Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

#Ink @Almeida...

Last night Jane, Sara, Stuart and I went to see new play Ink at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.
Written by James Graham, directed from Rupert Goold, and starring Bertie Carvel as Rupert Murdoch we had high hopes for this production. And we weren't disappointed. It was fab.
Synopsis: Fleet Street. 1969. The Sun rises. It's a business. And it's revenge.
James Graham’s play starts with the birth of arguably the UK's most influential newspaper – The Sun - when a young and rebellious Rupert Murdoch asked the impossible and launched its first editor’s quest, against all odds, to "give the people what they want."
Shamelessly never asking 'why?", punching up (never down), pages and pages of telly, celebrity gossip, loads of free stuff, sport stories (not just sports results) and sex (lots of sex). It was a winning mix.
The play is actually an impressively unpreachy look at The Sun, its launch and the red tops’ circulation war that followed. The killer blow in the circulation war was the inclusion of topless women which for 43 years (dis)graced "Page 3".
The acting is top-notch from the "let's put on show" beginning that almost breaks into a musical to the crisis of confidence as The Sun itself becomes the story. You might not like Murdoch but you have to admire his tenacity.
James Graham has written a fantastic sell-out play in Ink that is bound to transfer to the West End.
Go see.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mary and Mike #2...

Great to spend the evening again with Mary and Mike last night. We showed them around our neighbourhood of glitzy (but very rainy) Islington. 
We took in such high-brow establishments as The Hope & Anchor, The Marquess Tavern, and The Hen & Chickens. Why, Mike even got to pose in front of The Famous Cock <insert joke here>.
Great fun and enjoy the rest of your UK trip guys X

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

#NTCommon @NationalTheatre...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see DC Moore's Common at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Synopsis: The Wicker Man meets William Blake. With wonderful swearing.

Wow! People have really taken against this play. And I'm scratching my head to see exactly why. Ok, it wasn't perfect, but what play is? Stuart and I both really enjoyed it.

The plot revolves around a woman Mary (expertly played by Anne-Marie Duff) who returns from both the dead and from London to travel up North to reclaim her love (Laura played by Cush Jumbo) and seek revenge on her attempted murderer (Harvest King played by John Dagleish). Mary is taking control, she tells it how it is (often to the audience) and is taking no prisoners. She leaves a wake of death and destruction as she battles those who did her wrong - like a sociopathic version of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.

Mary's language is deadly too. At one point she c-bombs and then immediately turns to the audience and defiantly states one of the most outrageous and funny things I think have ever heard an actor say to directly an audience from the London stage, "yes, I said "cunt"! And if you don't like I will fist-fuck you and everyone you have ever loved!"  Brilliant!

It is not just a play out to shock though. It is also a play about the enclosure of land in the early days of the Industrial Revolution when the common land of England was under threat. It is a brave play, a play with ambition. It takes on pre-Christian agricultural traditions, it tackles issues of the time that still resonate today (the abuse of women, immigration, industrialisation, and the expropriation of common land) and it permeates its narrative with the recurring motives of birth, death, and survival. Its language is beautiful and the acting within it is first class.

So there you have it. And you can stick your one star reviews or, as Mary would say, "I will fist-fuck you and everyone you have ever loved!"

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mary and Mike...

Stuart and I had a lovely to catch up on Sunday night with Mary and Mike on their first trip to London. We walked through the centre of town (avoiding the tourist traps), stopped off at a theatre pub for a jar, shuffled down the South Bank and alighted on pub on the river for dinner before crossing the river on the wobbly bridge. Great fun. Enjoy the rest of your stay guys, and see you Tuesday. X

Ben and Sarah...

Stuart and I headed over to Sydenham to see the lovely Ben, Sarah and the triplets on Sunday afternoon. Always great to catch up and hear everyone's news. Benjy, your pizza were perfection. Sarah, great news about your job. Eve, good luck playing Charlie. Lola, good luck playing Veronica. Dylan, loving your Stars Wars Lego and keep up with the football. See you all soon. X

Sheila and Martin...

Stuart and I ventured out to deepest darkest Essex on Saturday night to help Sheila and Martin's daughter Poppy celebrate her First Holy Communion (I had to look it up!). Kerry, Fergal, Angie, Kevin were their too. We had a laugh. I think my only touchstone for the occasion was the drinking of the wine - which we did with a fervour and a passion that perhaps would have satisfied even the most devout of believers. Great night chaps! Thanks. X

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kraftwerk: 3D...

Last night Stuart and I went to watch electro pioneers Kraftwerk bring their immersive 3D multimedia concert to the Royal Albert Hall in London's glitzy South Kensington for the first of their final three nights of their 2017 UK tour.

Bringing together music and performance art, Kraftwerk’s 3D concerts are a true Gesamtkunstwerk – "a total work of art".

Kraftwerk was formed in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. They set up their electronic Kling Klang Studio in Düsseldorf, Germany, and by the mid 1970s had achieved international recognition for their revolutionary electronic soundscapes and their musical experimentation with robotics and other technical innovations.

With their visions of the future, Kraftwerk created the soundtrack for the digital age of the 21st century. Their compositions, using innovative techniques, synthetic voices and computerised rhythms, have influenced an entire range of music genres, from electronica and synth-pop to hip hop and techno.

We loved the show - the 3D was really astonishing - and the music beautiful, rhythmic, and joyous.

Standout tracks for me were Computer Love, Radioactivity, Tour De France, and The Robots. Sadly no Showroom Dummies this time round but a boy can dream.

The set list was:

Computer World
It's More Fun to Compute / Home Computer
Computer Love
The Man-Machine
The Model
Neon Lights
Intermission / News
Geiger Counter / Radioactivity
Electric Café
Tour De France / Prologue / Etape 1 / Chrono / Etape 2
Trans Europe Express / Metal on Metal / Abzug

Encore 1:
The Robots

Encore 2:
Aéro Dynamik
Planet of Visions
Boing Boom Tschak / Techno Pop / Musique Non Stop

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brian Reitzell feat. Debbie Harry & Shirely Manson - "Tehran 1979"...

I realy, really, really love the Debbie Harry vocals on the Donna Summer-esque disco track "Tehran 1979" from the final episode of American Gods.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ludovico Einaudi...

Last Saturday night Simon, Laura, Stuart and I went to see Ludovico Einaudi perform at The Royal Chelsea Hospital just off London's glitzy Sloane Square.

Ludovico Einaudi is the famous Italian pianist and composer whose minimalist scores have graced a wide range of both films and TV shows. Among many others, he's contributed to Shane Meadows's This Is England, This Is England '86 and This is England '90, Ricky Gervais's Derek, the theme to TV show Doctor Foster, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan and Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar.

The night was rather magical. We were treated to two hours of the maestro's works in the glorious setting of The Royal Chelsea Hospital. As the sun set the sky was lit up with a natural light show of oranges and pinks as the music took flight and soared.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Juniper Manor...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to experience Gingerline's latest immersive experience at a hush-hush location along London's glitzy East London Overground Line.

Gingerline is a secret dining club. They tell you at 4pm on the day where to go. It is always somewhere on the East London Overground Line ("Gingerline"). This was a gin themed one called Juniper Manor.

The night was sponsored by Sipsmith - appropriate for the gin-soaked connection - and the foyer was a Gin Palace with a multitude of gin-based drinks on offer. Once the experience started each room offered up not only a scene from the past but also food and a gin cocktail of that era too.

We have done all the other Gingerline events too but we have always kept the trips secret and never written about the content in detail as they ask you not to.

We liked it. Whether it is worth the money or not I think depends a bit on your opinion on spending £68 on a meal / immersive experience. It is fun but for £68, you would probably get a better meal elsewhere - but not a better show!

Friday, June 16, 2017

On The Town...

Last night Stuart and I went to see On The Town at the Open Air Theatre in London's glitzy Regent's Park.

"Sex and art don't mix. If they did, I'd have gone straight to the top!" So observes Maggie Steed's drunken singing teacher Madame Dilly. And she couldn't have been more wrong. They mix perfectly in this show.

With an impressive Leonard Bernstein score, Olivier Award-winner Drew McOnie - celebrated for his choreography on Jesus Christ Superstar - directs and choreographs On The Town, the Open Air Theatre's biggest dance musical yet.

Three US sailors have 24 hours in the Big Apple and they are all after one thing - a date for the night. Only these New York gals come with bite. Smart and sexy these women are no one-dimensional man-eaters. They know what they want, they sing, they dance and they are funny as hell.

The show is a complete wow - colourful, exuberant and slick. Maybe the songs are not as A-grade as say Bernstein's West Side Story, but any quibbles are soon forgotten as the show spins and pirouettes on. There is even a particular touching gay scene as one sailor meets his beau.

In particular, the second act with its tour of one cheesy Coney Island club after another dances the line perfectly between taking the piss and unashamedly enjoying the silliness of it all.

Danny Mac, Jacob Maynard and Samuel Edwards play Gabey, Chip and Ozzie - roles made famous on film by Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin - and Siena Kelly, Lizzy Connolly and Miriam-Teak Lee take the roles of Ivy, Hildy and Claire.

It you like you musicals stylish, stylised and downright show-busy - this is the show for you.

New York, New York, it’s a helluva town!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains...

Last Sunday Stuart, Paul, Si, Simon, Jo and I went to see The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London's glitzy South Kensington.

Pink Floyd are one of the greatest bands in the history of music. Their expansive sound, thought-provoking lyrics and quintessential English style and humour have won them fans across the world.

They have sold over 200 million albums and through five decades have pioneered music composition, technology, staging, graphic design, photography and film.

Taking us on a journey from their early 1960s beginnings and gigs at such places as the UFO club through each album and on to worldwide tours. The artefacts and stories behind them were extensive and extraordinary.

As you enter the show, you are handed a set of headphones, which automatically play back music or interviews to you individually as you approach each video screen or enter different areas of the exhibition. It is a brilliant idea and works really well.

If you like Pink Floyd... Go!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour...

Last Friday night Bryn, Stuart and I went to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the Duke of York's Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour has been adapted for the stage by Lee Hall, based on the 1998 novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner.

It tells the story of a choir of Catholic schoolgirls on a trip to Edinburgh for a competition. Foul-mouthed and with a thick Scottish accents our six teenage heroines power-housed their way through 90 minutes of stories of booze, fags, sex, abortion, sailors and theft all to the soundtrack of ELO songs. What's not to like?

The cast singing Shine a Little Love in a deserted night club an especially wonderful moment.

If you get a chance to go see. Do!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Alison Moyet...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Alison Moyet perform at The Round Chapel in London's increasingly-talked-as-(but-not-quite-yet) glitzy Hackney.

Staged as one of the new Amazon Prime Live Events and ostensibly to promote her new album Other the gig was proceeded by a Q&A session.
Alison is amazingly disarming in interviews and talked frankly about living in Brighton, her musical influences, her ADHD, and of her love of decluttering.

As you might expect in a chapel, the gig proper was haunting. Alison was in amazing voice and her new material - such as Reassuring Pinches and I Germinate - sounded fantastic next to her classic tracks such as Whispering Your Name, Only You and the incredible When I Was Your Girl.

A particular standout was new track Other that actually brought a tear to this old wisen codger's eye.

Jazz, disco or just joyous songs about love. This gal has got it all.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Drink Up...

Bryn, Stu and I had a fab time at Oval Space with their Drink Up wine tasting event on Saturday afternoon. Port, sherry, vermouth and of course wine.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical at the Coliseum in London's glitzy West End.

Synopsis: Dreadful script. Campy acting. Ambitious staging. Brilliant singing. Fantastic songs.

While it is known as one of the most iconic rock albums of our time, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell was originally written as a musical back in 1977 by king of the power ballad, Jim Steinman. Now, 40 years on, his work is brought memorably to life as a raucous rock opera - and boy, have the team gone hell for leather (pun intended) with this one.

First, the bad stuff. The script is dire. If any words should fill you with dread it's, "Our story takes place in a dystopian future..." But wait, there's more... "as you join the eternally young Strat (Andrew Polec) and his wild gang, The Lost, while they roam the streets of post-apocalyptic Obsidian, ruled by the tyrannical Falco (Rob Fowler) and his wife Sloane (Sharon Sexton). When Strat falls in love with Falco’s daughter, Raven (Christina Bennington), he sets out to rescue her in a full throttle tale of teenage love, youthful rebellion and living the rock‘n’roll dream." So far, so 'We Will Rock You'.

Yes, we are in full-on ham territory. At times the oft teased line "Would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?" line seemed positively Shakespearean by comparison to the gloriously shouted, "let your heart race faster, until it catches up with MINE!".

The staging was good though; acrobatics, live filming, dancing, pyrotechnics, 50 foot high projections, motorbikes, cars, flames, smoke... it was all going on.

And the pace was breath-taking as the cast tore through Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s greatest hits belting out I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That), Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Dead Ringer For Love, and Bat Out of Hell. In fact, the singing was pretty much damned flawless throughout.

Sure, it was all a bit Rocky Horror at times, (if that comparison does not flatter it too much) and the script did make you cringe. However, after 40 years it was about time Bat Out Of Hell made it off the starting blocks.

Did we needed it? Yes. Did we want it? Yes. But were we ever going to love it? No. So Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

The song set-list was:-

Act One
Love and Death and an American Guitar
All Revved Up with No Place to Go / The Opening Of The Box / Everything Louder Than Everything Else / If It Ain't Broke, Break It
Who Needs the Young?
Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back (excerpt)
Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire) (prelude)
It Just Won't Quit
Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)
Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
Paradise by the Dashboard Light
The Invocation
Bat Out of Hell

Act Two
In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher Is King
Heaven Can Wait
Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
Teenager In Love
For Crying Out Loud
You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
I've Been Dreaming Up a Storm Lately
Not Allowed to Love
What Part of My Body Hurts the Most
Dead Ringer for Love
Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through
It's All Coming Back to Me Now
I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)
Finale (Bat Out Of Hell reprise)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Mari Wilson...

Last Sunday night Darren, Stuart and I went to see Mari Wilson in Shepherd's Bush's glitzy Bush Hall.

Known as Miss Beehive, Neasden Queen of Soul Mari Wilson is perhaps best known for her 1982 hit Just What I Always Wanted and her distinctive beehive - though she has long ago changed her former trademark hairstyle.

Promoting last year's Pop Deluxe album of 1960s standards and celebrating 35 years in the business Ms Wilson put on a simply fantastic show. Funny, personable and note-perfect we were treated to top night of entertainment by a gal still at the top of her game.

The sell-out audience hung on her every word - for it was a standing room only gig - even original backing singer of The Wilsations Michelle Collins (Cindy from EastEnders) was consigned to the bar.

One of the highlights of the night was a special guest appearance by Marc Almond who was almost boyishly bashful as he joined Mari on stage for two duets - I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten and I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself. Marvelous.

But for me the show stopping moment was Mari's haunting version of 24 Hours from Tulsa. A tear was in the eye and you could hear a pin drop. As the last note faded the crowd were on their feet as one in rapturous applause.

Top, top night.

The set-list was:

Baby It's True
Always Something There to Remind Me
You're My World
Are You There (With Another Girl)
Don't Sleep in the Subway
White Horses
In Private
Beat the Beat
I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten (duet with Marc Almond)
I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself (duet with Marc Almond)
Am I the Same Girl
Anyone Who Had a Heart
The Look of Love
Wonderful To Be With
24 Hours from Tulsa
I Couldn't Live Without Your Love

Cry Me a River
Love Man
Just What I Always Wanted