Thursday, May 31, 2007

NME Tour at Brighton Concorde

Blood Red Shoes - Brighton Concorde2

Right, it's nearly June, the festival is done for another year... time to return to normal life. And what better way to get back to proper gigging than with the latest NME Tour which rolled up at the Concorde last night. But wait! First up was a quick jaunt to Resident to catch one of the four bands - The Little Ones - play a short instore set and sign lots of vinyl and CDs. And what a nice chirpy bunch of chaps they were too! Ok, that done Thurein and I legged it down to the venue in time to get a decent vantage point for local duo Blood Red Shoes who I last saw supporting Metric last Autumn. What more can I say other than I've never heard two people make such a lot of beautiful noise together! New single It's Getting Boring By The Sea (are they talking about Brighton do you think?) got an airing but the stand out track for me was one of their B sides, the title of which escapes me...

Pull Tiger Tail - Brighton Concorde2

Next up was Pull Tiger Tail who seemed to get the best reaction of all (well, from where we were stood) mixing Razorlight vocals with some synth stylings... nothing special in my book, but they seemed a likeable bunch of lads and were entertaining to watch. Plus they showered with crowd with 3-D tiger masks which is never a bad thing.

The Little Ones - Brighton Concorde2

Second performance of the evening for us from The Little Ones, this time alive and amplified. A bit of a contrast from the previous bands' heavier sounds but their summery tunes and affable charm appeared to win over the crowd as it should - their mini-album Sing Song is chock full of hummable delights. Oh MJ! was probably the pick of the bunch and I also recorded current single Lovers Who Uncover on my camera which you can now watch on YouTube if you so desire. Closing the show were The Rumble Strips with their ska influenced Dexys / Ordinary Boys songs... by which time we were back at the bar. The weakest of the four bands in my opinion, but nevertheless a top night of gigging action!

Who's writing Who?

Photo © James Moran

Congratulations to James who in addition to writing an episode for the upcoming second series of Torchwood (filming this month) has just announced that he's landed an episode of Doctor Who for next season:

"Yeah, I'm dead excited, and relieved to be able to get it out there, finally. Been dying to tell people, but had to keep it all hush hush, and I only found out 3 weeks ago about Who anyway... I love the show so much, it's just my dream job, it really is. Let's hope I don't fumble the ball, or the hardcore Who-fans will rip me apart..."

Read more about this exciting news on James's blog here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fantasy Football Champion

Cotton presents me with my winner's medal

Another Fantasy Football season comes to a close with success for my own Dirty Everton team this time around. Leading for all but two weeks of the season I decimated all-comers, finishing a massive 130 pts clear of the opposition, so taking the £50 top prize and the winner's medal. Bennett again displayed his consistency finishing in 2nd place for the third year in succession, ahead of Wingco in 3rd and Zoe taking the final prize winners' spot in 4th position. Last year's winner Darren finished 9th whilst two-time medal winner Dom was a lowly 18th.

In our Fantasy Football Cup competition it was congratulations to Steve Piper who pipped Wingco to the trophy after a nailbiting replay.

Fantasy Football (in association with The Daily Telegraph) will return in August.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Movie Haiku - Pirates Of The Carribbean: At World's End

Dir: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush

Jumpin' Jack Sparrow
it's not such a gas gas gas
no satisfaction

soulmining rating: **

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Culture Show

Just a reminder that tonight's edition of The Culture Show is due to feature the FrightFest team out in Cannes. Catch it on BBC2 at 7:15pm or the late repeat at 12:45am.

Movie Haiku - Zodiac

Dir: David Fincher

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Edwards

He was never caught
follow cops and write a book

for three long hard hours

soulmining rating: ***

F*** Star Wars

30 years - 30 covers

I like Empire magazine. It's my favourite film magazine and I've been a loyal subscriber for over 15 years. But enough is enough, their new issue is just taking the piss. Look, I'll freely admit that Star Wars is the most influential movie of my generation, but does its 30 year anniversary really warrant a thirty page feature in the magazine plus thirty assorted covers? How many more words can be written about one series of films, three of which were average at best? Fine, by all means give it a brief mention somewhere in the publication, but don't make it the main feature... there are other new films released this Summer you know. This action just smacks of the most cynical marketing, cashing in on the unwavering fans of the franchise. What next, another Lord Of The Rings retrospective? And if I ever meet someone who admits to collecting all thirty different covers, well...

F*** Star Wars. Get over it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Movie Haiku - Magicians

Dir: Andrew O'Connor

Cast: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Jessica Stevenson, Peter Capaldi

He cuts off her head
become rivals to win prize
the jokes disappear

soulmining rating: **

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Festival and Fringe action

Catherine Anne Davies - Brighton Komedia

It's been a very busy week of Brighton Festival and Fringe shows for me so I thought I'd give you a quick round up of what I've been getting up to. Prior to the previously mentioned Great Escape gig headlined by Nouvelle Vague at the Corn Exchange last Thursday I attended the Vic Reeves talk on Wednesday night at the Theatre Royal where he read excerpts from his book Me: Moir and took questions from the audience. A very funny man (he walked on with a funnel and a paintbrush which he'd found backstage) it was just a shame that he wasn't allowed to talk for longer. Then on Sunday evening I was lucky enough to catch the final performance of C-90 by Daniel Kitson, his one man show about a chap's last day of work in a basement full of discarded cassette tapes. Different from his usual rambling stand up show, this was a tightly scripted piece which was full of warmth, hope and laughter and demonstrated that Kitson really has flair with the English language. My final main festival show was yesterday evening at the Corn Exchange where legendary actor Leslie Phillips was in conversation with broadcaster Simon Fanshawe. As sharp as a tack, and full of affectionate anecdotes, Phillips proved himself to be the perfect gentleman. Click here to see more of Matthew Andrews' festival photographs.

The Mummers - Joogleberry Playhouse, Brighton

Moving on to some music shows which all featured in the Fringe programme, on Monday night Dave and I went to the Komedia to see Tina Dico. Sadly without her full band it was just a solo set, so was very similar to the gig we attended last October, but was an accomplished performance nevertheless. There was a very quiet, respectful atmosphere inside the venue which was very welcome after some of the noisy audiences I've had to suffer recently, and Tina seemed very relaxed, experimenting with some of her songs and taking requests. Once again she came out to meet her fans at the end and we managed to get her A Beginning tour EP signed. I was back in the Komedia with Andy the following night to see Catherine Anne Davies who I'd helped book to support Scout Niblett. A highly impressive debut, inviting comparisons to Regina Spektor, we both agreed that she has a very powerful voice and plenty of potential. And anyone who throws in a Bowie cover (Wild Is The Wind) gets extra brownie points from me! Definitely a name to watch. Then it was a mad dash across Brighton to the Joogleberry just in time to see The Mummers. Again, their set was similar to that of their last gig at Sussex Arts Club but again it was different class, Raissa's soaring vocals and those lush orchestrations casting a spell over the audience. Newcomers Justin and Dave were equally impressed. A band that deserves - and demands - your attention.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Movie Haiku - Wedding Daze

Dir: Michael Ian Black

Cast: Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Joe Pantoliano, Joanna Gleason

Still mourns dead girlfriend
asks stranger to marry him
oops she's not pregnant

soulmining rating: ***

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Movie Haiku - El Topo

Dir: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Cast: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Jose Legarreta, Alfonso Arau

Cult midnight movie
he digs tunnel from mountain
everyone gets shot

soulmining rating: ***

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Great Escape at the Corn Exchange

Nouvelle Vague - Brighton Corn Exchange

The Great Escape festival kicked off its three day residency in Brighton last night and having tried and failed to blag in to see CSS at the Concorde, I put plan B into action and went along to the Corn Exchange show instead. First up was a Swedish female singer who goes under the name of Hello Saferide and along with her band she treated us to a few Summery tunes which were very pleasant. Next were Norwegian combo Adjagas who were quite odd and steered deep into world music territory, although the one track mid-set where the young female vocalist took centre stage was outstanding, very reminiscent of Natacha Atlas. Third on the bill was Patrick Watson who sounded like a cross between Damon Albarn and Chris Martin, but with a really loose band. Headliners for the night were Nouvelle Vague - deservedly so - and their gallic, laid back covers have never sounded better. The band seemed tighter and more assured than when I saw them at the Komedia last and the contrasting vocal styles of the two singers worked a treat. They played songs from both albums and there were many highlights, none more so than Love Will Tear Us Apart which closed the set with the whole audience joining in. By the end I'd forgotten all about CSS...

Separated at birth...

Look what I found today as I was tidying up my image files - thanks to Justin for creating this and sending it my way!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Movie Haiku - 28 Weeks Later

Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau

Rage virus returns
so army firebombs London
kids run from red-eyes

soulmining rating: ****

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Play It Cool in May

A bumper crop of CDs to wade through this month as I took home a major haul of cheap singles and promos from the most recent Record Fair at Brighton Centre. Also getting a lot of airplay these past few weeks has been the likes of Aimee Mann, Raissa, Kate Nash, Sidecar Kisses, Gossip, Mark Ronson, Calvin Harris and Midlake. But these are the five discs that have been dominating my stereo this month:
  • Chungking - Stay Up Forever (Institute)
  • Feist - The Reminder (Polydor)
  • Viva Voce - Loves You (Full Time Hobby)
  • The Little Ones - Sing Song (Heavenly)
  • Bjork - Volta (One Little Indian)

No Flesh Shall Be Spared

Richard Stanley's Hardware

More good news today! One of my most wanted films is finally mooted to receive a proper DVD release later this year; at long last Richard Stanley's apocalyptic killer robot debut Hardware has been freed from studio wranglings and has now found a new home with Optimum Releasing. And that's not all - according to Richard's latest MySpace blog the film will also get a theatrical re-release!

"MGM and Optimum, Hardware's UK DVD distributor are proud to announce a major theatrical re-release of the original film and are striking several hundred new 35mm Dolby prints that will soon be finding their way into a cinema near you! The second coming of Mark 13 and a new beginning for this strange and terrible saga! What prompted MGM to afford my humble work official classic status and such Rolls Royce treatment at the eleventh hour is ultimately a mystery even to me..."

It gets better - in addition to prepping Vacation, a proposed £1 million feature starring none other than Bruce Campbell, Richard has also been writing a sequel:

"Since Hallow'een 2006 I have been working slavishly (literally round the clock, more often than not) on preparing the screenplay and storyboards for the second installment, currently referred to for the sake of expediency only by it's working title: Hardware II: Ground Zero. As intimated in the previous blog, it's the one I think I'll be remembered for although there are still a million miles of radioactive rough road between here and the chance to put the behemoth before camera. And behemoth it be, I promise! A serious slice of future history, detailing the break-up and growing balkanization of the former United States and the scramble to gain possession of its disintegrating nuclear stockpile. The mass production and tactical deployment of the Mark 13 Stormtrooper and Jill, Shades and the Nomad's continuing adventures in the 21st century are detailed with more ferocity, more sexuality, more drugs, more gags, louder music and worse manners than before. More humanity perhaps as well but then the characters are older now, more desperate and playing for higher stakes. Keep watching this space for further updates and fresh spoilers although don't hold it against me if I gently misdirect or even lie about salient plot features. I like to keep it fresh, you see. I like to keep it fresh..."

Even the end of the world has to start someplace!

Welcome back Richard Stanley.

Festival Fever

Gordon Brown at the Dome (photo © Matthew Andrews)

It's been all go at the Brighton Festival this month, hence my lack of updates until today. On Sunday we made the national news as Gordon Brown appeared at the Dome Concert Hall for an interview conducted by Anthony Minghella as part of the Books & Debate strand. Security was tight, protesters roamed outside the building, and there were television cameras everywhere. The only event that I've been able to attend this week was Victoria Wood, also at the Dome Concert Hall, where she talked about the Mass Observation Project and her role in Housewife 49, and generally about her life and work in comedy. A very entertaining interview, well chaired, and followed by a lively and amusing Q&A afterwards. You can keep up to date with all the latest pictures from the festival by checking out photographer Matthew Andrews' official festival blog here.

Meanwhile in the Festival Fringe I managed to catch The loveGods at the Komedia on Thursday night. Now relocated to France, they don't play so many gigs in Brighton these days so it was good to catch up with Deah and Artie and see what they're up to. They played a semi-acoustic set downstairs which suited them well, their sound bolstered by new cello player Eloise. A few new songs were previewed (Sunshowers a stand out track) whilst old songs sounded fresh and revitalised and Deah seemed mellower, her occasional arrogant streak kept firmly in check. Perhaps towards the end it all got a bit cabaret, but on the evidence of the first half of the show alone, the band still have a lot to offer.

Go on a date with Ariane!

Thanks to Darren for highlighting this website as it flied around the emails and forums last week. Basically the fun part of the site is the Virtual Dating Simulator which plays like one of those 'choose your own adventure' games where you can go on a date with Ariane... great fun, when the site doesn't crash or lock up. Not that I've been playing it much, naturally. Another barbecue you say? Go and change into your bikini then...

The Violence Of The Lambs

Jonathan King's Black Sheep

Get the mint sauce ready, Black Sheep is headed for the UK! Jonathan King's NZ mad sheep shocker has been confirmed as the opening night film for this year's FrightFest event at London's Odeon West End on Thursday 23rd August. Other films confirmed this week include Adam Mason's latest The Devil's Chair (starring Matt Berry!) and the previously announced Russian actioner The Sword Bearer and Adam Green's Portland-set thriller Spiral. The full line up should be announced by the end of June just before the weekend passes go on sale. Full details are on the festival website here.

In other FrightFest news, Jim Solan's wonderful short film Pissboy (which screened at the festival a few years back) is now up on the director's MySpace page. The tale of an incontinent loan shark, in my opinion it's the best short film that the festival have shown in their 8 year history... you can wallow in all 13 minutes of its urine-soaked glory here.

And finally, in a tenuous link to The Silence Of The Lambs, check out this music video for Lotion from Greenskeepers which cleverly uses footage from the film...

"It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again"

The End Of The Day

Good news for The The fans as Matt Johnson has resurfaced after a few years in the wilderness. Over at the website you'll find details of an interview with 200% about his music and politics, a brand new download only single Mrs Mac, and news of The End Of The Day, a mixed-media collaboration of artists interpreting The The songs alongside instrumental soundscapes from The The. They've also added a Gigography and the first in a series of new t-shirt designs (51st STATE) which is now available to buy. Now when is that DVD compilation going to see the light of day, eh?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Movie Haiku - Spider-Man 3

Dir: Sam Raimi

Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church

Spidey goes emo
black goo makes him self-obsessed
too many villains

soulmining rating: ***

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Huge Upside Down Purple Cow

I predict my blog posts this month will be few and far between since we're now into Brighton Festival season, which means six days a week in the office with lots of late shifts for me - plus the usual array of festival (and non-festival) shows to see, and no doubt more than the occasional late night unwinding in either the Waggon or the Festival Club.

There's no Spiegeltent this year - instead the Steine Gardens welcomes the Udderbelly for the duration of the festival, playing host to a full programme of cabaret, comedy and live music in addition to the Festival Club bar. I was at the launch party on Friday night and a good time was had by all... excellent entertainment, reasonably priced drinks and some wonderfully attired barmaids!

As for the main festival, well things kicked off on Saturday morning and it's been bedlam around the city ever since... I managed to catch the screening of Run Lola Run with a live soundtrack by The Bays at the Dome last night and that was a real treat, the band's thundering improvised electronica score perfectly matching the kinetic energy of Tom Tykwer's fabulous film.

Movie Haiku - Run Lola Run

Dir: Tom Tykwer

Cast: Franka Potente, Mortitz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri

She needs to find cash
then run to meet her lover
three different ways

soulmining rating: ****

Friday, May 04, 2007

Movie Haiku - This Is England

Dir: Shane Meadows

Cast: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Andrew Shim, Joseph Gilgun

Dad died in Falklands
bullied kid joins skinhead gang
racist divides them

soulmining rating: ****

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Movie Haiku - Next

Dir: Lee Tamahori

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann

Sees next two minutes
locate the bomb save the girl
leave bad taste in mouth

soulmining rating: **

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Live

May is here which means one thing for arts and live entertainment in the city this month - it's Brighton Festival time. From the 5th - 27th our city plays host to a wide range of events in the Festival, not forgetting the all the hundreds of extra events taking place in the Festival Fringe. And then there's the 2nd Great Escape festival in the middle of the month and all the usual gigs and comedy... it's going to be a hectic month! Here's some highlights to look out for:

05/05 - This year's Brighton Festival kicks off with an inticing show mixing film and music; Run Lola Run screens at the Dome with a live improvised soundtrack by The Bays. A second performance on the 6th has now been added due to popular demand.

08/05 - The wonderfully funny Daniel Kitson is performing his Edinburgh Festival story show C-90 at The Basement until 20th May.

09/05 - The new Oasis or just another bunch of overrated arseholes? You decide. The Twang play at the Concorde tonight.

10/05 - After a couple of years in exile in France, Brighton's (ex-) finest The loveGods return to their former adopted home for a date at the Komedia. Deah and Art have a new line up and hopefully a slew of new songs too.

11/05 - One of the more intriguing site-specific theatre pieces of the Festival, The Maids begins its run (until 26th May) at the Old Ship Hotel.

13/05 - Still fondly remembered from their time as members of The Mary Whitehouse Experience, comedy duo Punt & Dennis bring their latest stand up show to the Komedia. Everyone says they do some great work on the radio these days.

16/05 - Vic Reeves is at the Theatre Royal as part of the Festival's literature & debate section - he'll be talking about his autobiography Me: Moir and taking questions from the audience.

17/05 - The Great Escape festival begins its 3 day residence in Brighton with gigs taking place at all the major venues in the city, entry via wristband subject to capacity. Nouvelle Vague headline at the Corn Exchange whilst CSS return to the Concorde after their triumphant show there in February. There's also talk that Transmission with T-Mobile will be filming at the Udderbelly with performances from Gossip, Bat For Lashes and Cold War Kids. What do I choose to see?

18/05 - More Great Escape gigs including The Rakes headlining at the Concorde and Air Traffic appearing at Audio. Meanwhile in the Fringe, Ralph Brown leads the Brighton Beach Boys through the first of two nights of Pet Sounds vs. Sgt. Pepper at St George's Church.

19/05 - The Great Escape festival comes to a close with the final night of shows including The Magic Numbers at the Brighton Centre East Wing, British Sea Power at the Udderbelly, Kate Nash at the Pressure Point and I Say Marvin at The Hope.

21/05 - The first of two singer/songwriter shows at the Komedia, Tina Dico returns after her excellent show there last Autumn. Over at the Udderbelly tent they welcome the "41st best stnd up ever" Stewart Lee for two nights of comedy.

22/05 - More female singer/songwriter action at the Komedia with Scout Niblett playing after her recent Brighton show supporting Bonnie Prince Billy. Catherine Ann Davies supports thanks to my recommendation, but I have split loyalites as my new favourite Brighton band The Mummers are also playing over at the Joogleberry. Maybe I can fit both in somehow?

23/05 - Another Festival show, this time a talk from the legendary British actor Leslie Phillips at the Corn Exchange. Rather annoyed this clashes with the Champions League final!

29/05 - Are they really splitting up next year? Nooooooooo... Well, until that's confirmed Girls Aloud are still alive and well and touring their Greatest Hits album with a date at the Brighton Centre. They were fab at the Radio One event at the Dome last year!

30/05 - The NME New Music Tour rolls into the Concorde with four bright new bands to take your fancy; The Rumble Strips and Pull Tiger Tail head the bill but I rather prefer the sounds of The Little Ones and Blood Red Shoes. Meanwhile back at the Brighton Centre the Pet Shop Boys are in action.