Glass Animals – J2, Cambridge – Monday, April 28


Glass Animals have managed to make my dancing style sexy. Really sexy.

Their first gig in Cambridge has been a while coming after being rescheduled last month as frontman Dave found himself hospitalised just before their UK tour kicked off. But, after “being force fed enough soup to drown a yak” he’s back on his feet and the boys have found time to visit the ‘bridge before running off to the States once more.

Bounding onto the stage with toddler-on-sugar ferocity, opener ‘Black Mambo’ is a sure crowd pleaser, before they settle into a more mellow tone with original singles ‘Psylla’ and ‘Exxus’. Despite the chilled vibe, and strange intimacy of the set, Dave’s dancing doesn’t let up. It’s sexy. Very sexy. In the only way that white-boy dancing can be. And I feel an odd affinity with it which can only be taken as a sign that I should let go and join the swaying mass as stand-out single ‘Gooey’ begins to play.

Their sound is beefed up for the live show: added guitars and bass seem to fill in the gaps that give the album a more relaxed feel. The similarities with Alt-J really smack you in the face hearing the record live – even the most music-iliterate would be far pushed to not make the connections. It adds to the intricate mad world that Dave creates with his stories of moles, snakes and a ‘pooh-bear’ who just wants those ‘peanut butter vibes’. Flitting between soft falsetto and chants which you cannot fail to follow, he puts in a solid vocal performance which is equally matched by bandmates Drew, Ed and Joe.

Bringing the fast-paced hour set to a close with a cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ and another favourite from their debut, ‘Pools’, Glass Animals slink off stage almost as quickly as they arrived. Admittedly they could work on their crowd interaction: aside from the traditional thank-yous and queries as to whether we’re having a good time – at one point I swear we lock eyes when he asks this, sending me into a catcall frenzy – there wasn’t much chat to be had. Something which would certainly have been adored, judging by the number of hazy-eyed twenty-somethings in the crowd.

I almost buy a t-shirt on the way out, but my lack of cash prevents me; a safety feature I implemented after impulse spending too much on tour stash has left me with a chest-of-drawers full of band memorabilia… but I can’t help but feel the collection would have been a whole lot better with a new addition. Thankfully enough gigs have taught me to hang around and nab a setlist from the stage, so, list in hand, it was time for the walk back to town for a night of dreams of Dave’s swaying and the summer to come.

GeekStar5: 5 years on, 5 roles later, 1 love affair

Five years ago I thought I was going to become a pop-sensation.

Okay, not quite, but I was firmly set on the idea of producing my own music and had just set up a youtube channel and was beginning to cover songs, record and gig. It was great, I truly loved it. And now, sitting here five years later listening to that first track I ever recorded and stuck up online, I can honestly say that I’m actually rather proud of it. I don’t think I come across as a silly kid which is nice, for a change.

My engagement with music over the past five years has seen a full transformation. From that kid on the stage I’ve since been the reviewer at the back, the groupie post-show wanting to stay the whole night, the event manager, and the band booker. It’s been hugely varied, at times extremely stressful but what I can say for absolute certain is that my love affair with the industry – and the personalities who occupy it – is just as real now as it was five years ago. I may no longer hanker to be the ‘star of the show’ but I still dream of my involvement in some small way.

So what is it that I still find appealing about the musical world?

I think it’s the variation and the excitement; although a slightly less savoury answer, but one that is equally true nonetheless, would be the celebrity factor. As a kid it became quickly apparent that I had some ‘fame complex’ much akin to the one that Russell Brand described when he spoke at the Cambridge Union last year. In fact, he’s the only person to describe something scarily similar to how I felt. Combined with a fear of death – and when I say fear, I mean tear-inducing – it made for a difficult growing up. The realisation, for those who have a fame complex, that they may never reach what is not just a goal but a desperate need, is horrific. I’m sure now that part of my intense fear of death was coupled with this: I would constantly worry about not being remembered and having never achieved anything of note.

Thankfully today I am not quite so much this fame-focused youth. I like to think that I have put most of those demons to bed. Admittedly, though, there are parts of this that will never go away and I am intensely aware that my love affair with music is propelled by the last vestiges of it. I’m not so sure that this is a bad thing really, however. I mean, consider the number of people who go into professions on the basis that they want to get rich quick and retire at 30; consider the number of people who stupidly, and I mean stupidly, abuse their bodies in order to look just like Kim Kardashian or any other celebrity figure for that matter. On that basis, the fame complex that pushes me to get involved with music/events/the media/journalism is not so much of a bad thing at all.

In fact, I rather like it. It’s a part of me.

So five years on from GeekStar5 (our wonderful little youtube name), I’ve had five roles in music but the one love affair still remains. And long may it reign.

I’m officially halfway through my degree

Tonight is the night. Halfway hall. That eccentric celebration of getting to the halfway point of your degree – well, only if you’re on a three year course mind you. Whilst I’m slightly irked about the fact that I have to pay for the privilege of going to the dinner, I do get enough free food at this place through working at events or just generally living at the Union that I probably shouldn’t complain too loudly. So, in honour of getting to this point in my degree without failing – yet, touch wood, you never know, tomorrow could be the day when it all ends – I thought I would share some of my ‘golden moments’ from the past week.

Yesterday I spent the evening hanging out with Bill Oddie. I feel like this is a fully justified comment seen as I spent, quite literally, 8 hours with the man. That’s pretty committed guest liaising right there. Thankfully I got my panini and £5 bar tab as a thank you – lol jks love you all at the Union really 😉 He was a genuinely lovely man, very sweet and had time for absolutely everyone. The day also resulted in quite possibly my most liked status on Facebook ever…showing that getting into Cambridge is toped by having an old bird watcher ring you up unexpectedly.

On Monday I celebrated my twentieth – woo! Cue, happy excited cheering. Apart from having to get up for a meeting at 8.15am it was a pretty chilled day. Despite the fact that we’ve all been ill recently, my lovely adorable friends clubbed together and Alisa bought me a Chinese which we ate alongside left-over cake with a carrot stuck in the top as a makeshift candle. Now, I doubt that will happen again so that’s certainly one for the memory bank. The wonderful Jamie came over for evening chats which was lovely and reminded me of the fact that good friends are those that you can just talk to, about absolutely nothing in particular, for a ridiculously long period of time, but it doesn’t matter because it just works.

The weekend saw my mum come and visit for early celebrations and a cake party which consisted of yes, you guessed it, way way too much cake for anyone’s waistline to handle. And finally, to round off the last few days of excitement, Saturday saw the Union hosting the Bicentenary Debate which was quite frankly staggering. I spent the evening following the footsteps of Baroness Mallalieu who was charming and a real inspiration. She was the first female president of the Union and I can’t quite fathom what it must have been like dealing with rowdy, pompous white posh guys in the 60s ,when they felt they ruled the world. I was going to say ‘still felt like they ruled the world’ but I release this is, realistically, a premature slip-of-the-tongue. The room was filled with so many ex-presidents and officers who have come to dominate many of their respective fields of work, and I feel pretty sure in saying that I doubt there will ever be a generation who goes on to do the same. As the Baroness said, back then you really felt like you could do anything that you wanted to do. Sadly, I don’t feel the same sense of liberation and freedom as was once enjoyed by my predecessors. But that’s life. Or the Tory government. Take your pick.

Right, that’s enough reminiscing. You’re probably bored to death by now, and besides, I have a dinner to get to. Such a Cambridge student problem. Ciao.

And I’m back

For those who will remember I wrote at the end of last term about how disconnected I felt to my degree and pretty much everything that I was involved with. Today, I can happily report that I am out of the woods. Finally I feel back to ‘normal’, what ever this ‘normal’ really is anyway.

Whilst the Christmas break gave me some welcome breathing space, coming back to Cambridge and all that it has to throw at you hasn’t been trouble free. I spent the last week feeling rather uneasy, was eating for the sake of having something to do rather than because of desire, and fighting what was a rather bizarre urge to leave. But, after talking to the rents on that so often forgotten phone, and organising a quick trip home this coming weekend I feel much more content. My work is becoming far more engaging now that I have switched to modules on US foreign policy and the Middle East – I study Politics for those who haven’t quite worked out yet what my newfangled degree HSPS actually stands for – and working at the Union is most definitely the best decision I have made so far. I’ve even applied for an internship or two which has been a huge struggle, considering the way in which my career ambitions flit between being extremely vague to oh-so-set-on-that-which-has-no-internship, journalism.

I know this isn’t a particularly long or inspiring post, or really anything at all. It’s just me checking back in, letting you all know that I am fully intending to kick-start writing this blog again – yes that does indeed mean that you will be seeing more of me on your dashboards, apologies in advance.

The BBC News presenter just said ‘hundreds of glitters’ rather than ‘hundreds of gritters’. It made me particularly happy, perhaps more than it should. So i’ll take that as a hint to get back to my reading on the French Revolution and say ‘adios’. Until next time folks, heads up, we can do this.

Name something you’re proud of?

Now this post is long overdue, and for that I am sorry. Like most things in my life it seems, I am very good at coming up with ideas of things to do but never quite as good when it comes to putting them into action. Thankfully, there are people in the world who are good at this, and who want to make sure those of us who aren’t learn how, so I am currently on the Sprint programme which is a personal development course for women.

Today, or I suppose I should say yesterday as it’s after midnight, we considered things that we were proud of and conversely things which we saw as our challenges. Unsurprisingly I could think of a million and one challenges that I face juggling degree work with trying to get involved with all that Cambridge has to offer, and somehow attempting to negotiate the careers market all at the same time. It was much harder to consider things that I was proud of; well, all except one thing, and it’s something that I have been planning on writing about for a while and this has given me the final push to do so.

I know he’ll probably hate me for this, because, well, he’s supposed to. It’s his job to, in a way.

Today I was happy to admit that I am proud of my brother, Zach. I’ve put that in bold just to be super annoying, if this wasn’t enough already.

Why? Because he serves as a constant reminder of how committed someone can be to their goals and how someone can truly fall in love with an industry and pursue it regardless of the barriers and the costs.

He’s a cracking musician and performs at places that would normally kick you out at his age (he’s still only 17, yet everyone assumes he must be 20-odd with the way he caries himself and performs). And at the same time he works damn hard completing A-Levels, getting stellar grades despite the fact that he has always ‘hated school’, and now brushes off full-marks as if they’re no big deal.

Yet they are…I never performed the way he does academically yet I am now studying at (if we’re all honest here) the best University in the World. I am in awe of him. I wish I could be more like him. I wish I could have the drive that he has; the passion he has for music; the unexpected yet natural ability within academia.

Today’s post is in part a homage then to my brother and my pride in him. But it’s also, more widely, about how we can have pride in things without even realising it; we can have pride in things which we far too often overlook. It’s not that before today I was ashamed to say I was proud of my brother, but before today I don’t know whether I would have been able to identify that this is truly how I felt.

So cheers to Sprint for helping me to establish that one of my biggest motivators, and something which I am truly thankful for, is my brother. And thanks to you for getting to the end of what is an uncharacteristically soppy post. Whilst you’re at it, make sure you listen to some of his music, I couldn’t end without linking you all to it. Click here for some serenading.

Oh yeah, I love fish in my tea

So after trotting home last week from London – I say trotting, it was more of a slump back as I got ill on the last day with the usual end of term cold/cough/deathlike feeling. It had managed to stay away for a week longer than previously, so you know, hats off to the immune system to lasting just that little bit longer. Anyhow, after trotting home with my bag full of goodies I was really looking forward to providing my mum with some ‘beauty tea’ which I had picked up on Friday lunch. I had thought ‘oh fab, some crazy sounding tea…mum likes things like that, I’ll give it to her’.

Now living in a house full of vegetarians, with everyone else not having dairy products either, makes us rather savvy when it comes to checking packets. I pride myself on the fact that I know the contents of the vast majority of random ingredients to watch out for. Now, despite this customary wariness to new food stuffs, I have never felt the need to check the packaging on tea. Because, well, it’s tea. Which is a leaf. Which is picked, traditionally, by hand and dried. Normally I do not have alarm bells ringing telling me that I need to be concerned about the animal products that may be contained within tea, but maybe, just maybe, this is naïvety which will become shattered as I turn old and grey.

Anyhow, I’ve managed to avoid drinking dead animals thus far and I don’t feel the need to change my habits now, so when I was given a box of ‘beauty tea: red tea with collagen protein, apple favour and honey flavour’ I didn’t think to check whether it was veggie, because, well it’s tea. So back home, with box in hand, I announced I had a gift for mother fresh from the office, which claimed to be beautiful. Or make you beautiful, I can’t remember which.

Taking the packet out of my bag, mum asked what sort of tea they used. I could only reply that it was red, so I turned to the back to find the ingredients, which as noted before I have never felt the need to do before. On noting that you needed to dissolve the content of the package in 100ml of hot or cold water, I decided that this wasn’t the tea that I was necessarily hoping for. This wasn’t going to be normal tea. So we decided to investigate further and in doing so discover that this tea contained Hydrolysed (fish)Collagen Protein…. FISH, FISH IN TEA. NO THAT’S JUST PLAIN WRONG. Also, whilst the makers of beauty tea felt the need to put in bold font that it was GLUTEN FREE, they didn’t feel the need to put in bold font CONTAINS FISH.

So there I was just a kettles boil away from downing fishy tea, without the makers of the product making it clear that it contained this random, strange additive. Call me old fashioned, but I think it is equally important, if not more so – to be completely frank – to make it clear that a product contains fish not just that it is gluten free.

Oh great, anyone who likes to avoid gluten will be happy but all those who don’t consume meat or fish products will be left with a sour taste knowing that they clearly aren’t considered equally by the beauty tea company.

So Merry Christmas beauty tea, you nearly took away my life long abstinence from fish products but never fear I noticed before it was too late. And now, rather than writing about how marvellous your product was, I am writing a rant about how you failed to package and label your product correctly. Oh, ’tis the season to be jolly.

The offending item
The offending item

Hello, this is Asia Lambert from The Times

For anyone who is even remotely interested in journalism, I swear this is a real gold dust phrase, or at least when I get to say it it makes me feel special…like a 5 year old at Christmas. Slightly cringe, I know, but still, it’s true.

The reason I bring this up is because I spent some of my day ringing up stores getting to use these 8 wonderful words and in doing so I realised how much the Union has helped me. I used to be so afraid of the phone. I would actively avoid making calls if they weren’t to anyone other than my parents, and the only friend I could muster the courage to hold a conversation with was Jenny, my best friend of the past 8 years or so. Fast forward, I now spend part of my week working at the Cambridge Union ringing up publishers and agents and begging them to give me contact details and email addresses…pretty handy seeing as that was essentially what I had to do today, except it sounded slightly more authoritative and everyone likes publicity so they were much more compliant.

Today, on a slightly worrying note, marks my penultimate day at The Times this year. I don’t mean to sound up-my-self but I worked here last summer so I feel like I can pretend that this is going to be a tradition that continues on indefinitely. Whether or not this becomes a reality I will have to leave to the hands of the journalistic Gods, but for now I’ll run with it.

In addition to finding my voice today (unfortunately for the rest of the world I don’t mean this literally) I have learnt the true meaning of Christmas in the office. FREE GIFTS. So many winged their way to the desks today from companies wishing to best please the journalists who have pushed forward their brands onto the pages. Sitting on the fashion desk meant I saw personalised beanie hats from Whistles, shirts, scalves, books, sweets and, of course, a never ending supply of fancy chocolates. I was super lucky in being offered a load of tasters and feel like I’ve probably consumed my weight in macaroons, chocolate, nut and marzipan creations. They’ve all been amazing, and all provided simply as a company thank you for some kind words in print. I didn’t realise that it was such a strong practice, but looking over the office and counting the sheer volume of packages, bags and boxes under and next to desks, empty wrappers and cartons, I can safely say that the journalist wins at this time of year.

So, with a heavy heart (and stomach) I finish my Thursday, sign off and look forward to one last evening in London before returning to the normalcy of life in Norfolk.