Archive for the ‘Plugged In Switched On’ Category

Monday 14th August 2017: Gig at SINK (Blueberry Bar, Shoreditch)
We had a lovely morning / afternoon of good eats and coffee before the final ever Sacre Noir showcase in London.
We went to our favourite place to eat (222 Veggie Vegan) on the North End Road for a buffet lunch of salad and curries then onto Brownie Box on Old Brompton Road for amazing Brownies / Blondies before waddling back to the hotel to collect our musical stuff for tonight’s show. Kensington really is a great area for us and we are making the most of our time here in West London.
We’ve played at Plugged In Switched On nights before but not for a few years so we were looking forward to catching up with the promoter Iain and seeing the talent.

As always with open mic events it was a mixed bag of artists who took to the stage, from a young singer-songwriter who was clearly very nervous to a superb duo who had just flown in from Canada for a few weeks playing shows in the UK (Jo Jo & The Woods).
The featured act were called State Wild, an indie rock outfit from London, who managed to break the snare stand halfway through their set and were unable to continue… we were up next.
Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, concert and indoor
We played a short set of tracks with guitar / vocal  / loops then chatted with some of the other acts and audience members before heading back to the hotel for the evening.
It almost seemed sad that this was the last showcase in London and that The Dublin Castle was our last “proper gig” in this city that we have grown so fond of – we’ll have to make plans to return on holiday at some point soon (if not with a new musical project).

Tuesday 15th August 2017: Last full day in London
For our final full day in the city, we revisited some of our favourite spots discovered on previous tours.
Coffee at Bar Italia, which was superb as always then lunch at the Wild Food Café where the menu had changed and the food was not as “amazing” as remembered; the little café seemed to have gone a bit ‘corporate’ and the waiting staff were not on particularly good form but the setting was great and the ethos of having a ‘fresh plant based menu’ is still a plus.
Hanging out in London is one of life’s great joys; you can’t buy the atmosphere and individuality that comes from every nook & cranny of this ancient and wonderful city.IMG_2832.JPG

Wednesday 16th August 2017: Time to go back to Scotland
One last breakfast at the hotel before making our way to Kings Cross in time to catch the 11:30am train home to Edinburgh.
I feel like I’m ready for some home comforts after 5 nights in one of the smallest hotel rooms we’ve ever stayed in.
Boarding with no delays, we found ourselves sitting at the same table as a lovely couple who were also going all the way to Edinburgh; I always think this is good on long journeys as it means we can all get settled and relax for the duration.

Keeping up to date with social media accounts and email inboxes whilst on tour is difficult; we are always too busy ‘doing’ and never find enough time to reflect / document events as we’re going along. Having this blog will be a wonderful reminder in years to come of the adventures we’ve had during the life of Sacre Noir… it’s always good to reflect and remember the good time & there have certainly been plenty of those.

Sacre Noir @ The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (SIPS pop up bar)
Saturday 19th & 26th August 2017


Saturday 12th August 2017
Our last morning in Paris was spent at Culture Rapide drinking coffee and relaxing in the early morning sunshine before gathering our belonging and making our way to Gare du Nord to catch the 3:30pm Eurostar back to the UK.

IMG_2778As always Paris has been good to us; catching up with friends, meeting new like-minded souls, eating a vast amount of fantastic food and spending time in one of our favourite cities where the pace is gentle and the people are welcoming.

Arriving back in London is an assault on your senses. St Pancras is buzzing with the sound of kids running around and families waiting to board trains for a multitude of destinations.
We hoped on board a Thameslink train (direction Bedford) without checking that it stopped at all the stations on the line; of course it didn’t! We ended up getting off at the first available opportunity, which happened to be St Albans, turned ourselves around and took this gentle reminder that we were no longer in Paris, things weren’t so simple here and we must remember to check everything, twice.
Arriving at our hotel in Kensington about an hour later than planned was not such a big deal. We checked in, dropped off our cases and bags and headed straight out to see what the area was like.
Our hotel is just around the corner from the Olympia which had just closed its doors on a 3-day beer festival and you can believe it when I say everyone there seemed to have had a ‘merry’ old time; I’ve rarely seen such drunkenness in the streets of London. Everyone was in good spirits and as well as the beer, seemed to have indulged in odd head-wear (chickens, unicorns and frogs seemed to be the most popular and I bet the company that had the stall selling these were in good spirits too). Also at the end of the street we are staying on is the London publishing offices for Universal Music Group, home to some of the world’s leading writers and artists across a huge range of genres and sub-labels.
This time next summer they will have moved into a new building at Kings Cross / St Pancras:

Feeling tired and not in the mood for a big night out, we stopped in at a local Pizza Express, had a quick bite to eat and made our way back to the hotel for the evening.

Sunday 13th August 2017
Everything in London seemed a little odd today.
We knew about the Sunday Trading By-Law that is in place in England, but hadn’t remembered it all being so strange. We popped into a large TESCO store near our hotel to pick up a few bits ‘n’ pieces. It was 10:45am and although the place was quiet (for a mega store) there were still a fair few customers filling their trolleys. We were about to make our way to the cash desk when “Bing-bong customer announcement: I’d like to remind customers that we are not able to process any transactions until after 11am on a Sunday. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Bing-Bong”.
I found myself asking “why have you opened the doors then? What’s the point in letting people in if you can’t serve them?”  I wondered if it was so people could fill their trolleys and be ready to hit the tills as soon as 11am arrived?
Problem was easily solved as there was a little coffee place (they were allowed to serve us due to only having a few staff members) with free WiFi – soon we’d be able to process our purchases and start our day properly.

Later we walked along to Kensington High Street before making our way to meet our good friends Joe & Martin for lunch at The Windsor Castle. The bar was originally built in 1826 and is now a Grade II listed building. They have a lovely courtyard space with outside bars. We didn’t spend much time inside, but it seemed to be very traditional with lots of real ale pumps and dark wood. I imagine in the winter it’s a wonderful cosy place to spend your time, but on a lovely summer day we were best placed at one of the picnic style tables out back.
From there we wandered through Holland Park which was incredibly busy so we didn’t stay too long. We walking through Notting Hill Gate, Regents Park and finally hitting Baker Street. By this point in the afternoon it was time for another coffee before a spot of window shopping and the occasional rest in parks along the way before finding somewhere to have our evening meal. We ate at Cinnamon Spice – cheap and cheerful but full of wonderful flavour and spice (just as the name might suggest).

Sometimes it’s easy to look at London and see only the good bits; beautiful parks, historic streets, great venues and a multi-cultural community where everyone is welcome.
At other times it’s easy to see the city as a difficult place; dirty and filled with people rushing to and fro, no time for manners or stopping to admire everything on their doorsteps.
Today was somewhere in between. The grass isn’t always greener and perhaps after 3 weeks away from home (and our home comforts) I’m starting to miss Edinburgh and everything that makes our home city so great.

Sacre Noir @ SINK! The Blueberry Bar, Shoreditch for Plugged In Switched On

Gig 14 – Sunday 1st September 2013 @ Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh
The end is neigh and the final show of this year’s summer tour looms large!
A last minute line-up change is called for after Lewis Gibson goes on a last minute holiday… to the rescue are a drum student, a local guitar legend and a couple of festival performers all brought together by the one and only Ewan Gibson. Naming themselves after a poetry meet The Soul Cypher featuring Mekkah & Twenty20 had a practice in the afternoon before the show and delivered a pretty convincing set (I’d love to have seen them if they were a full-time collective). Along with their sense of adventure the two American MCs also brought a touch of musical magic to the start of this event as everything was so relaxed and in the spirit of making good music and enjoying sharing the results.

The Soul Cypher live at Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh

The Soul Cypher live at Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh

We get ourselves set-up on the familiar stage of Henry’s and launch into our forty-minute set of dark electronica. The sound is tight and loud and we are pleased to hear that we’ve ‘awakened the goth’ in one enthusiastic fan in particular. It’s a good crowd that includes some familiar faces who are here to support our last show of the tour and check out The Penny Black Remedy. We’re really pleased with the response and happy to have played 14 great gigs stretching back to the first night of the tour back in July.
Sacre Noir live at Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh - Photo by Flare Photography

Sacre Noir live at Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh – Photo by Flare Photography

By the time The Penny Black Remedy took to the stage everyone in the venue was ready for their unique brand of musical mayhem, and once again the group didn’t disappoint. As with their show in Glasgow they mixed tracks from their debut LP with tracks from their latest release ‘Inhale… Exhale… Ok, Now You Can Panic!’ to great effect and had the crowd dancing and whooping for Keith’s guitar solos.
The Penny Black Remedy live at Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh

The Penny Black Remedy live at Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh

Looking back it’s been an amazing month and a half of gigs and travelling, playing to the new audiences and hanging out in some great cities. Big thanks are due to all the venues and promoters who have helped along the way; The Banshee Labyrinth, Box, The Vibe Bar, The Arc, Power’s Bar, The Dublin Castle, Belushi’s Gare du Nord and Canal Paris, Le Vieux Leon, Soupanova, Little Stage, Pfefferbett Hostel, Pivo Pivo, Henry’s Cellar Bar, Craig McGee, Plugged In Switched On, Bearsuit Promotions, Ben & Lio @ Belushi’s, Selina @ Soupanova, Alex @ Little Stage, Charlotte @ Pfefferbett, It’s a XXXX Blog Thing and Claire @ Henry’s. Big thanks are also due to all the fine bands we played with along the way; Llennett, Hot Jupiter, Little Love and the Friendly Vibes, Tom Coyne, Sir Spence, The Joy, George Frakes, Andy Docherty and The Caped Crusaders, Dressmaker, The Ocean’s Above, Mickey 9s, The Soul Cypher featuring Mekkah and Twenty20 and The Penny Black Remedy.
You can check out a video below which features footage from the gigs, interviews during the tour and more – a great snapshot into the touring life with Sacre Noir.

Thursday 25th July 2013
Gig 4 – The Arc Angel, London

An interesting morning… we’ve had to alter our set for Friday’s gig (now possibly playing for an hour instead of just 40 minutes), and also get some shopping in and eat and relax etc. – really is a hard life on the road. We were also lucky enough to get a shot of our ‘flatmate’ in London Martin’s guitar to run through a few tracks in preparation.
So once we’d extended our set it was time to think about tracks for tonight’s 20-minute slot at The Arc Angel in Islington. This is another night run by Iain at Plugged In Switched On so we were pretty relaxed about tonight and decided to head along for 7pm to set up but just get a line check before we play. With over 10 acts on the bill it seemed to be the best way forward.
To kick-start things the host Iain played a cool version of the Groovejet hit ‘If This Ain’t Love’ which got everyone in the mood. Next up was an act we’d seen perform at The Vibe Bar on Monday night, Jay Hoffman and he was followed by singer / songwriter Phil Crosby. The act I enjoyed most was up next – two guys called Billy & Chris with pretty guitars and lovely harmonies playing a mixture of covers and originals.

Billy & Chris

Billy & Chris

There was a really good vibe in the bar so we decided to alter our set on the fly and play our cover of ‘Time’ by Chase & Status to keep the party atmosphere going.

As always it went down a treat; such a great track & everyone enjoyed our version.

The featured act of the night was a band called ‘The Joy’ who played a great set of original material with an indie-pop vibe reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub or The Pixies. After they played the night was finished off by a couple of singers and MCs with a mellow hip-hop vibe.
Big thanks to our good friend Ines who came down with the friend Marie to catch up and check out our set – always a pleasure to see a familiar face or two while we’re away on tour.
Photo of Sacre Noir by Ines

Back home via the Northern and Central line tube, plus the late bus from Ealing Broadway – really looking forward to playing again tomorrow night.

Next gig: Friday 26th July @ Power’s Bar, Kilburn, London (£3.00 after 9pm)

Tuesday 23rd July 2013: Lazy Day in London
After the excitement and heat of yesterday we decided to take it easy, so after a wee lie-in we went for a walk in Pitshanger Park then had a great Italian lunch at The Organic Pizza House.
Lunch was great and very generous portions so we spent the afternoon walking round Ealing, checking out the shops and other parks.
Found a lovely place for coffees called ‘Bonne Café’ so we stopped there for a while, hiding from the scattered rain showers and watching the people go by.

Wednesday 24th July 2013: Lunch with Friends in Hackney
Started off today with a recce of the next venue we’re playing at in London; The Arc Angel Bar in Islington. When we got there it was closed but looks like a really nice place from the outside. The main bonus is that it’s just around the corner from the tube stop, which is great for moving the gear round.
Then we headed over to Hackney to have lunch with artist friends Barry & Ray. They took us to a great bistro for lunch called ‘Unpackaged’ which also doubled as a health food shop and fancy deli. The food was lovely, the staff were really friendly and the company was great! We chatted about music and politics and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Barry & Ray always visit the city in August to take in some shows). It’s always a treat when we’re away from home to catch up with friends and family and this was just what the doctor ordered. A very chilled out afternoon indeed.
Barry is a London-based Australian artist who’s work I really love! You might have seen it on a bag I have (‘Woman smoking a cigarette’) & he’s also responsible for some of the Savage Sound System artwork (LP cover for ‘Like Stink On A Monkey’ and gig posters for the final two tour shows this year).
Ray is currently working on his Punch & Judy show, which he performs the last Saturday of every month at London Fields in Hackney.

Next gig: Thursday 25th July @ The Arc, Angel Islington, London (FREE)
2-4-1 Cocktails on selected cocktails all day on a Thursday

Monday 22nd July 2013
Gig 3 – The Vibe Bar, London

We had a nice lazy morning in Ealing shopping on the Broadway, I got new trainers and we managed to pick up some soya yoghurts and a few other essentials for the house, before heading back to have lunch.
It really does make a difference having a proper kitchen and place to stay when we’re away from home. Eating out all the time is fun but can get a little pricey!

It’s another scorcher of a day in London (33.5 degrees – the hottest day of the year) and there is a lot of excitement around the arrival of the new Royal baby. When we leave for sound-check the tube is like an oven – everyone is melting, but still seem to be in high spirits. We arrive at The Vibe Bar for 6pm as arranged, set up and after a few minor technical problems have a run though the new track ‘Heartache’ to make sure everything is working etc.

Iain the promoter / engineer has always been a great supporter of Sacre Noir (he gave us our first every London gig) and does a great job at hosting the ‘Plugged In Switched On’ events. It seems to be a pretty successful format (approx 6 weeks waiting to get a slot at the moment) and he always manages to put on some very talented folk.
The highlight of tonight’s line up was London based singer / songwriter ‘Sir Spence’ – really soulful voice and despite this only being his 5th gig as a performer (he done a bit of writing in the past) he delivered a really tight set. My favourite track from his set was one called ‘Papers’ – his newest and for me the most memorable of the night.
Also on the same bill was a lovely singer from Australia who played some nice covers… she had a fab voice (angelic / country) and some pretty cool guitar playing skills too, but like every other time we’ve played in London her talent was no surprise to me. Almost every act (unsigned) we’ve seen play in London is very, very talented and really seem to know what they are all about. I guess when there are so many great musicians and writers in one area it attracts others.
We played at around 10pm and the happy Londoners seemed to enjoy the show! We had a couple of technical issues including a problem with Alexis’s click and I’m pretty sure my Mini KP wasn’t really doing it’s thing, but no-one was any the wiser. We started the set with the new single ‘Rue Crimée’ and finished with the first single ‘She Can’t Take It’ – both always go down well and tonight was no different.
There were 9 acts on before us and a couple after, but we had to head back to Liverpool Street to grab the tube, so that was all we saw. It’s really important for us to try and connect with other musicians and music loving punters whilst on tour and so we hate to leave a gig before all the acts have played – however I think 11 acts is a good stint for one evening.

We love the Vibe Bar (it’s had a make-over since we last played) and can’t wait to come back and play again in the future.
By the time we got back to our base in Ealing we were both mega tired and fairly hungry, so had some bread and hummus, a very large glass of Mango juice then off to bed!

Next gig: Thursday 25th July @ The Arc, Angel Islington, London (FREE)
2-4-1 Cocktails on selected cocktails all day on a Thursday

Saturday 20th July 2013: Travel to London
It has been a very busy couple of weeks but at long last we’re on the road again. We spent the morning tidying the flat before heading to Waverley station to get the 2.30pm train to London.

AlexisSs in Edinburgh with the gear

AlexisSs in Edinburgh with the gear

Everything was great – no delays, the quiet coach was quite quiet and there was space in the luggage racks. We arrived at Kings Cross about 7pm and it takes us just over an hour and a half to get to Pitshanger Lane (our home for the next 10 days). Tube / Tube / Bus.
Dropped off our gear and popped out for fish & chips (and Irn Bru for Alexis – he never usually drinks the stuff, but being in England makes it a taste of home). then we had a fairly early night. We’re both super excited to be back in London and can’t wait to get to the first gig on Monday night.

Sunday 21st July 2013: Day off In London
Up early-ish so we headed out to Camden for the shops & markets – so very cool. I’ve decided I want to live here! We spend the morning drinking coffee by the Lock and shopping, before we have lunch on Chalk Farm Road @ My Village Café Bar. It was really great! Fab service, fab food and amazing fruit juice drinks.

We spent the afternoon in the Shoreditch area. More shopping, a trip to Spittalfields City Farm, a stop off at Rough Trade East to put up some tour flyers before heading back to Ealing for the evening.

Next gig: Monday 22nd July @ The Vibe Bar, Brick Lane, London (FREE)