Norah Jones and a Taxidermy Menagerie

It was a delightful surprise to receive free tickets from iTunes to see Norah Jones at the Roundhouse in Camden last night. We arrived to find a disconcertingly long queue, but no-one else seemed to understand how it had formed either so we collectively waited in happy ignorance. All carefully managed to increase anticipation. Inside we dined on gin – no ordinary gin, but Savage Gin, the default option out of no less than six ‘artisanal’ gins… I now read that the Roundhouse was once a warehouse for Gilbey’s Gin, which makes this all seem nicely appropriate.
Above the stage hung a flock of origami swans (or geese?), suspended on strings of lights, these lit in changing colours against the contrasting tones of the backcloth. Norah swapped instruments at an astonishingly prolific rate; she also slipped from one musical influence to the next with great agility, the flawless individuality of her voice dominating them all. Sitting alone at the piano illuminated against the blue shadows, ‘Don’t Know Why’ was beautiful, slow and headily romantic. But her backing band were also a revelation – in some songs the electric guitar or double bass solos almost stole the show.

Today I saw an extraordinary array of stuffed creatures. They perched amidst a sea of antique objects, as if guarding a hoard of treasure. Down at my feet a neat tan weasel posed elegantly on a short branch, proud expression raising him far above the concrete and the crowds, paw raised with the purpose of Friedrich’s wanderer above a sea of fog. Further on a colourful pheasant stood upon an antler, with a swagger that suggested he had somehow vanquished the stag… Less romantic, but perhaps closer to the reality of nature, a mounted silver fox’s head held a fat and helpless bird between its jaws, and – unceremoniously stuffed into a mouldy cardboard box – was a mole, who upon emerging from his hole had been caught in a trap. Blood was painted on around the animal’s neck. Can anyone really have thought that an attractive drawing-room decoration?!

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