Call me Russ L

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 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.


What is this Gigbeth thing, anyway?

Posted in Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 1 October, 2008

I honestly don’t know, and since a recent bit of huffiness from one of their representatives has got me thinking about them in general I may as well consider this question in particular. Apparently their ‘Vision’ (oh mercy) runs like so: “By 2012 Gigbeth will be recognised throughout the UK music industry as the catalyst which has put Birmingham on the musical map, which has been integral to changing perceptions of our city.”

All very good and laudable I am sure, but – if we might be allowed to proceed to the abstract from the concrete for a moment – what is it? What would I, Johnny Punter, actually be buying a ticket for? The first year it was a bunch of free gigs from (mostly) local artistes, which I understood as a theme. Last year (which I didn’t attend) and this time around (we’ll see) it seems to just be a randomly chosen assortment of gigs, featuring a mix of both local and touring/’big’ bands. I really cannot figure out what the common thread is meant to be. The lack of identity resulted in abounding confusion, last year: I recall folk on the (now defunct) old Communion messageboard being horrified about the fact that they could buy a ticket ‘for’ the Capsule night and still not be guaranteed entry, completely unaware of the fact that the ticket they were buying wasn’t just for that gig but instead for a larger series of events.

There is a conference-type-thing, which may or may not be of worth (I have no idea. I know nothing of the world of musicbizznizz conferences; this one might well be a super-duper example of its type), but beyond that is the plan to ‘put Birmingham on the musical map’ by having some gigs there? Just like there are every other week of the year? Is the fact that they’re grouped together as ‘Gigbeth’ supposed to gather more attention? Could be; I’ve always said that what Birmingham needs is a series of events joined together as a ‘festival’. It’s a unique concept.

Baffled am we. Still, the line-up features The Destroyers, Einstellung, Anathema, The Sugarhill Gang (no, really), Guillemots, and plenty more to be confirmed. The actual constituent gigs should be good, whether held under a vague banner or not.

(Also: why do the permalinks and comment links on the Gigbeth Blog redirect back to their main page? Cock-up or something else I simply don’t understand about the whole affair?). (EDIT: Well, the blog is fixed, at any rate. Here’s the new link).

ANOTHER EDIT: Check out further thoughts on the subject from NRG and from Catnip.

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


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.