Call me Russ L

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.

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(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).

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

Brief thoughts about spending two Saturdays on the trot in fields

Posted in Food, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 13 June, 2012

As you know, yer man Russ L is more urban than 50 Cent using an expensive mobile phone in a multi-storey carpark. Fields are alien to me; the very presence of grass makes me feel ill*. Nevertheless, my ever-present Thanatos-stylee self-destructive urges recently lead me to spend two consecutive Saturdays standing and sitting on vegetation, and this is my story.

The Lunar Festival at The Umberslade Estate in Tanworth-in-Arden, Saturday the 2nd of June

A new indie-folksy do from the good people who bring you Moseley Folk and Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul, the Lunar Festival takes place in awfully terribly posh Tanworth-In-Arden, where Nick Drake came from. It was on from Friday till Monday, but I only went to the Saturday. Each artist was required to do a Nick Drake cover as part of their set, which means that this probably qualified as high-concept.

~ It was very soggy and wet, although still not as bad as was predicted by the type of doomsaying Cassandras who (unaccountably) pay heed to weather forecasts. It got cold later on, too. The following day was even worse, so I do feel sorry for those who camped there.
~ The actual place is pretty inaccessible, which is a bit of a shame really. Danzey train station is nearby, but the last trains heading back finish earlier than you’d want. The organisers apparently arranged a coach from Moseley, which was no doubt awesome if you live in or near Moseley. I would’ve had difficulty going to this if the lovely Family Daffern hadn’t given me a lift in their motorcar.
~ Presumably as a result of the two things above, there weren’t too many punters there. Obviously I don’t object to having a bit more breathing space, but I assume this whole thing lost money and we don’t want that.
~ Umberslade Estate is nice. The approach/driveway was absolutely gorgeous, with the prettiest row of meticulously spaced trees. The actual field where all the doings a-happened was alright, although not as nice as Moseley Park (to which it will inevitably be compared).
~ The bar was run by Purity, because – as Mr Ford nearly wisely noted – their ass is everywhere. There were no four pint jugs like you get at Moseley Folk, though. Boo to that. If there’d been a larger number of punters then there could’ve been delays, and (as we all know) time is money on the folk music scene.
~ Oh yes, of course – there was some music as well. Good music it was too, I thought everyone I saw all day was at least alright. Highlights included: Joseph Topping’s bluesy slidey-picky folk with what sounded on first listen like they may have been some interesting lyrics; Boat To Row’s up-tempo multi-instrumented electric folk striking me as the best of the three times I’ve seen them; Goodnight Lenin who by this point you’ve seen and you’ve heard and you know; Hannah Peel, about whom I remembered very little the last time I saw her but here found to be beautifully hypnotic and bewitching (and it’s very hard not to love a cover of “Blue Monday” done with an olde-time-y music box); Eliza Shaddad, who did that rude song again but we won’t hold it against her**; and Michael Chapman, de facto headliner for us, who as ever proved that other guitarists might as well not even bother trying.

The Women Chainmakers’ Festival at Bearmore Mounds Playing Fields in Cradley Heath, Saturday the 9th of June

In 1910, Mary McArthur led the women chainmakers of Cradley Heath on a ten week strike for a living wage. Nowadays there’s a festival in honour of it, and quite right too (as I’m sure you’ll agree if you’re not one of these people who thinks that employers should be able to sack you at will). Last year, pretty much no-one came.

~ Actually, things started on the other side of town for the unveiling of a statue of Mary, and I would say she’s an excellent candidate for the ranks of public statuary. It was unveiled an hour later than it was supposed to be, though. That’s quite a long time. There are only 24 of them in an entire day.
~ Still, the weather was much nicer than the previous weekend (which I wrote about above, you may recall). It was very cloudy early on, but a lovely blue gap opened up in the sky right over Mary’s head when the cover came off the statue. The sun it shineth on the righteous.
~ Walking back over to Bearmore Mounds, we saw that a bus driver had managed to get onto the high street that had been closed off for the banner parade. That might not sound funny in the re-telling but trust me, it was hilarious.
~ Happily, there were a lot more people in attendance at the festival than there were in 2011. It still wasn’t exactly jam-packed and there was practically no-one left by the end, but I’m very glad it wasn’t as poorly puntered as last time.
~ I approve wholeheartedly of Workers Beer, but here they were selling cans only with no cups/glasses. Doh.
~ I liked the massive, massive slide even if I didn’t have a go myself. Lots of children were very nearly killed. It’s a shame it had to be blue, though. It would’ve been better if they could have hired a red one.
~ There were some nice turns throughout the day – no-one absolutely amazed me music-wise, but I quite-liked quite a few and I did particularly enjoy Tom Martin & Helena Rosewell doing a bluesy-folk-with-pretty-swells-of-cello thing that wouldn’t have been out of place the previous weekend. I was greatly amused by some poetry/spoken word stuff from Brendan Hawthorne & John Edgar, too.

So there we go. Two lovely days out.
* They tell me that the condition is called ‘hayfever’, but I refuse to get bogged down in such jargon and quackery.
** Don’t lower yourself to the obvious joke. It’s beneath you.

March Hares and Hounds and so forth

Posted in Films, Food, Music by Russ L on 7 April, 2012

Ah, all the blogging that was intended to be done but not actually done.

Still, my March stuff:

~ “All of the band names ending with the same phoneme” is a brilliant theme for gigs and should be used more often: I was very sad to see that it no longer has the 70s flowery wallpaper, but the little room in The Hare & Hounds saw a fun little gig on the 5th – Teeth Of The Sea, Victories At Sea and Health And Efficien…sea. I liked all three, particularly last year’s Supersonic best-in-show-eers Teeth Of The Sea and their Morricone-ised psychedelic industrial (oh yes), and the new-to-me Victories At Sea who played something like that Echo And The Bunnymen-styled 80s-influenced indie-rock that was popular a few years ago, only turned up to 381 and with the knob snapped off. An aside, since we mentioned them: E&TB will be headlining the first day at Moseley Folk this year.

~ Blocks of flats: As part of The Flatpack Film Festival, I went to Another Fine Mess (not-having-gone-to-Crufts consolation #1: this) and The Icebook (absolutely gorgeous. A bit sad though Ted).

~ Feed me Seymour: Dilshad in Blackheath was alright, nothing amazing but completely acceptable. The Bartons Arms may still be my favourite pub but the food there didn’t seem as good this time around. In no way bad, of course, but not as wonderful as I’ve known it to be in the past. The Black Country Arms in Walsall is also a very good pub indeed, and does more usual pub food to a good standard for very reasonable prices. And, y’know, I like reasonable prices far more than I like unreasonable ones.

~ And The Band Played On: I went to see The Temptations, The Four Tops, Tavares and The Crystals at the NIA on the 22nd. Unsurprisingly, there were no surprises and the gig went exactly as you’d expect. In this case that is a very good thing and an emormous amount of fun. The three “The-” bands were all one-original-member versions, so Tavares won a moral victory through that. The Tempations won the “best old man dance moves” and the “band I liked the most in the first place” awards.

~ Sure, the craic was fierce: As part of The Fierce Festival I saw the Capsule gig at Vivid on the 30th (I arrived right at the end of Swllws, but it all sounded nice enough; Diamond Catalog progressed from “thumping undertow with random sounds over the top for decoration” to “using said sounds over the top to create a polyrhythmic contrast with said thumping overtow”, and it was fun; Grouper‘s “Violet Replacement” piece was a touch longer than what was actually in it seemed to justify, but nevertheless spectral and ghostly and lovely just to sit back into your chair and melt into. I may or may not have actually sat back in my chair, I don’t remember. I normally perch on the edge of chairs, ready for action) and The Dachsund UN (not-having-gone-to-Crufts consolation #2: adorable, although very difficult to actually see given the number of spectators there. Who can blame them, though? Also HOUNDS).

There were also five (count ’em) operas in March and another one since then, but I’m going to do a separate/proper post about them. You just see if I don’t.

For the time being, I’ll leave you with the new Destroyers (they’re at Moseley Folk, too) videeyo, just because:

As I said in the comments underneath (I know, YouTube commenting) – I don’t know why the kid leaves the room at the end. Going back into the main bar in The Lamp Tavern will lead to him having an even weirder conversation with Eddie…

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

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 28 February, 2012

Oh mercy, there’s one thing I don’t like about March but so very many good things during this March in particular. So very many. Lots of walking tours, lots of opera, lots of HOUNDS, lots of everything.

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 Saturday the 3rd – “Ministry Of Meh” (Belgrade Senior Youth Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – About the fact that the West Midlands is apparently the “obesity capital” of Europe. I did not know that (although these things are usually based on a survey of about four people).

Thursday the 1st till Saturday the 10th – “Lady Windermere’s Fan” (Blue Orange Arts) @ The Blue Orange Theatre, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Go Wilde in the country Jewellery Quarter.

Saturday the 2nd – Mel C @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Your erstwhile Sporty Spice.

Friday the 2nd – “Time Gentlemen Please!” dance event @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Hip-hop and folk dancing all together: “Clog, Sword and Morris meet B-boying, Popping and Krump”. It may or may not be wrong of me to immediately want to say “En garde, I’ll let you try my Wu-Tang style” (and then make a load of slashing noises) when I think of sword dancing next to hip-hop.

Saturday the 3rd – Wagner’s “Tristan Und Isolde” (CBSO/CBSO Chorus) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – This will be the first opera that I’ll ever have seen live twice, fact fans.

Saturday the 3rd – Great Gran’s Great Games” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Nan’s swimming, for ages four and up.

Saturday the 3rd – Joe Cutler’s “Ping” (The Coull Quartet) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, near Coventry – Music for quartet and four table tennis players. No, really.

Monday the 5th – Teeth Of The Sea @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham
The psychedelic industrialistas who were, according to me and various others, the best band of Supersonic last year.

Tuesday the 6th till Saturday the 10th – Welsh National Opera mini season @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Continuing what has turned out to be a very operatic month indeed (see also the 3rd and 21st), here you have La Traviata on the 6th and 9th, Beatrice And Benedict on the 7th, and The Marriage Of Figaro on the 8th and 10th.

Tuesday the 6th till Saturday the 10th – “The Diary Of Anne Frank” (Touring Consortium Theatre Company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – I can’t pretend that the idea of a big-stage version of Anne Frank in a big-stage theatre that normally has musicals and glossy “shows” strikes me as an enormously good idea, but you never know. There is potential for it to be interesting.

Wednesday the 7th till Saturday the 10th – “The Glass Menagerie” (Dudley Little Theatre) @ Netherton Arts Centre, Netherton – Which of the Williams’ is the best at Tennis? Why, Tennessee Williams, of course (arf).

Wednesday the 7th – Chris Wood @ The Red Lion, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Awake, arise, you drousy sleepers.

Thursday the 8th till Sunday the 11th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – HOUNDS.

Thursday the 9th and Friday the 10th – “Mummy Mafia” (First Floor Theatre) @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – In which the posh mothers don’t like the ordinary ones. It’s mommy mafia round here, we’ll have you know.

Thursday the 8th – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Blimey, that is a soul-funkin’ lot of days and nights.

Friday the 9th till Saturday the 17th – St Padraig’s Day Festival @ various places in Digbeth, Birmingham – With the parade itself on (helpfully) the 17th. (EDIT: And by ’17th’ I mean ’11th’, obviously).

Friday the 9th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – A Fairport gig, a Fairport gig, the first one of the year (Disclaimer: it’s probably not really their first gig of the year).

Friday the 9th – The Presidents Of The United States Of America @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Your first peach-related band of the month.

Saturday the 10th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – Your second peach-related band of the month.

Saturday the 10th – “Bite Size” (various theatre companies) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio), near Coventry – Lots of short plays, throughout the days. Well, it’s only one day, but that didn’t rhyme.

Sunday the 11th – Cannibal Corpse @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Those sensitive purveyors of songs about hammer-smashed faces and suchlike.

Monday the 12th – Mark Lanegan @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – You do have to wonder what he actually did to those poor trees.

Tuesday the 13th till Saturday the 17th – “Waiting For Godot” (A Talawa Theatre Company/West Yokshire Playhouse) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Nothing, as ever, to be done.

Tuesday the 13th – Joan Baez @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The night they drove ol’ Brummie down.

Tuesday the 13th – “The Ethics Of Progress” (Unlimited Theatre) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio), near Coventry – Quantum for the perplexed. Although that was by somebody else.

Wednesday the 14th till Sunday the 18th – the Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – The vaunted, feted, celebrated annual festival of films and film-related doings, courtesy of those good folks at 7 Inch Cinema. The line-up abounds with huge amounts of stuff, not least Laurel & Hardy in a church, films on a boat, biking, cinematic remixes, the best film ever made, digital projectors, psychedelic music, Yam-yam-ery, magnets and magic lanterns, and oh so much more.

Wednesday the 14th – The Three Degrees @ The Jam House, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – (Insert stock grumble about The Jam House here).

Thursday the 15th till Saturday the 1st of April – Still Walking Festival @ various routes around Birmingham – A festival of walks (in the sense of “guided tours around places”, not in the sense of “keep fit”. Although it no doubt will help with that if you go on enough of them).

Thursday the 15th till Saturday the 17th – “The Big Bang” science & engineering fair @ The NEC, Marston Green, BirminghamScience~! For free. Free science.

Thursday the 15th – Chris Addison @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Although I don’t know what he’s doing here, given that they were meant to be filming a new series of “The Thick Of It” aroundabout now (and, much as I hate to say it, that’s altogether more important).

Friday the 16th – “Undefeated” boxing bill (Coldwell Boxing) @ The New Bingley Hall, Hockley, Birmingham – Headlined by a local derby between Jamie Ball and Nasser Al Harbi for the English light-middleweight title, which sounds suspiciously like a proper fight.

Friday the 16th – The Spaghetti Western Orchestra @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Doing Morricone and such. (Edit: just realised that this is part of the Flatpack Festival, as above).

Saturday the 17th – The Dubliners @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Every year they play at Brum town hall for St Padraig’s day, every year I think “surely that’ll be the best gig ever”, and every year I fail to get around to getting a ticket before it sells out.

Tuesday the 20th till Friday the 23rd – “Ann Boleyn” (ETT/Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – *Counts on fingers* … beheaded?

Tuesday the 20th and Wednesday the 21st – Harold Pinter double bill (European Arts Company) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – With The Dumb Waiter and The Lover.

Wednesday the 21st till Saturday the 31st – Jonathon Dove’s “Life Is A Dream” (Birmingham Opera Company) @ The Argyle Works, Bordesley Green (or is this still Digbeth?), Birmingham – Right, seriously now: even though there’s Flatpack and Crufts and everything else this month, this is the big one for March (and quite possibly all of 2012). And that’s no insult to any of the other lovely things going on. This is a new opera based in Calderon that has been specifically written (by Jonathon Dove, libretto by Alasdair Middleton) for the Birmingham Opera Company, whose performances place you in the midst of an immersive world rather than have you sit there looking at a stage. Go go go go go to this, you will not regret it.

Thursday the 22nd – The Four Tops / The Temptations / Tavares / The Crystals @ The NIA, Birmingham – It’s a soul bonanza.

Friday the 23rd till Friday the 30th – “Irminsul: You Are Lost” @ Perrott’s Folly, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A collaborative art project (full list of artistes at that link), and also a good excuse to go up Perrott’s Folly, which you don’t get absolutely every day (although there have been a few things there before).

Friday the 23rd – Syleena Johnson @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Tonight, she’s gonna let go. (EDIT: Note well, if it’s important to you for transport and such – it’s a club-night type of gig and Syleena will be on later in the night).

Friday the 23rd – Boxing (Frank Warren Promotions/First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Headlined by Enzo Maccarinelli vs Shane McPhilbin for the British cruiserweight belt.

Friday the 23rd – Dave Swarbrick @ The Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – The usual “any given month must feature at least one of the Watersons/Carthys” rule seems to be having a rare break, so have someone affiliated with them instead (see also the 7th).

Saturday the 24th – Discharge @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – Why?

Saturday the 24th – Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) @ The NIA, Birmingham – No longer featuring Nate Marquardt. Let’s hope someone else does the Gouveia finishing sequence instead.

Monday the 26th till Saturday the 31st – “Spamalot” (theatre company?) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – It is a silly place.

Wednesday the 28th – “I, Bertolt Brecht” (Fuschia Films & Media) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A documentary play about the fella, based on experiences with his own theatre company.

Thursday the 29th till the 8th of April – Fierce Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – The annual art/performance art festival, and another one with countless things of interest: here we have one-to-one book readings (intense), guided tours of Berlin in Birmingham, HOUNDS, Viking funerals of your personal messages, and going off into the unknown under a blindfold.

Thursday the 29th – The Osmonds @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Apparently their last ever UK tour. Cra-zy Hor-ses WAAAAAAA~! WAAAAAAA~!

Thursday the 29th – “Coffin Up” (Village Idiots Mask Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – What happens when a funeral director can’t get enough business by ordinary means.

Friday the 30th – Grouper @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – That would be the American ambient lady Grouper, not the local covers band who have (for some reason) decided to use the same name.

Friday the 30th – The Selecter @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Just a simple show, on their radio. Although this is a gig, at The Robin.

Friday the 30th – The Destroyers @ The Prince Of Wales, Moseley, Birmingham – The new album is out!

Saturday the 31st till Saturday the 7th of April – “The Pillowman” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Martin McDonagh’s tale of authoritarian interrogation. “You wrote that so it was you what done it.”

Saturday the 31st – Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (Heart Of England Singers) @ Shirley Methodist Church, Shirley, Birmingham – O Fortuna, Velut Luna, and on you go.

Assorted gubbins of less-than-world-shattering importance

Posted in Food, Modern Living, Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 14 February, 2012

~ Happy Valentine’s Day, yer smug couples yers.

~ I went bowling for the first time in about fourteen years, more or less. It was hilarious. But then you ache afterwards.

~ We’re halfway through now, give or take, but (at least some of) the Black Country Ales pubs have a great offer on through all of February – you get a little card to be stamped whenever you buy a pint of anything, and when you have eight you can have a free one. It’s slightly misleading/naughty in that not all of their pubs are participating in it even though it has been made to sound like they are (The Wellington in Brum definitely isn’t, for example. The Black Country Arms in Walsall definitely is. Beyond that I cannot help you. Yet), but still. Free beer.

~ Festival newz~! A fair chunk of the line-up for the Flatpack Fillum Festival is available (not all of it, but there’s apparently going to be a full list of runners and riders by the 22nd); the Fierce Festival will have a recreation of the Daschund UN; the Lunar Festival will have one Benjamin Francis Leftwich playing, who I don’t know but his name sounds similar to ‘sandwich’ and so realistically he must be good; a few bands have declared for the Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul festival, with a lot more to come; the thought of Sabbath being at Download Festival led to me being as near to (coming close to considering the mere beginning of the speculation of the thought of) going to one of these (plainly-stupid advertising-hoarding-based) big festivals as I have been in many years, but Iommi has come down Ill and Ward had come down Wanting, so they’re probably not going to end up playing there. I say that almost as though it was likely in the first place.