Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Tindersticks...

Last Friday night I went to see Tindersticks at the Barbican Hall in London's glitzy Brutalist Barbican.

Stuart Staples and the Nottingham songsters were there to promote their new album The Waiting Room. The first half of the gig was a sort of 45 minute greatest hits package with each dream-state song receiving more rapturous applause than the last.

Then in the second half the guys performed their new album in its entirety - each track being accompanied by its own short film. The music was excellent, the short films were brilliant.

Highlights for me were the pounding driving film to Were We Once Lovers? and the marvelously melodic We Are Dreamers!

As an encore we were treated to another 20 minutes of the bands hits.

Great stuff.


The set list was as follows...

First half:
Johnny Guitar (the Peggy Lee cover)
Keep You Beautiful
Medicine
She's Gone
Boobar Come Back to Me
The Other Side of the World
Sleepy Song
My Oblivion

Second Half (each track performed in front of its own film):
Follow Me (video projection)
Second Chance Man
Were We Once Lovers?
Help Yourself
Hey Lucinda
This Fear of Emptiness
How He Entered
The Waiting Room
Planting Holes
We Are Dreamers!
Like Only Lovers Can
Closing Titles aka Follow Me

Encore:
Show Me Everything
Slippin' Shoes
A Night So Still

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Toxic Avenger...

Last night Stuart, David and I went to see campy rock 'n' roll musical comedy The Toxic Avenger at the Southwark Playhouse in London's anything but glitzy Elephant and Castle.

Drawing very heavily on both The Rocky Horror Show and The Little Shop of Horrors for inspiration this bit of madcap nonsense is set in New Jersey and tells the story of a down at heel guy who gets pushed into a vat of toxic waste and returns a green mutant super hero. His blind girlfriend is none the wiser as he battles the evil Mayor to save the city and the planet from the toxic waste all around.

It's all great fun. The songs are good, the jokes suitably un-PC and the performances universally excellent. Much is made of the quick changes that the cast have to make as they play dozens of roles. It's literally a running gag that is a joy to behold.

Top marks and highly recommended if you want to laugh at silliness for two hours. Which we did.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Elegy...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy West End.

Written by Nick Payne, whose previous play Constellations was a box office smash, this work was rather more pensive - rather less interesting - and mercifully very short.

Starring ZoĆ« Wanamaker it tells the medical story of how a woman with a progressive brain disease opts to have her malady cured but at the expense of 20-30 years’ worth of recent memories. This changes who she is and effectively ends the marriage to her wife played by Barbara Flynn.

Think a lesbian version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but not quite as good.

The play is told in reverse which was to begin with a little confusing but ultimately did allow us to arrive at the situation where the couple are initially considering the treatment and what long term affects it will have on their relationship.

I almost expected to hear Sting singing If You Love Someone Set Them Free. But there was no music in this production. And precious little engagement with the emotions of the characters to be honest. You could see they were upset as the acting was superb but you didn't really feel for them. The dialog was all a little under-written and repetitive at times. In fact the opening scene is repeated verbatim at the end a little pointlessly. Yes, we get it. We were here the first time remember?

A shame really as all the elements were all there - a great playwright, a great cast and a great venue. Just not a great play.

Oh and the doctor is played by Nina Sosanya - so there were three Doctor Who actresses in one show! Which for me made a rather disappointing night a bit more fun.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Life / Balletboyz...

Last week Stuart and I went to see the all-male Balletboyz perform their show Life at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

The night consisted of two short-ish pieces by Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos.

The first piece saw our ten athletic chaps prancing about to the rites of spring wearing giant rabbit heads. It was good but perhaps a little unfocused - a little meaningless. Not that dance has to have meaning of course but I'd rather have meaning than plain meandering.

The second piece was far better. Set in an undressed dance studio complete with ballet bar it saw our intrepid ten dancers rehearse to the reading of an imagined eulogy to Javier de Frutos. Voiced by the likes of Derek Jacobi and Downton Abbey's Jim Carter the team re-enacted some of de Frutos’s autobiographical moments in a very funny, carefully choreographed yet delightfully chaotic way. Oh and Donna Summer's Last Dance makes a triumphant guest appearance.

Great fun.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Junior Doctors' Strike...

My mother has cancer. She was recently diagnosed with it and today, the first day of the junior doctors' strike, she is due in hospital for an operation to have a large tumour removed from her colon.

I was chatting to her last night. Is she worried about her operation? Sure she is. We all are. Is she worried because of the strike? Absolutely not. She is 100% behind the strike. She knows she'll get great care no matter what.

She brought me up to have a strong sense of fairness and despite being a bit of a Tory thinks that junior doctors are not being treated fairly by the new contract being forced upon them by the Government.

So there you have it. Someone at the sharp end. Someone who is having life-saving/life-threatening surgery today. Someone who you might expect to be thinking "why are they striking today of all days?" but isn't. Someone who thinks that the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has got it wrong.

And I couldn't be more proud of her.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Jeff Lynne's ELO...

Last Friday Stuart, Paul, Simon and I to see ELO, sorry, Jeff Lynne's ELO at The O2 Arena in London's far from glitzy North Greenwich.

Ostensibly promoting the Alone in the Universe album it was basically a greatest hits show. Jeff Lynne's massed musicians played us all his hits with total precision and we all sang along.

There wasn't much spontaneity but the light show was fab and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

All the hits and (two) more were:
Tightrope
Evil Woman
Showdown
All Over the World
When I Was a Boy
Livin' Thing
Ain't It a Drag
Can't Get It Out of My Head
Rockaria!
10538 Overture
Secret Messages
Steppin' Out
Shine a Little Love
(band introduction)
Wild West Hero
Telephone Line
Turn to Stone
Don't Bring Me Down
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Mr. Blue Sky
Encore:
Roll Over Beethoven (the Chuck Berry cover)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince RIP - Mountains (Extended Version)...

My favourite Prince song was, I'm told, Prince's least favourite song. As a single Mountains failed to perform and Prince has kept it off all his greatest hits albums since. But to me it is a wonder - it is joyous, it has a driving beat, at times it soars and at times it pumps away at your brain like any great disco funk record should. In particular the 10 minute version is wonderful, hynoptic and dissolves into an extended funk session that reminds me of my mispent youth on the dancefloor. RIP Prince

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Victoria Wood RIP...

Seven years ago Guy and I went to see Victoria Wood's play Talent at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Vic was gracious enough to pose for photos. Bless her.

She was so nice when we met her. She said, "put your bloomin' arm round me then if you're going to!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Leigh on Sea...

Last Saturday Stuart and I had a lovely day out in Leigh on Sea. We met up with Kerry, Monica and Denise at The Peterboat for lunch and then did a mini pub crawl to The Crocked Billet, The Mayflower and Ye Olde Smack. Great fun.





Monday, April 18, 2016

The Flick...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Annie Baker's The Flick at the Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

The play was set in a small American cinema auditorium and told the story of three bored and boring ushers.

They go about their daily lives as very little changes. Digital projection is coming... there might be a new owner soon... they don't get paid much so they fiddle some 'dinner money' from the till...

It was all rather Pinteresque - but not the good Pinter, the bad Pinter. We suffered three and half hours of these mundane lives, these mundane conversations and... the... very... long......... mundane... pauses. It relies heavily on the now standard theatrical trope of having your characters waiting for something. And as they wait through their inane chatter they gradually reveal some truth about their lives or their situation. Only here we learn very little and care even less.

Worthy? Yes. Worth it. No.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nell Gwynn...

Last night Stuart and I went to see the Shakespeare's Globe transfer of Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Written by Jessica Swale and starring Gemma Arterton the play is a witty telling of the story of the coquettish Gwynn who was to become not only the mistress of Charles II, mother of two of his children but also instrumental in changing the theatre of the 17th century. It cleverly weaves in the vital story of how the term actress was born when Charles II grants permission for women to act. Women playing female roles. Fancy!

The play is a riot from start to finish. Funny, bawdy and very knowing it plays to the crowd like a first class pantomime, a top-notch Carry On film and one of the better Shakespearean comedies all rolled into one.

If you get a chance to see it, do. It's great fun - not least to see little Milly, who almost steals the show as a cute King Charles spaniel called Oliver Cromwell.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ladies Garden...

We had a nice day out on Sunday with Tim and Andy. We walked up to Highgate and visited some of the local hostelries - The Gatehouse, The Prince of Wales, The Lanseer and The Swimmer at The Grafton Arms. This sign made us laugh though:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Boy...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see Leo Butler's new play ‎Boy at the Almeida Theatre just off Islington's glitzy Upper Street.

Set on a travelator that weaves its way around the theatre the large cast, props and action all moved before our eyes as we followed a 17 year-old boy's 24 hours in London.

It was funny, powerful, moving, clever, thought-provoking with an outstanding cast. And the invisible chairs were a hoot.

Simply put, it was everything theatre should be in 2016.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Paul and Simon Wedding 9th April 2016...

A fantastic day! So happy for my best friend to finally get hitched. Not sure if my speech was a a blaze of comedy glory or an offensive cringe-fest though! (More pics to follow)


Saturday, April 09, 2016

Hot This Weekend...

My grandad said, "It's going to be hot this weekend."
I said, "Tell me something I don't know!"
Grandad replied, "Your Nana's arse can take my whole fist."

Friday, April 08, 2016

Sunset Boulevard...


Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see the wonderful Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum in London's glitzy West End.

Sunset Boulevard is a musical with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on the 1950 Sunset Boulevard film, the plot revolves around Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, living in the past in her decaying mansion on the fabled Los Angeles street. When young screenwriter Joe Gillis accidentally crosses her path, she sees in him an opportunity to make her comeback to the big screen. Romance and tragedy follow.

Ok Ms Close may not quite have the voice that equals the best of them but she sure makes the role her own. Her Norma Desmond is just wonderful. She simply outshines the rest of the cast. You just can't take your eyes off her. Even if Stuart did say she's been made up like Regina Fong!

Ultimately the only mild disappointment is that the musical itself hasn't really held up as well as I'd hoped it would have. Perhaps Lloyd Webber has been rather cruelly exposed by his flop Stephen Ward recently and it will take something special to recover from that particular disaster.

My only other minor quibble is that the semi-staging doesn't really do justice to the star that we have all come to see and adore. Ms Close perhaps deserves a little better for her London debut. And being in such a large venue as the Coliseum we never really get to enjoy the final line as much as might... the final single spotlight on her face... as she says the immortal...  "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Brilliant show though. Go see.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Well Done...

I cooked for Stuart's parents for the first time last night. As I handed out the rarely cooked steaks his father said, "I like it well done." 
I said, "Thanks, that means a lot."

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Eskimo Feet...

If you go over to YouTube and search for 'Eskimo Feet'.There's loads of really cool footage.

(Yes, it's joke week here on overyourhead folks. Bear with me - normal service will be resumed.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Human Torch...

At petrol station earlier I saw that Human Torch guy off of Fantastic 4. Stuck up git - I tried to get his autograph but he just kept rolling around on floor screaming.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Thief...

The thief who is stealing T-shirts in order of size is still at large.

Friday, April 01, 2016

X...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Alistair McDowall's new play X at the Royal Court in London's glitzy Sloane Square.

What a load of old codswallop. Boring, childish, trite, derivative, repetitive, unengaging, disappointing... I could go on.

"People abandoned on a space station on Pluto all go mad and end up killing themselves, you say? Okay... well it's been done a million times before. What's the fresh angle? How can you make it speak to a new generation and not just seem like a sub-par rip off of Event Horizon without the thrills or like a rubbish episode of 1980s Dr Who?"

"I can't"

"Oh"

"Well, can you at least make the play over-long and fill it with really annoying and unsympathetic characters?"

"That I can do"

"Great"

Save your money.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Let's Cut to the Cheese...

Some of my favourite malapropisms:

Living in ivory towels
A damp squid
On tender hooks
Nipping it in the butt
A mute point
Card shark
In lame man's terms
Let's cut to the cheese
The feeble position
You're soaping wet
Dance a flamingo
Giving up the goat
Getting your nipples in a twist
Chickens coming home to roast
From tiny eggcorns mighty oaks do grow
The very pineapple of politeness
Just desserts
A germ of endearment
Sixteenth Chapel
You lead the way and we'll precede
A rolling stone gathers no moths
Flat as a parrot
Sick as a pancake
The world is your lobster
I'm not the sharpest tool in the book
An escape goat
Going off on a tandem
Keeping me in suspenders
Smoking like a trooper
If daggers could kill
In Dorset tones
I wouldn't trust him with a bargepole

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wind Turbines?...

University Challenge:
Paxman: Who or what were created in Bristol in 1994?
Student: Wind turbines?
Paxman: Only in a manner of speaking, they were the first female clergy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

People, Places and Things...

Last week Stuart and I went to see Jeremy Herrin's electrifying production of Duncan Macmillan's new play People, Places and Things at the Wyndham's Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Wow! What a show!

Fresh from its transfer from the Dorfman Theatre the play stars Denise Gough as an actress, Emma, checking herself into rehab. It's a rollercoaster ride of addiction, emotions and intoxicating action. I won't give the game away but things go very wrong, very quickly. If the first step is to admit you have a problem then Emma is in trouble from the get-go.

And if Ms Gough doesn't win Best Actress and Mr Macmillan Best New Play at the Olivier's this year I'll eat my hat.

Go see.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Sunday...

We do dinner in three phases: serve the food, clear the plates, bury the dead.