Well, I Did It Again: Damian Lewis at Boisdale of Canary Wharf

“A Damian Lewis live show contains fun. Rock’n’Roll. Good music. And an amazing band that I play with.” — Damian Lewis at Latitude Festival Press Day

Yes, sir! All those coupled with a truly engaged and energetic crowd at Boisdale of Canary Wharf made my 48 hour lightning trip to London more than worth it! And I am ready to tell all about it!

Firstly, I thank my brilliant friend Patrick (who happens to be the drummer Will’s dad) for convincing me to go! Believe it or not, I was on the fence since we are now used to going three or four gigs at a time on tours. The Boisdale gig is a one off and it is of course wonderful if you live in London, or somewhere in Europe (short and cheap flights) but you need to factor in a lot in your decision if you fly from the US like me. The good news is that I could get my ticket with miles and Patrick gets a table for us. I tell my friends that I’m going and when they check they find out that the venue does not sell single tickets. And here is my Whatsapp exchange with Patrick when I share this information with him!

And when we arrive at Boisdale to meet him, Patrick has the ultimate gift for me – much better than all the flowers in the world! HUGE thanks go to him for nicking a gig poster from the men’s room for me! And, it is now signed by a certain someone with a “Bahar! My number 1 Fan! Tseku. X” <3

Come join me in visiting (or revisiting) Damian’s gig at Boisdale of Canary Wharf!

Readyl for the gig!

Our dinner reservation is at 6:15pm and when we arrive a bit early, we do not only find out that we have the best table but also catch the last moments of the soundcheck- I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want to distract them but I should say Damian at work is a sight to see. He is infinitely concentrated on the sound check that he notices us only after they are done with the soundcheck!

Boisdale of Canary Wharf is a stylish two floor restaurant, reminiscent of a posh gentlemen’s club, complete with the UK’s largest whisky bar with more than 1,000 bottles and a Cuban cigar library. It’s also a premier live music venue where their patron Jools Holland curates daily music shows.

The food is good, and I am a picky eater, and the Viognier Patrick chooses is delicious. As the two of us finish two bottles of wine, it is still only 8pm and I am concerned about how shit-faced I may look after the show! πŸ™‚ But I have to lookΒ  good because I have a big surprise gift for Damian that I’m so excited about!

Oh and I visit other tables giving out “I was there!” magnets that have now become a tradition! One lady asked how much they were and she was very happy to find out I am giving them out for free πŸ˜€

My excitement increases with Jack, the tour manager, placing the evening’s set list on stage…

…and as we speculate over the set list, the potential singles and the second album, it is 9:30! And here is our guy in my favorite gig outfit.

Damian has written a second record and the new originals are so good that I believeΒ  the second record will be stronger than the critics’ darling Mission Creep. It has a different sound. Different energy. In Damian’s words it is “a bit more blues rock driven, a bit more indie rock driven.” And, again in Damian’s words, the new setlist has been designed to change the psychology of the evening towards the second record. And the set begins with the very rock’n’rollie She Makin’ Me Change.

“Hello Boisdale! Thanks for coming out, ladies and gents. That was a new song which is coming out on new record which is coming out later this year. It’s called ‘She Makin’ Me Change’. It’s just about a good thing. Someone cute that I know that makes me feel good.”

Someone cute? It is not very hard to guess who that is, is it πŸ˜€

Never judge a man by his umbrella πŸ™‚ Damian and Alison at the Prince’s Trust Awards at Drury Lane Theatre the evening before the Boisdale gig!

I have a hunch that She Makin’ Me Change may be the first single from the second record just because Down on The Bowery was the opening song of the early gigs and then it was the first single from Mission Creep. Β That said, I would, and I know you would, too, welcome any new song as the first single from the second record. THEY ARE BRILLIANT!

The set continues with Hole in My Roof from Mission Creep.

“They say you get to play Boisdale twice in your life. Once on the way up, once on the way down. It’s good to be back!

I’m looking for the fat cats! The cigar chomping billionaires of Canary Wharf, where are you? Hands up… there’s a confident gentleman down in the front. Nice cigar, sir.

This is the first single we released, Down on the Bowery.”

“Thanks for coming out. We appreciate it. We know you could have chosen other airlines, we thank you for your custom. Sorry I had to say it… :D”

“This is My Little One, about a very cool lady.”

“Joe Downard on the bass, ladies and gentlemen!”

I’m hearing Joe for the first time and he is great! It turns out Joe collaborates with different members of the band so he is part of the gang, if you will.Β  Follow him on Instagram!

Damian now shares a story with the audience. He once spent a whole night at a street corner in Soho talking to a very beautiful woman.Β  He used his best jokes, his best lines and was confident it was in the bag, they were going home together. But a taxi pulled, she thanked for a very nice evening, got in the taxi and left πŸ™‚

This is Soho Tango.

“I got her in the end. And I got a song out of it.”

Soho Tango is one of my absolute favorites on Mission Creep. It is a playful song and I have a soft spot for songs with a whistling part.

I always wondered whether we knew the lady in Soho Tango and I am not surprised one bit that she turns out to be Helen. In fact, and I forgot to mention it in my post about the UK tour, when I told Damian that I was not surprised one bit that the young woman in Soho Tango was Helen, he said that’s why he married her. And an older gentleman I met backstage in Poole knew Helen before he met Damian and he was familiar with the story in the song…

And I don’t want to get sentimental about this but because my hotel was just next to the St. Paul’s Church, aka The Actors’ Church, in Covent Garden, I paid a visit and lit a candle for Damian’s Little One. I’m not a Christian to begin with, and I am not religious at all, but you sometimes just feel it.

Time for a new song! Damian picks his electric guitar and introduces Love Bomb – my absolute favorite among the new songs. It has this new wave-y sound that gives me goosebumps!

“Dave Archer on guitar, ladies and gentlemen.”

Dave is not only such a wizard on guitar but also he speaks Turkish, my native tongue, who knew? πŸ˜€ We greet each other with “iki bira lutfen” (“two beers, please!” in Turkish) these days πŸ™‚ Follow Dave on Instagram!

Damian now talks about Kim Philby, the most notorious traitor in the UK history. A double agent for the USSR, Philby betrays his country, his family and his friend Nicholas Elliot (whom Damian portrayed in the critically acclaimed A Spy Among Friends) of 30 years. Excommunicated, Philby goes to Moscow to pickle his liver in vodka. In one last attempt to get back in favor and return home, he invites Elliott to a meeting in Berlin. Elliott, like a jilted lover, unable to resist, goes to Berlin. As he waits for Philby at the bar he has cold feet and leaves leaving the umbrella he brought with him, a gift Philby gave him years ago with letters NE inscribed on it. Elliot, later, writes an autobiography titled Never Judge A Man By His Umbrella. And that is the name of the next song…

“Will Cleasby on drums, ladies and gentlemen!

Will is going places, and not because he pays a visit to our table before the show! He’s incredibly talented. Follow Will on Instagram!

These two!

Back to the gig!

Welcome to all those special people at the back!”

You know when you’re making plans? And they go to shit…”

Next is Question Mark, another new song from the second record, with a mysterious vibe to it. It is about a man watching a woman twisted up in sheets in the shape of a question mark and it is ambiguous whether the woman is really there or not – or that is what I could hear in the lyrics πŸ˜€

A round of applause for Amelie, ladies and gentlemen!

Amelie is a young London singer / song-writer with a captivating voice. She’s young enough to make me think her parents may have named her after my all-time favorite movie! Follow Amelie on Instagram!

“The first record Mission Creep which we’ve been touring since November (no, Damian, since September!) has some influences and it has some covers on it. This is one of them, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. You know it. It’s Harvest Moon.”

Jamie Safir on piano, ladies and gents!

Jamie, yet another prominent member of the UK Jazz Scene, also teaches jazz piano at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Damian’s alma mater. Small world! Follow Jamie on Instagram!

The gig continues with what I call the “motorbike songs” πŸ˜€ And a mental note to self: Ask Damian whether the motorbike in Zaragoza and the one in Pentonville Prison are the same or not. There have been conflicted reports πŸ˜€

Damian talks about his busking days. One evening, as he’s crossing the Pyrenees, he judges very badly. As an electric storm is gathering on the horizon, he decides to build his tent on the side of the road but when he looks up he sees a hole in his tent…

I’ve got food on the fire but I ain’t hungry no more…

Keep your hands together for my amazing band, ladies and gentlemen…

This band deserves all the applause they get and more! They are incredibly talented and Damian is lucky to have them.

“I was riding home one night on my motorbike, same motorbike. I was in North London. I was on Caledonian Road. I was outside Pentonville Prison. Next thing I knew was he was flying through the airΒ  in the air and going straight to the windscreen of a car. This is called Pentonville Prison.”

And this is for you, Monique… We missed you at the gig <3

That’s a new song as well, ladies and gentlemen. Pentonville Prison. When I woke up, in the middle of Caledonian Road, there was a man squeezing my wrist so hard and shaking. My first thought when I woke up was ‘that’s not good.’

When Damian asks the man why he was squeezing his wrist so hard, he said couldn’t tell whether Damian was dead or he himself was too pissed to know what he was doing.

“It turns out he was just pissed.”

Thank God!

It turns out that the person sitting at the back in the mini cab was an off duty male nurse who worked at Royal Free Hospital. And he put Damian in recovery position.

Damian was very lucky that night, and so are we.

And a big shout out to all the ladies who come to the side of the stage to sing along and dance to Damian’s songs! And there is a very special lady in the crowd – Alison! <3

“Wouldn’t it be nice to grow old in Paris? (applause) Or in Limehouse (much bigger applause and laughs)?”

I had to look up what Limehouse was about! πŸ˜€

This is another new song, ladies and gentlemen, from the new album, out later this year. It’s called Traffic Jam. I wrote it because I’m just a bit pissed off really..

One of my favorite new songs, maybe because I amΒ  a bit pissed off, too, Traffic Jam talks about daily stuff that goes wrong as well as real fucked up stuff like school shootings, Putin, January 6, and unreliable train service in the UK!

“Ladies and gents, we’re gonna leave you with this one. Thank you so much for coming out. Absolutely fantastic crowd! There’s a chance for a little sing along as well. This is also a new song from the new record. This is ‘Naughty Naughty Naughty.’

Naughty Naughty Naughty is the perfect song to end an amazing night of music. I have been finding myself humming the chorus since I heard it for the first time on the UK tour back in March.

I am thrilled to report that Damian has made time for every single fan who wanted a bit of his time after the gig – lots of hugs, kisses, selfies and autographs!Β  And I happily wait for my turn as I feel so happy when fans can have their moment with Damian and get to see the lovely man that he is.

And he does a bit more for his “number one fan” that I get to hang out with “those special people at the back” some of whom I am proud to call my friends, too! Sharmila and James Collins of Cure EB and Debbi Clark of Sir HvH Arts and her husband Mark Von Herkomer are there to support Damian. And I can’t be happier that I could have a chat with Alison that I could tell her how she and Jamie “killed it” in Chicago, and that I think she transforms into a completely different creature on stage, oh man, she is wild, and how impressed I am with her writing on social media – follow Alison on Instagram and read especially the posts she makes after her gigs.Β  You can see that she really feels every single word she puts in there. I’m in love! Oh and I also tell her how much I love her and Damian together. I really really do.

Oh and my gift?!?! πŸ˜€

I first give Damian the card attached to the gift and tell him that what’s in the envelope is related to what’s written on the card! Something about him being… Something about his existence… Any guesses?

Here is Damian opening the gift… and then he probably asked at least five times:

“Bahar, where did you find this?”

My honest answer is that I did not find it. It found me…

We are well aware that Google, Amazon, Facebook and all other online platforms watch our online activities very closely and know exactly what we are interested in, what we are searching for and they throw stuff at us accordingly… and that’s how the photo you see below found its way to me online as something that I could be interested in…

…and I was… Not immediately but just after I read the note attached to the picture.

“Sir Ian Bowater, Lord Mayor of London, standing with his daughter Mrs. Charlotte Russell, outside St. Margaret’s, Lothbury, yesterday, after her wedding to Mr. Watcyn Lewis (left), 38, a Lloyd’s insurance broker. With them are William, 4, and Amanda, 6, the bride’s children.”

So, yes, this is a photograph from Damian’s parents wedding! Our guy is obviously not in the picture yet, but they will welcome him into the family in a year or so… πŸ™‚ And I learn from Damian that the older lady in the picture is his Welsh grandmother, his dad’s mum. And he adds: “My beautiful mother.” <3

And can it get any better than being sandwiched between these two ridiculously talented, super cool and super nice (a rare breed!) human beings? Alison and Damian, thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me hang out with you, YOU TWO ROCK in every way! Debbi, I feel privileged to be photographed by a pro! Patrick, I can’t thank you enough for convincing me to fly for the gig and nicking a gig poster for me from the men’s room – you’re a true gentleman πŸ˜€ And we weren’t too shit-faced after the show, were we? And last but not the least, my darling friend Tsvete, thank you so much for being the best gig companion ever! And we should certainly make Polpo’s “zucchini fries” a dinner tradition! ‘Til next time! I’m a VERY lucky girl!

In closing, this will be one red hot summer with our cool cat! Damian and his amazing band are bringing their music to a number of music festivals in the UK. They will play the main stage at Black Deer Festival on June 15, Pub in the Park Chiswick on June 30, Latitude Festival on July 26 and Car Fest on August 23. Check out the festivals and ticket information here. And watch this space and damian-lewis.com for future gigs and tours!

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

5 thoughts on “Well, I Did It Again: Damian Lewis at Boisdale of Canary Wharf”

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to the moon and back! Often think how grateful I am to have you and to share these precious moments (and succinni of course) with you.
    Love you!

    1. And I’m grateful to have you! We’ll go into history as women who order zucchini fries as dessert! Cheers!

  2. I really appreciate your sharing all of your adventures Bahar. It is as close as I will get to experiencing the Ginger One’s musical career, aside from owning Mission Creep. Well done, as usual !

    1. Thank you so much, Connie! I’d be very happy if I was able to open a window for you and many other fans so you get to experience Damian’s musical adventures! Hope all is well <3

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