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...

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