Call me Russ L

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: 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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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.

End-Of-Year-Count 2015: Screen

Posted in Films by Russ L on 1 January, 2016

I don’t know if my experience is general or not, but it seems that it’s easy to think that you don’t watch many telly programmes until you try to write them down.

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Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: March 2015

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage by Russ L on 28 February, 2015

There’s always loads in March – Crufts, Flatpack, Frontiers, the WNO coming around, St Padraig’s, loads. March this year is no exception, and has plenty of non-regular delights too (Sooty, sousaphones, loads). I was going to waffle on here (in my usual grumpy fashion) about the NIA now being ‘The Barclaycard Arena” (I see the NEC Arena has changed names again, too), but I cant be bothered anymore. Sod ‘em. Sod ‘em all.

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.

Sunday the 1st – “Hercules” (The English Concert) @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Handel’s oratorio, so more your ‘tale of jealousy causing strife’ than your ‘twelve labours thereof’.

Sunday the 1st – “…And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel” (Finishing Touch Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Stan visits the dying Ollie. Shame that this couldn’t have been performed at The Bartons Arms, really, with its L&H connections and all.

Tuesday the 3rd and Wednesday the 4th – “Nursing Lives” (Vamos Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Last month I wrote “Stories of nurses, performed by “the UK’s leading full mask theatre company”. Presumably not just surgical masks, then.” This month I can’t be bothered to think of anything extra to write.

Tuesday the 3rd – “Adorno and Art” talk and book launch @ Eastside Projects, Birmingham – One Dr James Hellings has written a book of that title. I expect the “Adorno took our symphonies away” view will be thoroughly debunked therein. Dunno, meself.

Wednesday the 4th till Saturday the 7th – Welsh National Opera @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – The Welsh National Opea company rolls into town for one of its mini-seasons, although there doesn’t seem to be a theme this time around. You do, nevertheless, have a gala performance with the lovely Lesley Garrett on the 4th, Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” on the 5th and 6th, and Humperdinck’s “Hansel And Gretel” on the 7th.

Wednesday the 4th – In This Moment @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Every time I hear their name, I think involuntarily of Martine McCutcheon’s “This Is My Moment”. That’s quite different, musically speaking. I would like to hear her have a stab at melodic metalcore, though.

Wednesday the 4th – John Renbourn & Wizz Jones @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Folk guitarerarering, and plenty of it.

Wednesday the 4th – Barbara Dickson @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – She knew him so well.

Wednesday the 4th – Mellow Peaches @ The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham – Excellent rootsy bluegrassy country-bluesy type o’band. I think they’re first on the bill with other artistes at this one, but apparently it’s only a pound to get in.

Thursday the 5th till Sunday the 8th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – HOUND CONVENTION.

Thursday the 5th – Janáček’s “Glagolitic Mass” & Berlioz’ “La Mort de Cléopâtre” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – An interesting combination.

Friday the 6th till Sunday the 8th – Bandage Live @ various venues in Birmingham & Sutton Coldfield – Various benefit gigs for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The website isn’t exactly a thorough listing, but I know that a Paul Murphy gig is part of it.

Friday the 6th – Hawkwind / Focus @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Or the current version thereof, you know how it goes. I’m sure this’ll be mindbending nevertheless.

Friday the 6th – “Elephant Man” (Fourth Monkey Theatre Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – He is not an elephant. He is a human being.

Friday the 6th – Mob 47 @ The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – I swear that they used to call this sort of thing “Discore” rather than “D-Beat” when I were a lad. If neither of those terms mean anything to you then I’d take a wild flying guess at saying that this gig probably won’t be your type of thing.

Friday the 6th – “Ideas Of Noise” @ Minerva Works, Digbeth, Birmingham – An evening of ‘noise used creatively’. Sarah Farmer seems to be putting it on but I’m not sure if she’s actually performing or not. I like the sound of a “harsh noise ballet” by Justin Wiggan and Genevieve Say.

Saturday the 7th till Saturday the 15th – Birmingham St Padraig’s Day Festival @ all over Digbeth, Birmingham – The parade (3rd largest in the world etc.) is on the 15th, this year. The closest thing to any listings that I can find for the fringe festival is this.

Saturday the 7th – Revolt @ The Coal Vaults, Coventry – Amazing-beyond-amazing feminist and LGBTQIA+ postive punk night. This time you’ll have Liines, The Ethical Debating Society, Big Joanie, and Bad Horse, as well as there being DJs and spoken word and zines and all sorts of lovely stuff.

Saturday the 7th – Grant Nicholas @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Yer fella from Feeder. Believe an old man when I tell you that Feeder actually used to be alright before they became really boring.

Saturday the 7th – Whisky Birmingham @ The Bond, Digbeth, Birmingham – Whisk(e)y is the life of man, as The Clancy Brothers taught us. I dunno, I don’t even like it all that much. See also the 27th.

Sunday the 8th – The Unthanks @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – Folk music and clog-dancing. The new mania that’s sweeping the nation.

Sunday the 8th – The 2015 Soul Acoustic Tour @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Headlined by Carroll Thompson, and also featuring Raheem Bakaré (I got there too late to see him supporting D’Angelo a few weeks ago, which is a shame since he seems like he could be quite interesting).

Sunday the 8th – “Pathways & Places” (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Stan’s Café) @ The CBSO Centre, Birmingham – A BCMG family concert, with the always-amazing Stan’s Café people providing visuals. There are also “activity cafes” an hour before each performance, in which you can contribute to the music that will eventually be played.

Monday the 9th till the 30th of April – BOM Fellows Show @ Birmingham Open Media, Birmingham – A work-in-progress sort of exhibition, with the ten ‘Fellows’ of BOM showing ideas in development. Includes Pete Ashton’s meditation about the overuse of the word ‘mighty’ on Instagram.

Monday the 9th till Saturday the 14th – “Jeeves And Wooster in ‘Perfect Nonsense’” (some sort of production-specific touring theatre company) @ The Rep (The House), Birmingham – Starring Robert Webb as Bertie and Christopher Ryan as… Seppings? Apparently. I can’t remember who that is.

Monday the 9th – Clean Bandit @ The Academy, Birmingham – I’d seen the band name ‘Clean Bandit’ around for a good while before I realised that they were that-band-who-do-that-‘doodly-doo-doo-do’ song, but I was always amused by it. ‘Clean Bandit’. I don’t know why that tickles me so much.

Tuesday the 10th – Idlewild @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Believe an old man when I tell you that Idlewild also actually used to be alright before they became really boring.

Wednesday the 11th – “One Man ‘Breaking Bad’: The Unauthorised Parody” @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Dunno about this. It surely requires at least two people to do the best bits (i.e. Badger & Skinny Pete routines). (Also on at Warwick Arts Centre on the 14th).

Thursday the 12th – An Evening With Arthur Brown @ The Robin 2, Bilston – ‘An Evening With…’ rather than ‘The Crazy World Of…’, so I assume he’ll be telling anecdotes more than he’ll be setting fire to his own head.

Thursday the 12th – Pharoahe Monch @ The Oobleck, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Simon Says Fuck You.

Thursday the 12th – “Ways of Something” @ Vivid Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham – A screening of a remake of John Berger’s “Ways Of Seeing”, in which 60 second clips of contemporary artists’ work are spliced in. It’s very important that you watch to watch the original series too, of course. And to read Walter Benjamin’s “The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction” as well, while we’re at it.

Friday the 13th (whooooo) – GoGo Penguin @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Penguins, in my admittedly limited experience, don’t need much encouragement to act. They will go at the very slightest provocation, whatever going might entail. Also here you have some twinkly-piano jazz-come-electronics.

Friday the 13th (whooooo) – Dan Walsh @ The Woodman Folk Club, Kingswinford – The instrumentals are always the best when it comes to clawhammer banjo music. They always sound like the background theme to a chase scene.

Saturday the 14th till Saturday the 21st- “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Younger readers might be amused by a joke using the phrase “Ratched-ass girl” but I don’t know anything about all that.

Saturday the 14th – Lionel Richie @ The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham – Q. How does Lionel Richie answer the phone? (Aaaaalltogether now…) A. He says “Lionel Richie speaking”.

Saturday the 14th – Europe @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – It’s not the penultimate count-up. No sirree. That’s absolutely not what it is.

Saturday the 14th – The Sooty Show with Richard Cadell @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – I didn’t know there was such thing as post-Corbett Sooty! Little Cousin piggin’ Scampi appears to have buggered off, too, so there’s plenty to celebrate.

Saturday the 14th – Zun Zun Egui @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – Indie-rock by way of Afrobeat, and you can hear their new album in its entirety here.

Saturday the 14th – “La Traviata” (Ellen Kent Opera & Ballet International) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – The only one of these Ellen Kent productions I’ve ever been to see was an absolutely shambolic attempt at “La Boheme” at The Grand, a couple of years ago. They had some bad luck, though (as well as being in a horrible theatre). I’m sure that not absolutely every performance they do of an Italian opera set in France is like that every time.

Saturday the 14th – “Tear Up At The Tower 7” Muay Thai @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Good luck to Si Whitehead and everyone from K-Star Legacy.

Sunday the 15th – The Strawbs @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Actually it’s a triple-bill of Carl Palmer (of ELP fame), Martin whatjacallhim (of Wishbone Ash fame), and The Strawbs (of The Strawbs fame). Unlikely bedfellows.

Sunday the 15th – Chris Wood @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Folk music. Yeah, that’s right, I’m bored of thinking up wood/tree/forest puns every time Chris Wood does a gig.

Sunday the 15th – Hirax @ The Asylum 2, Hockley, Birmingham – Thrashthrashthrash!

Monday the 26th till Friday the 27th – Frontiers Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Two weeks of unusual contemporary music. There’s a you-name-it selection of stuff: Jonathan Harvey’s “From Silence”, everything in Beethoven’s 5th played by one woman, Indonesian Gamelan, jazz themed around intra- and inter-state conflict, I-don’t-even-know-what themed around the number ‘108’, you name it…

Tuesday the 17th till Tuesday the 31st – The Young Rep 2015 Festival: ‘Manifesto’ @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – The youth theatre festival based around ‘punchy’ political ideas. Including a cut-up version of Hamlet, Pies, British Values, and loads and loads more.

Wednesday the 18th – Alabama 3 @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I’m in a lonely room, Hank Williams sings a lovesick tune. I’m sure it won’t be a lonely room for this gig, though. I expect it’ll be quite busy.

Thursday the 19th till Sunday the 29th – Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Flatpack! Brumagem’s primary festival of film and film-related activity. It’s another you-name-it job: the biggest one for me is a Richard Dawson gig, but there’s also Peggy Seeger, the Swedish Monty Python equivalent, the Odyssey done with cardboard cut-out characters, cats, more cats, I felt sorry for that cat, air guitar, you name it…

Thursday the 19th – Spandau Ballet @ The Genting Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Yes, they’re playing there. It’s… TRU-WOO!

*** Pick Of The Month~! ***
Friday the 20th – Fanfare Ciocărlia @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – At least some of the people reading this are likely to be fans of The Destroyers, and to those (and everyone else, actually) I would recommend Fanfare Ciocărlia. This gig does seem to be seated, though. If any gig at the Town Hall ever begs for the seats to be taken up, it’ll be this one. People are going to want to have a Balkan Boogie. They have two sousaphones! Two!

Friday the 20th – Stiff Little Fingers @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Don’t leave anything lying around at the gig. The venue might end up being evacuated if they find something that get mistaken for a sus… sus… sus… suss us sussuspect device.

Friday the 20th – Warpaint @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Now that I think of it, ‘Woad’ would be a good band name.

Sunday the 22nd – Dropkick Murphys / The Mahones / Blood Or Whiskey / Resistance 77 @ The Academy, Birmingham – The ‘Celtic Punk Invasion’ tour. Once I would have made a joke about the massive total of one of the bands being from a Celtic Country, but it did eventually dawn on me that this would be close to breaking the “you never, ever get to tell anyone else what their identity is” rule. And I do that that’s a very good rule to live by.

Sunday the 22nd – Seth Lakeman @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – His name always makes me think of the old ‘spaceman’ joke. What do you do if you see a Lakeman? Fish in it, maaaaaan…

Sunday the 22nd – Malcolm X Film Festival @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – Accompanying events nationally. I continually find myself irritated by those who purport to forget the definition of the word ‘necessary’ when trying to find reasons to dislike Malcolm X.

Monday the 23rd till Saturday the 28th – “Arcadia” (English Touring Theatre & Theatre Royal Brighton Productions) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – The best English language play of our times, sez me. Also you can nick bits of the dialogue to explain entropy to people.

Tuesday the 24th till Wednesday the 1st of April – “A Passion For Birmingham” (can’t seem to work out the name of the theatre company) @ Birmingham Cathedral and The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Jesus in Brum.

Tuesday the 24th till Saturday the 28th – “All My Sons” (Talawa Theatre Company) @ The Rep (The House), Birmingham – See the next entry, if you would.

Tuesday the 24th till Saturday the 28th – “The View From The Bridge (Touring Consortium Theatre Company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Given how far in advance theatres make their bookings, you’d have thought that they would have avoided having two big Arthur Miller Productions in the same area on exactly the same dates. Or maybe it’s deliberate counter-programming? If they’d both been in Birmingham then someone would have called it ‘Millerfest’.

Tuesday the 24th – Usher @ The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham – I remember the time when he got mistaken for one of the venue’s actual ushers. Oh, the hilarious sitcom-style misunderstandings that occurred.

Tuesday the 24th – Oysterband @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I condone any folk act named after seafood.

Friday the 27th till Saturday the 11th of April – “Blood” (Belgrade Theatre & Tamasha) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Anglo-Asian Romeo & Juliet.

Wednesday the 25th till Saturday the 28th – “Alice” (Crescent Youth Theatre) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – A modern version of Alice, with your Wonderlandy characters helping her with bereavement.

Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th – Midlands Whisky Festival @ The Town Hall, Stourbridge – See also the 7th.

Friday the 27th – Cara Dillon @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Her fiddle player’s “bit scared” story absolutely cracked me up when I saw her.

Friday the 27th – Prince Phillip @ The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham – “It’s all the fault of the bleddy Chinese, don’tchaknow…”

Saturday the 28th – Ameriie @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – *DRUMS* Na-na-na-na-na-no…

Saturday the 28th – The Selecter @ Warwick Arts Centre (Student Union Copper Rooms), near Coventry – It’s just a simple show gig on my radio at Warwick Arts Centre.

Saturday the 28th – Professional Boxing (TOP Promotions) @ The Holte Suite, Villa Park, Aston, Birmingham – Hey, Lee Jones is back!

Monday the 30th – “Collidoscope” (Freshold Theatre & Untitled Theatre) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – Anna deals with upset in her life by becoming Madeleine Carroll. This is a genius idea and I’ll have to try it myself.

Tuesday the 31st till Sunday the 26th of April – “Shrek – The Musical” (Dreamworks Theatricals) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – I wonder if they work “It’s Not Easy Being Green” in there, since it’s a musical?

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: November 2014

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, Food, Linklog, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage by Russ L on 29 October, 2014

And with this post, I prove to myself that I am still capable of writing one of these posts. The James Brown Rule appears to be writ large this month – if you really want to see them and they’re particularly old, then make sure that you definitely do go to see them when they come to your area. Because they die. They all die.

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.

(Throughout the month, I think) (EDIT: Nope, it actually finishes on the 1st. Prior to me editing this, then) – Erica Nockalls exhibition @ Havill & Travis Gallery, Harborne, Birmingham – Yer lady who is now affiliated with The Wonderstuff and whatnot. This is a combined-arms operation, where you can bring a pair of headphones (standard mini-jack connection, I’m assuming, but I don’t know about these things nowadays) to examine her paintings and hear her new album at the same time.

Up until the 15th – George Saxon & John D. Briscoe’s “A Record Of Undying” @ Vivid Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham – An exhibition showing the ways in which Mr Saxon (consensually) documented Mr Briscoe’s dying and then death. I’m sure there’s a higher-minded way of saying this, but it sounds morbidly fascinating.

Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd – Dawn French @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – Weird sidewards thought provoked by this – I can’t think of any other comedians with the same name as a nationality. There must surely be loads, though.

Saturday the 1st – “The Hundred Years War” (B2 Stage) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – 40 war poems written between 1914 and 2013. With music and images. This sort of thing is probably very important, given that this year various right-wing types seem to have decided that WW1 was actually quite fun after all.

Saturday the 1st – “Clamber Up The Crucifix” (not sure about a theatre company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A telegraph operator in the trenches. Possibly giving another meaning to the latter part of the old lineman’s adage of “Up poles and down holes”. Again, I will say that this sort of thing is probably very important given that this year various right-wing types seem to have decided that WW1 was actually quite fun after all.

Sunday the 2nd – Holst’s “The Planets Suite” (CBSO Youth Ochestra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Just play “Mars” so we can all go home. (Disclaimer: I don’t really mean that).

Tuesday the 4th till Saturday the 8th – “My Perfect Mind” (Told By An Idiot, Young Vic & Theatre Royal Plymouth) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – Lear, as learned by an actor who had a stroke halfway through. Decay portrayed through decay? Form and content, you see.

Wednesday the 5th till Sunday the 9th – Wagner’s “Ring” cycle (Mariinsky Opera) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – A full Ring cycle by the Mariinsky opera in Birmingham! Alas, it costs like you’d expect it to (although there is a thing for cheaper tickets here).

Wednesday the 5th – Pam Ayres @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Her teeth are actually fine, you know.

Wednesday the 5th – Billy Idol @ The Academy, Birmingham – After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that I must have some sort of semi-conscious fetish for popular music artistes named “Billy”.

Wednesday the 5th – John Mayall @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – The man who gave Eric Clapton his first big break. That was a long time ago, though, so don’t hold it against him.

Wednesday the 5th – Lacuna Coil @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Spiralling nothingness is an excellent synonym for a goth-metal band name. I’m still looking for a drummer for my Lacuna Coil/Black Sabbath/Carina Round tribute band, who will be called “Lacuna Sunrise”.

Thursday the 6th – Bo Ningen @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Utterly utterly nutterly Japanese pysch-rock loonies. On the bill with Band Of Skulls, who are a quite-good 70s-influenced hard rock band and might be worth seeing too.

Thursday the 6th – Motorhead @ The NIA, Birmingham – What are Motorhead doing playing at the National Indoor Arena, I mean really now. This is going to be uncannily like the “four people and a dog” scene from “Bad News”.

Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th – “This Was The World And I Was King” (Hook Hitch Theatre) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Children use folk music and Robert Louis Stevenson to cope with their father being away at the front. As is becoming my mantra, I will say that this sort of thing is probably very important given that this year various right-wing types seem to have decided that WW1 was actually quite fun after all.

Friday the 7th – “Collector Of Tears” (Gobscure) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Tears are collected from various people over the span of four hundred years. That is genuinely a very striking thought.

Friday the 7th – British Sea Power @ Warwick Arts Centre (Theatre Space), near Coventry – With a brass band in tow. I really can see that working well.

Saturday the 8th till Sunday the 16th – The Grand Slam Of Darts @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Obvious YouTube Link is obvious. Is Barry Hearn still alive? His son deals with the boxing now.

Saturday the 8th till Saturday the 15th – “King Lear” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre Company – Cordelia? I barely know ‘er.

Saturday the 8th – The Wailers @ The Academy, Birmingham – Doing “Legend”. On the one hand, this nostalgia-do-an-album-tour bit has gone a bit far when they’re even doing ‘em for best-of albums. On the other hand, it’s The Wailers doing “Legend”. Choices to be made.

Saturday the 8th – The Neville Staple Band @ The Oobleck, Digbeth, Birmingham – This’ll be probably be good, but The Specials themselves are playing later in the month…

Saturday the 8th – Mark Steel @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Theatre Space), near Coventry – So this is a “Back In Town” tour one rather than an “In Town” one, which I think means one with comedic observations about towns in general (such as I saw at The Mac the other year), rather than comedic observations about the specific town you’re in (such as you’d hear on the radio). I think.

Saturday the 8th – Louis Robinson’s Damba La Bamba @ The Symphony Hall foyer in the ICC, Birmingham – I didn’t know about this, but apparently there are a series of musical picnics for 0-7 year-olds, and this is one from your erstwhile Destroyers fella. Damba La Mamba (soy capitan?).

Sunday the 9th – Bellowhead @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Spiers And Boden aren’t together as a duo anymore (which is a shame – I saw them in May and they were ace) but you can still see them as part of Bellowhead, with a cast of thousands of other band members too.

Monday the 10th and Tuesday the 11th – “Not About Heroes” (Blackeyed Theatre Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Yet again, I will say that this sort of thing is probably very important given that this year various right-wing types seem to have decided that WW1 was actually quite fun after all.

Monday the 10th – “The Trial” (Music Theatre Wales/The Royal Opera/Theater Magdeburg/The Scottish Opera) @ The Rep Theatre (The House), Birmingham – Philip Glass’ opera, built out of Kafka’s “The Trial”. There’s nothing in that sentence that I don’t like.

Wednesday the 12th till Sunday the 16th – Slava’s Snowshow @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – This really is visually astonishing. Worth borrowing a child for an excuse to go and see it, if you don’t have one. And I hate children.

Wednesday the 12th till Saturday the 15th – “Miracle On 34th Street – The Musical” (Coventry Youth Operetta)@ The Albany Theatre, Coventry – I dunno if this is your post office version or your bank note version.

Wednesday the 12th till Saturday the 15th – “Othello” (Frantic Assembly/Theatre Royal Plymouth) @ The Rep (The House), Birmingham – Here sold under the name of “Shakespeare’s Othello”, just in case you were confusing it with… Verdi, I suppose.

Wednesday the 12th – Hannah Silva’s “Schlock!” @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham – The female body reconstructed by means of ripping up and then combining “50 Shades Of Grey” and Kathy Ackers’ “Memoriam To Identity”.

Wednesday the 12th – Ben Frost @ Eastside Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham – Yer man who did the opera version of “The Wasp Factory”, doing an improvised (I think?) bit in collaboration with one Greg Fox of Liturgy, who I know nothing about.

Thursday the 13th – Lady Gaga @ The NIA, Birmingham – Per-per-puh-puh-poker face, Granville.

Thursday the 13th – Cockney Rejects @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I always get them mixed up with Cock Sparrer. With semi-hilarious consequences.

Thursday the 13th – Street Eaters @ Talk Bar, Birmingham – Ferocious punk/post-punky stuff from Californ-I-A. Apparently many of their gigs have been “dense basement shows in the Midwest that turned into swamps; shows in haunted German schools-turned-squats, medieval French catacombs, smoke filled Japanese practice rooms, and abandoned Hungarian aluminum (sic) factories”. I expect this may seem a bit boring to them in comparison.

Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th – Mark Thomas @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – The “Cuckooed” tour, in which he relates the story of BAE Systems employing people to spy on him.

Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th – “Dorothy Towers” / “Only On Sundays” @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – A double-bill with the LGBT residents of a tower block, and the most laddish laddest lad falling in love.

Sunday the 16th – Focus @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Yodeedodleay yodelaey yodelaey etc. etc. etc.

Sunday the 16th – Dr John @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – I am really really looking forward to this one. They call him Doctor John, the… night triiippuh…

Tuesday the 18th till Saturday the 22nd – “Oh What A Lovely War” (The Arcadians theatre group) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham) – This sort of thing is probably very important given that etc etc etc. Alright, you’ve heard it already. It disgusts me, though. I really, really hate that stuff. Shame on them. Also, here’s a play.

Tuesday the 18th – The Roy Wood Rock’n’Roll Band @ The Robin 2, Bilston – It is nearly Christmas.

Tuesday the 18th – Charlie 2na @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – You can tune a hip-hop, but you can’t tune a fish.
Wednesday the 19th till Tuesday the 2nd of December – “The Pool” @ outside Warwick Arts Centre, near Coventry – Big concentric circles that you can jump on to make it light up with different colours. This sounds amazing.

Wednesday theFs 19th till Saturday the 22nd – Welsh National opera @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – I’m not sure what the theme of this season is, but you have Carmen on the 19th and 20th, Mosè in Egitto on the 21st, and Guillaume Tell on the 22nd.

Wednesday the 19th and Thursday the 20th – “Islands” (Caroline Horton & Co/China Plate/Bush Theatre) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Studio Space), near Coventry – About offshore tax havens. I don’t approve of them.

Wednesday the 19th – John Shuttleworth @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Oof!

Wednesday the 19th – The CBSO’s “Spirit Of ‘45” @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Not as war-celebratory as the title might suggest. This is a programme of music including Shostakovich’s 9th and the sea interludes from Britten’s “Peter Grimes” (AKA the best opera that they’ve yet come up with).

Thursday the 20th – The Specials @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – It’s not quite as exciting as it was a few years ago, when they came back and we were all thrilled that we’d get finally to see The Specials (maybe ‘again’, for those older than I), but still – The Specials~!

Friday the 21st – Robert Plant @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Robert Plant walked past me once. He looked confused. This is a true story.

Saturday the 22nd till Sunday the 29th – “The Judas Kiss” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – David Hare’s play about Oscar Wilde’s life and thoughts after dear old Bosie knifed him in the back.

Caturday the 22nd – The Supreme Cat Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Catcatcatcatcatcatcat.

Saturday the 22nd – Jim Moray @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – It took until the third time that I’d seen Jim Moray before I could remember anything at all about him. I loved his folksy business from thereonwards, though. So I suppose we all win in the end.

Sunday the 23rd – The Gaslight Anthem / Deer Tick @ The Academy, Birmingham – Two very different visions of Americana.

Sunday the 23rd- “Madama Butterfly” (Ellen Kent International) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – The Ellen Kent production of “La Bohème” that I saw about a year ago was an absolute shambles, but let’s assume that they’re not like that every night.

Tuesday the 25th till Saturday the 29th – “To Kill A Mockingbird” (specific touring cmpany?) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Embarrassing admission #381: I spent a long time assuming that Harper Lee was male, for no reason whatsoever.

Wednesday the 26th – Delain @ The Academy, Birmingham – Noun, Dutch symphonic (sic) metal band. Very definitely not the gerund verb, slowing something down.

Wednesday the 26th – Sharon Van Etten @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – Wonderful singer-songwriter type with a name that always seems really verbally dissonant to me, although I can never understand why. Biblical Dutch forests or somesuch?

Wednesday the 26th – “The BFG” (Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company) @ The Rep (The House), Birmingham – The Big Fu… no, sorry, The Big Friendly Giant.

Thursday the 27th till Sunday the 30th – The BBC Good Food Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I’m really looking forward to the BBC Bad Food Show, which will presumably follow.

Thursday the 27th till Sunday the 30th – Birmingham Tradfest @ various venues in Birmingham, mostly in Digbeth – Loads of Irish folk gigs. Includes Frankie Gavin, but not the one you’re thinking of. Although he might be knocking around, who knows.

Thursday the 27th – Dreadzone @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – This’ll probably be good, but Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry himself is playing about twenty miles over…

Thursday the 27th – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry @ Warwick Arts Centre (Student Union Copper Rooms), near Coventry – Nothing that I could possibly type here would be adequate.

Friday the 28th and Saturday the 29th – “Choose Your Own Documentary” @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – As the name might suggest, a documentary in which you get to pick between options about what happens next. YOU are the narrative etc. etc.

Friday the 28th – Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – It is still hard to imagine that the fella from The Housemartins is the fella from The Beautiful South, but I do like both.

Friday the 28th – Chas & Dave @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – So, a few years ago they announced their last ever tour.

Friday the 28th – Eliza Shaddad @ Ort Café, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – Folk-blues type in “Doing a gig whilst not being on the same bill as Michael Chapman” shocker.

Satuday the 29th – Revolt @ The Coal Vaults, Coventry – Amazing feminist/LGBTQ gig-come-club-night that everyone should go to. Your line-up for this time is over here.

Saturday the 29th – Goodnight Lenin @ The Institute (Library Room). Digbeth, Birmingham – The launch gig for their long, long-awaited album.

Sunday the 30th – Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s “The Movie Doctors” @ Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – Hello to Jason Isaacs etc etc. I don’t actually like films, y’know.

A Handful Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands (end of April)

Posted in Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 20 April, 2014

There’s not going to be any possibility of a Lots post, so here are just a handful of recommended and/or eyecatching things for between now and the rest of the month:

~ Birmingham Opera Company are doing Mussorgsky’s “Khovanschina” (here retitled “Khovanskygate: A National Enquiy”) every even-numbered day from the 22nd up to the 2nd of May, in a big tent in Cannon Hill Park (not that disused picture-house that always has the carwash signs on it in Harborne, as I swear it was originally supposed to be. I’m sure I haven’t just made that up. It would be a bizarre thing to imagine, wouldn’t it?). You have to pick a numbered seat when you buy tickets, but it does appear to be the usual walk-amongst-them B-Op thing. If you listen to nothing else that I ever tell you, pay heed to the fact that you must always go to every Birmingham Opera Company production because they are always amazing.

~ The Shout Film Festival is taking place between the 23rd and the 27th, mostly at The MAC but at a few other venues too. Lots of LGBT-themed filmy goodness.

~ Dan Stuart, erstwhile of country rock types Green On Red, is at The Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath on the 24th. I do quite like his recent “The Deliverance Of Marlowe Billings” album. Jace Everett is laying too, and whilst I haven’t had a listen to him yet (and I do want to get this posted without any further delays, so I’m not going to do that right now) I gather he did the theme music for one of those television programmes that you like so much.

~ If you want to make it two nights in a row of Americana offshoots at The Hare & Hounds, Wildflowers are there on the 25th. This is the gig that was meant to be at The Sunflower Lounge last month prior to postponement, and while it’s a shame that we won’t be able to say “Wildflowers at The Sunflower” we will be able to point out that the evening involves both flora and fauna (Wildflowers/Hare/Hounds, you see). As I mentioned recently, the singer has elsewhere been described as ‘The punk Dolly Parton’. I still can’t think of a better thing to be described as.

~ Damo Suzuki (of Can fame, as you know yourself) is playing at The Chuckery Club in Walsall on the 25th, which is pleasing (given that The ‘Sall hasn’t quite been a hotspot for international touring artistes during recent years). Apparently a nine-piece band has been assembled for a freaky-deaky jam with him.

~ “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” will be taking place at The Hippodrome on the 27th, although it isn’t one that’s being recorded for broadcast (I didn’t know they did dark matches). Mornington Crescent.

~ Clutch are playing at The Academy in Brum on the 29th. They’re the best rock-band-as-such going nowadays, ah-reckons. Also by far my most-seen foreign band.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – March 2014

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 1 March, 2014

March~! As usual, this is the month of Crufts, Flatpack festival, Saint P, and lots of opera. There are other themes this time around, though – if you so wish you can make it the month you’ll remember for whisky, for folk music, for two-tone ska, for walking around the place, or for Brechtian alienation. Check out this little lot and make your choices…

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.

Until the 15th of March – “Never Try This At Home” (Birmingham Rep Theatre & Told By An Idiot) @ The Rep Theatre (The Studio), Birmingham – About Saturday morning kids’ telly and described in the promotional letter as “Tiswas starring Vic and Bob directed by Brass Eye’s Chris Morris”. That’s the best description of anything that we’re going to get until the Wildflowers gig on the 8th.

Throughout March and on until April – “Epic Encounters” (i.e. Brecht a-plenty) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – There’s a whole imperial pile of Bertolt Brecht-related stuff at The Rep. You have A Life Of Galileo from the 28th of Feb till the 8th, The Mother on the 15th, a film showing of Baal (David Bowie version) on the 25th, The Threepenny Opera from the 27th till the 12th of April, a day of talks about Brecht’s dramatic theories in practice on the 27th, a day of talks about Brecht’s politics on the 29th, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle on the 29th. You also have some one-step-removed stuff too (Eisler, Eisler and Bunge, Weil, of whom I’d only heard of Kurt Weil).

Saturday the 1st through to Monday the 17th – St Padraig’s Day Festival @ all around Digbeth, Birmingham – All sorts of snake banishin’ stuff, with the actual parade (third biggest in the world etc.) on the 16th.

Saturday the 1st until Saturday the 8th – “Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – You can probably expect more of this sort of thing now that all of the soldiers are coming back from colonial wars again.

Saturday the 1st – Boxing (EJKO Promotions) @ The Town Hall, Walsall – Punchy punchy punchy punchy.

Saturday the 1st – “Punjabi Wolves King Of The Ring” @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – I’m not 100% sure what this is, but it seems like white-collar boxing (non-professional punchy punchy punchy punchy) with roulette tables to play on.

Saturday the 1st – “Whisky Birmingham” @ The Bond, Digbeth, Birmingham – Top’n’tail the month with fermented grain mash (see also the 29th).

Sunday the 2nd – Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival Of The Animals” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – This sounds like a brilliant one for the young’ins. “Carnival Of The Animals” will be performed with introductory narration from the lady who played Laa-Laa in “The Teletubbies”, and you’re invited to come dressed as your favourite animal. I don’t see how anyone could possibly lose.

Monday the 3rd till Wednesday the 5th – “Blink” (Soho Theatre and Nabakov) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good Luck… No, wait, that’s something completely different! This here is about two shy individuals falling in love.

Tuesday the 4th till Saturday the 8th and then Tuesday the 25th and Wednesday the 26th – Welsh National Opera’s “Fallen Women” series @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham/Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton/The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – The “Fallen Women” series, because we all know about opera and its sexual politics. At The Hippodrome you have Verdi’s La Traviata on the 4th and the 8th, Puccini’s Manon Lescaut on the 5th and the 7th, and Hans Werner Henze’s newer Boulevard Solitude on the 6th. At the Newhampton Arts Centre on the 25th and the Midlands Art Centre on the 26th, you have Errollyn Wallen’s Anon, as part of WNO’s (wonderful) youth & community programme.

Tuesday the 4th and Wednesday the 5th – “How To Occupy An Oil Rig” (AC Stockton) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), near Coventry – A “playful and provocative show about protest”, in which you get to play with plasticine! You can’t lose. (Oooh ooh ooh I’ve just seen that it’s at The MAC on the 20th, too).

Tuesday the 4th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – A holiday, a holiday, the first one of the year. By ‘holiday’ I mean ‘Fairport Convention gig taking place round these parts”, obviously.

Wednesday the 5th – Michael Chapman @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Blues/folk/occasional noise. Chappo seems to be coming back into fashion again of late (a bit), and I approve of this.

Wednesday the 5th – Chris Wood @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Given that he used to be in a duo with Andy Cutting called “Wood And Cutting”, I reckon he should collaborate with Carrie Tree. And maybe The Roots? No, that’s just silly.

Thursday the 6th till Sunday the 9th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Diggedy daaaaaaaawgs~!

Thursday the 6th till Saturday the 8th – “Emma” (Sutton Arts Theatre) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A Jane Austen adaptation co-written by Doon Mackichan of The Day Today/Brass Eye/Smack The Pony/etc. That strikes me as quite nifty.

Thursday the 6th till Saturday the 8th – “Dialogues des Carmélites” (Birmingham Conservatoire) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Do you know what nuns are for? They’re for operas by Francois Poulenc. (Also: it really really is a shame that this clashes with the WNO at the Hippo, surely that could have been avoided).

Friday the 7th – The Dublin Legends @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Née The Dubliners. They were an enormous amount of fun at Moseley Folk last year.

Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th – “Entertaining Ideas” festival @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – “A weekend of inspiring talks from engaging speakers, celebrating Town Hall’s rich heritage of public speaking”, it says, which probably wouldn’t be a remarkable thing if the tradition was a strong as suggested, but still. Jonathan Meades’ talk about Birmingham could be a good ‘un, I think.

Saturday the 8th – “Stargazing” (Language Alive Theatre) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – Galileo’s defence of his theories of planetary motion, for 7-11 year olds. I suppose you could call this another one-step-removed adjunct to the Brecht series mentioned above.

Saturday the 8th – Puccini’s “La Bohème” (Ellen Kent International) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – I saw the first act (before leaving) of this production a few months ago and it was pretty shambolic, but presumably the surtitles won’t be malfunctioning every night and this isn’t at the vile Grand Theatre. I will say that Elena Dee was pretty magnificent as Mimi (although it’s had to tell for certain whether she’ll still be singing the role here or not. They choose not to make these things clear).

Saturday the 8th – Schostakovich’s fifth symphony (CBS) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The one that got him out of trouble after he’d been in trouble. Before the next time he got in trouble.

Saturday the 8th – Wildflowers @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – Wildflowers at the Sunflower, flower. Harmony-laden Americana, with a lead singer who has apparently been described elsewhere as “the punk Dolly Parton”. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any better things to be. If you want to make a weekend of your poppy Americana stuff, then don’t forget that… (EDIT: Postponed until the 25th of April, whereupon it’ll be at The H&H).

Sunday the 9th – Dar Williams @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – … Dar Williams is playing the following night.

Sunday the 9th – The English Beat @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – One tone. (N.B. This seems to be the version of The Beat without Rankin’ Roger).

Sunday the 9th – “Only Fools And Boycie” with John Challis @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A talk from Terrence Aubrey Boyce himself. Maaarleeeeeeeeene…

Tuesday the 11th till Saturday the 15th – “Fiddler On The Roof” (Music & Lyrics/Mayflower Theatre) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Get down from there! Oi Vey.

Tuesday the 11th – Rodriguez @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – This is not a gig, it’s an outburst.

Tuesday the 11th – “Pregnazi” (Birmingham Ormiston Academy) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – I nearly just dismissed this without even looking at it on the grounds that I’m really, really fed up of “Nazi” being used as a suffix in descriptions of “anything I don’t like”. This, though, is apparently about a baby in Walsall that is born with Hitler’s face. I reckon that probably happens all the time. They’re all imprisoned and forced to live slave-like existences in the cellar of The Starting Gate (Walsall reference whoooooo).

Wednesday the 12th and Thursday the 13th – “The Sistren” (Gazebo Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Mary Wollstonecroft, Claudia Jones and Emma Lloyd all in the same play, which sounds good to me. It’s also on at The Drum on the 26th.

Thursday the 13th till Saturday the 15th – “Pronoun” (Belgrade Youth Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – The tale of a teenager finally deciding to do something about his body having been birth-assigned the wrong gender. As an aside, I believe Finnish doesn’t have gender-specific pronouns. That should be the international lingua franca.

Thursday the 13th – The Selecter @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Two tone!

Friday the 14th till Saturday the 20th – Still Walking Festival @ various places in Birmingham – The festival of unusual guided walking tours that seems to happen at decidedly irregular intervals. Walks include tours concerned with mystery boulders that spread to the Midlands from Wales during the last ice age, and the city’s corners – check out the programme.

Friday the 14th – Katherine Priddy / The Cadbury Sisters @ Ort Café, Balsall Heath, Birmingham As I’ve said before, Katherine Priddy’s version of “Beeswing” (a song that eeeeeveryone seems to be doing nowadays) is the definitive one (unless, I suppose, you count “Carmen” in its entirety). The Cadbury Sisters’ forebears probably used to own all or most of the neck o’the woods where this gig will be taking place. So there’s a talking point.

Friday the 14th – “Heterophobia” (Outspoken Theatre) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – A heterosexual attempts to come out in a homosexual society. I faintly recall Martin Amis writing a short story like this, sensitive fellow that he is.

Friday the 14th – Boxing (Tommy Owens Promotions) @ Villa Park (Holte Suite), Aston, Birmingham – Punchy punchy punchy punchy…Hey, Don Broadhurst is fighting! I was under the impression that he’d packed it in. Although (looking it up as I type this) it appears that he’d reached a Prizefighter final since I last had that vague thought about him having packed it in, so that tells you how on-the-ball I am nowadays.

Saturday the 15th till Saturday the 22nd- “An Inspector Calls” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – “Was it you what done it?” “No.” “Ah but if you examine how your prior actions resonate in the world and peoples’ lives then you may find that it was you who, in fact, done it.” “Oh. Bugger.”

Saturday the 15th till Tuesday the 18th – “Uluzuzulalia” (Your Vivacious Voice) @ The MAC (Theatre Space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Pronounced “OO-LOO-ZOO-ZOO-LAY-LIA”, it seems. In this one, families can explore the worlds of “Squeak” (non-verbal) and “Speak” (verbal).

Saturday the 15th – Grand Magus @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – So I had/have a taped copy of their first album from over a decade ago, and always thought that they sounded astonishingly like Soundgarden for a Swedish band with a Very Metal name. I’ve just had a quick listen to a couple more recent tunes on YouTube though, and they nowadays they do sound a bit more like you’d expect them to.

Saturday the 15th – Bad Manners @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Three tone?

Saturday the 15th – “Little Red Hen” (Language Alive/The Play House) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – 3-6 year olds can help Little Red Hen plant her wheat, with puppetry and fresh bread.

Sunday the 16th – Martha Tilston @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – No Watersons/Carthys this month, have a Tilston instead.

Monday the 17th till Sunday the 30th – “Fortnight” (Proto-Type Theatre) @ Coventry in general, it seems – The notion that small change to context can massively change the way that you perceive something is surely a trivial one, but the specific ways in which it can do so are often fascinating to perceive. If you’re knocking around in the CV1-CV7 area then you can apply to join this, but apparently the best stuff is between the 23rd and 29th (so make sure you’re available over those evenings).

Monday the 17th till Friday the 21st – English Touring Opera’s stint @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – I hate The Grand Theatre. There, I said it. That aside, the well-respected ETO are doing Mozart’s The Magic Flute on the 17th, Britten’s Paul Bunyan on the 18th, and the locally-themed/community-based Zeppelin Dreams (composer? Possibly collectively composed. Have a trailer in lieu of this information) about Wolves being bombed by a WW1 Zeppelin (also, I get a feeling that I See What They Did There).

Monday the 17th – Tom Paxton @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Weird to note that the folky described as a “young man” on Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” album is now 76. Although (given that) I suppose it’s even weirder to note that Pete Seeger has only recently died.

Tuesday the 18th – Spiers & Boden @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – This tour/string o’gigs is the last one in which these motherfolkers will be performing together as a duo, so you if you want to see them then make sure that you do.

Wednesday the 19th – “In Praise Of Elephants” (Farnham Maltings) @ Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – Hooray! Elephants deserve to be praised! There’s a trailer!

Thursday the 20th till Saturday the 30th – Flatpack Film Festival @ lots of venues in Birmingham – Apparently it’s changed its name to “Flatpack Film Festival” from “Flatpack Festival”, which is a surprise to me chiefly on the grounds that I thought it always was called that. The themes seem to be “food” and “brains”, but as ever there’s a crazy amount of stuff to see – the Kathleen Hanna film, European cartoons that you can create the sound effects for, Yam Yam-ery, holy Ecclescake, mining, a strange little cat, a freaky clubnight, another guided walk, Hugo The Hippo, If Wet, pubs, you name it they’ve got it.

Thursday the 20th – Oysterband @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Do people who want to sound cool say “I preferred them when they were The Oyster Ceilidh Band”? They should, it’d be funny.

Friday the 21st – Stiff Little Fingers @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – So yeah, the modern-day stuff might be a bit wet, but “Suspect Device” remains one of the most amazing songs ever committed to recording. Your other traditional punk option for the evening will of course be…

Friday the 21st – GBH / Drongos For Europe @ The Wagon & Horses, Digbeth, Birmingham – …GBH and Drongos at The Wagon, so take your pick.

Saturday the 22nd till the 5th of April – Frontiers Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Attempting to link Birmingham and New York (different weight classes, I would’ve thought) by means of extraordinary music, they say. You have a contemporisificated version of Mozart’s “Bastien Und Bastienne”, In C, Sarah Farmer, yet more walking tours, and plenty more.

Saturday the 22nd – Boxing (P.J. Rowson) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Punchy punchy punchy punchy.

Sunday the 23rd – The Four Tops / The Temptations @ The NIA, Birmingham – Going Loco Down On Cloud Nine. Walk Away, Rolling Stone.

Tuesday the 25th – Lethal Bizzle @ The Institute (Temple Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – You don’t wanna bring armshouse, I’ll bring armshouse to your mom’s house, you don’t wanna bring no beef, bring some beef you lose some teef. I bet he doesn’t perform any of that stuff anymore.

Wednesday the 26th and on until Saturday the 19th of April – “Spanish Golden Age” season (Belgrade Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath and Arcola Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – New translations of three rarely-seen plays from Habsburg-era Spain, by Lope de Vega and Tirsa da Molina. I don’t know a thing about any of this, but “Don Gil of The Green Breeches” is an amazing title.

Wednesday the 26th – The Webb Sisters @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Laughin’ Lenny Cohen’s backing singers, doing their own thing.

Wednesday the 26th – “Mad(e) In Hades” (students of the University of Birmingham’s Master Playwriting course) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A re-telling of Heracles. Insert the stock “Euripedes trousers” joke here.

Wednesday the 26th – Goldfrapp @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – I’ve honestly never been able to decide whether I prefer their Marlene-Dietrich-clouded-in-Gitane-smoke stuff or their Madonna-choking-on-Soft-Cell-fumes stuff. Having said that, I haven’t heard anything at all that they’ve done for several years and so they might well have had another five modes since then.

Thursday the 27th till Saturday the 29th – “Our House” (Bimingham Ormiston Academy Musical Theatre) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – The Madness musical. I generally tend to view these things about as well as I do tribute bands, but I gather that this one has some social commentary to it. Or I may have got that wrong. I do like Madness, anyway.

Thursday the 27th – Azealia Banks @ The Academy, Birmingham – I’ve not enjoyed anything I’ve heard by her anywhere near as much as I did 212, but that one is so glorious that this gig might be worth it for that alone. (Edit: Cancelled. So many gigs seem to be being cancelled lately).

Thursday the 27th – Dan Whitehouse @ The ICC (Symphony Hall foyer), Birmingham – Doing the Folk For Free thing, which (as the name suggests) is free. I will not mention a certain television actor lookalike.

Friday the 28th – ABC @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – A gold lamé suit being, of course, the best armour to protect you from poison arrows.

Friday the 28th – Jack Bruce And His Blues Big Band @ The Robin 2, Bilston – The forgotten, sane, member of Cream.

Saturday the 29th – Mozart’s Requiem (Birmingham Choral Union) @ The University Of Birmingham (The Elgar Concert Hall), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Dies irae, dies illa, dies et cetera.

Saturday the 29th – “Going Dark” (Sound And Fury) @ The MAC (Theatre Space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – 75 minutes in the dark, telling and (to a lesser extent) showing the tale of a photographer losing his eyesight.

Saturday the 29th – Midlands Whisky Festival @ The Town Hall, Stourbridge – Top’n’tail the month with fermented grain mash (see also the 1st).

End-Of-Year-Count 2013: Talks, films, music that doesn’t fit into ‘pop’ or ‘opera’, exhibitions and attractions, sport, animals, barbeque, miscellany

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, Food, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 6 January, 2014

Hey, there’s been more stuff too.

(more…)

Lots Of Things To See And Do in The West Midlands: November 2013

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 October, 2013

I have managed three of these in a row! Hooray!

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.

Friday the 1st till Saturday the 16th – “Tartuffe” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Molière, played in this instance by Peterson/We Wanna Be Tergevva. Apparently he was in Harry Potter too, if you must.

Friday the 1st till Thursday the 14th – The Coventry Peace Festival @ various venues in Coventry – I can already imagine the tedious jokes that some will make about there never being any peace in Coventry. Lots of things are happening so clickedy-click for the line-up.

Friday he 1st till Saturday the 9th – “Bedlam: A Festival of Mad Ideas” @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – A series of mental-health-themed events, with both theatre and practical talks/workshops. [Rare moment of non-flippancy]I’m always happy to see any sort of awareness-raising like this[/Rare moment of non-flippancy].

Friday the 1st – “The Tell-Tale Heart” (Little Earthquake Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Thump-thump, thump-thump. Can’t say I’ve ever had a problem with the body parts I’ve put under the floor myself, but it takes all sorts.

Friday the 1st – The Full English @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A supergroup (if you feel like you’re in a position where you, in point of fact, will) of folksy sorts with Martin Simpson (see also the 27th ), Seth Lakeman, and loads of others. They’ll be performing bits from the Full English, which is apparently a new digital archive of traditional music.

Friday the 1st – “Risk” @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – A weekend of jazz and unusual music. It’s in Birmingham and they didn’t call it a festival! I am amazed.

Friday the 1st – Slade / The Sweet @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – Glam! Maybe possibly a few original members!

Friday the 1st – “Dinosaur Zoo” (Erth Visual & Physical Inc.) @ Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – Is it just me or do there seem to be loads of dinosaur shows for kids lately? Not that it’s a problem. Kids love dinosaurs.

Saturday the 2nd and Sunday the 3rd – Peaky Blinders-themed walking tours around Digbeth @ starting outside The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – I got bored and gave up halfway through the telly series (visually spectacular, of course, but then that is the most boring sense), but I suspect that this’ll be very interesting.

Saturday the 2nd – Youngblood Brass Band @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – SOU. SA. PHONE. (Chant with me now). SOU. SA. PHONE.

Saturday the 2nd – Revolt @ The Coal Vaults, Coventry – DIY feminist gig/club night, including bands and spoken word and the making of a communal zine that everyone present can contribute to.

Saturday the 2nd – Paul Merton’s Impro Chums @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – Ian Hislop isn’t a chum, presumably. Nor Boris.

Saturday the 2nd – Charlemagne Palestine, Rhys Chatham, and The Ex Easter Island Head Large Guitar Ensemble @ The Library Of Birmingham (studio theatre), Birmingham – The only chance in the UK to see/hear this Charlemagne Palestine collaboration. I suppose you would need a large guitar if you were a massive stone head.

Saturday the 2nd – English Dogs @ The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – Proper punk. I’m still not entirely clear whether they became Janus Stark for a few years or whether that was actually a different band.

Sunday the 3rd – Eddie Reader @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – What she doesn’t want is a half-heated love affair. At the very least, three-fifths of a heart will be required.

Sunday the 3rd – Mark Lanegan @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – You have to wonder what he did to the poor trees.

Sunday the 3rd – The Stylistics @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – On the off-chance that there are any original members left, they’d probably love you to make them fell brand new.

Tuesday the 5th – “The Ghost Ship” (Rumpus Theatre Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolvehampton – Is it me or are a lot of Joseph Conrad things getting adapted for stage just lately?

Tuesday the 5th – Enablers @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Post/indie-rock poetry , and an amazing live band.

Tuesday the 5th – Xhumed/Dead Good (not sure which of those is meant to be the name of the event) @ The Library Of Birmingham, Birmingham – Six people give speeches as six (late) people from history – J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Erasmus Darwin, Andrew Carnegie, Geraldine Cadbury, Matthew Boulton, and John Baskerville. There seems to be something of a local slant there.

Wednesday the 6th and on into next year – “The Science Of Sound” @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – For the kiddies, like. They can learn about acoustics in the acoustically amazing Symphony Hall.

Thursday the 7th till Saturday the 9th – “The Anatomy Of Melancholy” (Stan’s Cafe) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – As I always say when it comes to anything regarding them, it’s Stan’s Cafe and so it’ll be brilliant. I actually read Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy Of Melancholy” this year. I genuinely have no idea how they’re going to turn the blighter into a stage work, but that just makes it more exciting.

Friday the 8th till Sunday the 10th – Cake International @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham– Cakes o’the world.

Friday the 8th – The Hollies @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – All they need is the air that they breath, food, water and shelter.

Friday the 8th – Billy Joel @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I like him (nuts to you), but he seems to protest too much sometimes. He didn’t start the fire, he says. He’s an innocent man, he says.

Saturday the 9th till Sunday the 17th – The William Hill Grand Slam Of Darts @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Arrers!

Saturday the 9th – Esoteric @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – The doom band from Birmingham called Esoteric, rather than any of the other bands from elsewhere called Esoteric. They’re good but when I saw them the singer completely failed to make use of the Madonna-styled headset mic. No dance moves at all.

Saturday the 9th – The Festival Of Children’s Literature @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – That’s right, get the little bleeders reading. I approve.

Saturday the 9th – “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” (Tutti Frutti Productions) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Inspired by, but not actually, the Aesop fable.

Sunday the 10th – “Down The Rabbit Hole” (Companis) @ The Library Of Birmingham, Birmingham – A “five course sensory mobile meal”, taking place around the library and involving readings and sensory deprivation. I don’t know if any of the courses actually are rabbit.

Monday the 11th and Tuesday the 12th – operas courtesy of Ellen Kent International @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – “La Boheme” on the 11th and “Aida” on the 12th (and they’re also doing that one at Warwick Arts Centre on the 21st). If you fancy an opera-themed week, this could be usefully combined with…

Tuesday the 12th till Monday the 18th – Welsh National Opera coming around these parts @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham and this time also at The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Right, so, you have the “The Tudors” season at The Hippo, which sees Donizetti’s Anna Bolena on the 13th, Maria Stuarda on the 14th, and Roberto Devereux on the 15th. Alongside that, there’s also Tosca at The Hippo on the 12th and 16th, and on the 18th at The Mac there’s the new “I Had An Angel” by John O’Hara.

Tuesday the 12th and Wednesday the 13th – “Peppa Pig’s Big Splash” @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – I don’t know much about Peppa Pig other than that she’s really cute, but she is really cute.

Tuesday the 12th – Bellowhead @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Bands with a double-figures number of members are always good live. That’s a maxim that will never fail you.

Wednesday the 13th till Saturday the 16th – “Road” (Warwick University Drama Society) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Studio Theatre), near Coventry – Add stock (albeit true) comment here about this play probably being just as fitting now as it was in the mid eighties.

Wednesday the 13th – Flatpack Festival’s “Miners’ Hymns” @ The Town Hall, Bilston – A screening of Bill Morrison’s “The Miners’ Hymns” (which sounds brilliant), as well as additional related local archive footage.

Thursday the 14th – Cockney Rejects @ The Robin 2, Bilston – England belongs to them. Quite a big claim, when you think about it.

Thursday the 14th – Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – On his “100 Acts of |Minor Dissent” tour, where he talks about having committed just that.

Friday the 15th till Sunday the 17th – This Is Tmrw’s “All Year’s Leaving” festival @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Thr nght fstval t th Hr & Hnds, brght t y by Brm prmters Ths s TMRW nd nvlvng Dstph, Bt T Rw, Sky Lrkn, Vctrs t S, nd lds f thrs. S, ‘m ll cl lk th yng pple wth n vwls.

Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th “Zhe: [Noun] Undefined” (Collective Artistes) @ The Rep, Birmingham – A play exploring the identity & sexuality of two British Africans. ‘Zhe’ is a gender-neutral pronoun, although it isn’t clear to me in which language. That may or may not be part of the point.

Friday the 15th – Mahler’s 7th symphony (Philharmonia Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – As conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, who is never not described as charismatic.

Friday the 15th – Soul II Soul @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Back to life, back to the Town Hall.

Saturday the 16th – Reef @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Bless.

Saturday the 16th – Mozart’s “Requiem” (Orchestra Of The Swan) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – They’re playing the overture of “The Marriage Of Figaro” too, which is great fun.

Saturday the 16th – Editors @ The Academy, Birmingham – A band I’d forgotten about. Perhaps we should become re-acquainted.

Saturday the 16th – Boxing (Errol Johnson promotions) @ The Town Hall, Walsall – Fight fight fight

Tuesday the 19th – “The Events” (Actors Touring Company, Schauspielhaus Wien, Brageteatret, and the Young Vic) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – David Greig’s play, looking at ideas of community and using local choirs wherever it goes. I still can’t help thinking of this, though.

Tuesday the 19th – Gary Numan @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Right-wing-rockstars in Wolverhampton on the 19th #1: The “I only voted Tory once, honest” division.

Tuesday the 19th – Motorhead @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Right-wing rockstars in Wolverhampton on the 19th #2: The “I only dress up like a silly arse, I’m not one really, honest” division.

Tuesday the 19th – So Solid Crew @ The Institute (library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – Rescheduled from last month. Whether that eats into their allotted 21 seconds or not is something that I don’t know.

Wednesday the 20th till Saturday the 23rd (and I think there may be more yet to come) – Capital Theatre Festival 2013 @ The MAC (Foyle Studio), Edgbaston, Birmingham“The Disappearance Of Sadie Jones” updates Strindberg’s “A Dream Play”, and “Ugly, Duck” sees an ordinary fella from Stoke become a nude model. It would seem that there are also further plays yet to be announced.

Thursday the 21st till Saturday the 24th – Festive Gift Fair 2013 @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – All I want for Christmas is either A) you, or B) me two front teeth. Christmas~!

Thursday the 21st till Saturday the 23rd – “Josef K” (can’t seem to see the theatre company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Inspired by, but not actually, “The Trial”.

Thursday the 21st till Saturday the 23rd – “The Noise” (Unlimited Theatre) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Studio Theatre), near Coventry – Conspiracies, a giant iceberg, and a noise that never stops.

Thursday the 21st – Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Eddiiieee! Eddie-ee-ee!

Thursday the 21st – Go Kart Mozart @ The Academy 3, Birmingham – Them what did that “Selfish And Lazy And Greedy” song. It seems that the fella was in some other bands that a lot of people seem to like, too, but I don’t know about any of all that.

Friday the 22nd – Benjamin Britten Centenary Concert (CBSO Chorus) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – I do hope that people aren’t getting bored of Britten due to over-exposure, just lately. The recent (amazing) “Peter Grimes” at Symphony hall was quite sparsely attended.

Saturday the 23rd – The Supreme Cat Show @ The NEC, Maston Green, Birmingham – Every cat is The Supreme Cat if you ask it, of course.

Sunday the 24th – Billy Bragg @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Just because I’m lazy, doesn’t mean you’re better than me (that’s my version and I’m sticking to it).

Sunday the 24th – Sham 69 @ The Roadhouse, Stirchley, Birmingham – Weeeeeeee’re gowin’ dahn tha pab…

Sunday the 24th – Akala @ The Academy 3, Birmingham – Braggy, Sham 69 and Akala all in Brum on the same evening. Revolution a-brew, ah reckons.

Sunday the 24th – Terry Riley’s “In C” (Adrian Utley’s Guitar Orchestra) @ The Library Of Birmingham, Birmingham – The one you always forget from Portishead’s new ensemble, performing the influential minimalist piece. (Ooh I’ve just seen that Pram will be playing as well, so that’s cool).

Sunday the 24th – Goodnight Lenin @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Supporting Stornoway, who I thought were pretty dull when I saw them, but still. G’Lenin are ace.

Monday the 25th till Wednesday the 27th – “Beauty And The Beast” (One Of Us Productions/Improbable Theatre) @ Warwick Arts Centre (studio theatre), near Coventry – An adult version. Hopefully not that definition of ‘adult’ that just means ‘childish’.

Monday the 25th – Shellac @ The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – … Of North America.

Tuesday the 26th till Saturday the 30th – “Cabaret” (Bill Kenwright Ltd.) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – With Will Young as the Emcee. For some reason.

Tuesday the 26th – Om / Ore @ The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – I didn’t really like drone-doom types Om that much when I see them, but people always manage to make them sound good when describing them so maybe I should have another go someday. Also, tubah monstahs Ore are playing.

Wednesday the 27th until the 4th of January – “A Christmas Carol” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – This must be the single thing I’ve seen the most different versions of, between book/stage/screen. Christmas~!

Wednesday the 27th till Sunday the 1st of December – The BBC Winter Good Food Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I’d be interested to see the BBC bad food show as well.

Wednesday the 27th – Martin Simpson @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – He was never any good with money. No, wait, that was his dad.

Thursday the 28th – John Cooper Clarke @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – The flipping train is flipping late, you flipping wait you flipping wait.

Friday the 29th – Five @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Aw, I always liked Five. This is the boyband Five, not the metal band 5ive.

Friday the 29th – “Bring Your Own Beamer” @ Vivid Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham – In this context ‘beamer’ apparently means a digital overhead projector, rather than sim sim simma who got the keys to my etc. Those participating are to project their responses to the last eight months of revolution/protest-themed material displayed at Vivid.

Saturday the 30th till Sunday the 29th of December – “Room On The Broom” @ Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – I like the cat, although I expect everyone says that.

Saturday the 30th – Crystal Fighters @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Spanish folk meets bangin’ dance choons. As I believe the young people say.

Saturday the 30th – various bits of J.S. Bach, John Adams and Steve Reich (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Unlikely bedfellows, you might think.