Call me Russ L

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Placeholder concerning place

Posted in Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 8 December, 2012

In the absence of any proper posts (I was doing well for a little while there, wasn’t I?) I was going to point out that this term ‘B-Town’ is in no way a new one, as people around the internets seem to be suggesting. I had thought that Juice Aleem used it in his 2009 song Birmingham 6, but after actually listening to it for the first time in ages I realise that he says “It’s Birmingham, it’s Brum-Town/come down and spend pounds” rather than “B-Town” as I’d thought I’d recalled.

I’d been remembering that line as saying “B-Town” for years. Does that mean I was the first to think the phrase and as such responsible for all this nonsense on a psychic level? Dang.

I still haven’t gotten around to listening to most of those bands. It is a shame in circumstances like this when you end up finding music irritating before you’ve even heard it. Troumaca are ace, of course, I’ll vouch for them.

(EDIT: In fact, it looks like I did actually use the term myself on the 20th of August this year. Hmmmm…)

(EDIT EDIT: A cursory little search of this here blog shows that I have in fact been using it for a couple of years. Dang, son).

Pre-Supersonic blast-through

Posted in Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 17 October, 2012

Wednesday the 10th was a matter of Michelle Shocked at the Poelagus & Poochie. She is apparently doing a thing called “Roadworks” where she tours in roughly the same places at roughly the same times every year, which would explain why it was near-enough a year since I last saw her. I’m not sure about the name, though. She wouldn’t have made it there in the first place if there were that many roadworks.

Great fun, anyway, just as one might expect – simple songs (as Michelle herself noted) that create a lovely all-in-it-together type atmosphere even for such an anti-social sod as me, and provide an opening to convey many specific facts that you may or may not have known. I was aghast at her tales of “Dual Tracking” – in America, it seems, if you go to your bank for a mortgage adjustment they might well tell you that you have to miss two payments before they’re able to alter your repayment scheme. If you actually go ahead and do that to oblige them, they’ll repossess your house under the terms of the original mortgage. Expect such swindles to start happening over here when the “no more council houses, privately owned property is the only just and proper way” project is finally complete.

Anyway: we heard most of the ones we wanted to hear, between Chel’s own choices and the substantial requests section at the end. She actually played “Anchorage” twice due to the persistence of one fella requesting it it (see what asking nicely does for you? The bloke last year who kept on shouting for the already-played “5am In Amsterdam” but being a dickhead about it might well have learned from this), although the second time around the vocals were nearly entirely turned over to us lot in the audience (the first time, incidentally, revealed that “that love song” she played at her friend’s wedding was “The Water Is Wide”. Last year it was revealed to be “A New England”. Does it change at every gig?). Things closed with an intense acapella version of “The Ballad Of Penny Evans” from the floor, which was a powerful thing to encounter close up.

I quite often seem to have a bit of a block when it comes to going to see the 90s Britrock bands that were a big part of my teenage years. The Wildhearts cop it the worst – I’ve managed to miss every single Wildhearts and Wildhearts-related (this includes ex-member bands) gig since that, er, interesting one at J.B.’s way back in 2001, and there have been quite a lot. That was never the plan, but it seems to have worked out that way. Terrorvision have been neglected to a lesser degree, but that’s only a result of them having played fewer gigs round these parts over the last several years. I saw three of their gigs (also in 2001) the first time around, before they originally split up, but none from their numerous re-union tours since then. I did actually have a ticket for their do at The Academy on the first re-union tour, but managed to fall asleep early in the evening and miss the gig. Bless me.

Now, though, they’re back together more formally! With a new album and everything! And I went to see them! (Although I nearly didn’t. I very nearly went to see John Cale instead. Never mind that though).

That was all an unnecessarily long wind-up for the fact that it was, in essence, a Terrorvision gig. If you’ve never seen a Terrorvision gig, just imagine what you think a Terrorvision gig might be like. It’s exactly like that.

Which is, of course, great fun.

Saturday the 13th saw me heading over to The Crescent Theatre for Midland Opera‘s production of “Turandot”, but we’ll be coming back to that later. The long-threatened opera digest posts will be written. They won’t be worth reading, but they will be written.

To the Digger & Dog again on Monday the 15th, to see Michael Chapman for the fourth time in only slightly over a year. There were significantly fewer attendees than there were when he played five minutes down the road at The Station in January.

Katherine Priddy was on first, and I liked her even more than I did when I saw her a month ago. This time she played a greater proportion of her own songs (including two that she’d only written the previous week – “I don’t know what came over me”). She seemed a touch more Celtic this time around (although I couldn’t tell you precisely what gave me that impression), still channeling that pure-as-the-driven-snow quiet-hippy-folk thing but also displaying a touch of steel in the heart on a version of Seth Lakeman’s “1643”. Occasionally you come across an artiste who seems to have an indefinable special something about them, and I think Katherine Priddy is such a one.

I was a touch worried about the possibility of diminishing returns when it came to Micky C, given that I’ve seen him so much of late, but as it turned out this probably turned out to be my favourite set of the four of his that I’ve encountered. He actually did “Postcards Of Scarborough!”. Quite a few songs of the familiar songs that he always does were at a faster tempo than usual, giving us our highlight in a particularly powerful run through “Memphis In Winter”. He was on particularly good comedic form between songs, too (“After steam trains and chainsaws, one of my main hobbies is annoying Americans…”).

Right, I’ve got all of that out of the way now and it’s a good thing too because Supersonique starts very shortly. The timetable came out today! I think I was spoiled a bit last year by not having needed any taxis home: this one looks like it’ll have two nights beyond the wall of bus-sleep. And that comes dear. There don’t seem to be any obvious paths (if you see what I mean) from the start of the days to the end for me, either, but then again that’s probably a wonderful opportunity for even more than usual of that serendipiditdipihoppitihoppity they talk about.

It’s always ace, whichever way up. There are still tickets. I’d recommend that you get one.

Wary as I am of becoming unnecessarily programmatic (heh heh heh. You don’t encounter many people who are as predictable as me), rather than the usual linkstyles I will present you without a couple of blog posts and subsequent comment threads that have caught my mind in a nagging “I really, really wish this actually hadn’t caught my mind” type of way just recently:

~ Marc Reeves asks Why have Birmingham’s hyperlocal bloggers failed to deliver?, and the obvious answer pointed out by the usual sane figures is “because they never wanted to ‘deliver’ what you seem to be asking for in the first place”. Others suggest that people who blog as a hobby and say that there isn’t necessarily a commercial necessity for it must be displaying “lofty patrician contempt” for those that do try to do it commercially. For some piggin’ reason.

~ I don’t have the first idea what in the world is going on with the Jimmy Saville thing (that Paul Merton outed him years ago, ah reckon) but Stuart “author of the incredibly funny ‘Frantic Planet’ books that you definitely should read” Millard had a post taking the piss out of the David Icke forums’ predictable response to whatever what-all what-have-you has been going on, and to absolutely no-one’s surprise the inevitable has occurred in the comments.

That bleeding internet. It makes me glad that I’m not on it.

(A [B {C} B] A)

Posted in Linklog, Modern Living, Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 9 October, 2012

That half-asleep half-awake in bed state that you get can often be an effective spawning pool for utter nonsense. I’m sure you know what I mean and are more than familiar with those drowsy good-ideas-at-the-time. I would try and sell it as one of the universals of the human experience but, y’know, not everyone has a bed. I bet the “nonsense” parts of this are pretty widespread, though.

In this instance, this morning I was gripped by the thought of how ace it would be to give this post a nested structure, with a thought in the middle of it being surrounded by another, and that surrounded by another still. All up, one might say, on some Russian Doll isht.

In the cold light of day this was clearly very stupid.

I mean really now… ideas? Me having ideas? Pull the other one, sleepysnoozyfoolchild.

I think it’s best to put all of this behind us and never mention it again.

The Rootless Forrest turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. We went to Walsall to see it on the morning of Sunday the 30th, and found a rusty graffitied tub with a few straggly trees on. I wasn’t even initially sure if that was actually it, to start with – I’d thought there were supposed to be audio recordings and whatnot. I went back on the afternoon of Friday the 5th and found that it had moved over to the nearer side of the wharf, but there were still no recordings or anything else.

I was expecting more, somehow.

Ah well. Nevermind all of that, ‘cos on Wednesday the 3rd it was time for ‘Rina Round at the Hare-a Hound(s). Let us be real: once upon a time Carina Round was my absolute favourite popular musical artist in the world ever. Nowadays I’m not as fussed as I used to be. I still like her a lot, but her music has got a fair bit blander to me as she’s gone along. Not bland, I hasten to add, but bland-er. This less fuss-ed-ness has got to the point where I haven’t even got/heard the new album yet (“Tigermending” – I like that name, it makes me think of someone fondly sewing up a beloved soft toy animal. I think I’d like “Tigerminding” even more, though – that makes me think of looking after a tiger whilst its parents go out for the night. Possibly for a candlelit meal, to rekindle the romance in their marriage. The tiger should be in bed by nine, and you must make sure that she brushes her teeth).

The gig, then: I missed Dan Whitehouse, but he always plays with Carina and so I daresay I’ll see him plenty nuff times in the future. Venkman played that type of thing with those staccato runs of off-kilter guitar and bass that sometimes add up to groove and sometimes don’t. I swear there was a genre name for that sort of thing a few years ago, when loads of bands did it.

In the changeover between turns I noticed a bloke in the crowd who looked almost exactly like George Dawes. That was something.

Carina played nearly all new stuff, most of which I’d only heard at the last Brum gig last year. It seems a lot rocky-heavier, as I thought back then – that’s what comes from spending time knocking around with a bloke from Tool, I suppose. None of the new ones stood out as amazing on second listen, but it’s still early days. The highlight was definitely a version of “Elegy” that was re-aranged to build up to a massive crescendo. That was scorching. We also had the (by now) customary beautiful singalong during “Backseat”, and a very sexy “Down Slow”. The more rocky-graaargh style of “Into My Blood” seemed well at home with the new stuff, funnily enough. That was all of the older stuff, as far as I recall – nothing from “The First Blood Mystery” outside of a tease of “Ribbons” when someone called out for it. That was probably verging on cruel.

Really, for me it seems a lot less about “Carina’s songs” than it does about “Carina herself” nowadays – she might well have lost the top several buttons off her dress (poor flower), but she’s still such an engaging performer and endearing character. She even still occasionally does that thing with her voice that does things to my mind that I can’t describe, but if I had to try to transcribe would be sort of “… … … guh … … …” (nesting!) (Edit: I should also note that this was an attempted transcription of what it does to my mind, not the thing that she does with her voice itself. Although it would actually be fun to hear her try to sing that) and her between-song blarney was as fun as ever (as well as the amusement of her accent changing mid-sentence).

I was also more than happy to see the talking-over-the-quiet-ones wankers castigated from every side. They didn’t seem to realize what the problem was, but there we go. It was still fun to see them get called names.

I went on the against austerity/boo to the Tory party conference march on Sunday the 7th, for whatever it’s worth – I do really get the feeling that it’s a bit like your Romney 47% thing, and that they assume that anyone on an anti-austerity march would never even possibly have voted Tory in the first place and thus can be safely ignored (true in many cases including mine, of course, but – aside from that not being the point – it really does seem to be far from exclusively true…). Still, you’ve got to try. I liked the PCS pooch I saw with the little sash wrapped around her doggy coat. I was also tickled by the way that the coppers stood behind the rank of conference event security staff on Broad Street, where it would have looked unseemly to put the metal walls up.

Links? Goo on then:

~ Average Cats Are Average.

~ Douglas Adams wrote this about the internet in 1999. It still appears to apply to the way a lot of people talk about a fair few specific bits/uses of the internet. Astonishing.

~ I frequently (and sadly/reluctantly) feel like I haven’t had the training to understand K-Punk, but I did always like this post regarding the way that positive thinking is some sort of weird standard. While we’re there (and more recently), Olympics.

~ Florentijn Hofman’s giant rubber duckies (via Cute Overload, years ago).

Reluctantly abandoning the animal title theme

Posted in Combat Sports, Linklog, Stage by Russ L on 8 October, 2012

Question of the day: has anyone ever had both synaesthesia and colour blindness?

Right then so then, I was going to go to the boxing (for the first time in a couple of years) at Walsall Town Hall on Friday the 21st, but found out at a very late stage (very late. The ability to check things on the day they’re supposed to happen is one of the big advantages of these here internets) that the fight between Carl Johanneson and Wassul’s own Martin Gethin had been moved onto a Frizzank Wizzank bill in London. For some reason. That was the end of that plan, then – I wasn’t really in the mood to pay a fortune for the usual 40-36/60-54 stuff.

Martin Gethin did win in the end, though, so there’s some sort of happy ending.

I made one of my (nowadays) scandalously rare trips to the theatre on the afternoon of Saturday the 29th, for Out Of Joint‘s (in association with the Octagon Theatre Bolton and Birmingham Rep and no doubt all sorts of other groovy folks) production of “Our Country’s Good” at The Old Rep. I was familiar with the play but The Old Rep was actually new to me – surprisingly, I’d never been there before this. Once you get in there, it looks uncannily like a theatre that would be called “The Old Rep”. Which must be handy, in its own way.

So, it seems that Thomas Keneally wrote a vaguely-based-in-reality-but-not-quite book called “The Playmakers”. Timberlake Wertenbaker then adapted this book “The Playmakers” into a play. In this book “The Playmakers”, and this play adapted from the book “The Playmakers”, there is a play around which the plot of the book (or play) orbits. With me? Good.

The idea is that the humane commandant of a late 18th century Australian colony wants to see his transported convicts act out a play, to remind everyone around that everyone around is human. Some of his officers are opposed to any such thing happening. This leads us into a meditation on the redemptive power ( a trite phrase but a useful one. Or perhaps I’m just very unimaginative. Well, I’m definitely very unimaginative, that’s beyond dispute. I digress…) of theatre specifically and by extension creative acts in general. One of the officers cack-handedly suggests that the convicts will be improved by repeating lines of elegant language containing noble sentiments, and while that thought is clearly very silly in itself there it may be dimly and distantly related to something helpful if you can manage to both strip away the condescension and look at it obliquely – one thing that theatre (and whatnot else) can do for us is to remind us/make us aware that there are perspectives other than our own, and that our own interior sets of thoughts and feelings are not necessarily the default pattern for all of humanity. That which is different is not necessarily bad. This, as I’m fond of pompously telling people, is a lesson we should continually remind ourselves of.

It would seem to be underlined in this production by the fact that the actors are all playing multiple roles – the solipsism of any given character is completely undercut when you see the actor playing someone completely different two minutes later. Although maybe in practice it was just a pragmatic casting decision. I do not know (or mind).

Our star of the cast, anyway, was Ciaran Owens – his Major Robbie Ross exuded spite from every pore, and gave a thoroughly convincing blarney as the reluctant hangman Ketch Freeman.

I also thought that it was quite nifty that this one was directed by Max Stafford-Clark, who directed the play’s first ever production twenty-five years ago. Wonderfully cyclical.

My one minor complaint (and this is the play, not the production) would regard a missed opportunity – we have, periodically, an Aboriginal character flitting around the edge of things, and we later find that he and his fellows find themselves afflicted by diseases brought over by the westerners. I suspect that there may be a point I’m missing (there usually is at least one), but it doesn’t really go anywhere and seems to be a bit of a waste – somewhere could be gone with this. I did like his “a dream that has lost its way” imagery, though.

I suppose that it would seem appropriate after this play in particular to say that I should get out to the theatre more frequently, but I really should. I end up saying that every time I do actually go, though. I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it, as the lady said.

There have been More Things since I went to that, but I think this’ll do for the time being. Have a few links before I go:

~ The Doctor Who Role Playing Game (a video, not really a game. It tickled me though).

~ The pubs and breweries of the Midlands (via B:INS, years ago).

~ A caricature map of Europe in 1914, based on that 1870 one (via Kottke, years ago).

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – October 2012

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 September, 2012

Well, it’s the first time I’ve managed one of these in a long time. It’s a big month, too – it’s not just the Book Festival that one might traditionally have associated with October and the Supersonic Festival that one might associate with October nowadays, although they certainly are both there in all their glory. Have a look.

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.

Up until Friday the 5th (plus other stuff after) – “The Rootless Forest” @ on the cut outside the New Art Gallery/Wharf Bar, Walsall – There’s a wood on a barge that’s been floating down the cut between Brum and Walsall, and will by sitting at the latter end for the first five days of October. It’ll then be planted on solid proper Black Country earth at the arboretum on the 10th, and there are talks’n’such at The New Art Gallery on the 6th and The Birmingham Institute of Art And Design on the 16th.

Ongoing till Thursday the 18th – West Midlands Human Rights Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham and Wolverhampton – Fillums about naughty people. And the victims of naughty people.

Tuesday the 2nd till Saturday the 6th – “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – “What were you thinking about at the time?” “I wasn’t thinking anything, I was too busy breaking in” etc.

Wednesday the 3rd till Sunday the 7th – Horse of the Year Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – A HOYS is a HOYS, of coys of coys.

Wednesday the 3rd – “Not Known At This Address” (Tin Box Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – On the subject of letters and their emotive properties, which is a thing I sort-of feel needs to be celebrated even if I never actually do write any letters these days.

Tuesday the 2nd – Dvorák’s 9th “New World” symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – An afternoon performance. To be compared with the 24th.

Tuesday the 2nd – Schostakovich’s 7th “Leningrad” symphony (The St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The evening performance. Marking 70 years (-ish) since it was premiered. My textual interpretation last year remains the definitive performance during that time.

Tuesday the 2nd – “Seconds Out” (Reform Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Boxing play #1.

Wednesday the 3rd – Carina Round @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Once upon a time my absolute absolute favourite, although I’m nowhere near as fussed nowadays. Still quite fussed, though.

Thursday the 4th till Saturday the 13th – Birmingham Book Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – With loads of interesting stuff, as ever. A couple that jump out at me immediately are Patrick Gale & Femi Oyebode talking about goodness/badness in fictional characters, and David Edgar on the similarities between theatre and poetry.

Thursday the 4th – Coppe’ / DJ Vadim / Modified Toy Orchestra @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – An interesting bill from the good people of Soundkitchen. It appears to be club times rather than gig times, though, so be aware of that.

Friday the 5th till Sunday the 14th – Birmingham Comedy Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – In the eyes of many this is probably the third festival-type-thing that October is particularly known for, but I’m completely humourless.

Friday the 5th – Rory McLeod @ The Station, Kings Heath, Birmingham – That’ll be the singer-songwriter who did the theme music for “Creature Comforts”, not the snooker player.

Friday the 5th – Azealia Banks @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – The more aggressive version of Nicky Minaj, if you like.

Friday the 5th – Rodney Bewes’ “A Boy Growing Up” @ The Town Hall, Stourbridge – That’ll be Rodney Bewes as in the Likely Lad who wasn’t James Bolan. Hide in the church if you don’t want the details of this one-man show spoiled for you.

Friday the 5th – Alex Brockie’s “The Inferno Kid” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – The tale of a poor and broken down ex-pro-wrestler, which is a subject that I find ceaselessly fascinating.

Saturday the 6th – Devon Sproule @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – She just seemed so likeable at Moseley Folk.

Saturday the 6th – Ruts D.C. @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Ruts da capo.

Saturday the 6th – “Roll Out The Barrel” @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – A “civilised Black Country afternoon celebrating the history of the British pub”, with fillums and ales and bacon’n’grey pays.

Sunday the 7th – Napalm Death @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton– They’re supporting Soulfly, but I expect that’s neither here nor there.

Thursday the 8th – Shonen Knife @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Managing to play the ingénue for three decades is a pretty impressive feat, I reckon.

Tuesday the 9th till Saturday the 13th – Puccini’s “Turandot” (Midland Opera) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – That’ll be the one with that “Nessun Dorma” of yours in it.

Tuesday the 9th till Saturday the 13th – “The Plough And The Stars” (Abbey Theatre) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Seán O’Casey’s Easter Rising play. It caused riots in 1927 but hopefully won’t here.

Tuesday the 9th till Saturday the 13th – “Beautiful Burnout” (Frantic Assembly Theatre Group) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – Boxing play #2.

Tuesday the 9th – Inspectah Deck @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – The rebel, he makes more noise than heavy metal.

Wednesday the 10th – Michelle Shocked @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – It was ages before I had the “oh I see what you did there” moment regarding the “shell shocked” in her name. I’m just not all that quick on the uptake, bless me.

Thursday the 11th and Friday the 12th – “The Good Person Of Sezuan” (MAT & Sister Tree) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Brecht at the Arena #1 (with added Jamaican setting).

Thursday the 11th – Terrorvision @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Given that they often used to be called “The Slade of the 90s”, this would seem like an apt place for them to play.

Thursday the 11th – John Cale @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – I always get him mixed up with J.J. Cale. It’s as though they did it on purpose.

Friday the 12th till Monday the 15th – Birmingham Zine Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Zoom towards some ‘zines.

Saturday the 13th – Ray Davies @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – That Kinky fella.

Monday the 15th – Michael Chapman @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Finger-pickin’ good guitar #1.

Wednesday the 17th till Saturday the 20th – “Arcadia” by Tom Stoppard (Birmingham School of Acting) @ The Blue & Orange Theatre, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Quite possibly the greatest post-war play, I think.

Wednesday the 17th till Saturday the 20th – “2.8 Hours Later” @ around Brum – A city-wide game where you run around and avoid the zombies. I can’t decide if it sounds fun or irritating, but I’m leaning towards the former.

Wednesday the 17th – Jefferson Starship @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Oi, don’t laugh. They built a city on rock and roll. You and I probably couldn’t build one out of Lego.

Wednesay the 17th – Alexei Sayle @ The Public, West Bromwich – Ullo,ullo,ullo,ullo, Ullo John Got A New Motor. He’s also on at The Wulfrun in Wolves on the 24th.

Thursday the 18th till Saturday the 27th – “Eat!” (Birmingham Rep Theatre & Black Country Touring) @ The Roundhouse, Birmingham – Drama based in submitted personal stories about food and eating. This is the venue, here – it was unfamiliar to me, but maybe you know it.

Thursday the 18th – Mellow Peaches @ The ICC/Symphony Hall foyer, Birmingham – Ace folk-blues stuff and it’s all for freeeee…

Thursday the 18th – Rick Astley @ The Academy, Birmingham – Link as dictated by tradition.

Friday the 19th till Saturday the 21st – Supersonic Festival @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Ooh crikey, it’s crept up on me a bit this year. Supersonic is always amaaaazing, anyway, although I expect that anyone likely to be reading this already knows that. This year you’ve got your The Bug, you’ve got your JK Flesh, your Merzbow, your Jarboe, your Zeni Geva, your Modified Toy Orchestra, your Drunk In Hell, your Ore (collaborating with KK Null), Sensational/Torture, Mothertrucker, Lichens, PCM, Six Organs Of Admittance, Islaja, Hey Colossus, SWLLWS, a Black Sabbath-themed walking tour, remote control cars on records, sing-a-long with Kim Gordon, stuff for the young’ins, rituals regarding Brum’s little stream… you name it, you’ve got it.

Friday the 19th – The Drifters @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – You’re more than a number in their little red book.

Saturday the 20th – Down @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I suspect someone will end up regretting having this one clash with Supersonic. Although it’s only a short distance down the road and you could pop out, I suppose.

Saturday the 20th – Soweto Kinch @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Saxomaphone, saxomaphone. Also: MC-ing.

Monday the 22nd till Wednesday the 24th – “Mother Courage And Her Children” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Brecht at the Arena #2.

Tuesday the 23rd till Saturday the 27th – “Steptoe and Son” (Kneehigh Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (theatre space), near Coventry – HAAAARRRROOOOLD etc.

Tuesday the 23rd – Sparks @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I’m sure that the town will be big enough for the both of them.

Wednesday the 24th till Saturday the 27th – “Twelfth Night” (Warwick University Drama Society) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), near Coventry – Apparently featuring performances inspired by Robert (Anton?) Wilson and music inspired by Tom Waits.

Wednesday the 24th – Eddie Reader @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – She has been foolish too many times, now she’s determined she’s gonna get it right.

Wednesday the 24th – Rolo Tomassi @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Do you love anyone enough to… alright, I’ll stop.

Wednesday the 24th – Dvorák’s 9th “New World” symphony (Dresden Symphony Orchestra) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – To be compared with the 2nd.

Wednesday the 24th – Rosemary Hawthorne’s “The Knicker Lady” @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A comic exploration of the history of underwear (in aid of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice).

Thursday the 25th – Alice Cooper @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – He doesn’t have cable? What a dumbass.

Thursday the 25th – Seth Lakeman @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Oh, Kitty Jay. (Edit: He’s at Warwick Arts Centre on the 11th, too).

Friday the 26th – Lionel Richie @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – I know I’ve said it a million billion times before, but it’s true nevertheless: he looks like a crocodile.

Saturday the 27th – Don McLean @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – That good ol’ boy, drinking Whisky and Rye.

Saturday the 27th – Efterklang @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), near Coventry – Efterklang with an orchestra will be a magical thing, it really will. This is one of the big tips o’the month from me.

Saturday the 27th – Immortal Technique @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – I am all about the Marxism in hip hop.

Saturday the 27th – Wizz Jones and John Renbourn @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Finger-pickin’ good guitar #2 and #3.

Saturday the 27th – Nicky Minaj @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – The less aggressive version of Azealia Banks, if you like.

Tuesday the 30th till Friday the 2nd – “Schroedinger” (Reckless Theatre) @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Inside the cat’s box.

Tuesday the 30th till Saturday the 3rd of November – Johan Strauss’ “A Night In Venice” (Tinker’s Farm Opera) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – A modern dress version, with references to Berlusconi and such.

Tuesday the 30th – Every Time I Die @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – I remember one time that I saw this lot back in the day, when the singer’s pupils were so dilated he could probably see into the future. It was hilarious.

Tuesday the 30th – Goodnight Lenin @ The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – They’re supporting a band called Dry The River and I don’t know anything about all that, but it’s Goodnight Lenin.

Tuesday the 30th – Sauna Youth / Cold Pumas @ The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham – SY: rambunctious garage punk. CP: wall-of-echoey-sound post-punk and my favourite band name I’ve heard in ages.

Wednesday the 31st – “Der Golem” film showing plus improvised organ from Nigel Ogden @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Horror film plus live music #1.

Wednesday the 31st – “The Phantom Of The Opera” plus the Midlands Fretted Orchestra @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Horror film plus live music #2.

Wednesday the 31st – Steve Tilston @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – In a break from the usual rule, there doesn’t seem to be any of the Carthys/Watersons playing in the West Mids this month (ah, there probably are. I’ve most likely just missed ’em). Have a Tilston instead.

Hounds (with Hare), swans (vicious), butterflies (farm-based)

Posted in Food, Linklog, Modern Living, Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 18 September, 2012

Wha’blow, my little chickadees. I went to that Cheek Mountain Thief gig at the Rabbit’n’Rovers on Thursday night (I was, in fact, one of only a small number of people who went to it. I’m sure they could have had more if they’d pushed it a bit. Lots of people usually turn out for Tunng), and it met with my approval. They sounded exactly as I’d expected them to sound and didn’t really bring any surprises, but that’s no trouble when you’re as much fun as this. The combination of both the cold-snowdrift and bubbly-hot-spring aspects of what I imagine Iceland to be like with fun latterday-Tunngian folk-pop is an enormously endearing one.

Let us not forget bill-mate Katherine Priddy, either. I missed her at Moseley Folk (where her set seems to have been very well regarded), but here her NickDrake-esque (some songs trad, some songs new) hippy folk was very nice. She’s due to play in the very same public house (although I don’t know if it’ll be in the same room) with no less than Michael Chapman on the 15th of next month, so there’s something for you to think about.

Saturday saw a trip to Stratford that ended up being a lot more animal-ish than I expected. We did the bus tour with the five houses (sounds quite Mafia, that), but I hadn’t known beforehand that Mary Arden’s House is still run as an actual farm. We therefore got to see/fuss the beasties there as well as feeding the ducks/geese/vicious vicious swans at the river and visiting the happiest place on Earth, Stratford Butterfly Farm. A lovely day out, it was.

Do you know what’s puzzling me lately? The fact that (from overhearing various conversations I have established that) the currently fashionable thing for dieting plans appears to be to talk about the number of ‘sins’ you are allowed to eat in a day. I find the thought of bringing the terms of religious morality into it fascinating, but bizarre. A diet is not an eschatological process. If nothing else, reaching your target weight won’t be getting to heaven – you’ll have to actually keep yourself there. So why ‘sins’?

Also: sin eaters were a real thing (or, as I believe the young’ins say nowadays, “totally a thing”). So that could get confusing, too.

Baffling.

Links:

~ On the graphics of heavy metal (via, ages ago, Pete Ashton’s more recently abnegated Twitter).

~ “In Search Of A Black Country Legend” – On Bathams Best Bitter.

~ “The Cat And The Coup” – a computer game about the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup in Iran. Prettier and more interesting than it is actually fun to play, I thought, but worth messing about with for reasons of prettiness and interest. (Typically, I forget the “via”).

And finally: Bejaysus, get a load of this dancing/sport-disrupting priest (via Shit London).

Cows (celestial), Birds (sea), Rabbits (anthropomorphised)

Posted in Blogstuff, Films, Linklog, Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 5 September, 2012

I must face up to the fact that I pretty much never get around to writing about anything nowadays. A change of approach is needed. I think that I’m going to shift sideways slightly and try writing rambly diary style posts, rather than posts that are ‘about’ something specific. There may in practice appear to be no difference, with the only distinction drawn being in my own mind. We’ll see.

The last few weeks have been good for ‘big’ stuff, anyway. There was the Flyover Show and the Helicoptera, both of which were ace. In spite of the above paragraph I do still intend, one of these never-never days, to write a big opera digest post (or series of posts). I’ll talk about “Mittwoch” when I do that. If. When.

I spent the weekend just gone at the Moseley Folk Festival, which is always lovely fun. It wasn’t quite as good as Mostly Jazz, Funk And Soul two months ago (that was probably the best multi-day-music-festival-type-thing that I’ve ever been to, even better than that one previous Supersonic and that one previous Moseley Folk, but I’m going to be sensible and acknowledge the fact that I’m never going to manage to write a post about it), but it was still fab.

Two minor teensy complaints:

1) There were sound problems. Never mind the fact that Guillemots suffered from the feedback mooing of The Celestial Cow and the fact that both Roy Harper and Ian McCulloch ended up repeatedly complaining to the monitor man, the bigger trouble is that (both at this and at Mostly Jazz two months ago) the second stage just wasn’t projecting. If you weren’t up the front, the Lunar stage simply didn’t have the appropriate volume. Quite a few bands palpably suffered from this, at both festivals.

2) Janice Long as compere, again. Although in the name of fairness I should point out that she didn’t seem anywhere near as drunk as last year, and even managed to get the names of the acts correct.

Carping aside, there were a whole metric bucketful of enjoyable turns. Listing band names tells you as close to nothing as makes no odds, but since it’s the most that I’m realistically likely to manage I’ll proceed:

1) The Destroyers were the best. Obviously. As I’ve said before now, having them on is unfair to the other bands.

2) Other particular highlight sets came from Guillemots (plus their aforementioned Celestial Cow of feedback), Echo & The Bunnymen (altogether fiercer sounding than when I saw them a few years ago), Devon Sproule (at least partly because of how personally personable she seemed), Goodnight Lenin (albumalbumhurryupandreleasethebloodyalbum), and Julian Cope (it was a small victory for him to actually bother to turn up [cf: Supersonic a few years ago]. That he also turned out to be a huge amount of fun was a happy bonus).

3) Direct hits were also scored by Abigail Washburn & Kai Welch, KateGoes, Beth Jeans Houghton, Laura J. Martin, Dark Dark Dark, Revere, Little Sister, Treetop Flyers, The Magnetic North,Lanterns On The Lake, Roy Harper, The Long Notes (both their first set and their ceilidh/hayfight), Spiro, Rapunzel & Sedayne, Paul Murphy, The Jasmine Moon Ensemble, Hassan Salir Nour & Joelle Barker, Cara Dillon, Village Well, and Steeleye Span.

The use of a camping chair proved good for avoiding The Aches. I think I might see about getting one of those leg-less ones you place straight on the ground for the future though.

The park is still lovely, of course. I find myself worried about it, though, even more than I was last year – not only are the two annual festivals taking their toll, the silly rain over this summer has turned some of the turf more-or-less inside out. There are now stretches of mud/dirt where there should be grass. What is to be done?

Ah well. I will finish on a song some links:

~ Since we were talking about their pop namesake, guillemots lay eggs that won’t roll off cliffs. They’re a bit Weeble-ish.

~ The stories behind 20 Muppet favourites (via Skepchick).

~ Interesting thoughts about numeric ratings by Tom Ewing (I’m no fan of marks-out-of-x, meself. I far prefer words to tell me what you think of something).

~ “Airbushed For Change” – Tory/Cameron poster parodies circa the last election

On the Thursday before the week before the Wednesday From Light

Posted in Blogstuff, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 16 August, 2012

The thought occurs that the previous post is probably a bit too negative to leave at the top of my front page for two whole months, and as such I’d better post something else quickstyle.

That there thing did annoy me, but I still have much love (as I believe the young’ins say) for the Birmingham Opera Company and I’m really looking forward to the Helicoptera. To displace that post, then, I’ll link to the download of this interview with B’h-Op’s Graham Vick (it should be there for a good while but it won’t last permanently, so get it sometime soon). He is, as ever, pretty much the best of us.

I will post something else soon. Probably not, by this point, very many of the various things I’ve sincerely intended to post over the last months, but something. There should at the absolute very least be something about Mostly Jazz, Funk And Soul, because it was amazing.

Wednesday Obscured From Light

Posted in Modern Living, Music, Stage by Russ L on 20 June, 2012

It appears that the tickets for the world premier of Stockhausen’s “Mittwoch Aus Licht” are now available to the public, not that this has been made widely known.

I’m normally the biggest fan of Birmingham Opera Company, but in this instance I can’t help feeling that it might have been a nice idea to let people have a crack at getting these (inevitably highly-prized) tickets before they all sell out. BOP are normally keen to emphasise the extent to which they’re against high-art elitism and in favour of the ordinary citizenry…

(Touch of operatic gloves to Intermezzo, without whom I wouldn’t have know about this. Despite being on the mailing list. Y’know).