Nuts to you all, I’m-a write something soon.
Here, meanwhile, are a few videos that I’ve particularly enjoyed of late.
Shining doing a cover of “Twentieth Century Schizoid Man” (Shining sound absolutely nothing like they used to when I last heard them, but this is thoroughly rocking and also a bit jazzing):
How animals eat their food (many will already have seen this long before I did, but it had me in hysterics):
“Surgeon Simulator 2013″ LP (I’m not really one for Veedya gamez, but this had me in hysterics too):
Anderson Silva and Jon Jones are kidnapped and forced to fight (Non-MMA fans probably won’t get the jokes):
DENNIS. SKINNER. (No parenthetical remarks necessary):
It seems like we have a pattern, then. I do one or two of these posts aroundabout this time of the year, then a couple more in autumn, and that’s it. Still, there’s plenty to be getting on with – there’s the usual Crufts and Flatpack festival and St Padraig’s and lots-of-opera that you’ll see in March in the West Mids, but this year you can add it to a big joined theatre thing, a vague two-tone theme, modern minimalist composers, and Rolf Harris.
Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.
Thursday the 28th of February until Saturday the 2nd – Giacomo Puccini’s “Il Trittico” (students of Birmingham Conservatoire) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Three one-act operas for the price of one.
Friday the 1st – “The Furies” (Kindle Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A feminist reading of the Oresteia (Clytemnestreia, presumably), performed through rock/metal songs. (Also at A.E. Harris in the Jewellery Quarter on the 23rd).
Saturday the 2nd – The Atlantic Players @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A really fun southern soul band, who I enjoyed at Mostly Jazz/Funk/Soul last year. Speaking of which, the line-up for this year’s MOJFAS is starting to come out.
Saturday the 2nd – Mandy Romero’s “In Excelcis” @ The Public, West Bromwich – A personal history of glam rock, from a trans* perspective. And if I’ve got the asterisk wrong there then please assume the asterisk leads to a footnote apologising for my ignorance. And I do mean that sincerely.
Saturday the 2nd – “Whisky Birmingham” Festival @ The Bond, Digbeth, Birmingham – I don’t have the first idea what-all is what’s what when it comes to whisky, but I thought I’d mention this here as a comparative novelty (there are always ale festivals everywhere, but this seems a touch less frequent). Does the no-E spelling of “whisky” mean that it’s American and Irish stuff rather than Scottish? I can never remember which way round it’s supposed to be.
Sunday the 3rd – UFO @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – This obliquely leads me wonder about why you never hear “Doctor, doctor!” jokes anymore.
Tuesday the 5th till Saturday the 9th – the Welsh National Opera come to town @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – A new boss equals new and exciting things from the WNO. Here we have Lulu on the 5th, The Cunning Little Vixen on the 7th, and Madame Butterfly on the 6th, 8th and 9th.
Tuesday the 5th – Sigur Rós @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Glaciers, etc.
Tuesday the 5th – The Magic Band @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Sans Captain Beefheart, for the usual set of reasons.
Wednesday the 6th till Saturday the 9th – “Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice” (Middle Ground Theatre) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – The abbot, in the chapterhouse, with the poisonous herbs.
Wednesday the 6th – Steve Reich @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Firstly the man himself will be performing Clapping Music. Then, the London Sinfonietta will be giving what is on the second ever (evaaaar) performance of his new “Radio Rewrite”, in which he attempts to remake Radiohead songs in his own inimitable way. By this point in time I think we can afford to just trust him and go with it.
Wednesday the 6th – George Dillon’s “The Gospel Of Matthew” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – St Matthew acted out with what is apparently no small degree of intensity.
Wednesday the 6th – The Hot 8 Brass Band @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Funky hip-hopity New Orleans brass band. Sousaphone! I keep telling you that the sousaphone is the best of all instruments and you never listen.
Thursday the 7th – screening of “The Ghost Of Piramida” @ Birmingham Bike Foundry, Stirchley, Birmingham – The lovely Danish band Efterklang travelled to an island in the arctic circle north of Norway to record their last album, and a film was made about it all. You can watch a screening of it in a room above a pushbike shop, although since there’s only room for 25 people you probably won’t.
Saturday the 9th till Sunday the 24th – Theatre Fever @ various venues in the West Mids – A linking title (they didn’t call it a festival, and I call that progress) for lots of different plays that are going on, as well as a few other bits and bobs too. This includes shop windows, penguins, pubs, and lots of things mentioned elsewhere in this post because I hadn’t heard of this until just now and I’m damned if I’m going to go back and re-write them.
Saturday the 9th till Monday the 18th – St Padraig’s Day Festival @ around Digbeth, Birmingham – Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra li. The parade itself is often said to be the third largest in the world.
Saturday the 9th – Alex Bockie’s “The Inferno Kid” @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – The tale of a broken ex-pro wrestler, which I always find fascinating. I think there was actually an Inferno Kid, but I don’t think this is based on him.
Saturday the 9th – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I hope he still wears his flammable hat.
Saturday the 9th – The Jasmine Moon Ensemble @ Ort Café, Moseley, Birmingham – Sino-Irish trio who play traditional Chinese music on traditional Chinese instruments. I saw them at Moseley Folk last year and thought that they were lovely.
Saturday the 9th – Huey Morgan And The New Yorkers @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Stick ‘em up punk it’s (one of) the Fun Lovin’ Criminals.
Saturday the 9th – Professional Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – One hundred years of boxing at the Civic! That is amazing. I’ve always said that the balcony is great for fightsports, though – you get a good view. This one is headlined by Thomas Costello’s English title fight (a title shot at last! It’s gone slower for him than many seemed to expect), but there are a pile of other fights and apparently there will be music and cabaret and whatnot else, since it’s a special occasion.
Tuesday the 12th till Friday the 15th – “The Anatomy Of Melancholy” (Stan’s Cafe) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), Warwick University, near Coventry – A staged version of Robert Burton’s 17th century semi-satirical work of philosophy/self-help-book, which (funnily enough) I am actually reading at the moment. I have no idea at all how they’re going to do this, but it’s Stan’s Cafe so you can be absolutely certain that it’ll be enormously witty and inventive.
Wednesday the 13th – St Vitus @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Do-do-do-do-dooooom.
Thursday the 14th till Thursday the 28th – “Heather Gardner” (Birmingham Rep theatre company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The modernised version of “Hedda Gabler”. Youseewhattheydidthere with the name.
Friday the 15th – Olivia Newton-John @ The NIA, Birmingham – Getting physical.
Friday the 15th – Cannon, Campbell, Watchorn & O’Connor @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Formerly of The Dubliners. Now that The James Brown Rule has wrought its terrible effect on The Dubs, this’ll be your closest. It’s quite near the 17th, too.
Saturday the 16th – Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Oh lordy lord it’s the ghost boat! In all seriousness we should show appropriate appreciation for the fact that we have one of the world’s foremost Wagner men right on our doorstep, ‘cos he’ll probably be here for a while yet but he won’t be here forever.
Saturday the 16th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – You know how it gets when someone eats all the miniature chocolates. “Whatever happened to all the heroes?” you’ll ask.
Saturday the 16th – The Selecter @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Two-tone in the Black Country in March #1.
Wednesday the 20th – Nas @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – You a slave to a page in his rhyme book.
Thursday the 21st till Sunday the 31st – Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – At the time of posting the line-up isn’t available, which seems a bit late to leave it really. Still, there’s a sneakypeak advance post here, and in any case there’s always loads of brilliant stuff. Always always always. (EDIT: Here y’go, the line-up is out now).
Thursday the 21st – Skunk Anansie @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – If you are in any sort of doubt at all about whether or not you need to go to this gig, look what happened last time they played there.
Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd – “Rasputin’s Mother” (Encore Drama) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – He took some killing, but what if even then he wasn’t dead?
Friday the 22nd – “Call Mr Robeson” (Tayo Aluko & Friends) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – The life of Paul Robeson, actor/singer/civil rights campaigner.
Friday the 22nd – The Real Thing @ The Robin 2, Bilston – You to them are everything.
Saturday the 23rd – Rolf Harris @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Doing music and a painting onstage. Presumably not at the same time. I do actually (genuinely) think that ol’ Rolf is underrated as a purveyor of comic song.
Saturday the 23rd – The Beat @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Two-tone in the Black Country in March #2.
Tuesday the 26th till Thursday the 28th – “God’s Property” (Talawa Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Digbeth, Birmingham – Two bothers are reunited in 1982 London, but racial tension hangs heavy in the air.
Tuesday the 26th and Wednesday the 27th – Emeli Sandé @ The Academy, Birmingham – There for two days then she’s gone, then she’s gone, then she’s gone.
Wednesday the 27th – Steve Harris’ British Lion @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – I was genuinely surprised to see that Steve Harris of Iron Maiden fame had a solo project, given that he’s always portrayed as a bossman figure who will brook no dissent and is always firmly in charge of what gets on their albums. I do quite like the fact that the catchphrase “Up The Irons” can be replaced with “Up The Harris” for this, but then again I am quite childish.
Friday the 29th – J.S. Bach’s “St Matthew’s Passion” (Ex Cathedra & The Baroque Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Bimingham – It’s a good old Good Friday passion.
Saturday the 30th – Eels @ The Academy, Birmingham – Didja know that Hugh Everett III (of the many-worlds version of quantum wavefunction collapse) was the father of the fella from Eels? That’s a pretty hoopy family they have going on.
Sunday the 31st – Troumaca @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Bass-heavy calypso-sprinkled indie-rock sorts. It was a lovely story at MOJFAS: after they played, compere-for-the-day Giles Peterson (who will be DJ-ing at this) took to the stage in a daze and exclaimed “I’ve got to sign them!”
Reader, he signed them.
Boxing, it’s like buses. It runs on diesel, and the people in charge don’t go out of their way to make the conditions of carriage all that clear to you (some might also say it’s similar in the sense that a couple of years can pass without going to a fight card and then you find two that you want to go to on two consecutive nights, but given that I catch a bus most days that doesn’t really work as an analogy for me). I had grown weary of the endless procession of local vs journeyman 60-54/40-36s and just stopped going, but here we had a couple of events that promised a touch more within the space of a couple of nights.
It was supposed to be Walsall Town Hall on the night of Friday the 18th. I saw boxing there a few times back in the olden days, but nothing so grand as a British title fight, and this card had two British title fights. Two together. Once again, this is unlike buses – I have seen fights on buses, but never for a Lonsdale belt.
Alas, I travel by bus (and might have mentioned buses in this post already) and after a spectacular amount of umming and arring even by my own standards (and, trust me now, I can um and ar with the best of ‘em) I decided not to go. It was snowing! There was snow! And amongst all the standard panic that such weather creates in this country, I did not judge it likely that the no. 4 (formerly the 404. They changed it to save you time reading it and pack more story in) would still be running to get me home late at night.
(Also there was irritating stuff with work and flex time and being left with several hours to kill so on. For most people, the rare and unlikely event of being told that you workplace is closing early is definitely a good thing. If you have flex time and you were planning to stay later, it’s a pain in the arse).
It was probably just unnecessary mithering and paranoia. It was definitely a waste of bloody money on a ticket. Whichever way up, I didn’t go in the end.
I regret that now, both for myself and given that it was sold out and lots of folks were desperate for tickets. Having watched the telly broadcast, it seems like it was a good night of fights with a good atmosphere. I’m particularly happy for our new British lightweight champ Martin Gethin, who I saw fight a bunch of times back in the olden days. It seems that he still gives up the first few rounds before he switches on, but after that he looked great in methodically breaking down Ben Murphy. I am also very happy that Jason Welbourne – a boxer from The Endz – got a British title opportunity, even if he didn’t win.
The following night (which would be Saturday the 19th) went better for me, in the sense that I went at all. “Prizefighter: The Welterweights III” was at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, and I do love me a one-night tournament. I know all of the objections to them (and do to some extent agree), but there is something exciting about seeing them advance over the course of the night. The last time that Prizefighter took place in Wolfyhampton it sold out before I got a ticket, but here I was a touch better prepared.
Speaking of the ticket: printed on it were the words (and I quote) “Doors open 6.00p.m. Boxing commences 6.30 p.m”. This was clearly very silly and never going to be true, given that the telly broadcast started at 8pm and there were no untelevised fights scheduled. You do have to wonder why they would want to try to do that to people.
I got over there on the bus (buses, you see), and after a quick pint in the Lych Gate Tavern I got into the absolutely packed Civic Hall. I love the Civic for fightsports anyway (the balcony gives you a great view of the ring), and this time the atmosphere was electric. The Chad Gaynor and Glenn Foot fans seemed to be in especially good voice from where I was sitting, although I suspect that might have changed as you moved around the room.
The action itself turned out to be really, really good. There wasn’t a bad fight in the entire tournament, although (of course) all of the locals out were out in first round.
~ Naturally, all of the locals went out in the first round.
~ It’s hard to pick a fight of the night. I might have to go for Sam Eggington vs Dale Evans, where Stourbridge Sam took an absolute whupping for three rounds but still fought back relentlessly. Chad Gaynor vs Glenn Foot was very nearly as good, though, and Chad Gaynor’s destruction of Callum Cooper may well have been the best individual round of the night.
~ I found myself (not for the first time) unsure about the BBBofC’s cut rules after Rob Hunt went out to Mark Thompson due to a laceration caused by a head bump (I thought they’d changed things so that such things meant a no-contest nowadays, but this one seems to have gone down in history as a TKO. Hunt was losing, of course, but I couldn’t help but flashback to McDermott vs Elcock in the same venue…).
~ I missed the second knockdown in Glenn Foot vs Steven Pierce due to being distracted by what seemed to be a bit of argie-bagie in the crowd downstairs. Everything was all nice and good-natured up in the cheap seats.
~ Khalid Yafai looked good in the only non-tournament fight of the night (as you would expect), hindered though he was by an opponent who wasn’t keen on doing too much other than holding. This young fella-me-lad is fast. He was possibly chasing the big-swing-dramatic-KO a touch too much, but A) he still got rid of his man in four rounds, and B) what the bloody hell do I know anyway.
A great night, all in all. It’s definitely worth watching if you get the chance. I would love to see some of the fights rematched over longer distances.
If you’d like to see footage of some of the buses discussed in this post, try this link.
All of this notwithstanding, if you really must do ‘branding’ then it is quite nice if you use a hound
Many people seem to be blogging about how HMV played a formative part in their discovery of music.
If I remember correctly, the drill went thusly:
1) Buy album.
2) Tape album.
3) Return album to a different branch of HMV, and get another album.
4) Repeat from ’2′.
It took a lot more effort doing it that way than it did to get albums out from the library for taping, though.
The job losses are obviously a terrible thing (particularly aroundabout nowabouts), but I don’t share the nostalgia. Music (non-taped variety) mostly came through the post for me, initially from the Britannia Music CD Club thingy and then (when a bit older) from badly photocopied distro lists. Y’all live in some strange other worlds.
This will probably end up being the theme of the year in my memories.
As I said last year, I’m probably getting too old for all of this.
In a general sense I hope that you have a merry new year too, but I don’t really care about all that so much.
Some links, why not:
~ The Worst Things For Sale. There should be a ‘via’ but I’ve forgotten.
~ A bit by Tom Ewing about trolls that I’d agree with 100%, particularly the fact that “a word which spans ‘teasing a pop forum about its music tastes’ and ‘sending death threats by email to someone about their kids’ is not a sustainable word”. As an aside, that was my main problem with that “Thank You Hater!” song that everyone seemed to inexplicably love. I know that generally (not always, but generally) you already know that you’re in the midst of some complete drivel as soon as you hear the word ‘hater’ and as such I shouldn’t be surprised, but that thing appeared to view saying “You’re not funny and you never will be” (and similar) as somehow being the same thing as a threat of rape. Worried me a touch, so it did. Anyway, here ends the digression from what was only going to be a link in the first place.
~ A great piece about architecture and town planning in Brum, via Twitter.com/DuncAutumnStore. N.B. Of course we all know that henceforth anything even remotely connected to civic planning in Birmz must be followed by a “see also P’Ashton’s lovely piece”.
~ “The Joking Computer, a kiosk-based installation running software made by artificial intelligence researchers at the University of Aberdeen. The software uses phonetic information about English words and semantic information from WordNet to generate pun-based riddles” – via Waxy, years ago.