Thursday, 26 April 2018

Frankie Vah (by Luke Wright) @ Soho Theatre, London

Mid week (again), 'lets go out tonight' conversation, but a quick check at our local Clapham Picturehouse, did not spring up anything interesting as we seen the decent ones already. So quick look at the Soho Theatre and up jumped this.
As usual, never heard of it, but looked interesting, and tickets quickly secured.
Top floor theatre, three floors up, with Clash/Cure pumping out, about 40 patrons.
What followed over the next hour was Luke Wright through poetry, verse, dialogue, and words, words, words, telling the story of Frankie Vah in the years of 1981- 87
By himself, a couple of props and at least 20,000 words. (an amazing achievement in itself)
Couple of nice coincidences, saw John Cooper Clarke two months earlier, a neighbour was on the Greenham Common women's defence, and I was wearing my Doc Martins (and a blue suit).
It was visceral, it was emotional, and such great and convincing delivery.

After seeing the great Bryan Cranston's performance at the National Theatre a few weeks ago, this was up with it but even better.
Top marks Luke, I was glad I shook your hands afterwards.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Isle of Dogs

Just see it. Guarantee that you would not have seen anything else like it. Then the biggest surprise of all, filmed in 3 Mills Studios in London's east end (Between Stratford and Canning Town) in a converted brewery. Top marks for the animators.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Great Tracks No13. Adore by Savages

Cant help but think that this track taken from their Adore Life album of 2016 is more operatic than a good majority of operatic arias. Just play it full blast!
You just could not concede that a post punk all female group could produce a song of this magnitude. Saw them at the El Ray Theatre in LA for the first time to be followed up at a magnificent performance at the 2016 EOTR with Jehnny Beth literally walking onto top of the audience rather than crowd surf. A great group.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Great Tracks No12, I'm the Slime, by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Released in 1973, three years before Paddy Chayefsky's Network film was aired that deals with the same subject, this is almost pantomime like in its production but even back then a reminder of that little box (then) that has found its place in everybody's home. Network makes reference to 21" screens, nowdays more like 55".
Also worth noting the final line before the repeat chorus, "Until the rights to you are sold", is now echoed in several episodes of the great Charlie Brooker written Black Mirror series that is available on Netflix.

I am gross and perverted
I'm obsessed 'n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I'm the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can't look away
I make you think I'm delicious
With the stuff that I say
I'm the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I'm the slime oozin' out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don't need you
Don't go for help . . . no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That's right, folks
Don't touch that dial

Well, I am the slime from your video
Oozin' along on your livin' room floor

I am the slime from your video
Can't stop the slime, people, look at me go

I am the slime from your video
Oozin' along on your livin' room floor

I am the slime from your video
Can't stop the slime, people, look at me go

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Network @ The National Theatre, London

This adaption of Paddy Chayefsky film Network which won four Academy Awards back in 1976 is simply the best thing I have ever seen staged at a theatre. Gobsmackingly so.
The set, in The National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre is a set to wonder, containing among other things, a TV station control room, a fully functioning restaurant and bar serving a three-course meal with drinks to ticket paying patrons, (could not get a ticket for there), a Kitchen serving the restaurant, changing/makeup room. a huge screen centre stage rear and behind the glassed-in control area another bank of TV screens. And finally, the large central area where some but not all of the action takes place.
Then on top of that, there are at least four camera people recording the whole action which we can see on the various screens especially the large central one. At one point, two actors are filmed walking outside live between the NT and BFI as they talk and in the same movement walk out on stage.
To put it colloquially, Un-Fucking-Believable.
And then there is Bryan Cranston, taking on the Peter Finch role as Howard Beale which won him the Oscar in 1977. Perfectly cast, perfectly performed, with some brilliant set pieces, not only to the audience in the theatre, but to the camera which was only feet away from him and which we saw everything in minute detail. Loved his venture out into the audience where he sat between two young men and his grimaces to their somewhat inane (hardly surprising) replies to his questions that was relayed to the rest of us via the huge screen.
Standing ovations at the end, with a huge cheer going up for Cranston himself when he took the second bow alone.
Only eight performances left for this Sold Out season, returns only and a limited amount for Wednesday 21st March but you have to queue for them. If the NT revives the play again, no doubt with another lead actor, it does not matter as it will be someone equally as well suited and capable as Cranston, 


The actors leave the stage, the house lights come up, but it is not finished. On the big screen, from I think Gerald Ford, the presidential acceptance ceremony is relayed, just the formal acceptance words. The audience hold back because they can see where this is going, all quiet from the viewers until Obama when a huge cheer goes up. And then Trump with the acceptance played out in full. Absolute derision and boos etc before someone to the left of us and above the cacophony shouts FUCK YOU. Applause and laughter all round and we all leave.
Except, a number of the issues espoused by Howard Beale and his I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! speech is exactly what bought Trump to the White House. Food for thought.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Great Track No 11. Essence by Lucinda Williams

I first heard this in 2007 whilst driving on Oxford's Eastern bypass between the Heyford Hill and Abingdon Road roundabouts. Johnnie Walker was playing it on the radio, I had heard her name mentioned a few times before but never had knowingly heard anything. This track certainly made me sit up, making that mental note to find out more.
Some five or so months later we managed to see her for the first time at the Empire, Shepherds Bush. She played Essence then and every other time we have seen her perform (but not when I bumped into her in LA)
The voice has changed somewhat, that can be heard even between the original recording in 2001 to the live performance in 2005 but the song is just as strong as ever.
The track in on the eponymously titled Essence and there are so many other strong songs on it, including, Blue, Out of Touch (great version on the live album), Are You Down, Reason to Cry and Bus to Baton Rouge.
Essence comes in a very rich vein of albums from Sweet Old World, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Essence, World Without Tears, and West. Just dont forget the various ones either side.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Great Tracks No 10: September Fields by Frazey Ford from Indian Ocean

Just love this album. The stand out track is September Fields, which incidentally was when I missed seeing her perform at EOTR due to being elsewhere at the festival.
A unique voice with tremendous support from Al Green's backing band Hi Rhythm Section, a lush production recorded in Memphis. This is not a soul record but a laid back anthem to those lazy days by the gentle lapping of the Ocean itself.
Two every notable tracks are Natural Law and the title track Indian Ocean.