Wednesday 28 June 2017

Rock, murder and magic... What a week!...

19th June - 25th June 2017

An unexpected addition of a trip to the theatre upped this week's activities to three, all very different, but all equally great in their own ways...

Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical

So Wednesday night we headed to the London Coliseum in Covent Garden to catch the premiere run of Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical, based on, you guessed it, Meat Loaf and the Bat Out Of Hell albums, written and arranged by Jim Steinman.

Obviously the main draw will be the songs, of which many were originally written with the stage in mind, and therefore lend themselves perfectly to this setting.

The Coliseum is the largest theatre in the West End so any production there needs to be able to fill it's cavernous stage and auditorium, and this show does that admirable.

The set itself is a huge production with various moving sections which variously depict different settings, such as a skyscraper, a wasteland, a bar, a prison and a street scene, and every penny can clearly be seen on stage, also including various moving motorcycles, a Cadillac, pyrotechnics, projections, roving video cameras and special effects.

Anyone familiar with the songs will also be aware that this is huge sounding bombastic music capable of filling stadiums so is very at home here.

The story line itself is completely bonkers, set in a dystopian future it centres on a group of teenagers now known as The Lost who mysteriously disappeared but reemerged now no longer able to age, stuck at eighteen forever, however the city is now 'run' by Falco an entrepreneur who owns most of the city and lives in luxury, however Strat, leader of The Lost is in love with Falco's daughter Raven who falls for him too against her father's wishes...

It's all got a 'The Lost Boys'-esque feeling to it but with a dash of 'Rocky Horror' and plenty of testosterone, however if you're going to a musical based on these songs you shouldn't be too surprised.

For quite a bit of the show, although enjoying the songs and the performances, I wasn't sure if it was all being taken a little too seriously, which kept me on the fence with regards whether I was enjoying it as much as the cast clearly were, (and the audience it should be said as it's the loudest I've ever heard a West End audience applauding and cheering after the songs, it was more like a concert), until the final song 'I'd Do Anything For Love', which built perfectly from it's piano intro into it's operatic, pomp rock heights, the point at which a character disappears in one outfit, only to re-emerge dressed differently only to launch back into song was the moment at which I was sold, it's truly a jaw dropping moment of dramatic theatre. This coupled with Sharon Sexton as Sloane, nailing what I like to refer to as the 'Bono line' of the song with real commitment means the show revels in it's over the top style, embraces it even and truly entertains from start to finish.

The show is going to Toronto and maybe a transfer is in order, although it fits the Coliseum so well it may suffer at another venue, who knows. Catch it while you can though!

Psycho With The London Philharmonic Orchestra

On Friday night we headed over to the Southbank, and the Royal Festival Hall for a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with live score.

We booked this way back when tickets first went on sale, being big fans of Hitchcock and having enjoyed previous live scored film screenings we were looking forward to it.

There was a brief introduction and interview with composer Bernard Hermann's widow, which was an unexpected bonus as she spoke of her husband's relationship with Hitchcock and his other work in Hollywood, and did so very entertainingly.

Then it was on with the film, which surely needs little introduction.

A classic thriller, and probably Hitchcock's best known film, it's twists and turns are pretty well known, even to those who've never seen it, although I'm not going to reveal them here, and the score was always credited, and rightly so, with being a major component of the film, almost a character in itself in providing the tension and atmosphere, (much like John Williams' iconic 'Jaws' score), which makes the film a success on so many levels.

The score itself is quite minimal, and string heavy, however this makes it all the more effective, certainly in the iconic shower scene and ramps up the tension in other dramatic scenes.

The performance itself was fantastic, and the sound was tremendous, a real treat for the eyes and ears.

If the opportunity presents itself to catch this show again, don't hesitate to really get a chance to see sound and vision working in perfect harmony in cinema.

Penn & Teller

On Saturday night we headed over to Hammersmith for one of Mrs C's Christmas presents, Penn & Teller, at the Eventim Apollo.

We love a bit of magic, and coupled with the no-nonsense attitude of Penn & Teller we were really looking forward to this, the penultimate night of their UK tour.

In the foyer were stands with paper cups and playing cards, from which we were all asked to take four random cards and a cup for trick in the show.

After taking our seats they arrived on stage shortly thereafter, albeit in inflatable form wearing costumes with them inside and performed a whole trick this way before it's surprise reveal, which set the tone for the show to follow.

Plenty of audience participation, mind boggling tricks involving all manner of techniques, sleigh of hand, mis-direction and 'mind reading' all made an appearance, alongside some of Teller's silent routines showcasing some truly impressive visual magic.

At various points on stage were a wood chipper, a huge range of animal traps, goldfish and a barrel, which all featured in fresh takes on classic tricks and new mind bending illusions.

The banter by Penn was non-stop and razor sharp throughout too, and works perfectly alongside the mime-like actions of Teller.

The two hours show flew by, and they even appeared outside afterwards to meet the fans which was a nice touch.

It was a great opportunity to see two legends perform so close to home, and we can't wait for the next tour.

Next weeks has some live music and theatre in store, so until then, get inspired...

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Plenty of rock, a pinch of art chat and spoonful of theatrical music...

12 June - 18th June 2017

The gigs this week doubled after a last minute addition and book ended some art and theatre, so without further ado...

Royal Blood

After a last minute announcement of a war-up show/new album pre-release show on Tuesday morning via Rough Trade, we hurriedly jumped in for the opportunity to catch Royal blood in a more intimate venue than those lined up for the tour proper later in the year which we snagged tickets for at Alexandra Palace.

We'd not been to the venue before either, Village Underground in Shoreditch, which is famous for the two old tube carriages atop the building, and is a vaulted ceiling event space with a bar and stage.

So after picking up our wristbands, and a spot of dinner, we staked out our spot about halfway back in the standing only venue, (which was a good move as we were just behind the rather rambunctious mosh area which at times got quite frenetic).

So just after nine the Brighton two piece, just comprised of bass and drums, hit the stage to an extremely loud reception, however they were far louder as they launched into new track 'Where Are You Now?'.

The hook-filled sound these two produce has hints of Queens Of The Stoneage and a dash of The White Stripes, with nary a ballad to be found and from the off they didn't let up.

The set was about half new tracks and half from their debut, particular standouts being 'Lights Out', 'Little Monster' and 'Ten Tonne Skeleton', against a backdrop of pulsing fluorescent tubes and they sounded absolutely amazing.

The closer 'Out Of The Black' really came into it's own with extended jamming bringing the short but intense show to a fitting end. One of the best live bands we've seen in a long time for sure.

We can't wait for November, although this opportunity to catch them in a smaller venue we suspect will very uncommon in the future as support slots with Guns N' Roses and Queens Of The Stoneage are likely to catapult them to international acclaim. We highly recommend catching them live if you get the chance.

The full set list was as follows:

Where Are You Now?
Lights Out
Come On Over
I Only Lie When I Love You
Little Monster
Blood Hands
Hook, Line & Sinker
Hole In Your Heart
Figure It Out
Loose Change
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Out Of The Black

Cerith Wyn Evans

The first of our cultural exploits on Friday evening was a trip to Tate Britain for an artist's talk with Cerith Wyn Evans, who currently has a commission installed in the Duveen galleries there.

The talk itself was actually held in the galleries beneath the sculpture which meant that as Wyn Evans spoke you could also relate his explanations for and descriptions of the work directly to the piece in question.

Known mainly for his work in sculpture incorporating light, Wyn Evans has previously exhibited in many galleries worldwide and this was a nice opportunity to actually hear an artist talk directly about the germination, creation and realisation of an artwork.

Suspended from the ceiling the initially chaotic arrangement of neon tubes is quite a feat of design and construction, however Wyn Evans' stories of having first visited the the galleries aged twelve and having worked there for a period whilst a student, meant the work could be appreciated further in that he had specific ties to the spaces given over to him for the installation, which affected how the piece was placed and designed.

He also discussed the different influences which influenced the work, including Japanese neon designs and turning sculpture on it's head by using the ceiling as the 'floor', expanding as the viewer walks along the sculpture experiencing the galleries in the method in which they were originally configured with the main entrance being the only way to walk through, hence the work also following that trajectory.

He also spoke about his long term collaboration with craftsmen to realise his pieces and the technical challenges faced in fabricating them which was also enlightening.

A softly spoken but highly competent speaker he managed to convey his vision with passion and eloquence.

The piece, 'Forms in Space…by Light (in Time)' is on view for free until the 20th of August 2017.

Cover My Tracks

From Tate Britain we drove over to the Southbank for some dinner, in readiness for a new late night theatrical endeavour at The Old Vic, Cover My Tracks, a play come live music performance by musician Charlie Fink, (formerly of Noah And The Whale), built around his new solo concept album of the same name.

The show starts at ten, after the main play there, Woyzeck, has finished and at only an hour meant it didn't feel too late either.

The play is basically a monologue, delivered by Jade Anouka, with Fink on stage also to intersperse her performance with songs to carry the story along.

The story itself concerns a girl who meets a pop star who is disillusioned and wants to start afresh so they team up and go on a whistle stop tour performing their new songs, until Fink's character Frank disappears, presumed to have committed suicide and Anouka's character attempts to track him down unable to accept that idea, via his lyrics and song ideas in a notebook left behind.

Anouka's performance was spellbinding and she really knows how to hold an audience, and Fink's songs melded perfectly and set the melancholy mood for the piece.

In it's short run time it explores themes of love, loss and disillusionment but never plays down to the audience with unnecessary exposition and sentimentality.

The two week run has finished at The Old Vic, however it's going on tour and is well worth catching.

Guns N' Roses

So on Saturday we headed over to the London Stadium at the Olympic Park in Stratford for the London leg of the reformed Guns N' Roses, Not In This Lifetime tour.

This was a birthday present from Mrs C and what a gift it was!

Mr C has been a huge GnR fan for years and the opportunity to see them with the core of Axl, Slash and Duff was against all odds finally being realised.

So after braving the sunshine and heat for a few hours, they finally took the stage at 7:45 and played for nigh on three hours non-stop.

Opening with a suckerpunch of 'It's So Easy' and 'Mr Brownstone' they set their stall out from the off, proving they're still capable of bringing their snarling, ferocious brand of rock no matter the venue.

From there they didn't let up, playing classic after classic, even airing a few from the Guns-lite 'Chinese Democracy' album, (an album I quite like so I was happy enough), and chucking in a couple of covers along the way.

The majority of their classic 'Appetite For Destruction' was played, along with all the hits a couple of deeper cuts from the 'Use Your Illusion' albums, plus Duff got the chance to perform The Damned's 'New Rose', whilst they paid tribute to Chris Cornell with a storming 'Black Hole Sun' and Axl gave a nod to his recent 'supply teacher' role with AC/DC with 'Whole Lotta Rosie' partly in tribute to his late dog.

Slash also didn't disappoint, packing the set with solos and his most well known licks which the crowd lapped up, especially 'Sweet Child O'Mine', 'Paradise City' and 'Welcome To The Jungle'.

Three hours and plenty of pyrotechnics later they left stage after having wowed the sold out crowd with a proper rock show, can't wait for them to make they way back over as It's definitely a show we want to see again.

The full set list was as follows: 

It's So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome To The Jungle
Double Talkin' Jive
Live And Let Die
Rocket Queen
You Could Be Mine
New Rose
This I Love
Civil War
Slash Guitar Solo
Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Wish You Were Here
November Rain
Black Hole Sun
Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Don't Cry
Whole Lotta Rosie

Paradise City

Next week has some cinema and music, plus a touch of magic in store. So till then, get inspired...

Wednesday 14 June 2017

A film preview, some cinematic music videos and a brace of live music...

5th June - 11th June 2017

A music heavy week this one, with a dash of cinema thrown in, plus a new instalment of BUG bridging the gap...

Churchill - Preview and Q & A

We kicked off the week with a visit to the BFI Southbank to catch a preview of Churchill, (guess what it's about?!), which was to be followed by a discussion with the director, writer and three of the stars of the film, Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson and Ella Purnell.

The film itself is an interesting one, set in the three days leading up to D Day, and focuses on the planned landings on the beaches which Churchill felt were flawed and would put too many lives at risk, and his attempts to get the operation stopped or reconfigured.

Cox plays Winston Churchill in a manner which is not usually associated with portrayals of the greatest Briton, in that it exposes the more fragile side of his personality, primarily his depression and struggles with ill health behind the scenes, whilst maintaining the patriotic morale boosting public persona.

Richardson plays his wife Clementine, and also explores her pivotal role and influence in Churchill's life.

Purnell plays a composite character, Helen, Churchill's secretary who also provides a side story which also acts as the impetus for Churchill to finally step into his true role at a time of great uncertainty by rallying the country behind the war effort.

It's interesting to see a film which doesn't skirt over these aspects like many other versions of this story may do, and has received some criticism for this approach before it's even released.

After the film the director Jonathan Teplitzsky, writer Alex Von Tunzelmann, and actors Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson and Ella Purnell took the stage to discuss the germination and production of the film, including how they came to be involved and their research undertaken to step into such iconic roles.

All the speakers were obviously passionate about the project and knowledgeable when it came to discussing their characters, Cox and Richardson in particular evidently had a chemistry which was obvious when watching the film.

The film's an interesting and entertaining view of this historical period and should be applauded for the portrayal of Churchill in a more vulnerable and human light.

BUG 55

We were back at the BFI Southbank on Wednesday night for the latest instalment of BUG with Adam Buxton.

We've been to a quite a few now, and if you've seen our previous reviews you'll know the drill by now.

Buxton presents a collection of brand new music videos on the big screen, so naturally those selected are quite cinematic or creative in their own right, and are interspersed by comedic interludes made by Buxton, or analysis of some of the more interesting and 'enlightened' YouTube comments on the videos concerned which Buxton has compiled, (there really are some absolute morons out there, which makes for hilarious reading).

This instalment had videos by alt-J, Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, A Tribe Called Quest and Fleet Foxes, amongst others, and is always entertaining whether the music itself floats your boat or not as the videos themselves always have something of interest and it's nice to actually see them projected on the big screen too for a change.

Highly recommended as something different for a night out.


Thursday's outing was on short notice as it was only announced less than a week before, it was a surprise warm-up show for Gorillaz at the O2 Brixton Academy.

The inaugural Demon Dayz festival hosted by Gorillaz was due to be held in Margate on the Saturday and this was the third warm-up show before that performance and the start of their world tour proper.

Although a bit of a pain to get to, Brixton Academy is quite good in that it has a raked floor for the standing area so there's always a pretty decent view.

Having a large amount of guests on their material, especially on newest album 'Humanz' meant there was the worry that the songs might not live up to their studio counterparts, however many of the collaborators were present and those that weren't were either represented in video/audio form or substituted by an appropriate stand-in.

Having started life as a cartoon band, and continuing in this form, (although with more human performances now), the screens behind the band were used to suitable effect projection videos, animations and laser shows to compliment to the tracks.

The set was quite heavy with new material, including a couple of not even released yet songs, however they didn't neglect the hits, including a fantastic version of 'DARE' for which Shaun Ryder even made an appearance.

Although marrying so many styles could come across as disjointed, the lynch pin of Damon Albarn created a cohesive whole and the assembled band, replete with backing singers really pulled it off, ending superbly on the Beach Boys-esque gospel tinged 'Don't Get Lost In Heaven' and 'Demon Days'

A great chance to see them in a more intimate setting than the venues on the world tour so a rare treat, and a great show.

The full set list was as follows:

Intro : I Switched My Robot Off
Ascension (With Vince Staples)
Last Living Souls
Saturnz Barz (With Popcaan)
Stylo (With Peven Everett & Bootie Brown)
Tomorrow Comes Today
Rhinestone Eyes
Momentz (With De La Soul)
Strobelite (With Peven Everett)
Interlude : The Non-Conformist Oath
Submission (With Kelela & Graham Coxon)
Sex Murder Party (With Jamie Principle & Zebra Katz)
She's My Collar (With Kali Uchis)
El MaƱana
Dirty Harry (With Bootie Brown)
Let Me Out
Interlude : Penthouse
Busted And Blue (With Kelela)
Kids With Guns
DARE (With Shaun Ryder & Rosie Wilson)
Out Of Body (With Zebra Katz)
Garage Palace
We Got The Power (With Jehnny Beth & Graham Coxon)


Sleeping Powder
Feel Good Inc. (With De La Soul)
Clint Eastwood (With Kano & Vince Staples)
Don't Get Lost In Heaven
Demon Days


On Saturday night we took a trip to Shepherd's Bush for a bit of a guilty pleasure and a blast from the past to see Hanson.

Currently touring as it's the twenty fifth anniversary of their debut album 'Middle Of Nowhere', (I know, twenty five years!), and their debut hit 'MMMBop', they were in London for the first of two sold out nights at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire.

However they played tracks from their whole career, including new single 'I Was Born', and those from their earliest releases haven't lost any of their charm, in fact the slightly more rock based arrangements live meant they still had a freshness to them, in particular 'Where's The Love' and ''Weird'.

They also played a few from 'Underneath', (their comeback album), including 'Strong Enough To Break, 'Penny & Me' and closed with 'Lost Without Each Other', some of the strongest material in my view.

Their reputation may be largely based on 'MMMBop', however their talents as writers and performers shouldn't be underestimated. With the ability to switch between keyboards, drums and guitar, whilst all singing and harmonising, they are consummate talents, backed by a bass player and guitarist to augment the core three piece's sound.

They played for around two hours non-stop, and were clearly enjoying every minute and put on a note perfect show which sounded great on the new sound system installed during the Empire's refurbishment last year.

We'd highly recommend giving the later albums a listen if you're still of the opinion that Hanson are a teeny pop band and see how they've matured and produced a really quite entertaining body of work.

The full set list was:

Already Home
Waiting For This
Where's The Love
Look At You
Tragic Symphony
Thinking 'Bout Somethin'
Runaway Run
This Time Around
Strong Enough To Break
Penny & Me
Watch Over Me
With You In Your Dreams
On And On
I Was Born
A Minute Without You
Get The Girl Back
If Only
Fired Up
In The City


Rockin' Robin
Johnny B Goode
Lost Without Each Other

Next week contains some more live music, some theatre and a bit of art chat, till then get inspired...