Call me Russ L

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.

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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.

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

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

There really is a lot this month, with a whole metric heap of interesting events (and the customary Brum tendency to describe most of them as ‘festivals’, whether this is in the least bit sensible or not). I’ll warn you, though – the sheer amount of good stuff means that there will be date clashes, and plenty of them.

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.

Already started and ongoing – “Home Of Metal” @ lots of different venues in Birmingham and the Black Country – The big celebration of the fact that Heävy Metäl came from hereabouts continues. A metric bagful of different things are happening so it might be easiest for you to just look at the listings (or the map), but the fun includes Judas Priest stage costumes at Walsall Leather Museum, Bat Walks at Haden Hill, and some actual real metalbashing.

Thursday the 1st till Saturday the 3rd – Debbie Tracey’s “Death Of A Beauty Saleswoman” @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Gaining the world and losing it again in the comedy world of cosmetics.

Friday the 2nd till Sunday the 4th – The Moseley Folk Festival @ Moseley Park, Moseley, Birmingham – Another strong line-up this year, with Billy Bragg, Tinariwen, Pram, Badly Drawn Boy, Gruff Rhys, Michael Chapman, Eliza Carthy and loads of others in beautiful Moseley Park. I’m actually looking forward to this more than that other Brum festival I normally look forward to so much, this year.

Friday the 2nd till Sunday the 4th – Brum Punx Picnic @ outside The Adam & Eve, Digbeth, Birmingham – Involving English Dogs, Eastfield, Rotunda, Poundaflesh and a cider-barrelful more. See also the 9th and 30th for more Digbethy punk (well, actually, there are always punk gigs in Digbeth all the time, just keep your eyes open if you’re interested).

Friday the 2nd – Dolly Parton @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Fresh from giving out books to the children of Rotherham. No, really.

Friday the 2nd – “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” (Townsend Productions) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – I may be the only lefty in the world to consider the book massively over-rated, but this two-hander stage version could nevertheless be of some interest.

Saturday the 3rd/10th/17th/24th – “Project Pigeon” events @ New Art Gallery, Walsall – Over the four Saturdays you have (respectively) a talk, an exhibition, film showings and an auction, all of our feathery friends.

Saturday the 3rd – “The Owl And The Pussycat” (Hiccup Theatre) @ The Library Theatre, Birmingham – Acting, music, puppetry and two entirely endearing creatures. I’d like to see The Monkey And The Capybara staged too.

Sunday the 4th – Jimmy Cliff / Toots And The Maytals @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – I really, really wish this wasn’t at the same time as Moseley Folk. But it is. So there we are.

Sunday the 4th – Ian McKellan @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – Apparently he started his acting life at the Belgrade in Coventry, so here (fifty years on) he’ll be reminiscing and answering questions. Hopefully with “What I do is, I pretend to be them.”

Sunday the 4th – The Rotary Club Country Music Festival @ Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Yes, that’s The Rotary Club Country Music Festival, held at The Botanical Gardens. I think this proves that you can string any possible sequence of nouns together and come up with something that actually does exist in the world.

Sunday the 4th – Handel’s “Dido And Aeneas” @ The Conservatoir, Birmingham – The opera being operated by students from the Conservatoir.

Monday the 5th – Public Enemy @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Doing “Fear Of A Black Planet” all the way through, because apparently now all bands that have been around for more than ten years are legally and morally obliged to do a tour where they perform one of their albums in its entirety. Should be good, though.

Tuesday the 6th until Tuesday the 4th of October – The West Midlands Human Rights Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham and Wolverhampton – Showing “a range of films that investigate the notion of human rights in the 21st Century as measured against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Apt, just lately, given that a lot of people seem to have suddenly decided that they want coppers to be allowed to stamp on their heads.

Wednesday the 7th – Daniel Martin Moore @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – If the Moseley Folk Festival wasn’t enough folk for you folks, then here is some more folk (of the American persuasion).

Friday the 9th till Saturday the 22nd of October – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – A Handbag etc etc etc. See also the 17th.

Friday the 9th – Varukas @ The Old Wharf, Digbeth, Birmingham – Y’see, I told you – there’s punk in Digbeth, all the time. This might help, now that I think about it.

Saturday the 10th till Saturday the 17th – “Talking Heads” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – The vaunted monologues by Alan “Gordon” Bennett.

Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th – Artsfest @ lots of places in Birmingham – It’s the annual free Artsfest and, typically, we’re only a fortnight away and it’s still a bugger to find out what’s actually happening. Guillemots are playing though, apparently, and I’ve no doubt that the CBSO will be doing the big proms-y bit with fireworks.

Saturday the 10th – Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) @ The NIA, Birmingham – Headlined by Jim Wallhead vs Frank Trigg and Paul Daley vs Jordan Radev, which is actually quite good when you think about it.

Saturday the 10th – Jazzie B @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Your man there from Soul II Soul. I assume this would be a DJ set, although I can’t find anything that tells me for certain.

Saturday the 10th – “The Boat That Oxjam Brum Rocked” @ starting outside the Canalside Café, Birmingham – A gig for charidee… on a boat! I don’t know who’s playing, but who cares? It’s on a boat. That’s the attraction.

Saturday the 10th – Switchblade @ The Wagon And Horses, Digbeth, Birmingham – The flyer I picked up says “Swedish veteran drone duo from a bleak punk landscape”. You just try and tell me that doesn’t sound enticing, go on, you just try.

Monday the 12th till Friday the 17th – “The Pitmen Painters” (National Theatre) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – I’m surprised that you can actually see the paintings down a mine.

Thursday the 15th – Cosmo Jarvis @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Your indie-teen version of The Streets. That wasn’t actually meant to sound like an insult.

Friday the 16th – “Showstopper! The Improvised Musical” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Apparently it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Friday the 16th – “Mr Edgar Allan Poe’s Terrifying Tales” (Tin Shed Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Poe by candlelight.

Saturday the 17th of September till Saturday the 22nd of October – “Travesties” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Following on from “The Importance Of Being Earnest”, here we have Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties” at the same place with the same cast.

Saturday the 17th – The Women Chainmakers Festival @ Bearmore Mound Playing Fields, Cradley Heath – In honour of the 1910 Mary MacArthur strikes. Apparently this has been at the Black Country Museum in previous years, but they’ve chosen to stop hosting it because they’ve decided that the union presence there was getting too uppity (sorry, ‘political’). Disgraceful stuff from an institution I normally like a lot.

Saturday the 17th – Pow-Wow Literary Festival @ The Prince Of Wales, Moseley, Birmingham – Talks and speakers all day, about matters literary. There’s also a Capoeira demonstration. For some reason.

Saturday the 17th – “Off The Cuff” (Offstage Theatre Group) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Improvised comedy business with the audience shouting out suggestions etc, but apparently there are free Jaffa Cakes too. That’s every bit the endearing bonus that it’s calculated to be.

Sunday the 18th – Bearwood Shuffle @ Lightwoods Park, Bearwood – We didn’t come here looking for trouble, we just came to do the Bearwood Shuffle. Free live music at the bandstand in the middle of the park, headlined by Aziz.

Sunday the 18th – The Digbeth O’Lympics @ various places in Digbeth, Birmingham – Usually involving snail racing and welly wanging and whiskey drinking and so on.

Sunday the 18th – Gary Numan @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – He really didn’t look very well in the backing videos used on Battles’ last tour, but presumably that was intentional.

Sunday the 18th – Rick Wakeman @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Keyboards and capes.

Tuesday the 20th till Saturday the 24th – “The Jungle Book” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Taking after the Disney one, it looks like, although I expect it won’t have the songs from that. Or will it? I love me some “Bear Necessities”, as all right-thinking folk do.

Tuesday the 20th till Saturday the 24th – “Hobson’s Choice” (All & Sundry Theatre) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Give ’em the boot.

Wednesday the 21st – Susan Murray’s “Photo Booth” @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Solo comedy show based on 25 years of collecting passport-sized photos of people.

Thursday the 22nd – Sham 69 @ The Robin 2, Bilston – There’s gonna be a Bilston breakout.

Friday the 23rd – Boxing (Dave Coldwell promotions) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Headlined by everyone’s fave Max Maxwell versus one Martin Robins, and also featuring quite a few debuting fighters.

Friday the 23rd – Julian Sands’ “A Celebration Of Harold Pinter” @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – So the story goes that Pinter’s illness left him unlikely to be able to speak at a charity reading, and as such he trained this Sands fella up to take his place. He now continues to read in (as it says on the tin) celebration of the master. Apparently this is also directed by John Malkovich, which is certainly a thing.

Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th – Miniatura International Dolls House Show @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I don’t really know anything much about miniature/dolls houses, but I do always think they’re very clever.

Saturday the 24th – The First Bite Theatre festival @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Thirteen short plays/performances (from a variety of local groups) performed in different places throughout the MAC.

Sunday the 25th – Echo And The Bunnymen @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Spare us The Cutter. Well, actually, no – play it, please.

Sunday the 25th – Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – More folk etc etc.

Wednesday the 28th – Martin Simpson @ The Red Lion, King’s Heath, Birmingham – That bloke who’s got that Dad (also: even more folk etc etc etc).

Wednesday the 28th – Josh T. Pearson @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Yeah man dang ol Texan fella from Lift To Experience solo stuff I tell you hwhat.

Wednesday the 28th – “Macbeth” (Icarus Theatre Company) @ The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – I love “Macbeth”, it’s just so gangsta. This is, apparently, an appropriately violent production of it. But then…

Wednesday the 28th – Guy Masterson’s “Shylock” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – … speaking of Shakespeare in Wolverhampton on the 28th, here you have a one-man show in which Tubal from “The Merchant Of Venice” takes us through the history of anti-semitism.

Thursday the 29th till Sunday the 2nd of October – Harmonic Festival @ mostly at The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Outre jazz craziness. This includes an eleven hour long piano performance and a trumpety quartet influenced by Meshuggah, things I can’t help but approve of.

Friday the 30th – GBH @ The Wagon & Horses, Digbeth, Birmingham – Rity babies attacked by cats.

Since it seems to be all about Youtube links/embedments just lately

Posted in Combat Sports, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 21 December, 2010

I’ve been posting this everywhere, but if you watch it I’m sure you’ll realise that I’m right to do so.

A few bits from before Superdupersonic

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Music by Russ L on 29 October, 2010

Right then now then, it’s a quarter past Supersonic and as such I’d better get on with getting through everything from the month or so before it.

~ I went to see the BAMMA fightcard at the NIA on the 25th of September headlined by Tom Watson (not the MP) vs Alex Reid (Jordan’s fella). Annoyingly, I had a full post about this more-or-less written, but I seem to have accidentally deleted it. Bah.

It was a great show nevertheless. I haven’t re-watched any of it via the televised coverage yet (I will get round to it eventually), but the main event was an extremely exciting (if sloppy) fight with an amazing crowd atmosphere. Reid did very well in his loss – I hadn’t beforehand assumed that Watson would easily absolutely annihilate him, but given Reid’s relative inactivity in recent times I was definitely expecting it to be a lot more one-sided than it was. 49-46 in Watson’s favour seemed fair to me, but the actual rounds were considerably closer than the wide score might indicate. The Harvey Harra vs David Round fight was also a fantastic one to watch, and while it’s a shame that Harvey has seemingly completely given up on the notion of standing defense he certainly proved himself to be gritty son of a gun in absorbing the punishment he took prior to catching that guillotine in the second round. It may also be interesting for those of a superstitious bent to note that he’s won all of the six of his MMA fights where I’ve been there in the live audience, and lost the four where I haven’t.

Other stuff: I’d previously assumed that James Zikic could not be hurt by conventional weapons, but John Phillips demonstrated otherwise; it’s always funny to see Scott Jansen lose; Gunnar Nelson is so good in one area that I’m willing to bet he isn’t going to lose a single one prior to hitting world-level competition; I’m not the best at judging this sort of thing (especially given that the chopped-down version of the NIA is significantly smaller than the LG Arena) but there seemed to be a lot more people here than there were at previous BAMMA; you’ll probably imagine you know how a sentence ends if it starts with talk about Jordan having a pair of augmented attributes, but in this instance the false eyelashes that she had on were something beyond scary; if I’d had to watch the computer game advert that they were repeating on the big screens all night even once more, I really would’ve been compelled to set fire to something.

~ Upon occasion of going to see the ever-fantastic Matt’n’Chel of Royal Leamington Spa, I was (on the third of October) taken to a gig. Of sorts. I ummed and arred and eventually decided that it had to go on the gig list. We went to “Dockers”, an incredibly tacky take-off of an American diner, and to everyone’s surprise there happened to be (at midday/early afternoon on a Sunday) a singing waiter. God bless him and his general MIDI backing tracks. I don’t want to get into too much of an air of mockery, since it wasn’t exactly a fair situation for him to be put in (although he did seem happy enough himself), but it was hilarious when someone interrupted him mid-song to ask for cutlery.

~ Sunday the tenth saw me off to Eat A Book Records’ afternoon hardcore gig (I really, really, really wish that jpeg of the hardcore manatee still existed), ‘cos you know I’m always the first to demonstrate my Straight Edge credentials. On this particular day I stuck to lager, for – as the learned Ian McKaye sang – “lager doesn’t count as booze/let’s all have a jar/too-ra-loo-ra-lie/too-ra-loo-ra-lar”. One of my favourite Minor Threat choons, that one was.

It was at The Wagon & Horses (sweetly referred to as “The Wagon Club” by our American headliners. Bless) in Digberff, which is a pub I’d never been to before in spite of it being a common place of gigs. It’s basically a more spit’n’sawdust version of what The Market Tavern used to be: Brum’s primary punk/HC venue, in the upstairs room of a proper pub situated slightly off the beaten track (by which I mean “Digbeth High Street”). The PA stacks upstairs are far bigger than the size of the room would appear to need, and I am all about that sort of tomfoolery.

There were three bands, and unusually none of them were local. I’m not particularly likely to start following any of them in depth, but they were all fun at the time – Bonestorm (from Leeds, fast’n’crusty), Harbour (from Cardiff, more melodic [this is a very relative term under the circumstances] and punky) and band o’the day Coke Bust (from Washington Dee Cee, straightforward loud’n’fast/short songs HC but with catchy bits and a pretty fierce performance).

~ I went to the Catherine O’ Flynn talk at the B-Town Conservatoire on the 12th of October, as part of the B-Town Book Festival. I haven’t read her new one yet (although I’m greatly looking forward to doing so), but her first novel “What Was Lost” is definitely one of my favourites of recent years. Between the questions the audience asked and the way it just generally went, a fair amount of it ended up being about her methods and how she goes about writing. Apparently (after swearing she wouldn’t do this a second time but ending up doing it anyway) she finishes a load of completely independent sections to start with, and then has a game-and-half trying to piece them all together as a novel and make sure there aren’t massive continuity errors. This particularly interested me in light of her oft-expressed admiration for David Foster Wallace. Wouldn’t it be so easy to imagine that “Infinite Jest” was written in that sort of way?

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.

Party for your right to fight

Posted in Combat Sports by Russ L on 7 June, 2010

The 22nd of May saw me attending my second MMA card in as many Saturdays, and I even managed to go to the right place this time. This one was held in a little venue set up in one of the NEC exhibition rooms (like the Pain & Glory card I went to years ago), and more importantly it was the first event that Cagewarriors had put on in quite a good ol’ while. I’ll always have happy memories of going to the old Cagewarriors cards in Coventry, seeing fighters who later went on to become much better known (Michael Bisping, Dan Hardy, Antonio Silva, you name ‘em they were there). This here “Right To Fight” changed a lot in run-up (I thought it was particularly a shame that Rosi Sexton’s fight was cancelled, but looking at the bigger picture it’s a brilliant thing for her to be getting more fights stateside/in Bellator), but still looked good fun and an interesting mix – some good European-level fights and some less experienced combatants taking their earlier steps.

Two minor annoyances to get out of the way before I talk about the good stuff: It all started ridiculously later than advertised (although I suppose I should have remembered from the olden days that CW had a tendency to do this. It was brilliantly paced once things had started, with one fight straight after the other), and I know that the compere from the night is a popular and beloved figure in the MMA world but his pretend American accent was really bloody irritating all evening.

So then: the last three fights were all great. Peter Irving (someone I’d wanted to see fight for a long time, going on what I’d heard about him) was absolutely excellent against Nordin Asrih, looking good with his stand up and his wrestling and his g’n’p, in spite of Asrih’s good defensive guard and all-round toughness. Greg Loughran (a man incapable of having a boring fight, it seems) was unfortunate against Ken Rosfort, starting well in a contest mostly fought on the feet but getting stopped due to a cut. They both showed some great striking, though, and if it had gone the distance it could well have been difficult to pick between Loughran’s workrate and Rosfort’s power (bruuuutal body kicks). Although a good chunk of the (already sparse) crowd had left by the time of the last fight between Pascal Krauss and John Quinn, the latter’s supporters (oh those Scots) made more noise than the rest of the audience all night and got the atmosphere going. Sadly for them, Krauss was largely dominant with nasty leg kicks and volleys of punches when upright, elbows from top position on the ground, and even a stab at an anaconda choke. Quinn did manage to sweep him at one point (or was it a couple of times? I dunno, I’m writing this a couple of weeks later) but it didn’t last and Pascal took the win with an RNC in the second round.

The best KO of the night came from the debuting Louis Chapman, who hit Jay Gilbey so hard that I think it may have actually destroyed his immortal soul; sub of the night came from Daniel “Denzil” Thomas, who beat Ali McClean with a pulling guillotine-come-neck-crank type of thing; the best entrance music of the night award easily went to Sarah Moras for her use of Louis Armstrong’s “Cheesecake Song”. There was other stuff, too.

I’m really happy to have CW back.

(Results here; more accounts here, here and here).

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Gorilla warfare

Posted in Combat Sports by Russ L on 22 May, 2010

Well, I did it. I finally went and did it. After these larks, I nipped directly around the corner to the NIA to go and see the BAMMA mixed martial arts do. Fortunate travel arrangements, I thought.

The event, of course, was taking place at the NEC. I sighed and walked to New Street to get on a train. Mercy me – prior to this I’d been to fifteen gigs/two fightcards/two Crufts shows at the NEC/LG Arena and twelve gigs/three fightcards at the NIA, and I’d never managed to go to the wrong one before. I came close a couple of times but always previously figured it out at the last minute.

Ah well.

Prior to this I hadn’t actually been to fightcard of any kind since March 2009, and that was boxing. I hadn’t been to an MMA card since February 2009, and that was the UFC. The last time I’d been to see anything from a domestic MMA promotion was actually the UK Cage Fighting Championships card in Coventry in June 2008. This was obviously long overdue, then.

It was a really nice one to come back to, though – nice and fun. For the uninitiated, this was the event at which the latterday reality television star Alex Reid was meant to be fighting Tom “Kong” Watson (the MMA fighter and kickboxer. Not the MP. This is an important distinction), but ended up pulling out (to the surprise of more or less no-one). Reid and beau Jordan were nevertheless present in the front row, and subject to all sorts of hilarious (and some entirely unfunny) baiting – amongst a tonne of other things one man threw an inflatable banana at them (this got a big cheer. The security got an even bigger boo while leading him out), but the funniest was the burst of people singing Peter Andre’s “Mysterious Girl” at them. All so very very British, as Louise observed when I text to tell her about it.

Some good fights, as well (obviously this is of secondary importance). I’d missed the first three by the time I got there, arriving just in time to see the replay of Ashleigh Grimshaw’s crazy knockout of Paul Reed on the big screens. Of the eight I saw, I particularly enjoyed Jeff Lawson’s quickstyle armbar of David Lee (no mean grappler himself), Carl Noon’s choke win over tallfella Mike Ling after a steely dust-up on the feet, and Tom Watson’s (again, not the MP) razor-close win over American jesus-enthusiast Matt Horwich (some have disputed the decision, but – while Horwich’s weird grappling style really stifled Watson at times and he did come close to finishing him with chokes on a couple of occasions – I still had it three-rounds-to-two in favour of Watson. He also gets extra points for his “Hispanic Gorilla costume” entrance). Elsewhere: I thought the other disputed five round decision (Mark Adams over Alan Omer) was fair, via solid if slow-paced ground control; Rob Sinclair was enormously impressive with his quick finish of the very tough Daniel Weichel; professional divvy War Machine managed to avoid any particularly cretinous meltdowns but still managed to come out with some of that that “tapping out is for pussies” idiocy (good sweep-and-RNC against Zach Light, though); other stuff.

It is a shame that I paid for my ticket when apparently they were giving away free ones hand over arsehole in the week running up to it (there were still plenty of unoccupied seats. I’d say that there was a slightly lower proportion of empty seating than there was at the Cage Rage show at the same venue that was later described as sold out, but that did have a different configuration of the arena with more seats and so there were probably a similar number of people there altogether. I am rubbish at judging that sort of thing though so don’t listen to me), and it’s even more of a shame that (apparently/allegedly) some of the fighters haven’t been paid yet, but it was great fun on the night.

(Full results here; other accounts here, here, here, here, and no doubt a million other places).

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.

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

Posted in Books, Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 27 February, 2010

The theme of the month definitely seems to be “motion pictures” – not only is it time again for the renowned Flatpack Festival, March also sees this year’s Film Dash 48 hour challenge (see that link if you style yourself an auteur) and a few other filmy things besides.

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.

Monday the 1st – Dizzee Rascal @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Sold out already though. I doubt that’ll surprise anybody.

Monday the 1st – Los Campesinos @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – No, really, it’s definitely “maths” and not “math”.

Tuesday the 2nd – “Lotty’s War” (Giddy Ox Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Lotty finds herself torn between loyalty and survival during the (nowadays often forgotten) German occupation of the Channel Islands.

Wednesday the 3rd till Thursday the 18th – “Behna” (Black Country Touring/Kali Theatre) @ somewhere on Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham – A site-specific play in a house, the precise address of which will be revealed on the booking of tickets. The secrets of two generations are observed through the kitchen.

Wednesday the 3rd and Thursday the 4th – “Meeting Joe Strummer” (The Future Is Unwritten) @ The Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – Saw this a couple of years ago and thought it was great. Two blokes grow up, with and without the Clash in the background.

Wednesday the 3rd – “The World’s Wife” with Linda Marlowe @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – A stage adaptation (somehow) of the Carol Ann Duffy poems.

Thursday the 4th till Saturday the 6th – “The Women Of Troy” (Young REP) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – Euripedes trousers, you buya dese trousers.

Thursday the 4th – Angie Stone @ The Academy, Birmingham – Several years on I still think that “I’d rather be picking up bottles and cans if you can’t be my man” consists of two completely unrelated clauses, but she’s ace nevertheless.

Thursday the 4th – Woodenbox With The Fistful Of Fivers @ The Victoria, Birmingham – Very well-named Scottish folk sorts, playing a Colour do.

Wednesday the 4th – Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra @ Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – Fresh from not participating in The Specials reunion, here’s Jerry Dammers with his jazz big band.

Saturday the 6th – Fairport Convention @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – A holiday, a holiday, the first one of the year.

Sunday the 7th – Obituary @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – The best death metal band, when I (as I often for some reason do) forget about the existence of Entombed. Otherwise second place. That’s still very good though, obviously.

Wednesday the 10th – David Benson’s “Doctor Whom? My Search For Samuel Johnson” @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – I haven’t been to see David Benson for ages. A-typically (as he acknowledges) this one isn’t about a dead camp comedian, but I bet it’s very funny.

Wednesday the 10th – Atsuhiro Ito @ Vivid, Digbeth, Birmingham – A Japanese artiste who has created his own optical/sound instrument, the Optron.

Thursday the 11th till Sunday the 14th – Crufts @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – HOUNDS, everyone’s fond of how-wunds, except for… no, wait, I’ve got the wrong song.

Thursday the 11th – “Film Dash” screening @ The Electric Cinema, Birmingham – A selection of the entries and the announcement of the winner.

Friday the 12th till Wednesday the 17th – St Patrick’s Day Festival @ all over Digbeth, Birmingham – The parade is on the Saturday, this year. The “St Patrocks” bands bit is in the college on the same day (hopefully it won’t suffer from being a complete pain in the arse like last year), and Irish literature night at The Old Crown on the 16th sounds interesting too.

Friday the 12th – “Blue Remembered Hills” (New Century Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Dennis Potter’s famous play-for-whichever-day.

Friday the 12th – Autechre @ The Rainbow Warehouse, Digbeth, Birmingham – More groovy than they were glitchy, two years ago. Oh my god that gig was two years ago.

Friday the 12th – Killa Kela @ The Academy 3, Birmingham – This would be where I attempt beatboxing like some embarrassing family member.

Saturday the 13th – The Stranglers @ The Academy, Birmingham – Walking in The Academy looking at the old men (doo-doo-doo, do-do do doo doo).

Saturday the 13th – AMMA @ Banks’ Stadium, Bescott, Walsall – The always great amateur MMA cards, partially courtesy of Yoo-Eff-Cee Ref-Er-Ee Marc Goddard. Latest card here.

Saturday the 13th – “Eat My Shorts” @ The Edge, Digbeth, Birmingham – Short fillums then a disco, to raise money for Haiti.

Sunday the 14th – Boxing (First Team) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Afternoon card rescheduled from last month, headlined by Dean Harrison vs Ben Lawler. It’s also going to be streamed on BrandHatton.tv for three quid, if that suits you better.

Sunday the 14th – Speech DeBelle @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – Go then go then. Bye.

Monday the 15th – The Four Tops / The Temptations @ The NIA, Birmingham – Any resemblance to any original band members live or dead is purely co-incidental.

Tuesday the 16th – Mono @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – The “heavy like Beethoven” tagline always seemed a bit cheap, but the few tracks I’ve just listened to on TheirSpace seem pleasing enough in that usual “getting louder then quieter again” sort of way. The first part of The Asylum’s two days o’ post rock, courtesy of Capsule.

Wednesday the 17th – Thee Silver Mt. Zion (or whatever the current version of their name is) @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – The second part of The Asylum’s two days o’ post rock. I’m given to understand that they don’t like being described as post-rock, but then again I don’t like seeing bands get precious over that sort of thing so I suppose we’re all even.

Wednesday the 17th – The Dubliners @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – I cannot even begin to imagine how great it would be to see The Dubliners on St Patrick’s Day, but it’s already long-since sold out. Blast.

Friday the 19th – Four Tet @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – Folk-dance-electronica sorts. I can’t find precisely where in the Custard Factory they’re meant to be playing, but I’d be willing to guess at Space 2.

Friday the 19th – “Beating Berlusconi” (Turf love Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Based on the true story of a demoralised Liverpool fan who ended up meeting Silvio Berlusconi in Turkey.

Friday the 19th – Marlena Shaw @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The actual real one, ladies and gentlemen.

Saturday the 20th – Postman Pat’s “A Very Royal Mission” @ The town hall/library theatre, Stourbridge – Accompanied as ever by his black-and-white cat.

Sunday the 21st – “Identity Of The Soul” @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – A five (count ‘em) screen series of filmed poems, involving Ibsen and concerning matters of “war, retaliation and the consequences of choice”. Possibly an interesting adjunct to all of your Flatpack filmeramarama.

Sunday the 21st – Midlands Amateur Boxing Association finals @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – I’m not going to pretend I know the slightest tiny thing about amateur boxing, but the finals of the Midlands ABAs are here and apparently there will be 13 title-deciding fights across the various weightclasses.

Tuesday the 23rd till Sunday the 28th – Flatpack Film Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of filmic goodness. Highlights abound – there’s that black metal documentary, a thing about what is supposedly the worst film ever, a seminar that teaches you how to animate vegetables, and a whole pile more.

Wednesday the 24th till Saturday the 27th – “Ghost Boy” (20 Stories High Theatre) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – A play with hip-hop, grime, ska, puppetry, and a bloke declaring himself to be the superhero “Fly Man”.

Wednesday the 24th – Jethro Tull @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – One-legged flute etc etc etc.

Tuesday the 30th and Wednesday the 31st – “Fawlty Towers” (Central Youth Theatre) @ Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton – There’s something really quite surreal about the idea of young’uns doing “Fawlty Towers”.

Tuesday the 30th – Editors @ The Academy, Birmingham – Formerly Echo & The Bunnymen, now Depeche Mode.