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Morgan James, Music

Morgan James Òran Mór

A frequent collaborator with Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox, Morgan James became an artist I had to see after her YouTube success both with the group and solo. Having listened to her debut album Hunter and her latest album, Reckless Abandon, it was clear I was in for a night bursting with talent.

To add further to the excitement, upon booking my tickets and posting the news on Instagram, I got a like and a reply from the artist herself! (Sorry… Bit of a fan girl moment!)

With impressive Broadway shows under her belt including The Addams Family, Godspell and Motown: The Musical, the expectations were high for her vocal range and power to raise the roof of the 500 seat capacity venue.

On her Reckless Abandon tour, the warmth of soul and R&B with a cheeky shot of country made you feel transported back to the early naughties. Her vocals are very reminiscent of LeAnn Rimes and Christina Aguilera back in their heyday.

Her set was varied, toying between her albums and a few covers. A highlight was her cover of Prince’s ‘Call my name’ which the idol himself gave approval for James to record and put on her debut album.

A standout moment in probably my entire gigging history is hearing ‘Say the words’ live. Even though the venue’s capacity was lacking, she raised the roof with her emotional performance as if she was singing to thousands, which resulted in small applauses throughout for her outstanding performance.

Additional notes about James’s performance is that she is one of the most expressive artists I have encountered to date. From her face to her body language, she truly feels the music that she’s singing and her theatre background is evident but comes across genuine and relaxed.

Not only did she thank her band twice (which featured jazz guitarist Doug Wamble, who is also James’s husband), she also graciously thanked the venue for letting her play, expressing the struggles artists sometimes face in securing venues to perform.

To top off the evening, she stood at the merchandising table to speak to fans and sign albums and tickets. She took adequate time with each of her fans and was highly engaged with everyone, to the point she asked the staff to turn down the music so she could hear her fans talk and have a more personal interaction.

I’m not a massive groupie when it comes to getting my ticket signed, having only got signed tickets for Jimmy Carr, Ben Caplan, Katzenjammer and now Morgan James but this ticket will surely go pride of place in my gig collection.

Rating: 4.5/5

AJ x

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Hometown Tourist, The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Going to see a ballet has become a winter staple for me as festivities approach. The Nutcracker is a classic and with music that is so iconic, it was a must see!

The Russian State Ballet has established itself as one of Russia’s leading ballet companies and first visit to Dundee was met with high excitement. This was to the extent where little girls were dressed up as ballerinas, the sense of an enjoyable family gathering was evident.

Their performance upheld their international reputation of of outstanding quality and unusual depth. Both the soloists and the corps de ballet have been highly praised by critics throughout the tour. The soloists demonstrated grace, strength and power as they leapt across the stage. The attention to detail with the choreography was great where the dancers were jumping and being lifted to the exact same height. Their serene faces made the whole production look effortless.

The portable and simplistic set was elegant and added just the right touch of wintry magic. The costume design was bright an colourful, with the sugar plum fairy’s tutu adorned with sequins and did not disappoint!

Yes there were some tongue-in-cheek stereotypes when it came to Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Russian Dancers as well as the Danish Shepherdesses but what can you expect from a 125 year old opus?

The orchestra’s support to the dancers was met by rapturous applause. Their expressive tone made sure the audience heard the famous themes with clarity and authenticity at which Tchaikovsky intended.

Having seen numerous ballets, this truly captured the magic of Christmas without feeling like you were celebrating too early!

Music, nerina pallot

Nerina Pallot Òran Mór

The Òran Mór is definitely no stranger to Nerina Pallot. Returning as part of her tour for her new album Stay Lucky, her familiar face was greeted by many returning fans to hear her perform.

The warm up act Million Miles was a cool blend of Alicia Keys meets Norah Jones. Her warm and soulful tone made her compelling lyrics come alive and set the perfect tone of the evening. A personal highlight was her song ‘Ice Cream and Cigarettes’

Million Miles

Nerina did not leave her fans waiting long after Million Miles and was greeted with cheers and applause as she came on stage in a dusty pink dress. Her long hair floating around her shoulders made her look somewhat ethereal as she floated between piano and guitar for each song.

Nerina Pallot singing ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’

Her engagement with the audience was laced with humour throughout. After performing her first few songs, her first interaction with the audience was ‘So… is there anything good on the telly tonight?’ which was met with chuckles.

In a packed set lasting just over two hours, she performed her entire new album along with some old favourites from her discography. Personal highlights were ‘Bring him Fire’ and ‘Idaho’.

Nerina Pallot singing “Stay Lucky”

A predominately silent but engaged audience were encouraged to sing the final song of the night ‘Sophia’ and was met with a contented soft sing-a-long of the choruses, in no way outshining the artist.

A cozy, intimate and flawless gig.

Rating 4.5/5

(Photography done by Fostergraph)

AJ x

Copenhagen, Hygge, Nyhavn & Streetfood!, Travel

Hygge, Nyhavn & Streetfood!

Day two of my Copenhagen adventures did not have the weather on our side. We had a lazy morning before we headed back into the city. We headed over the Christiana for a spot of lunch at Papirøen’s food market. Sadly this place is closing down at the end of the year and has an array of wonders to behold. We arrived just as the stalls were opening, the smells were incredible and instantly made us both hungry. I opted for the Korean Fried chicken. I have never had fried chicken that fresh! The communal seating area, alight with candles gave this place a truly Danish feel.

Copenhagen’s Food Market
Having filled our stomachs, we headed to The Copenhagen Contemporary to see Yoko Ono’s wish tree. This beautiful installation is only available until December and has been scattered over various cities in the world. Grab a wish tag and write your wish and tie it to the tree. The wishes are regularly collected and will be sent to Yoko Ono when the installations end. They will be turned into an art installation at the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland.

 

Make a wish at the wishing tree!

Our final stop on our rainy Saturday adventure was Nyhavn. This 17th Century waterfront is full of beautiful coloured townhouses, bars and cafes. As a main canal, it was notorious with sailors, merriment and prostitution. Hans Christian Andersen also lived here for some 18 years. Now it is a delight for the general public and the perfect photo opportunity  on Copenhagen adventures.

Nyhavn

Copenhagen truly captures the meaning of Hygge. You cannot help feel the ‘togetherness’ of this city and the cozy, content and welcoming vibe of this small city. There were so many other sights we saw in passing on our 48hour visit to this former Viking fishing village. Pick up a bike or hit the city on foot. Eat, drink and explore the happiest city in the world.

 

AJ x

 

 

 

Copenhagen, Fairytale autumnal walks through Copenhagen, Travel

Fairytale Autumnal walks through Copenhagen

Copenhagen is one of the coolest cities I’ve visited to date. I have always loved exploring by foot and Copenhagen’s flat landscape makes this a breeze.

We hopped off the train at Copenhagen Central station and made our way up to Torvehallerne food market. On the way, we came across a beautiful park, Ørstedsparken. Open in 1879 and still holding much of its original character, it is full of memorials and classical replicas scattered across the promenade with a spectacular view of a lake which is the rememnants of a moat from a fortification.

Ørstedsparken

Torvehallerne was full of fresh produce to satisfy every foodie’s palette. The perfect place to have a coffee and soak in the city. We then ventured to Rosenborg Castle to explore the gardens. Originally established as a pleasure Garden in the 1700s and to supply fruit, vegetables and flowers to the Danish royal family, it’s pristine manicured lawns were a delight to walk through, with the spectacular view of the castle.

We decided to then delve deeper into the city and head to Frederik’s Kirke. This beautifully ornate church is commonly know as ‘The Marble Church’  and was originally meant to be built entirely out of marble but due to budget restrictions, the dome (which is Scandinavia’s largest) was built from limestone. 

The gold writing at the front of the church reads: ‘the word of the Lord endureth for ever.’

Making the most of the dry weather, we walked north through the cobbled streets to Churchillparken. Named after Winston Churchill  to commemorate the British assistance in Denmark during the Second World War. Passing St Albans church and Gefionspringvandet, we slowly made our way up to Den lille Havfrue (The little Mermaid). Elegantly perched on a rock, the life size sculpture has received mixed reviews by some, but I was not disappointed. 

Churchillparken and St Albans Church

The photographs I took do not do these parks justice. The colours of autumn bring a sense of magic and capture the ultimate picture for sweater weather.

Den lille Havfrue
After an exhausting 10 mile walk, it was time to soak in the hotel’s pool and save the rest of my adventures for another day. 
AJ x

Nachissimo, Recipes

Nachissimo

Nachos are the perfect lazy day food. Nothing is more satisfying as having a well deserved day off with a large bowl of Mexican goodness whilst having a Netflix binge. Or, if you’re not as selfish as me, nachos is the ultimate sharing food.

Nachissimo!

Ingredients
Serves 6-8 people
800g chopped tomatoes
500g pork mince
2 tbsp 60% dark chocolate
200g cooked chicken, diced
250g cheddar cheese, grated
2 tsps. smoked garlic, minced
2 tsps red chilies
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup Jalapenos
1/3 cup of sweet corn
1 red onion, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
2 peppers, chopped
200g refried beans
1 tub of Sour Cream
1 tub of Guacamole (I was lazy and didn’t make it from scratch….oops!)
300g Lightly Salted Tortilla Chips

 

Method
1) Place chopped tomatoes, pork, refried beans, chicken, sweetcorn, onion, spring onion, dark chocolate, peppers, garlic, chilies and jalapenos into a deep pan, stir until pork has cooked.
2) Put butter and flour in a saucepan and set on a low heat, mixing until you have created a roux. Slowly pour the evaporated milk and add 200g grated cheese a mix until cheese has melted into a thick creamy sauce. Add paprika and cayenne pepper to add some spice.

The trick with great nachos is your layers. I use a large and deep cake pan to make my nachos. I layered using chips, meat mix, sour cream, guacamole and some grated cheese. Then repeat until your pan is full. Before putting in the oven, drizzle some cheese sauce on top and put in the oven at 160 degrees for 15 minutes.

Tip: I normally save some of the yummy meat mix for future lunches.

GRAB A FORK AND GET STUCK IN!

Have you tried this recipe? Let me know your thoughts.

Share it on Instagram and don’t forget to tag me @teaandbake

AJ x

Dining Out, Mandarin Garden

Mandarin Garden

A quick free hour to grab lunch resulted in me paying a visit to Mandarin Garden. As a lover of Chinese food, it was hard not to pass up the opportunity to sample their lunch menu.

Chicken Sweetcorn Soup for Starters
This place is all about food. The interior is basic and dated but doesn’t take away from the restaurant’s charm. The quick, friendly service ensured me I would be out in time for class and I was shown a great variety of their best sellers to cater to anyone’s palette.

I opted for the chicken & sweetcorn soup to start. Piping hot and generous on chicken pieces! Next came my Szechuan chicken, full of flavour and hearty. A perfect dish to warm me up in an autumn afternoon.

 

Szechuan Chicken
I was surprised at the generous portion sizes. I was absolutely stuffed leaving the restaurant and all for a very reasonable price. Also they do takeaway so you can enjoy all this goodness without leaving your front door!

Rating: 4/5

AJ x