Friday, 8 April 2011

Cheer Up Clothing Launch New Website and S/S Collection

After months of hard work and late nights we finally launched the brand new website and collection just before the stroke of midnight last night....
So far feedback has been cracking so we are looking forward to a very exciting few months.....

Founders Matt Barnes and Edward Thomas donning their new threads

Cheer Up's girlies sporting the unisex designs as well as the special embroidered crown jumper.

For more designs and fun things to distract you from work head to....

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Flagging and looking like an bedraggled feral animal I arrived home from my hectic work trip to Liverpool. I quickly washed off the film of traveling grime and wolfed down a hearty meal in a hope to increase energy levels for a night with Boy George and friends at the iconic Jazz Cafe. The night would prove to be another successful fundraiser for the Hep C Trust and their extremely important GET TESTED campaign.

As well as the musical delights invitees and ticket holders would have the opportunity to bid on photographs capturing celebrity charity supporters dressed as 80's Idols, all taken by the multi-talented Boy George . Those featuring in the shots, most of whom were present on the night, were the forever young Sadie Frost who embodies sassy as a young Madonna, the striking tattooed chef Gizze Erskine as Siouxie Sioux , star of the future Josh Weller as diminutive icon Prince, Matt Horne as Adam Ant, Lisa Moorish as the unique Grace Jones, feel-good pop star Eliza Doolittle as the eccentric Kate Bush, talented shoe designer Beatrix Ong as the sultry Sade, Johnny Owen as Robert Smith, Jimi Mistry as Freddie Mercury, Finlay Kemp as Gary Kemp and last but not least the doll like starlet Paloma Faith as Boy George himself!!

Here is Boy George talking about his photographs.

In-between the musical collaborations Lisa Moorish would command the stage for the auction, the typically glamorously Jodie Harsh adding a few cracking one liners along the way. Mat horne had also taken the stage and seemed rather embarrassed and endearingly surprised by the lashings of money being thrown their way in return for his signed image. To raise the bidding further he also promised to put up the artwork himself, which shortly got extended to 'in his pants' eventually provocatively adding 'with one ball out'.....this was inevitably greeted with excitable whoops and a few more pounds of bidding.

Headline act Boy George collaborated with most of the musical attendees, including the young Josh Weller, who complete with trademark curly quiff and country heritage inspired ensemble appears to have an innate style and natural talent which should see his star continue to shine.

I was particularly excited to see Paloma Faith perform. I had interviewed and watched her at a Russian Standard Vodka gig last year and thought she was fabulous, an example of what a musical artist should be in my opinion! Despite lack of practice between the collaborating musicians, with lyrics held in hands, the resulting sounds were still incredible. In a satin figure stroking tangy gown Paloma put a gloriously jazzy and unique take on 'Ain't no Sunshine...' made even more spectacular by the incredible saxophonist.

I'd not seen Adam Ant for years so was looking forward to see what sort of performance he could ' stand and deliver.'All I will say is that he's still got it....He even had two fetching young ladies watching at the side of the stage who he appeared to be serenading for much of his display.

Sadly as a non London dweller I had to rush to get the last train and missed the conclusion to the evening. Before I left I got a tad mushy listening to a touching version of 'Always On my Mind' and was then swiftly uplifted by a rendition of classic Karma Chameleon... it turned into a proper sing/clap along session and created one of those special moments you occasionally get at gigs where everyone is united in joy... Sheeh I hope that didn't sound to cheesy and vomit inducing! As I was leaving the dashing comedian/presenter Jeff Leach took the stage to reveal the winning audience members who had donated via raffle tickets.

Another cracking night courtesy of the tirelessly hard working Gemma Peppe and the Hep C Trust team....

To bid silently on the aforementioned photos click here... for information on the charity and its initiatives

Video footage of the wonderful performances coming soon......

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Mercury Music Sessions - The Kills and Guillemots

Last week I got an invite I just couldn't turn down despite finding myself in the most manic of work times.... The (ridiculously cool) Hospital club would play host to Barclaycards Mercury Prize session by The Kills and The Guillemots. I invited my regular plus 1 Dave along for the night, but our night would be made infinitely more fun by Michael and Kathryn, the PRs who had invited me to the gig. First up was the unique sound of the Guillemots. I warned everyone of the high probability of tears, Little Bear and If The World Ends from their masterpiece Through the window Pane are on a particular Itunes playlist that I turn to when in need of self indulgent melancholic 'poor me' session. Thankfully for them they were omitted from the setlist the only old song being the peppy Trains to Brazil. Their new material seemed to go down well with Fyfes pure voice resonating beautifully in the compact auditorium and the bassist making wonderfull kinetic rhythms throughout. Their trademark almost whale like noises were still present too, surging a dreamy and otherworldly sound throughout the tracks.


Next up was headliners The Kills.. while I have been aware of them and a few of their tracks, most reports I have read have been relating to Jamie Hinces relationship with supermodel Kate Moss..... and Alison Mossharts work with The Dead Weather of course. I was looking forward to actually being able to take in their music and see what it is all about even if Kate Moss and friends were cheering heartily at the side of the stage.
Jamie walks on stage in a shy and understated manner while Alison oozes rock chick sexiness innately as she struts on stage attending to her backcombed hair as she does. With sweaty hair covering much of her face during the performance,Alison sings in the direction of her bandmate while he appears to be oblivious to it completely in his own musical bubble looking down at his guitar. A little wry smile and extended eye contact every with an audience member every now and then makes you think that his static performance is down to a mixture of shyness and being in the moment rather than any sort of rock star arrogance. The majority of their music shares a common theme... its extremely sexy, there's something about the dirty riffs , the repetition or certain lyrics and something you just can't put your finger on....I can just imagine people dancing seductively to it, with dirty hair, smudges eyeliner and drink in hand.... and I like it.
During the show it was a pleasure to have a rare glimpse of Alisons more vulnerable side when we saw her stand in one location using her voice to its best advantage with a track that seemed to hold some emotional importance to the singer... Jamie Hince looked on proudly during this part of the show, she was greeted with a lot of encouraging heckles from side of stage...
When the duo left the stage they did so united with arms over each-other shoulders apparently pleased with how their new tracks had been received.

If anyone gets an opportunity to go to a Mercury Music Session I'd throughly reccommed it, as it is being filmed for Channel 4 the lighting and sound quality is much higher than your average gig.... What a pleasure! x

Friday, 1 April 2011

Interview with Sean Smith of The Blackout as part of the Virgin Bloggers Challeneg...

Regular readers of this blog will know that I had been set a challenge by the people at Virgin Trains. On Wednesday I was in Liverpool to fulfill the brief of having a great day out using Virgin Trains as the method of transport. As well as having a tour of Anfield, vising The Tate, the legendary venue The Cavern and sipping cocktails at the Panoramic Bar, I had managed to sort out passes for myself and colleague Edward for The Blackouts gig at the O2 Academy.

The tour will see the band showcase songs from their new album Hope, which is released on April 4th...

Unfortunately after the cocktails I had developed one of my allergic rashes and was feeling a tad squiffy... I wondered what questionable material might escape my mouth during the interview with singer Sean Smith...

We ended up discussing Hope, how they funded the record, touring with Limp Bizkit as well as more random subjects including Wrestling and Taylor Momsen....

I am currently debating whether it would be worth putting together a quick outtakes video... Not sure it would do much for my already invisible street cred though!



Virgin Trains - Bloggers Challenge Day Out in Liverpool

The day was finally upon us.... Virgin Bloggers Challenge.. ready, set, go.......

Journey 1:
Adult 16-25 RAILCARD fare GBP 46.20 (2@GBP 23.10)
PLUSBUS Outbound (LIVERPLLMST+BUS) Adult 16-25 Railcard fare GBP 4.00 (2@GBP 2.00)
Journey 2:
Adult 16-25 RAILCARD fare GBP 33.00 (2@GBP 16.50)

Cost breakdown

Total amount paid: GBP 83.20

It had not been the most relaxing of starts to the day. I called Edward, who would be my companion for the trip, just to check he was on his way and was greeted with a very husky reply.... he was still in bed! Knowing that you have to get the train that you have pre booked I went on ahead so that at least I could go to Fast track and have our tickets in hand should Edward arrive with only seconds to spare.... It all worked out in the end and we even had time to fit in a cheeky Burger King breakfast before boarding our train.The Journey to Liverpool was exceptionally easy and quick, but as myself and Edward find ourselves in the midst of an extremely busy time at Cheer Up Clothing we had to use the journey to crack on with work ( using the Wi Fi) rather than relaxing and taking in the journeys views.

Ecstatic to have reached the destination of Liverpool.... Next we were off to leave our bags at The Adelphi Hotel. Obviously for this challenge I was trying to consider the budget with every aspect. With all major citys there are the affordable chains which deliver more than adequate accommodation for a night (Premier Inn, Travelodge, Holiday Inn etc). As we were there for a short while and I wanted to take in as much of the city and its heritage as possible I thought I'd try and find a place to stay that was steeped in history. I had sent out various tweets for advice to see what people would recommend and whether anyone could offer me any deals.My parents had both stayed at the Adelphi, many years ago and had spoken of its old fashioned grandeur so it seemed the ideal choice. Thankfully the offered me a twin room for the extremely reasonable amount of £40 and it would turn out to be an ideal location, just 3 minutes from Liverpool Lime Street Station and short walks to most of the locations we had on our itinerary.

We were too early to check in our room straight away but the staff kindly allowed Edward to use the Spa area to have a shower, having omitted washing from his mornings activities due to the rush that ensued after ignoring the alarm. So with better hair and with a far more pleasant aroma we headed a few minutes down the hill to the bus station to grab the number 17 bus to Anfield. We used our PLUSBUS day ticket for this journey which we bought when booking our Virgin Train tickets. (£4 for both of us). In less than 15 minutes we were dropped outside the grounds.
I am a Manchester United fan but have an army of ardent Everton supporters as freinds. When news reached that I would be visiting Anfield I had quite a few messages that bordered on the abusive... mostly along the lines of 'traitor' and 'we can no longer be friends'. I had to ignore the jibes and remember that my work hat was firmly in place and that my challenge for the day was to showcase the plethora of great activities you can do whilst visiting the city of Liverpool. Edward is a Liverpool supporting so was positively cockahoop at the prospect of visiting the legendary site and reveling in my apparent awkwardness at making myself at home at a rival ground.

The entrance to Anfield
Price for tw0 adults on tour is £28
Ed at the entrance looking his usual nonchalant self...
Being a Man U supporter I wasn't sure how to feel about being at Liverpools helm
It will be mine... oh yes it will be mine...

Oscar worthy acting

The lovely team at Anfield had offered myself and Edward a spot of lunch in the Boot Room Cafe before our stadium tour so with eyes probably a bit too big for our tummies we paroused the pleasing menu. Trying to decide on one meal proved difficult and with a gentle push from our wonderfully obliging waitress we opted for three starters to kick off the munch fest. Between us we heartily worked our way through a Cheese and Garlic Pizza Bread, Barbecue Ribs and Nachos. I did not know to what expect but was thoroughly impressed with presentation when the numerous plates arrived...and thankfully the taste matched the aesthetic !

Chillin' with a San Miguel
Excited about the impending delicacies

Nachos..... to summarize 'they were scrumptious'
Tucking in and living up to my nickname 'scoffer.'
Edward doing an impression of what he is holding
Fillet Steak... Ed just had to order the most expensive thing on the menu

Saying goodbye to the lovely staff at the restaurant... thoroughly recommend a visit!

More Oscar worthy acting in the press room.... I am Stevie G

Before our interview with Richard Key
Just inappropriately before my try out
Chatting up a fireman.....

Eds trademark pose

Discussing tactics..

Revenge at last....

I didn't feel I could go to a city like Liverpool without incorporating Football into the trip somehow. Although they have had some issues of late they are still one of the most successful teams of all time and the history makes for one of the most fascinating in sport. The knowledgeable tour guide told us of his own incredible record... not missing a single European date in the last 50 years... within a few minutes you realized there couldn't have been a better candidate to take you round the site.

Superwoman? No... just another shameful photo opp.....
The contrasting architecture of the Albert Docks

The Tate... a bit of culture with a free admission......

For those as ancient as me or who enjoy blooper/outtakes shows you may recognize this from old school This Morning.... you might recall weather man Fred falling in the water and the streaker jumping on the map!
Old fashioned sweet shop

As a music enthusiast you can't go to Liverpool without visiting some of the landmarks.... The Cavern was a must, and another free thing to do in the city... if you exclude the costs of drinks of course!

The next stop was The Panoramic bar on the 34th floor for some pre gig cocktails with an unrivaled view of the city.

Taking in the spectacular panoramic view

Strawberry Old Fashioned... lethal...... 4 free cocktails = saving of £25
Unfortunately with my citrus allergy I would be heading to my interview with an unsightly rash and unpredictable tummy!

Next up we got a taxi to Liverpool o2 Academy 2. I had organized two Access All Area passes for the gig with Welsh Wonders The Blackout who would be supported by Hyro da Hero and The Swellers. In exchange for the tickets I would be interviewing front-man Sean Smith before the performance. We met up with TM Bradley and were taken to the dressing rooms where some excitable fans were having meet and greets.... To raise funds for the record The Blackout have used a scheme called Pledge music... watch the interview for more info.

Before heading to the post gig after party we nipped off to pizza express using our discount vouchers to indulge in some reduced Italian goodness.... scrummy as usual!

The bands new album Hope is out on April 4th... be sure to check it out!

Thankfully there are no pictures of us at the after party.....

Edward was not feeling too bright after his night out.

Wine for Breakfast?

Much needed repeat trip to Burger King on journey home....If it ain't broke...

A great trip was had by all... here are some tips on how you can have a similarly cracking time with the help of Virgin Trains...

Discount tips

The £25o budget proved more than enough for the trip the only constraint was time and energy levels. My main advice for anyone taking a trip is firstly to book your train ticket as early as possible. Unfortunately with my erratic work schedule there was a limit to how premature I could be with the booking, that said I still got a nice discount by pre booking online. I have a few months left on my Young Persons Railcard and Edward is still enviably young, so like a naggy mother I made him get a YP card before booking the tickets. Opting for the PlusBus when booking the train ticket was also a wise decision... it allowed you to pop on any busy as often as you liked throughout the stay... much cheaper than taxis!
I had organized a VIP dinner using Groupon but unfortunately on close inspection realized it would not be valid for the day I would be in Liverpool. That said, it is still a great way of getting some deals on interesting events and packages and I would recommend people signing up..... just read all small print carefully!! I also signed up to similar concept LivingSocial to see what deals they had to offer.
All major cities and towns have the likes of Nandos, Wagamamas, Pizza Express, La Tasca etc so I went on all the discount voucher sites and printed off as many as possible so I had discount that would cater to every possible food whim and craving. As an Orange customer I can also text to receive 2 for 1 on Pizza Express and Odeon cinema tickets. Major cities also have a vast amount of museums and galleries that you can pop by for free, The Tate was just one of many myself and Ed popped into during our day.
Due to my work as a music journalist I was able to sort out free gig tickets and after party but there are others ways this can be done. On twitter you will quite often see bands tweet opportunities for people to be added to guestlists, they also occasionally help out fans that tweet saying they'd love to come to the show but missed out on buying tickets. This one may sound like a silly tip but you will surprised at how useful for the whole 6 Degress of Separation phenomenom is. I have found that more often than not you will know someone that knows someone else who can often help out with such things.

Thank You

The Adelphi Hotel
The Panoramic
Liverpool F.C
The Blackout
Hayley at Little Press
The Cavern
and last but not least..... Virgin Trains

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