The Melodies of Melanie Pain.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you'll know that I had the pleasure of getting to see one of my favorite artists, Saint Saviour, perform in both London and Paris in the space of a week during my travels.  Now though that may sound a bit groupie-ish, I assure you that she is the one obsessed with ME.  That or my timing during my jet setting was impeccable.  Believe what you want  :) Anyway, Saint Saviour was amazing as usual which goes without saying.  I had the pleasure of bringing some of my fellow classmates and lovely blogger Jenna from Paris Cheapskate to the gig and it was a brilliant evening.  And though another blog post of the lovely artist herself would be very well-deserved, I am going to give her a bit of a break today and highlight one of her support acts that was just adorable and beautiful as one can get.

Melanie Pain was mesmerizing in a way that makes you feel like you are watching your super cool friend on stage while she not only relates to you but also makes you wish you could be like her.  She switches between singing in French and English while her voice keeps this sweet sing-song quality.  It's ever so French and ever so stunning.  I wonder if she wants to be my friend...

Check out a few of her songs below, including a super cute cover of Blur's 'Girls & Boys'.

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And I have to give Saint Saviour some major props for the cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees track 'Happy House' she ended her headline set with...I have been dancing to it ever since.  WHAT A TUNE.  The lady herself has a few more upcoming European dates which you need to check out if you have the chance.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs0CNNU2fI]

'Excuse my French, but I'm in France'.

And I have about a million and a half things to say about it.  Though as typical in the Kate Neary School of How To Do Things, I have left myself little to no time to do anything other than show up for class, get work done and pretend to sleep for a few hours.  WHATEVER, I'M IN PARIS.  So as I work on the posts for all the amazing things I have already done in the few days I have had here (including style stalking outside the Chanel haute couture show), I'm going to use this first post for a bit of a shout out. As anyone knows from reading this blog, I adore Saint Saviour.  She is one of the best live gigs I have ever seen and her music always hits you at your core.  Not to mention, she is a lovely lady  :)  I had the pleasure of getting to go to one of her album launch gigs for my birthday last week and, being her wonderful self, she dedicated my favorite song of hers to me during her encore.  Made my day.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hbwp24rNPY&feature=plcp]

ANYWAY, LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE THIS IS IMPORTANT.  Saint Saviour kicks off her European tour tomorrow evening in Paris and continues on through Holland, Germany, Switzerland and so on and so forth.  And you would be a ridiculous human if you didn't make a point to go check her out.  Honestly, her show has changed the way I think about live music...I mean, she fronts Groove Armada...girl knows how to rock it.

Thursday, July 5 - Paris

Friday, July 6 - Amsterdam

Saturday, July 7 - Berlin

Sunday, July 8 - Cologne

Thursday, July 12 - Zurich

Friday, July 13 - Prague

Saturday, July 14 - Vienna

Sunday, July 15 - Lucca Festival Italy

Click here for more information on venues and to get your tickets!

Ten Days Could Never Be Enough.

And I am not entirely sure if any amount of time could ever be 'enough' when it comes to London for me.  When I was planning my visit, I was confident that ten days would be great!  I would get time to see everyone I wanted to and even a bit left over to get a bit of my 'tourist' fun on.  False.

The truth of the matter is that I have no reason for complaint.  My week and a half was spent running from place to place, person to person, making sure that I saw as many of my nearest and dearest as possible.  And how could that ever be a problem?!  I have too many people who I adore  :)  And London is nothing to me if not the people who define it for me.

I could wax lyrical for days about what my friends mean to me and how special they made my visit (including the excuse of my birthday, to which people showed up allll week for!) but I hope it goes without saying to them and to you...they mean the world to me.  So I would like to share some pictures of my visit and thought a little list of some of my favorite places in the city would be a nice way to pay homage.

Kate's Secret Guide to Her Favorite Bits of London

'Jewelry Lady' - Also known as 'Leni'.  I stumbled across this gorgeous lady while looking for Christmas gifts years ago for my family on Portobello Road.  She has a tiny stall, second into Crown Arcade on the right, but somehow always has the most amazing treasures.  My first purchase was a pair of antique diamond and turquoise earrings and since then, I have accumulated gifts and other treats for myself from this gem, and have also successfully helped a friend purchase an engagement ring from Leni.

She has something for everyone.  Inexpensive to whatthewhat?! Modern to antique.  Large to small.  Brooch to ring.  And she is more than happy to share it all (and her insane knowledge) as long as you give her your attention back.  Leni is keen to help.  She wants you to be happy.  She wants you to come back and see her, even if it is just to say 'hi'.  She asks about my parents every time I visit her and she never fails to know exactly what it is I am looking for before I even know.  If you are looking for something she doesn't have, let her know and she'll go on the hunt for you.  Need something resized or dipped in silver or gold?  She'll sort it out.

I wasn't able to pay Leni a visit on this trip back to London and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little devastated about it.  So go see her for me if you're in London and please tell her that I say hello and I will be back to see her as soon as I can.  And try some of her things on...TREAT YO'SELF.

Crown Arcade, 119 Portobello Road, London  W11

Topshop - This pick kinda goes without saying.  I understand entirely that we now have Topshop in the States and it has an increasing  online ecomm website.  But nothing could ever beat paying a visit to their flagship store.  Everyone has their own way of attacking this beast of a brick and mortar...personally, I start from the bottom upwards.  On the very bottom floor is the arcade that includes the massive shoe department and collection of independent designers.  Move up one floor and you can spend hours in the Topshop collection, including Boutique and Unique.  And then head back to the main floor for the pandemonium of the accessories floor.  'Kid in a candy store' can not even begin to describe it.  Well, it kinda can.  The main floor hosts a pick and mix candy bar, cupcake stand and even frozen yogurt!

If you're getting ready for a night out, Topshop can totally be your only stop without breaking the bank.  On the bottom floor, visit the Hersheson's Blow Dry Bar and get your hair sorted in no time flat before you move over to WAH Nails for some sick nail art and even get your eyebrows threaded and fake lashes put on.

Liberty of London - When you finish over at Topshop, walk a couple of minutes towards Piccadilly Circus and stop in at Liberty of London.  This historic department store is my favorite in town and a place that I always go when looking for a little 'pick me up'.  At its most basic, the building is beyond beautiful.  In all the craziness and modernity of Oxford Circus stands this peaceful Tudor-style mansion.  It has retained all its hardwood floors, gorgeous carvings and features from the original elevators.  Even if you aren't going to shop (which, sorry, but one foot in the door and you WILL), it is an amazing sight and such a retreat into beauty.

But right, the shopping.  I mean, it is a store...I don't even really know where to start.  Yes, it is high-end but the shopping experience is second to none if you know you want to splash out.  And always keep an eye out for their sales because they are a place that knows how to do that right.  Their beauty department has recently expanded and is a delight to browse (I actually met one of my best friends while she was working there) and that leads to a wonderful gift hall moving directly in their INSANE scarf department.  It took everything in my power to not get myself a scarf there this visit knowing that maybe I should wait until Paris.  Their accessories feature known designers as well as up-and-comers which makes for a really fun place to browse and discover.  Clothing goes without saying.  It's amazing.  And their shoe department makes you feel like Cinderella.  But make sure to check out the textiles department (hello, Liberty prints) and their home decor which, to me, feels like going to a museum.  It's beautiful, fun and quirky.  Everything I love.

Lucy in Disguise - I have written about this gem before but it deserves another shout out.  Owned by Lily Allen and her sister, this vintage shop is known for its incredible one of a kind garments but also has been making waves with its own in-house collection.  They really create an experience at this shop and can sort out a day of styling, hair and make-up to get you ready for a special night out.  An extra perk is that if you don't want to purchase anything but want something rather special, you can rent garments to wow your crowd.  Get more information here.

Freemasons Arms - If you're looking for some freakin' awesome food with some freakin' awesome drinks, always brilliant service and a stupid beautiful setting, this is the pub for you.  This place has been the scene of my birthdays, dinner with my parents (it is their fav), leaving do's, heart to hearts, just an all-round good time.  The location is amazing.  Right at Hampstead Heath, another one of my 'go to' places in London, where you feel less like you are in a monster of a city and more like you are being fancy on a countryside retreat.  They do have a restaurant if you want something a bit more formal and I would totally support that if you're in the mood.  The food is beyond amazing.  I have never had a meal I didn't leave raving about.  It is all surprisingly affordable and they have a delightful list of cocktails if you're feeling a bit cheeky.  If the weather is nice, make sure to get a spot in the garden to the side of the building where they don't serve food but you do get a nice helping of vitamin D  :)  Learn more about the Freemasons here.

V&A Gift Shop - I know I am talking an awful lot about shopping but we all know what we are good at.  The fact is that the gift shop at the Victoria & Albert Museum is my favorite in all the world.  They have amazing prints, clothing, knick-knacks, books and little trinkets that will never leave you without a special gift to bring home.  What makes this stop on my London tour even better is that the V&A is actually my favorite museum of all time.  Full stop.  There is something traditional yet quirky about this establishment and their special exhibitions are always fantastic.  Their fashion collection is extensive and impressive and they almost always have a special fashion exhibit going on which wow's.  I attended their show on ball gowns and left feeling a new lease on life.  And if you're in London on the last Friday of the month, I demand you attend the Friday Late's at the museum.  You get free reign of the museum after hours, there is always a theme and special events going on and there is wine and a DJ.  Too cool.

I could chat for days about the things I love to do in London and maybe at some point I'll put together another installment for you but I hope this gives you some fun ideas for your own visit  :)

'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life'. - Samuel Johnson

More Saint Saviour loveliness.

Some of you may remember when I had a little love fest on Thrill of the Chaise for Saint Saviour before...if you weren't here for that or just want to check it out again, read/watch/hear it here (and there was another time too, come to think of it, here). And I'm about to do it again.  Because this stunning lady has a new EP out ('Suukei', buy it) and some new videos all of which I want to jump into and just live there for a little while.  Her voice is incredible, she looks like a million bucks, her lyrics rip your heart out and then give it back to you and she is, by far, one of the best live acts I have ever seen.  Not to mention, she's a very nice lady  :)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/user/oursaintsaviour#p/u/0/cyWez_Nkz2o]

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SaintSaviour and Hurts under the...clouds :)

It was with great pleasure, and a whole lot of excitement, that I accompanied the gorgeous brains behind Music Travels to one of the Somerset House Summer Series gigs last night featuring the always gorgeous SaintSaviour and Hurts.

There is something extra amazing about seeing live music outside in the elements.  And that is notched up even more when it is in the setting of a place like Somerset House (or Kenwood House, which you can read about here).  Sitting right on the Thames, this imposing residence dating back as far as 1552 is immaculate and boasts a central courtyard, where the music takes place, that leaves you in awe.  Old building, new music.  It's a pretty cool set-up  :)

Now I have raved about SaintSaviour before (read it here) and I will continue to do so.  This lady is beyond amazing.  And boy oh boy does she put on one hell of a show.  It's theatrical, it's beautiful, it's haunting, it's energizing.  She always looks badass and sounds even better...if I didn't love her so damn much, I might hate her (that's not true, she's just totally lovely and I can be difficult, haha).

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Hurts put on quite a show, as well.  There is something so effortlessly cool (though I am sure there is a boatload of effort happening under the surface) about the way these guys carry themselves and, damn, does their lead singer Theo know how to wail.  What a voice.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TB1x67Do5U&feature=relmfu]

My recommendations would be this...go see SaintSaviour.  There is a good chance that where she goes, Hurts follow, so stick around for them as well.  And though the Summer Series at Somerset House is mostly at an end, make sure to keep an eye out for announcements about next summer's line-ups.  They are always amazing and almost always sell-out fast.

And go check out Music Travels.  They'll teach you all you need to know about what you should be listening to (if you aren't already, of course).

New Obsession: Saint Saviour

A not so 'new' obsession, but one that needs to be talked about as much as possible...Saint Saviour is a gorgeous lady with a gorgeous voice.  She is also responsible for some of the most amazing live performances I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.  Saint Saviour has been the stunning voice of Groove Armada and has now been making a name for herself with her solo work, especially with her new EP 'Anatomy'. A glorious hybrid of Kate Bush and Bjork with some of the greatest passion for music that I have seen in a very long time, Saint Saviour is worth your look, listen and anything else you can give!  Keep an eye on her, a close one, you won't regret it  :)

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