Edinburgh Festival 2018: Placeholder For Amusing Title

Yes, it's delightfully atmospheric, but *you* try flying a bloody helicopter in that.It's been about two weeks since the 2018 Edinburgh Festival finished, and as I have to keep reminding people, I wasn't there this year. I did, however, write a post a couple of months ago recommending some shows: and I made a separate visit to the city back in May with The Belated Birthday Girl, during which we succeeded in drinking some beer but failed to fly in a helicopter.

But - much like they've done since 2000 - Nick and Charmian stepped in during our gap year and organised the annual visit to the Festival for a bunch of the Pals. Here are some notes from them about what they liked. Thanks to them for that, and we'll meet you all back there in August 2019.

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Simian Substitute Site For September 2018: Beer Monkey Brew Co

Beer Monkey Brew CoMONTH END PROCESSING FOR AUGUST 2018

Food and Drink: It's always a pleasure to visit London's annual Great British Beer Festival and see how CAMRA are slowly moving with the times. The gender-fluid poster art seemed like 2018's biggest innovation, at least until I saw the t-shirts being worn by the volunteer staff. They were done in that oh-so-trendy style of a list of related items displayed in Helvetica text, where the list was this one: 'Cask & Keg & Bottle & Can'. If you'd told a CAMRA member five years ago that one of their t-shirts would contain the word 'keg', they'd have choked on their beard trimmings. Despite numerous clashes between the real ale twats and the craft beer wankers (most recently involving Newport brewery Tiny Rebel), it has to be said that craft is making its presence felt at the festival: after all, the Champion Beer of Great Britain this year came from Siren Craft Brew, whose brewery tap we visited just a few months ago. Their Broken Dream Breakfast Stout was a deservedly massive hit, selling out in minutes every time it was put on, and it took precise co-ordination via Twitter for The Belated Birthday Girl and myself to score a half of it each. As for the rest of the session, I drank Tempest's Armadillo, Thornbridge's Jesamine, Bristol Beer Factory's Pale Blue Dot and Bank Top's Port O Call, while The BBG had Redwillow's Effortless, Thornbridge's Florida Weisse, Great Western's Alpha Centauri and Brockley's Red Ale. Coincidentally, both of us found our first beer a bit thin, but the rest of them were great.

Music: This quarter's selection is, as ever, available as both a bundle of YouTube links and a Spotify playlist. Taking them in order:

  1. It's easy to forget how unprolific Youngblood Brass Band are: their last two albums were released in 2006 and 2013, and their new comeback record is an EP of cover versions. When they're as good as this one, though, you can't complain too much.
  2. I'm not entirely convinced that the combination of Underworld and Iggy Pop actually works, but it's fun listening to the two of them grinding against each other.
  3. Later this month I'll probably write a bit more about Adilan Ferreira, because he's Portuguese and we saw him play live in July. This single should give you a good idea of what he's like.
  4. Yes, it's that Matt Berry, and this is the lead single from his band's forthcoming album of old TV theme tunes. Just that little bit funkier than the original, isn't it?
  5. It appears that Simon Love is still incapable of writing a pretty love song without effing and jeffing all over it. Hooray!
  6. The stars of my Pick Of The Year 2016 compilation, Enkel, have released their second album. I don't have any other Finnish folk acts to compare them against, so I'll have to assume they're the best one.
  7. Oddest concept of the quarter year - Anne Dudley has re-arranged a number of Art Of Noise classics for solo piano. It's an interesting way of highlighting her melodies, which were sometimes buried under all the banging and crashing.
  8. Orbital still like to make squelchy noises that encourage you to dance, so all is well with the world. (Apart from all the other stuff happening in the world, of course.)
  9. Irritatingly, Josh Groban's record deal means that his cameo appearance on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will never get an audio release (though you can still watch it on YouTube). Adam Schlesinger's demo makes for a perfectly acceptable Spotify substitute.
  10. To finish off, ten minutes of Kamasi Washington's reworking of an old favourite movie theme.


Travel: If you read the recent BrewDogging piece on Edinburgh Lothian Road, you'll remember that our main reason for visiting the city was a helicopter ride that was subsequently called off due to bad weather. I said at the time we had an alternative location and date in mind: and one weekend in the middle of August, we took the train to Newcastle to see if their weather was any better. I won't keep you in suspense - no, it wasn't, and we've got to reschedule again. This doesn't mean our trip was wasted, though, as we found plenty of other things to keep us occupied, including a newly-opened brewpub called By The River, and a lovely documentary about local legend Keith Crombie, Geordie Jazz Man. But the main thing occupying Newcastle right now is the Great Exhibition Of The North, a three-month long city-wide artistic blowout. We caught a few bits of it almost by chance: an hourly water sculpture that would be more effective if you didn't have to sync it up to streaming audio, and a terrific exhibition of documentary photography at Side Gallery. But the bulk of what we saw was in the Baltic Centre. Idea Of North, a gloriously chaotic mini-festival of photography, cartoons and mixed media work squished into a single room: Ceremony, an hour-long film in which Phil Collins (not that one) overambitiously attempts to document every aspect of his performance piece for last year's MIF: and Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan's jolly set of facial sculptures that turn out to be a cheeky autocritique of some of the iffier aspects of the Exhibition. There's so much more going on that the website can barely give you a flavour: best to pick up the hard copy programme and dive straight in. It's running till September ‎9th.

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Portugal 2018: Nobody Expects The Spanish Expedition

Not a bad little bar to end up in on a Saturday night: NaparBCN, in BCNPortugal! Home of Cristiano Ronaldo, custard tarts and [find third Portuguese thing starting with C before this goes online]. The Belated Birthday Girl hadn't been there before: I'd only spent two days in Lisbon a decade ago, or more accurately in an industrial estate to the west of the city centre. But in July of this year, we travelled to the nicer bits of Portugal and hit them like they owed us money. (Which, of course, was the exact opposite of how it ultimately worked out financially.)

So why are you about to read four thousand words about Spain?

Because, inevitably, we did this year's big holiday by train. We could have just flown to Lisbon and made our way down the road to Porto, but that would have been too easy. No, we took a rail-only route that went London-Lyon-Barcelona-Madrid-Lisbon-Porto-Vigo-Hendaye-Paris-London, adding another five days to what was technically a nine-day stint in Portugal.

Rest assured, the Portugal section of the trip will have plenty of space dedicated to it here, and soon. But for now, let's look at the Spanish bits either side of that, which neatly break down into four different cities.

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BrewDogging #55: Edinburgh Lothian Road

"Oh dear! My Clydesdale Bank is now a trendy craft beer bar!" GOOD.[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kungsholmen, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi, Liverpool, Dundee, Bologna, Florence, Brighton, DED Angel, Brussels, Soho, Cardiff, Barcelona, Clerkenwell, DogHouse Glasgow, Rome, Castlegate, Leicester, Oslo, Gothenburg, Södermalm, Turku, Helsinki, Gray's Inn Road, Stirling, Norwich, Southampton, Homerton, Berlin, Warsaw, Leeds North Street, York, Hong Kong, Oxford, Seven Dials, Reading, Malmo, Tallinn, Overworks, Tower Hill]

It's August, it's the height of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival, and I'm not there (as I explained earlier). Nick and several of the Pals are in Edinburgh as I write this, and hopefully we'll hear how things went for them in a future post. Meanwhile, The Belated Birthday Girl and I are at home in London keeping ourselves fresh for the fest in 2019, when I'll have to confront the horrifying fact that it'll be the thirtieth anniversary of my first visit.

But even on a year off, you can't keep me or The BBG away from the place. Particularly when they opened up a second BrewDog bar in the city earlier this year - in fact, right now it's doubling up as Fringe Venue #102. So during the late May Bank Holiday weekend, we popped up there to pay it a visit, and to do several dozen other things as well, like we usually do. Some of them worked, some of them didn't, as you'll see.

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BrewDogging #54: Tower Hill

Look very closely and you can see a whole bunch of people who don't know how shuffleboard works.[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kungsholmen, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi, Liverpool, Dundee, Bologna, Florence, Brighton, DED Angel, Brussels, Soho, Cardiff, Barcelona, Clerkenwell, DogHouse Glasgow, Rome, Castlegate, Leicester, Oslo, Gothenburg, Södermalm, Turku, Helsinki, Gray's Inn Road, Stirling, Norwich, Southampton, Homerton, Berlin, Warsaw, Leeds North Street, York, Hong Kong, Oxford, Seven Dials, Reading, Malmo, Tallinn, Overworks]

A few months ago I was banging on about the recently-opened Seven Dials bar, and how huuuuuuuge it was, and how it was obviously going to be BrewDog's new London flagship bar. Well, part of that might still be true - you can't beat the geometric centre of the West End as a location. But since then, BrewDog have opened another London bar in the City, and it's huuuuuuuger.

Then again, that's part of its problem - it's in the City, so my traditional roundup of other interesting things in the area would resemble Alexei Sayle's theoretical publication What's On In Stoke Newington. (For some reason, new London BrewDog bars keep reminding me of Alexei Sayle routines.) So instead, I'm going to tell you about three separate visits I've made to the bar since it opened back in April, each one showing off its features in different ways.

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