ULEZ to expand London-wide in 2023

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will cover whole of Greater London from 29 August 2023.

Drivers will face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London’s roads from next year, as part of the mayor’s attempt to clean up the city’s toxic air and tackle the climate emergency.

“I think it’s another example of the mitigation of pollution being pushed on the people who can’t really afford it without alternative avenues being provided to them,” said Patrick Campbell, 40, a student who cycles to university every day.

“I think they’ve got the stick right but maybe not the carrot,” he added.

The expansion means five million more Londoners will breathe cleaner air, as shown by London Assembly’s report.

When announcing the newest expansion, Khan said: “The latest evidence shows that air pollution is making us sick from cradle to the grave. Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, dementia, and asthma. And it’s especially dangerous for children,” as reported by the Guardian.

The expansion of the ULEZ area will be accompanied by a brand new £110m scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities, and small businesses and sole traders.

But some people disagree with the mayor’s plan. The leaked results of a public consultation found 80% of people in the affected areas are opposed to the proposed expansion.

“It’s just revenue, like all the road closures,” said John Selby, 50, owner of 84 Autoparts on Holloway Road. “The traffic is worse now than it ever has been because they’ve closed off all the side roads.”

“If you make public transport a lot cheaper, like half the price, people will give up their cars because there’s a viable alternative,” he added. “I’m lucky I can afford to have a car and use public transport. People can’t afford both. Public transport is a fortune.”

Khan’s plan also includes the biggest ever expansion of the bus network in outer London, with new services and improvements that will add over one million further kilometres to the current network.

Link: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/ulez-to-expand-london-wide-in-2023/

Festive spirit lacking before Saturday’s Christmas event

By Gülsüm Bölük, Fatou Coulibaly, Sam Sorabjee, and Sara Valle-Martínez

Nag’s Head business owners in Holloway feel disconnected from the upcoming community Christmas event to be held this weekend.

Islington Council announced yesterday that a Festive Lights Event will take place in Nag’s Head Marketon Saturday, November 19, with Islington’s Mayor, Marian Spall, switching on the Christmas lights.

Little to none Christmas decorations at Nag’s Head. Photo by Sam Sorabjee

Councillor Santiago Bell-Bradford said: “The festive period is the perfect time to take advantage of Islington’s wonderful high streets and town centres.”

“Shopping locally is so important for our economy – every pound spent at a small business is worth three times more to the local economy than spending money at a chain, helping us to make Islington a more equal place,” he added in an Islington Council press release yesterday.

But local businesses think the Christmas festivities won’t have an effect on their sales.

Georgina George, 47, owner of Gina George Creation Station, a jewellery stall in Nag’s Head, said that she doubts that the Festive Lights Event will draw in customers.

Gina George in her jewellery stall at Nag’s Head. Photo by Sam Sorabjee

“It always happens here at the very last minute, so the last week [before Christmas] gets really busy. But there’s not much difference. Even if you have a busy week, it doesn’t work. It’s not for us,” she said.

The event will include a DJ, a Christmas crooner and a Drum Works and local school choir performances, as well as activities such as face painting and free mince pies and other refreshments.

Ismail Gamcekmez, 48, owner of a sweets and snacks stall said: “The event makes us excited but it does not affect our sales. Kids are not interested in what we sell, they prefer toys.”

Preparations for the advertised event have not started, with no decorations or advertisement on display four days before the event.

Link: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/festive-spirit-lacking-before-saturdays-christmas-event/

Warm beer? Industry workers speak out amid economic crisis

By Sara Valle-Martínez, Lauren Spencer and Gabriela Yorgova

Breweries might have to serve warm beer amid blackout warnings from the National Grid’s chief executive, and Holloway hospitality businesses are worried they might have to close down.

John Pettigrew said earlier this month Britain could be affected by the winter blackouts from 4pm to 7pm during January and February if the country is unable to import enough gas from Europe.

“If we have blackouts, we’re not even going to be able to open,” said Siobhan Croker, 35, manager of J D Wetherspoon branch by Highbury and Islington station.

“We’re not going to be able to bring in any money, staff are not going to be able to be paid. I’m a single parent as well so if I don’t have any money, I’ve got no food for the kids.”

Siobhan Croker, 35, helps run Islington’s JD Wetherspoons. Photo credit: Lauren Spencer

But not everybody shares the same concern.

Anastasia Patazaki, a bartender at The Famous Cock, disagreed. She said: “I haven’t heard a single person discussing the crisis,” Patazaki said, adding that old-fashioned ales are supposed to be served at cellar temperature.

The business department said that there are “no plans for the government to tell the public to reduce usage for the sake of energy supplies”.

The Famous Cock is located right outside Highbury and Islington station. Photo credit: Lauren Spencer

However, amidst ongoing debate of who should provide guidance to households and businesses, Cabinet Minister Nadhin Zahawi said it’s “only right that we plan for every scenario”.

Link: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/warm-beer-industry-workers-speak-out-amid-economic-crisis/

Paolo Nutini: Nothing bittersweet about the singer-songwriter’s return

By Sara Valle-Martínez

The Scottish boy with an Italian name is back!

After eight years of radio silence, Paolo Nutini announced he would be part of the line-up for different UK festivals like TRSNMT in Scotland and the legendary Knebworth, then he announced extra dates in Spain, Italy, France… And just a few days after a series of intimate shows was booked, he dropped two new songs.

That’s when people knew it: Paolo Nutini is back for good.

Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez

“It felt amazing seeing Paolo after such a long, long time. I’ve been following him since the age of seven, after being introduced by my parents,” said Jac Stoddard, 20, a full-time fashion promotion student living in London.

Tickets went on sale a few days before the concerts, which started in Sheffield before landing in London in 100 Club, right in the heart of Oxford Street.

100 Club is iconic – besides being the oldest independent venue worldwide, it is the spiritual home of the punk movement. It has hosted bands like the Sex PistolsOasis, or Muse

Now, Paolo Nutini fans will remember it as the place where they listened to his new songs for the very first time.

“The new album going to be amazing. It came as a surprise; all of a sudden!” said Tatiana Barone, 34, who works in marketing. “I already have a couple songs that I love, like the two new singles and one called Acid Eyes.”

Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez
Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez

The singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album comes out next July 1. Produced by Nutini himself, Dani Castelar, and Gavin FitzjohnLast Night in the Bittersweet is a 70-minute epic that spans the distance from classic rock to post-punk to hypnotic Krautrock, an experimental rock genre that developed in Germany.

Lose It, with its insistent Motorik rhythms raw beats, and Through the Echoes, which feels like an instant timeless classic, are the two first songs off the highly anticipated album. They are already available in all streaming platforms.

Acid Eyes, Afterneath, Petrified in Love, Radio, Desperation, Shine a Light and Writer are some of the new songs off the new album Nutini played for enthusiastic fans.

Nutini also played some of the oldies that fans have waited to experience live again: CandyPencil Full of Lead and Coming Up Easy, amongst other hits. The crowd sang the lyrics, he joked between songs, drinks came and went and song after song, the night came to a halt. All in all, he left people speechless all over again.

His vocal prowess and heartfelt lyrics are intact after all these years. Nutini can serenade a room full of people while looking like he’s alone in his bedroom, headphones on, makeshift microphone in hand, eyes closed, and vocal cords pulsating.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that he actually sings with his eyes closed, like he’s trying to forget people are staring and singing back; his soul on display as he gifts the audience a top-notch performance full of significance and good vibes.

“Like all his other music, I found it’s a perfect balance between sadness and happiness or a lot of energy and relaxation,” added Stoddard. “Overall, the experience was truly magical as you can hear how much the music means to Paolo in his voice and it could send a shiver down anyone’s spine.”

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

Over eight years have passed since Nutini released his critically acclaimed record, with gems like Iron Sky, a political song that features Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator; or Better Man, a ballad he wrote for his sister.

The new songs have a lot in store, with lyrics that feel like a private love letter; others that will inspire even those who were born with two left feet to dance, and melodies that are bound to become anthems like Candy did.

So, Paolo Nutini is back, fans are happy and the new record comes out next July 1. Who’s ready to Lose It for a little while?

Link to published story: https://verve-lmsu.com/paolo-nutini-nothing-bittersweet-about-the-singer-songwriters-return/

An Ode to Fangirls

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Being a fan is hard. As Caitlin Moran puts it in her book, How To Be Famous, there’s something incredibly intimate about consuming someone else’s art. And the connection is even stronger when you’re a teenager exposed to any kind of stimuli.

It’s especially hard if you’re a girl.

Inevitably, being a teenager means feeling confused and being constantly bombarded with a raging burst of incontrollable hormones that drain you.

Like for most teenage girls, music was my companion.

“I think music is really important when you’re growing up,” said Katrin Ehrhardt, 34, one of the many people I’ve met through concerts. 

“It can comfort you when you feel like no one else understands you.”

Simple Plan were one of the many bands that walked beside me during my teenage years. They also strolled along many others, and we all met in this little world called the Internet. We shared our experiences and thoughts online, discussing lyrics like we were professional music critics.

Some of us met in Barcelona in 2008 for a show organised by a local radio. We headed to the airport prior to the show. After over an hour of frantically walking up and down the terminal, we welcomed the band and swooned, finally able to talk to them.

“I met a lot people through their music and I made some friends that I still have,” said Chiara Boccia, 30, one of my Simple Plan friends. “It was because of them that I started learning a different language and that’s why I live in England now.”

After Simple Plan came a lot of different bands that opened the gates and held their hands out. Most of them played in the now extinct Vans Warped Tour and made us dream about crossing the pond with our band T-shirts and Converse shoes.

We also had our own festivals in this part of the Atlantic. One of them was the I-Days Festival in Bologna: Simple Plan, Blink-182Sum 41 and All Time Low played in a green valley in 2010. Chiara and her friends were sweating on the first row while the rest of my friends and I chilled at the back, lying on the grass on one of the hottest days in the middle of Italy.

Deva Fernández, 30, was there too. We shared our love for eyeliner, Vans, and music. That same year, we travelled to different countries together, following another band called Boys Like Girls.They went on a hiatus in 2012 and broke all our hearts.

We felt the love Moran was talking about – the same that is supposed to be terribly wrong if you’re a teenage girl. Deva’s seen her favourite band, All Time Low, 41 times all over the world before she moved to Mexico a few years ago chasing her other love: film.

She said: “I listened to their music on repeat. I didn’t care about its members until one day I saw a video and I thought they were funny, so I wanted to know more. My dream was to become friends with them.”

We chanted their songs, we laughed at their jokes, we felt like they would understand our angst and pangs and moments of joy, too.

Posters with their faces hanged on our walls, their voices sounded in our ears while walking down the street, their birthdays were marked on our calendars… They helped us become who we are now.

“Back [when I started listening to Boys Like Girls] I was a really shy girl and never wanted to stand out,” said Katrin, from Germany, who now braves to go to concerts on her own. “I felt such comfort in their songs.”

Katrin and Martin Johnson, singer of Boys Like Girls. Photo courtesy of Katrin Ehrhardt.

But the good often came hand-in-hand with the ugly. That susceptibility can break you as easily as it shapes you.

Laura Rogg was a regular at Boys Like Girls’ concerts in the UK. She saved money and travelled in between cities to see the band. I remember seeing her bright red hair when we were queuing up in the cold London streets.

But she loved another band even more. She went to more than 100 The Summer Set shows over a three-year period, following them across the globe.

Laura and friends. Photo courtesy of Laura Rogg.

Laura said: “I reached a turning point in my life and chasing bands became no longer financially or emotionally viable to me. In many ways it completely took over my life… and after years of being so emotionally invested in [them], I had to take a break.”

At the end of the day, we were just a bunch of girls going to a bunch of concerts to see a bunch of men play. Our parents were probably unhappy, other men pushed us around in concerts and we were even judged because “we were probably there because Billie Joe is cute”, like a random guy told me at a Green Day show.

Could anyone really understand?

But Hayley WilliamsParamore’s singer, was a girl too – a teenage girl.

“The thing that made Paramore stand out is that their lead vocalist was a girl and that was not that common back then. I think that created this fondness inside me,” said Jessica Ferrerons, 32, who ran a Paramore fansite for years.

“Boys love clever things cleverly, girls love foolish things foolishly,” says Moran in her novel.

“How awful it would be to love bands like teenage girls do? How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan? A girl. How awful it would be to be a dumb, hysterical, screaming teenage girl? How amazing it is to be a dumb, hysterical, screaming teenage girl?”

I’ll always be proud I was a fangirl.

Link to published story: https://verve-lmsu.com/an-ode-to-fangirls/

Tumblr girl aesthetic – emo reborn?

By Sara Valle-Martínez (top image courtesy of Deva Fernández)

Back in the beginning of 2010, people moved from MySpace to Tumblr, a social media platform in the form of a blog that allowed users to post and reblog photos and texts of all kinds. With the death of MySpace, emo kids were left with nowhere to showcase their music preferences and their dark and gloomy style.

Even though Tumblr opened in 2007, it didn’t gain popularity until 2011. This entailed the creation of the 2014 Tumblr girl – that is, the emo girl reborn. And it’s happening again. 

The classic emo fringe may not be back, but the platform combat boots, band T-Shirts, skinny jeans, pleaded skirts, Converse and coloured hair are.

“I absolutely love it. I was a big fan, especially when I was younger. I grew up with it,” said Maria Majtyka, 21, a full-time student. “I think the [staples] vary, but it’s like a grunge vibe: denim jackets, fishnets, even bandanas at some point.”

The term “emo” comes from the word “emotional”. The urban tribe symbolised a shift in the way teenagers saw themselves, with a more self-aware and meaningful connection to music. Emo teens were all for validating their feelings and expressing their emotions.

“For me music was a big influence,” agreed Deva Fernandez, 30, a transportation coordinator who has a vast repertoire of rock and alternative concert experiences under her belt. “I still wear Vans and skinny jeans. For me, it’s still about the music because it’s what I like and the people I look up to.”

Music festivals like Vans Warped Tour in the USA or Reading and Leeds festivals in the UK were the perfect locations to spot Emos in the wilderness. Now, Ticketmaster is organising the When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas. It’s a good reminder for people that “emo is not dead”.

Deva Fernández and her friends with All Time Low’s member Rian Dawson. Photo courtesy of Deva Fernández.

Planned performances include those from ParamoreMy Chemical RomanceThe UsedJimmy Eat World and Avril Lavigne amongst others. And thus, those who were teenagers back then, are dusting off their hair straighteners and ironing their skinny jeans. Hold the side-swept fringe.

Whilst some youngsters may sneer at these performers in confusion, some others consider these “oldies” relevant again. But is it really still about the music?

“I don’t think it’s about the music anymore. Most of the people who wear band T-shirts like Guns n’ Roses, Metallica and things like this, have never listened to their music,” added Fernandez. “It’s just fashion now.”

The celebrities that are bringing the style to the spotlight now are Megan Fox and even one of the Kardashians. Their connection to rock and alternative music because of their beaus, has pushed them to revamp their wardrobes. And so, the style is back in!

But the origin of the aesthetic does not date back to the 2010s. In fact, some argue that the 80s were a massive influence. Some emo girls and boys even backcombed their hair – hairspray was always at the top of the shopping list.

“It’s definitely regurgitated. I’m not into it, so I don’t really think it’s original. Why would you choose such a boring style? There’s so many other things much more interesting,” said Yong, store manager at Blue 77 vintage clothing.

“Usually trends repeat themselves. There’s a thing that’s like a twenty-year cycle but, as we are using social media more, everything is just much faster. So, all of that kind of gets thrown out of the window and we’re repeating things that happened less ten years ago,” said Ludo Monse, 19, a full-time student.

Ludo Monse’s style is based on Tumblr girl fashion. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Machine Gun KellyYungbludWillow Smith and Beabadoobee are some of the musical artists who also dress the part. Other performers like Charli XCX and Olivia Rodrigo have incorporated a more upbeat attitude to the aesthetic. So, with the reawakening of Tumblr girl fashion, is emo also coming back?

“That’s definitely going to come back,” said Monse. “You can’t have Tumblr without some melancholic thoughts.”

Link to published story: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/tumblr-girl-aesthetic/

Migratory grief: a split-screen life

By Sara Valle-Martínez

There are over nine million immigrants living in the United Kingdom according to a 2019 study by The Migration Observatory. This means 14% of the population could be experiencing what is known as “migratory grief.”

The British Psychological Society says there are two types of loss: the physical one, which would refer to a tangible loss such as a loved one; and the symbolic loss, which is more abstract such as “a homeland, status, social environment and social identity.” The latter is the most common amongst immigrants trying to adapt to a different country, climate, and culture.

Yetunde Otuwehinmi, who works as a counsellor in London Metropolitan University, said: “I think any movement is a loss and it’s traumatic depending on what the journey has been, what they left and what they come to because of the culture difference and the isolation.”

From Denada Sateri’s family album – she’s third from the left.

Denada Sateri, 30, front office assistant manager in a hotel in central London, was born in Albania and moved to Greece when she was six. She has experienced the shock of being an immigrant in two different countries throughout her life. Even though she recalls the time she left Albania as foggy and confusing, she remembers the sorrow.

Sateri said: “I remember back in 1997 there was a civil war in Albania, so it was really traumatic for me because that was the main reason that my parents wanted us to go in Greece. I remember this time that we had to get into the ship to get to Greece… and all I remember from that day was confusion and crying.

“I think it’s easier when you’re a kid because you don’t realise much but it can be hard in both situations. It’s really different when you have to leave your place because you’re forced to… But it’s hard anyway, even if it’s your decision because you want to try new things or find a better life or career,” Sateri added.

Lockdowns and travel restrictions also exacerbated the feeling of loss. In the midst of the global pandemic, in May 2021, the health insurance company Russell Williams interviewed over 1,100 expatriates worldwide about how COVID-19 affected their mental health. Over half of the expats would have preferred to travel back to their home country during the pandemic.

Miguel and his sibling. Photo provided by Miguel Arévalo.

These feelings of loss and guilt are especially common in first generation immigrants such as Miguel Arévalo, 27, animation student and Spaniard living in London. He said: “Once you move abroad to another country, in my opinion, you could say you live in two different universes. You have people you know and love in two countries and you have the constant feeling that you’re missing out on your own life because you have two lives that you can’t live simultaneously.”

Research in the US lists language and cultural differences, adaptation and social status and integration as some of the most common challenges in migrant mental health. But remorse and the fear of missing out often top the list for expats in casual conversation.

“We always forget our parents are growing old and now it’s the time we need each other the most but we don’t realise until you’re away. … I’ve cried many nights about this because I miss them, but I know I have to be stronger for them and for myself,” Sateri added. 

“Now that I have two lives, I don’t know where I belong,” said Miguel. “I’m confused when I try to think where I’m comfortable or where my home is. It’s not an easy answer anymore.”

If you are a London Metropolitan student experiencing any mental health issues or difficulties coping with your day-to-day life, please make sure to contact the Counselling Service team here.

You can also find mental health crisis helplines at Mind’s website.

Link to published story: https://hollowayexpress.org.uk/migratory-grief-a-split-screen-life/

Busking and Covid: quiet streets and unsung voices

By Sara Valle-Martínez

The Musicians’ Union defines busking as part of many musicians’ lives, and says that for many, it can be a lifelong career. But this type of art is threatened by those who wrongfully see it as begging. Last year, it was threatened even further by a global pandemic that required everyone to stay at home.

In the art realm, music is one of the reasons people migrate to the world’s capital cities: any music fan can see history in the streets of London.

This includes Denmark Street “Tin Pan Alley” with its instrument shops and the studio recording where the Rolling Stones made their debut album, to the iconic zebra crossing featuring the Beatles on Abbey Road to Camden and its infinite display of urban tribe mementoes. Or even Koko, the music venue where Madonna played her very first UK show, which was engulfed by fire before the pandemic.

Living off your art seems like a dream and busking, according to the Musicians’ Union, can also be “a space to develop audiences, hone skills, and try out new material”. But events like the pandemic reminds us that all that glitters is not gold.

Sebastian Schub busking in Dublin. Photo credit: Oliver Visual Artist.

“I don’t want to sound cheesy, but the price you pay for the freedom you get is that sort of security – it’s stability and routine, said Sebastian Schub, 23, a London busker who plays guitar and sings. “I don’t always know what I’m going to be doing in the near future.”

Sebastian moved from Germany to London when he was 17, with musical and acting skills in his suitcase. He now works as a full-time musician who has released several EPs. Sometimes you can find him busking in Westminster.

Sebastian recalls the lockdowns as a “pretty shit” and “pretty horrible” time.

“I was sort of lucky because I went home to my mum. I didn’t play live, so I didn’t make much money. I know many people just didn’t perform music. None of us did,” he said.

He remembers the time as a period of uncertainty that he used to practice. He had to work on other things to make a living. “It has had a massive effect on buskers,” he added.

report by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCOE) suggests that 1.3 million foreign-born people may have left the UK between 2019 and 2020. These numbers spiked after events like the Covid-19 global pandemic and Brexit, which forced people to return to their home countries. 

Some of them had originally come to the country looking to fulfil their dreams.

Laura Silverstone, 26, a Spaniard based in Edinburgh, had to stop making music during the pandemic. Laura started her musical career when she was a teenager, when she said she was “obsessed with music bands and artists”.

Laura Silverstone performing at Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. Picture Credit: Bleu Hope.

Laura left Bilbao and moved to Manchester in 2013 to nurture her skills off its renowned music scene and, later moved to the Isle of Skye before landing in Edinburgh. In 2017, she released an album called The Fall of the Northern Star.

I think music is something that you don’t choose, it chooses you. Always, since I was a child, I’ve been playing instruments and I’ve always been amazed by it,” she said. 

When the pandemic struck, Laura saw herself coming to her previous job as a social carer.

“I think our first instinct was to find another job and wait for music to come back. A lot of us felt like we had to hold our breath and power through to see what would happen,” she added.

Laura opened a live stream platform to help musicians find online slots to showcase their art. 

“At the beginning of the lockdown it grew a lot quicker and then both musicians and audiences lost interest. Maybe because more people had to change their lifestyle to try to adapt,” she said.

The flip side of her story happened as social gatherings were allowed and bars reopened. It took Laura a few months to be booked for gigs in venues like The White Hart InnCaptain’s Bar or Royal Oak, where she currently has residencies.

Laura Silverstone in her caravan. Picture Credit: Philippe Monthoux.

The pandemic was not a hindrance for everyone. Camix Nova, 29, who usually plays around Camden, was not a busker before the pandemic hit: he gained the courage before he started playing in August.

“More or less, I knew where people played because I used to see it. I even tried myself before even though I was not lucky,” he said.

“I went to Piccadilly and, for me, it was easy because there were fewer people. Before you had to queue up for a long time to play, so I made the most of it.”

Camix moved from Colombia 11 years ago. “I think it’s destiny,” he laughed when asked
why he became a musician. 

“I’ve always liked music. When I was around 14 or 15 years old, I decided to start walking that path. And that’s where I am now,” he said. “My dad is also a musician and he’s lived off music for a long time, so I practically learned everything from him.”

Camix Nova performing in Piccadilly Circus. Picture Credit: Sun Limxueyang.

“Lots of people from other parts of countries left so I guess there are fewer immigrants playing now. Before there were more Italians, Brazilians, but now I feel most people are from here.

“There’s less diversity, I guess everywhere, in every kind of job.”

Live music reopened in the United Kingdom on July 19th this year. Here’s to hoping music doesn’t ever have to stop.

Link to published story: https://verve-lmsu.com/busking-and-covid-quiet-streets-and-unsung-voices/

Caroline Polachek @ Roundhouse (London) – full article

By Sara Valle-Martínez

Caroline Polachek sold out two nights in a row in London on her come back to England after the lockdown. 

Caroline Polachek @ Roundhouse (London) 28/10/2021. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

On the 12th of March 2020 Caroline Polachek played in London’s gay bar Heaven. People joked that she ‘opened the gates of Heaven’. To be fair, she played like it was the last concert on Earth. A few days after, England went into full lockdown along with the rest of the world.

A few days after the gig, she urged all her Instagram followers to check for Covid symptoms. Caroline herself fell ill and stayed in England for a short period of time, quarantining as the rest of the nation. It was the start of a long period of lockdowns, mask wearing lots of hand sanitiser and restrictions for everyone.

Unfortunately for Caroline, her dad passed away during April. “He hated pop music and never once came to see me perform, but his belief in the arts as a secret language for transcendent beauty, radical politics, and syncretic spirituality bolstered my faith in making music. Our artistic dialog as adults was the fruit of that relationship, and I’m so grateful we finally found it,” she said on an Instagram post she dedicated to him.

Last 27th of October was the New York singer’s first concert back in England and she sold out Islington Assembly Hall. This date was announced right after the massive success when she sold out tickets for Roundhouse in less than an hour. She said during the concert that she remembers being out, hiking with her sister, and standing right in front of a cliff thinking about this. “It was what kept me going,” she admitted to the expecting crowd.

The people queuing up were as excited as she recalled being. One of the attendees, Marco Giannoni, 30, a creative producer, mentioned: “I’m so ecstatic that I’m finally going to see her after such a long time. It’s been like, I don’t know, like two years since I last went to a concert? Shocker!”

Caroline Polachek @ Roundhouse (London) 28/10/2021. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

“I’ve kind of forgotten how to go to concerts because I haven’t been to one in like two years and before I was, like, going to a concert every couple of weeks. So, it feels a little bit weird to be back lining up and stuff, but I’m happy to be back,” said Nico Conteh, 16, student.

No Covid-19 measures were taken for the concert in Roundhouse. However, the venue staff checked the vaccination passes of everyone attending the concert in Islington Assembly Hall. The attendees said they trusted this to be enough to ensure their safety during the performance. Moreover, entertainment and supporting the future of the music scene seemed much more relevant for those waiting to see the singer.

“I’ve been to two others (concerts) already. I feel comfortable going to them because I’m double vaccinated. I’ve had Covid recently already so I’m currently, like, immune. I feel like the venues are doing what they should be doing to be protecting people. And, at the end of the day, it’s everyone’s choice whether they go to a concert or not. No one is forcing you to go to a concert. So, if you’re worried about it, don’t go. They’re doing all the work they can to make you as comfortable as you can feel about it. But at the end of the day, if you’re worried about Covid… It’s a situation where you’re with lots of other people. Use your own judgement,” said Hamish Powell, 23, a London florist.

The variety of people waiting in the queue to see Caroline’s performance in Islington spoke volumes. People all of ages and backgrounds attended the concert. Even Dua Lipa and Bastille’s Dan Smith were part of the crowd, which Caroline pleased with her hit songs So Hot You’re Hurting My FeelingsHit Me Where It Hurts or Door among others.

Caroline Polachek @ Roundhouse (London) 28/10/2021. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Bunny Is a Rider and Breathless, the cover by Irish band The Corrs, were the most expected songs of the short English tour, as both were released after her last performance in the capital.

When asked about the song they were most thrilled about, James Sahin, 21, a student from Reading, said: “Obviously Bunny Is a Rider because everyone loves to be a bunny! But, also, I love I Give Up and Parachute. It’s the ethereal vibe about her as well, the energy on stage and the dancing… Everything comes together. She has a fancy of how she wants to be and you can really see that comes across through her live performances.” James was waiting with his friends to see the performance in Roundhouse on the 28th of October.

French singer Marylou Mayniel, better known by her stage name Oklou, was the opening act. She wowed the audience with her debut project, Galore. After a short wait of thirty minutes, Caroline came on stage at 21:00.

Previously known for being the singer and co-founder of the indie band Chairlift, Caroline started her solo project as Ramona Lisa and CEP. This followed the disbandment of the former and Caroline decided to start a project using her own name.

The gig opened with The Gate, followed by PangHit Me Where It Hurts and crowd-pleaser Bunny Is a Rider. Everyone whistled along the singer before starting dancing frantically to its lyrics.

Caroline Polachek @ Roundhouse (London) 28/10/2021. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Caroline had some guest performances, like the Irish-Chilean singer and producer Sega Bodega, who appeared on stage to perform Sunset, a new song that has not yet been released. Danny L Harle, the British song producer and composer, played the keyboard for her during Look At Me Now and Insomnia.

Caroline’s presence on stage was strong, exuding femininity and power equally. The crowd didn’t stop cheering, trying to reach her high notes and almost synthetic-sounding vocals. The visuals were undoubtedly stunning, but Polachek would be able to showcase her ability and ethereality even with a stark background and the lights off.

Polachek performed her solo debut album, Pang, almost in its entirety before singing one of the most expected songs: So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings. Everyone mimicked the music video’s choreography and even some brave ones tried to imitate her impressive vocal guitar riff.

Right after she left the stage and the crowd frenziedly asked for her to come back for a couple more songs. Her second show left everyone feeling ‘breathless’, as the singer herself joked before playing The Corrs’ cover by the same name.

Caroline Polachek @ Roundhouse (London) 28/10/2021. Photo by Sara Valle-Martínez.

Caroline delighted the attendees again with her acclaimed song Parachute, which she explained she wrote after a dream in which she saw herself descending onto the sea, confronting the fact that she was going to die.

“I was in an airplane, and I was terrified. And I knew that jumping off the plane was safer than staying in it. So, I looked out and I jumped. And I’m falling, plummeting through the clouds. And I see the ocean spread out beneath me.

“Everything’s happening so fast; everything’s spinning. And suddenly I feel this pull at my chest and I realise there’s a parachute and I may survive. I’m soaring, falling slowly now. I can see I’m over Los Angeles. I can see the curve of the coast.

“[…] And then it occurs to me that I’m being swept out further away. Further, and further, and I’m going to drown and be suffocated by the parachute,” she started narrating before she mentioned that, in said dream, she finally landed “on a strip of grass past the highway, between a soccer field and a strip mall. And I’ve never been so happy to be alive”.

Later after Parachute, Polachek welcomed Trinity College’s choir for her last two songs: Billions, which is said to be released next year, and the first single off Pang, Door.

The crowd drifted off to the tube and kebab shops for a late supper as the singer, her friends and crew headed to King’s Cross The Standard for an after party before leaving the country the following day. “I’m hangover but extremely happy,” she said on an Instagram story the next morning.

“Still coming down from how electric that energy was. Felt so lucky to sing to so many people so dear to me, an to have such sensitive and *batshit crazy* fans. Feels like I’ve truly found my people. Thanks for making it a manic pixie dream gig; I wasn’t lying when I said it was my favourite show to date,” Caroline added later in an Instagram post.

Link to published story: https://verve-lmsu.com/my-favourite-show-to-date-caroline-polachek-triumphantly-sold-out-at-london-gay-venue-heaven/