Call me Russ L

Brum on Brum crime

Posted in Combat Sports by Russ L on 17 March, 2009

Wayne Elcock vs Matthew Macklin wasn’t quite as hotly anticipated for me as Wayne Elcock vs Darren McDermott was (see the bits below the asterisk here), but it was still a huge fight for all local boxing fans and one I really wanted to see. Theoretically, anyway. When I found out that the tickets were £40 (thus over £45 by the time you’ve added all of the booking fee/gubbins on) I was aghast. Forty-five quid for a card at the Villa Leisure Centre meant that Hennessy Sports, so often held up as the promoters of the people, were really taking the Mick (pun not reeeally intended). I wanted to see the fight live, but could I really condone this sort of abject pricing idiocy by actually paying for it?

I was um-ing and arr-ing until I found out that Young Mutley was meant to be challenging Adnan Amar for the English welterweight title on the undercard. That sold it for me: I did still feel like I was being made a fool of to some extent, but I paid my money for a ticket.

After that, however, it was established that Adnan Amar has decided that he refuses to face Mutley in Birmingham. Bugger. Although I have respect for the bravery of every boxer who dares to step into the ring, I’ve never seen quite as emphatic a bottle-job as this.

Oh well. With a ridiculously over-priced ticket in my pocket and a feeling of bitterness in both my heart and mind, I got the necessary trains over to Aston to have a look. First thought upon arriving and sitting down: that American MC that Hennessy uses doesn’t half get on my nerves.

Things began for me (I’m not sure whether the first fight I saw was the first of the night or not; full results albeit not in order can be seen here) with a fun but messy four rounder. Quinton Hillocks o’ Dudley didn’t do his superman/Soulja Boy entrance this time around, and that surely must be the reason why he ran face-first into quite a few things that Sheffield’s straight-backed/chin-held-up type Lee Duncan probably shouldn’t have been able to hit him with. The ref’s final score of 39-38 in favour of Quinton seems right to me, although it doesn’t really reflect the fact that he came close to stopping his man in the last round.

There was a short break after this, as the televised portion of the night began. Two things of note occurred: 1) A man dressed as Elvis turned up at ringside (for some reason); and 2) Barry McGuigan cast his eyes over the crowd and stopped to scowl directly at me. I’m not going to hold it against him, though. I know he hasn’t quite been right since Amir Khan moved to Sky Sports. Just remember, Barry – it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Tom Glover and Chaz Symonds were up next, contesting an eight-rounder that was surprisingly entertaining given that they’re both Southerners from far away (meaning that I had no dog in the race, so to speak). I was distracted for a while in the middle due to the fact that the Elvis impersonator seemed to be being interviewed for the telly cameras over to our right (really now, whasgwaaning there?), but it was a close one – Glover was achieving more with single punches, but Symonds was landing more in combos. I forget the precise score at the end, but Glover took it by one point and that seems to reflect affairs well.

Good Ceiling Cat almighty Tyson Fury is a big fella. I mean… bloody hell. Just look at him. He’d also have the best name in boxing if it wasn’t for the aforementioned Quinton Hillocks.

I really admire the relatively brave matchmaking that Fury has had so far (certainly braver than you’d expect, at the absolute minimum). Here in his fourth professional fight he was against Lee Swaby, who may have been pulled in on short notice but it’s important not to forget that he knocked out Enzo Macarinelli at a similar stage in Big Mac’s pro career. I also think Fury is progressing fantastically well, given that he’s only a nineteen year old on his fourth pro fight – he might not be getting his weight in for the heavy one-shot punches yet, but he’s still getting rid of his opponents inside the distance. Perhaps more importantly he’s demonstrating a wide variety of punches to both the head and the body, excellent accuracy, and he’s lightning quick for his size. Then, of course, there’s the size itself. As long as he keeps getting better he’s going to be an absolute nightmare for his future opponents.

There’s always a sense of occasion about a British title fight – it just feels like a major affair. The atmosphere here was no exception (and, happily, it was good-natured all night too). I really was behind Macklin in this – I don’t dislike Elcock and I’d definitely be supporting him against anyone from further away, but I like Macklin more and also (if I’m honest) I had some lingering resentment about the McDermott result.

Whichever way up, I was expecting it to be close (I’d picked Macklin by stoppage in the last few rounds but expected him to have to ride out a few storms). Not so – Elcock was never really in it. The first round was competitive but Macklin was ahead, boxing in the sensible style he’s capable of but sometimes neglects. The second was solidly in Macklin’s favour, and Elcock couldn’t seem to land anything of note. In the third a right cross seemed to really hurt Elcock and turn his legs to jelly, leading to the ‘steam in’ style that we know and love from Matty Macklin. Wayne went down and bravely stood back up, but the ending wasn’t far away.

Suited me, as far as results go.

A couple-or-three more four-rounders followed, but I considered the train situation and headed on my way. I was probably a bit too excitable to pay proper attention anyway. I’m told that the Chris Male fight was on the telly broadcast, so I’ll see that when I get round to seeing it.

So… in the immediate British title context it looks like Darren McDermott is to take on Darren Barker next, in an eliminator. To my shame I’ve never seen Barker, but I like this – if Macca wins he gets the British title shot that he’s owed after the silly ending last time, if he loses then there’s the rematch with Elcock to settle that particular score. There’s a big local fight on the horizon, whichever way up.

Also regarding boxing from that particular night: Khan nonsense. As ever. But worse. Being sanctioned by the WBA and WBO, that fight was under American rules – to wit, a stoppage from an accidental cut will lead to a no-contest for the first four rounds, and then to the judges scorecards afterwards. They bumped heads and Barrera suffered a gusher towards the end of first round, as I’m sure anyone interested will have seen by now. It could have been stopped then, but it wasn’t. Alright, fair enough, give the legend a chance. Does it not seem slightly suspicious, though, that it was stopped in round five? The cut hadn’t got noticeably worse or better by that point, but stopping it in that round did mean that Khan would win the fight rather than it being declared a no-contest. The smell of home-cooking wafts around in the air, and it smells distasteful. What a way to treat a genuine legend of the sport like Marco Antonio Barrera.

Advertisements

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – March 2009

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 26 February, 2009

Thought you’d seen the last, eh? LOTTSADITWM doesn’t lie down quite so easily, suckah.

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 – The Drifters @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Or a version thereof, at least. No Ben E. King or Clyde McPhatter, for obvious reasons.

Sunday the 1st – Muay Thai (K-Star) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Elbows and knees by the reservoir, in what is quite possibly the most seventies-styled venue I have ever seen.

Monday the 2nd – “These Four Streets” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Absolutely excellent play based around last year’s Lozells riots, showing how small frustrations can build and build into bigger tensions in a community. We saw it at The Rep Door a few weeks ago and I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s also at The Drum on the 13th.

Monday the 2nd – The Ting Tings @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – That is their name, for that is indeed what they are called.

Tuesday the 3rd till Saturday the 7th – “The Jungle Book” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Mr Kipling makes exceedingly good anthropomorphic animals.

Thursday the 5th – Half Man Half Biscuit @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Wherein everyone will be doing The Len Ganley Stance.

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

Friday the 6th – Rolo Tomassi @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Third on the bill of the Rock Sound sponsored (see, how cool is that? Glossy magazines!) “Shred Yr Face” tour. I would like to make it clear that I don’t like “yr” as a diminutive of “your” (rather than “year”). I didn’t like it the first time around in fanzines and now I don’t like it this time round on internets. Hurrumph.

Saturday the 7th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – That would be the folk band Fairport Convention, of course. The Town Hall is not due to be hosting a convention of, erm, fairports.

Saturday the 7th – Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy & Chris Parkinson @ Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – Speaking of folk… I bet this and Fairport on the same night will constitute an unfortunate date clash for some punters.

Saturday the 7th – Boxing (Mahesh Mendalia/Dennis Hobbs) @ The New Bingley Hall, Hockley, Birmingham – Featuring the last ever match of local boxing/Kung-Fu/Kickboxing legend Pele Reid (he knocked out Vitali Klitchsko in a light-contact kickboxing match. Just take a second to think about both halves of that sentence) before he retires. It’s at a new venue, too.

Wednesday the 11th till Saturday the 14th – “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” (Dudley Little Theatre) @ Netherton Arts Centre, Netherton – Classic play and you can pop into Ma Pardoe’s for a swift ‘un after it’s finished.

Wednesday the 11th until Sunday the 15th – Flatpack Film Festival @ Various venues in Birmingham – Very eagerly anticipated by a lot of people, 7 Inch Cinema’s third Flatpack Film Festival is nearly upon us. Their calendar page seems to have been designed with the express intent of making it as awkward as possible to browse what’s going on, but I’m particularly looking forward to the Curzonara event with The Destroyers (natch) and Waller Jeffs’ animated pictures.

Thursday the 12th – “Legends Of The Oche” @ The Concert Hall, Dudley – Darts and comedy from Bobby George, John Lowe, Eric Bristow and – apparently – one Duncan “Chase Me” Norvelle.

Friday the 13th till Tuesday the 17th – St Patrick’s festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Centred, obviously, around what is reported to be the biggest St Paddy’s day parade in the world outside of Dublin and New York. Also of interest looks to be The Craic Was Good In Cricklewood at The Irish Club in Digbeth on the 16th.

Saturday the 14th and intermittently until Saturday the 11th of April – “Terrorism” mini-season @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Three plays based on matters surrounding terrorism over the course of a few weeks – The Bus (in which a girl is challenged as to why she’s taking a particular journey), Terrorism (wherein various disparate scenes are shown to be somehow similar) and Talking To Terrorists (which relays bits from interviews with an assortment of people who have been involved in or affected by terrorism). Daily Mail styled hurrumphing is probably best left at home.

Saturday the 14th – John Legend @ The Academy, Birmingham – Diminishing qualitative returns of late, obviously, but “Get Lifted” was a fantastic album.

Saturday the 14th – Boxing (Hennessy Sports) @ AVEC, Aston, Birmingham – Second city derby! Macklin vs Elcock for the British middleweight title, and they’re both Zulus so hopefully there shouldn’t be a riot or anything to spoil anyone’s day. The undercard also features Young Mutley vs Adnan Amar for the English welterweight title and this Tyson Fury (what a name) heavyweight prospect that they’re all speaking words about. On the other hand, tickets are £45. Mick Hennessy really is taking the piss.

Tuesday the 17th – “The Maids” (Phizzical Productions) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A Bollywood influenced version of a Genet play. That’s not a sentence you get to say every day.

Wednesday the 18th till Saturday the 21st – “Can Any Mother Help Me?” (Foursight Theatre) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – Telling the story of the Co-Operative Correspondence Club, through which otherwise isolated women were able to make themselves heard on everything “From marriage to childbirth, hidden desires to socialism, housework to wartime politics”.

Saturday the 21st – Mono @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Japanese post-rock types that I still haven’t got around to having a listen to at the time of writing, but a few people that I’d actually pay heed to recommend them so I’ll stick ‘em in here anyway.

Saturday the 21st – Musiq Soulchild @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – I’d got the idea from somewhere that he’d changed his name to just ‘Musiq’, but apparently that’s not true. Even change doesn’t stay the same these days.

Saturday the 21st – Science Day @ Edgbaston Reservoir, Edgbaston, Birmingham – An astronomically themed morning, apparently. Turn up between 11AM and 1PM.

Tuesday the 24th – Yo Majesty @ The Little Civic, Wolverhampton – Punk-funk-crunk-rap, say some. Like a more raucous Salt’n’Pepper. (EDIT: postponed, apparently. See comments).

Wednesday the 25th – Metallica @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I do realise that I’m stretching the “things that looked like they might be interesting” bit from the rubric above with this one. They have been interesting at times in the past, however far removed that may be.

Thursday the 26th – Premier League Darts @ The NIA, Birmingham – Arrers thrown by arrerers, including your hero and mine Phil “The Power” Taylor.

Friday the 27th – Lemar @ The NIA, Birmingham – Apparently it’s 50/50, so any odds from 3/1 or better should be snapped up.

Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th – White Noise Festival @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Digbeth, Birmingham – It doesn’t look as noisy as the name would immediately suggest (I was expecting some Merzbow styled business), but there is all sorts of varied musical stuff a-happening. Dave Ball from Soft Cell is DJing, for example.

Saturday the 28th – The Beat @ The Academy, Birmingham – It’s their 30th anniversary tour, don’tchaknow.

Saturday the 28th – Tunng / Tinariwen @ The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – A collaboratory tour between my favourite leccy-space-folk types of modern times and the Tuareg desert-blues electric-central-African-music sorts. Definitely sounds like one not to be missed.

Tuesday the 31st – Lionel Richie @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I’m going to keep saying it until someone agrees with me: the man looks like a crocodile.

Birmingham: It’s Got Hits (didjaseewhatIdidthere?)

Posted in Combat Sports, LOTTSADITWM by Russ L on 28 January, 2009

In spite of the big MMA fights that have been taking place recently and in spite of the looming trip to London for UFC95, of late it’s been all about the boxing for me. I don’t know why, but pure pugilism has just been catching my attention more.

Birmingham, bless its little (local) heart, has no fewer than four boxing cards coming up in the next six weeks or so. “What I need is a preview post from someone with no particular information and who barely knows what’s going on with them,” I hear you thinking. Don’t lie. I heard ya.

Sunday the 1st of February – Warrior Promotions @ Edgbaston Tower Ballroom

This is an afternoon card (doors at 2pm), which I strongly approve of as long as they don’t start happening midweek (don’t laugh. This is boxing. The stupider the idea, the more likely it is to happen). I also approve of the big concept at the centre of this one – amongst other fights, there’s going to be a four bout series between Errol Johnson’s and Richie Woodhall’s gyms. It doesn’t seem to be the Black Country vs Birmingham competition that such a thing could have been, alas, but it’s still a fun idea. The headliner will be between Max Maxwell (Woodhall) and Tony Randell (Johnson) for the Midlands Area middleweight (or possibly light-middleweight, not completely sure) title strap. I’m inclined to assume that Maxwell will walk through this one and get it finished inside the time, although I thought that about his fight against Rob Kenney too and turned out to be utterly wrong (typical, ayit. The only time I picked away in all the derby title matches last year turned out to be the only time where the Black Country actually won). My main memory of Tony Randell is of him repeatedly leaping forward for a superman punch against Sam Horton, and as far as I recall not landing it once.

According to the promoter on this messageboard thread the card also looks likely to feature Anthony Hannah, Steve Gethin, Eddy McIntosh, Mark Regen, Rhys and Llewellyn Davies, Chris Male, Keiran Grey, and a whole bunch of others.

Friday the 6th of February – Matchroom Sports @ The Aston Events Centre (formerly better known as the Villa Leisure Centre)

Only announced a couple of weeks ago, which seems a bit saft and has ensured that I won’t be going. I’ve already got other plans, baby. It’s a shame, though, since this means I will be missing a British title fight: this bill is topped by Stourbridge’s Rob Norton defending his cruiserweight championship against David Dolan (of Sunderland and of runner-up-in-the-first-Prizefighter-tournament fame). One would have thought that Dolan would be too young and athletic for Norton, but it’s always unwise to completely count out a crafty veteran with an awkward style and stopping power. Yam though I am I suppose I’ll pick Dolan, but if it all goes a bit Kenney/Maxwell (see above) I’ll still be happy. See? There’s no way I can lose. Y’all wanna play my game but you can’t.

I’m sure I read somewhere that Dean “Deano” Harrison’s crack at Lenny Dawes for the English light-welter title was rescheduled for this card too (after Dawes failed to make weight a little while ago), but that seems surprising. Given who is involved, one might have expected it to be on the Hennessy card in March. Dunno, though. No idea who else is meant to be on the card, either. Mutley? That’d be cool, although since I won’t be there I don’t care all that much.

Saturday the 28th of February – Sports Network @ The NIA

Frizank Wizank (and/or Sports Network, Setanta contract disputes permitting) returns to Birmingham on the 28th with what actually looks like being a surprisingly good card. The big selling point will be the debut professional fights of “The Olympic Three” – gold medalling self-congratulating James DeGale, non-medalling lewd-behaving (allegedly) Billie Joe Saunders, and non-competing non-weight-making Frankie Gavin (from BERMINGU-URM). That’ll be quite the thing to say you saw live, but the best fight here for me is Steve Bendall (Coventry) defending the English middleweight title against Darren McDermott (DUDLA-AAAAY). I think Macca will/should be able to aggress his way through this, but Bendall (who I do like too) can be a tricksy one.

Elsewhere on the coupon, two commonwealth championships are defended. Maulin’ Matt Skelton takes on Martin Rogan in a heavyweight bout that’ll probably mostly consist of push’n’shove clinch stuff but should at least be a fight for as long as it lasts (Skelton will stop him somewhere in the middle rounds, sez me, but Rogan won’t concede a moment whilst he still has his senses about him), and Brumagem’s own Don Broadhurst defends the super-flyweight title against Andy Bell. Never seen Bell and since he’s a former British champ I’d expect this one to be competitive, but Broadhurst looked excellent last time at the NIA and I’d tip him for bigger things.

Saturday the 14th of March – Hennessy promotions @ The Aston Events Centre

First and foremost: Forty-five quid? Forty-five bleedin’ effin’ quid for a card in a sportshall? Ridiculous. Some folk seem to wish to hold up Hennessy as some sort of Promoter Of The People figure, and it’s clearly utter crap.

Putting that aside (difficult as it may be), the all-Birmingham main event is the only thing that’s been confirmed for this but it’s a hell of a fight: Wayne Elcock defends his British middleweight title in a second city derby against Matthew Macklin. Twelve thee-minute rounds of pure East Bromwich fisticuffs. This is a hard one to pick – they both have power and both are capable of actually boxing when they put their minds to it. Macklin is the younger and bigger of the two, though, and Elcock has been known to suffer… lapses. I’m picking Macklin on points (although not without having to struggle through some hairy moments), although a cut stoppage via Elcock’s sharp head is also always a possibility.

£45, though? Jesus Christ Almighty.

***

Boxing news from The Land Of The Righteous (rather than that there Birmingham)

~ Stuart Elwell of Darlaston will be challenging Kell Brook for the British welterweight title in London on Friday. He’s not widely tipped, but you never know.

~ It doesn’t seem to be reported elsewhere, but Wolves Civic Hall’s website suggests that there’ll be a card there on the 27th of Feb, with Rob Kenney vs Jimmy Doherty for the Midlands welterweight (that’s what it says) title, as well as Lyndsey Scragg, Steve Saville, Chris Lewis, Joel Ryan, Russell Colley, Ben Wilkes, Richard Ghent, and Danny Johnson.

EDIT 2/2/9: In the name of bring you the latest information, I update. Firstly, Andy Bell is off the NIA card on the 28th due to failing a drugs test. Presumably someone else will be found for Broadhurst to fight, as I imagine he’s sold a lot of tickets.
Secondly, at the Tower Ballroom card yesterday I grabbed a flyer/poster thing for the Villa Leisure Centre do on the 6th. According to that, the coupon includes Young Muttley, Michael Hunter, Rob Hunt, Prince Arron, John Donnelly, Nathan Brough, Jamie Ball, Nick McDonald and James Flinn as well as your Norton vs Dolan championship match.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: November 2008

Posted in Combat Sports, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 29 October, 2008

Once again giving lie to the myth that there’s no culture round these here parts, that world-conquering franchise LOTTSADITWM is back with a whole pile of things on which you can spend that money you thought you were keeping for Christmas presents.

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.

Saturday the 1st – Shellac / Om / Wooden Shjips / Pissed Jeans / Lightning Bolt @ Space 2, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – A fair little ol’ line-up to start the month with. Punters are encouraged to dress up Halloween stylee, apparently.

Saturday the 1st – Goldblade @ The Barfly, Digbeth, Birmingham – Soul ‘n’ rollers fronted by professional endearing gobshite John Robb.

Sunday the 2nd – Kickboxing (IFA/Kash Gill) @ Space 2, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – As ever with the ol’ kickboxing, I have bugger all in the way of info. I’m not sure if it’s FC style or what. Nasty Nasser Mohammed is fighting, though.

Monday the 3rd – Motorhead / Saxon @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Motorhead and Saxon on the same bill. It’s hard to imagine anything more RRRRRRRRRROCK.

Tuesday the 4th – Sigur Rós @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Floaty wibbly floatiness. Already sold out, though.

Tuesday the 4th – Zero (Theatre Absolute) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A translator in a dystopic concentration camp yearns to tell the world of the horrors he sees. Just seen that it’s sold out.

Tuesday the 4th – Acid Mothers Temple @ Taylor John’s House, Coventry – Japanese psych/rock collective who were great fun in Brum in August.

Wednesday the 5th – Capsule @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – With The Dead Science, Una Corda and Theo.

Wednesday the 5th – “Darwin’s Worms” (Bent Architect) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – To celebrate Darwin’s impending 200 year birthday, this play celebrates Darwin’s love of worms and includes ‘a crack team of scientists’ recreating some of his more unusual experiments.

Thursday the 6th till Saturday the 8th – Flip Animation Festival @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – All sorts of animated goodness, including screenings of the recreated lost Dr Who episodes from the 60s and a festival-ending party courtesy of Colour.

Thursday the 6th – “Rock The Bells” @ The Academy, Birmingham – Not the Christmas Carols that one might expect, no. This is in fact a hip-hop extravaganza, featuring (amongst others) Nas, Mos Def and The Pharcyde.

Thursday the 6th – Paul Heaton @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – ‘Im what was in The Beautiful South.

Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th – ‘Gigbeth’ @ various venues in Digbeth, Birmingham – I may have expressed a faintly negative opinion regarding whatever the hell the entire thing is meant to actually be, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some cool gigs a-happening as part of it. There’s Kano, there’s Einstellung, there’s Anathema, there’s Guillemots, there’s Rich Batsford, there’s The Sugar Hill Gang, and perhaps best of all there’s a free thing outside Millennium Point with Musical Youth and The Destroyers. EDIT: Apparently the free bit with The Destroyers is now going to be at South Birmingham College, and (according to B:INS) P’Ashton‘s long-awaited thingamygoop set will be taking place somewhere amongst this whole palava.

Friday the 7th – Mercury Rev @ The Academy, Birmingham – There’s a goddess on the highway and a goddess on the floor and a goddess on the ceiling and a goddess at the door, there’s a goddess on the M6 and a goddess feeling poor and a goddess drinking lager and a goddess eating corn.

Friday the 7th – The Temptations @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Get Ready, My Girl.

Friday the 7th – Basement Jaxx DJ set @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Obviously I’d be happier seeing them live again, but Basement Jaxx are definitely one of the best bands of recent years.

Saturday the 8th until Saturday the 15th – ‘Murder in Play’ (Oldbury Repertory Players) @ Oldbury Rep Theatre, Langley – A fella playing a fella playing a play in a play is murdered while playing a play and… no, it’s no use, I’ll probably need to go and see it to be able to follow.

Saturday the 8th – The “Eastpak Antidote Tour” @ The Academy, Birmingham Backpack (or ‘pak’, if you will) manufacturers in Cynical Brand-Building shocker. Still, it includes the wonderful Flogging Molly and the they-have-their-moments-I-suppose Skindred.

Saturday the 8th – Drop Beats not Bombs @ The Rainbow & The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – Beats and breaks and allsorts more in aid of CND. There’s also a bit of a tie-in with Gigbeth.

Saturday the 8th – Rose Royce @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Love don’t car wash here anymore.

Sunday the 9th – Boxing (First Team) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Headlined by Steve Saville vs Baz Carey for the Midlands light-welterweight title, and also featuring the return of Dean Harrison.

Monday the 10th till Saturday the 15th – ‘Enjoy’ (Peter Hall Company) @ The Rep, Birmingham – An Alan Bennett play, starring The Second Doctor. You can’t lose really.

Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th – “Oh What A Lovely War” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Who wouldn’t be a soldier, eh?

Tuesday the 11th – Rancid @ The Academy, Birmingham – Rancid. Bootboys. Rancid. Bootboys.

Thursday the 13th – “The Legend Of Salt And Sauce” @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – A do dedicated to the memory of Salt and Sauce: “Wolverhampton’s two circus elephants who lived in a yard in Gorsebrook Road from 1920 until the Second World War.”

Friday the 14th until Sunday the 23rd – Darts a’plenty @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – There’s a celebrity darts thingy on the 14th, then the Grand Slam tournament from the 15th through to the 23rd. As I’ve said before, I don’t follow darts but it is a sport of which I approve.

Friday the 14th – Boxing (Warrior Promotions) @ The Holiday Inn, Birmingham – One o’them dinner shows, I assume. Bah.

Saturday the 15th – Kanye West @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Apparently the ‘LG Arena’ is what those crazy kids are calling the NEC Arena nowadays.

Sunday the 16th – Murcoff/Oren Marshall @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Two composers of New Music doing their thang.

Wednesday the 19th – Opeth @ The Academy, Birmingham – Swedish progressive death metal (a description that will either entice or horrify, with very little middle ground).

Wednesday the 19th – Michael Weston King @ The Little Civic, Wolverhampton – Once you get past the cognitive dissonance of a Midlander pretending to be an American, his alt.country songs seem very good indeed.

Thursday the 20th – Clinic @ The Medicine Bar, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Scouse surgeon-impersonators present a ‘contemporary psychedelic happening’, in collaboration with animator Clemens Habicht and under the watchful eye of Capsule.

Thursday the 20th – Herbie Hancock @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Funking hell.

Saturday the 22nd – Leonard Cohen @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – This month’s entry that I really shouldn’t need to explain.

Saturday the 22nd – Supreme Cat Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Not just any cat show, you know. This is the Supreme one.

Sunday the 23rd – Reindeer & Lantern Parade @ through the city centre, Birmingham – From New Street to Brindley Place, Santa will a-lead his reindeer.

Sunday the 23rd – Racebannon / Trencher @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Racebannon are a band lots of people seem to love but I haven’t got around to listening to yet. Trencher play grind with synths whilst not taking themselves too seriously, and I approve of them.

Wednesday the 26th – Git Some @ The Medicine Bar, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Noisy messy splattery rawk‘n’roll ala Black Flag/Jesus Lizard etc, courtesy of the good folks them at It’s Just Noise.

Thursday the 27th – “The Bible: The Complete Word Of God (Abridged) (The Reduced Shakespeare Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – The Bible, condensed and reduced. Can, they ask, lightning bolts be far behind? (In actual fact they’re ahead and playing on the 1st. See above).

Friday the 28th – Guy Masterson’s “American Poodle” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Two monologues looking at the ‘special relationship’ from both sides of the Atlantic.

Sunday the 30th – AMMA @ The Holte Suite, Aston Villa Football Club, Aston, Birmingham – I know I always say this, but the AMMA cards really are very good. Current version of the fightcard here.

Sunday the 30th – Cryptopsy @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – Ultra-technical Canadian death metallers.

Sunday the 30th – 7 Inch Cinema’s “Housewives’ Choice” @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Shorts courtesy of the British Film Institute Archive, chronicling the British housewife from the 20s to the 50s.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: October 2008

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 September, 2008

Festival~!

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 Sunday the 5th – “Of All The People In All The World” (Stan’s Café) @ A.E. Harris Factory, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Also known as The Rice Show and acclaimed by many (including me) to be The Actual Best Thing Ever.

Wednesday the 1st till Friday the 24th – Birmingham Book Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Brum’s annual literary festival (festival~!). There’s lots of interesting stuff a-scheduled – read on down.

Friday the 3rd till Sunday the 12th – Birmingham Comedy Festival @ various venues, Birmingham – The annual comedy festival (festival~!). Some annoying nonsense, but good stuff too – highlights include a Curates Egg do with John Cooper Clarke at The Hare & Hounds on the 3rd, and Mark Steel at The Glee Club on the 8th.

Saturday the 4th – “Space Day” @ Birmingham University, Edgbaston, Birmingham – LOOOST IN SPAAACE! All sorts of extra-planetary physics-based fun.

Saturday the 4th – Van Morrison @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Like the good ol’ strict ‘n’ stern Ulster protestant he is, Van The Man has decreed that no alcohol is to be sold at this gig. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim that this heralds the death of personal freedom, though.

Saturday the 4th – Stevie Wonder @ The NIA, Birmingham – Ooh, I’m really looking forward to this one.

Saturday the 4th – “Steve Coogan Is Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters” @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – You’ve got to love that for tour-naming.

Saturday the 4th – The Ting Tings @ The Academy, Birmingham – Already sold out, although we’ve heard that one before from The Ting Tings.

Saturday the 4th – Muay Thai @ The Light Bar, Wolverhampton – Knees knees knees! Wolves’ Firewalker gym vs Leeds’ Bad Company gym.

Wednesday the 5th of October until Thursday the 6th of November – Birmingham Early Music Festival @ Various festivals in Birmingham – A festival (festival~!) of Rites And Revels.

Sunday the 5th – Balti In The Park @ Balsall Heath park, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – Mostly, food. But also live music. And stalls. And face painting. But mostly food.

Tuesday the 7th – Stevie Winwood @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Still keeping on running, after all this time.

Wednesday the 8th until Saturday the 11th – “The Boy With The Bomb In His Crisps” (Mad Half Hour) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – A play based on the tales of people who have journeyed to Coventry and Colchester. The story behind the (absolutely magnificent) title is here.

Wednesday the 8th till Sunday the 12th – Horse Of The Year Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – A horse is a horse, of course, of course…

Thursday the 9th – The Streets @ The Academy, Birmingham – Apparently he talks about fields and countryside and such on this new album. Pastoral Streets, what a notion.

Saturday the 11th – Billy Ocean @ The Academy, Birmingham – Aaaaw, he’s just so cuddly.

Monday the 13th till Friday the 17th – “Romeo And Juliet” (Shakespeare’s Globe) @ The Custard Factory – I have no concrete info, but apparently this may or may not be happening. Matinee performances only though, according to the information Nyki Getgood has acquired over at that link. On weekdays. Fantastic planning, there.

Monday the 13th – Cyndi Lauper @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Just wants to do something-or-other.

Tuesday the 14th – Polarbear: “If I Cover My Nose You Can’t See Me” @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – Hip-hop based storytelling. I’ve heard many good things about this.

Tuesday the 14th – Mark Thomas @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – Part of the Birmingham Book Festival. This show is based around Mighty Mark’s looking into the ways and doings of Coca-Cola.

Wednesday the 15th – Stephen Stills @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Ah well now you see the thing here was that I was going to go to this and then I wasn’t and now I am again but all the time I thought I’d never heard any of his music outside of Crosby Stills And Nash And/Or Young but it turns out that “Love The One You’re With” which I liked but didn’t know who it was by was actually by him. So that was quite good. Yes.

Wednesday the 15th – Elbow @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – The band that beat Burial in the big national music quiz or whatever it was. Haven’t listened to this new album that they got the honours for, but they were lovely when I last saw/heard them a few years ago.

Wednesday the 15th – Spiritualized @ The Academy, Birmingham – Without the gospel singers this time, if I’m correct, but still bound to be amazing.

Thursday the 16th – Will Self @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – Why if it ain’t young Billy Self in the best of health. Author, journalist, raconteur, cultural pundit, and Birmingham Book Festival performer.

Friday the 17th – Roots Manuva @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Summonin’ up the power of Banana Clan.

Friday the 17th – Black Diamond Heavies / The Solomons @ The Dragon Bar, The Barfly, Digbeth, Birmingham – Another night of blues ‘n’ roll brought to you by them Coldrice reprobates.

Saturday the 18th – UFC 89 @ The NIA, Birmingham – Headlined by Mike Bisping vs Chris Leben (Bisping, sub, R2. Yes that’s right I said ‘sub’), and also featuring the UFC debut of longtime fave of mine Dan Hardy (against Akihiro Gono. Hardy by decision). Speaking of longtime faves of mine, Paul ‘The Relentlessly Saddling Yampy Terminator’ Taylor (you know, the one from God’s Chosen Black Country) will also be fighting Chris Lytle (Taylor, decision).

Saturday the 18th – The Creeping Nobodies / The Courtesy Group @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A Curates Egg night, so quality is assured.

Sunday the 19th – Scorpions @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Whistle whistle, whistle whuh-whuh-whistle-whistle…

Tuesday the 21st – Carol Ann Duffy @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – Again as part of the Birmingham Book Festival. One of the best contemporary poets, with recent controversy to boot. If you’re really a fan then you can also attend a discussion of her work led by Roz Goddard on the 9th.

Wednesday the 22nd – Eddie Reader @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Your lady there who used to be in the wonderful wonderful wonderful (‘Perfect’, even) Fairground Attraction.

Wednesday the 22nd – Seth Lakeman @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – More fiddling folking fun with Seff.

Thursday the 23rd until Sunday the 26th – “Hello Digital” @ Various places in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Hereford – The Midlands’ first digital festival (festival~!), apparently, although I don’t myself have any idea at all about precisely what is meant to connect this seemingly disparate string of events. Some of it looks interesting, though, such as the Field Of Light at Millennium Point and Capsule’s Big Up The Metalz thingy at Wolves Art Gallery.

Thursday the 23rd – An Audience With Tony Benn @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Tony ‘Uncle’ Benn, speaking of the days when Labour was real Labour.

Thursday the 23rd – A. C. Grayling @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – Another book festival affair. Grayling considers and speaks on the subject of reading, particularly as a “critical, challenging and subversive process”.

Friday the 24th – Capsule Night @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Watch Oxes on boxes, shake your hips to Bee Stung Lips, and do The Bump to Bilge Pump.

Friday the 24th – Boxing (First Team) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Not sure who will be fighting on this one, but it’ll no doubt include some of our local faves. (EDIT: Seems to be cancelled).

Sunday the 26th – Lau-Gar King Fu National Championships @ Cocks Moor Woods Leisure Centre, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Hai- and indeed –Ya.

Tuesday the 28th – Al Green @ The NIA, Birmingham – The Reverend Al Green, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday the 28th – Slayer @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – And if you fancy an arena gig that couldn’t be more different to Al Green, there’s always Slayaaaarrrrgh. (EDIT: Alright, so no an arena gig: it’s been moved to The Civic).

Wednesday the 29th – Feed The Birds @ Woodgate Valley Country Park, Bartley Green, Birmingham – The rangers show you how to make a feeder and feed the birdies properly, for free.

Friday the 31st – Boxing (Sports Network) @ The Aston Events Centre, Aston, Birmingham – Pity poor old Uncle Frankie; Calzaghe’s left him and Khan got splattered across the canvas. Every ticket sale for this event is vital. He might not be able to afford this week’s ivory backscratcher otherwise. Also: Macklin/Broadhurst/Costello etc.

Fewer things to see and do in the West Midlands: August 2008

Posted in Combat Sports, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 1 August, 2008

There will be no largestyle LOTTSADITWM post for August, and it isn’t entirely the result of my uselessness. It’s August, and so less seems to be happening. You’re not meant to be going to events, you should be playing outside. Damnit. You.

This, then, is just a few things in this county that struck me as being worthy of particular note.

~ Tonight (1st of August) will see the Capsule gal dem put on Japanese psych-noise collective Acid Mothers Temple at The Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath. They played there really not too long ago, and although I wasn’t able to make it to that one pretty much everyone who went seems to say it was an amazing gig.

~ I’d suggest you head on over to the Villa Ground on the evening of Saturday the 2nd, for AMMA. No-head-shots-on-the-ground MMA, from a promotion who always run things well and match their fighters up excellently. I’m particularly looking forward to longtime favourite of this blog Danny Korbely defending his featherweight title against Gareth Pilot. That should definitely be a good ‘un.

~ Rolo Tomassi appear to be playing at something called Summer Slam (yeah, that’s the association my mind made too) at Wolverhampton Civic on the 9th. The rest of the bill looks like a load of cack for the most part, but it’s probably worth noting somewhere at the back of your mind.

~ Hank Rollins, lord love ‘im, will be bringing his ‘Provoked’ spoken word tour to The Glee Club on the 10th. I saw it in January and it’s both funny and interesting.

~ Birmingham Opera Company are going back to their context-sliding ways and occupying The Sherborne Building (formerly a rubber factory) in Ladywood for performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo on various dates between the 12th and the 23rd.

~ It seems that there is a festival of quilts taking place at the NEC between the 14th and 17th. I know it’s too hot now but you’ll want them come winter.

~ Clutch are of course The Best Rock Band Currently Going (as I’ve said far too many times for it to still count for anything) and they’re playing at The Barfly on Friday the 29th for all you lucky people.

~ The Moseley Folk Festival is running over three days this year (the 29th to the 30th) and it’s always lovely. I’m only going to be able to make it to the Sunday, alas, but there’s plenty lined up.

~ In closing, I’ll remind you of this important fact: life is a cabaret, old chum. Come and join the cabaret.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: July 2008

Posted in Combat Sports, Food, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 27 June, 2008

It feels a bit feeble this time. This would mostly be because I’m a bit feeble myself and the end of the month crept up on me too fast. Also the Ian McEwan opera thing (what a combination) seems to have disappeared from The Rep’s site, so I’m assuming that’s cancelled. Sorry.

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.

All of the Wednesdays from before now until ages away – “These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things” (Various contributors) @ Ikon Gallery, Birmingham – Various people talk about their Favourite Things, in a DesertIslandDisks stylee. Most interesting to me looks like Catherine O’ Flynn, of “What Was Lost” (amazing novel, read it if you haven’t) authorship fame on the 9th of July.

Before now until Sunday the 13th of July – Vivid’s ‘Flux-Fest’ @ Various places in Birmingham – Something calling itself a festival? In Birmingham? The heck you say. It’s to honour the memory of your good ol’ Fluxus movement, anyway.

Friday the 27th of June till Sunday the 6th – Moseley Festival @ Various places in Moseley, Birmingham – Not to be confused with the Moseley Folk Festival in August. There’s a list of events here; Rich Batsford’s Music By Candlelight on Tuesday the 1st at St Mary’s Church sounds good.

Various dates between Saturday the 28th of June and Saturday the 5th – ‘Fourplay’ (new directors showcase) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Four new directors doing four one-act plays over the course of a couple of different double bills. The Bald Prima Donna sounds like a laugh.

Tuesday the 1st till Saturday the 5th – ‘Topless Mum’ (Tobacco Factory Productions & Imagineer Productions) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Careful now. I mean it. We’ll have no smut here. This is a play about the actions and responsibilities of tabloid newspapers, even if they are using the poncey southern spelling of ‘mom’.

Wednesday the 2nd – Pama International / The Slackers / The Pietasters / Mungo’s Hi-Fi @ The Robin 2, Bilston – The ‘Reggae For The People’ tour. The Pietasters weren’t especially reggae-ish last time I heard them (admittedly this was years ago) but they were very good.

Thursday the 3rd – Paul Heaton @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Your man there from The Beautiful South.

Saturday the 5th – Eddy Grant @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Oi! He’s gonna rock down to Electric Avenue, although apparently (and disappointingly) that song is about an Electric Avenue in London rather than the one in Birmingham.

Saturday the 5th – Pentangle @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Apparently this is the actual proper version of Pentangle, rather than the “Jacqui McShee plus some other suckahs” version I saw a couple of years ago.

Saturday the 5th – ‘Cocomad’ (Cotteridge Festival) @ Cotteridge Park, Bourneville, Birmingham – With food and stalls and wood carving and some ace bands.

Monday the 7th – Duran Duran @ The NIA, Birmingham – Just don’t go on a pilgrimage to Saramoons where they used to drink, ‘cos although it’s still open it ain’t like that these days. Pointing this out seems to be a popular local meme of late.

Thursday the 10th till Sunday the 13th – ‘Taste Of Birmingham’ @ Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston, Birmingham – NOM NOM NOM NOM.

Friday the 11th – Lupe Fiasco @ The Academy, Birmingham – And so we kick, push, kick, push, kick, push…

Friday the 11th till Sunday the 13th – Supersonic Festival @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Look, it’s Supersonic (hey hey hey hey). If I haven’t convinced you before now then I’m not likely to. Just go, yer nutter, it’s the best annual event out there.

Saturday the 12th – Weatheroak Charity Challenge & Pig Roast @ Wythall Park Community Centre, Wythall – Including five-aside football and “It’s A Knockout” (~!).

Saturday the 12th – The Jewellery Quarter Arts & Designer Craft Festival @ all over The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Bizarrely under-publicised (or at least as far as my sphere-of-noticing-things goes), but it looks interesting. There are workshops and demonstrations and things of sculpting, jewellery-making, and of course Arfs An Crarts.

Saturday the 12th – Andersens @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – Cool-sounding (on the basis of their MySpace page, at least) Japanese psych-folk doings. Courtesy of The Autumn Store, who also bring you more fun ‘n’ frolics on the 22nd – have a look at their events page, whydon’tcha.

Monday the 14th – Jah Wobble @ The Glee Club, Birmingham -Dubby experimentally silly namey erstwhile PIL fella, doing what’s said to be a fusion of dub and Chinese melodies. Leslie Kong would be proud.

Wednesday the 16th – Wiley @ The Barfly, Digbeth, Birmingham – What do you do? Usually drink, usually daaaarrrrnce.

Saturday the 19th – Boxing (Sports Network) @ Aston Events Centre, Aston, Birmingham – Frizzank Wizzank defies his own self-imposed ban on promoting in Birmingham for the second time in two months. You’d almost think the Olympic boxing squad had two Brummies he wanted to sign or something. Featuring, anyway, Enzo Maccarinelli and Audley ‘Not In The Face!’ Harrison for ‘big name’ purposes and Matthew Macklin, Don Broadhurst and Thomas Costello for ‘actually getting the tickets sold’ purposes.

Tuesday the 22nd – Butthole Surfers @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Another “if I have to explain it, you’ll never understand” one. Not on the 6th, please note; the date has changed.

Thursday the 24th and Saturday the 26th – ‘Assassins’ (Through The Window Theatre) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A comical musical about the ‘fraternity of presidential assassins’ – the nine men who’ve tried to kill a US prez.

Thursday the 24th – Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – The latest local card with a bunch of our usual faves, including (at the time of writing) Rob Hunt, Rob Kenney, Scott Evans etc. No Dean Harrison or Lyndsey Scragg though, seemingly.

Friday the 25th – Soweto Kinch @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Fresh from Flyover Show-esque success, that man Soweto presents this ‘Basement Fables’ show – the second part of his ‘A Day In The Life Of B19’ series.

Monday the 28th and Tuesday the 29th – ‘Like A Fountain Troubled’ (Untamed Shrew Productions) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Of the counsellor more troubled than those she counsels, and the relationship between the two. The description on the OJS site makes it sound sort of ace and sort of crap at the same time, which is as nifty a promotional trick as many you’ll encounter.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: June 2008

Posted in Combat Sports, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage by Russ L on 28 May, 2008

Right then my gas firin’ never tirin’ steam punkin’ pop junkin’ ballin’ brawlin’ shot-callin’ little chickadees: we may have had a month off in May (chiefly because I couldn’t, ‘ow you Eeenglish say, be arsed), but here’s your LOTTSADITWM for June.

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

Thursday the 29th of May till Saturday the 21st – “Our House” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep, Birmingham – The musical set to Madness songs. Always thought that was a fun idea.

Saturday the 31st of May till Monday the 30th of June – BASS Festival @ all over the Midlands – That’s right folks, Birmingham’s annual ‘Ten Different Things Calling Themselves Festivals At Any Given Time’ season is in full swing (although this one is Midlands-wide so perhaps it’s not the best example of that particular mania). There’s tons of urban music/culture related stuff a-happening, mostly in Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham. Their events diary can be seen here.

Saturday the 31st of May till Sunday the 8th – Climate Change Festival @ Various places in Birmingham and Walsall – Surely it’s nothing to celebrate? Or maybe they’re against it. Claystation sounds like fun.

Monday the 2nd and Tuesday the 3rd – ‘Shadow Play’ (Travelling Light) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, University Of Warwick, Coventry – Theatre, dance and Mime thingy that is apparently “inspired by the way that children use ‘play’ to investigate the world around them”.

Tuesday the 3rd – Schostakovich’s 3rd (Philharmonia Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Dmitri’s sly “A Soviet Artist’s Reply To Just Criticism”, conducted here by Gustavo Dudamel (who has apparently received the highest possible praise from no less than Simon Rattle).

Wednesday the 4th – Flogging Molly @ The Academy, Birmingham – With an Oi Oi Oi and a Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Li. Great live band.

Thursday the 5th till Sunday the 8th – “Everyone Loves Elmer!” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – I do, certainly. Always thought the lil’ patchwork pachyderm was too cute for words.

Thursday the 5th till Saturday the 20th – New Generation Arts Festival @ various fighters in Birmingham – A festival, eh? Whodathunkit. The stated categories for this one are visual arts, music, design, animation & film, creative writing, and ‘online interactive’. Have a little look at the list of events.

Thursday the 5th to Friday the 20th of June- Emergent Game @ all across Birmingham – Part of the above NGA festival, this… erm… no, I’m not going to pretend I have the first idea of what in the world this is all about. I think I quite like it, nevertheless. Just click the link.

Thursday the 5th to Saturday the 7th – Integra 2008 festival @ Sundry Birmingham venues – Part of the NGA, making this a festival within a festival. How very Birmingham. ‘Fusing music and technology’ is the tagline, and amongst other things it includes BEAST, and Capsule putting on The Bays with The BIT20 ensemble.

Friday the 6th – Mary J. Blige @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Drama: no more of it.

Saturday the 7th – The Autumn Store @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – Birmingham’s main indiepop night is back, with Pete Green, Lime Chalks, and Little My.

Saturday the 8th – ISKA supershow (kickboxing) @ The Que Club, Birmingham – Promoted by Kash ‘The Flash’ Gill (a legend round these parts). I’m assuming it’s FC style kickboxing. Public information always seems scarce about this sort of thing.

Monday the 9th – Moha! @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Usual annoying exclamation mark aside, this band sound pretty cool. Motorik jazz-industrial, if you will. Or something. Also: they have an album called “Norwegianism”.

Wednesday the 11th – Sex Pistols @ The Academy, Birmingham – Old, old men. But… erm… well, that’s it really. I still don’t know why I went and bought a ticket for this.

Wednesday the 11th and Thursday the 12th – “Farewell, But Not Goodbye” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Sakari Oramo’s last fling as music director/chief conductor of the CBSO. Aaaaaw, I always loved the lil’ hyperactive fella. Beethoven’s 9th, anyway.

Thursday the 12th – The Destroyers @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – The Greatest Band In The World Ever Ever Ever (it’s official, you know) playing a new collaboration (‘1001 Nights’) with The Dholblasters and Sanchita Pal.

Friday the 13th – Sunburned Hand Of Man @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Psychedelic/weirdness collective. ‘Tis Capsule.

Saturday the 14th – ‘Cinderella Ashputtel” (Banyan Theatre) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry – A puppet-theatre reworking of ‘Cinderella’. The actual figures themselves look gorgeous.

Monday the 16th – Norman Lovett & Hattie Hayridge @ The Little Civic, Wolverhampton – Stand-up comedy from the two people who played Holly in Red Dwarf, which is as sensible a manner of putting a tour together as any I suppose. It also provides a nice bit of continuity for the next entry…

Monday the 16th – Holly GoLightly @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Former Billy Childish cohort and Headcoatees member. Does that make her a Headcoatee-ee? It is a Curate’s Egg gig (flyer), but I’ve been told that the fact that it’s on a Monday means it should actually finish at a righteous time.

Monday the 16th – Origin / Impaled @ The Flapper & Firkin, Birmingham – Birmingham’s main extreme metal promoting sorts Reanimator forgo their usual haunt The Bristol Pear to bring you a night of death metal in the city centre (flyer).

Wednesday the 18th – Alanis Morissette @ The Academy, Birmingham – Hur hur hur that song she did about the irony mentioned things that weren’t ironic hur hur hur stock tropes from crap mid-90s comedians hur hur hur…

Thursday the 19th – “Moths Ate My Dr Who Scarf” (Toby Hadoke) @ The Library Theatre, Bloxwich– A David Benson-esque (by the sounds of it) one-man show, about The ‘Oo and the place The ‘Oo has had in the life of one Toby Hadoke.

Friday the 20th – “They Get Free Mobiles… Don’t They?” (Banner Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Multimedia thingy, looking at the facts and myths about refugees.

Friday the 20th – Wayne Elcock vs Darren McDermott (Boxing; Hennessy Sports) @ The Skydome, Coventry – The one we’ve all been waiting for, rescheduled from April. A proper Black Country vs Birmingham derby, and for the British middleweight title too. (EDIT: And no, you’re not going mad – it was originally at the Aston Events Centre. Now it ain’t). It’s just a shame that it’s the same night as…

Friday the 20th –Boxing (First Team promotions) @ Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – …Another boxing card, with a bunch of your local faves. Then, on top of these, on the following day also you have…

Saturday the 21st – Boxing (Sports Network) @ The NIA, Birmingham – …Amir Khan’s latest mismatch, and an undercard including Marcus Portman, Richie Collins, Don Broadhurst, Steve Bendall, and the very highly-regarded Thomas Costello.

Saturday the 21st – Jimmy Cliff @ The Aston Events Centre, Aston, Birmingham – Genuine legend. Although he’ll have many canals to cross rather than rivers, around here.

Saturday the 21st – “Score 12 – Cast” (Bill Drummond/The17) @ I think you get to pick where in Birmingham – A Bill Drummond doin’ is transpirin’. It is connected with manhole covers.

Sunday the 22nd – Melt Banana @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Japanese grindo-fun lovelies. ‘Tis Capsule again.

Monday the 23rd – “Paul Merton’s Impro Chums” @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Improvised comedy from Paul Merton and, presumably, some of his chums. Is this the type of thing where they ask the audience to shout out a profession and they act it out in song?

Tuesday the 24th – Thea Gilmore @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – She got a bit confused between Wolverhampton and Bilston last time she was around here, bless ‘er, but her songs are fab.

Thursday the 26th – “My Bum Is Genetic, Deal With It” (Village Gossip Productions) @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – Presented in affiliation with the BASS Festival mentioned above. A comic monologue/spoken word type of thing in which a South African woman attempts to figure out her image of beauty.

Saturday the 28th – The Public opening doings @ The Public, West Bromwich – Well, it’s meant to finally be opening. There’s nothing on the thing’s own website. Given its history, I think we can be excused any and all cynicism. If they do manage to get the doors open then I imagine there’ll be some sort of festivities, or maybe the budget for them will run out.

Saturday the 28th – British Pipe Band Championships @ Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Over 100 pipe bands will compete in this heroic struggle. Who, I ask you who, will prevail?

Sunday the 29th – MMA (UK Cage Fighting Championships) @ The Skydome, Coventry – Good stuff, I have happy memories of seeing MMA at The Skydome.

Sunday the 29th – Muay Thai (K-Star) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Fists, elbow, knees and shins a-flying near the reservoir.

And Verily I Shall Ramble

Posted in Combat Sports, Modern Living, Music, Stage by Russ L on 28 April, 2008

I haven’t felt much like writing just lately (although, paradoxically, I was thinking of starting another blog. More on that if I decide I can be bothered to do it), but as ever the bold tales of fings wot I done are piling up. Don’t panic, though. You put your Reading Glasses on, I’ll don my Writing False Moustache, and we’ll get through this together.

Friday the 11th of April was my chance to bare witness to Top Girls at The Crescent Theatre. I’d never been there before, perhaps surprisingly. This was in the ‘studio’ room – a performance of ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’ happened in the main hall. Apparently they had ‘Annie Get Your Gone’ not long after. Plenty of opportunities for both rootin’ and tootin’.

I ‘did’ this play (I mean ‘Top Girls’, not ‘Seven Brides…’ or ‘Annie Get Your Gun’) for A level English-Literature when I was at college (I think that this might not be uncommon), but since I’d never actually seen it staged I was quite looking forward to it. I can’t be bothered with any exposition about it, so just have a read of this if you’re not familiar.

I enjoyed this. The programme spoke of Brecht (and I’ve heard him mentioned in relation to the play before), but irrespective of what techniques of acting and scripting may or may not have been involved I found myself pulled in rather than distanced. It’s a very visceral and cathartic play, really, or at least that’s how I always perceive it – while (of course) it does make you think, I don’t think the various emotional dehiscent elements of it lend themselves to completely neutral viewing. They were the strength of this, and absolutely captivating (even if all of the shouting did make one member of our party’s headache worse). On a lighter note, the arguments/talking-over-each-other bits were done masterfully, which is surely no mean feat of timing. Lovely stuff.

The following night was reserved for AMMA at The Villa Ground (results in this messageboard thread, to save you having to brave the inaccuracies of MMA Universe). These are always good fightcards, although I’ve steadily come to hate the venue (it’s terrible for being able to actually see the ring, particularly for a shortarse like me). I missed the last three fights due to the ever-heavy-hanging spectre of needing to get the train, but had great fun nevertheless. There wasn’t a single bad fight on the card (or such of it that I saw), and the best amongst them was Ross Sutherland vs Ben Rose. Sutherland was throwing out almost constant submission attempts (I’m barely exaggerating), but Rose just would not give up. He gritted his teeth through a particularly gnarly triangle for absolutely ages, it was amazing. Sutherland took the unanimous judges decision in the end, but they both deserve all of the applause and plaudits you could possibly give them. (Edit: The UK’s best MMA fighter Rosi Sexton writes about cornering a fighter at this show on her excellent blog).

Skip on a week to Saturday the 19th, for Packers (no permalink, sorry – you’ll have to scroll down a bit) at Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolves (another one I’d never been to before). This was very sweet, very funny, and extremely well-observed – all of the characters were immediately recognisable archetypes of people. You’ll feel like you know ‘em all well. Happy ending, too. And proper accents.

The night after meant going to Birmingham Town Hall for Mahler’s 2nd – my favourite symphony to hear live (this was my third time. It’s probably my favourite symphony full stop, in fact). The Town Hall definitely isn’t as good as Symphony Hall acoustically, I found out (the choir and a few other things seemed a bit drowned out at times) but still stunning. The Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra were remarkable considering that they’re not professionals.

Tuesday the 22nd saw me heading to The Academy for a Gogol Bordello gig. I’d managed to avoid going to The Stankhole since October, and so having given them a bit of time I was expecting to find all of its ills remedied. Really? Nah. All of the commonly repeated bad points still apply, only now the reek of the toilets seems to have a longer range. I look forward to the day the citizenry will rise up and cleanse it with fire. There will be much rejoicing.

Skindred supported, and as such I must make the obligatory mention of the fact that a mate of mine put them on at Eddies some years ago and apparently they acted like proper spoiled little wannabe rockstars (TALKING POINT AHOY-HOY: Is diva-like behaviour from bands who aren’t actually rich/famous yet some sort of socio-cultural parallel of your middle class ‘economic expectation’ thing? A quasi-existentialist re-ordering of the model of the world in your mind based entirely on how you want things to be, and if others in the world outside object then goshdarnit there’s gonna be trouble? Discuss). I should also note that at this gig your man there reeeeally overdid the “That’s not loud enough” getting-the-crowd-to-shout bit. Beyond these things, though, they were ace. You wouldn’t call ‘em avante garde by any means but their songs don’t have 100% boring basic structures, they really give it some welly, and they’re damn catchy. That ‘Trouble’ in particular is a choon. Skindred are probably my favourite reggae-metal band who allegedly treat DIY promoters badly from all of South Wales, and I really mean that.

I have mentioned before that I see a direct correlation between how many members a band has and how aaaawesome they are (there may actually be a formula to work it out. Maybe “divide the number of personnel by two, and use that number of ‘a’s at the start of the word awesome”), and so it goes with Gogol Bordello. Like a livewire gypsy Pogues fronted by an alternate-universe version of Iggy Pop who has a crap moustache and is trying to talk you into letting him tarmac your drive, they combine both frenetic punky jumparounds with slurring ‘n’ roaring drinking songs. Their onstage business is circus-like (carnivalesque if you will) and all the better for it. Fun fun fun.

Word reached me that Carina Round was due to play a secret gig at Woom art gallery on the 23rd. Or a largely unpublicised gig, rather – it couldn’t have been that secret if I knew about it. I’m not in the loop. Or any loop.

Loop-envy aside, I made my way over to The Jewellery Quarter and found not-too-much happening at Woom when I arrived, so I popped around the corner for a pint of Peroni (tall, slim and suspiciously phallic glasses For – as I believe young ‘uns say – The Win) in ‘Vertu’. I couldn’t decide if it was swanky or just wanky. Laura Louise (who seems to be the guv’nor of these ‘Goo Stick’ nights) was already on by the time I got back to Woom, playing acoustic stuff with a jazzy sort of feel. I often think it comes close to damning with faint praise to say that someone “has a good voice” but that’s what it was all about here, with a lot of depth and feeling. She did an absolutely gorgeous version of ‘Summertime’ (the Gershwin one. Not the Will Smith one. Although that’s good too).

Her Wonderfulness Carina did a five song solo set, appearing very very tired. It was weird seeing her without lots & lots of people around (since this set seemed to be semi-secret ‘n’ such), although likeable. She started with a new one I hadn’t heard before and didn’t catch the name of (I faintly recall a line about Clawing someone’s fuppin’ eyes out. Lovely), before going on to ‘Simplicity Hurts’, a fierce version of ‘Ready To Confess’, ‘Downslow’, and finishing with ‘Thief In The Sky’ (which by now I absolutely love). A very atypical Carina gig, but nice enough.

Immediately after she’d finished, Mickey Greaney stepped up to the stage for a couple of songs in what appeared to be impromptu fashion. I’ve read some of the hilarious stuff his name has prompted over at the B:INS forum in the past (EDIT: I retract that, it’s now completely over the top and not in the least bit funny), but musically speaking he was new to me. His first song was a standard and boring acoustic ballad sort of thing, but the second had a nice dynamic build about it (fairly nifty trick with just a voice & acoustic guitar, few manage it) and I liked it a lot more.

I left after that. I think Laura was due to play again, but I was nearly as tired as Carina was and I needed to be up early the following morning to…

Picket! Yes, it’s still a question of a three year pay deal at 2%, 0%, and 1%. This one-day strike on the 24th was timed to coincide with quite a few other trades going out, which was a very good thing – ours was very well supported, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because the teachers’ strike left a lot of folk with no-one to have their kids. We’ve had too many outwardly ineffectual ones in too short a space of time, in my most humble of opinions. I was nevertheless one of the two (count ‘em) people making up the picket line at our place. What a show of strength.

I’ve spoken before about the wealth of choice that the evening of the 25th offered for entertainment, but I’m now incredibly glad that I opted to go and see Björk at The Civic Hall (especially since McDermott vs Elcock was postponed). There was a good omen as soon as I entered the venue – the London Underground Song was playing over the PA. They should do that at more gigs.

Leila’s part-live part-DJing support set was absolutely all over the place. This is a good thing if you ask me, although it did go on a bit. We got (at different times) distorted bits of speeches and other songs, drone, R.D. James style ambient, industrial breakbeat, techno, and possibly more besides that I’m forgetting. Not all of it worked perfectly, but some bits were ace. Half of the crowd seemed rapturously appreciative, and half nonplussed (the girl sitting in the seat next to me seemed bored out of her mind).

A brass band marched onto the stage all tootling and parping as brass bands do. All of a sudden there’s FIRE EVERYWHERE then there’s Björk in a floaty yellow number and looking elfin (it’s clichéd, but really the best possible adjective when you see her in real life). I was surprised (although I’m not sure why. Hmmm) to find the first half of her set having definite leanings towards a vaguely mournful feel, but she switched to high-priestess-of-the-rave mode in the middle. The highlights came when the laser-lightshow came into play (predictably. Perhaps I am shallow), in particular “Army of Me” (it’s my favourite of hers anyway, but combine that synthline with a lasers and loads of confetti and you can’t lose). The closing “Declare Independence” was breathtaking, shaking off the “Atari Teenage Riot haven’t been very well lately” air it has on record and becoming a joyous, life-affirming thing (also including the densest confetti cloud I’ve seen released over an audience since Britney Spears in 2004), and… oh too many too mention. Amazing stuff. Probably not quite a top ten live set ever, but hovering somewhere near.

That’ll do, I think. There’s been the English Originals folk festival since then, and there’ll be more stuff very soon, but this post is long enough already. I will return at some point with more parables of modern life. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: April 2008

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 29 March, 2008

This month is clearly all about fighting, and orchestral & choral music. Maybe all at the same 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. That’s not the way it works.

Saturday the 29th of March till Sunday the 6th of April – ‘Dance Steps’ (Stan’s Café) @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – You, yes that’s you, can perform this play by means of choosing and following different sets of instructions and directions scattered around the MAC. From the people that brought you the (I’ll say it yet again) magnificent The Cleansing Of Constance Brown.

Tuesday the 1st – Beethoven’s 5th (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, The ICC, Birmingham – Dur-dur-dur DUUUURRRRR! Dur-dur-dur DUUUURRRRR!

Wednesday the 2nd and Wednesday the 9th – ‘Midland Journey: Archive Film Of Wolverhampton And The Black Country’ @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – Showing various films of how it was in The Good Old Days. It promises chainmaking and groaty pudding.

Thursday the 3rd until Saturday the 5th – ‘Days Of Hope’ (MAC Productions) @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A Howard Goodall musical translating the events in The Balkans in the late 80s into a Spanish civil war setting. It’s had some very good reviews.

Thursday the 3rd till Sunday the 6th – British Open Show Jumping Championships @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Neigh, neigh and thrice neigh.

Friday the 4th till Sunday the 6th – MAC closing weekend @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – The final hurrah of the Midland Arts Centre before it closes until Autumn 2009 to be refurbished and rebuilt. As well as the abovementioned ‘Dance Steps’ and ‘Days Of Hope’, Friday is the storytelling day for families, then there are a couple of days of puppetry events and the grand finale of the MAC On Screen film showing.

Saturday the 5th – Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (Ex Cathedra/Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment) @ Symphony Hall, The ICC, Birmingham – Oh hey they’re playing my song.

Saturday the 5th and various dates up until till Saturday the 19th – ‘Top Girls’ (Crescent Theatre Presents) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – The excellent Caryl Churchill play. The people putting it all together have set up a blog. This is a very good thing. They’ve neglected to put the dates and times and so forth on it, but still. Baby steps.

Tuesday the 8th – John Barrowman @ Symphony Hall, The ICC, Birmingham – Captain Jack sings.

Friday the 11th – ‘The Masque Of Red Death’ (The Happiness Patrol theatre company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Poe. And I ain’t talking about La-La’s mate.

Saturday the 12th – AMMA @ The Holte Suite, Aston Villa Football Club, Aston, Birmingham – Amateur and B-class pro MMA, and they’re always good shows. This version of the card is fairly up-to-date, I believe.

Sunday the 13th – Portishead @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Of course it’s already sold out, you silly moo.

Sunday the 13th – Pugilist Promotions’ “Old School/New Blood” (Boxing) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Fighting sports return to the reservoir-side venue for the first time in aaages. You have amateurs early in the afternoon, then (after a break) professionals in the evening.

Monday the 14th – ‘The Terrible Tudors/The Vile Victorians’ (Horrible Histories) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – For kiddies, though, so I doubt it will stoop to the genuine horrible and vile depths.

Monday the 14th – Mil Millington @ Hall Green Library, Hall Green, Birmingham – Go here (and laugh fulsomely) if you don’t know who Mil Millington is. This reading thingy is only for ages 16-25, though.

Wednesday the 16th – Merzbow and The Dirty Noise Ensemble @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Noizez. Not, I would suggest, for the faint of heart or the delicate of eardrum.

Thursday the 17th – Lethal Bizzle @ The Academy, Birmingham – If you’re going to this, don’t take any beef with you. You’ll risk losing some teef. And you don’t want that.

Saturday the 19th – The Presidents Of The USA – The Academy, Birmingham – This is one of those instances where I used to adore this band, but (without ever at any point consciously going off them) they’ve declined in importance to me to the point where I’m not really all that fussed. Still: “Peaches come from a can/They were put there by a man”. I can’t argue with that.

Saturday the 19th – Thai Boxing (Firewalker) @ The Light Bar, Wolverhampton – I have no details at all, but if you want to see some Muay Thai then this may be the place to go.

Sunday the 20th – ‘As Seen On TV’ (Notorious Choir) @ The Electric Cinema, Birmingham – ‘The choir with a difference’ a-singing television themes.

Sunday the 20th – Mahler’s 2nd (Birmingham Philharmonic/City Of Birmingham Choir) @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Surely the greatest symphony to hear live. (And if you like a bit of Gustav, there’s also his Fifth at Symphony Hall on the 22nd).

Tuesday the 22nd – Gogol Bordello @ The Academy, Birmingham – Take up thy caravan and travel.

Tuesday the 22nd – Boris @ The Medicine bar, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – This gig in collaboration with one Michio Kurihara, which may well mean more to you than it does to me.

Thursday the 24th and Friday the 25th – “Packers” (Zip Theatre) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A comedy set in The Land Of The Righteous (The Black Country, to the likes of you). Apparently “a story of pain, pathos, severed digits, mad boyfriends, hypochondriacs, attempted murder, sex and parcel-tape.” Also at Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolves on the 18th and 19th.

Thursday the 24th and Friday the 25th – ‘Blue Planet’ (Manchester Camerata) @ Symphony Hall, The ICC, Birmingham – A documentary from off of the telly about fishies and such (remember: keep friends close, anemones closer), with the Manchester Camerata a-playing a score specifically composed by George Fenton.

Friday the 25th – Wayne Elcock vs Darren McDermott for the British middleweight title (Hennessy Sports) @ The Aston Villa Leisure Centre, Aston, Birmingham – Birmingham vs Black Country, and it’s the big one – the British title. Come On Macca! (Although: guh! at the ticket prices. Almost glad I won’t be going, with that sort of piss-taking).

Friday the 25th – Bjork @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Well it’s Bjork. Obviously.

Friday the 25th to Sunday the 27th – English Originals @ The Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Birmingham – An English folk festival, just after St George’s Day. This really does look fantastic: the main gigs are Billy Bragg at The Town Hall on the Friday, Tunng and Seth Lakeman at The Town Hall on Saturday, and The Daughters Of Albion (Kathryn Williams, Norma Waterson, and others) at Symphony hall on he Sunday. You’ve also got free sets (Rush Hour Blues stylee) from The Old Dance School (Friday) and Little Sister (Sunday) at the Symphony Hall foyer in the ICC, and a free showing (if you have a ticket for any of the gigs) of the Folk Britannia documentary at 2pm in The Town Hall on Sunday.

Monday the 28th until Sunday the 25th of May – International Dance Festival @ all over Birmingham – Loads and loads and loads of dance and dance-related events from all over the world are taking place over the course of a month, at various venues in town.

Tuesday the 29th – Alabama 3 @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Woke up this morning. Obviously. I wouldn’t be typing this otherwise.

Wednesday the 30th – Cursed @ The Medicine Bar, The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Sometimes sludgy and sometimes crusty hardcore, but (and this is the best bit) they’re actually really good unlike most of the bands that most of the people who’ll tell you Cursed are good will tell you are good. Good. Tell. Good.

Wednesday the 30th – Boxing (First Team) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – The New And Radical Dean Harrison Matchmaking Philosophy continues to bare fruit – he’s fighting Gary Reid here, which is a genuinely risky fight. Good luck to him, ‘cos it’s great to see.