Some places in the world have a particular draw, and you find yourself instantly feeling at home as your feet touch the tarmac. There’s something about Oxford that wraps me up and makes me feel…right. I got on the Oxford tube at Victoria and bagged myself a spectacular seat at the front of the bus, mainly because there were only about two other people on the thing. It was a bit like having a giant red double decker taxi to myself. After a dozy journey listening to Joni Mitchell (a huge gap in my musical knowledge that I’ve decided to remedy).
I arrived at 2pm to find a slate-skied Oxford, chilly and snowy. I’d intended to have a wander and find some new places, but it was just too cold. After some determined trudging, I decided to cut my losses and parked myself in Turl Street Kitchen for most of the afternoon. A cup of black vanilla tea and a sublime vanilla cupcake later, I was feeling much more human – the James Brown on the Turl Street playlist helped too. Around 5, I met my friend Lucy and headed to The Big Bang in the Castle Quarter for ginormous plates of bangers and mash, water in teapots and a very deadpan waiter. I mentioned before I was into British food at the moment, and I’d strongly recommend this place for any veggies looking for a decent savoury meal. For once, I felt like just as much thought had gone into the veggie options than on the meat, and I opted for one stilton & walnut and one vine tomato & basil sausage on grain mustard mash with red wine gravy. I followed it with an apple crumble, which was a bit on the ‘smooshy’ side and needed a little crisping up. But for the savoury part, it couldn’t be faulted.
After supper and some lethal Cotswolds cider, we practically had to stagger up to the New Theatre for Bellowhead. I first started listening to Bellowhead when they played Latitude in 2011, and I’ve been a firm fan ever since. Some bands sound identical to their recordings when playing live, and then there are other bands who bring something phenomenal to their live shows. I like feeling that the performers are creating something that only this particular audience will see, something that can’t be recaptured even with YouTube. Bellowhead do this, as do Foals, who I’m seeing (again!) next month.
I’m not going to go into too much detail and review the performance or their new album, Broadside, as there are many more eloquent reviews out there. All I’ll say is, give them a go even if you don’t think you like folk. It’s an outrageously brilliant, stomping, barnstorming album full of intriguing instruments and catchy melodies. For the live show, the band ran at it with full energy, jumping up and down while playing, hopping around, battling with each other. It was a frenetic show but unforgettable. Not an especially coherent post from me today as I’m pretty exhausted, and very aware of needing an early night prior to London Fashion Week tomorrow and St Andrews over the weekend…until then x