Call me Russ L

Festival Festivities 2018: This was all carefully planned, but that doesn’t seem to have made any f’n difference (Lunar)

Posted in Modern Living, Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 25 August, 2018

Lunar Festival, at the Umberslade Farm Park in posh Tanworth-In-Arden. Just the Sunday for me, for this one. The Stranglers were by far the least interesting of the three headliners, but the line-up through the day looked good (it later occurred to me that this was because most of the bands were already familiar to me, which isn’t necessarily the best way to approach these events, but then again it’s not like this was Supersonic) and you get the bonfire on the Sunday. FIRE! At last!

Let’s get the important bit out of the way. Lunar festival contained…

No sousaphones! Not even one in the brass band for the procession. I’m a bit disappointed by that.

The themes were clear, at least. There was some ooblocks about ‘Seven Elements’ in the programme and preliminary blah, but what we really had was the traditional four elements and plenty of them. Water from sky – oh mercy, so much water fell from the sky. So, so much. Earth, in the form of mud. Air, in the form of wind. And later on FIRE. (Also stands to be noted – having the Lunar Festival on the weekend of the blood moon eclipse seemed apt. Apt, I say).

Didn’t it rain though, children. It didn’t seem so bad to begin with – after all, Dorcha were on first and they’re a great band to twirl your umbrella to (being, as they are, a wolfpack of Mary Popinses). After a while it starts to get you down, though. At my lowest I was tempted to abandon the music entirely and go into one of the indoor bits in the other field, but then I realised that was also somewhere around the time that Jess Phillips was running a No Homers Diane Abbotts club (VIP seats reserved for Lord Ashcroft) in one of them. You don’t want to blunder into that by accident.

Jane Weaver summoned the first bit of sun we saw all day (regrettably she also summoned Janice Long as an unadvertised compere) and that seemed right and fitting, but that didn’t last. Still, it was actually quite a nice day by the time that it wasn’t daytime anymore, and then we got the procession and bonfire (FIRE)! Great for drying your bum. The pyre was just a big triangle this time, though, rather than the (previously) customary Gigantic Woodbird. I don’t know if it makes me bloodthirsty to want to burn an animal in effigy. Sapthirsty, maybe.

Musical turns of note: Dorcha (with and without Damo Suzuki), Galleon Blast, The Swampmeat Family Band, Jane Weaver, AK/DK, Songhoy Blues (band of the day), and I don’t know who the brass ensemble doing the procession were but, y’know, them.

(Title quote courtesy of Mark Radcliffe).


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing With Posh Chairs – disconnected and incoherent thoughts about Game Of Thrones Series 4, Episode 1

Posted in Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 9 April, 2014

So it’s come to this. I warn you that this may contain spoilers regarding series 4, episode 1 if you haven’t watched it yet.


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

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

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

Standard disclaimers: I can’t ensure that these events will go ahead, that they’ll be good, or that I will be going to them. This is just a list of things I found that looked like they might be interesting, so please do not contact me to ask for your event to be included. That’s not the way it works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just a select few things to see and do in the West Midlands, out of the Lots Of Things that are happening

Posted in Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 14 February, 2014

In the absence of a LOTTSADITWM post (there’ll be one for next month, definitely. Possibly. Hopefully!) I thought I might list just a few things that look like they could be fun in the latter half of February. Usual disclaimers apply.

~ This is so deliciously bizarre that I couldn’t possibly fail to give it a shout somewhere: the 18th sees The Birmingham Bullring Fishmongers Championship take place at the Birmingham indoor markets. Apparently there are competitions for the best fish display, and for feats of knife skill. The fact that this is a thing that exists in the world is a fact that makes me smile.

~ The 19th of February will be blessed to see Bernadette Russell’s “366 Days Of Kindness” be performed at The Arena Theatre in Wolves. I saw this in December (briefly making mention of it somewhere in the murky depths of this post) and loved it – Bernadette spent a year making sure that she did something kind for a complete stranger every day, and chronicles it in this. It’s definitely worth seeing.

~ Over in Coventry, the fifth Revolt will be taking place at The Coal Vaults (née Taylor John’s House) on Saturday the 22nd – a DIY feminist/LGBTQ based gig/clubnight/space. (Post-)Punky sorts (Hooker) are your headliners, but there are more bands and spoken word artistes and zines and all sorts of what-all.

~ Abie’s Miracle Tonic are doing the Folk For Free bit at The ICC/Symphony Hall foyer on the 27th, and they’re a huge amount of fun. I can damn-near guarantee you that you won’t get any other chances to see a free gig by a great band who mix folk, skiffle and advertising jingles anywhere else that night (you just watch now, there’ll turn out to be another one…).

~ Finally, Castle Gallery in The ICC has an exhibition of pictures of Marilyn Monroe. There are a massive number of reasons regarding why this is a good thing, with the applicable ones depending on the angle you want to approach it from.

That’s just a few things to hold you, then. There’s loads more going on, of course. Have a look around yourself! I’ll always still be here if you need me.

A fragment of fiction

Posted in Modern Living, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 9 January, 2014

The condensation that had formed on the outside of the pint glass caused it to slip straight through Rowan’s fingers. Joachim violently jerked his legs away from the splash that didn’t come anywhere near him.

“Y’see, that wouldn’t happen if they didn’t over-chill the ales. It’s a good job it wasn’t full”.

“I’ll tell you what’s a good job, it’s a good bleedin’ job that I could get out of the way quick enough. Darnell does enough moaning about me smelling of booze as it is”.

For a brief second Rowan thought about asking a difficult question in response to this, but quickly decided to let it go. He placed a couple of beermats at the edge of the pool of alcohol that was now spreading across the table, breathing in the newly released scent.

“Ah, the divine fragrance that results from IPA being released into the wild… Actually, it smells foul like this. I prefer it in the glass”.

An adjustment to the position of the beermats did little to halt the expansion of the spillage. Rowan rubbed his fingers together, drying their moist coating of beer.

“And now my fingers smell”
“I get fed up with how frequently you say that.”
“It matters not, I suppose. It’s not like I have anyone to smell them for me these days.”
“You used to get Poppy to… smell your fingers?”
“I would have liked to, but she wasn’t into it.”
“I wish I could be completely certain that you were joking.”

They went through the motions of chuckling, each fulfilling the social obligation that they expected the other to expect, each well aware that any genuine laughter or warmth was at least a few pints away.

“Why do they call ’em fingers, anyway? I’ve never seen ’em fing” added Rowan, hoping to keep the bonhomie going.

The beer puddle reached the edge of the table and steadily began to drip down to the floor. Rowan began to smile as he realised how the gentle thud of droplet hitting carpet sounded like a cat’s pawstep, before he realised that Joachim was saying something to him.