Ijo Pona is the Harrogate adventure blog written by a Funny Little Man. Andy is a freelance web designer in Harrogate and he is also a well-received sound artist and runs a mastering studio in Yorkshire. The Wire Magazine once described him as "... difficult to dislike." Still at my most enthusiastic and naive.
Funny Little Man – Harrogate
Yay, date night! But, it almost never happened. In this blog post, I hope to say a bit about the event at the Brudenell that me and Kathryn attended and then I will get on to why it nearly never happened. I will work in retrospect from the headliners to the opening acts in terms of what I, personally, made to them. Then I will head backwards through the day and you may see why I am blogging in the early hours.
I would like to stipulate that I was awestruck by all of the acts — they were phenomenal. Best gig I have been to this year. But, why …
Okay, I will start with the headliner, Melanie Ó Dubhshláine. The blurb on the flyer described Melanie as presenting “.. a suite of short musical works themed around the different wild animals to be found in the Leeds urban area.” I loved this. The musicality of Melanie and guest musicians shone through — plus, pop songs about hedgehogs are great in anyone’s books.
It was quite structured and I am not the intended audience — but for a gig going punter who does not own The Rita’s “Thousands of Dead Gods” I reckon they would like it. However, I am a massive The Rita fan and I found the headline act from tonight very pop — but, not in a bad way; they were making avant-pop and looping field recordings — I was amazed at the dexterity of the pianist on stage and the finesse of the field recording was amazing — they really managed to get the humanised impression of the animal’s personality in the music. For the deer track there was a bouncing, free melody. The hedgehog sounded ‘fun’ — the fox was menacing and the owl was … well, mesmeric. Accompanied by drone footage from an owl-eye view of Leeds the owl track was my favourite track.
The artists before Melanie were Phil & Layla’s latest incarnation, Hawthonn. I had seen them previously as XETB but this was the first time i saw them onstage in full gig-mode. I really enjoyed it!
They started with a Pagan Curse / Blessing (depends on which side of the fence you sit … 🙂 ) and invoked old gods to assist in electronic excellence. It was amazing and I hope Kathryn loved it too. There was a touch of appreciated theatrics in that there were a pair of black (my glasses need an upgrade) candles lit on the table that their equipment was perched on. Layla’s voice was mesmeric — she has a piercing yet homely, lullaby pitch that makes it sound like your Mum is singing about death and decay. A touch of “we’re all going to die and decompose but let’s have a go at making a stand against that very thing”.
We got to hang out with Phil and Layla after their set — it was good to see them again.
The very first support act was NikNak — she was playing when we turned up, this was my favourite act of the night — not only because she was gifted but because it was so fresh. I have never seen a turntablist until tonight. Yes I have seen hip-hop DJs — but not one using 1210’s to control field recordings. I loved her set and it is something I hope to have a go at in the future, I loved NikNak’s set due to the fact she inspired me.
It looked like she had a pair of 1210s and — upon asking her about her setup after her set — she was controlling Serato on her Laptop — not a hop-and-a-skip from my Traktor set up.
But the highlight of the night was bumping in to an old mate called Nick. Back in 2010, Nick arrived in Harrogate in bad shape — he was down on his health and I fattened him up and released him back in to the wild. He was there tonight with his amazing wife, Becky. We talked too much & I hope we did not annoy anyone in the crowd — by the end of the first act we found our niche and got most of the talk out of the way in a private bar.
We have both come on no end, thanks to good the good women in our lives.
However, I nearly did not make it to the gig. I ran out of medication on Thursday morning. This came as a shock when I went for my evening dose on Thursday evening — it was not until 6pm Friday that I managed to get medicine. I was crawling up the walls for most of it but thankfully Kathryn was on hand with hugs and tea.
This mix up in my medication meant i nearly missed giving a demo of the riso press — more on that to come, I hope.
So, what did I gain from today: don’t forget to top up on your medicine, push yourself to do things out of your comfort zone and friendships that last for long silences are worth hanging on to. Thanks for reading.
– PS Nick is a good lad.