Mean Fiddler (Formerly LA2 London Astoria 2, clever eh?), Charing Cross Road, London
Next door to its big
broth, the Astoria, and architecturally part of the same structure, LA2
also offers a dazzling choice of gig-enjoying space, with Yes! an upstairs
bit and a downstairs bit. Recently taken over by the Mean Fiddler and thus
respelendant under a new moniker, which I refuse to acknowledge. For me
this place is forever LA2. The Mean Fiddler is that place stuck inconveniently
out in Willesden, where you always get sranded after missing the last tube.
Go right and you get
to hear the band/spit over the balcony onto peoples heads below (actually,
Kitten could NEVER advocate such boorishness), for here is open space unfolding
across a vista of tousled gigheads. Useful if you're trying to spot someone
and it's often much more entertaining to watch the motley audience than
yer actual band. If you should glance stagewards, then you have a magnificent
birds-eye view of the bass players bald spot.
Go left and you'll find
yourself on a section of the balcony that has ideas above its station and
sees itself as some kind of bar independent to the rest of the proceedings.
Indeed, this section even has the temerity to have a separate 'd.j.' when
the place is being a club. Such upstartery means it divides itself from
the vulgar concept of live music with panels of smeary glass (actually probably
plastic) muffling the sounds from below. Obviously, muffling can save your
ears a lot of grief, depending on who's playing, but its not really in the
spirit of things now is it? Needless to say this is the place to find those
errant popstars 'n' journos, trying their utmost not to actually hear any
live music ferchrissakes!
Leaving the lightweights to trade cocktail-party chit-chat in this plastic bubble bar, we stomp on down the stairs (there are the lavs at the top since we're passing). Behold! In front is the stage. Hang on a sec. though, 'cos if you turn around Behold behind! It's another bar!! Nice one. So, eyes front again to spy a series of comfy booths running down either side of the dancehall. Classy. Plenty of room on the big squodgy seats. Be warned though, in the booth nearest the stage you will shiver in the arctic blast of industrial air conditioning.
Okay, enough reclining, on with the show. Here we must consider our ankles, for the 'dancefloor' is raised about a foot above the surrounding floor. If you choose to get on down up there, please be ever vigilant of THE EDGE. In the general frenzy of things you may find yourself suddenly balancing split second precariously on THE EDGE before tumbling off into the abyss and twisting your delicate ankle, not to mention stumbling oafishly. This would never do, so either make sure you are well ensconced 'midst the throng, or just stand on the normal flat floor that doesn't have any sudden edges. If you go for the latter option, you're going to be a foot shorter than everyone up there braving THE EDGE, although a lot of the time, one foot or ten feet what the hell difference does it make, right, fellow shorter persons?