I hastened out into the night. We shivered against the chill, hurrying past a dimly lit Londis on the way to the bus stop. But whilst the night air did its best to infiltrate our coats, it was powerless against the warm glow that throbbed in our hearts.

Quite simply, we had baked our little socks off.

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Finished article 1: Bakewell Pudding

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Finished article 2: Jumbles

Both of these actually turned out really rather well, and there are some excellent recipes in this beautifully produced book. Whether you fancy tackling some of Paul’s brilliant British recipes for yourself, or need some early Christmas-shopping inspiration, we heartily recommend you part with your dosh for this one.

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Paul Hollywood’s British Baking is out now from Bloomsbury

October 20, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Culture, Sport

5 of the best books about running

Get your trainers on, tape up your nipples and run down to your local bookshop: here’s our pick of five of the best books about running.

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Our pick of some of the best books about running…

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (published by Vintage): Think Murakami is a legendary writer? You’re correct, he is. But did you know he’s also a bit of hero when it comes to running as well? This is his story of running over twenty-five marathons AND an ultramarathon, detailing the physical and mental torment involved in taking on the 62-mile course. Even if you’ve actually got no interest at all in running, this is compelling stuff.

Born to Run by Christoper McDougall (published by Profile Books): Or, to give it its full, catchy title: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Here, the author is trying to find members of the reclusive Tarahmara tribe in Mexico, famous for their ability to run up to 200 miles at a time. Whilst barefoot. Often after getting absolutely leathered the night before. One of the main things that McDougall discovers is the potential power and sense of freedom that can come with ditching your running shoes and going barefoot. Read this and you might just want to do the same (unless you live somewhere like Hackney).

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley (published by Windmill Books): NOT just one for girls, this is a book that proves that anyone can run if they put their mind to it. Charting the author’s journey from a disastrous first ever run through to running five marathons, this is honest, funny and inspirational stuff.

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb (published by Willow): The true story of three men in the 1950s as they tried to achieve the ‘Holy Grail’ of running: the four-minute mile. Eventually it was good old Roger Bannister who cracked it and wrote his name into the history books forever, and Bascomb details both how he did it, and how his achievement changed the running landscape forever.

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes (published by Tarcher): Although this isn’t a perfect book, and Karnazes can sometimes come across as a bit arrogant, it’s definitely entertaining, and offers some real insight into the ultramarathon experience. If nothing else, you might enjoy the description of a man eating an entire pizza whilst running, which is quite impressive when you think about it.

 All images © the respective publishers