Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sickness, Internet problems, the mighty Wilco in the Toon, and a lovely white Burgundy

Once again, it's been a while since I blogged. Actually, it has been a funny old week (or more). I went to meet up with my friends Messrs. Bennett, Leslie and Bamford last Tuesday night, to discuss a boys' trip to Burgundy we are planning for next March (or is it April?) and, of course, enjoy a few nice Burgs with some good food in the process. Unfortunately, for some reason, I wasn't feeling my chipper old self, which became more apparent over the next few days, when I seemed to be suffering from some sort of throat infection and general malaise. In fact, to quote an old work-mate's once (in)famous "nature of illness" on his sick form, I "felt rough". By the weekend, I was beginning to perk-up a little, and was about to get blogging again - and then my Internet connection went down for the best part of Sunday. Very frustrating, and it meant that I had a lot of catching-up to do over the next couple of days.

Which brings me to Wednesday (last night) which saw me driving up to Newcastle with my son Alex and his friend, to watch a gig by the greatest rock band that most people have never heard of. Wilco comprises Jeff Tweedy (guitars, lead vocals and 99% of the songwriting), John Stirratt (bass), Glenn Kotche (the finest drummer I have ever seen, bar none) Nels Cline (guitar player extraordinaire), Pat Sansone (guitars and keyboards) and Mikael Jorgensen (keyboards). I've watched this band develop and grow over the past ten or so years, into what I genuinely believe is one of the finest, tightest bands in the world, with a back catalogue that would be the envy of many more famous bands. And with the incomparable Jeff Tweedy at the helm, they can do little wrong, in my eyes. A bit of me is happy for Wilco to remain a jealously-guarded secret, whilst the other bit of me wishes that they would receive the world-wide acclaim they surely deserve, as heaped on many a lesser band. I won't bore you with the details of the gig (this is a wine blog - and I'm no music reviewer) but suffice to say that the band were on superb form and produced a rip-roaring set. And I managed to snaffle Jeff Tweedy's set list from one of the roadies afterwards - a nice little souvenir! If you want an idea of how good Wilco are live, here's a taster from Youtube.........

Afterwards, we got chatting to a couple of fellow fans from Gateshead and went for a couple of pints in a charming little pub just across from the station. We had a good old chin wag about Wilco, music and life in general. The hazy photo below was taken on my mobile phone at gone 11 in the evening. I'd never been to Newcastle before (never been further north than Durham, in fact) but I was stuck by what a lovely place it is - lots of beautiful old stone buildings, clean, safe streets, nice pubs and charming people. So thanks to my new friends Jamie and Andrew - and of course to Wilco - for making my first trip to the "Toon" a memorable one. 

After the gig - Andrew, Jamie, Alex, Paddy

Tonight, it has been a relaxing night in front of the telly, with our favourite home-made lamb curry, rice and naan, accompanied by a rather delicious young white Burgundy;

Domaine Jean & Gilles Lafouge Auxey-Duresses "Les Hautes" 2007
This was a sample bottle I picked up for a song from a local supplier. I suspected it would be good, because I heard that a fellow local merchant friend had taken a bottle to the Wine Circle last night and it apparently went down rather well. Not surprising, as it turns out, because this is a cracking wine. The back label (praise be - a rarity for Burgundy!) for once describes the wine perfectly; "With a rich, heady nose of hazelnut and lime blossom and an intense, mineral-streaked, lemon-edged palate, this wine delivers on all fronts." Spot on, I'd say. It bears certain similarities to the wines of its near neighbour Meursault, with minerally, lime oil-tinged fruit and an underlying richness. There's a touch of oak, but it is very subtley done and one is struck by its elegance and tight, focused structure, not to mention its fabulous depth (and length) of flavour. For a relatively humble village-level Burgundy, it punches well above its weight. It probably has a few years of development left in it, but it is so lovely to drink now, I'd say why wait? I think I'll snap a few cases up - some for the website and a few for myself. And it certainly won't be expensive. ;-)


AlanM said...

Glad to see you enjoyed the gig Leon, a bit gutted I missed it as I heard from a friend that they were excellent. I read a review about their gig in Glasgow which was described as one of the best gigs there ever.
I know what you mean about half wanting them to stay relatively unknown. I have been an Elbow fan for 15 years and then all of a sudden they are a big name, and after dozens of gigs with 2 men and a dog they are playing stadiums.
Anyway, hope to see you up here again soon.

Leon Stolarski said...

Alan - the band were fantastic. They just seem to get better every time I see them - and it helps that they've had no personnel changes for a few years now. The only thing about the Newcastle gig was that the crowd seemed to accept that the gig had finished after the main (6-song) encore. Which is a shame, because the house lights didn't go on immediately, so I think we could have got them out to do an extra song or two. Having said that, I managed to geet my hands on Jeff Tweedy's set list, and that is exactly what they played. I know they often do "requests", though, so probably would have done some more if the crowd had stayed and shouted.

I loved Newcastle - I must try and get to one of your wine "offlines" sometime.