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News & Interviews / Mally's birthday
« on: November 06, 2016, 11:12:01 AM »
I am posting this on behalf of a whole bunch of us (including Michael, Sabrina, Eszter and Brian), who would like to wish Mally well on her birthday, but I'm sure that everyone reading this would like to be included! So, Happy Birthday Mally. Mally is obviously a very considerable musical talent. Also,  those of us who've had the great pleasure of meeting Mally can vouch for what a really generous and pleasant (I'm trying to avoid the word 'nice', but that's what she appears to be, in the best possible sense) person she is. Let's hope that we all have a chance to see her on stage before too long.

News & Interviews / Anna in The Observer 30 August 2015
« on: August 30, 2015, 06:11:07 AM »
The Observer UK 30 August 2015

Anna Calvi, musician
Earlier this summer, I spent three weeks by myself in Swanage on the Dorset coast. It was a writing trip, to overcome a bit of block, but I also wanted to experience what it would be like to go to a place where I knew no one and could be completely on my own.
I’d been to Dorset a couple of times when I was younger and it had made a big impression on me. When I was eight, my parents took me to Studland Bay, where there’s a really beautiful beach, sand dunes and marshes. I found it really magical, like being in another world. A few years later we went to the Jurassic coast, and I have a memory of looking for fossils and finding it quite amazing. I’d always wanted to go back, so when a friend’s flat became available in Swanage I felt it would be the perfect opportunity.
The flat was high up with a balcony that looked out to sea, which was exciting because I’d never lived by the sea before. I got into this routine where I’d have my breakfast and then go walking by the sea and think about songs. I would compose them in my head, come back and write them down, and then go straight out again. I found that the walking and thinking was more important than the actual writing, something I’d never experienced before.
There was a certain spot by the marina where I would sit on a rock and listen to the boats in the wind making chinking sounds and bell-like noises – it was almost like being next to a Buddhist temple. After being in London, I found that having space around me and being able to see the horizon was really good for my state of mind. It helped me feel calmer so that my ideas could come out more easily. I was writing every day and I only spoke to one person the entire time – I asked the woman at the café, “Can I have a hot chocolate please?” and that was the only time I spoke.
Some of the songs I wrote in Dorset contain references to the sea and feeling like a small part of this huge expanse. I’m not sure which ones will make it on to my next album, but if you hear a reference to the sea, you’ll know where it came from.

General Discussions / Anna's vocals with Mally on claRa video
« on: August 25, 2015, 10:06:42 AM »
Sorry if everyone already knows about this, but:

This - I hope - is a link to claRa aparicio yoldi's rather excellent video artworks - some have backing tracks by Mally,  and the latest features Anna  and Eran Karniel on backing vocals. Not just for us Anna completists, because I think that claRa's work is very interesting in its own right. Contact her by email ( for the code to the full film - it's well worth it.

Performances / Anna at Moseley Folk Festival
« on: August 06, 2015, 09:12:59 PM »
Is anyone going to see Anna at this (Birmingham, UK) on 4 September?

Anna's Favourite Things / Ezra Furman
« on: August 01, 2015, 06:38:50 PM »
Anna mentioned him recently in an interview, in the same breath as Perfume Genius. I dipped into Ezra Furman's latest album but didn't really get it; then I tried again, and loved it! He's a really interesting writer, I think, and the music ranges - I think - from early rock and roll (almost bubblegum) to much more contemporary, indie-gothicky etc. but all through there are some rather deep, dark lyrics.  Anyway, I'm off to see him in Bristol in November, should be good!

By the way, I'm sorry if you've all been following this guy for years, or are related to him etc - I'm SO out of touch!

Performances / Anna's Forthcoming concerts on the European mainland
« on: July 10, 2015, 08:00:16 PM »
The Belgian national flower is the red poppy.

The French national flower is the Iris

The flower emblems of Italy  have been classed  into three categories-The traditional symbolic flower for Italy is Rose while, White Poppy or White Lily serves as religious symbolic flower and according to popularity Violet is considered a flower symbol in the country.

Just saying ....

Photography & Fashion / Music and Fashion
« on: September 15, 2014, 08:33:52 PM »
I know this may sound a bit like a mis-quoted Wham! Lyric (Music and passion were always in fashion) for those of you who have any memory/knowledge of them (anyone? No-one? OK, just me then...).

Anyway, to get to the point: Anna was interviewed for The Observer this Sunday on the subject of music and clothes, and this was part of a special on that subject, linked to an up-coming BBC season, on both TV (BBC 4) and Radio (BBC Radio 6 Music), which looks at the relationship between popular music and fashion/style from the Teddy Boys to the present. Those of us with access to the BBC might find this interesting.

I don't know if Anna appears on any of these ...

Photography & Fashion / Idle speculations
« on: April 19, 2014, 06:31:18 AM »
Prompted by Anna's recent NME Basement performance of Suzanne and I: a) has she ever been seen with perfectly applied, un-chipped nail varnish? And b) how many black T-shirts does Glenn own? I fervently hope it's not just one ...

News & Interviews / Anna's new record
« on: April 03, 2014, 08:12:13 PM »
I of course don't have anything to say about this other than what Anna herself posted today, about a collaboration with some friends in the USA coming out soon, I just wanted to start this thread and say: wow!

Performances / Best bits of Anna's European tour
« on: March 30, 2014, 12:39:33 PM »
Now that, after two months, the European tour is over, how about posting our favourite memories ? To kick off, I think mine must be meeting Mally (and Isabelle), and getting a T Shirt signed by Mally and Anna in Copenhagen.

Performances / Anna in Brussels
« on: March 26, 2014, 12:16:11 AM »
Everyone must see the fabulous YouTube clips of Anna's solo gig on 24 March: wonderfully cute interaction between Anna and Mally on Wolf Like Me, very nice piano from Glenn on Lady Grinning Soul, a brilliant The Way Young Lovers Do, a soulful No More Words and an absolutely ravishing Foxy Lady (from two angles!). I'm going off for a cold shower and a nice lie down in a darkened room now ....

Performances / Anna's Copenhagen gig
« on: March 23, 2014, 05:41:59 PM »
Anna Mirabilis

Here are my thoughts on Anna's Copenhagen show on Thursday. This report has been certified by members of the medical profession as a sovereign cure for insomnia. Do not try reading this while in charge of a motorised vehicle or while operating heavy machinery.

The Almager Bio (pronounced - I think - something like 'armour byo') is a former cinema to the south of the Almager Bro across the water from central Copenhagen. It's a small-ish venue, quite intimate and, as I discovered, very friendly.

I arrived very early: I approached the door tentatively, and asked the security guy if I was too early (it goes without saying that virtually everyone in Copenhagen speaks perfect English - apart from visitors from the UK, obviously). He replied: "No, you're just in time"; just in time for what, I thought, as I hurried in to what transpired to be the bar. It was immediately apparent that I was just in time to be the first person there. Oh well, time for a swift light ale, followed by another, to check in my coat, and to go for a tour of the environs. It's a nice, fairly intimate venue. The auditorium led straight on from the bar so I was able to study the stage: yes, there was the red Vox A30 amp, Mally's harmonium etc, so I was fairly sure I was in the right place. By the time I wandered back into the bar more people had arrived, and I went over to have a look at the merchandise. Isabelle the merchandise seller, as I soon learnt, was also in attendance. I started chatting to her and bought the set of postcards (the only thing on sale that I didn't already have - apart from the vinyl because, and I shall admit this only among my closest friends, I no longer possess what in my day we were pleased to call a record player), mentioning that I follow her on Instagram (thank you, Molly!). She is very nice: friendly, a real Anna fan, and those of you lucky enough to be going to any of the remaining dates must say hello to her (and please give her my regards). Anyway, Isabelle had to fight off eager Danes clutching kroner so I left her to it, but she did say that I should come back later and continue our discussion.

I took my place at the front of the stage. They were playing St Vincent and Julia Holter over the PA: no surprises there. Then the support came on. By this time there was a scattering of people in the auditorium, sufficient to stay my initial feelings of agoraphobia, but it was still a rather embarrassingly small turn out. Partly, I think this was because the ticket said kick-off was at 9.00, which was correct as far as Anna's set was concerned, but the website said 8.00, which was when the support came on. So, those of us who were there applauded loudly but carefully, in order to drown out the echoes. She is called Alice Boman, a Swedish singer/keyboard player accompanied by a guy on drums and keyboard. She was OK, singing rather delicate, gentle songs in English about the usual stuff: breaking up, why doesn't s/he call, that sort of thing. The general shoe-gazy ambience was broken somewhat when the accompanist started, and it became a bit boppier (boppier? Do the young folks still use that word?) She appeared to be speaking to the crowd throughout her set in Swedish, which I thought interesting: while I'm sure the Danes can understand Swedish, and vice versa, this did seem a little odd. However, since I can speak neither language I am very probably wrong.

After her set Anna's roadies busied themselves about the stage. I had positioned myself right where I thought Anna would be, and, of course, I asked (Steve??) the roadie if I could have the set list after - he replied I could if I could reach it, since it was taped on the other side of one of the monitors. I got talking to the guy next to me, who is a professional musician in Copenhagen, which, he said, has a vibrant music scene, "because of our generous welfare system": by which, of course, he meant that it was still possible for up and coming or struggling bands to survive on benefits while they tried to break through. This reminded me of something Jarvis Cocker of Pulp said, that when they were starting out in Sheffield there were lots of bands like them who were able to be creative whilst on the dole. Anyway, the Danish guy was there because he'd seen Anna perform at the music festival in nearby Roskilde, where he's also been playing (being stupid, I didn't ask him the name of the band). I've been to the Viking longboat museum and the splendid Cathedral in Roskilde, but not to the festival, though I realise that among groovy young dudes they're not the place's main attractions.

If I may be allowed a short digression on the subject of the Danish people: and this is my posting so I can do as I please, and anyway you probably gave up reading this half an hour ago. Now, not EVERY Dane is a tall, blond, blue-eyed Viking or shield-maiden, but enough of them are - and those that aren't tend still to be noticeably better-looking than your average British person (OK, I realise that's maybe not setting the bar too high) - to make me feel even more like a misshapen old troll than usual. And, to add insult to injury, they are nearly all very pleasant, affable people (with the obvious exception of the fascist racist crazies, dolphin-murderers, seal-clubbers and the mad serial-killers infesting Scando-noir crime fiction and TV programmes, but I haven't knowingly met any of them). So, as, possibly, the lone Brit in a crowd of the gorgeous and affable, I waited for Anna.

By the time Anna came on stage the crowd had filled out - but still there weren't a gazillion people there. No sign of you-know-who-mad-stalker-frau. I won't go on about how beautifully radiant Anna looked, with her tumbling golden curls, flawless skin etc etc because you all know that and, anyway, I don't want to give the impression that I am hopelessly (with the emphasis most definitely on 'hopelessly') besotted. Oh no! Of course not (I'm nearly 56, supposedly respectable, and certainly old enough to know better etc). Anyway, fashion report: Anna was wearing the red top with the two ribbon thingies hanging down the front (I won't give up my day job to become a fashion journalist), the blue coral beady/rosary necklace thingy and the gold chain necklace with the tiger's head charm. I was right under her perfect-plastic-surgery-cannot-buy nose, standing at her Gucci-encased feet. I'm fascinated by her peep-toe black stilettos: do I have a problem? Probably. Glenn was back in the TShirt, after the brief foray into crisp white shirt. Mally, of course, looked profoundly glamorous in black. Alex seemed to be wearing a smart jacket and a white shirt. Good man. Is anyone really interested in this stuff?

Anna did smile at me once, probably wondering who let in this grey-haired wrinkly dwarf-git.
I thought the crowd were a bit like a British - or, at least, English - crowd, not going absolutely bat-shit crazy as, I gather the Italians, French and, maybe Poles do, but enthusiastic, and respectfully quiet during the songs (mainly, that is: I would like, just once, to hear that transition in Love won't be Leaving when Anna comes out of the brilliant guitar solo but of course applause always drowns it out). To be honest, I thought that the crowd took a little while to warm up but by the middle of the set Anna and the band were performing magnificently, of course.

This was my seventh Anna concert, which I know doesn't go anywhere near putting me in the truly dedicated fan/verging on creepy stalker category, but is still pretty good for me - the nice people at the Home for Hopelessly Befuddled Academics where I live don't let me out much. Every time I see an Anna gig I think: that was the best concert I've ever been to. It's difficult for me to arrive at any kind of objective musical judgement. I've largely got over the "Oh my God I'm in the same room, breathing the same air as La Divina Anna Calvi!!! Squeelllll!" feeling (after all, I am nearly 56 etc etc) but there's no doubt that she could stand up on stage and read from the Copenhagen phone book and still command my attention. Where I was standing obviously wasn't the best place to hear the music, and Anna's vocals sounded a bit low in the mix at times. Judging a gig also has so much to do with the circumstances, or at least it does for me. The first time I saw her, in Bristol, my mother was in hospital with her final illness, the second time, at Somerset House in London, she had very recently died (it would have been her 90th birthday), and it was raining cats and dogs all day; the Wilton Music Hall gig was a bitter-sweet experience because while the gig was very splendid and I got to meet some of the very wonderful people who are part of this group, I did miss meeting Anna and the band. My memories of the Islington gig are somewhat clouded by the fact that this was Dan's final public appearance with them, and at the Troxy I didn't get in to the 'solo' event (I promise I won't KEEP on about that); however, I saw her in Bath a few days later and that was untainted by any disappointments (although the horizontal hail storm on the way to the venue I could have done without). This time, however, while I didn't get to meet Anna, I did meet Mally (squuuueeeellll!!!) (sorry, I am nearly 56 etc ....)

One really nice touch came at the end of the set when, as the band were walking off after Jezebel, Alex gave his drum sticks to a little boy - aged about 8? - who was sitting on the edge of the stage. The look on the boy's face was priceless: a mixture of absolute delight and bewilderment (suddenly everyone in the front was looking at him and applauding him). I confidently expect to see him in about 15 years time playing drums at the Troxy. I'll be there with my Zimmer frame (my spell check wants to turn this into 'my Zimmerman frame', which is obviously what I will rely on while listening to Bob Dylan) and attendant nurse by then, of course. Already I'm thinking it's only a matter of time before someone at a gig offers to find me a seat and a nice cup of sweet tea while others nervously try to locate the nearest defibrillator, just in case. I didn't get the set list though: being very English I was waiting for a roadie to remove it so I could ask him for it, but an athletic young Danish woman propelled herself onto the stage and snaffled it. Oh well.

After it became clear that Anna wasn't going to reappear to sing us a lullaby I went back out to talk to Isabelle. To reiterate, she is very nice, very friendly and you must talk to her if you get the chance. She said how very pleasant everyone was in the band, as well, of course, as being horrifyingly talented, and how Mally's been acting as her swimming coach. Isabelle's day job is as a free-lance fashion writer: again, I foolishly didn't ask her where her stuff could be read. But you can check out her excellent blog. When I tentatively enquired if there was any possibility of getting a T Shirt autographed - expecting a 'oh no, that's more than my job's worth' reply- Isabelle said it would be no problem, all I had to do was give the T Shirt to a roadie. She even lent me her pen. So, I went back into the auditorium and there I saw Mally chatting to some friends. Well, I gauchely barged in to the group, waving T Shirt and pen, gushing something about how fabulous Mally was and how much it would mean to my daughter if she would sign (no, I've made that bit up). Mally was really delightful. And so were her friends, whom she had known in London but who were now living in Denmark: if I were chatting to old friends I hadn't seen for a while and this complete stranger wandered along I'm not sure I would be so accommodating. I also got talking to one of them, another Danish musician who spoke to me about how it was easier to get on in Copenhagen than in the cut-throat world of the London music scene. Anyway, having got Mally's signature I duly took the T Shirt to a roadie who was pleasantness personified, and a few minutes later he returned with it duly signed.

And that was it. I walked the three and a half miles home to our hotel - it was a lovely evening - in a state as close to euphoria as I can get these days without the aid of artificial stimulants (i.e. hot milky bedtime drinks). I don't want to get all gushy about this, but I walked home with a real warm feeling inside me - it had nothing to do with the light ales - like I had had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of some really lovely, life-affirming people. But, I said I don't want to get all gushy, so I won't say that.

I haven't posted this sooner - like ANYONE'S been waiting to read my endless ramblings! - because we were in Copenhagen for two other reasons: the first was to help a very good friend and his wife, who live there, celebrate his birthday, the other reason being a very good day conference on sexual and ethnic diversity held at the Copenhagen Business School at which my wonderful, long-suffering wife Ann was giving a paper (this was excellent: yes, of course I'm biased, but it was). Then came the birthday celebrations. Alf, whose birthday it was, is the only famous celebrity we know: OK, he's a celebrity in his native Finland and nowhere else, but even so. Suffice it to say that I'm writing this on the plane home having found ourselves, at 3.00 this morning, drinking vodka in Copenhagen's premier Thai transvestite cocktail bar. I would say it's a man's life in the academic world, but that would be inappropriate for several reasons.

Actually, I'm only posting this now - on Sunday - because of connection problems.

If you're still reading this, GET A LIFE! But if you are, then thank you!

Performances / Anna's popularity
« on: February 14, 2014, 11:09:43 PM »
Prompted by Anna's two sell-out gigs at Le Trianon and several TV appearances on French TV, I wonder why she is quite so popular in France compared to her relative, continuing 'cult' status in the UK? I'm sure I'm not alone in being frustrated and baffled at the sorry fact that the whole world isn't worshipping at her feet, but the French seem to be showing much better taste and understanding than the Brits when it comes to Anna. I realise that there's a common Anglo-Saxon stereotype of French men (and, I suppose, by extension, gay women) as being particularly susceptible to female beauty, but surely it isn't just that. Maybe it's got something to do with the dramatic, 'operatic' and 'Catholic' qualities of her songs and stage persona? Just as  until Wagner, at least, opera tended to be particularly associated with Catholic countries (Italy and France), with a few exceptions, perhaps Anna's music appeals particularly to those of us who respond particularly to passion and drama. Or am I just talking rubbish?

Performances / Anna's Bath gig
« on: February 13, 2014, 10:20:26 PM »
Anna's Bath gig, 12 Feb. (that's Bath the place, not Anna standing in her bath with a guitar)

I've just got back from this, and, of course, it was wonderful. Anna was all in black, with the little silver belt that fell off on Saturday night at the Troxy, and a black lace top. Her hair was down. Oh those golden curls! Calm down Pete. Focus. Mally was wearing the same black and silver number she had on at the Troxy (I'm just saying: I'm sure she's washed it in the interim). The set list was a little different (photo attached: I was very proud of myself because, very assertively, I got it from one of the roadies whilst beating off three other people - including two Catholic priests - with a rolled up copy of Melody Maker from 1983). At Birmingham Anna had played Surrender: this was absent tonight, but she did perform a lovely version of Rider to the Sea. She began Suzanne and I with such quiet, delicate vocals that at first I thought that maybe she was a bit below par, but it was soon put right. Vocally, she was as powerful as ever, while her guitar playing continues to be, well, to use a much overused word in something like its true meaning, awesome. The venue, Komedia, is great: it specialises in cabaret, and burlesque, although much of the second I do find a little dubious - it is small, and has much character, with ornate carved flourishes on the ceiling. The place was packed - not sure if it sold out though - but I thought the audience were a bit 'Bath': appreciative, polite, but a little reserved. We met some nice, interesting people in the crowd, including a man very keen to show off his new 3-D camera and to explain how to down load audio tracks from YouTube, a couple from Wales bemoaning the fact that no Welsh dates were included on this tour, and a teenager in a Bronies (as in My Little Pony) T-shirt who very kindly let me take a photo of him: why I was so interested in Bronies is another story entirely. Stood at the front, between Anna and Mally, I tried to break the mould by shouting, doubtless highly inappropriate things, but I didn't get a sense that this was one of Anna's more memorable gigs: that's purely in terms of the audience, since the band's performance was extraordinary. While I don't think Anna was quite as awesomely (that word again) good as on Saturday, I shall probably have happier memories of tonight's gig because it wasn't followed by my failure to get in to Anna's second gig of the night! Anna did smile at me when at the beginning of the encore I shouted Foxy Lady: I hope she interpreted this as a request for a song rather than a totally inappropriate, sexist and rather 1960s comment on her. Needless to say, my plea was not answered. So, I was saying that the Troxy was the best gig I had ever experienced. I think that's true, objectively, but I think I'll probably have a better memory of this one. Comparing Anna's recent shows to when I first saw her (Halloween, 2011), her growth as an artist is very noticeable. Back in 2011 she was of course excellent, but she has grown in confidence, her stage show is more ambitious and assured, and I think that her voice has actually improved, grown stronger and more expressive.
So, to those of you (again, assuming anyone's still reading this) who haven't yet seen Anna on her current tour, all I can say is that I envy you, because you have an extraordinary experience awaiting you.

News & Interviews / Anna's recent Q and A
« on: February 01, 2014, 01:14:35 PM »
I think it's so to Anna's credit that one of her answers, to the question about how she sees herself, was to quote her friend's opinion of her that she was caring, funny and thoughtful. Now, whether she is or not (and I don't know, of course), the suggestion that that's how she would like to be seen speaks volumes. Also, regarding the now notorious orange theft, aged 10: again, it's obviously to her credit that she hasn't committed a crime since then, but she wasn't asked about the crime spree for which she was responsible before that final, petty theft. I can reveal, for the first time, that between the ages of 5 and 9 and 3/4 Anna masterminded a group of cut-throat desperadoes that made Ronnie Biggs and the Great Train Robbers look like cucumber sandwich thieves at a vicarage tea party. It was Anna who was responsiblfor the as yet unsolved 1986 great Findus frozen pea robbery, and the trashing of numerous branches of Sainsburys in the late '80s to, ahem, 'liberate' thousands of Basil plants. As for the notorious 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' scam, I need say no more .....

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