Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Duckie 18th Birthday...

Last Friday was Duckie's 18th birthday party. Held at The Electric Brixton (formerly known at The Fridge) it saw 2000 odd people dance the night away to songs old and new. 

A big gang of us went; Paul, Stu, me, Darren, Mark, Chris, Hudd and had a gay old time.

Marc Almond was on stage performing. Sadly his equipment let him down somewhat but we were treated to crowd-pleasers Jacky, Say Hello Wave Goodbye and Tainted Love.

Here's to the next 18 years!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Satyagraha...

Last night Paul, Stu and I went to see Satyagraha at the ENO. It was a brilliantly hypnotic production. Jaw-droppingly wonderful. In has to be in the top ten best things I've seen on stage. Ever.

The opera is in three acts for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It was composed by Philip Glass, with a libretto by Glass and Constance de Jong. It's loosely based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi. The term satyagraha is the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Gandhi himself.

Act I. Tolstoy
On the Kuru Field of Justice
Tolstoy Farm (1910)
The Vow (1906)

Act II. Tagore
Confrontation and Rescue (1896)
Indian Opinion (1906)
Protest (1908)

Act III. King
New Castle March (1913)

Philip Glass's music is simply glorious: those repetitive patternings shifting and shining with ingenious rhythmic and melodic ideas, interlocking, overlapping, yet ever calm. But it was the staging that made the night so wonderful. So enchanting.

The director of the piece was Phelim McDermott (Shockheaded Peter) and Julian Crouch is the assistant director and set designer. Boy, they did an amazing job.

All three acts take place within an arc-like wall of curving corrugated iron. Within the slow waves of music and human movement, an ensemble of acrobats and puppeteers conjure miracle after miracle. Newsprint looms large: there is a ubiquitous whispering of newspaper as sheets are shifted, read (the founding of Indian Opinion was central to Gandhi’s work) — and then, almost imperceptibly, formed into gigantic papier-mâché puppet-figures of gods, beasts and politicians.

High in the iron wall, windows disclose the three iconic figures who watch over the three acts: Tolstoy, Tagore and Martin Luther King.

The beauty of the sung Sanskrit is bewitching: sober sepia projections of key passages replace supertitles; but verbal comprehension isn’t really the point. Although it would be inappropriate to single out individual performances in a work that has so little to do with conventional operatic glory, Alan Oke’s central performance as Gandhi is a masterpiece of compelling clarity and absorption.

As the last act unfolds, the great wall buckles and disintegrates, leaving a miming silhouette of the preaching King high on his plinth, and the diminutive figure of Gandhi below, singing a simple rising scale — no fewer than thirty times.

Stand out moments of the night for me were:
- the amazing floating coat hangers and the equally amazing floating lights lifted up high
- the weaving and crumpling up of a huge web of sellotape to produce at first a barrier, then a giant puppet man then an image of Gandhi himself
- the long newspaper streams across the stage that became first a barrier, then wings for Gandhi and then again sky high banners for projecting words all in one fluid motion.

Image after image is etched indelibly on the memory, in its masterly fusion of the aural and the visual. If you ever get a chance - go see.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blancmange...

Last Friday night Darren and I went to see Blancmange perform at The Garage in London's glitzy Highbury Corner.

Ostensibly to promote new remix project Happy Families Too Neil Arthur and the band (sans Stephen Luscombe) took us on a gambol through their hits revisiting most of albums Happy Families, Mange Tout and Blanc Burn.

It was a fun show and Lancastrian Arthur really got the crowd going with his jokes, interaction and general mucking about.

Set list included:-

I've Seen the Word
Feel Me
Living on the Ceiling
Waves
Blind Vision
That's Love, That It Is
What's Your Problem
I Can't Explain
Game Above My Head
Don't Tell Me
Wasted
Kind
Sad Day
Cruel
By the Bus Stop @ Woolies
Ultraviolent
Radio Therapy
The Western
God's Kitchen

Sadly no The Day Before You Came this time around though.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mojo...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Written by Jez Butterworth, perhaps more famous for his hit Jerusalem, it's a 1995 written black comedy set in the rock'n'roll scene of 1950s Soho. Savagely funny it delves into the sleazy underworld of nightclub owners and runners.

This all-male world is inhabited by petty men with their petty concerns, petty dealings and petty crimes. But soon the dodgy dealings around newly discovered Camden singing star Silver Johnny turn their minor squabbles into profound jealousies, exposing bitter rivalries, betrayals and eventually extreme violence.

It's a foul-mouthed world these characters live in with lots of effing and chuffing - Pinter and Tarantino would both be proud. But hearing such profanities on the lips of its all-star cast, who have between a fairly posh canon of work, is at times distracting to say the least. Did Rod Weasley just say 'cunt'?

Nonetheless the acting is top notch; Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey, The Weir), Rupert Grint (Harry Potter, Driving Lessons), Tom Rhys Harries, Daniel Mays (Made in Dagenham, Mrs Biggs, The Winterling), Colin Morgan (Merlin, Doctor Who) and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, The Hour, Peter and Alice) all excel. 

Daniel Mays is perhaps the stand-out talent here bringing depth, empathy and masterly comic timing to what is at its core a rather dislikeable also-ran character. Special mention should also go to Ben Whishaw who gamely plays the psycho son to the max. And he sings too!

Recommended.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jane Birkin...

Last Saturday night Stu and I went to see Jane Birkin perform Arabesque at the Barbican Hall in London’s glitzy Barbican Centre.

Serge Gainsbourg’s lover, collaborator and muse of fifteen years  was there playing live her reinterpretation of classic Gainsbourg songs with Maghreb rhythms and Eastern harmonies.

I was unfamiliar with much of the pieces but as it was all in French had fun translating it on the fly as well as enjoying the songs as a first time listener.

We loved it. Birkin had quite the stage presence and danced and sang like a teenager fifty years her junior.

Here the night's set list:-

Physique et sans issue
Ces petits riens
C'est comme ça
La chanson de Prévert
Élisa
Et quand bien même
L'Amour de moi
Couleur café
Anno "Close to the River"
Dépression au-dessus du jardin
Valse de Melody
Haine pour aime
Amours des feintes
She Left Home (instrumental)
Les Dessous Chics
Les clés du paradis
Fuir le bonheur de peur qu'il ne se sauve
Comment te dire adieu

Encore:
Baby Alone in Babylone
La Javanaise

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Marc Almond...

On Sunday night Darren, Mark, Denz and I went to see the fabulous Marc Almond perform at the Union Chapel.

The man has a back catalogue to die for, can literally call the tunes and can put together a great show. And a great show it was. There were loads of old favourites to revel in. No Soft Cell stuff but the entire Motherfist and Her Five Daughters album end to end. A few nice Lou Reed songs too.

Marc seemed full of energy - some of it nervous energy I'm guessing - as he had a lot of songs to remember. He performed with loads of gusto though and commanded the whole stage. A few anecdotes about David Bowie, Antony Hegarty and Lou Reed and a few comic asides peppered the show.

The only slight downside was perhaps the sound in the venue. The vocals were muffled and overwhelmed by the band. It meant that casual fans who perhaps hadn't heard say Mr Sad or The Hustler before were deprived of the lyrics.

Stand out song for me was In My Room that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

Set list included:-

I Have Lived
Burn Bright
The Dancing Marquis
The Last Tasmanian Tiger
Child Star
I Who Never
Catch A Fallen Star
Storks
Sandboy
The Little White Cloud That Cried
In My Room
Caroline Says
The Bed
Pale Blue Eyes
Mother Fist
There Is a Bed
Saint Judy
The Room Below
Angel in Her Kiss
The Hustler
Melancholy Rose
Mr Sad
The Sea Says
The Champ
Ruby Red
The River

Encore:
Always

Sleaze / Walk on the Wild Side

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Goldfrapp...

 Last Friday night Stu, Juggy, Si and I went to see Goldfrapp at the Hammersmith Apollo in London's smart but not so glitzy er... Hammersmith.

Ostensibly to promote new album Tales of Us the gig started as a slow burn with Jo, Drew, and Stranger. Dressed in black Alison was as shy/enigmatic/awkward as ever engaging little with the audience but letting her amazing performance do all the talking. She was largely backlit so appropriately enough for the time of year she appeared as a ghostly shadow with a haunting voice. And what a voice! Chilling, soaring, mesmerising.

As the night wore on the tempo picked up, the fantastic LED light show kicked in, the crowd rose to their feet and we danced like idiots. Sadly all too soon it was over. A great show, by a great band who are at the height of their powers.

Stand out track of the night for me was Clay. The story of two gay soldiers during The Second World War and their heartfelt love for each other. It made me weep.

Full set list was:-
Jo
Drew
Stranger
Alvar
Annabel
Clay
Yellow Halo
Little Bird
You Never Know
Number 1
Thea
Ride a White Horse
Ooh La La

Encore:
Clowns
Lovely Head
Train
Strict Machine

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Big One...

I am so sorry to be the bearer of such very sad and personal news. And I realise that this blog is such an awful way to hear this terrible news but it seemed the quickest way to get the message out there as it's all been so sudden and I fear the end is very close now.

I guess I just have to just come out and say it. I have been recently self diagnosed with that most crippling and debilitating disorders that strikes down male members of the human species without warning. Yes, my friends I have the big MF. The big one. Man Flu.

As the men reading this will know it is nearly always fatal so I have contacted close family and friends who are as I type this rushing to be by my side. I plainly only have hours to live.

The doctors can do nothing for me and have said that aspirin, drinking lots of water and plenty of rest is all they can suggest to relieve the agony as the end draws ever nearer. God Bless them they even managed a smile in the local pharmacy when I broke the awful news. Those brave, brave men.

No flowers please and remember me fondly. Please be good to Stuart and encourage him to move on with his life.

Adieu mes amis. I go to a better place. (sniffle)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Top Of The League...

After a convincing win for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as we entertained Liverpool FC we now find ourselves five points clear at the top of the league. Long may it continue!

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Twelfth of Never...

When will this kitchen, bathroom and hallway every be finished? By the end of next week he says. We shall see.