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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.

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Pay attention now, this is important

Posted in Stage by Russ L on 2 March, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are distinct themes to things happening this month. I will let you discern them for yourselves, lest my pointing-out of them might lead others to think that there may be a faint hint of the less-than-serious about the things I write here.

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.

Friday the 1st till Sunday the 10th – Birmingham Comedy Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – In prior years this has been mocked for just being a banner headline put up over the comedy tours that’d be coming by anyway, but there definitely looks like there’s a lot more happening this time. This here The Awkward Silence sketch stageshow sounds interesting, and I can only assume that an outfit known as Men With Bananas would have to be good.

Saturday the 2nd till Saturday the 23rd – “Art Heist” events @ New Art Gallery, Walsall – An interactive typathing, in which you can plan how you’d half-inch a piece of art from a gallery. I really hope this doesn’t turn out to bite the New Art Gallery on the arse in the future.

Sunday the 3rd – Oxjam’s 11 Bus thingy @ the outer circle, Birmingham – Buy your ticket, board the 11 outside the Hare & Hounds, and be given a tour of Brum with “musical entertainment” on the bus over the course of the day. All for charidee, too.

Tuesday the 5th till Thursday the 21st – The Birmingham Book Festival @ various venues in Birmingham – Hooray! Raphael Selbourne talks about what constitutes a city’s culture, Catherine O’Flynn talks about her new book, lots of people discuss what it’s like to be a refugee in Birmingham, and lots and lots more.

Saturday the 2nd till Saturday the 9th – “The Birthday Party” (The Crescent Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – There seems to be loads of Pinter around just lately.

Saturday the 2nd & Sunday the 3rd – GB Judo World Cup For Women @ The NIA, Birmingham – “If there is effort, there is always accomplishment” – Jigoro Kano

Saturday the 2nd – “I Am A Camera” (Jadis Shadows) @ The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – So “The Berlin Stories” novels were made into this play which was made into a film which was made into the musical “Cabaret” which was then made into a film itself. Oh Sally Bowles, what a complicated web you weave.

Saturday the 2nd – Mouse On Keys @ The Public, West Bromwich – Japanese groovo-jazz-rock. If I know mice, they won’t play “The Entertainer”. That’s a Cats On Keys thing.

Tuesday the 5th – Kelis @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Artists impression of what the gig will be like here.

Wednesday the 6th till Sunday the 10th – Horse Of The Year Show @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – A horse is a horse, of course. Of course!

Wednesday the 6th & Thursday the 7th – “The Good Person Of Sezuan” (Matt & Sister Tree) @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – A version of the Brecht play done in patois. It’s on at The Arena in Wolves on the 14th, too.

Thursday the 7th till Saturday the 9th – “Sounds Of Space” events @ Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Music, talks, a mobile planetarium, and all sorts of celestial superfun.

Friday the 8th – Rodney Bewes’ one-man version of “Three Men In A Boat” @ the town hall/library theatre, Stourbridge – Rodney Bewes as in the one from “The Likely Lads” that wasn’t James Bolan. I suppose we now know what happened to him.

Saturday the 9th – Kings Heath charity shop crawl @ the High Street, Kings Heath, Birmingham – They should come over here to the Black Country. We have some towns that consist completely and entirely of charity shops.

Monday the 11th – Stiff Little Fingers @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – One of the most righteously powerful punk bands ever, once. They’ve done some other stuff since then too, but let’s dwell on the positives.

Tuesday the 12th – Midge Ure @ The Robin 2, Bilston – So, HMHB last month was £16 advance/£18 door. TMTCH later this month is £15 advance/£16 door. This gig, with the actual famous artist out of the three that stood out to me, is less at £13 advance/£15 door. They actually are using a dartboard to set these prices, aren’t they?

Wednesday the 13th till Saturday the 16th – “Doctor Faustus” (Birmingham School Of Acting) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – I’ve often wondered what sort of price the devil would offer me for my soul. Ten quid and a bag of chips, probably.

Wednesday the 13th – Napoleon IIIrd @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Epic electronic pop from Napoleon the Thirdrd.

Thursday the 14th till Saturday the 16th – “Tuning Out With Radio Z” (Stan’s Café) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – An interactive theatre performance, where you can make suggestions to the two radio DJs it concerns. I’m not sure if this is the full 8 hour version or not.

Thursday the 14th – Arrested Development @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – The happiest of happy-hop.

Friday the 15th till Saturday the 6th of November – “The Cherry Orchard” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Chekhov/no you Chekhov etc. Starring Josie Lawrence.

Sunday the 17th – Jeff Beck @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Shouldn’t he be playing in Wolverhampton, really?

Sunday the 17th – The Men They Couldn’t Hang @ The Robin 2, Bilston – See above re: prices at The Robin for another example of how the Ironmasters always get their way.

Monday the 18th – Badly Drawn Boy @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – [Foghorn Leghorn]“Boy, ah say boy…”[/Foghorn Leghorn]

Tuesday the 19th till Saturday the 23rd – “The Author” (News From Nowhere/Royal Court Theatre) @ The Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – A play written by a playwright within a play written by a playwright.

Tuesday the 19th – Colour Presents… @ The Victoria, Birmingham – A night, they say, of exploratory scoundscapes and space travel. Whether or not you get any of that, you will get music from Port-Royal, Milimetrik, and Arc Vel.

Wednesday the 20th till Saturday the 23rd – “Untitled” (Fuel) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – Two brothers separated at birth, one with name and one without.

Friday the 22nd till Sunday the 24th – Supersonic Festival @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham (with fringe arty bits at other places in Digbeth) – I have misgivings about a partially outdoor event being moved from July to October (I foresee both widespread illness due to people standing in wet clothes in the cold and widespread injuries due to how murderous the Custard Factory boardwalk and the steps down to the pond are going to be once the rain has its way), but I certainly don’t have misgivings about the line-up: Godflesh, nearly-Neu!, Melt Banana, Nisennenmondai, Chrome Hoof, Peter Broderick, King Midas Sound, Zeni Geva, Napalm Death, Voice Of The Seven Woonders, PCM, an indeterminate number of guitars playing for seven hours, and a big pile more. The best line-up yet for me, on paper at least (also see the 23rd below).

Friday the 22nd & Saturday the 23rd – “Almost Human” & “Precious Jewel” (Nobody’s Perfect Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – A double-bill in which a computer programme evolves out of itself and Elizabeth I encounters a hiding Catholic Priest.

Friday the 22nd – Ramesses @ The Asylum 2, Hockley, Birmingham – Dooooom. It’s unfortunate for all concerned that this is clashing with Supersonic, but there we are.

Saturday the 23rd – Supersonic Kids gigs @ The MAC, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A Supersonic Festival offshoot for the young’ins (2-7 years), with Dosh and Glatze. What a brilliant idea.

Satuday the 23rd – KRS-ONE @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – Artists impression of what the gig will be like here.

Sunday the 24th – “The World’s Largest Orchestra” @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – Presumably this is the exact opposite of the world’s tiniest violin.

Tuesday the 26th – Manic Street Preachers @ The Academy, Birmingham – They may not be very manic or street, but I suppose some might say they preach.

Wednesday the 27th & Thursday the 28th – “From Me To 3792” (OJS in-house) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – An ordinary woman is moved to write to a prisoner on death row in America. Why’s that, then? That is what this play looks at.

Wednesday the 27th – The Psychedelic Furs @ The Institute, Digbeth, Birmingham – A band I always expect to be a bit more well-remembered than they actually are, given the fondness for 80s indie-rock exhibited by many in recent times.

Thursday the 28th till Saturday the 30th – “Rum And Coca-Cola” (Talawa Theatre Company) @ The Drum, Newtown – A play concerning a faded Calypso band in Trinidad, directed by Don Warrington. It’s definitely a month for fellas from old sitcoms.

Thursday the 28th till Saturday the 30th – The Birmingham Beer Festival @ The Second City Suite, Birmingham – There are always beer festivals everywhere, obviously (and that’s a good thing), but this one also promises extra entertainment including music and games of “shove ha’penny”. I really don’t feel that as much shoving is delivered unto ha’pennies as is deserved, nowadays.

Thursday the 28th – The Dillinger Escape Plan / Rolo Tomassi @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Well there certainly will be some sudden time-changes on this particular evening, that we can be sure of.

Thursday the 28th – Chrome Hoof @ Taylor John’s House, Coventry – As I wondered a little while back, I wonder how long it’ll be before people start turning up to Chrome Hoof gigs in silver jumpers they’ve made themselves?

Friday the 29th – Juice Aleem @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – As part of the Inqlab “conscious club night” benefit for Pakistan flood relief.

Saturday the 30th – The Destroyers @ The Midland Arts Centre, Edgbaston, Birmingham – I may have mentioned them once or twice before.

Saturday the 30th – Seth Lakeman @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – I am always surprised by the fact that some people think of “Seth” as a tough urban kind of kind of name rather than a folky Emmerdale-y kind of name (see also: flat caps). This here Seth is definitely one of the latter type.

Sunday the 31st – Youngblood Brass Band @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A punk-hop brass band, or “riot jazz” as they have it.

Sunday the 31st – Nightingales / The Coutesy Group @ The Old Wharf, Digbeth, Birmingham – Two of the local post-punk bands most (but not entirely) likely to go clonk when you think they’ll go ping and go ping when you think they’ll go spa-roowie.

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: December 2009

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 29 November, 2009

I’m sure there must be lots more lovely Christmas stuff, but I can’t seem to find very much of it. Nuts to New Year. This is the West Midlands, not Scotland.

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 6th of Feb – “George’s Marvellous Medicine” (Birmingham Stage Company) @ The Old Rep, Birmingham – Mixing up everything in your medicine cabinet is not recommended at home, kids. Unless you’re genuinely thirsty.

Until Saturday the 9th of January – “A Christmas Carol” (Birmingham Rep Theatre Company) @ The Rep Theatre, Birmingham – Seems fair to me to say that “Marley was dead: to begin with” is the second greatest opening line in all of literature.

Between Tuesday the 1st and Saturday the 19th – A whole tonne of Capsule stuff to celebrate ten years of ‘em @ various venues in Brum – There’s loads of stuff. I’ll list the lot (and just link to their event pages) for the sake of completeness, so this doesn’t mean I’m seriously recommending SunnO)))~!111: Monotonix, Esquilax, Beestung Lips and Cum Dogs at Vivid in Digbeth on the 1st; Tunng, Six Organs Of Admittance, Lightning Dust And Bella Emerson at the Town Hall on the 2nd (this is the one I’m most looking forward to); Lightning Bolt, Tweak Bird and Pete Prescription at Vivid on the 8th; Sunno)))}}}]]] and Om at The Asylum in Hockley on the tenth; Pram and Light Trap at Vivid on the 11th; a free afternoon film showing at Vivid on the 13th with a buffet and pictures provided by 7 Inch Cinema; Beak, Einstellung and Thought Forms at Vivid on the 16th (Edit: That one is cancelled. Poo.); some sort of evening social or suchlike at Vivid on the 17th; and a final partay with Modified Toy Orchestra, PCM, Calvados Beam Trio, Una Corda and Stinky Wizzleteat at Vivid on the 19th. You owe me a pint if I’ve managed to put all of those links in without cocking up the code at all. (EDIT: There’s also one in association with Heat And Light at Vivid on the night of the 13th, with Sudden Infant and Nic Bullen).

Tuesday the 1st – Alice Cooper @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Giving a golf seminar, perhaps.

Thursday the 3rd till Saturday the 12th (but not the 7th) – Aston Hall By Candlelight @ Aston Hall, Aston, Birmingham – This year themed around the Victorian household entertaining a royal visitor.

Thursday the 3rd till Saturday the 5th – “The Just Price Of Flowers” (Stan’s Café) @ A.E. Harris, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Inspired by Brecht, but not actually one of his (apparently there has been some confusion). Parallels are drawn between modern-day financial nuttery and 17th century Dutch tulip nuttery.

Friday the 4th – Chris Addison @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Ollie Ollie Ollie, Oi Oi Oi.

Various dates between Saturday the 5th and Saturday the 19th – Verdi’s “Othello” (Birmingham Opera Company) @ The Argyle Works, Bordesley, Birmingham – Birmingham Opera Company’s version of “Idomeneo” last year was greater than great can be. Judging by the postcode, the venue for this should be somewhere in the general vicinity of here.

Friday the 5th – Frank Sidebottom @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Fantastic showbusiness.

Saturday the 5th – Boxing (dunno who’s promoting) @ The Hilton Hotel, Coventry – Including Max “Max” Maxwell vs Martin Concepcion, in what must be Max’s 381,789th Midlands area title match (EDIT: or 4th, if you want to be boring and accurate).

Sunday the 6th – Madball @ Busk, Birmingham – Hardcore for tuphguyzzz. I will forever maintain that “Droppin’ Many Suckers” is one of the greatest names that anyone ever has called and ever could call an album.

Monday the 7th – The Unthanks @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – North-Eastern folkifiers formerly known as “Rachel Unthank And The Winterset”. I’m glad they’ve changed their name. OtherUnthankSister didn’t outwardly appear to do any less than Rachel, so it’s fairer this way.

Tuesday the 8th – Jodi Ann Bickley @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Interesting and endearing poetry, happening at the same time as the ’Freestyle’ photography exhibiton.

Wednesday the 9th – Alexander O’Neal @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Or rather “80s soul nuisance Alexander O’Neal”, as the in-joke that you won’t get has it.

Wednesday the 9th – Seth Lakeman @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Frequently fancied fiddler fascinates folks (with) folk.

Wednesday the 9th – The Bookhouse Boys @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Like Tindersticks on holiday in Hawaii, or somesuch.

Wednesday the 9th – “Arc” (with Graft) @ The Vaults, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – The first of a new monthly art night, with a different set of artists each time. Here ‘Graft’ (whoever they might be) will bring a Jewellery-with-other-meanings exhibition from “The Institute Of Meaningful Interaction” and artist Mark Baldwin appearing as part of the structure of the building. Apparently. All very vague as a result of the fact that no sod seems to have a web presence because… I don’t know why not. I love The Vaults, though, it’s a great place.

Thursday the 10th – Madness @ The Academy, Birmingham – Mavva Brahn’s got her knees up, presumably in the process of skanking. This one is (unsurprisingly) sold out, but they’re also at The Civic on the 17th.

Friday the 11th – “Resistance, Revolt, Rebellion: A Double Bill of Civil Disobedience” (Kindandgenerous Productions and Emma Purshouse) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – In Love And Taxes, current Brum poet laureate Adrian Johnson and Jessi of Eastfield bring songs and stories recalling the popular opposition to the poll tax. In “Are You Sitting Comfortably?”, Emma Purshouse tell poems of “rebellion, revolution and armchair inactivism”.

Sunday the 13th – Basement Jaxx @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Let’s all have a disco, let’s all have a disco.

Sunday the 13th – Depeche Mode @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – A band who I’d say have been quite the unsung influence on quite a fair bit of music in recent years.

Tuesday the 15th – Public Image Limited @ The Academy, Birmingham – Given that my LOTTSADITWM often feature metal and boxing, it seems only too apt that a band who put out an album called “Metal Box” should be in here. Also: post-punk legends, Country Life butter etc.

Wednesday the 16th till Sunday the 20th – “The Snow Queen” (Screamingvoiceyouththeatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – Screamingvoice etc.etc. are absolutely ace, they really are.

Wednesday the 16th – Nile @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Ancient Egyptian themed death metal, and I can’t see how you could possibly think that isn’t the best idea ever. Nothing I’ve ever heard by them is quite as good as the concept, but Krisiun are on the bill too and they’ll blow your earwax free (I mean that in a good way).

Wednesday the 16th – The Pogues @ The Academy, Birmingham – [Slur]Dirty old Towwwwwwwwwwn…[/slur]

Friday the 18th until Friday the 9th of January – Funworld @ The NEC, Marston Green, Birmingham – I don’t see how anyone could dislike a world of fun. It’s a huge indoor funfair (including, apparently, a “300ft bungee slingshot”. Indoors, I’ll repeat with vague concern) and has to win the all-time title for “event I’ve been handed the largest number of the same flyer for”.

Saturday the 21st – The Beat’s xmas party @ The Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – 30 years since they started, apparently (see also the 27th).

Monday the 21st – The Wildhearts @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – My unbroken run of not managing to see any Wildhearts or Wildhearts-related gigs since 2001 will definitely continue here. They’re still ace though.

Monday the 21st – Musical Youth @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Don’t take the mick, you know which way you need to pass it.

Wednesday the 23rd until Sunday the 3rd of January – “The Gruffalo (Tall Stories) @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – They had The Gruffalo plodding along as part of the Reindeer Parade in town recently. I thought he was cute.

Friday the 25th – IT’S CHRIIISTMUUUUUUS!

Sunday the 27th – Drongos For Europe’s xmas party @ the Asylum, Hockley, Birmingham – 30 years since they started, apparently (see also the 21st).

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: July 2009

Posted in Combat Sports, Films, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 30 June, 2009

Summer is here, ayit. Blimey it’s hot.

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 – Wayside & Woodland night @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – An interesting-looking evening of ambient/electronica/post-rock/kindathing. Features (amongst many other things) a DJ set from Xela, who I was into for a good while before I realized that he was the son of a bloke who worked at our place.

Thursday the 2nd till Saturday the 4th – “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” (Nick Brook & Kenny Way Ltd) @ The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – I’ve always wanted a tiger to turn up for tea at my house. “Tea time mayhem” and “clumsy chaos” are promised. Tigers are awesome.

Thursday the 2nd – “Pilot” (various theatre companies, hosted by Stan’s Café) @ The A.E. Harris Building, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Nine short plays, many of them site-specific. Anything touched by the hand of Stan’s Café is usually very good indeed.

Friday the 3rd until Sunday the 12th – The Birmingham International Jazz Festival @ various different venues, mostly in Brum – Featuring such outstandingly named acts as “The Fantabulous Sheepwash Playboys” and “The Shuffling Hungarians”.

Friday the 3rd – The Big Bang @ The Victoria, Birmingham – Album launch gig for the good quality local darkness ‘n’ rollers.

Saturday the 4th till Sunday the 26th – Yukio Fujimoto’s “The Tower Of Time” @ Perrot’s Folly, Edgbaston, Birmingham – The ticking of 1,111 clocks builds as you climb the tower, approaching white noise as you get to the sixth floor up. Yukio’s pocket-calculator music at last year’s Supersonic was ace.

Saturday the 4th – The Jewellery Quarter Festival @ all over The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – Including a guest appearance from Matthew Boulton, which should be quite the time-travelling spectacle.

Saturday the 4th – The Kings Heath Big Party/York Road Street Party @ Kings Heath Park and York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham – All sorts of music and fun and laughter, with ‘an old fashioned charabanc’ to transport you between the two sites. A street party in the York Road near me would be an horrific thing to imagine, but I’m sure the one in Kings Heath is lovely.

Saturday the 4th – ‘Fudgestock’ @ The Public, West Bromwich – Various bands play to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness. This is undoubtedly a good thing, but dear lord what a rubbish name for an event.

Saturday the 4th – “For You” (Music Theatre Wales) @ The Rep, Birmingham – AKA ‘The Iain McEwan Opera”.

Saturday the 4th – “Goldilocks And How Many Bears?” (Krazy Kat Theatre Company) @ The Rep Door, Birmingham – This one is BYOB: Bring Your Own Bear (if you need to borrow one then make sure you don’t fall victim to ursury usury. Arf).

Sunday the 5th – boxing (First Team & Warrior Promotions) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Including the D. Mitchell vs Martin Concepcion rematch that was meant to be happening last month.

Sunday the 5th – Latin American Festival @ Victoria Square, Birmingham – With salsa, limbo and tango shows, ‘funky feathers’, amigos and American Mercenaries bringing down non-right-wing governments.

Monday the 6th – Prefuse 73 @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Our Louise has trouble distinguishing between Jill Scott and Gil Scott-Heron. Introducing an artist named Guillermo Scott Herren (for that is Prefuse 73’s real name) into the equation seems deliberately unfair.

Wednesday the 8th till Saturday the 11th – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” (Stourbridge Theatre Company) @ Himley Hall, Wombourne – “A HANDBAG?” See also: the 30th of this month.

Friday the 10th – Einstellung / Mothertrucker @ The Flapper, Birmingham – You could see this as a warm-up for Supersonic, I suppose.

Saturday the 11th till Thursday the 18th – “Dad’s Army” (Oldbury Repertory Players) @ The Oldbury Rep, Langley – Don’t tell him your name, Pike.

Saturday the 11th – “The Black Maze” (Stan’s Café) @ Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston, Birmingham – A maze in the back of a wagon. Stan’s Café are ace.

Wednesday the 15th until Saturday the 19th of September – “Little Shop Of Horrors” @ The Hippodrome, Birmingham – Feeeeeed me, Seymour.

Wednesday the 15th – Carina Round @ The Bar Academy, Birmingham – I’ve probably already said pretty much everything I’ll ever be able to say about ‘Rina.

Friday the 17th – boxing (First Team Promotions) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Apparently dubbed ‘The Summer Slammer’, which sounds like more of an MMA name to me.

Sunday the 19th – Birmingham Eid Mela 2009 @ Kings Heath Park, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Including kabbadi matches! Oh my life that will be awesome.

Tuesday the 21st – The Autumn Store night @ The Victoria, Birmingham – A warm-up indie-pop do for the Indietracks festival in Derbyshire.

Wednesday the 22nd – “The Traveling Picture Show” (7 Inch Cinema) @ The Light House, Wolverhampton – 7 Inch Cinema’s touring film programme for kids and adults. Involves bugs, beasts, magic boxes and red balloons.

Thursday the 23rd till Saturday the 25th – “The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband” (Highbury Theatre Centre) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – Adulterous chappy gets munched. “One from the vaults…”

Friday the 24th till Sunday the 26th – Supersonic 2009 @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – My Favourite Annual Event, headlined this year by Head Of David, Corrupted and Goblin, alongside (of course) many many others. I may or may not write a post on its own about it in the next couple of weeks (it’s probably not likely, in all honesty, although you never know) but for the time being have a little listen to this Soup’n’Sonic themed podcast (disclaimer: I haven’t done so myself yet).

Friday the 24th – Roy Ayers @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – The less famous version of Stevie Wonder, perhaps.

Saturday the 25th – Testament @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Air guitar on the mic stand in no small amounts (this is a good thing).

Sunday the 26th – Geocaching taster day @ Nimmings Wood Car Park, Clent Hills, Hagley – A ‘high tech treasure hunting game’. You’re given GPS equipment and have to find the hidden containers dotted around the place, by the looks of it.

Tuesday the 28th – Emiliana Torrini @ The Glee Club, Birmingham – Dunka dunka dugga dugga dun dun.

Thursday the 30th till Saturday the 1st of August – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” (Tread The Boards Theatre Company) @ The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham – “A HANDBAG?” See also: the 8th of this month.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands: June 2009

A short one this month, which is more my fault than that of the rest of the world. Having given it a last read-through before posting, I’d also like to note that I’m giving some serious consideration to toning down the stupid commentary henceforth. I probably won’t, though.

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.

From Monday the 1st and onwards into July – Bass Festival @ various venues in Birmingham and other cites too – This year’s theme is “Inspired by Africa and Africans”. All sorts of things are a-going on, so have a little look at the What’s On page.

Monday the 1st – Manic Street Preachers @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Intermittently worthwhile student-radical Welshers. Must all be about five hundred years old by now.

Tuesday the 2nd – The Horrors @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Hyped so much that even I’ve noticed, but you can have a listen to their new album here (scroll down a bit, try not to get too distracted by the picture of Rollins needing a wash) and I quite like it. 80s-style indie rock: bit of J&MC, bit of (a much more polite version of) The Birthday Party, derivative but great fun.

Tuesday the 2nd and Wednesday the 3rd – “Tempest In A Tea Cup” (Side By Side Theatre) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – There seem to be a few offshoots of ‘The Tempest’ knocking around the theatrical world lately. This one features dysfunctional MPs and is set in a kitchen and a standard lamp. Apparently.

Friday the 5th till Saturday the 13th of June – “The Government Inspector” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – Wait for it, wait for it… Corrupt politicians and their cronies are afraid that their embezzling and wrongdoing will be exposed. Also there’s a play by Gogol (hithangyew).

Saturday the 6th – Pritchattsbury Festival @ Pritchatts Park, Edgbaston, Birmingham – Apparently in its sixth year and the biggest festival in Brum, although no-one seems to have heard of it. Those playing include Just Jack, Lethal Bizzle and The Rumblestrips, although I’m getting sick of this “using ‘-bury’ as a general suffix for a festival name” lark. Just as Watergate would now be Watergategate, that thing in the West Country is presumably now Glastonburybury.

Saturday the 6th – Joan Of Arc @ The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham – Featuring ex-members of a pile of those types of bands that everyone else has heard apart from me, but never mind that: they sound like they have an interesting mix of wonky springy indie-rock, twingly-twangly guitar instrumentation that’s probably ala all those aforementioned bands although possibly not, and that kind-of-folksy-but-not-really American half-effort singing that is usually annoying but sometimes endearing, as per here. One day I’ll meet someone to whom my descriptions actually make sense, and it’ll probably bring about the apocalypse or somesuch.

Saturday the 6th – Schostakovich’s Fifth Symphony (CBSO) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Nuts to that Stalin character. This’ll learn him.

Monday the 8th – Mark Thomas @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – The selection of policies for a “People’s Manifesto” continues. You can look at the full list here – I particularly like “Margaret Thatcher should pay for her own funeral”, “To replace organ donor cards with an opt out scheme”, “That the 1967 Abortion Act should be introduced to Northern Ireland”, “If MPs want a second job in order to gain a greater understanding of life outside of government, then the constituents should be able to vote and choose which job they think would best expand their MPs horizons”, and “Those who peddle homeopathic remedies should only receive homeopathic medicines when they have major illnesses”.

Tuesday the 9th – Lady Sovereign @ The Academy 2, Birmingham – Hooray for short people! I don’t know, you lot with your ‘leg room’ and your ‘ow I’ve banged my head’.

Wednesday the 10th – The Drones @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Awesome Australian indie rock’n’roll band who awesomely and Australianly actually use the word ‘daggy’ in this interview. Awesome. And Australian. And also it’s an interesting read outside of that.

Friday the 12th – Boxing (First Team) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Steve Saville defends his Midlands Area lightweight title against Gary Reid, which is very far from a definite win for him. Lyndsey Scragg, meanwhile, has drawn Ugandan Agnes Adonga in a fight for something called the GBC women’s super-flyweight title, and Dean Harrison is on the card too.

Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th – “24 Hour Scalextric Grand Prix” (Stan’s Café) @ The A. E. Harris Building, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – I always think ‘Scalextric’ sounds like a mispronunciation along the lines of ‘skellington’ or ‘sumbarine’. But it’s not. A 24 hour race, anyway, with running commentary through the whole thing. 7 Inch Cinema will be showing some pictures, too.

Saturday the 13th – The Flyover Show @ Hockley Flyover, Hockley, Birmngham – Urban jazzman Soweto Kinch’s second annual all-dayer under the A-Road, which makes for a really cool venue. Artists on include Ty, Bashy, and even Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Saturday the 13th – ‘Sci-Fi Fete’ @ St Mary’s Church, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham – A science-fiction themed church fete is not something you see every day.

Saturday the 13th – Æthenor / Einstellung @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Brought to you by Capsule, whose ranks are now (in a way) bolstered by P’Ashton. An example of intertwingling, perhaps.

Tuesday the 16th – Boxing (no bleeding idea) @ The Arden Hotel, Solihull – Sorry about that, but it’s the best link I can find. The world of boxing, yet again, decides that the best way to make sure its shows are full of punters is to make sure everything is a bit more difficult for them than it might otherwise be (although in the name of not being quite so relentlessly negative I’ll say that I am quite happy that this now exists. That has nothing to do with this card, of course). This will apparently feature Kell Brook vs John O’Donnell in a British welterweight title fight and Gary Buckland vs Henry Castle in an eliminator for the British lightweight. Quite why those particular fights would end up happening in Solihull is beyond me, but there we are.

Thursday the 18th – Billy Bragg @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Braggy normally does the Wulfrun when he plays in Wolves, but this one is at The Civic. Climbing the capitalist ladder as ever, tsk.

Friday the 19th – “The War Of The Worlds” @ The NIA, Birmingham – UUULLLAAAAAAAAA.

Friday the 19th – UFO @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Doctor Doctor, there’s a fly in my soup. You don’t hear those jokes nowadays. I think that’s a shame. This is also quite possibly a very oblique reference.

Friday the 19th – The Sweet @ The Robin 2, Bilston – Or a version thereof, anyway. That’s right. That’s right that’s right.

Sunday the 21st – “The Secret Life Of Bees” @ Clent Hills, Hagley – Beeeeees. This is a walk and talk about bees, I should add, not a play built from the novel of the same name or anything like that.

Monday the 22nd – Shonen Knife @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Japanese girly pop-punkists who were really young when they started but have been going forever and so probably aren’t really young any more, if I understand this ‘chronology’ lark rightly (see also: 1st of the month). My favourite (possibly apocryphal) story about them is that – when they first started – the guitarist couldn’t play her instrument while standing up, having only ever practiced whilst sitting down. I think there’s something really lovely about that.

Tuesday the 23rd till Saturday the 27th – “The BFG” (Fiery Light/Royal & Derngate) @ The Rep, Birmingham – I approve of Roald Dahl as an author for children. I don’t approve of children, obviously, but if they have to exist then Roald Dahl is a good author for them to read. Then when a bit older Rushdie’s “Haroun And The Sea Of Stories” and Gaardner’s “Sophie’s World”. Continue with Alice and Hitchhikers, and then they’re ready for Kafka. I reckon.

Tuesday the 23rd – A Hawk And A Hacksaw @ The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Them having a song called “God Bless The Ottoman Empire” gives Johnny Punter a good reason to go to this gig. Them having one of those websites (I’ve linked the MySpace instead there, to spare you) that does the ol’ “resized pop-up window” thing gives a good reason to try and spite them by not going. I thought that crap had died out. Messing about with my screen without asking me is not the best way to endear yourself to me, dunno about you.

Wednesday the 24th – Blur @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Whoo and also, if you find yourself so inclined, Hoo.

Wednesday the 24th – Hot 8 Brass Band @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – It seems to be an evolving tradition for the H&H to host a hip-hop influenced brass band every month. Not that I disapprove of this.

Thursday the 25th – B.B. King @ The NIA, Birmingham – ‘The legendary bluesman’, as professional music writers would insist you refer to him.

Thursday the 25th – Jeff Beck @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – “So, Jeff Beck pops his head round the corner and mentions that there’s a little sweetshop at the edge of town…”

Friday the 26th till Sunday the 5th of July – Moseley Festival @ sundry locations in Moseley, Birmingham – All sorts of stuff in that there spot with those there people. I’m having trouble picturing a ‘Rocky Horror’ night at The Prince Of Wales, though. Also: it’s a bit of a digression, but Eye On Moseley has made me laugh more than any other blog I’ve seen in quite a long time.

Friday the 26th – Pendulum @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – They display an astonishing ignorance of arachnid physiology, it’s true, but they nevertheless make your body goi stiff an your spine goi numb. Come fe get some.

Sunday the 28th – Boxing (Warrior Promotions, I’m guessing) @ The Tower Ballroom, Edgbaston, Birmingham – One of these afternoon ones, I’m also guessing. Featuring a rematch between Dee Mitchell and Martin Concepcion: trust me when I say that their first fight was fantastic, up there with other four-round classics of our times like Gethin vs Carey and Davies vs Rasani.

More ‘Phoenix Nights’ than ‘Ironside’

Posted in Modern Living by Russ L on 26 April, 2009

If you’d asked me three months ago, I would have hoped I wasn’t un-sensitive towards wheelchair users but I couldn’t honestly have claimed to have spent an excessive amount of time thinking about their predicaments. Things are oh-so-very different now. Louise’s achey-breaky knee has finally given up good and proper, and so for the last six weeks or so we’ve been rockin’ the chariot look.

I cannot emphasis enough the amount that it has made me look at world differently. Even before I actually had a go at pushing it I started viewing doorways/corners etc with a wary eye. Once I had been pushing it a while, an initial impression only got all the stronger: you really don’t realise how crap the pavements are until you have to push a be-wheeled adult with a bump-sensitive leg along them (this is not the same thing as a pushchair). Forgive my French (I don’t usually swear much), but the bastard Jewellery Quarter with its bastard driveway cobbles every twenty yards or so can bastard itself right bastard off.

A little exercise, then, for your own amusement: next time you’re out and about, just have a think about getting around wherever you are while pushing a wheelchair. I’m not trying to make some big point about disabled access, this is a personal thing. It’s a hidden world for the bipedafunctional amongst us, until one thinks about it specifically.

It does all help the old ‘faith in humanity’ game a bit, though. People are actually completely lovely for the most part and will go out of their way to help. Particular thanks should go to the Crescent Theatre and Stan’s Café as larger bodies (I’ll get around to writing something about the plays of both of theirs that we’ve been to see soon-ish, but suffice it to say here that in both cases they were both wonderfully helpful), but also to every single person out there who’s held open a door or whatever else. You’re all good ‘uns.

Lots Of Things To See And Do In The West Midlands – April 2009

Posted in Combat Sports, LOTTSADITWM, Modern Living, Music, Stage by Russ L on 1 April, 2009

Ah, April. Spring has begun and a young person’s attention naturally turns to… erm, things to see and do. Obviously.

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 2nd till Sunday the 5th, then Thursday the 9th till Sunday the 12th – “Black Tonic” (The Other Way Works Theatre Company) @ The Radisson Hotel, Birmingham – Audiences of two at a time (so make sure you book) are led around a hotel to solve the mystery, centered around sleeplessness and shiftworking.

Friday the 3rd until Saturday the 11th – “Talking To Terrorists” (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – The last of three plays in The Crescent’s ‘Terrorism’ mini-series. More words on that soon. They’ve been really good to us just recently, so more words on that soon too. This one is made up of monologues (I think) adapted from interviews with people directly affected by Terrorism in one way or another, and sounds like it might be a dark horse for best-of-the-three.

Friday the 3rd – Boxing (First Team) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Featuring the return to the local First Team cards of Stourbridge’s Sam “The Man” Horton, and the pro debut of Walsall’s amateur ‘starlet’ Bobby Wood.

Sunday the 5th – ‘Easter Wonderland’ @ Botanical Gardens, Harborne, Birmingham – Walking in it.

Tuesday the 7th – Tina Turner @ The NIA, Birmingham – Quite possibly the first popular music artist I was ever a fan of, all those many years ago. Didn’t quite fall for her to the same degree I did for Sabbath when I first heard them a few years later, but still.

Wednesday the 8th – “Yasser” (Theatre International) @ The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton – An Arab prepares to play Shylock in “The Merchant Of Venice”, and finds that he may understand the identity of the maligned Jew more than anyone else.

Thursday the 9th – The Prodigy / Dizzee Rascal @ The NIA, Birmingham – Fire start look sharp.

Friday the 10th – Baroness @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – A Capsule do. The first time I saw Baroness really was quite something. Something loud, that is. The always-bosting Mothertrucker are also on the bill.

Friday the 10th – Paul Merton’s Silent Clowns @ The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – Him what be funny on the telly and whatnot, screening bits from the silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy etc. with a live pianist in that lovely old traditional fashion.

Friday the 10th – Boxing (Warrior Promotions) @ The Holiday Inn, Birmingham – Yah boo sucks to dinner shows.

Friday the 10th – St Matthew’s Passion (Ex-Cathedra) @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – I know there’s an annual Brum performance, but isn’t it usually by the Birmingham Bach Choir rather than Ex-Cathedra? Or am I confused?

Saturday the 11th – Terrorvision @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – I curse myself and the world for the fact that I didn’t get a ticket before this one sold out.

Sunday the 12th – Beres Hammond / Maxi Priest @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – 10CC don’t like reggae. On the other hand, nuts to 10CC.

Sunday the 12th – Flyover Show preview @ The Drum, Newtown, Birmingham – The Flyover Show (brainchild of Soweto Kinch) was wonderful next year, and I’m glad there’s going to be another one (May sometime). Here you can have a preview of some of the works being created for it.

Sunday the 12th – Horace Andy @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Skylark away at a surprisingly small venue. The fact that it’s the same night as Beres Hammond/Maxi Priest will no doubt be a pain in the arse for many, but there we are.

Sunday the 12th – Bat For Lashes @ The Town Hall, BirminghamKhaaaan~! (That’s her surname, didjaseewhatIdidthere).

Thursday the 16th – Supersuckers @ The Barfly, Digbeth, Birmingham – Lemmy once said that if you don’t like Supersuckers, you don’t like rock’n’roll. Then again, Lemmy says a lot of things.

Friday the 17th until Saturday the 25th – The Rivals (Crescent Theatre Company) @ The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – The Sheridan comedy, including a big sword-fight.

Saturday the 18th – Ramesses @ Busk, Birmingham – Dooooooooooom.

Tuesday the 21st – Gomez @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Gomez are a band who achieve the rare feat of being incredibly studenty but somehow not annoying. Good on ‘em.

Wednesday the 22nd – PJ Harvey and John Parish @ The Town Hall, Birmingham – Big fishy little fishy swimming in the water.

Wednesday the 22nd – Bridge And Tunnel @ The Flapper, Birmingham – Interesting indie-punk type of band, distantly reminiscent of Hot Water Music. Apparently they’re named after a regional slur, and you know I’m all about that sort of thing.

Wednesday the 22nd – The Wailers @ The Academy, Birmingham – Playing “Exodus” in its entirety. Movement of Jah people. Bob Marley won’t be there, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday the 23rd – Gary Numan @ The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton – Ah, Gazza, he of the cars and friends electric and frighteningly obsessive fans.

Thursday the 23rd with things afterward – St George’s Day @ everywhere – There’s assorted stuff going on all over the place, some of it free and some of it not. Brum has free stages in Chamberlain and Victoria Squares on the 25th (lots of Morris dancing and a Beatles tribute band, apparently); Wolverhampton looks to have Dragons a-plenty.

Thursday the 23rd – AC/DC @ The LG Arena, Marston Green, Birmingham – They tell me it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll. I don’t think there’s anything particularly rock’n’roll about trying to climb to the top, but on the other hand it seems a safe bet to assume that AC/DC know more about these things than me.

Thursday the 23rd – Basement Jaxx @ The Academy, Birmingham – I curse myself and the world for the fact that I didn’t get a ticket before this one sold out, too.

Thursday the 23rd until Saturday the 25th – “Home Of The Wriggler” (Stan’s Café) @ The A.E Harris Building, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham – From the people who brought you the absolutely amazing likes of The Cleansing Of Constance Brown and Of All The People In All The World. Tales from a Birmingham of the near future are relayed with all light and sound powered by the actors themselves.

Friday the 24th – Boxing (Sports Network) @ The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – This was supposed to have Kell Brook vs Mark Lloyd for the British welterweight title, but that was rejected by the board (for a second time). This was then supposed to have Kell Brook vs Young Mutley for saidsame title, but Brook is apparently injured (no name fighters ever seem to be available to fight Mut just lately, do they?). So… I gather Mutley is still on the card, and Donnie Broadhurst will be defending his commonwealth title against the dreaded TBC too.

Friday the 24th – Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet – Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Young Declan gets his quasi-classical groove on.

Saturday the 25th – AMMA @ Bescott Stadium, Walsall – These amateur MMA cards are always fantastic, but this one has an extra special main event: longtime fave of this blog Danny Korbely is due to face northern prodigy James Saville, in a full pro-rules bantamweight match. You don’t get to see two of the country’s best young prospects clash in their first professional fight every day of the week. The latest version of the card is here.

Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th – The Specials @ The Academy, Birmingham – Without Jerry Dammers, but I suspect this is probably as close to the original line-up as you’re going to get.

Monday the 27th – S.C.U.M. / An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump @ The Little Civic, Wolverhampton – Mentioned mostly for the magnificent name of the supporting artistes, although in a musical sense the goth-revivalism (Siouxsie/Bauhaus/Birthday Party/etc) of both them and the headliners could be fun.

Tuesday the 28th – The Nightingales @ The Little Civic, Wolverhampton – August and venerable Brummie post-punk sorts. Trivia from Wikipedia: by the time they’d first split up, they’d done more Peel sessions than anyone other than The Fall.

Wednesday the 29th – Asva @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – Surreal doom/drone? Have I got that right? I think a lot of people said they were really good at Supersonic last year but then I could be confusing them with someone else. Another Capsule affair. (EDIT: This is apparently cancelled. Please disregard).

Wednesday the 29th – Bob Dylan @ The NIA, Birmingham – Presumably not in need of a silly blurb from me.