Call me Russ L

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

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

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

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included (although, happily, no-one ever does this anymore).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End-Of-Year-Count 2016: Stage

Posted in Stage by Russ L on 31 December, 2016

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

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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: Stage

Posted in Stage by Russ L on 30 December, 2015

At the end of every year I curse myself for not having gone to see more plays, so this time I set myself a target of “an average of more than one per month”. That isn’t an enormous amount, I realise, but I did manage it.

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A small selection from the Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – July 2015

Posted in Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well by Russ L on 1 July, 2015

This will be even less use than my effort last month, but there we go. It’s too hot. Far, far too hot. Don’t take the fact that I’m melting into a little puddle as any sort of hint that there aren’t a whole imperial sack-full of things going on beyond this small selection.

‘Festival’ quick hits (because everything that ever happens in Birmingham calls itself a festival, as well as some things that happen outside of it)The Birmingham International Jazz & Blues Festival between the 3rd and the 12th; The Colmore Food Festival on the 3rd and the 4th; The Godiva Festival between the 3rd and the 5th; The Black Country Festival on the 14th (with other activities going on all month); the Belgrade Theatre’s July Festival between the 8th and the 19th; the Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival between the 10th and 12th; The Cradley Women Chainmakers’ Festival on the 11th and 12th; the Birminghamfest theatre festival between the 17th and the 2nd of August; the Walsall Town Festival between the 18th and the 26th; Simmer Down on the 19th.

Gig quick hitsBurt Bacharach at Symphony Hall on the 1st; Mary J. Blige at the NIA on the 3rd; Fleetwood Mac at the NEC on the 4th and the 7th; The Wonder Stuff and The Twang and Rhino & The Ranters at The Wulfrun on the 5th; Bette Midler at the NIA on the 9th; Cannibal Ox at The Sunflower Lounge on the 10th; Beres Hammond and Bunny Wailer at The Academy on the 18th; The (‘official’) Drifters at The Wulfrun on the 24th;
Badly Drawn Boy at Brum Town Hall on the 25th; The Bus Station Loonies at The Rainbow on the 26th; The Sonics at The Institute on the 28th; Otis Gibbs at The Kitchen Garden Café on the 29th.

Theatre quick hits (please also pay particular note to ‘Birminghamfest’ above)“Me At The Zoo” at Brum Rep on the 7th and 8th; “A Greek Chorus” at The Old Rep on the 8th and 9th; “Greywing House” at The Old Joint Stock on the 10th and 11th; “You Are The Jury” at The Drum on the 12th.

Opera quick hits – Opera North’s “The Flying Dutchman” at Symphony Hall on the 5th; Midland Opera’s “The Thieving Magpie” at The Crescent Theatre between the 15th and the 18th.

I also want to plug this just because the very existence of it probably winds up serious football fansThe National 5s League at The NIA on the 29th. Now I’m going to admit in advance that I don’t have the clearest idea what the flip this is. Nevertheless: football is a boring sport, I’m sure that we can all admit that. A really boring sport. They all run up one way for a bit, then they all run up the other way, then they all run back again. A ball flies around between them but they don’t seem to have a fat lot of control over it. Once, twice, or maybe three times per game someone will score a point. No-one hits anyone else. Utter bullshucks. Here, though… here they purport to mix football with “music, dance, monster trucks and pyrotechnics”. I don’t know if it’ll be any fun to watch, but it’ll be sure to make the purists’ piss boil and that is a worthy aim in itself. Don’t think that your protests have cancelled this forever, football fans. It will return, harder and stronger and more ridiculous.

A small selection from the Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – June 2015

Posted in LOTTSADITWM, Music, Stage, Well by Russ L on 31 May, 2015

It’s the abridged remix of LOTTSADITWM. That list is never exhaustive, of course, but this particular version will be even further away than usual. Better than me not posting anything at all though, eh? For some obscure value of ‘better’.

~ Not actually in the West Midlands but very close nearby, you have The Lunar Festival in Tanworth-In-Arden from Friday the 5th till Saturday the 7th. The line-up looks amazing, albeit with one notable disappointment (and it really is a disappointment – having The Bootleg Beatles as a headliner, I mean come on now. I know that it’s easy enough to just not watch them, but it seems like a statement and not one that I like. Next year’s headliners: Platinum Abba, Nearvana and… oh, I don’t know, I don’t follow these bloody things. Is there a tribute band called Puns ‘n’ Roses?). Still, though, other than that you have Tinariwen and Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood as your other two headliners. You have big names like The Fall and the Sun Ra Arkestra and some sort of performing version of the BBC Radiophonics workshop. You have Jane Weaver (Gotta See Jane, as R. Dean Taylor so wisely noted) and Zun Zun Egui (they absolutely blew the roof off the place at The Sunflower Lounge in March. Definitely worth seeing). You even have the opportunity to camp there, if you fancy behaving like some kind of beast of the field.

~ Actually, if I’m mentioning festivals in the surrounding counties then it would be remiss of me not to point out The Knitted Character Folk Festival in Temple Grafton on the 6th. And you know how I feel about being remiss. If you take a knitted version of a folk music artist and a CD of three of their songs, then your hand-made homunculus might be able to perform in between the less woolly turns. I know this sounds like a “Study the diagram, Dougal” moment but I promise you that I am not making it up.

~ Iechyd da, baby: The Welsh National Opera are bringing one of their seasons around to The Hippodrome. The theme is “A Terrible Innocence” with Richard Ayres’ “Peter Pan” on the 11th and Claude Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” on the 13th, and for good measure you also have the production of “The Magic Flute” that they brought around last time on the 10th and 12th. It really is a shame that these clash with Supersonic, but there we are.

~ Speaking of which… Thooperthonic ith back. Not at The Custard Factory, though! That’s going to feel strange. The first night is at Brum Town Hall, and then after that your main bits will be at Boxxed and The Crossing (is that the theatre space in the South Birmingham College building?) as well as fringe events at various other places. Your musical line-up includes Holly Herndon (seemingly everyone’s fave all of a sudden, and rightly so), The Pop Group (I need to get around to actually listening to them at some point), Richard Dawson (oh my days. Really now. A Richard Dawson gig is… I cannot even describe a Richard Dawson gig. I mean this in the best possible way. Go and see Richard Dawson), The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble (i.e. the one from Goldfrapp who isn’t Alison Goldfrapp, leading a large ensemble all playing Moog Synthesisers), Liima (the new version of the amazing Efterklang, a band I loved dearly), The Bug vs Dylan Carlson, Six Organs Of Admittance, Ravioli Me Away as well as loads of others, and there are loads of exhibitions and installations and talks and what-not besides.

~ The erstwhile Birmingham Municipal Bank building (opposite the library) will have a rare open week between the 20th and the 28th, so that’ll be worth a looksee inside. There’s an exhibition in there of Birmingham Post archive photos of hidden spots in Birmingham, although I’m not sure whether or not that’ll be the same exhibition as the one that that was in Curzon Street Station last year.

~ Gig quick hits: Nas at The Institute on the 4th; Discharge and Chaos UK at The Actress & Bishop on the 5th; Dan Whitehouse with BJ Cole at The Glee Club on the 5th; Fleetwood Mac at the NIA on the 8th; Bridget St John and Michael Chapman at The Kitchen Garden Café on the 9th; Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at The Glee Club on the 10th; The Cadbury Sisters at The Glee Club on the 12th; The Burning Hell at The Coal Vaults on the 16th; John J Presley at The Hare & Hounds on the 17th; The Moody Blues at The NIA on the 20th; Dead Kennedys sans Jello at The Academy on the 23rd; The Bus Station Loonies at The Actress & Bishop on the 26th (EDIT: Wrong month, wrong venue); John Legend at The NEC on the 26th.

~ Theatre quick hits (it’s not particularly helpful doing it like this, I realise, but I suppose you can just click through if you like the title): “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” at The Hippodrome up until the 6th; “The Siege” at The Rep between the 4th and the 6th; “Black is The Colour Of My Voice” at The Old Joint Stock on the 12th and 13th; “Silence” at The Old Rep between the 17th and the 20th; “Hands Up – Don’t Shoot!” at The Drum on the 19th; “The Boy Who Became A Beetle” at The Arena on the 19th; The BE Festival at The Rep between the 23rd and the 27th; The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre at The Old Joint Stock on the 27th.

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: February 2015

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well by Russ L on 31 January, 2015

Soul 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. That’s not the way it works.

From the 31st of January all the way up to the 11th of April – “Birmingham Show” @ Eastside Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham – An art exhibition that concerns itself with three questions: ‘What is the art of Birmingham?’ ‘Is there an accent to Birmingham’s art making?’ and ‘How is Birmingham useful for the production of art?’. Potentially very interesting – I often feel like there are common threads that I can’t quite put my finger on amongst local stuff.

Sunday the 1st – Joe @ The Academy, Birmingham – Soul month! I’d call Joe ‘alright’ rather than ‘great’. I might not have mentioned him here were it not for A) the respect-worthy lack of effort that went into his stage name, and B) that concept album he did that was set in Possilpark.

Sunday the 1st – “Gaza: When Fire Rained Down From The Sky” @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – A talk from Musheir El-Farra, who recently wrote a book of the same name about victims of Israel’s 2008 campaign.

Monday the 2nd – Jefferson Starship @ The Robin 2, Bilston – The current touring version of Jefferson Starship, doing the music of Jefferson Airplane. I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s a retrograde step or not.

Tuesday the 3rd till Saturday the 7th – “The History Boys” (Sell A Door Theatre Company) @ The Belgrade Theatre, CoventryGordon Alan Bennett. (Also on at The Alexandra between the 23d and the 28th).

Wednesday the 4th till Saturday the 7th – “The Glass Menagerie” (Warwick University Drama Society) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), near Coventry – Tenner C. Williams. Tenner him? I barely know him.

Friday the 6th till Saturday the 21st – “Harvey” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre (The House, Birmingham) – Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit etc.

Friday the 6th – “The Tell-Tale Heart” @ The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, Birmingham – Readings and film showings and stuff hidden under the floor, all in honour of Edgar Allen Poe’s birthday.

Saturday the 7th till Saturday the 21st – “Only A Day” (Belgrade Theatre Company) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – A fox and a boar watch over the birth of a mayfly. For children aged seven and over.

Saturday the 7th – “Inside” (Strawberry Blonde Curls Theatre Company) @ The MAC (the Hexagon), Edgbaston, Birmingham – About Stockholm Syndrome. You know, that one where you fall in love with your pet moose.

Sunday the 8th – “Only Fools And Boycie – An Evening With John Challis” @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – I saw him as the voice of The Book in that touring version of Hitchhikers the other year, which was interesting casting. This, I assume (and sort-of hope), will consist of him doing this for an hour and a half.

Tuesday the 10th till Saturday the 14th – Matthew Bourne’s “Edward Scissorhands”(New Avenues) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – They won’t let me have scissors. Not the sharp ones, anyway.

Tuesday the 10th till Saturday the 14th – “Forever Young” (Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company & Oldham Coliseum Theatre) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Theatre), near Coventry – Aging pantomime actors try to prove that it isn’t all behind them. That’s a plot description. I’ve no idea if it functions on a meta level as well or not.

Tuesday the 10th – Kenny Garrett @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Jazz sax-o-mo-phone. I expect that a lot of people get him mixed up with Kenny G. I also expect that he doesn’t like that very much.

Wednesday the 11th – The CBSO’s “Shostakovich Uncovered” @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The 11th symphony (“In The Year 1905”) with an explanatory talk/performance attached. It’s also being done as part of the ‘War And Revolution’ programme on the 15th, and if you like Shosto then there’s also first piano trio on the 26th.

Friday the 13th (whoooo) – Macy Gray @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Soul Month! I know “I Try” got really flipping irritating the first time around, after it was projected into every semi-stable bit of air in the entire world non-stop for about two years running, but listen back to it now – it’s lovely. There has, presumably, been some more stuff since then too. Maybe I should try to hear some of it.

Saturday the 14th – Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – My first thought when I heard the name was a reflexive “Oh yes, and what precisely is quite so postmodern about it all?”, but they do actually appear to be applying signifiers out of context to see what they end up doing. So…

Saturday the 14th – Gruff Rhys @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Star of “Not The Nine O’Clock News” and “Alas Smith & Jones”, latterly more well known for larking about on boats. What?

Saturday the 14th – Fascinating Aïda @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – The Cheap Flights song absolutely cracked me up.

Saturday the 14th – Professional Boxing @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Ah, I have no idea who the local boxers are nowadays. The balcony in The Civic is a great place to watch fighting sports, though – you get a great view of the ring. There’s also boxing at the Holte Suite at the Villa ground on the 20th and at Bescot stadium on the 21st, but again I dunno.

Sunday the 15th and Monday the 16th – “The Snail And The Whale” (Tall Stories) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A snail wants to see the world and so hitches a ride on the back of a whale. You don’t know how much I’d like to do that.

Sunday the 15th – The Dublin Legends @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – “Will they ever be called ‘The Dubliners’ again?” (Wait for it, wait for it) No, nay, never, no nay never no more…

Sunday the 15th – “UK Burger Battle Valentine Special” @ Spotlight, Digbeth – You get to eat two burgers from two different chefs and judge them. The winner gets… I dunno, indigestion I expect.

Sunday the 15th – Echo & The Bunnymen @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Rescheduled from last year, due to illness. I think one of the Bunnymen was poorly. Echo was notably annoyed about having to cancel gigs.

Monday the 16th till Saturday the 21st – “The Honey Man” (Birmingham Rep Theatre & Judy Owen Ltd) @ The Rep Theatre (The Door), Birmingham – An old Caribbean beekeeper is harassed by the daughter of the his landlord. This one has been well-regarded for a long time now. (It’s also on at The Arena in Wolves on the 24th, and… y’know, I swear I saw it on somewhere else in February but I can’t quite seem to locate where. Sorry).

Tuesday the 17th till Saturday the 21st – “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time” (National Theatre) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – With the usual caveats about representation. And the usual caveats about The Grand Theatre.

Tuesday the 17th – D’Angelo @ The Academy, Birmingham – Soul Month! I like this trend of famous artists releasing albums on two-minutes notice, it’s fun. Particularly when, like Dang (as he is known to the non-boring), you’re famous for hardly releasing albums at all.

Tuesday the 17th – “Alice In Wonderland” (Box Tale Soup) @ Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – A puppetry version, which actually does strike me as a very good medium for it.

Wednesday the 18th – The Decemberists @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Any band that do a video based in a scene from “Infinite Jest” are alright by me.

Wednesday the 18th – Hey Colossus @ The Flapper, Birmingham – Doom-come-post-rock sorts, who were something beyond amazing the first time I saw them and then a bit dull the second time.

Friday the 20th – Sleaford Mods @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – I’m not entirely convinced that he’s not just a pub bore moaning about other pub bores, but I’m open to be persuaded.

Friday the 20th – Mitch Benn @ The MAC (Theatre Space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Like Jeremy Hardy, tours mostly to prove that he exists in the corporeal world and not solely on the radio.

Friday the 20th – St Patrick’s Day Charity Event @ The Irish Centre, Digbeth, Birmingham – It seems that the Birmingham Saint Padraig’s Day parade (3rd largest in the world etc) has had its funding cut. Money is being raised, and this here is a benefit gig with loads of Irish music (including The Father Teds).

Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd – “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus” (Big Wooden Horse Theatre Company) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), near Coventry – Good advice for living, as well as the title of this play for children three and older.

Saturday the 21st – Earth @ The Oobleck, Digbeth, Birmingham – Yer contemporary drone band, not Black Sabbath under their original name. Or Earth, Wind & Fire. Or Manfred Mann’s Earthband.

Saturday the 21st – MMA (British Association of Mixed Martial Arts) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Wolves council had a bit of a “ban this filth” fit over MMA a few years ago and cancelled an event that was due to take place at the Civic (in spite of the fact that MMA fights had already taken place there, on a kickboxing card. I know, I was there), so I’m glad that’s all settled down. This card features mega-prospect Tom Duquesnoy, and (as I mentioned above) this is a good venue for fightsports. One Paul Taylor is fighting, too, but sadly it’s not that Paul Taylor.

Saturday the 21st – Pete Rock @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – CL Smooth’s mate. They reminisce they reminisce.

Sunday the 22nd – Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The second most famous folky from Barnsley and the second most famous folky from the Lakeman family, making something first class when combined.

Sunday the 22nd – Mahler’s First Symphony by the CBSO Youth Orchestra @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – And if you like Mahlo, there’s the sixth symphony on the 26th and the 28th.

Sunday the 22nd – “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – With Jack Dee and the surprisingly corporeal Jeremy Hardy and all o’them other fellas. Mornington Crescent.

Monday the 23rd – “Woyzeck” (Splendid Productions) @ The MAC (the Hexagon), Edgbaston, Birmingham – I always forget that this was a play before it was an opera.

Wednesday the 25th till Thursday the 7th of March – “The King’s Speech” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company & Chichester Festival Theatre) @ The Rep (The House), Birmingham – P-p-p-p-p-p-poker F-f-face, Granville. With Jason Donovan! Wow.

Wednesday the 25th and Thursday the 26th – Selina Thompson’s “Chewing The Fat” @ Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), near Coventry – I can’t help but chuckle about the fact that Warwick Arts Centre’s page for this comedy/theatre performance about weight/body image finishes with “Theatre Supper: Enjoy a post-show supper in Le Gusta…”

Wednesday the 25th – The Jesus & Mary Chain @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Doing their vaunted “Psychocandy” album. Feeding the feedback back.

Wednesday the 25th – Michael Chapman @ The Kitchen Garden Café, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Fun fact: between September 2011 and February 2013 I saw Chappo and his bluesy fingepickin’ guitarin’ five times, which seems (to me) like quite a high times-to-time ratio for seeing someone non-local. I’ve not seen him before or since.

Wednesday the 25th – “The Cloth Of The World” (The Fetch Theatre Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A puppetry performance inspired by Hereford Cathedral’s Mappa Mundi, which is an intriguingly mad concept. Includes mermaids, mandrakes, and gold-digging ants.

Thursday the 26th till Sunday the 28th – “Ava’s Wedding” (students of Birmingham Conservatoire) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – A new opera, by Michael Wolters of the Conservatoire. The libretto (by Alexandra Taylor) is apparently influenced by soap operas, making this a soap opera-opera. If you will.

Thursday the 26th – Rick Wakeman @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Keyboards and capes.

Thursday the 26th – “Broke” (The Paper Birds Theatre Company) @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – About debt. There’s a lot of it about.

Friday the 27th – Richard Herring @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – I used to love “Fists Of Fun” and “TMWRNJ”, but I’m afraid to go back and try to watch them again. I have a faint worry that it might just turn out to have been a load of wacky-student crapola.

Friday the 27th – Syleena Johnson @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Soul month! It’s really not clear to me whether she’s supporting Faith Evans, or they’re doing some sort of joint tour with ‘em all together on stage at once.

Friday the 27th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – The soirée at the just harbour town (‘Fair’,’port’… geddit?).

Friday the 27th – “Nursing Lives” (Vamos Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Stories of nurses, performed by “the UK’s leading full mask theatre company”. Presumably not just surgical masks, then.

Friday the 27th – Mark Thomas’ “Cuckooed” @ Warwick Arts Centre (Theatre), near Coventry – The tale of how a friend of his turned out to be informing about his activities to BAE systems. I suspect the same thing is happening to me. Only BAE Systems don’t care about me and wish that this person would stop bothering them.

Saturday the 28th – The Black Keys @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I have a vague memory of being more-or-less indifferent to the odd songs of theirs that I’ve heard (maybe. I dunno, I’m reasonably sure I’ve heard their own stuff but I have no distinct recollections), but that Dr John album that their frontman helped him out with is really good so maybe they are worthwhile after all. Or perhaps it was all just Dr John. He has a sazzle of gris-gris in his hand, as you know.

Saturday the 28th – “Bag Lady” (Hidden Gems Productions) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Eve the bag lady is angry. This play would seem to be about why.

Saturday the 28th – Broken Bones @ The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – Your band that grew out of Discharge. Finish your Soul Month (!) with some thrashin’ punk.