Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nottingham: The Black Keys!

Tea, in front of the caves in Castle Rock
Well, we almost beat the snow home. With "severe weather" forecast for the day, we thought it best to cut our weekend plans short: we saw the Black Keys at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham last night -- awesome! -- and had planned to spend the day walking in and around Lincoln; oh well, another time. Ten centimetres is what they're calling for, and while that might not seem like much to my Canadian readership, it's 9.5 cm more than they can handle here; they simply don't have the equipment -- and, frankly, would probably be wasting public funds if they bought it. (If the winters we've seen since moving here are any indication of a colder trend, however, that may not hold true for much longer.)

Tea, at 'the Trip'
We took Friday off and had a leisurely drive to Nottingham, checking in at the Premier Inn around mid afternoon. (It was a really nice room, by the way, although, generally, I'd give it to Ibis by a nose in this category, as I prefer their bathroom layout. Incidentally, discount hotels in the UK are miles ahead of the North American standard.) With a few hours 'til the show, we decided to see what constituted a good cask ale pub in Nottingham.

I hadn't realized that the city is a hotbed of competition for the title of the oldest drinking establishment in England. We visited two claimants: Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem Inn (or 'the Trip') and Ye Olde Salutation Inn (or 'the Sal'). We had a tasty starter in the former to accompany our pints -- the fish cakes were particularly good -- taking in the unique atmosphere offered by the sandstone caves they use as the front drinking rooms. The latter dubs itself a "Rock 'n' Ale" pub, and certainly delivered on both counts: the tunes were nice 'n' heavy the whole time we were there -- thanks to an oversized iPod of a jukebox that was always busy -- and they had eight real ales on handpump! For the curious, here's what we sampled from both pubs:
The impressive array of handpumps at 'the Sal'
Band of Skulls was already on as we took our seats; we hadn't heard them before, but thought they played a decent set. With a capacity of 10000, the arena was downright intimate by the standards of home, while still presenting an impressive sea of undulating heads and arms at the peaks of the light show. The Keys were fantastic. I've never seen them before, but can confidently state that. With the heavy production on their latest album, El Camino, I was a bit worried that the stage would be crammed; happily, it was just Dan and Patrick, and two guys on bass and keyboards -- really simple, with some improv in the bridges. Perfect! They even played Your Touch, kickin' it up to at least double time. (Can't imagine how bored they must be with playing that now.)

We spilled out on the streets around 11:00 p.m., ready for a proper meal. Luckily, most of the kids were looking for a drink, passing the tempting Greek restaurant, Eviva Taverna, by. It didn't disappoint, either: we shared an immense salad with our two skewers of souvlaki each; we were totally stuffed and sated long before we could clean our plates. (I do wish that I'd tackled the raw onions in that salad with a little less fervour, however: when I woke up this morning, my mouth tasted like I'd been using it for things better left unsaid on this blog.)

Check out our Picasa album for more pictures from the evening.

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