Call me Russ L

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Pre-Supersonic blast-through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is, of course, great fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A [B {C} B] A)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was expecting more, somehow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links? Goo on then:

~ Average Cats Are Average.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baffling.

Links:

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

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

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

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

March Hares and Hounds and so forth

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

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

Still, my March stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Chap Chapman

Posted in Music by Russ L on 7 February, 2012

As part of one of my periodic attempts to get back into writing about stuff regularly, I’m just going to steam straight in and blather on about Friday’s gig. When I leave these things, they tend to get left. That’s the way it tends to happen.

It was Friday the third of Feb, and the promoters were The Lunar Society. Not, obviously, the historical association of industrial/scientific wallahs – this Lunar Society consists of the same people as (or possibly an overlapping group of people to) those who run The Moseley Folk Festival and The Mostly Jazz Festival (which this year has been re-named The Mostly Jazz, Funk And Soul Festival). They also put on ordinary gigs as Moseley Folk Presents in addition to the ones they put on as The Lunar Society, and then their Folk For Free series. They’re also going to have a third festival this year, too, called (of course) The Lunar Festival*. Did you follow all of that? I assume that there’s a good reason for it to be so confusing, but I don’t know what it is.

This was at The Station in Kings Heath, and it was the first time they’d used it. Due to some sort of communication nause-up betwixt venue and promoter (perhaps the landlord had put them down as “Moseley Folk” in his address book but then ended up looking for “Lunar Society”. Or maybe some other name entirely that they use and I just haven’t heard yet. At this point it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t several more) it was oversold and thus a touch on what we might describe as the cosy side. I’m never particularly keen on that but it wasn’t really too bad. I’ve certainly been to far worse gigs for crowding in the past (sadly). I quite like the function room through the back, anyway, with the real fire and whatnot. There were also changes to the original running plans – it was initially said that Michael Chapman (it was his gig, by the way. Did I not mention that?) would be doing two shorter sets with a nice little interval in the middle and starting earlier, which sounded like it would have finished in time for the buses like gigs used to do in the olden days. That was banjaxed, but happily I had a lift home from Stevie Too Bad, who – we should never forget – is a genuine good’un.

I arrived halfway through Eliza Shaddad’s opening set. I quite liked her – her own songs didn’t sound all that remarkable on first listen, but (even though her background is from all over the place) (although what do I mean by ‘even though’ there? That’s probably a very silly thing to say) she has an absolutely lovely English Rose style folk voice. This vocal innocence was slightly at odds with filth (filth I say, hurrumph etc) of “Long John Blues”, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Micky C, meanwhile, is an absolute monstah of a guitarist. I’m sure we all know this by now. He sounds like fifty playing at once etc etc etc when doing his ever-so-slightly-off-piste folksy blues. Myself, I’m not bothered about technique in the abstract or about how difficult any given thing is to play, but the sounds that he makes are amazing (and it’s fun to watch the fingers fly, too). A chilling (pun not really intended) and intense “Winter In Memphis” was probably the set highlight, but I also really enjoyed a fun little bounce through “Soulful Lady” and his between-song blarney was always amusing. Excellent stuff in general, though. My more Chapman-experienced comrade was moved to remark that this was the best gig of his that he’d seen.

There you are, then: lots about the circumstances around the gig and a teensy bit about the turns. What else do you expect from this blog, though? Y’all, as the learned Jones Jr was prone to note, musta forgot.

* Details about this Lunar Festival seem to be fairly scarce at the moment, but according to this it’s going to A) be from the 1st till the 4th of June; B) be held somewhere around Henley-In-Arden (which, I am told, is extremely posh); C) only have a small number of tickets for sale; and D) be a full-on camping affair. Nuts to camping, but a day ticket might well be worth getting (depending on how the line-up shakes out – it was announced from onstage on Friday that Micky Chappo would be playing there, but there isn’t any info about anyone else yet).

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

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 29 January, 2012

Let’s have a Lots, for the first time in a little while.

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.

Tuesday the 31st of January and Wednesday the 1st – “The Trial” (Blackeyed Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – K-k-k-kick up a Kafka. This is the Steven Berkoff adaptation (see also the 8th/9th, if that’s pricked up your ears).

Thursday the 2nd till Saturday the 4th – Nick Makoha’s “My Father And Other Superheroes” @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Lessons for the kiddies about the role of fathers and/or the absence thereof.

Thursday the 2nd – “Meet The BBFC” @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – A talk from the British Board of Film Classification. Ask them about ‘mild peril’.

Friday the 3rd till Sunday the 5th – “Imaginary Friends” (Somesuch Theatre) @ The MAC (Hexagon room), Edgbaston, Birmingham – In which your man dials a wrong number but your woman at the other end decides to actually talk to him, it seems.

Friday the 3rd – Michael Chapman @ The Station, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Hopefully Janice Long won’t be around to get his name wrong, this time.

Friday the 3rd – The Misfits @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – The current-day version, so they’re without the pompous shortarse. Or without that one in particular, anyway. There may be other pompous shotarses amongst their number.

Friday The 3rd – “Scott Of The Antarctic Centenary Concert” (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – “I’m going out for a walk, I may be some time”. The CBSO will be doing Vaughan Williams and such in front of projections of the fillum. I once saw Einstellung playing in front of the same thing, but this won’t sound like that did.

Friday the 3rd – Sally @ Scruffy Murphy’s, Birmingham – Doooooooooooooooooooooom (etc).

Saturday the 4th – Suggs’ “My Life Story In Words And Music” @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – I expect it’ll be all such as “So then, it being Tuesday, I bought a hat…”

Saturday the 4th – “Watch The Birdy” (Birmingham Rep Theatre) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – About an egg that will not hatch. Wasn’t that “Orson’s Farm”?

Saturday the 4th – Laura Viers @ The MAC (Café), Edgbaston, Birmingham and The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – So she’s playing at The MAC in the afternoon, which will be a free gig for family-type groupings (what with her most recent album being aimed at the kiddies and whatnot), and then in the evening there’ll be a more usual type of thing at The Institute.

Sunday the 5th – Martin Simpson @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – That one who’s got that Dad.

Sunday the 5th – “The Songs And Music Of Bagpuss” with Sandra Kerr @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Although Bagpuss himself will not be there, I am sad to relay. *Stretches* *Yawns*

Wednesday the 7th till Saturday the 11th – “Yes Prime Minister” (I don’t know what the theatre company is called, but it’s the west end production) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – I got the DVD box of the complete “Yes Minister”/”Yes Prime Minister” for Christmas, you know.

Wednesday the 8th & Thursday the 9th – Steven Berkoff’s “Shakespeare’s Villains” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – His one-man show about… well, the title is scarcely cryptic.

Thursday the 9th – “Thirsty” (The Paper Birds) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, BirminghamDrink~!

Saturday the 11th till Saturday the 18th – “Gigglefest” children’s comedy festival @ The Central Library, Birmingham – Comedy aimed at children, that is. Not child comedians drafted in from some sort of sweatshop in Indonesia.

Saturday the 11th – Prizefighter light-welterweight boxing tournament (Matchroom Sports) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Ah, damnit – I love a one-night tournament and this looks like the best instalment of “Prizefighter” yet, but it sold out before I got around to getting a ticket. Oh well. I’m cheering for Mutley but my money would be on Watson.

Sunday the 12th – “John Peel’s Shed” (Show & Tell) @ The Warwick Arts Centre (studio theatre), near Coventry – The tale of a boy who won a box of records from the eponymic DJ-owned outhouse.

Wednesday the 15th – “The Planet Suite (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – It’s interesting to note that Pluto has both come and gone (planet-wise) since this. Accuracy has been preserved, in the long run.

Thursday the 16th – Richard Herring @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – I’d like to see more comedians named after fish.

Thursday the 16th – GZA @ The Ballroom, Birmingham – I dunno, no Wu-Tang members come over for years and then suddenly you can’t move for the little bleeders…

Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th – “Deathtripping” with Lydia Lunch @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – A journey “into the radical manifesto of the Cinema of Transgression, an 80s underground film movement which spawned from New York’s No Wave scene and is characterised by an extreme and satirical take on themes of pleasure, horror, sex and disgust”, if you will. Includes a spoken-word performance from no less than Lydia Lunch on the Saturday night.

Monday the 20th – Kylesa @ The Institute (Library room), Digbeth, Birmingham – Ace metal-headbanging-mad stuff when I saw them years ago. I don’t know about now, especially given that (from glancing around the web) it seems like they’re getting quite popular nowadays.

Wednesday the 22nd till Saturday the 25th – “Hobson’s Choice” (Birmingham Royal Ballet) @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – There seems to have been about 381 productions of “Hobson’s Choice” that have played locally over the last couple of years, at the very least. This one here, though, is a ballet.

Wednesday the 22nd – “Stalin’s Favourite” (Theatre Unlimited) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The first part of a dictatorship-double-bill at The Old Rep. This one concerns what it was like for Konstantin Simonov to be Stalin’s favourite author.

Thursday the 23rd – “Defying Hitler” (Theatre Unlimited) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – The second part of a dictatorship-double-bill at The Old Rep. This one is about your ordinary man trying to live in the Third Reich.

Thursday the 23rd till Saturday the 3rd of March – “Gravity” (Birmingham Rep Theatre) @ The MAC (theatre space), Edgbaston, Birmingham – Themes of provocation and science mix. At least two out of every three new plays have to have scientific themes, as any fool knows (not that this is a bad thing).

Thursday the 23rd – Labrinth (sic) @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – He of “Earthquake”, the undisputed winner of the song-most-frequently-played-through-phones-on-buses award of the last year or so.

Saturday the 25th till Saturday the 3rd of March – “The Crucible (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – It does show how times have changed – I go around accusing people of witchcraft all the time and I’m generally just ignored.

Saturday the 25th – Napalm Death @ The Institute (Library Room), Digbeth, Birmingham – I’ll happily make the most of any excuse to link to this.

Sunday the 26th – Subhumans @ The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – I’m telling you, it’s gonna get worse.

Sunday the 26th – William Wegman’s “Woof! Woof!” @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – Video art about HOUNDS.

Monday the 27th till the 3rd of March – “Oleanna” (theatre company?) @ Highbury Little Theatre, Wylde Green, Birmingham – Do you see, do you see.

Monday the 27th – Iron Butterfly @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Dum-dum-dumm, dum-dum dum-dumm dumm dumm dumm…

Tuesday the 28th – Dave Reeves’ “Black Country Dialects” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Yam-yam myths, legends and speech. Yow dow spake as proper like we.

Tuesday the 28th – Mick Foley @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Doing a stand-up comedy/spoken word class of thing, but I’m sure he’d throw himself off a high object if you asked him nicely.

Wednesday the 29th – Beth Jeans Houghton / Goodnight Lenin @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Glam-pop-folk with support from Everybody’s Favourite Local Band (Apart From The Destroyers).