Wednesday 19 April 2017

Loads of superb live music, some classic cinema, a plethora of British art and some dramatic theatre...

10th April - 17th April 2017

This week's blog includes the bank holiday Monday's activities too and will be the last one for a few weeks as we head off on our belated honeymoon, however it is a packed one, so let's crack on shall we?...


Monday night's excursion took us to Hammersmith to catch a bona-fide legend live.

Mr Culture last saw Sting on the 'Mercury Rising' tour at the Royal Albert Hall back in 1996, and with the release of his new album '57th & 9th' which also marked his return to the rock genre was looking forward to seeing him in action again.

This time however Mrs Culture was in tow along with big bro.

For this visit we had standing tickets in the stalls as they had removed the downstairs seats, and unlike a lot of other venues the Apollo has a raked floor so sight lines are not an issue.

Around eight-ish Sting casually walked on stage and announced he was going to play a song, and commenced 'Heading South On The Great North Road' an acoustic track from the new album, aided by his son Joe Sumner, afterwards Sting then announced his son would be playing a few songs and left the stage to him.

Understandably he sounds an awful lot like his dad and played a few solo songs which sounded quite good, for his last song he was joined by the support act proper, The Last Bandoleros.

They're a country rock outfit from Texas who were great and really got the audience in the mood, Sting came back out to join them for their last song and then said they'd be back after a fifteen minute break.

True to his word, Sting plus band, (including a few of The Last Bandoleros and Joe Sumner on backing vocals), reappeared and went straight into 'Synchronicity II', followed by 'Spirits In The Material World' and 'Englishman In New York' which as expected all sounded superb, as the sound at the Apollo seems to have been improved greatly in the last couple of years.

We were then treated to a couple more off the new album, opener 'Can't Stop Thinking About You' and 'One Fine Day', (dedicated to Trump's stance on the EPA).

This then led to hit after hit, (both solo and by The Police), interspersed with tracks from the new album.

The full setlist was as follows:

-Before Support Acts-

Heading South on the Great North Road (with Joe Sumner)

-Main Set-

Synchronicity II
Spirits In The Material World
Englishman in New York
I Can't Stop Thinking About You
One Fine Day
She's Too Good For Me
I Hung My Head
Fields Of Gold
Down, Down, Down
Petrol Head
Shape Of My Heart
Pretty Young Soldier
Message In A Bottle
Ashes To Ashes (Sung by Joe Sumner)
Walking On The Moon
So Lonely
Desert Rose
Roxanne/Ain't No Sunshine


Next To You
Every Breath You Take

His band currently comprises Dominic Miller on guitar, his long time collaborator, Miller's son on guitar also and Josh Freese on drums, and they were faultless all night.

After two hours of performing the sold out crowd was eating from Sting's hand and he showed that he's still got the chops to perform a proper no frills rock show with a back catalogue of classics which he still performs with passion.

A true legend.

The Magpie Salute

On Wednesday we were back West London way at Under The Bridge, a club/live music venue at Chelsea's ground in Fulham to see The Magpie Salute, a new band comprising previous members of the Black Crows, Rich Robinson and Marc Ford, along with various other musicians they've been associated with on other projects, Sven Pipein on bass, (another sometime Crowes member), Rich Robinson band members Matt Slocum on keyboards, Joe Magistro on drums, Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottosen on vocals, plus John Hogg on the majority of lead vocals, Charity White another vocalist and finally Nico Bereciartua on guitar.

Under The Bridge is a small, great sounding venue, with only a five hundred capacity which made the gig all the more special, having originally announced this one night, which sold out instantly, they added the next three nights which all but sold out too, not bad for a band which hasn't even released an album yet and whose popularity is based entirely on word of mouth and numerous YouTube videos.

They perform basically covers, including quite a few The Black Crowes songs, which Hogg vocally handles extremely well. However the band has a well rounded warm sound, and it was a real treat to see a ten piece band in such an intimate setting, with full three piece backing vocals and three guitarists alone meaning they sounded second to none, especially as they were so in tune with each other and the performances were super tight.

Apart from the Crowes tunes they played which were superb, a couple of covers of note were the fantastic 'Rollin' Over' by The Small Faces and 'Your Time Is Gonna Come' by Led Zeppelin, which were great to hear, especially when performed so well, (particularly 'Rollin' Over', a favourite by The Small Faces).

The full setlist was, (including original performers of the songs):

Sting Me
(The Black Crowes)
My Morning Song
(The Black Crowes)
Sometimes Salvation
(The Black Crowes)
Stand Up
Shalimar Dreams
(Marc Ford & The Neptune Blues Club)
Only You Know And I Know
(Dave Mason)
Rollin' Over
(The Small Faces)
Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
(The Black Crowes)
(The Black Crowes)
I Remember
(Rich Robinson)
A Change Of Mind
(Marc Ford)
Yesterday I Saw You
(Rich Robinson)
How Long
(Pat Kelly)
Your Time Is Gonna Come
(Led Zeppelin)
What Is Home
(The Black Crowes)
One Mirror Too Many
(The Black Crowes)
Under A Mountain
(The Black Crowes)
(Only) Halfway To Everywhere
(The Black Crowes)
Thorn's Progress Jam
(The Black Crowes)
Thorn In My Pride

(The Black Crowes)
Jealous Again
(The Black Crowes)

After an epic version of '(Only) Halfway To Everywhere', Robinson said that this was the point when they would normally leave then come back for an encore, but they were going to dispense with the charade of leaving and just play on.

They then started an extended evolving jam which became 'Thorn In My Pride' which was brought the house down, and ended on a high with 'Jealous Again' which had the crowd really pumped.

They played for a full two and a half hours and didn't let up for the whole set, and showed why they've garnered the reputation they have as they were impeccable throughout.

Hopefully they'll be back over here once the album hits, however it'll most likely be in a larger venue, which means we'll cherish this experience that little bit more.


The Radical Eye - Modernist Photography From The Sir Elton John Collection

On Easter Sunday we we're early for our film at the BFI Southbank so decided to pop into the Tate Modern, (membership here is invaluable), so Mrs C could catch this exhibition before it closes, and Mr C was keen to revisit it too, (his initial review can be found here).

Therefore we won't go into everything again, although on second visit the exhibition still proved to be an engaging visit, and the chance to see so many pieces by both well known and under-exposed, (nice pun huh?), artists is always a worthwhile time.

The marvellous new Switch House at Tate Modern...

A glimpse of the exhibition poster, plus you can see a little of Fujiko Nakaya's 'London Fog #03779' peeking over the wall...

On this re-evaluation the works focusing on the facial aspect, along with the various distortion methods really stood out, along with the section which focused on objects and everyday items, including a favourite of Elton's, the 'White Door'.

The area which centred on snapshots of life, featuring farmers in America from the 30s and especially Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' from 1936.

As always the Man Ray pieces are truly captivating in their composition and the photographic methods used to take them, develop them and print them, which just reinforces why Ray is such a giant of the genre.

It closes on May the 21st so get your skates on as it's really worth catching.


We then strolled back down the South Bank to the BFI for an afternoon screening of Alfred Hitchock's 'Suspicion', his 1941 thriller starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine.

This was showing in the smallest screen here, (if you don't include the Studio room), NFT3 in a 35mm print from the National Archives so that was a treat in itself.

This was a picture Hitchcock made for RKO Pictures, and was made around his transition period from the UK to America, following his thrilling little-seen espionage thriller, (and propaganda piece of sorts), 'Foreign Correspondent' from 1940.

The story was taken from a British novel called 'Before The Fact' by Anthony Berkely Cox, (under the pen name Francis Iles), however was altered in various ways, most notably the ending.

The plot concerns a single woman, Lina played by Joan Fontaine, who is from a wealthy society family who meets local playboy John Aysgarth, (Cary Grant), and despite her parent's wishes marries him, at which point things take a turn for the more sinister as his carefree, workshop lifestyle catches up with him and his sources of money and method of obtaining things are shrouded in mystery.

As Lina discovers more  and more details of what her new husband is caught up in, she begins to view his every action with suspicion, always unclear on whether he has finally turned over a new leaf or is still tied to his shady past.

As usual in a Hitchcock film there's some humour amongst the darkness and several set pieces stand out including the famous shot of Grant bringing Lina a glass of milk, which showed how Hitchcock was able to not only frame a shot but also to highlight such specific things as what might be considered an everyday item, but give it a ambiguous meaning.

Within Hitchcock's vast body of work, this is probably mid-level Hitchcock at work, apparently hampered by studio interference at the time, although he would have only just been finding his feet in Hollywood.

The abrupt change from a romantic comedy/drama feel of the first half an hour, to psychological thriller can be a bit jarring and the performances are definitely a product of their time, although that's only a problem if you're not willing to give yourself over to the storytelling on display, and Fontaine won an Oscar for her performance here so there's a lot to enjoy.

The ambiguity continues with Hitchcock's revamped ending, but the ride on the whole is a worthwhile and tense one.

These screenings are always worth catching when they pop up, which can be quite often at the BFI and it's always a thrill to see a Hitchcock on the big screen, however in the meantime there's a great region-free Blu-ray available from America which should satisfy. If Hitchcock's your thing, (and quite frankly why wouldn't it be?), check it out.

Selected Works From The Murderme Collection

We decided to make the most of the extended Easter weekend by heading out on the Monday to catch a couple of exhibitions which were ending soon, as we'd not had a chance to get to them sooner.

So we took a short stroll down Millbank and across the river to Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery, where two of the gallery spaces had been given over to a small selection of works from Hirst's personal 'Murderme' collection, including many of his contemporaries.

The nice thing about these shows are that it affords the opportunity to view pieces which are not normally on show.

A few of the more interesting pieces were a couple of different Boo Saville pieces, 'Head Study' a painting of a human head painted in the style of a sculpture and 'Saturn' an abstract 'colour field' which also exuded an ethereal quality.

Other interesting pieces were 'Unititled (GOD)' by Michael Craig Martin a combination of his outline print efforts and his typography work, 'Blue Valentine' by Helen Beard which depicted an explicit sexual image in simplistic colours and shapes, quite reminiscent of Gary Hume's work and Rachel Whiteread's 'Untitled (Pair)', painted bronze casts of a replica mortuary slab and an accompanying cast which was convex shaped to fit snugly within the concave curvature of the replica slab which would house a body.

Hirst himself was also represented by one of his many medicine cabinets 'Music', which always interests Mrs C greatly as she reminisces over the various medicines contained within.

'Music' by Damien Hirst...

Other artists included Jeff Koons, Julian Opie, Michael Landy, Tracey Emin and Angus Fairhurst.

This was the last day of this show, however the gallery will be back open from the 21st of April with the next full show there by Ashley Bickerton, which I'm sure we'll get to in the very near future, as the gallery itself is a pleasure to visit, let alone the art within.

David Hockney

After a short walk back to Tate Britain and a quick spot of lunch, we were ready for some more art, this time by giant of British art David Hockney, the latest blockbuster exhibition here.

After having enjoyed the two most recent high profile exhibitions by Hockney in recent years, both at the Royal Academy with 'A Bigger Picture' and '82 Portraits And 1 Still-Life', it was nice to finally have an opportunity to see a more comprehensive retrospective of Hockney's multi-faceted talents from his sixty years of creating art brought together in a mostly chronological way.

The opening room of the exhibition contains a few pieces spanning a broad period of his career, which gave a flavour of the breadth of skill and variety of styles to come, whilst also highlighting a couple of common themes within Hockney's oeuvre, such as his playful sense of scale, perspective and depth within painting, (obviously greatly inspired by Picasso, a subject touched upon in a previous exhibition here 'Picasso & Modern British Art', an enlightening show from 2012), portraiture, abstract scenes, and his many approaches to painting transparent fields such as glass or water.

The exhibition then moves on to demonstrate his versatility, something which Hockney was himself well aware of and keen to exhibit, like his hero Picasso, even incorporating elements which seemed reminiscent of Francis Bacon, more of which can be seen in his more abstract portrait work.

His move to Los Angeles was ultimately the period for which he became most well known, and where he discovered a lot about himself artistically and personally, exploring his sexuality privately and within his work, and was a very creatively fertile period during which he produced possibly his most famous work 'A Bigger Splash', a work evocative of the blue skies and swimming pools associated with the lifestyle there, and also allowed him explore his satirical takes on abstract art of the time in both his simplistic renderings of colour and shape, but melding them with very detailed almost photo realistic depictions of people, seen in work such as 'Peter Getting Out Of Nick's Pool'.

This realism was developed further with his portraits becoming more ambitious and naturalistic, with some of his large scale paintings which he would plan out with photos, but would have the subjects sit in person to paint. A couple of his most accomplished to my eyes are 'Mr And Mrs Clark And Percy' and 'My Parents' which really pop with their subtle but beautiful renderings of friends and family in everyday poses and settings.

Another truly exceptional method of creating which Hockney chose to explore and innovate within was photography, initially using the small scale square Polaroid type cameras then moving onto 35mm film which was borderless, he created collages of scenes by taking pictures of all angles of a scenes and overlapping and stitching them together in a cruder more low-fi version of panoramic photos on smart phones, but creating a more natural abstract, slightly more unreal version of what he saw with his own eyes, and explored themes via photography which he has also explored through other mediums such as painting and drawing. He developed this further using high definition video cameras later in his career, used to great effect in 'The Four Seasons' which is shown here in a room of it's own.

Hockney's return to Yorkshire in the early 2000s, and the subsequent large scale paintings he produced are represented here, but only marginally compared to the stunning Royal Academy show which was truly a feast for the eyes.

Also his innovative use of technology, most notably iPads to create drawings is also touched upon, however the true power of the show is in seeing such a diverse range of work, all very accomplished, yet by one artist. Hockney may be inspired by Picasso in this respect, but he ultimately proves himself to be his equal, at least from this view...

The show closes on the 29th of May so get yourself along!

Cerith Wyn Evans : Tate Britain Commission 2017

Also while we were at Tate Britain we took in the current commission presented within the main halls by Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans.

We're going to a talk with the artist later in the year about the commission so will report back then, in the meantime here's a couple of pics...

The Glass Menagerie

Our Easter weekend drew to a close with a visit to the Duke of York's Theatre in Covent Garden to catch Tennessee Williams' 'The Glass Menagerie' before it closes this month.

We managed to snag a box for this performance quite cheaply as the seats are sold restricted view, however the chairs in the box are movable so although the very extreme right hand side was obscured it didn't affect our enjoyment of the show at all.

With a cast of just four, the performances are where it really counts, and this was not a disappointment.

The cast includes Michael Esper as Tom, (who we last saw as Valentine in 'Lazarus'), Kate O'Flynn as his sister Laura, Cherry Jones as their domineering mother Amanda and Brian J Smith as the gentleman caller.

The story concerns Tom, a warehouseman who works to keep his mother a sister since their father/husband abandoned them years before, however he is desperate to get out and see the world, something which his overbearing mother is not accepting of, but agrees if Tom can get his very shy and slightly crippled sister Laura married off.

Being a Tennessee Williams play as expected there is plenty of drama and explorations of the darker side of striving for the 'American Dream'.

The play is based on many aspects of Williams' life which only adds to the intense feel of the piece as it's clearly written from experience and not an imagined sense of how the characters lives play out.

Partly narrated by Esper's Tom as well as featuring him as a character, the second half sees the introduction of 'the gentleman caller' into the family's microcosm, a visit which affects all concerned very deeply and irreversibly.

It's difficult to say much more without spoiling the plot, however the two and a half hour running time with interval flew by and the performances were impeccable. Well worth seeing for some proper weighty drama. It's on until the 29th of April.

Well that's it for a few weeks, but normal service will resume once we're back from honeymoon... So until then, get inspired...

Monday 10 April 2017

A brace of theatre outings, both comedic and dramatic with a heap of theatrical flair...

3rd April - 9th April 2017

The Philanthropist - Trafalgar Studios

This week was relatively quiet compared to last with just two trips to the theatre, one play right at the start of it's run and the other right at the end, so without further ado...

The Philanthropist

This revival of Christopher Hampton's play from the seventies comes to the Trafalgar Studios featuring several young British comedians with cult followings, namely Simon Bird from the 'Inbetweeners', his co-star from 'Friday Night Dinner' Tom Rosethal and Matt Berry from 'Toast Of London' and 'Garth Marenghi's Dark Place', (an absolute little seen classic), rounding out the cast are Charlotte Ritchie from 'Call The Midwife' apparently and Lily Cole, however Cole was ill that night so her understudy Lowenna Melrose played her role.

The seating layout's been changed since our last visit to see 'Buried Child' and we'd managed to score front row tickets quite cheap as it was also the second preview night also.
The play itself was apparently written in response to a play by french playwright Molière called 'The Misanthrope', (we haven't see it so don't know the reasoning behind it), however it had the feel of a play we caught last year which was originally written in French, called 'The Truth' with similar 'bourgeois comedy' traits.

The play is played out on one living room/dining room set over the course of a dinner party and the following day and focuses on a group of university lecturers, students and a novelist who are entangled in relationships throughout the night which affect them all come the following day and expose their weaknesses and narcissistic personalities.

Trust me it's a lot funnier than it sounds.

Simon Bird does much of the heavy lifting being on stage for practically the entire play, and acquits himself admirably in the role of Philip which suits his brow beaten demeanour, perfected in the 'Inbetweeners', whilst Tom Rosenthal as his best friend Don is his sarcastic best, and they display much of the chemistry which they display in 'Friday Night Dinner'.

Charlotte Ritchie is great as Bird's girlfriend Celia and Lowenna Melrose stood out in particular as flirtatious Araminta and played the part so well you wouldn't have known she was the understudy.

Matt Berry suits the role of self centred novelist Braham perfectly, wearing an especially impressive purple velvet suit. He did have a slight wobble however in the midst of one of his lengthy passages, and completely lost his train of thought, eventually leaving the stage, shortly followed by the rest of the cast. They then returned about ten minutes later, apologised and started again from the start of the scene. Despite some in the audience around us muttering about the 'unprofessional' and 'under rehearsed' nature of this, (they must have some insider knowledge obviously...), it was only the second performance in front of an audience and quite frankly didn't bother us one bit, this is live theatre after all and people are human...

The play explores some darker twists and turns in the second half but still retains a streak of jet black humour throughout and was a highly entertaining evening out, well worth seeing.

It's on until the 22nd of July.

The Kid Stays In The Picture

Thursday night saw us visiting a theatre which we've passed countless times before but have never visited, the Royal Court Theatre at Sloane Square.

We were there to see 'The Kid Stays In The Picture' which is a play based on the autobiography of Robert Evans, the former actor and head of Paramount Pictures, responsible for ushering to the screen such classics as 'The Godfather', 'Chinatown', 'Love Story' and 'Rosemary's Baby'.

His life and career had a stratospheric rise to the top and after achieving untold achievements with Paramount everything took a downward turn until his eventual return to the limelight with the titular memoirs.

The impressive old-school marquee of the Royal Court Theatre...

The play is performed by a cast of eight who take on various roles at a breakneck pace, as the story flies through the story using a combination of effects, both audio and visual, to portray phone conversations, trains of thought, historical events and re-stage sections from the films themselves which Evans helped bring to fruition.

There is a glass screen at the rear of the stage which at points moves forwards and backwards, on which projections of sections of text from the autobiography appear as they are performed, and also acts as a screen on which a silhouette of Evans can be seen narrating, it also sometimes acts as a window to separate a different set which gives us as a viewer the sense that we are watching the action recreated on a screen, which fittingly melds with Evans' life which is tied to the silver screen.

There is also the use of roving cameras which focus on performers against projected backgrounds and display situations, plus teleprompters at the front of the stage, which some have commented is 'cheating', however I think the actual significance of them is being misinterpreted as it gives the audience the sense that we are watching a read-through, almost radio play type account of significant times throughout his life and the way the scenes are arranged, such as the line of microphones at which the performers line up and read sections sharing the text gives the impression of the old radio dramas.

The show runs two and a half hours with an interval but it flies by, at times hilarious, touching and frustrating to see such ambition sometimes being the cause of Evans' downfall.

Unfortunately the production has ended, however hopefully it will get a revival at some point as regardless of the fantastic story and subject matter, the technicalities involved in not only the various multimedia aspects, but also the spot on stage choreography ,means this is a show not soon forgotten and is all the more enjoyable for its unique approach.

If it does reappear at any point get a ticket!!

Well that's all for this week, next week sees a brace of live music, some cinema, art and a bit of classic theatre. Until then, get inspired...!

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Cinema chat, some awesome live music of the rock and classical kind, some mind-bending science and a lot of Testosterone...

27th March - 2nd April 2017

Trinity Laban Wind Orchestra with Karl Lutchmeyer - Blackheath Halls

A VERY varied week this one, with a quite wide ranging spectrum of activities, so let's begin...

Mark Kermode In 3D

After having to skip last month's instalment as we were double booked with 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?' we were back on a Monday night for the latest round of movie discussion, news and guests from the world of film for a very entertaining evening.

The guests for this one, three in total, were also all great which made it all the more great.

Kermode's trademark style of reviewing and discussing film, (honed on his Radio 5 show, co-hosted with Simon Mayo), suits the format of these events perfectly as he answers audiences questions and offers his opinion on recent news and happenings in film, clearly displaying his passion for all things celluloid.

The first guest of the evening was director Allison Anders, who Kermode has asked along to talk about her criminally little seen movie 'Grace Of My Heart', (one of Mr C's favourites), a film focusing on the Brill Building songwriters of the late 50s/early 60s and is loosely based on Carole King. It stars Illeana Douglas, John Tuturro, Matt Dillon, Eric Stoltz and Patsy Kensit amongst others and has one of the best soundtracks every in my humble opinion, it was a project which saw established songwriters from the era paired with contemporary songwriters to pen homages to the music of the time, such as girl groups and Beach Boys-esque pop tunes.

It was a real treat to actually hear more about the film, its conception and behind the scenes info, and also to see a couple of scenes on the big screen, (especially the solo performance of 'God Give Me Strength'), Anders was a lively and interesting speaker and to hear how the film evolved with input from Martin Scorsese was a real surprise treat.

The film's available on DVD and is a must watch.

The next guest was the french director Julia Ducournau, who was there to talk about her new film 'Raw', a horror film of sorts which has been taking the film festivals by storm and is garnering great reviews.

Kermode spoke to her about how she got into making a film with such a dark subject matter and she spoke of her many influences, especially noteworthy was her recounting an incident when she was six and accidentally watched 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' on TV, which was a memorable moment in her childhood and formation as a genre director.

We were also treated to some clips of 'Raw' which looked well worth a watch so we'll hopefully track that down at some point.

Kermode's final guest was there in the capacity of presenting their Guilty Pleasure, (a regular segment of the show), a movie which they like but find is generally not known or unloved.

Tonight's guest was Bill Nighy, which was a pleasant surprise and made for an entertaining segment.

Nighy in full flow...

His film choice was 'Punch-Drunk Love', which might not tick every box of a guilty pleasure movie, but certainly is a divisive film nonetheless.

He spoke passionately about the film and his admiration for it and Adam Sandler's acting in the lead role, and was very eloquent and a joy to listen to.

Once again Kermode presented a great show, the calibre of guests seems to just keep getting better and better, and it all makes for a highly entertaining evening for film buffs.

The Lemon Twigs

On Wednesday we made our way over to KOKO in Camden for our second opportunity to see the awesome The Lemon Twigs.

We saw them towards the end of last year at the MOTH Club in Hackney, and they were back in the UK for a small tour at bigger venues.

KOKO is a funny venue, for club nights it's a great layout, however for gigs it's a little less ideal. It doesn't have a traditional seated circle or balconies, they're all standing and quite narrow and the first floor circle is also the floor into which you enter the venue, which means people moving back and forth to bars and smoking areas are constantly pushing by, the lack of a rake also means strategic placement is required to find places to see through.

The sound however was great and the venue isn't too big that it dwarfed the band.

Once again they brought their A game, and showed why they've become a favourite on the live circuit. Their debut album 'Do Hollywood' really showcases the brothers Brian and Michael's skills as multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, as well as their skill at writing mature fully formed songs with spectacular arrangements and playing throughout.

The fact that they pull all of this off live is a major achievement, backed with Megan Zeankowski on Bass and Danny Ayala on keyboards and backing vocals.

The Lemon Twigs, Brian obscured by a head!...

The brothers also switch places at half time, so the first half seas Brian on vocals and guitar and brother Michael on drums and vocals, and they swap over halfway through seamlessly. The more flamboyant Michael treated us all to his Leopard-skin jumpsuit which in itself was a wonder to behold, as he drummed furiously in a Keith Moon style or performed high kicks and jumps whilst playing a frantic guitar solo.

Michael complete with jumpsuit...

They played about half the album, 'These Words' being a highlight as always, along with a few new songs from their upcoming EP and a cover of one of their dad Ronnie D'Addario's songs, evidence of where their talent stems from.

As usual they ended with 'Queen Of My School' a full on glam rocker and a fitting end to the night.

They're back in November at the O2 Forum and we're already booked!!

Trinity Laban Wind Orchestra with Karl Lutchmeyer

Thursday night's excursion was sans Mrs C, so along with a workmate I headed to sunny Blackheath Halls for a classical evening featuring Trinity Laban Wind Orchestra featuring pianist Karl Lutchmeyer performing a new composition by composer Edwin Roxburgh in celebration of his 80th birthday.

The evening kicked off with an interview with Roxburgh, hosted by Lutchmeyer, discussing his career and this new piece which he had composed to be performed by a wind orchestra, (minus saxophones), with a soloist on piano. Roxburgh was keen to express his focus for the piece was on the piano and how he felt the concerto had evolved from it's origins.

The music then started with a performance by the orchestra alone of a piece called 'L'Homme Arme', conducted by Timothy Reynish, which was a commission by the conductor himself composed by Christopher Marshall.

This was a lively piece, according to the notes inspired by the hostilities in Iraq and the composer's feelings towards war.

This was followed by Lutchmeyer joining the orchestra for the centrepiece of the evening, the premiere of Roxburgh's new concerto.

Having only rehearsed the piece relatively recently, Lutchmeyer seemed completely at ease with the piece, and played passionately. The concerto itself had quite a cinematic feel to it and reminded me of some of the score by John Williams for Oliver Stone's 'JFK', with the kinetic piano weaving around the orchestra in a almost free form style.

Overall an entertaining programme.

Bragg Lecture 2017 : The Wondrous World Of Perovskites

Mrs C was also absent for Friday's event at the Royal Institution, one of their Friday evening discourses for RI members.

The subject for this one was about the crystalline material known as Perovskites, and concerned their uses, structures, and make-ups.

It was delivered by Mike Glazer a professor from the Oxford University Physics department.

Unfortunately this lecture was, (as they sometimes can be), a little too complicated for my tiny brain to fully comprehend, so there's not much I can report back, however it was delivered entertainingly enough just too complex for me! You win some you lose some I guess!

Europe's Strongest Man

On Saturday we ventured North from London to Leeds, and this year's Europe's Strongest Man contest at the First Direct Arena.

This is one of the vents leading up to the World's Strongest Man finals which air at Christmas on Channel 5 every year, of which we've always been fans since kids, so took the plunge and went along to see it in the flesh, and to cheer on British favourite Eddie 'The Best' Hall, who set the world record last year by lifting half a tonne in a dead lift.

Also competing were title defender Laurence Shahlaei, Icelandic giant Hafpor 'Thor' Bjornsson, (Of 'Game Of Thrones' fame), and British stalwarts Terry Hollands and Mark Felix.

Competing over six events, a Bus Pull, Max Axle, (an axle which is lifted like a traditional barbell with weights which increase until all contestants are eliminated), Tyre Flip, Dead Lift, Car Walk and finally the famous Atlas Stones.

The Bus Pull had been carried out the day before in an outside location so was shown on screen, then we were straight into the Max Axle, an event where the weight must be lifted overhead and the elbows locked to count as a lift. Newcomer Adam Bishop was eliminated first suffering a bicep tear during this event and most fell by the wayside by the time we had got to 180KG.

However those left persevered to 200KG, then decided to up it to 206KG to beat the current British record held by Shahlaei, which Hall and Thor did, at which point they then decided to go for a world record attempt of 216KG, which only Hall alone lifted triumphantly, and also led him to win that event.

The Beast's world record lift...

Hall also won the Dead Lift round completing ten reps of the bar in a minute, an event he's perfectly suited for.

Shahlaei by this point had left the competition due to illness and it became a two horse race between Hall and Thor, which Hall kept tight by unexpectedly winning the Car Walk, going into the last event just one point behind Thor and taking it down to the Atlas Stones.

The Atlas Stones...

Unfortunately a slight roll by one of Hall's stone and him having to steady it meant Thor just pipped him to the post, however The Beast definitely had the crowd behind him all the way and stated his focus is on his World's Strongest Man training for now.

So after an exhausting, diverse week we returned home to recharge the batteries for this week's shenanigans, which consists of some comedic and biographical theatre. Until then, get inspired...