Call me Russ L

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: March 2013

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 27 February, 2013

It seems like we have a pattern, then. I do one or two of these posts aroundabout this time of the year, then a couple more in autumn, and that’s it. Still, there’s plenty to be getting on with – there’s the usual Crufts and Flatpack festival and St Padraig’s and lots-of-opera that you’ll see in March in the West Mids, but this year you can add it to a big joined theatre thing, a vague two-tone theme, modern minimalist composers, and Rolf Harris.

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

Thursday the 28th of February until Saturday the 2nd – Giacomo Puccini’s “Il Trittico” (students of Birmingham Conservatoire) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Three one-act operas for the price of one.

Friday the 1st – “The Furies” (Kindle Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A feminist reading of the Oresteia (Clytemnestreia, presumably), performed through rock/metal songs. (Also at A.E. Harris in the Jewellery Quarter on the 23rd).

Saturday the 2nd – The Atlantic Players @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A really fun southern soul band, who I enjoyed at Mostly Jazz/Funk/Soul last year. Speaking of which, the line-up for this year’s MOJFAS is starting to come out.

Saturday the 2nd – Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” (Ellen Kent Opera & Ballet International) @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – With a donkey onstage.

Saturday the 2nd – Mandy Romero’s “In Excelcis” @ The Public, West Bromwich – A personal history of glam rock, from a trans* perspective. And if I’ve got the asterisk wrong there then please assume the asterisk leads to a footnote apologising for my ignorance. And I do mean that sincerely.

Saturday the 2nd – “Whisky Birmingham” Festival @ The Bond, Digbeth, Birmingham – I don’t have the first idea what-all is what’s what when it comes to whisky, but I thought I’d mention this here as a comparative novelty (there are always ale festivals everywhere, but this seems a touch less frequent). Does the no-E spelling of “whisky” mean that it’s American and Irish stuff rather than Scottish? I can never remember which way round it’s supposed to be.

Sunday the 3rd – UFO @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – This obliquely leads me wonder about why you never hear “Doctor, doctor!” jokes anymore.

Tuesday the 5th till Saturday the 9th – the Welsh National Opera come to town @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – A new boss equals new and exciting things from the WNO. Here we have Lulu on the 5th, The Cunning Little Vixen on the 7th, and Madame Butterfly on the 6th, 8th and 9th.

Tuesday the 5th – Sigur Rós @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Glaciers, etc.

Tuesday the 5th – The Magic Band @ The Robin 2, BilstonSans Captain Beefheart, for the usual set of reasons.

Tuesday the 5th – John Cage’s “4’33” @ The ICC/Symphony Hall Café, Birmingham

Wednesday the 6th till Saturday the 9th – “Cadfael: The Virgin In The Ice” (Middle Ground Theatre) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – The abbot, in the chapterhouse, with the poisonous herbs.

Wednesday the 6th – Steve Reich @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Firstly the man himself will be performing Clapping Music. Then, the London Sinfonietta will be giving what is on the second ever (evaaaar) performance of his new “Radio Rewrite”, in which he attempts to remake Radiohead songs in his own inimitable way. By this point in time I think we can afford to just trust him and go with it.

Wednesday the 6th – George Dillon’s “The Gospel Of Matthew” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – St Matthew acted out with what is apparently no small degree of intensity.

Wednesday the 6th – The Hot 8 Brass Band @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Funky hip-hopity New Orleans brass band. Sousaphone! I keep telling you that the sousaphone is the best of all instruments and you never listen.

Thursday the 7th till Saturday the 16th – “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Blue Orange Arts) @ The Blue Orange Theatre, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – ROOD.

Thursday the 7th till Sunday the 10th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – HOUNDS.

Thursday the 7th – screening of “The Ghost Of Piramida” @ Birmingham Bike Foundry, Stirchley, Birmingham – The lovely Danish band Efterklang travelled to an island in the arctic circle north of Norway to record their last album, and a film was made about it all. You can watch a screening of it in a room above a pushbike shop, although since there’s only room for 25 people you probably won’t.

Saturday the 9th till Sunday the 24th – Theatre Fever @ various venues in the West Mids – A linking title (they didn’t call it a festival, and I call that progress) for lots of different plays that are going on, as well as a few other bits and bobs too. This includes shop windows, penguins, pubs, and lots of things mentioned elsewhere in this post because I hadn’t heard of this until just now and I’m damned if I’m going to go back and re-write them.

Saturday the 9th till Monday the 18th – St Padraig’s Day Festival @ around Digbeth, Birmingham – Too ra loo ra loo, too ra loo ra li. The parade itself is often said to be the third largest in the world.

Saturday the 9th – Alex Bockie’s “The Inferno Kid” @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – The tale of a broken ex-pro wrestler, which I always find fascinating. I think there was actually an Inferno Kid, but I don’t think this is based on him.

Saturday the 9th – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown @ The Robin 2, Bilston – I hope he still wears his flammable hat.

Saturday the 9th – The Jasmine Moon Ensemble @ Ort Café, Moseley, Birmingham – Sino-Irish trio who play traditional Chinese music on traditional Chinese instruments. I saw them at Moseley Folk last year and thought that they were lovely.

Saturday the 9th – Huey Morgan And The New Yorkers @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Stick ’em up punk it’s (one of) the Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Saturday the 9th – Professional Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – One hundred years of boxing at the Civic! That is amazing. I’ve always said that the balcony is great for fightsports, though – you get a good view. This one is headlined by Thomas Costello’s English title fight (a title shot at last! It’s gone slower for him than many seemed to expect), but there are a pile of other fights and apparently there will be music and cabaret and whatnot else, since it’s a special occasion.

Tuesday the 12th till Friday the 15th – “The Anatomy Of Melancholy” (Stan’s Cafe) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio space), Warwick University, near Coventry – A staged version of Robert Burton’s 17th century semi-satirical work of philosophy/self-help-book, which (funnily enough) I am actually reading at the moment. I have no idea at all how they’re going to do this, but it’s Stan’s Cafe so you can be absolutely certain that it’ll be enormously witty and inventive.

Wednesday the 13th – St Vitus @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Do-do-do-do-dooooom.

Thursday the 14th till Thursday the 28th – “Heather Gardner” (Birmingham Rep theatre company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The modernised version of “Hedda Gabler”. Youseewhattheydidthere with the name.

Friday the 15th – Olivia Newton-John @ The NIA, Birmingham – Getting physical.

Friday the 15th – Cannon, Campbell, Watchorn & O’Connor @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Formerly of The Dubliners. Now that The James Brown Rule has wrought its terrible effect on The Dubs, this’ll be your closest. It’s quite near the 17th, too.

Saturday the 16th – Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Oh lordy lord it’s the ghost boat! In all seriousness we should show appropriate appreciation for the fact that we have one of the world’s foremost Wagner men right on our doorstep, ‘cos he’ll probably be here for a while yet but he won’t be here forever.

Saturday the 16th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – You know how it gets when someone eats all the miniature chocolates. “Whatever happened to all the heroes?” you’ll ask.

Saturday the 16th – The Selecter @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Two-tone in the Black Country in March #1.

Wednesday the 20th – Nas @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – You a slave to a page in his rhyme book.

Thursday the 21st till Sunday the 31st – Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – At the time of posting the line-up isn’t available, which seems a bit late to leave it really. Still, there’s a sneakypeak advance post here, and in any case there’s always loads of brilliant stuff. Always always always. (EDIT: Here y’go, the line-up is out now).

Thursday the 21st – Skunk Anansie @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – If you are in any sort of doubt at all about whether or not you need to go to this gig, look what happened last time they played there.

Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd – “Rasputin’s Mother” (Encore Drama) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – He took some killing, but what if even then he wasn’t dead?

Friday the 22nd – “Call Mr Robeson” (Tayo Aluko & Friends) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – The life of Paul Robeson, actor/singer/civil rights campaigner.

Friday the 22nd – The Real Thing @ The Robin 2, Bilston – You to them are everything.

Saturday the 23rd – Rolf Harris @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Doing music and a painting onstage. Presumably not at the same time. I do actually (genuinely) think that ol’ Rolf is underrated as a purveyor of comic song.

Saturday the 23rd – The Beat @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Two-tone in the Black Country in March #2.

Tuesday the 26th till Thursday the 28th – “God’s Property” (Talawa Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Digbeth, Birmingham – Two bothers are reunited in 1982 London, but racial tension hangs heavy in the air.

Tuesday the 26th and Wednesday the 27th – Emeli Sandé @ The Academy, Birmingham – There for two days then she’s gone, then she’s gone, then she’s gone.

Wednesday the 27th – Steve Harris’ British Lion @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – I was genuinely surprised to see that Steve Harris of Iron Maiden fame had a solo project, given that he’s always portrayed as a bossman figure who will brook no dissent and is always firmly in charge of what gets on their albums. I do quite like the fact that the catchphrase “Up The Irons” can be replaced with “Up The Harris” for this, but then again I am quite childish.

Friday the 29th – J.S. Bach’s “St Matthew’s Passion” (Ex Cathedra & The Baroque Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Bimingham – It’s a good old Good Friday passion.

Friday the 29th – Stiff Little Fingers / The Men They Couldn’t Hang / Ed Tudor Pole @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Now that’s what you call a line-up.

Saturday the 30th – Eels @ The Academy, Birmingham – Didja know that Hugh Everett III (of the many-worlds version of quantum wavefunction collapse) was the father of the fella from Eels? That’s a pretty hoopy family they have going on.

Sunday the 31st – Troumaca @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Bass-heavy calypso-sprinkled indie-rock sorts. It was a lovely story at MOJFAS: after they played, compere-for-the-day Giles Peterson (who will be DJ-ing at this) took to the stage in a daze and exclaimed “I’ve got to sign them!”

Reader, he signed them.

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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.

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.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – November 2011

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, Food, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 October, 2011

Cats, hares, tortoises, seabirds and bears of possibly a couple of different types – it’s animal month.

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

Ongoing through the month – “Shout” festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Brum’s festival of Queer/LGBT culture. Includes, amongst many other things, ”A Tale Of Two Symphonies” with the Birmingham Gay Symphony Orchestra (an entity of which I was not aware until just now), and tales of Stevenage.

Saturday the 29th of October until Saturday the 12th of November – “Macbeth” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – I love Macbeth. It’s just so gangsta.

Tuesday the 1st and Wednesday the 2nd – “Stig Of The Dump” (Mind The Gap Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – I loved the book as a child.

Tuesday the 1st – Melvins @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – One of those bands who I like, but don’t like as much as everyone else who likes them seems to like them, so everyone else who likes them doesn’t listen to me properly and just decides that I don’t like them. But I do like them. Just not as much as etc. etc. etc.

Tuesday the 1st – Natty @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Children get your culture, and don’t stand there and gesture or the battle will be hotter.

Tuesday the 1st – Bill Bailey @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Hawk The Slayer’s rubbish (do I make these references a touch too oblique at times?)

Wednesday the 2nd – Motorhead / Anti-Nowhere League / UK Subs @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Motorhead are clever – although they may have been playing more-or-less the same set for 381 years, they always make sure their annual autumn tour is a package-affair with other bands you might want to see. This time it’s all a bit punky.

Wednesday the 2nd – “Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks” (The Foundry Group Theatre) @ The Forrest Arts Centre, Walsall – A comedy about Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks, which is one of ideas that I suspect we all wish we’d had first.

Thursday the 3rd – The Bad Shepherds @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – On their “First Farewell Tour”, which is at least honest.

Friday the 4th till Sunday the 6th – Cake International – The Sugarcraft & Cake Decoration Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I saw the most gorgeous cake that was shaped and decorated like a bunch of roses, recently. I was enormously impressed, it was beautiful.

Friday the 4th – Anna Calvi @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – She’s smaller than you’d imagine, in real life.

Friday the 4th – Toumani Diabate @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Playing his Kora. They should get him on with a choir, then you could have choral kora.

Saturday the 5th – UFC 138 (MMA) @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Heh, a UFC card in Brum and I’m not going. I should be ashamed to call myself an MMA fan or such.

Saturday the 5th – Acid Mothers Temple @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The over/under on how long they play for is set at 3.5 hours. Put your predictions in now, please.

Saturday the 5th – “The Hare And The Tortoise” (Tutti Frutti Productions & York Theatre Royal) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – Postscript scene here.

Saturday the 5th – An evening of Janacek and Dvorak (CBSO & City Of Birmingham Choir) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Just make sure you get a good seat and don’t have to sit uncomfortably to see, or you might end up with Czech neck. See also the Welsh National Opera entry below if you fancy a bit more Janacek.

Sunday the 6th – Glen Campbell @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – His last ever ever tour ever before retirement.

Sunday the 6th – The Drifters @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Any resemblance to any original band members living or dead is purely coincidental.

Sunday the 6th – Focus @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Dutch yodelling (also: prog-rock).

Monday the 7th – Ghostface Killah @ The Institute (The Library), Digbeth, Birmingham – It’s been a very Wu-Tang-y year in Brum, 2011 has. Assuming he turns up.

Wednesday the 9th till Sunday the 13th – Slava’s Snowshow @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Not just for kiddies, this really is one of the most visually astonishing things that you’ll ever see.

Wednesday the 9th – Guillemots @ The Institute (The Library), Digbeth, Birmingham – Call ‘em a doctor.

Thursday the 10th – The Damned @ The Academy, Birmingham – On their 35th anniversary tour, which is pretty much guaranteed to make some folks feel extremely old.

Thursday the 10th – Paul Murphy @ The ICC (Symphony Hall foyer), Birmingham – Your man from The Destroyers, playing as part of the ongoing Folk For Free series.

Thursday the 10th and again on Saturday the 12th – Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Derrr, derrr, du-duh-duh, derrr, derrr, de-deh-deh, dun dun dun dun der dun dun, dun dun dun dun der dun dun. That’s my transcription of the invasion theme. I’m telling you, sheet music will be a thing of the past once my notation system catches on.

Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” (New Century Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Possibly unfortunate timing, given the recent big Birmingham Rep version of this, but I suppose it could be fun to compare and contrast. Featuring (it appears) suitcases (not handbags) used prominently in the staging.

Friday the 11th – “Fighting The Cuts” (Banner Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Apparently a cabaret performance themed around resistance to the current government. That doesn’t sound like the type of thing you see every day.

Friday the 11th – “Sacred and Profane Love in 13th Century France” @ St George’s Church, Edgbaston, Birmingham – As performed by Sinfonye. What a title, though. What a dream of a title.

Saturday the 12th till Sunday the 20th – Grand Slam Of Darts 2011 @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – So I hear they’re starting to catch up with Phil Taylor nowadays, finally. I’ve always recommended not having heroes.

Saturday the 12th – Opeth @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – There’s always one “band I used to be into but have drifted away from over the years, for no obvious reason” every month, and your Swedish prog-folk-blues-metallers here are November’s representatives.

Saturday the 12th – Bellowhead @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Often said to be one of the best live bands going. I haven’t seen ‘em so I wouldn’t know, but people do say this.

Saturday the 12th – “Breaking Down The Wall” @ New Art Gallery, Walsall – Live poetry, percussion and graffiti. Connected with the Salaam Islamic Arts Festival.

Saturday the 12th – “Play School” (Mid*Point Theatre) @ A.E. Harris, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Presented as just as games evening, although I’m not so sure it wont turn out to be something a bit more, well, theatrical. Apparently they will provide board games and organise “low tech sports”. This leaves me wondering what a hi-tech sport might be. Robot Wars?

Sunday the 13th – Thomas Dolby @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Science~!

Monday the 14th till Saturday the 19th – “Keeler” (can’t seem to find the theatre company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – The play about the Profumo Affair that is apparently very well regarded by Christine Keeler herself.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 26th – “Bagpuss” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Bagpuss! He’s so lovely.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 19th – Welsh National Opera @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – With Don Giovanni on the 15th and 18th, Katya Kabanov on the 16th, and The Barber of Seville on the 17th and 19th.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 19th – “Oh What A Lovely War” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Hasn’t this been on at The Arena for about fifteen runs in the last few years, or am I just imagining it? I’m not saying that this is a bad thing.

Tuesday the 15th – Wire @ The Institute (The Temple), Digbeth, Birmingham – I’d got the impression from somewhere that this was supposed to be a “doing Pink Flag all the way through” gig, in the way that all old bands do with their great albums nowadays, but it doesn’t look like it actually is. I have no idea where I got that idea from.

Wednesday the 16th – (MF) Doom @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – His name’s, Doom, they wonder who he is but don’t wor, -ry, believe me he’ll get busy. When it comes, to, poetry he’s got plenty, la la laa. La la, la la, la la.

Thursday the 17th to Sunday the 20th – “Autumn Almanac” @ Ikon Gallery, Birmingham – A four day affair with local createurs of sundry stripe. Includes a 7 Inch Cinema film selection (themed around the date it’s on, the 17th of November) and Doom-Tuba courtesy of Ore (they were amazing at Supersonic), amongst many other things.

Friday the 18th – The Beat / The Selecter @ The Town Hall, Bimingham – On my radio in the bathroom.

Friday the 18th – Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Town Hall, Walsall – Including Martin Gethin’s first local fight in ages.

Friday the 18th – Rihanna @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – And also at the NIA on the 29th. She’ll need a big umbrella indeed if everyone in venues of those sizes are to be invited to stand underneath.

Friday the 18th – The Dwarves @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Once upon a time The Most Dangerous Band On The Planet, then a polite little pop-punk group, and I don’t actually know what they’re up to nowadays.

Friday the 18th – “The Lonely Clouds Of Guernica” (Come As You Are Arts Northwest) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A play concerning the fact (and I didn’t know this one, but it seems hardly surprising) that Bush’n’Blair wanted Picasso’s “Guernica” covered up at the UN when they were a-having wars.

<iSaturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th – The Warley National Model Railway Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Choo-choo and indeed chug-a-puff. Is that Warley as in right here in Sandwell? Cool.

Saturday the 19th – The Supreme Show of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Look at this, I mean really now.

Sunday the 20th – Morbid Angel @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Surely the deathliest death metal that ever died metallically.

Tuesday the 22nd till Saturday the 26th – “The Producers” (West Bromwich Operatic Society) @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – It’d be good if people dressed up for this in a manner similar to how folk do when they go to see “Rocky Horror”, ‘cos then we’d all have an excuse to carry our blue blankets around with us.

Tuesday the 22nd and Wednesday the 23rd – “A Clockwork Orange” (Volcano Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Apparently “Volcano Theatre Sidestep the cult movie and recapture the shock of the original novella”, which is good because I love the book and have never particularly liked the fillum.

Tuesday the 22nd – Beverley Knight @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Our Bev. There may be higher-energy artists and there may be artists in higher heels, but you won’t find a greater combination of the two.

Wednesday the 23rd and on until 2012 – “The Sleeping Beauty” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – From the perspective of the fairy who cursed Beauty to sleep in the first place.

Wednesday the 23rd until Sunday the 27th – The BBC Winter Good Food Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Incorporating, pleasingly, The World Cheese Awards.

Wednesday the 23rd – Alabama 3 @ The Academy, Birmingham – Actually, Opeth aren’t this months only candidates for “band I used to be into but have drifted away from over the years, for no obvious reason”.

Thursday the 24th till Saturday the 26th – “Hobson’s Choice” (The Luke Players) @ The MAC (Theatre Space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – I always think “Harold Brighouse” sounds like more of name for a gangster than for a playwrite. ‘Ard ‘Arry Brighouse from Landan taaahn.

Saturday the 26th – Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band @ The Cross, Moseley, Birmingham – Oh, Geno.

Saturday the 26th – Dimmu Borgir @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – It’s billed as “An evening with Dimmu Borgir”, and so I do hope they’ll be taking questions and relating humorous anecdotes about their lives. Whilst wearing corpsepaint.

Saturday the 26th – Martin Carthy @ Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – If it’s a month with a vowel in it then you can be sure that at least one of the Waterson/Carthy family will be playing somewhere in your county.

Sunday the 27th – Deep Purple @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Plus a full orchestra, ‘cos they’re a bit like that, that Deep Purple.

Tuesday the 29th – Flogging Molly @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Faith and begorrah, you can’t beat a bit of the auld Irish-American punk.

Wednesday the 30th till Saturday the 3rd of December – “Joseph K” (Birmingham School of Acting) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – A modernised version of “The Trial”. I am keen on Kafka, kid.

Wednesday the 30th and on until next year – “The Jungle Book” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Bear necessities and Mother Nature’s recipes.

Pay attention now, this is important

Posted in Stage by Russ L on 2 March, 2011

I first saw Stan’s Café’s The Cleansing Of Constance Brown a couple of years ago, and I thought it was amazing. It’s now back in Birmingham and I was really keen to see it again.

It’s made up of a series of striking vignettes of power and powerlessness, both big and small, all performed in a corridor with the far wall (the wall with the vanishing point in the middle of it as you look down the corridor lengthways. Does that make any sense at all?) moving back and forth to expand and shorten it. This variously (and very convincing) portrays an office, a hallway in a block of flats… ah, loads of things. They’re only little sketches, but they’re very well-observed and acted – the characters all feel entirely believable and real even if only seen for 30 seconds. A lot of the scenes elide smoothly into one another – the drunken office party turns into Abu Ghraib without showing the joins, for example (and that was still very disturbing on my second time around).

“Dreamlike” is the word that occurs, thinking of the flow of it all and the way that disparate things link perfectly without having any obvious connection. This is, in fact, probably the thing most akin to a dream that I’ve experienced in any creative form outside of literature.

There were, alas, only eleven people in the audience at the 8:30 performance last night, and worry has been expressed before about the ticket sales. I don’t know what to say about that, other than “Go! Make sure you go to this!”

There are two performances per day carrying on up to the 19th (not Sundays or Mondays), and you can get your tickets from here. If you go, you won’t regret it; if you don’t and it gets cancelled due to insufficient interest, I’m shooting the puppy.

(EDIT: There’s a short list of links to things others have written about TCOCB here. A mini-collective memory, of sorts, if you will).

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – March 2011

Posted in Books, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 28 February, 2011

There’s some of B-Town’s finest annual stuff this month, alongside a whole load more.

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 5th – Eastern Electronic Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Audio and visual electronics from (or connected with) further East than even Lowestoft.

Tuesday the 1st till Saturday the 19th (but not Sundays or Mondays) – “The Cleansing Of Constance Brown” @ A.E. Harris Building, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – I saw this a few years ago and it was A-to-the-mazing. Vignettes of power change and elide into one another in a specially built corridor. It is astonishing in the literal sense (you will actually find yourself astonished). Really now – if I did a ‘Recommendation Of The Month’ then this would be it. Also: you might want to buy your tickets in advance.

Tuesday the 1st and Wednesday the 2nd – “The Pool Game” (Geiger Counter Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – A game of pool inspired by Kafka’s “The Trial”.

Thursday the 3rd till Saturday the 12th – “Notes To A Future Self” (Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company) @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – The daughter of a free-wandering new ager has to come to terms with both normal life and her impending death. This is also on at The Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton on the 28th.

Thursday the 3rd – “Portrait Of An Actress As…” (Rogueplay Theatre) @ The Station, Sutton Coldfield – Comic sketches about struggling to make it in theatre. “Shamelessly bitchy”, it says. Also at The Old Joint Stock Theatre on the 4th and The Lamp Tavern (I imagine that they mean the one in Digbeth rather than the one in Dudley, although I don’t know) on the 12th.

Saturday the 5th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – All the fun of the Fairport.

Saturday the 5th – “The Sleeping Princess” (Krazy Kat Theatre) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – Puppets! Dragon puppets!

Saturday the 5th – Birmingham Poetry Ultras @ The Old Moseley Arms, Balsall Heath, Birmingham – Discussions of Seamus Heaney, for World Book Night. There’s also some WBN business at Brum Central Library, but I can’t find a link outside of this here CIB one.

Sunday the 6th – 7 Inch Cinema’s pre-Flatpack Festival warm-up do @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – With DJs and short fillums and suchlike.

Monday the 7th – Elaine Paige @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The sound of my childhood. To some extent.

Tuesday the 8th till Saturday the 12th – “Black Watch (National Theatre Of Scotland) @ Warwick Arts Centre (Butterworth Hall), Coventry – Created from interviews with Royal Highlanders who served in Iraq.

Tuesday the 8th and Wednesday the 9th – “Pertencia” (Foursight Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Portugeezers on stage.

Wednesday the 9th – Science Museum Live @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – London Science museum, that is. Birmingham’s own science museum was of course taken over by the scalpers, turned into ‘Think Tank’ and now charges to get in, but let’s leave that (I get too angry). I don’t know what a science museum’s stage show would entail, but – whatever it is – this will be it.

Thursday the 10th till Sunday the 13th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Hounds, everyone’s fond of how-unds…

Thursday the 10th – Iron & Wine @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Beards and whispering.

Friday the 11th till Thurday the 17th – Birmingham St Patrick’s Day celebrations @ across Birmingham (mostly Digbeth) – The parade, this year on the 13th, has always been hailed as the biggest after those of New York and Dublin. Apparently Manchester is gunning for a big one this year, though, and we all know self-aggrandisement outweighs actual size.

Friday the 11th – Thomas Adès “In Seven Days” and Steve Reich’s “Music For 18 Musicians” (London Sinfionetta) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – On a related note, I recently read Alex Ross’ “The Rest Is Noise” and would very much recommend it.

Saturday the 12th – Alabama 3 @ The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – Woke up this morning but don’t run for the priest.

Saturday the 12th – Odyssey @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The actual, real Odyssey, far as I can tell. Going back to their roots (yeah).

Monday the 14th and Wednesday the 23rd – Capsule’s tree-related gigs @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The theme appears to be somewhat arboreal: you’ve got Woods on the 14th and Arbouretum (sic) on the 23rd.

Monday the 14th – “The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Keep your distance, Brecht.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 19th – “George’s Marvellous Medicine” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Roald Dahl seems to be everywhere just lately. Not that I’m complaining, I think he’s great.

Tuesday the 15th till Saturday the 19th – “And The Horse You Rode In On” (Told By An Idiot) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), Coventry – A dark comedy with rabbits trying to stop aliens destroying the world and a look at how difficult it is to stop people going too far in support of their beliefs.

Tuesday the 15th – Primal Scream @ The Academy, Birmingham – Playing “Screamadelica” all the way through. They want to be free etc etc etc.

Wednesday the 16th till Saturday the 20th – “And The Rain Falls Down” (Fevered Sleep) @ The MAC (theatre), Edgbaston, Birmingham – This month’s one that I wish I was younger for: 3-4 year olds can splishy-sploshy in the rain.

Wednesday the 16th – Ben E. King @ The Jam House, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – The real Ben E. King (I thought it was a tribute at first), how about that. Gary U.S. Bonds will be there too.

Thursday the 17th – The Dubliners @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Seeing The Dubliners on Padraig’s day would surely be the greatest thing. It’s already sold out, though.

Friday the 18th – Chali 2na @ The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – The rapper who used to be in Jurassic 5. You know, those park-keepers.

Sunday the 20th – Mary Wilson / The Chi-Lites @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Soul survivors.

Saturday the 19th till Saturday the 26th – “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Well, you need a bit of balance after Crufts. Heh.

Saturday the 19th and onwards – the “Birmingham Mahler Cycle” continues @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – There’s the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome doing the 1st Symphony on the 19th, then the London Symphony Orchestra doing the 7th on the 25th and the CBSO doing the 6th on the 29th.

Saturday the 19th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – For the last time, I don’t know what happened to your bleedin’ heroes.

Tuesday the 22nd till Sunday the 27th – Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Motion pictures galore! There’s a billion squillions things, including but not limited to stuff for young’ins, a barn as a conduit for God, a man in a cat, a tire going mental, Pram, Mordant Music, The Kinshasha Symphony Orchestra and a crazy amount more.

Tuesday the 22nd till Sunday the 27th – Fierce Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Once a festival/series with a whole tonne of arts and performance doings, Fierce now (seems to be) a smaller selection. If you go to that page you’ll need to click the “book tickets” links to see actual descriptions of the performances (this wasn’t initially obvious to me).

Tuesday the 22nd – Elbow @ The NIA, Birmingham – The arm-bone is connected the (beat) elbow, the elbow is connected to the (beat) other arm-bone etc. etc. etc.

Tuesday the 22nd – Seefeel @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A band that many would consider to be amongst the Don Dadda elite of that post-rock sort of stuff that you all liked a few years ago.

Wednesday the 23rd till Saturday the 26th – “Maskerade” (Crescent Theatre Youth Seniors) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Terry Pratchett’s “Phantom Of The Opera” themed novel, only done as a play. Obviously.

Saturday the 26th – “Home Of Metal” open day @ The Public, West Bromwich – Incorporating a music photography workshop from the super-duper Steve Gerrard.

Saturday the 26th – Eska @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – Anglo-Zimbabwean jazz-folk. Please don’t ask me to spell her surname.

Sunday the 27th – Manowar @ The Academy, Birmingham – Well, erm… yeah.

Monday the 28th till Saturday the 2nd of April – “Dinnerladies: Second Helpings” (damned if I can tell the company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – Obviously the telly series was the top few best things ever. I’ve no idea abut this, but it does star the original Tony.

Monday the 28th – The Adverts @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – After Googling just now, I know for the first time in my life who Gary Gilmore is.

Monday the 28th – Cee Lo Green @ The Academy, Birmingham – Should it be “Cee Lo” or “Cee-Lo”? I’m damned if I-kno.

Thursday the 31st – Chas And Dave @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Their last ever tour ever, apparently.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: February 2011

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 31 January, 2011

My first one in a while, due to me being useless. I’ll freely admit that there isn’t anywhere near as much loveable nonsense as I’d like there to be in such a post. Sorry.

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

Up until June at different times – The Birmingham Mahler Cycle @ Town Hall/Symphony Hall, Birmingham – I cannot pretend that I’m not consistently poor when it comes to ongoing events, in these posts. They seem harder to include, somehow. I’ll just put it like this: the CBSO’s Mahler season continues and has lots going on this month, with his Ninth on Wednesday the 2nd (and an explanatory version with performed examples on the 3rd, which sounds like a great idea to me), Uri Caine’s variations around the Fifth on Saturday the (erm…) 5th, Kindertonlieder on Thursday the 10th, and the Tenth on Wednesday the 23rd.

Up until Saturday the 19th – “Too Much Pressure” (Belgrade Theatre Presents) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – What it was to be 16 in Coventry in 1979. Astonishingly, there’s no mention of Two-Tone in the blurb.

Tuesday the 1st till Saturday the 5th – “Mole In The Hole” (Oily Cart) @ The Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – You get to dig amongst the Moles and the Silly Rabbits and the Brave Snail. For 3-6 year olds, which I think is unfair. Because I want a go.

Tuesday the 1st – George Dillon’s “The Man Who Was Hamlet” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A (very well regarded) one-man-show about Edward De Vere, thought by some to be the man who actually wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays. The media never wants the Midlands to be allowed to have anything.

Thursday the 3rd till Saturday the 5th and then Wednesday the 9th until Saturday the 12th – “The Palace Of Wasted Dreams” (Women & Theatre) @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – The play coming at the end of a two-year participatory theatre project that examined women’s relationship with/towards alcohol. Cheersh! *hic*

Thursday the 3rd – “Honeycomb Club” night @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – With gypsy-punk from Mama Matrix, live-instrument dubstep from The Alternative Dubstep Orchestra, DJs, and video showings. They also make a point of saying that it’ll all be finished by 11:30pm, which is good ‘cos late finishes are often an arsepain you can catch from the Hare and Hounds.

Thursday the 3rd – “Japan Underground” night @ The Victoria, Birmingham – One for all of the many Japan fetishists out there, with live music from Hibari and some of those swankified Japanese photo booth thingies.

Friday the 4th until Saturday the 19th – “The Rememberers” (Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Apples & Snakes) @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – A dystopic play performed in the style of “a live hip-hop graphic novel”. I can’t even begin to imagine how that might work, but it sounds interesting.

Friday the 4th – Skunk Anansie @ The Academy, Birmingham – Rescheduled from last year. Still a band who are far less-well-remembered from their first time around than I would have expected, and I think that’s a shame.

Sunday the 6th – Chinese New Year festivities @ The Arcadian Centre, Birmingham – The year of the rabbit, I gather. Here be dragons.

Sunday the 6th – Ms Dynamite @ The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – Kids these days with their Katy B. I bet half of ‘em don’t even remember “It Takes More”. Hurrumph, bah, etc.

Wednesday the 9th till Saturday the 12th – “How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found” (Warwick Uni Drama Society) @ The Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – In which we see the downfall of an advertising wanker (I’m only guessing that he’s a wanker, but I bet I’m right).

Wednesday the 9th – Mark Steel @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – He’s at The Wulfrun Hall in Wolfyhampton on the 17th, too.

Thursday the 10th – Lúnasa @ The Public, West Bromwich – Instrumental too-ra-loo-ra-loo. The flautist was absolutely bloody hilarious when I saw them at the Moseley Folk Festival last year.

Thursday the 10th – John Shuttleworth @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Ooff, on his “A Man With No More Rolls Tour”. He’s a nice man, that Mr Shuttleworth. Ooff.

Thursday the 10th – Daniel Kitson’s “The Interminable Suicide Of Gregory Church” @ The Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – The tale of a man who has altogether too many suicide letters to write before killing himself. Apparently this has been slept through by such celebrities as Jeremy Paxman and Lou Reed. I can’t put my finger on why that seems to add a touch more lustre to it, but it certainly does.

Monday the 14th – “I Skanked Me Valentine” night @ The Wagon & Horses, Digbeth, Birmingham – Never mind any of that soppy stuff, take your beloved out see to The Cracked Actors and Tarantism on St Valentine’s day.

Monday the 14th – poetry sharing night @ The Library Theatre, Central Library, Birmingham – Outside of this being a perfect example of the continuing reluctance of the library theatre management to let people know what is going on there (I caught this via the the CIB Tumblr site. At the time of typing it isn’t on the Birmingham libraries “What’s On” page, which is in itself a fairly hidden part of the Brum council site), here is an event at which you can read your own poems alongside the chance to hear numerous notable poets reading out theirs too.

Wednesday the 16th – Kayo Dot @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Classical/popular fusion that comes from the popular side but nevertheless means more by “classical” than “it’s got a violin in it”. Ooh that really winds me up, that particular one.

Wednesday the 16th – “Nursing Lives” (Vamos Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – An en-masked performance (they look a bit creepy, actually – click the link to see) about the nurses of the Royal Worcester Infirmary in WW2.

Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th – “Gandhi And Coconuts” (Kali Theatre) @ The Public, West Bromwich – In which Hindu gods enter the imagination of a bored housewife.

Friday the 18th – Europe @ The Academy, Birmingham – DOODLOO DOO, DOODLOO-DOO DOO, it’s the final episode of “Countdown”.

Friday the 18th – Dawn Penn @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – No, no, no: The Jim Trot of reggae (and I mean that in a good way), backed here by locals sorts the Friendly Fire Band. And if that isn’t enough…

Saturday the 19th – John Holt @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – …then you can also go and see John Holt the night after and make this the most reggae weekend ever.

Tuesday the 22nd and Wednesday the 23rd – “A Dish Of Tea With Doctor Johnson” (Out Of Joint Theatre) @ The Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – Another historical character on stage. Boswell always strikes me as one of the most put-upon figures to have ever lived. (Also: sausage, SAUSAGE etc).

Thursday the 24th and Friday the 25th – “Stationary Access/Pedestrian” (Made In China) @ The Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – A double bill: a woman tells the story of ‘an extraordinary man’ over the course of half an hour on an exercise bike (bindun was my first thought, but that seems unfair), and a man is pursued from ordinary life to heaven by a fish.

Thursday the 24th – Mogwai @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Quiet bit quiet bit quiet bit LOUD BIT LOUD BIT quiet bit.

Friday the 25th – The Streets @ The Academy, Birmingham – I didn’t actually know he was still going, since I hadn’t heard anything about him for a long while. Then again, I tend to miss these sorts of things at the best of times.

Friday the 25th – Janelle Monáe @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – The astonishing (genuinely and sadly astonishing) way that she manages to use the term “schizo” aside, I adore that album from last year. I do hope we get some good sci-fi stageshow nonsense at this gig.

Friday the 25th – Mr Scruff @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Tuck your shirt in you bloody scruff.

Sunday the 26th – Boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Town Hall, Walsall – Professional boxing back at Walsall town hall for the first time in ages (as far as I’m aware). Jamie Ball fights for the Midlands light-middleweight title, as well as fights involving Lee Glover and Rob Doody and a bunch of others.

Saturday the 26th – Discharge @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – Hear nothing see nothing say nothiiiiiiiinnngaaaargh~!

Saturday the 26th – Anna Calvi @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Torch songs meet gothique meet Morricone. Sounds like fun to me.

Tuesday the 28th – Boxing (Pat Cowdell) @ The Holiday Inn, Birmingham – The only fight listed at the time of writing is Steve Saville vs TBA, but then again it’ll be a dinner show and thus beyond the economic reach of the likes o’ we.

Let’s get the rest of last year out of the way

Posted in Do Not Use These Companies, Music, Stage by Russ L on 10 January, 2011

A post in which I chronicle my 2010 doings between Supersonic and the end of the year. Mostly gigs, but not entirely.

28/10/10 – To the crappy-but-not-as-bad-as-the-old-one Academy 2, Batman. The impact that Rolo Tomassi have live often seems to vary pretty widely, and this one was somewhere in the middle. They had their gentle mellow bits that sound like sitting on the lawn in a nice garden and followed them with the chop’n’change dagga-dagga-graargh bits that sound like the outside of a building falling down the flight of stairs inside it like some kind of M.C. Escher bidnizz blah blah blah run-on-sentence to sound breathless. ‘Cos that’s a bit what their music would be like if it was a linguistic construction: confusing and silly and not really anywhere near as clever as the author would like, but fun nevertheless.

Unrealistic expectations always turn out to be a bugger, and in this instance I had the archetypal “thinking that a band are something other than what they actually are”. I used to really like The Dillinger Escape Plan and I saw ‘em a couple of times back in the day, but I’d not really kept up with them and prior to the week before this gig I’d never listened to any recorded stuff outside of the “Calculating Infinity” LP. Upon finally having a go with some more recent material, I found out that they’ve acquired some really unconvincing-sounding melodic choruses from somewhere. I don’t think this suits them one little bit, although I may keep listening to see if a figurative penny drops. This new-found but actually-old side of them particularly failed to work at this gig, for me – the headfork that I want from TDEP shined through at times, but a lot of it seemed akin to bad teen-angst singy metalcore. I left before they finished.

It’s probably mostly my own fault, what with the aforementioned unrealistic expectations and all. Lots of other folks seemed to absolutely adore this gig. I’m not dismissing them entirely and I will keep trying, as I said.

On the plus side, it seems that they now have a song called “Gold Teeth On A Bum”. Just imagine the downright delightful American-English-into-actual-English based misunderstandings to be had. “La, good sir!” trilled Emma Darlington-Smythe, as she coquettishly fluttered her fan; “It would be inappropriate for a young lady in my position to allow you to bite me on the arse, even with such a well-appointed gob.”

31/10/10 – It was off to the The Bunny ‘n’ Bow-wow in Kings Heath on the 31st. First on were Tempting Rosie – pop-rock come ska-punk, initially leaving me unconvinced but by the time they’d finished I’d ended up thinking they weren’t without their charms. I recall thinking either that their slower/dubbier bits were a fair bit better than their more up-tempo bits, or possibly the other way round. It was months ago now, I forget.

“It’s so myoooosical” cooed one overheard punter during the Youngblood Brass Band’s set, and yes indeed it certainly was music. Really really good music, though, even better than I remember them being when I saw them at The Barfly back in the day. They call it Riot Jazz, brass a-plenty groovy stuff with rapping and percussion. Amazing. Mostly, though, I would like to talk about the sousaphone. This is surely the best instrument going and I would really like to see it used more frequently. Soooooousaphone~! There were a few brass-taking-the-place-of-everything covers – (I recall “Bad” and “Ain’t Nobody”), and I will never get tired of that horn-imitating-scratching bit.

A fantastic set. I hope they come back over soon.

13/11/10 – My first visit to The Asylum’s smaller room, the inventively named Asylum 2. It’s tacky, but there you go. We need venues.

Alunah did some stock stoner rock stuff, and I wasn’t enormously keen. On the plus side they did have some likeable riffs here and there, and I thought the authentic Cream-ish guitar tone was great. Selfless’ metallic punk/grind was fun, and Dunc’s pissed between-song banter was even more so. This is probably what I wanted from Fukpig a few weeks before at Supersonic, although the thought occurs that it’s also possibly what I might have got from Fukpig if I’d seen them in a small venue.

Sally – Doooooooooooooom. Not as loud as I remember them being back in the olden days (although who knows), but still: dooooooooooooooooom.

20/11/10 – The A.E. Harris Building in The Jewellery Quarter, for Birmingham Opera Company performance of Stravinsky’s “The Wedding”. “Absolute Sensory Overload” would appear to be the phrase I’m looking for.

The music almost seemed like a faint and distant background note to support one million billion squillion brides and grooms rushing all around you in every possible direction, singing and dancing and doing some very unlikely things. It’s be impossible to describe even if it hadn’t already been impossible to see more than a tiny fraction of, taking place all over the entire factory as it did. Seeing breakdancing done to a different rhythm to the music you can here is strangely disorienting in general, never mind seeing it done by someone dressed in a groom’s wedding suit. There were somersaults. There was a bride getting taped into a small cardboard box. There was a groom doing a headstand in a bucket, and that was before things started.

Sensory overload, as I say. That’s a good thing, if you ask me, as is the Birmingham Opera Company. I hope they go back to doing a full-scale full-dress epic next year, though.

21/11/10 – There was another dugong (also known as a manatee/matinee) courtesy of Eat A Book Records at Digbeth’s The Wagon ‘n’ ‘Osses, and I’d like to voice my approval once more of daytime gigs. Daytime gigs are A Good Thing. I do think that maybe after two of these particular ones (there was one the previous month too, look) the novelty may be wearing off ever-so-slightly and so I’m might be a square and look to see if I actually like any of the bands next time, but that’s my own problem – daytime gigs are great. At weekends, anyway. It’s just like going down the drinker in the afternoon, only there are bands as well.

This one was bolstered by the presence of a lovely doggy, wandering around and giving big mournful eyes to anyone with a bag of crisps. I think she was a greyhound (it seems a bit nutty to be able to have a greyhound with brown and darker brown tiger-y stripes, but there you go. She may have been a whippet, actually. For someone who has been to Crufts twice, I certainly am crap at identifying dogs). I was initially concerned that the noise might not be good for a pooch, but she didn’t seem in the least bit bothered. I’d dare you to try and name a single activity that wouldn’t be improved by having an animal to fuss, and so it went here.

There were some bands, too, dull as that may seem in comparison to Dog News. Crash Night did a two-piece (guitar/vox and drums) doom-turning-to-grindy-bits thing for their short set, and it was quite fun. The lack of bass robbed the slower bits of a bit of impact but worked well for creating a shrill violent sound during the speedier bits (DIGRESSION: I mention this mostly because it led me to wonder about my own conditioned responses. Why should slowmetalz have to be bassier/heavier/weightier? I do not have a reason, but felt this nevertheless. Perhaps I should have to go through a deprogramming process) and the two-tone siren feedback between songs was an interesting change from the usual “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” noise. Bird Calls were doing an 80s emo/Dischord Embrace/Rites Of Spring lark, which was decent enough. They lose points for not having any actual bird calls during their set (set yourself up against Little Sister and you’re bound to fail), but gain them for having one nimble-fingered motherfaxer of a bass player, and then lose some again as a result of him doing the bass-strung-up-high-as-though-you’re-trying-to-cover-an-imaginary-exposed-nipple thing. I’ve never been able to approve of that, visually speaking. I nevertheless found them enjoyable at the time.

Things got more Welsh thereon, and Harbour (Dag Nasty seems to be the usual comparison for them, which I can sort-of see although they’re a lot shoutier than all that) suffered from a lot of technical difficulties. I don’t think I’d have liked them as much as I did last time even if that hadn’t been the case, though. Facel Vega, lastly, were the band of the day even with a stand-in drummer. They also played 80s emo-indie-punk stuff, but less obviously homage-y than Bird Calls and a lot more energetic and enervated.

4/12/10 – Although I’d never been to one before this, (secular) gigs in churches seem to be becoming quite a bit more common of late. This was at St Paul’s in the Jewellery Quarter and – contrary to the predictions of several eminent theologians – I didn’t burst into flame upon entering.

St Pauls is Anglican, anyway, so it’s not like it’s a proper church.

Oh my days, there’s nothing more fun than pretending to be sectarian.

Boat To Row were on first, and turned out to be (I think) a version of Bronze Medals reinforced by extra members for the purposes of playing some pure-and-chaste-sounding 60s-ish folk-rock. Pleasant enough, too, I liked them. I have a vague memory that they possibly had some lyrics worth lyricising with, judging by the odd line here and there that is always the most I can ever make out live.

I liked the choral carols played as a between-bands-tape, that was good. I didn’t actually know that mince pies were being sold in the corner in the dead time, but I would’ve definitely partaken if I had. Anyone who knows me knows how much I like a mince pie.

I may be (well, there’s no ‘may be’, I am) applying some stupid stereotypes, but I think that one of the things that makes Goodnight Lenin so very appealing is that they simultaneously appear both older than their years and bursting with youthity youth. They do tap into a vein of good ol’ fashioned classic songwriting, which I (unfairly) associate with the older gentleman, but still have plenty of enthusiastic smart-arsed cheekiness, which seems to accord with their freshness of face . They’ve been written about a fair bit on the local blogs and whatnot (by me too, of course. Y’all know this sumbidge always tries to hop on the bandwagon. Before finding that Birmingham Tours have replaced the bandwagon with a moped. I’m getting ahead of myself, we’ll come back to that in a minute), and so the pattern of What One Says About Goodnight Lenin has emerged and I am duty-bound to follow: first I say that they play 70s stylee folk-rock of the American West Coast type o’ style and then I say that they’re probably going to be really famous, for whatever good that’ll do ‘em. Highlights: “Wencelas Square”, as ever (it’s quite the example of a song), and obviously a church made a good venue for them to have a stab at a genuinely acoustic bit with no microphones. There’s got to be a Lenin/religion joke in here somewhere, but I’m tired. So tired.

10/12/10 – A poor show from Birmingham Tours, who’d advertised an open-top bus trip around Brum’s Christmas lights, but decided to swap it for an ordinary non-open-topped bus due to there having been bad weather earlier in the week. I think it’s pretty bad that they didn’t warn people about this, given that we’d all ordered tickets and thus had to leave contact details and that the lack of roof was obviously the main attraction (come on now, no-one would seriously expect all that much from Birmingham’s Christmas lights themselves), and quite a few people didn’t seem too happy about it. I did learn a few facts from the tour guide’s narration, and even warmed to his Alan Partridge/local radio presenter-ish manner after a while, but this wasn’t what we were after. I’m really not sure about Birmingham Tours henceforth. Watch out if they ever advertise some sightseeing by horse-drawn carriage, ‘cos they’ll probably stick you in the back of a transit van.

17/12/10 – My first trip to Digbeth’s new The Institute, the venue currently occupying the building that in my times was The Sanctuary and The Barfly but has previously been a different The Institute, Digbeth Civic Hall, a Methodist church, and no doubt a squintillion other things. No Less Than Martha Reeves And The Vandellas were in the former Barfly room, nowadays called “The Library”. For some reason. It looks considerably spruced up compared to how it did as The Barfly, and the fact that there are now two bars in there is a huge improvement (although I can imagine that their placement at the sides will make ‘em pretty hard to get at if the place gets really busy).

After a wait of about a hundred years, No Less Than Martha Reeves And The Vandellas took to the stage. I had heard horror stories about the present-day state of her voice, but although it’s nowhere near what it once was I’m happy to say that it’s also nowhere near as bad as you might have heard. She actually sounds a teensy bit like Tina Turner now that she’s a touch croakier, oddly enough. Problems came more from the backing band than from the vocals – Martha proclaimed them the best musicians she’d ever worked with (I bet she says that to all the boys), but their generic schmoov arrangements didn’t appeal for these songs. The original records have energy, damnit. There was no brass to be found in the backing here, in either the “bold as…” sense or the “them articles what yow blow down” senses.

I don’t want to sound too negative, though, since Martha’s a lovely charismatic figure, and even with the instrumentation getting on my wick these songs inspire such enormous feelings of happiness. “Nowhere To Run”, “Jimmy Mack”, “Heatwave”, “Dancing In The Streets”, “Third Finger Left Hand”, you name ‘em, there’s a massive amount of fun to be had. I also loved the old-lady-dance-moves.

25/12/10 – Then there was Christmas. I always love Christmas.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: September 2010

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 August, 2010

All of the usual staples of LOTTSADITWM (music, theatre, fighting sports, things calling themselves “festivals”) and a few little additional oddities too.

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.

Wednesday the 1st till Saturday the 18th – “Little Shop Of Horrors” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Feeeeeeed me Seymour.

Thursday the 1st – “Precious Things” (My Little Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Strange characters attend an exhibition of a nazi-sympathising artist in a play looking at ethics in art.

Friday the 3rd till Saturday the 5th – Moseley Folk Festival @ Moseley Park, Moseley, Birmingham – The fifth annual Moseley Folk Festival. The big headliner this time is Donovan, and there’ll also be chances to see Turin Brakes, Fyfe Dangerfield (see also the 25th), The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain, The Unthanks, John Renbourne, The Destroyers and a whole tonne of others in an absolutely lovely setting. In spite of all that, I’ll still be asking for my money back if The Divine Comedy don’t play “My Lovely Horse”.

Friday the 3rd till Saturday the 5th – Birmingham Punx (sic) Picnic 2010 @ The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – With GBH, cider, Runnin’ Riot, Cracked Actors, cider, Contempt, cider…

Saturday the 4th & Sunday the 5th – “Peppa Pig’s Party” @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – I’ve never seen any of Peppa Pig’s programmes but I do think she’s so very very cute.

Saturday the 4th – “Opium: The Confessions Of Thomas De Quincy” (Skewed View) @ The Vaults, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham and then apparently later on at The Old Crown, Digbeth, Birmingham – Based, as the name would suggest, in Thomas De Quincey’s “Confessions Of An English Opium Eater”. The Vaults is a restaurant but I doubt that’ll be on the menu.

Sunday the 5th – The Rotary Club Country Music Festival @ Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A counterpoint to Moseley Folk, I suppose.

Sunday the 5th – Heart Of England Judo tournament @ The NIA, Birmingham – “Consider fully, act decisively” – Jigoro Kano.

Tuesday the 7th till Saturday the 11th – “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (Wolverhampton Youth Musical Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Thoroughness, that’s what you want in your modernity.

Wednesday the 8th – Modified Toy Orchestra @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – The circuit-bending gaffers will be premiering their new album, “Plastic Planet”. That was me just trying out this useage of “premier” as a verb. I don’t think I like it. I probably won’t do it again.

Friday the 10th until Sunday the 12th – Artsfest @ all over Birmingham – It’s that time of the year again. Details are customarily scarce, but the main stage in Centenary Square (apparently they’re fencing off a chunk of Broad Street too, to mitigate for the space lost to library-building works) will have the usual CBSO “Classical Fantasia” on Saturday night, and a pock’n’rop thing on Sunday headlined by The Twang.

Friday the 10th until Sunday the 12th – Birmingham Zine Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Fanzines have always been and will always be around, obviously, but they do quite recently seem to have become more a lot more fashionable in various circles. Still: hooray for DIY and boo to the insistence that all information must flow downwards from the massahs and hooray for zines.

Friday the 10th – Gorillaz @ The NIA, Birmingham – I still think that Murdoc from Gorillaz and Cain Dingle from “Emmerdale” are the same person. (EDIT: Postponed till the 17th of November, see comments).

Saturday the 11th till Saturday the 18th – “A Dolls House” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Ibsen and his dislike of 19th century sexism.

Saturday the 11th – “Muay Thai Champions Trophy” Muay Thai card (Fightsport Events @ The NIA, Birmingham – Including one of those eight man/one night tournaments that we all love so much.

Saturday the 11th – The Drifters @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Saaaaturday night at the… erm, theatre…

Saturday the 11th – The Furious Five @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Don’t… push… them,… ‘cos they’re… close… to… the… eeeeedge…

Tuesday the 14th until Sunday the 19th – The British Science Festival @ various places in Birmingham but mostly the universities – It’s poetry in motion/She turned her tender eyes to me/As deep as any ocean/As sweet as any harmony…

Wednesday the 15th – Half Man Half Biscuit @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Comic lyricists extraordinaire. I really am very sad that it took me as far into my life as it did to investigate their works.

Thursday the 16th – Mahler’s 8th symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The Birmingham Mahler Cycle (running till June) begins with “The Symphony Of A Thousand”.

Saturday the 18th – Fun Lovin’ Criminals @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Stick ‘em up, punk.

September the 18th – “The Magnificent Seven” boxing card (Frank Warren Promotions) @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – “The Seven Samurai” was a far better film, but never mind. It’s so-called due to there being no less than seven twelve-round fights on this card as well as more stuff too. In one of the more anticipated domestic fights of recent times, Matthew Macklin is scheduled to take on Darren Barker for the British and European (both at once, it’s like the olden days) middleweight titles. Assuming they all occur as planned, Nathan Cleverly then fights Karo Murat in a WBO world light-heavyweight title eliminator, Enzo Maccarinelli fights Alexander Frenkel for the European cruiserweight title, Ryan Rhodes faces Lukas Konecny for the European light-middleweight title, Derek Chisora takes on Sam Sexton for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles, Kell Brook fights Michael Jennings for the British welterweight title, James DeGale faces Carl Dilks for the WBA International super-middleweight title, Frankie Gavin takes on Michael Kelly for the Irish light-welterweight title, and Don Broadhurst fights The Dreaded TBA for the English super-flyweight title. Not including at least one additional four-rounder on the bill, that’s potentially 104 consecutive rounds of boxing. Blimey. (EDIT: Barker is out. Bad hips apparently. Shame really, that would’ve been quite the fight…).

Sunday the 19th –The Pope @ Cofton Park, Rednal, Birmingham – As the old Belfast joke goes: “Yeah, but I’m a Catholic atheist…”

Sunday the 19th – The Digbeth O’Lympics @ various places in Digbeth, Birmingham -Including snail racing and cardboard-box sailing.

Tuesday the 21st & Wednesday the 22nd – “The Caretaker” (London Classic Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolvehampton – “It’s Pinter…”

Wednesday the 22nd till Saturday the 25th – “Enron” (Headlong Theatre) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – I actually thought this was called “Enron – The Musical”. Unless that’s something different.

Wednesday the 22nd – Schostakovich’s 8th Symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Banned for a bit, in the USSR. I find that difficult to believe, it’s so unlike Schostakovich…

Thursday the 23rd till Saturday the 25th – “Duck Variations” and “The Brothers” (Duck Brothers Productions) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A double-bill of comedic plays, the first by David Mamet do you see do you see.

Thursday the 23rd – Wagner’s “Tristan Und Isolde” (The Philharmonia Orchestra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – The UK premier of this enormously well-regarded production, featuring backing visuals by Bill Viola.

Saturday the 25th – “BAMMA 4” mixed martial arts card (British Association of Mixed Martial Arts) @ The NIA, Birmingham – In which Tom Watson (Not The MP) will take on the bloke who did that Stamford Prison Experiment knock-off thing. There’ll be lots more fights too, including an interesting battle between two very good prospects when Eugene Fadiora faces Gunnar Nelson.

Saturday the 25th – Fyfe Dangerfield @ The (AHEM) Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – The building that has previously (in whole or in part) constituted The Barfly, The Sanctuary, The Institute, Digbeth Civic Hall and (apparently) a Methodist chapel is now re-opening as The HMV Institute, presumably because if you ask ten people off the street what they think about “branding” they’ll sincerely beseech you to add more company identities into the names of things for no obvious reason. Obviously I’ll be ignoring the “HMV” in this in the same way that most of us ignore the “O2” in The Academy (unpleasantly, though, I have recently heard a few people refer to The Academy as The O2. This is despicable and must cease immediately – you’re only encouraging them, ferchrisakes). Anyway, your man there from Guillemots will be playing on the 25th.

Saturday the 25th – Steve Ignorant’s “The Last Supper: Crass Songs 1977-1982” @ The (AHEM) Academy 2, Birmingham – Crass are quite possibly the last band from whom I would expect to see ex-members doing nostalgia gigs in big corporate venues, but this could be interesting nevertheless.

Saturday the 25th – “Whose Shoes” (Theatr Lolo) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – One poor young’un acquires a younger sister, who wants to half-inch her awesome slippers. Being a sibling-less type I can see how this would be bloody infuriating. For 5-7 year olds. (EDIT: I mean the play is for 5-7 year olds, not that it would only be irritating for 5-7 year olds. The shoe-teefin’ would be annoying for anyone).

Sunday the 26th – Paul Heaton @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Of The Beautifully Southern Housemartins fame.

Sunday the 26th – Deer Tick @ Taylor John’s House, Coventry – Intense country-rock. I am told by trustworthy fellows that they’re quite the thing, live.

Tuesday the 28th till Saturday the 2nd of October – “The Habit Of Art” (National Theatre) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Alan Bennett, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday the 28th – Mark Ronson @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – I risk the wrath of Bounder by invoking this name.

Thursday the 30th and then every Thur/Fri/Sat for five weeks hence – “A Play, A Pint And A Pie” (Paines, Plough and Òran Mór) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – For only ten of your English pounds you can have a pie, a drink and see one of five new 45 minute plays. Dinnertime performances, too.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – May 2010

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 29 April, 2010

We could reasonably rename this month “M-M-May” (MMA, didjaseewha.. oh, forget it), but there’s also the grand re-opening of The MAC, The Flyover Show, Pride and lots of juicy-looking gigs and plays. It’s a good ‘un.

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 Saturday the 15th – Birmingham International Dance Festival @ various venues in Brum – The dance festival continues, with plenty of stuff to be seen. There are even free outdoor affairs involving The Destroyers between the first and the third.

Saturday the 1st and fortnightly thenceforth – Scene Not Heard afternoon mati-knees-up @ The Island Bar, Birmingham – Those road-ready gangstars over at the Scene Not Heard blog are going to be putting on a series of free (that’s free) Saturday afternoon (that’s afternoon) gigs at The Island Bar (that’s a central location). This, I feel, is a good idea. Clicky for the line-ups.

Saturday the 1st until Monday the 3rd – Midland Arts Centre re-opening weekend @ The Mac, Edgbaston, Birmingham – After what feels like forever and a day, it’s finally back. The big re-opening fantabulansa includes (amongst a tonne of other things) audio walks, music, and the city singing.

Saturday the 1st – Cathedral / Church Of Misery @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Doooooooooooooooom (as ever).

Sunday the 2nd – Mark Lanegan @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – A singist I’ve always enjoyed where I’ve brushed up against his cannon (“Ballad Of The Broken Seas” with Isobel Campbell, that one Screaming Trees album that I’ve got on tape somewhere) but never got around to investigating more thoroughly. I should, really.

Sunday the 2nd – Beres Hammond / Gregory Isaacs / The Heptones @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Reggae is generally known for its bass, but this is quite the treble-bill. DidjaseewhatIdidthere?

Sunday the 2nd – “The Electric Carnival” @ various venues in Digbeth, Birmingham – Half the town is going to be cordoned off for an enormous 9,000-capacity dance-orama. Fatboy Slim is your main headliner, alongside Skream, Stanton Warriors, Utah Saints and scores of others.

Monday the 4th until Saturday the 8th – “The 39 Steps” (Fiery Angel Arts & Entertainment) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – A comical version of John Buchan’s old espionage-orama.

Tuesday the 4th till Saturday the 8th – “Kursk” (Sound And Fury) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – Submarines a-sinking onstage.

Tuesday the 4th – Marvin / Theo / Mills And Boon @ The Basement, Birmingham – A strong line-up indeed of not-completely-straightforward popular music: Trans Am-ites du La France, one-man twiddly biddly diddly, and rarely-seen of late Beefheartmeat.

Thursday the 6th and Friday the 7th – “Raspberry” (Fittings Multimedia Arts) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Musical theatre based on the life and songs of Ian Dury.

Thursday the 6th – Bolt Thrower @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – Never has there been a concept more likely to delight than that of GamesWorkshopMetal.

Thursday the 6th – Crëvecoeur @ the Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Like a folksier and Frenchier version of Pram, maybe.

Thursday the 6th – Dr Feelgood @ The Jam House, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – I’m given to understand there was a documentary about them recently. Haven’t seen it meself, but it seems a safe bet that this’ll probably be packed as a result.

Friday the 7th – Rihanna @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Very fond of her brolly, this young lady.

Saturday the 8th – Shady Bard @ The Flapper, Birmingham – Indie-folk mournful mini-orchestra. I didn’t like them the first time I saw them but I’m willing to acknowledge that was probably the wrongest I’ve ever been about any band ever.

Monday the 10th – Faust @ The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – Why if these 70s Krautrock bands aren’t everywhere nowadays. They’re the proverbial buses of music.

Monday the 10th – Flight Of The Conchords @ The NIA, Birmingham – Is Murray in the stage show? Murray is my favourite, he’s ace.

Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th – Lisa Hammond & Rachael Spence’s “No Idea” @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – It seems that they went out and asked passers-by what they thought their show should be about, and then made a show out of that. Meta~!

Tuesday the 11th – Gogol Bordello @ The Academy, Birmingham – Premium.

Wednesday the 12th – Grails @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – If you think of “Journey of The Sorcerer” by The Eagles as light, then this band sound like darkness. Look, it makes sense in my mind, alright? The first gig of what’s looking like a busy month for Capsule.

Thursday the 13th till Friday the 15th – “Tuning Out With Radio Z” (Stan’s Café) @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A (six hour long~!) theatrical performance that’s also broadcaste as a radio show at the same time.

Friday the 14th until Saturday the 5th of June – “Noises Off” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – An farcical farce.

Friday the 14th till Sunday the 16th – “English Originals” folk festival @ Symphony Hall, Town Hall & The ICC foyer, Birmingham – This year’s version of the annual folk happening. This time around they have Graham Coxon, Bellowhead and a whole pile more.

Saturday the 15th – Mixed martial arts (BAMMA) @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – The first of the big MMA cards this month. Alex Reid is no longer on this (to the surprise of more-or-less nobody), but there’s still a strong card with some good bouts to see. Weichel vs Sinclair and Reed vs Grimshaw are my tips for the fights of the night.

Saturday the 15th – The 44th KUGB national Karate championships @ The NIA, Birmingham – Or if on the other hand you like a bit more “HAI-YA~!” in your martial arts, you can go here.

Sunday the 16th – “Claytime” (Indefinitearticles) @ The Mac, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A play, they say, with clay, that 3-6 year olds can join in with.

Monday the 17th and Tuesday the 18th – Daniel Kitson’s “66a Church Road – A Lament Made Of Memories And Kept In Suitcases” @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A one-man-show about you one man there having to move from his beloved old flat. Very well regarded, I understand. It’s also at the Warwick Arts Centre from the 19th to the 21st.

Tuesday the 18th till Saturday the 22nd – “Morecambe” (Feather Productions) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Not Eric Morecambe himself, for the usual obvious reasons. This is a play about his life.

Wednesday the 19th – Alicia Keys @ The NIA, Birmingham – I saw her a few years ago and it was nearly (not quite) ruined by the ludicrous amount of onstage skits ‘n’ such. Hopefully she doesn’t do that anymore.

Thursday the 20th – Chrome Hoof @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The best tinfoil-robe-wearing disco-krautrock-metal band to have come out in many years, and I really mean that.

Friday the 21st – “Out Of Chaos” (Temple Theatre) @ A.E. Harris building, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – In which six people meet up to get something off their chest, rangin from tales of tube journeys to the creation of the world. This play is also acting as a fundraiser for the upcoming Birmingham European Theatre Festival, which sounds potentially very exciting.

Friday the 21st – Mixed martial arts (10th Legion Championship Fighting) @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Part of The Martial Arts Show, with a card involving Jess Liaudin and Pete Irving, amongst others. Hold your breath, though, because also at the Martial Arts Show…

Saturday the 22nd – Mixed martial arts (Cagewarriors Fighting Championships) @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – Cagewarriors FC is back! Oh wow. A four-man/one-night tournament for Dan Hardy’s old welterweight belt, a mini-amateur tournament, title fights galore, Rosi Sexton… oh, this is going to be ace.

Saturday the 22nd until Saturday the 5th of June – “Young Readers In Birmingham” festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Plenty of events and festivities in the name of persuading the little bleeders to get a-reading.

Sunday the 23rd – Mixed Martial Arts (Fightstars) @ Oceana, Wolverhampton – If you’re not completely MMA-ed out after everything else, there’s a smaller card here headlined by likely-looking prospect Eugene Fadiora vs TBC (No card on their website, naturally, but there are some details in this messageboard thread).

Monday the 24th – “I See With My Eyes Closed” (Stan’s Café/Birmingham Contemporary Music Group) @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A collaboration between Stan’s Café and the BCMG which apparently is “not quite theatre and not a straight-forward concert”. It could, therefore, be almost anything conceivable. I’m not sure that describing it like that is the best way to avoid disappointing people. Some folk can conceive of some pretty amazing things.

Tuesday the 25th till Saturday the 29th – “The Harder They Come” (Theatre Royal/UK Arts) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – A stage version of the film with the best soundtrack ever (and that’s an official Russ L verdict).

Tuesday the 25th till Saturday the 29th – “Sus” (Eclipse Theatre) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – A play based around institutional racism on the eve of Thatcher’s election.

Tuesday the 25th – Billy Ocean @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – When the going gets tough, the red light spells danger. Pick up the pieces and put it back in my car. Love really hurts without sharing the same dream. Those got more feeble as I went along, didn’t they?

Tuesday the 25th – 7 Inch Cinema night @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – With various films and Romana Scmalisch’s mini-cinema.

Wednesday the 26th – Pendulum @ The Academy, Birmingham – Really and truly a band called “Pendulum” should be a swing band, but never mind.

Wednesday the 26th – Acid Mothers Temple @ The hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Psych-rocking Japanistas of considerable repute.

Wednesday the 26th – Art Detection Services @ The Vaults, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – They have sophisticated technology that can tell whether something is art or not, probably to within only a few decimal places. This is an Arc do.

Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th – Birmingham Pride @ on and around Hurst Street, Birmingham – Apparently still the largest LBGT festival in Britain. The Parade’s theme will be “Equality Over The Decades”, and amongst the many acts performing you’ll find Tight Fit. Bonus points for the first person to name the band who warned against a Tight Fit reunion in song.

Saturday the 29th – Slayer @ The Academy, BirminghamSLAYAAARRRGH

Saturday the 29th – the Flyover Show @ under Hockley flyover, Hockley, Birmingham – The third of Soweto Kinch’s annual urban celebrations in the coolest possible location for a gig. Janet Kay, Speech DeBelle and Ms Dynamite head the bill.

Saturday the 29th – The Birmingham Book Festival’s Spring Thing: A Festival In A Day @ The Conservatoire, Birmingham – A day of literary speakers, including (amongst others) Carol Ann Duffy, Stuart Maconie, and Samantha Harvey.

Monday the 31st – Dead Meadow @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Psych-rocking Americanistas of considerable repute.