At about 10 o’clock on Saturday morning the snow arrived in west London, and it arrived in quantities I can’t remember seeing since I was a child. Even when the rest of the country gets snow London tends to be left out. I love snow, I love how it makes our garden as beautiful as everyone else’s. I love how it puts smiles on faces and snowmen on every bare patch. But tempering all of the love this time was that the fact that had to make it to The Borderline for Damon & Naomi and The Clientele. For all of London’s lack of extreme weather it is additionally famous for the way it’s transport infrastructure struggles when the weather does arrive.
I walked to the station through thick snow, and straight onto a train that took me into the West End, making my concerns utterly pointless. The West End was strangely clear of snow… it had snowed but the traffic and the people and the warmth of all of that had turned it into a grey brown slush… not so beautiful here.
I was trying to remember the last time I went to a gig at The Borderline, I guessed at 10 years but I was there in April 2002 for a gig by The New Year… but probably not since. It hasn’t changed at all, it was even playing a Steve Earle track when I walked in – it’s the sort of venue that I’m fairly certain plays Steve Earle tracks two or three times a night (there was another one between bands).
Damon & Naomi wandered on to the stage and played a lovely set to a small but respectful crowd. They played a few tracks from their next album, due in May (Helsinki, Nettles & Ivy, Spellbound, Walking Backwards) a few oldies (New York City, Lilac Land, A Second Life) and their cover of Song to the Siren… and some more I. Damon told funny stories, Naomi smiled and giggled and chipped in. This is how the Damon & Naomi duo shows go – I do love how they work so well together. The new songs sounded good although the opener “Helsinki” was a very slow/quiet way to start a gig.
The Clientele were on good form… they too have a familiar stage presence full of snarky humour, self-deprecation and false starts. They played a set of old tunes, including a couple from this year’s Minotaur EP. They played a Lamplight that rocked. It’s becoming the centrepiece of a Clientele set, running up to 8 or 9 minutes and packed with the sort of guitar virtuosity that is one of the (many) reasons why they are so unique. Alasdair made a sneaky Hendrix reference at the end… and it may have been a gag but…
Nice as always to meet a couple of internet friends. I chatted briefly to Damon & Naomi and headed home. The journey home was almost as painless as the journey in.
Photos: More pictures of the show on Flickr
Video: Damon & Naomi – A Second Life