Call me Russ L

Tracks and Field

Posted in Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 18 September, 2017

I haven’t written about a gig in ages. This is a problem, really, given that I can’t talk to people and my only way to vent my frustration with the world/discuss my deteriorating physical and mental health is to do so through a thinly veiled subtext in a blog post about a gig. I was originally planning to write about all of the festivals I went to this year (I’ve planned to do that before. Didn’t do it then either). I got something half-written about Supersonic, but that went by the wayside (quick version: Supersonic was good).

I want to do at least one, though, so I’m going to tap this out now in one take. It’s the only way I can guarantee that it’ll get done. Plus it’s either that or watch the Billy Joe Saunders fight from the weekend, and there are limits to my masochism.

Beyond The Tracks is the new festival from the people that brought you Moseley Folk, Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul, and the Lunar Festival (good pedigree, I’d say), and it seems to be their attempt to do a bigger and more young-person’s-popular-music oriented affair. It was to be held at Eastside Park – “Isn’t that the bit of grass outside Curzon Street Station?” I wondered. “Can’t be big enough, surely.”

The line-up seemed to divide neatly over the three days – a dancey/electronic day on the Friday, a plodder guitar band day on the Saturday, and a not-exactly-Captain-Beefheart-but-maybe-a-teensy-bit-more-unusual day on the Sunday. I bought myself a Sunday ticket.

I’m getting ahead of myself though (and you know how I feel about getting ahead of oneself). Prior to the festival, I popped to Victoria Square for the demo/rally about the bin-worker’s strike. Banner Theatre’s First Of May Band were playing when I arrived, because of course they were. They’re always at these things to play/fill time/get on peoples’ nerves. They’re a marginally less sinister fixture than the tankies and the swappies, I suppose. Carl Chinn was wandering around, though, and that was somehow faintly reassuring.

There were speeches. Big Lenny Mac (as I have decided he should henceforth be known) spoke. Apparently he put a score in the strike fund collection bucket, so that was good. Carl Chinn turned out to be speaking! That’s why he was there He was great, actually – really angry. I didn’t think he had it in him. I was greatly amused when one of the speakers said something along the lines of “the real militants are in the council house” and all the *Socialist Party guys all suddenly went stony-faced.

I’m not making light of the cause, I hasten to add. This is really important. Mercy, I even went and stood in a public square in the vicinity of a bunch of swappies for it. If you need the selfish-git version – would you like it if your employer suddenly told you they’d be paying you five grand less? The more frequently they get away with it, the more frequently it’ll happen.

I know you don’t need the selfish-git version really, though. You’re lovely and a decent human being.

Over to Digbeth for the festival, then. It turns out that Eastside Park is that bit of grass outside Curzon Street station (what did they call it before the mass collective Ali G delusion descended and people started using the name ‘Eastside’, then? That seems like so long ago. I should’ve asked Carl Chinn), but weirdly it looks a lot bigger when it’s fenced in. It was interesting, because you could see the actual city over the walls. To the right, there was a surprisingly lovely view of The Eagle & Tun and the trains coming in and out of Moor Street (oh wow maybe the name has something to do with the railways. I’d assumed they just meant ‘better than heroin’). To the left, massive edifices jutted out to the sky and I was reminded of the Tom Waits lines “the buildings never fall down, they are the teeth of the town”. Don’t read too much into that, I’m almost continually reminded of those lines.

Fairground rides, too! They were a nice addition. They didn’t get much use early on in the day, but seemed to find a few more customers later on when everyone was pished.

Music then. The first turn after I got there was Nadine Shah, and she turned out to be the best of the day. Going between Nick Cave and a gothy-er version of “Let’s Dance” era Bowie (made sense when I heard it, honest). She has an absolutely commanding stage presence and her saxophonist plays an actual rusty saxophone. I don’t know why that’s cool but it is. It was going green and everything. The big Krautrock-ish finale with the regimented rhythm and mad sax honking seriously kicked my figurative arse.

Dorcha were next and I like Dorcha. I liked them at Supersonic when I saw the end of their set there, I liked them here, and I really need to investigate them further. They are, of course, very difficult to describe. Weirdo songs, lots of different instruments, lots of time changes, loads going on, ranging from twee to ferocious howling… could mean anything. But they are really really good.

Peter Hook & The Light were a bit of an oddity. Pub rock/punk covers of Joy Division turned out to be a bit more fun than you’d imagine, but I was still moved to wonder why we’re all, collectively, like this. I tweeted that I was disappointed that they didn’t play World In Motion and Hooky ‘like’-d it! This is second only to the time that I was auto-retweeted by the computer programme running Bootsy Collins’ Twitter account.

Dark clouds were gathering. Massive damp gaseous arsewits, looming in the sky. We all know massive damp gaseous arsewits. Most of us have to work with some of them. I don’t see why we should have to deal with them in our leisure time.

Ah well. I’ve seen Hoopla Blue a couple of times before and been relatively indifferent to them. So it went here, too. A proggier version of jangly 80s indie, maybe? I quite liked the bits that sounded like Club Tropicana. There’s enough for everyone.

I was expecting to be fairly indifferent to Slowdive, because indie legend-bands that you’ve never heard before generally turn out to be “Well… they were alright.” Happily I was wrong and they turned out to be great. Dreamy, echoey, all of the other adjectives that probably get used t describe them every single time, but a really pretty sound. During their set I saw a hyperactive orange butterfly and a rainbow in the distance, highlighted against the massive damp gaseous arsewits in the sky. Neither flutterby nor rainbow seemed like precisely the right visual metaphor for the sounds that I was hearing, but they weren’t completely inaccurate either and so really you just have to make do.

The rain started during their last song.

A few fellas with bandanas/ski-masks/whatever over the lower two thirds of their face stepped onto the smaller stage and I thought “oh cool I didn’t realise that Brujeria were playing.” I knew it wasn’t them (it was actually an outfit called Blackash) when a bloke bounded out wearing space goggles (disclaimer: they weren’t space goggles. Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I don’t actually know what space goggles are, so they might have been space goggles), but I also knew that this was the right band to create a ritual to dispel the rain. These silly-billies are playing at mixing Neu!-by-way-of-Föllakzoid motorik with Fatboy Slim-esque comical big beat. I feel that this is a noble aim and I enjoyed them. The rain did too, and stopped until they’d finished (told ya).

The rain then came back, stronger and more vengeful. It was also COLD. Very COLD. I was COLD.

Wild Beasts turned out to be neither wild nor beastly. A watered down Depeche Mode was not enough to frighten off the rain.

I missed most of Victories At Sea’s set because I was playing “hide from the rain under the awnings of the bar tent”, and you could neither see nor hear them from there. When I did eventually venture out, they sounded halfway between how they sounded last time I saw them and how I’d gathered they normally sound from various bits’n’bobs that I’ve read. It was like your watered down Depeche Mode recently modelled by others nearby mixed with that feedbacky psych guitar that goes “shrrrriiiiiiiiioooooaaaaawwww” like steam coming out of a kettle. They were OK, I suppose.

The Jesus & Mary Chain weren’t doing any sort of feedback malarkey, and as such they were just your basic Ramones/Spector-ish pop-rock band. Rubbish. Boring. Also it was COLD and I wasn’t in the best of moods by this point. Due to being COLD.

Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation were really good, though. Neu/motorik again (maybe an unsung influence on the day’s programming. Although I’ve said before that it’s easy to hear Neu! in everything once your mind starts leaning that way), all rocky and driving. Not quite aggressive but leaning that way.

And finally, Editors. I have a long and complicated history with Editors (I remember way back when they were called Snowfield, which is a far better name for a band. ‘Editors’ has always sounded rubbish. It’s almost like renaming Digbeth ‘Eastside’or something stupid like that), which I was going to recount here but there’s no point really. We can abridge it to “I like the first album, which may well be an Echo & The Bunnymen knock-off but it’s an astonishingly good one”.

Here… oh mercy, they made me chuckle at least. Apparently they think they’re U2 now, even down to having a leather-clad overacting frontman. Occasionally (“All Sparks” in particular) they sound like the Platonic/Russtonic idea of the Editors that I think I like, but mostly it was all drowned in the effort to sound big. They’re not the band I used to like anymore. That’s OK, I suppose. I daresay I’m not the person they used to be completely unaware of anymore either.

Nadine Shah won, then, in spite of a low seed. Dorcha in second place, Blackash third, Slowdive fourth and J. Ohrn in at fifth. Also Carl Chinn, he was good as well.

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Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – June 2017

Posted in Books, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 31 May, 2017

I struggled to get this one done and it may show, but here we are! Three months running! June is all about (but not only about) Supersonic, which is looking like it’s going to be even more amazing than usual this year.

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 (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

Thursday the 1st and Friday the 2nd – “Scorch” (Prime Cut Productions) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – ‘A story of first love through the eyes of a gender-curious teen’ but apparently based in recent court cases, so this might not be the most happy and joyful of plays.

Thursday the 1st – “The Day Of Czech Culture” @ various venues in Birmingham, I think – There’s an exhibition at the library and a film night at the Gunmaker’s Arms and presumably other things, although it seems hard to find out precisely what.

Thursday the 1st – Jasper Carrott’s “Stand Up And Rock” @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – He used to be a folky, then a comedian, and apparently now he’s a rocker. One is reminded of Dylan going electric.

Friday the 2nd – Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – I’ve often thought that ‘Jah Wobble’ is a perfect name for a bass player. And only just now thought that this is probably why he uses it.

Friday the 2nd – Fofoulah @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – West-African-influenced jazz/mix-of-allsorts. Young Pilgrims are also on the bill, because There Must Be Sousaphone.

Friday the 2nd – “Transmission” @ Vivid Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham – Sound art pieces about the ‘deprecation’ of FM Radio broadcasts. That’s an interesting choice of word. Religious overtones and such.

Sunday the 4th – “From Legends To Light Years” family day @ Warwick Arts Centre, near Coventry – From The Tales Of Birbal to The First Hippo On The Moon. From a distance the theme for this seems more like “not a theme at all”, but I daresay it’ll all make sense on the day.

Monday the 5th till Saturday the 10th – “The Crucible” (Selladoor) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Witch please.

Tuesday the 6th till Friday the 30th – Wolverhampton Artsfest @ various venues in Wolverhampton – Loads and loads of stuff, although I suspect some of it is “things that would’ve happened anyway kicked under this festival banner”. Which is very Brum-esque, but there we go. You have Lego, pink elephants, an Angela Carter documentary, Reynard The Fox, and naughty muppets.

Tuesday the 6th – Thea Gilmore @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – On her 18th album! That’s mad, for someone who started in my times. She truly has been a Thea Gil-more and not a Thea Gil-less.

Tuesday the 6th – An evening with Arundhati Roy @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Until recently I has always assumed that the author of “The God Of Small Things” was a man. It may be the ‘Roy’ having some subconscious affect or (more likely) it may just be that I’m very stupid.

Thursday the 8th – Martha Tilston @ The Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham – I’ve already seen Steve this year, so I’ll be able to do The Tilston Double. Last year I did The Tilston Double-Double, by seeing them both twice. (In addition: I initially got the impression that this was happening at the Kitchen Garden Caff, then found out that it was at the Hare & Hounds, and have since had an email saying that it was no longer at the H&H and was actually at the KGC. I’m going to bet that it’s probably happening somewhere on that road in Kings Heath, but I wouldn’t really want to specify where).

Thursday the 8th – Beth Rowley @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – I thought she was fare more famous than this sort of venue-size would suggest. But then again I am always bad at judging these things.

Thursday the 8th – “Idle Women Of The Wartime Waterways” (Alarum Theatre) @ Centrala, Digbeth, Birmingham – During the war[/Albert], so-called ‘idle’ women started working on the canals. This is about that.

Friday the 9th – “What If The Place Falls Out Of The Sky?” (Idiot Child) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – “What if how I feel at 4am is the truth?”, they ask. At 4am I normally feel the cat making a nuisance of herself, so I don’t know.

Friday the 9th – “Carmen Fire And Fate” (Cervantes Theatre) @ Warwick Arts Centre (studio), near Coventry – “Carmen” from the perspective of Carmen. Which is a good thing to do, I think. Actually I think someone should create something where she and a cured Violetta meet and live happily together. Sod all those men.

Saturday the 10th – “Apollo et Hyacinthus” (Classical Opera) @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Mozart’s cautionary tale about frisbee safety.

Sunday the 11th – “Power Folk 4” @ The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, Birmingham – Mainly-folky (but also a bit jazzy and a bit indie-y) alldayer and barbeque in the beer garden, headlined by the wonderful Conservatoire Folk Ensemble.

Monday the 12th till Tuesday the 20th – Monkathon @ various different venues across Birmingham – Every piece from Thelonious Monk’s repertoire, performed over several gigs. Thelonious Monk is still the best name that anyone has ever had or is ever likely to have. Not bad at the piano, either.

Tuesday the 13th – Kraftwerk @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Touring their new album “The Computer Is A Mayor Now”.

Thursday the 15th till Sunday the 18th – The BBC Good Food Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – [Insert usual joke about the ‘good’ seemingly being redundant]

Thursday the 15th till Saturday the 17th – “The Beggar’s Opera” (students of Birmingham Conservatoire) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – True but not particularly interesting story: up until just now, I’ve always thought it was “The Beggars’ Opera” (plural).

Thursday the 15th till Saturday the 17th – “The Little Mermaid Jr” (Birmingham Youth Theatre) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – An adaptation of the Disney one, so no dying at the end. Now that I think about it, she should go and hang out with Carmen and Violetta.

Thursday the 15th – Gwen Dickey / Odyssey / Heatwave @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Car washes, boogie nights, return journeys to roots, etc.

Friday the 16th till Sunday the 18th – Supersonic Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Oh mercy me. Supersonic is always fantastic, but this one looks particularly good even by its own high standards. There’s Richard Dawson, whom I guarantee will blow your socks off (he always does). There’s Jenny Hval, whose most recent album is her best. There’s Xylouris White, who played the best live set I saw all last year. Anna Von Hauswolff is being given free reign with the big organ in the Town Hall. Broadrick & Martin are back together. I can’t believe I’m going to be seeing The Space Lady! I’m really looking forward to seeing Colin Stetson (really now, get a load of this)! There are reliable turns like Melt Banana (also playing for the kiddies), Big Joanie and Zu, and there’s always a load of ancillary arty stuff/exhibitions/installations. This is going to be bosting.

Friday the 16th – “A Black Country Fairytale… Ay It” (Fizzog Productions) @The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Important missionary work, heading into That Birmingham to spake to the baywindered folk.

Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th – “Summer In Southside” @ around the Hippodrome/Hurst Street/Arcadian Centre etc, Birmingham – Saying ‘southside’ is like brushing your teeth with a stick, obviously, but this seems to be themed around having a country show in the city and it’s all free. And there are sheep! I love sheep. Also dogs! And ducks! And Destroyers!

Saturday the 17th – Warwound / Police Bastard @ The Castle & Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – An evening of incredibly heavy crusty punk.

Saturday the 17th – Shy FX @ The Kasbah, Coventry – “Original Nuttah” was actually about me. Did you know that?

Sunday the 18th – Otis Gibbs @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Otus the Songwrotus (of a lefty folksy-rootsy sort). He also does a really good music history podcast.

Sunday the 18th till Tuesday the 20th – “Sarah And Duck’s Big Top Birthday” (Polka Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – I like the theme song to Sarah And Duck.

Monday the 19th – Mark Lanegan @ The Institute 2, Digbeth, Birmingham – The (comparatively) forgotten/actually interesting one from all of your grunge malarkey.

Monday the 19th – Idina Menzel @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – LET IT GOOOOOOOO! LET IT GOOOOOOOO!

Thursday the 22nd till Saturday the 24th – “Phedra” (Birmingham School Of Acting) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Euripedes trousers etc etc. Although this is Racine.

Thursday the 22nd – The Giant Balloon Show @ Penn Hall School, Wolverhampton – Bloonz~! Giant ones.

Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th – “Uncle Ben” (theatre company…?) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Either the popular local comedy or some packet rice. One of the two.

Friday the 23rd – YolanDa Brown @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Saxomophoooonnnne.

Saturday the 24th and up until the 23rd of August – “Dinosaurs In The Wild” @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – The blurb promises ‘living’ dinosaurs (no really, it does). I’m not sure if they’re the same dinosaurs that ate the botanical gardens last month.

Saturday the 24th – “Idomeneo” (CBSO & chorus) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Wolfy’s finest opera, I think (well… admittedly there are loads I haven’t heard).

Saturday the 24th – Revolt @ The Tin Music& Arts, Coventry – Coventry’s periodic feminist gig/club night. All the ones I’ve been to have been ace. This time with Dispute Settlement Mechanism, Nim Chimpsky, Brutalistas and others.

Monday the 26th – Beverley Knight @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Our Bev.

Tuesday the 27th till Saturday the 1st – The Welsh National Opera @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – No theme to this season, as far as I can tell, but there’s a new production of Der Rosenkavalier and revivals of Madam Butterfly and Die Fledermaus.

Tuesday the 27th – Pam & David Humphries’ “A Virtual Tour Of The Outer Circle” @ The Gunmaker’s Arms, Birmingham – A talk on the subject of the Number 11 Bus. Seems like a good moment to link this.

Wednesday the 28th – Flogging Molly @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Faith and begorrah, it’s yer auld Irish-American folk-punk. Really good live.

Wednesday the 28th – “Octopus” (Paper Tiger Productions/Greenwich Theatre) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Three women, who all look very different, have to prove how British they are. Also promised is The Power Of Punk.

Wednesday the 28th – Rainbow / The Sweet @ The Genting Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – “Not obvious bedfellows” I thought at first, but on reflection I can see it. Ritchie Blackmore, of course, remains the most Spinal Tap-esque real person to ever have lived.

Thursday the 29th – Madball @ Mama Roux’s, Digbeth, Birmingham – New York Hardcore from a bunch of fellas that you wouldn’t want to run into down a dark alley. I initially got confused and somehow had the idea that this gig was at Scruffy’s. That would’ve been mental.

Thursday the 29th – Sebastian H-W’s “Chokolatul” @ The Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – I try to avoid just quoting from the blurbs for this, but this one says that it’s “part live cooking show, part one-man-stand-up, part confessional live art, part twisted Phil Colins tribute act”. Make of that whatever you will.

Friday the 30th – Fred Thomas’ Polyphonic Jazz Band @ The Red Lion, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Jazz standards done through Baroque-style counterpoint. A good idea that seems so natural now that someone has thought of it.

Friday the 30th – “Dial Medicine For Murder” (dunno the theatre company) @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – About murderous physicians. Of particular note now I write this, given that ‘orrible surgeon has just been convicted.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – May 2017

Two months in a row! We can fairly say that the stars have aligned, and not just because it also appears to be Space Rock Month.

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 (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

Monday the 1st – Sing-A-Long-A-Frozen @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – LET IT GOOOOOOOO~! LET IT GOOOOOOOO~!

Tuesday the 2nd – Best Of The BE Festival (various theatre companies) @ Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), near Coventry – Short theatre pieces from last year’s BE Festival, including one about the Hitler salute which (in reading the blurb for this) I’ve just learned is also called the Bellamy Salute. What the hell, David?

Tuesday the 2nd- Justin Wiggins’ “Collapse” @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – Now that the cruelest month is over, we have a ‘live sonic essay’ melding T.S. Elliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ with noise and doom metal.

Wednesday the 3rd – An evening with Roberto Duran @ The Irish Centre, Digbeth, Birmingham – I dare you to make a “no mas” joke to his face. Go on. I dare you.

Friday the 5th till Sunday the 7th – “Delia@80” @ different venues in Coventry – Lots of stuff happening to celebrate (what would have been) the 80th birthday of Our Lady And Saviour Delia Derbyshire, with the centrepiece being a big concert at the Cathedral.

Friday the 5th and Saturday the 6th – Mark Farrelly’s “Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope” @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – You don’t want to see civil servants naked. I’m near sure of that.

Friday the 5th – “In Tents And Purposes” (Viscera Theatre) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – “… just like the gypsy woman said!”

Friday the 5th – Skinny Lister @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Inland sea shanties. Not Craig Charles though, he comes around later in the month.

Saturday the 6th till Saturday the 20th – “The Laramie Project” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre (studio), Birmingham – I’d never heard about this, but it seems like it’s very well known. A play constructed from interviews with the people of the town of Laramie, WY after the homophobic murder of Matthew Shepherd. Sounds like it’ll be enormously harrowing.

Saturday the 6th – Soweto Kinch @ The CBSO Centre, Birmingham – Saxomophooooone. Also emceeing. Is there a Flyover Show this year?

Saturday the 6th – The Comet Is Coming @ The Tin Music & Arts, Coventry – Crazy psych-jazz. (Also: space).

Sunday the 7th – “Ulla’s Odyssey” @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – An opera based in The Odyssey, including puppetry. Also there’s a lovely cat in the one promotional photo.

Monday the 8th and Tuesday the 9th – English Touring Opera @ Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – Tosca, and some Gilbert & Sullivan thing.

Monday the 8th – Bonfire Radicals @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Unusual pan-European folk instrumentals (well, mostly instrumentals). They were fantastic when they played at the Crescent Theatre the other week.

Tuesday the 9th – Napalm Death @ The Institute, Digbeth, BirminghamYUURWY

Tuesday the 9th – Katatonia @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – It’s all over the front page, you give me Road Rage… no, wait, not that Catatonia. This is the Swedish Katatonia.

Tuesday the 9th – Punch Records’ “Welcome To My City” tour @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – Five hip-hop/r’n’b/soul artists do a rotating headliner tour through the five cities they’re from. It’s good to see the good ol’ DIY-style gigswap catching on in other styles of music. Brum’s own is Gambimi.

Tuesday the 9th – An evening with Ian McCulloch @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Better known as Echo from The Bunnymen.

Wednesday the 10th till Saturday the 13th – “Little Shop Of Horrors” (MTW) @ Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), near Coventry – I’m just a mean green mother from out of space and I’m bad. But enough about me.

Wednesday the 10th till Saturday the 13th – “Bedroom Farce” (Dudley Little Theatre) @ Netherton Arts Centre, Netherton – Alan Ayckbourne’s naughty people.

Wednesday the 10th – The Hot 8 Brass Band / Hackney Colliery Band @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – All sousaphone, all the time! Well, not really, there are other brass instruments too. Hackney Colliery Band are also doing the Rep in Brum on the 13th.

Wednesday the 10th – “The Soul in The Machine” (Saltmine Theatre) @ St Martin In The Bullring, Birmingham – About the founder of the YMCA, but probably not featuring The Song. Also on at The Albany in Coventry on the 12th.

Thursday the 11th – “A Womb Of One’s Own” (Wonderbox) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A dark comedy, but about the real troubling subject of unwanted pregnancies. Fun trivia: apparently Paul McGann likes it.

Thursday the 11th – Procol Harum @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – They could play the great big organ if they’re doing the Town Hall.

Thursday the 11th till Saturday the 13th – “Am I Dead Yet?” (Unlimited Theatre) @ The Rep (The Door), Birmingham – Death plays #1: Concerning resuscitation.

Friday the 12th till Saturday the 14th – Imagined Isle 2017 @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – “A folk festival of the imagination” is the subtitle, and… no, too easy. Featuring Fairports, Jon Boden etc. The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are amazing.

Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th – Adam Ant @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – It faintly amuses me that he may actually qualify for his own pension by now.

Friday the 12th – “Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon” @ The Institute 2, Digbeth, Birmingham – I haven’t looked up what “Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon” actually is, because nothing that really exists could live up to that name.

Friday the 12th – British Association Of Mixed Martial Arts @ The Genting Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I’m glad to see that Ronnie Mann is still going, I always liked watching him. You could have a big weekend of fightsports if you went to both this and…

Saturday the 13th – “The Homecoming – Kal Yafai vs Suguru Muranaka” (Matchroom Boxing) @ The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham – First title defence for Brum’s first world champ for a century. Stourbridge Sam Eggington is on the bill too, as well as Gamal Yafai, Frankie Gavin etc.

Saturday the 13th – Independent Birmingham festival @ The Bond, Digbeth – Celebrating Brum’s independent restaurants/pubs/etc. It looks as though phrases such as “street food” and “pop-up” and so-on will be used liberally, but if that doesn’t turn your stomach too much then you’ll probably find some lovely things to eat and drink.

Sunday the 14th till Tuesday the 30th – Birmingham Cabaret Festival @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – They sent out an email calling upon you to “See the best that the UK cabaret circuit has to offer in the intimate, decadent surroundings of our theatre”. It is genuinely unclear to me what is supposed to be ‘decadent’ about a plain black room. Nevertheless, ‘How Eva Von Snippisch Won WWII’ sounds fun.

Sunday the 14th – “The Death Show” (Outer Circle Arts) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Death plays #2: Concerning mortality and peoples’ attitudes theretowards.

Monday the 15th till Wednesday the 17th – “Pint Of Science” @ various pubs in Birmingham – Scientists giving talks in the boozer. Probably a lot more accurate than most impromptu physics lectures that I’ve heard or given in pubs in the past.

Monday the 15th – “Sukanya” @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Ravi Shankar’s opera.

Tuesday the 16th till Saturday the 20th – “My Country: A Work In Progress” (The National Theatre) @ The Rep/Library Of Birmingham (The Studio), Birmingham – Carol Ann Duffy’s play (she does those too) featuring testimonial from youngpeople after the Brexit vote. It’s also on at the Warwick Arts Centre between the 25th and 27th.

Tuesday the 16th- Hawkwind @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Space Rock month (OG division).

Wednesday the 17th till Saturday the 27th – “Tommy” (The New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich/Ramps On The Moon) @ The Rep (The House), Birmingham – Tina Turner was the best in that film. Although then again Tina Turner is the best in everything. Has there ever been a photograph more stage-musical-esque than this? I believe not.

Wednesday the 17th- Natalie Imbruglia @ The Institute 2, Digbeth, Birmingham – Performing songs plus recitations of the great speeches from “Neighbours”. Possibly.

Thursday the 18th till Saturday the 20th – “Home Chat” @ The Old Reader, Birmingham – The recently revived Noel Coward one.

Thursday the 18th – Kathryn Tickell @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – The smallpipe-playing sister of your fella with the long arms.

Thursday the 18th – Jane Weaver @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Space Rock Month (formerly folky division).

Thursday the 18th- “Paradise lost” (Lost Dog) @ Thimblemill Library, Smethwick – A one-man (for solitude sometimes is best society) words/music/dance retelling of “Paradise Lost”.

Friday the 19th till Sunday the 21st – “B-Side” hip-hop festival @ in and around The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Focussed on the dance side of things, by the looks of it.

Friday the 19th till Saturday the 21st – “Legends” jazz festival @ various venues around the Jewellery Quarter and Hockley, Birmingham – Themed around Blue Note, and featuring a few gigs from Bryan Corbett.

Friday the 19th – Leftfield @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I always get Leftfield and Underworld mixed up. I like both, but I can’t keep ‘em straight in my mind.

Friday the 19th – Alexander O’Neal @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Alex at The Alex, if you will. Or, as the in-joke with origins way back in the mists of time goes, “80s soul nuisance Alexander O’Neal”.

Friday the 19th- Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life @ The Castle & Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – As in your man from Crass.

Friday the 19th – Mozart-related business (Time Zone Theatre) @ The Albany Theatre, Coventry – You have Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Mozart And Salieri”, and then a play called “A Night In Vienna” that seemingly incorporates various bits from Wolfy’s operas.

Saturday the 20th till the 4th of June – Jurassic Kingdom Dinoasaurs @ The Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Dinosaurs! In the Botanical Gardens! This is a bad idea, the ones that aren’t eating us will be eating the flowers.

Saturday the 20th till Sunday the 28th – Alchemy festival @ various venues across the Black Country – Affiliated with the Southbank Centre in That London and exploring cultural links between Britain and South Asia. There’s the Bollywood Brass Band and a desi pub bus tour and loads more.

Saturday the 20th – Föllakzoid @ The Castle & Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – Space Rock Month (Chilean division).

Saturday the 21st – Iron Maiden @ The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham – It’s your basic Hegel, really. If the thesis is reckoning the Number of the Beast and the antithesis is Up The ‘Ammers, then the synthesis will obviously be running to the hills.

Monday the 22nd till Saturday the 27th – “The Woman in Black” (can’t find the theatre company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Prepare to be made to feel uncomfortable and disquieted… (wait for it, wait for it)… and that’s just the theatre it’s being held in.

Tuesday the 23rd till Saturday the 25th – “Tank” (Battersea Arts Centre/New Diorama Theatre/Camden Arts Centre) @ The Rep (The Door), Birmingham – About a 1965 attempt to teach a dolphin to speak English. It didn’t work, but the dolphin did do a double backward somersault through a hoop whilst whistling “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Tuesday the 23rd – Lady Maisery / Daphne’s Flight @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Lots of folky ladies but not both on the same bill. This seems like some really unfortunate double-booking – two separate gigs in the same building on the same night, who will presumably have a fair bit of overlap in audience. Maybe they’ll try to stagger the times so you can see both. I dunno.

Wednesday the 24th – Swans @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – On their last ever ever ever tour. And one day someone will actually mean that when they say it.

Friday the 26th & Saturday the 27th – Joan (Milk Presents)@ The Rep (The Door), Birmingham – Drag Joan Of Arc. With a hobby-horse.

Friday the 26th – Dr Feelgood / Eddie & The Hotrods @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Dr Feelgood are no longer fronted by Wilko Johnson (although he isn’t actually dead). Eddie & The Hotrods have never been fronted by anyone called Eddie.

Friday the 26th – The Specials / Toots & The Maytals / Bedouin Soundclash @ outside the NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – A big outdoor thing, by the lake. It may be worth noting that last time Toots Hibbert came around here it was apparently a right bleedin’ mess, so buyers beware and all that.

Friday the 26th – Klashnekoff @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – He will, y’know. He’ll klash your neck off.

Friday the 26th – Messiaen’s “Turangalîla-symphonie” @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Sakari Oramo is coming back, but conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. That’ll seem strange, somehow.

Friday the 26th – Shakin’ Stevens @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – This ole hall.

Saturday the 27th and on until the 3rd of June – “The Witches” (Blue Orange Theatre Company_ @ The Blue Orange Theatre, Hockley, Birmingham – Getting a bit Roald Dahl all up in this witch.

Saturday the 27th and Sunday the 28th – Birmingham Pride @ around Hurst Street, Birmingham – Fifty years since decriminalisation, so this should be a big one. Although sponsored by Manchester Airport, which is just confusing.

Saturday the 27th – The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – …And I asked “Oh Cecil what have you been doing?” and he said “I’ve been eating cabbages”…

Saturday the 27th – Vice Squad @ The Castle & Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – They weren’t and aren’t currently really the last rockers, but they could be yet.

Sunday the 28th – Funk and soul alldayer with Craig Charles @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Awooga! No sleep till bedtime!

Sunday the 28th – Slade convention @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Including, endearingly, a Slade quiz.

Sunday the 28th – Wolfgang Flur @ The Dark Horse, Moseley, Birmingham – I didn’t think he was particularly interesting when he played in Brum last year, but I’m not going to argue with someone who was in Kraftwerk.

Sunday the 28th – “Birmingham Fearfest” @ The Gunmaker’s Arms, Birmingham – “Celebrating all that is spooky in the second city”, which will presumably include [insert reference to local politician of choice].

Monday the 29th – Tim “Ripper” Owens @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I do tend to feel sorry for the singer who replaces the famous singer and then ends up getting edged out when said famous singer comes back. See also Bailey comma Blaze.

Tuesday the 30th – David Campbell @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Scion of the famous folk/pop-reggae/soup family.

Tuesday the 30th –“Dogs Don’t Do Ballet” (Blunderbus Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – I know at least one dog who would beg to woofin’ differ.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – April 2017

Posted in Books, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 28 March, 2017

The lesser-spotted LOTTSADITWM post returns. I don’t think I’ve ever previously pruned the list (in the sense of putting something down to include and then deciding “nah actually that looks rubbish”) as much as I did this time.

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 (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

Saturday the 1st – Urban Voodoo Machine @ Ceol Castle The Castle And Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – That sort of gypsy-swingy type of thing that always seems to me like it’s everywhere in spite of the fact that I can’t actually name that many bands who do it (suggesting that it is not, in fact everywhere). Supposed to be absolutely amazing live.

Saturday the 1st – New Model Army @ The Robin 2, Bilston– Here in the land of opportunity, watch us revel in our liberty/You can say what you like but it doesn’t change anything/Because the corridors of power are an ocean away.

Saturday the 1st – Lethal Bizzle @ The Kasbah, Coventry – Pow pow fester fester.

Saturday the 1st – “The MMORPG Show” (Knightmare Live) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – From the people who make “Knightmare Live” (see the 15th), this seems to be a fantasy roleplaying game (including dice-rolling) done onstage. You’ll probably know from that sentence whether or not you’ll be interested this or not, but I expect it’ll be hilariously funny (their other show certainly is).

Saturday the 1st – Copter @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Oh mercy, Copter are back! Here they’re doing a live soundtrack to a screening of The Warriors. Never seen it, but if I understand things correctly then this is the point where I’m supposed to make a reference to something called The Lizzies.

Sunday the 2nd – Goodnight Lenin @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Father I’ll be leaving this place before this evening. Not the place of the gig. I’m sure that’ll be good.

Monday the 3rd- Billy Ocean @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Get out of my dreams, get into my Symphony Hall.

Tuesday the 4th till Sunday the 9th – Flatpack Film Festival @various venues in Birmingham– Whooo Flatpack! This year includes (amongst loads of other things) Sir Cliff, the cut, virtual reality, Jonathan Coe, wasting food, Terri Walker, tiny diorama-come-hologram versions of film scenes, and that posh new hotel.

Tuesday the 4th till Saturday the 8th – “The Machine Stops” (Pilot Theatre & York Theatre Royal) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – The E.M. Forster story, adapted for stage. Only Connect in a very different way.

Thursday the 7th and Friday the 8th – “The Visit Of The Old Lady” (Newman University Drama Department) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play about (possibly) the follies of trying to scam an old lady.

Friday the 7th – “Alice in Wonderland” (Ballet Theatre UK) @ The Albany Theatre, Coventry – You know me, I like anything “Alice”-related. This is presumably a dancey one, given that it’s from an outfit called ‘Ballet Theatre UK’.

Friday the 7th – Trope / Young Pilgrims @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Jazzy soul and a band with a sousaphone. As I have said more times than can be calculated, the sousaphone is the best instrument by far.

Saturday the 8th – “Surge In Spring” @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A day of loads of different jazz performances (some ticketed, some free), all co-ordinated by that busy fella Sid Peacock.

Sunday the 9th – Melanie C @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Clearly the best Spice Girl.

Monday the 10th and Tuesday the 11th – English Touring Opera’s season @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Doing Puccini’s Tosca and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience. Oh how I hate The Grand etc etc.

Tuesday the 11th – Stormzy @ The Academy, Birmingham – So is he going to fight Dillion Whyte or what?

Wednesday the 12th till Saturday the 15th- “The Testament Of Mary” (Old Joint Stock Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Mary, after the death of the young fella.

Wednesday the 12th – The Who @ The Barclay Card Arena (NIA), Birmingham – Who?

Thusday the 13th – British Sea Power @ The Academy, Birmingham – When I saw them, they (I assume it was them or done on their behalf) had distributed tree branches for people to wave. I imagine that won’t happen in the Academy.

Thursday the 13th- The Destroyers @ The Prince Of Wales, Moseley, Birmingham – Their ‘Easter Exuberance’ gig. Wasn’t/isn’t The Prince of Wales meant to be closing (or was that just your typical Moseley Melodrama?).

Friday the 14th – The Hot 8 Brass Band @ The Institute 2, Digbeth, Birmingham – Sousaphone.

Saturday the 15th till Thursday the 20th – “Elmer The Elephant” (Riverside Performing Arts) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – I’ve always thought Elmer was really cute.

Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th – Rick Astley @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Click it. Go on. Click it.

Saturday the 15th – “Knightmare Live – The Game Has Changed” (Knightmare Live) @ Civic Hall, Brierley Hill – The reader may or may not recall the telly programme ‘Knightmare’, but it was the genuine highlight of my week when I was little. This is an intentionally comical onstage version and believe me – it’s almost unspeakably funny.

Sunday the 16th – Giggs @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Talking da ‘ardest.

Sunday the 16th – Kano @ Lab 11, Digbeth, Birmingham – Still minding his Ps and Qs after all these years.

Tuesday the 18th till Thursday the 20th – “Bucket List” (Theatre Ad Infinitum) @ The Rep (The Door), Birmingham – The concept of the ‘bucket list’ is one of things that gets really annoying by dint of having caught on so massively in the popular imagination in spite of having a stupid name. This play, being about a murdered Mexican political activist, doesn’t seem to have much to do with that. So that’s alright.

Thursday the 20th – The Toasters @ The Flapper, Birmingham – American Two-Tone might well seem like an unusual notion, but here we are.

Thursday the 20th – Thomas Truax @ The Tin, Coventry – Invents new instruments. Has a name that sounds like a Viking.

Friday the 21st – “Tamburlaine” (Yellow Earth Theatre) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – An adaptation of Marlowe’s “Tamburlaine The Great”. He wasn’t really a shepherd, I gather.

Saturday the 22nd – First Bite Theatre Festival (China Plate Theatre) @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A day of work-in-progress theatre, some of which (I’m not sure how you ‘win’) will go on to be played at the larger ‘Bite Size’ festival later in the year. Once bitten, twice… bitten again?

Saturday the 22nd – Discharge @ Ceol Castle The Castle And Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – The Punks Alive people are doing well with putting on the punk legends this month (see also the 28th and 29th) – at this gig you have not only Discharge but also Antisect and Anti-System.

Sunday the 23rd – “Folkin Great 2017” @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Folk alldayer, headlined by Steve Knightley (standard caveats apply) and also featuring your fave and mine Katherine Priddy.

Sunday the 23rd – John Hinton’s “The Ensonglopedia Of Science” @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A song about science for each letter of the alphabet. Might make a good pairing with “600 People” on the 29th.

Monday the 24th – Rag’n’Bone Man @ The Academy, Birmingham – Your big sloppy soulman who does actually look like he could drive a wagon around shouting “Iiiirooon”. Which may be the point.

Tuesday the 25th and on till the 6th of May – “To Sir With Love” (Young Rep) @ The Rep Theatre (The House), Birmingham – Most famous as the Sidney Poitier film, here adapted for the stage by Ayub Khan-Din.

Tuesday the 25th and Wednesday the 26th – “Out Of This World” (Mark Murphy’s V-TOL) @ Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – A woman descends into a medically induced coma, plus ‘explosive’ choreography and special effects. Which wouldn’t seem to line up well with a coma on the face of it, but there are no bonus points for being obvious I suppose.

Tuesday the 25th – Deafheaven @ The Institute 2, Digbeth, Birmingham – Black metal meets post-rock. The people of those things hadn’t used to like each other, back when I was a young man and still knew anything about this sort of malarkey.

Tuesday the 25th – Hannah James’ Jigdoll @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), near Coventry – You could, if you were so inclined, have a two-night folk + clog dancing extravaganza. This would be the first night.

Wednesday the 26th and on until the 4th of May – The Stourbridge Literary Festival @ Katie Fitzgeralds, Stourbridge – Supporting Amnesty International and War Child. I approve of literature in pubs.

Wednesday the 26th till Saturday the 29th – Soweto Kinch’s “The Legend Of Mike Smith” @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – The stage version of Soweto’s “…Mike Smith” album. Although he has had another album since then.

Wednesday the 26th and Thursday the 27th – “A Conversation” by Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari @ Warwick Arts Centre (studio), near Coventry – Based in a 1927 book about how to be witty and charming in conversation. I am notably bad at the ol’ conversing game myself, so I should probably go to this.

Wednesday the 26th – The Unthanks @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – You could, if you were so inclined, have a two-night folk + clog dancing extravaganza. This would be the second night.

Wednesday the 26th – “Streets Paved With Gold” by Victor Edwards @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – About the windrush immigration. Not Dick Whittington.

Wednesday the 26th – Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Mental note: don’t call him Seth.

Friday the 28th – The Selecter / The Beat @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – This seems to be the version of The Beat with Ranking Roger, rather than the other one.

Friday the 28th – ‘British Blockbusters’ with the CBSO and Mark Kermode @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham– Music from the talkies, introduced by a man with massive hands.

Friday the 28th – Subhumans @ Ceol Castle The Castle And Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – Punk legends continue. Seems like a surprising venue for this sort of malarkey, although I’ve never actually been there so what do I know.

Saturday the 29th – Ed Tudor Pole @ The Flapper, Birmingham – And here’s your other punk legend. For at least some values of ‘legend’.

Saturday the 29th – “600 People” (Third Angel) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Comical show about evolution and astrophysics. Might make a good pairing with “The Ensonglopedia Of Science” on the 23rd.

Saturday the 29th – Shirley Collins @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – She’s back and the world is better for having her around again.

Saturday the 29th – Jehst @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – UK hip-hop veteran. Also the promoters for this one are called “Bam! Bam! Bam! And The Diplomats Of Sound”, which I really quite like.

Sunday the 30th – Swingamajig @ various venues in Digbeth, Birmingham – The annual festival. I always thought I had an idea about what type of thing this was, but apparently I had it very wrong given that Freestylers are playing. Mr Baaaadman~! This fella looks like he might be fun, too, and Rhino & The Ranters are always enjoyable.

End-Of-Year-Count 2016: Stage

Posted in Stage by Russ L on 31 December, 2016

I had to leave this one until this evening, given that the last item on the list was this afternoon.

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End-Of-Year-Count 2016: Books

Posted in Books by Russ L on 31 December, 2016

I did the thing of not reading any books by cis het white males this year.

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End-Of-Year-Count 2016: Films

Posted in Films by Russ L on 31 December, 2016

I’m not going to try to add telly programmes this time. It’s a bit too messy.

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End-Of-Year-Count 2016: Opera

Posted in Music by Russ L on 28 December, 2016

More than last year, at least.

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End-Of-Year-Count 2016: Popular Music Gigs

Posted in Music by Russ L on 28 December, 2016

Yes indeed, it’s time for the end-of-year listmania.

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Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – November 2016

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 October, 2016

Well we all collectively never – it’s a “Lots” post! For the first time in a very long time! Judging by the things that are happening, November 2016 will apparently be remembered both as “Goth Month” and as “Pride And Prejudice Month”.

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 (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

Currently and up until Saturday the 12th – “What Shadows” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep/Library Of Birmingham (The Studio room), Birmingham – About Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech. I swear this better not be an apologetic, not right now.

Monday the 1st and Tuesday the 2nd – “Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons” (Walrus Theatre) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A play about what would happen if there was a limit to the number of words you could say in your life. If that was the case then I’d say ‘banana’ a lot rather than ‘lemons’, and squeeze more syllables out of the quota.

Monday the 1st till Wednesday the 3rd – ‘Emerge’ theatre festival @ Warwick Arts Centre, near Coventry – I don’t know if there’s a theme, but there are polar bears and dolphins and allsorts more.

Monday the 1st till Friday the 5th – “Heads Will Roll” (Told By An Idiot and Theatre Royal Plymouth) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – Inspired by the search for El Dorado, and featuring “live music from one of Barcelona’s most unique musicians”. That could mean a lot of things, really.

Monday the 1st till Monday the 14th – Coventry Peace Festival @ various venues in Coventry – On one hand I like the idea of granting ‘peace’ an ontological status beyond ‘the absence of conflict’. On the other it seems a bit glib. But still! Lots of different stuff to see and participate in.

Wednesday the 2nd – Andy Irvine @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Your man from Planxty. Not that one. One of the other ones.

Wednesday the 2nd – “Gothic Tales” (European Arts Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – GOTH MONTH. Although in the ‘gothic literary tradition’ sense rather than the ‘kohl’ sense, in this case. Adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” (I just went to see another one of those, funnily enough), H.G. Wells’ “The Red Room” and Charles Dickens’ ”The Signalman”.

Wednesday the 2nd – The Mouse Outfit @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Nine hip-hop mice, nine hip-hop mice, see how they rap, see how they rap…

Thursday the 3rd – Echo & The Bunnyman @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Not part of goth month as such, but certainly affiliated.

Thursday the 3rd – Flamingods @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – Psycho-rhythmic freakouts with a bunch of interesting different instruments. It took me a while to realise that the name was mean to be as in “flamingo” rather than as in “on fire”.

Thursday the 3rd – “The Collector” (Kathryn Barker Productions)@ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A Iraqi translator working for American interrogators encounters a committed supporter of the old regime.

Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th- Capsule’ “Supersonic 2017 Launch Party” @ Centrala, Digbeth, Birmingham – There’s gonna be a Supersonic Festival next year! Wa-hey! And this is a harbinger of it. Two nights of varied stuff, headlined by Xylouris White – Jim White of The Dirty Three in collaboration with the Cretan lute player Giorgos Xylouris.

Friday the 4th – The Specials @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Bernie Rhodes knows: don’t argue.

Friday the 4th – Smoove & Turrell @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – I’ve seen ‘em live before and I still have trouble believing that his voice comes out of his body.

Friday the 4th – Politics And Theatre Symposium @ The Rep/Library Of Birmingham (Studio), Birmingham – I think it’s more-or-less exactly what the name suggests.

Friday the 4th – “Coulrophobia” (Pickled Imaged Theatre) @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Why is everything clown-related lately? Clowns this, clowns that. It’s like that period in the late 90s/early 2000s when people suddenly started saying ‘monkey’ in every other sentence. But I digress. I don’t think the clowns in this play are clowns for your kiddies.

Friday the 4th – “Maddy And The Invisible Band Of Groovers” (Invisible Flash Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Probably the best title for a play that I have ever seen.

Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th – The National Pet Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I’m gonna go and get me an ocelot.

Saturday the 5th – “Midlands Calling”punk alldayer @ The Wulfrun Hall, WolverhamptonSham 69! Subhumans! Also Angelic Upstarts, UK Subs, GBH, 999, Drongos and loads of others.

Saturday the 5th – Elaine Paige @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Nothing is so good it lasts eternally/perfect situations must go wrong. Entropy, they call it. Wasn’t it good? Oh so good.

Sunday the 6th- Saxon @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – I should bloody well hope that the band will play on, if you’ve paid for a ticket and all.

Sunday the 6th – The Mission @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – GOTH MONTH. Apparently it’s their 30th anniversary tour. So many years, so much dry ice sacrificed for the cause.

Sunday the 6th – David Essex @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham (and also at Wolves Civic on the 27th) – I’ll brave your cries of “WHAAAAT? NOOOOO!” and acknowledge that I don’t actually think the thought of a David Essex gig is an exceptionally interesting thing. I just wanted to self-indulgently tell an anecdote. Up until about a-year-or-so ago, I’d managed to never have heard of this Joey Essex figure who’s apparently a big telly star nowadays. When I heard tell of some of his exploits (I forget precisely what he was supposed to be up to), it didn’t make any sense at all to me. It just wouldn’t compute that he might be doing this. Naturally, I was thinking of David Essex.

Sunday the 6th – The Skull @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Ex-members of Trouble and so on, but the main thing here is that you’ve got a doom metal band called “The Skull”. They know what the flip is going on.

Sunday the 6th – Eliza Carthy @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventy – There’s a hole in my bucket, dear ‘Liza, dear ‘Liza. I imagine that she won’t play that.

Tuesday the 8th till Saturday the 12th – the Welsh National Opera come to town @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – The theme this time around is the obscure playwright Billy Shakespeare. You have Verdi’s Macbeth, Andrei Tchaikowsky’s (not P.I. Tchaikovsky. I am certain you know that, but it’s confused me in the past) The Merchant Of Venice, and (moving diagonally sideways into the world of musicals) you have Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate.

Tuesday the 8th till Saturday the 12th – “Pride And Prejudice” (Regent’s Park Theatre) @ The Rep, Birmingham – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE MONTH. Starring the man who played The Definitive Lenny at this very venue many yeas ago, Matthew “You Bet!” Kelly.

Wednesday the 9th – Chas & Dave @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – A few years ago I wondered if C&D’s “last ever tour” of the time was reeeaaaally actually going to be their last. I was assured that it was. Heh.

Thursday the 10th till Sunday the 13th- “The Seventh Wave” electronic music festival @ various venues in Brum – Including gigs from :Zoviet*France and Wolfgang Flür o’ Kraftwerk, a conference, and allsorts.

Thursday the 10th till Sunday the 20th – Shout festival @ various venues in Birmingham – You know you make me wanna… have a festival of queer arts and culture. There’s loads happening, have a look.

Thursday the 10th till Monday the 28th – BASS Festival 2016 @ various venues in Brum – This year’s theme is “Hip Hop 360”. Loads of things happening including gigs from Jazzy Jeff and Slick Rick, but the absolute can’t-miss one will be The Robert Glasper Experiment playing at Brum Town Hall on the 20th.

Thursday the 10th – An evening with Glen Matlock @ The Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – “Sacked me, they did. Got this other fella in, instead. Needless to say I had the last laugh.”

Friday the 11th – “Nabucco” (Ellen Kent International) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – You could do a Verdi Double this week if you wanted, between this and the WNO’s “Macbeth” performance. A Verdouble, if you will.

Saturday the 12th – The Wailers @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I was about to say that it’s basically Aston Barett plus backing band nowadays, but upon inspection it looks like he isn’t even with them anymore. But still, they’re playing.

Saturday the 12th – the Singha Grand Slam Of Darts @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Sports that you play outside are stupid.

Saturday the 12th – Roni Size @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – It’s a DJ set, but I see a lot of appeal in the idea of charging around the place and insistently demanding “WHO… TOLD… YOU… you could do it like… THIS?” of people.

Satuday the 12th – Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” (Opera Anywhere) @ The Botanical Gardens, Harborne, Birmingham – I bet this’ll be nice, amongst the flowers.

Sunday the 13th – Billy Bragg & Joe Henry @ The Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, near Coventry – Touring following their joint album themed around railroad songs. They’ve added some great lyrics to “The Theme From Thomas The Tank Engine”, I’ll tell you.

Sunday the 13th – Lacuna Coil @ The Institute 2, Digbeth, Birmingham – Another not-quite-goth-month-but-definitely-affiliated event.

Sunday the 13th- New Model Army @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Nuts to Cromwell, though.

Sunday the 13th- The Low Anthem @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Used to be called The High Anthem, but age has its effect on the vocal chords.

Wednesday the 16th till Saturday the 19th – “Beautiful Thing” (can’t find the theatre company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – I wasn’t really aware of this but apparently it’s famous. And even more so after the Stan’s Café folks plugged it.

Thursday the 17th – Alabama 3 @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Apparently their 20th anniversary tour. It’s all about the anniversaries nowadays.

Thursday the 7th – The Skatalites @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – With the original vocalist, which (if I’m to be honest) I wouldn’t have expected.

Thursday the 17th – The Hollies @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – All they need is the air that they breathe, and food, and shelter, and clean water. And to love you. Possibly jam on it as well.

Thursday the 17th – “Against Prejudice – Ira Aldridge In Coventry 1828” (Warwick University’s Multicultural Shakespeare Project & Belgrade Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – So apparently an under-21-year-old black man became the manager of a theatre in Coventry… in 1828. This will feature a documentary about him followed by a trip to the site of the actual theatre, as well as excerpts from the plays he put on.

Friday the 18th – Public Image Ltd @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Yes, I agree that Lydon is a tosser. But still.

Friday the 18th – Roachford @ The Kasbah, Coventry – Now and forever: There’s no fog!

Saturday the 19th – Laura Mvula @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Songs that can lift your spirits, songs that can jig your foot.

Saturday the 19th – “Going For Gold” boxing card (UKO Boxing) @ The Town Hall, Walsall – I have no idea about the local boxing scene anymore, but it looks like Martin Gethin is still going so good luck to him.

Monday the 21st till the 10th of December – “The Wind In The Willows” @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Be careful before you book a ticket, though – word reaches me that Mr Toad may have been sacked for punching the producer. The pompous oaf.

Monday the 21st still Wednesday the 23rd – “Shakespeare, His Wife, And The Dog” (Bated Breath Theatre) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – Bill and Anne have lost their dog.

Monday the 21st – “Pride And Prejudice” @ The Albany Theatre, Coventry (and also at The Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton on the 23rd) – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE MONTH.

Tuesday the 22nd – Sisters Of Mercy @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – GOTH MONTH.

Tuesday the 22nd – She Makes War @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – It’s styled as one of your “An evening with…” affairs (if you look here), so there may well be more chat than usual. She was very funny when I saw her and apparently she has done comedy in the past.

Wednesday the 23rd – Terrorvision @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Playing “Regular Urban Survivors” all the way through on yet another of those anniversary tours. Dog chewed t’handle.

Thursday the 24th till Sunday the 27th – the BBC Good Food Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – “Good food? But that’s my favourite type of food!”

Thursday the 24th till Sunday the 27th – The Trip To Birmingham Tradfest @ various venues in Birmingham, mostly Digbeth – Irish folk festival, with tooralooraloo and maybe a tooraloorali as well.

Friday the 25th – Bus Station Loonies @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – A surprising venue for this band to be playing. But there we are.

Saturday the 26th – Future Of The Left @ The Flapper, Birmingham – Some of the best song-titlers of our times. My current fave would have to be “Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop”.

Saturday the 26th – An Audience With Lesley Garrett @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Look, sod off, I like her.

Saturday the 26th – Goodnight Lenin @ Muthers Studio, Digbeth, Birmingham – They used to be a West-Coast-American-folk-rock type band. Nowadays they have keyboards and riffs and allsorts. We live in crazy times.

Sunday the 27th – Mark Kermode @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Theatre Space), near Coventry – God, Kermode, your hands are massive.

Tuesday the 29th – The Damned @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Another goth month affiliate.

Wednesday the 30th – Shalamar @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – They’re gonna make it (wait for it, waaaait for iiiiiiit) a night to remember.