Monday, 24 June 2013

Hacienda and Hooky

Hacienda.  It means so much too so many.  To Manchester it was a special place to go where the music and atmosphere came together to produce some nights that have gone down in history.  Built by New Order, Hacienda was a nightclub like no other.

I attended Fac 51, an anniversary of Hacienda.  They opened late as they were running late and two acts of the night had already cancelled their appearance – Danny Rampling and K-Klass.  Not a promising start to the evening.
The queue consisted of various ages and many familiar faces from previous New Order gigs I had been to.  I am well known as ‘the girl who takes the photos’.  There was no merchandise on sale.  I thought this missed a trick.  South London is rough and the venue, The Coronet depicted just that.  After going through a security screen similar to at an airport, they then searched my tiny tiny handbag and it was pulled apart looking for chewing gum.  Now I know they don’t know me and know my feelings on chewing gum but I hardly think it’s a threat to the venue!  Drinks were extortionate.  Two drinks (singles) for £12 but that didn’t seem to stop many of the audience from getting completely wasted.

I have to be honest and declare that acid house was never my cup of tea.  I don’t mind a bit of Chicago house and can even manage a bit of trance on occasion but Acid is a step too far.
The crowd seemed friendly enough but I think I have a bit of an issue with the Manchester mentality.  They seem to think it is acceptable to swear, shout and push other people.  I know it’s not the drugs they were on as it was still fairly early on in the evening.  Or maybe I am just getting old!  An example of what annoyed me is the young pretty girl who pushed into the front to see Hooky.  I didn’t have an issue with that, but her very short bob kept ending up in my face every time she danced and shook her head.  I questioned myself, was I jealous of her energy, looks or youth?  No I was just rather pissed off that her hair kept getting in my face!  Her boyfriend disappeared during the set and this seemed to be an invitation for older men (I would suggest 30 years older than her at least) to hit on her.  One had his arm around her shoulders and another kept asking to drink her beer of which she allowed.  If this is normal behaviour for Hacienda, I AM getting old!  (She even kept smiling sweetly at me as if I should be happy her hair is in my face!). Let it be known, I do not want anyone’s hair in my face. Ever!

Anyway, Hooky was the main event and what we had come to see.  I was very excited about this.  I had seen Hooky play with New Order about six years ago and had met him in a lift (but that is another story).  Today he started his set with two brilliant Joy Division numbers, Isolation and Heart & Soul.  But hold on; was there something wrong with his mike?  I couldn’t hear him properly.  (And I was front row).
The set list was excellent and included a great set of New Order tracks including True Faith (One of my favourites), Everything’s gone green (another of my all-time favs), Blue Monday (Of course!), Fine Time (Hubby was delighted to hear this – it is rarely played live), Temptation (Hooky sang ‘I’ve never met anyone quite like you before’ right at me and pointed to me.), Bizarre Love Triangle and Your silent face. 

Great set list indeed.  But I couldn’t hear Hooky . It sounded all fuzzy.  Was the mike too low?  I would forgive him this oversight but there were other issues with this performance which made the whole event disappointing.  Hooky kept turning his back to the audience to bash a bit of an electronic drum (when most of it was already programmed in) and most bizarrely of all – he hardly played bass!
Now before you all blast me for this review, let it be known I have a lot of respect for Hooky. I think he is one of the best bass players we have ever had.  I love his work with both JD and NO.  I paid full price for this ticket to see him (it was not a sold out event and many tickets got discounted) so I do feel I have the right to comment fairly on the performance.  I have always promised readers of my blog an honest opinion and this is what they get.  And my honest opinion is this:  I have felt Hooky was desperate to be a front man for many years while in New Order.  Now he has his chance.  But he doesn’t engage with the audience.  He didn’t talk to us once.  He didn’t even thank us.  I at least wanted him to play his bass and impress us. (Mark King from Level 42 impressed me big time with singing AND playing his bass AT THE SAME TIME!).  Why can’t Hooky deliver?

I would love to ask him where he sees himself in five years’ time.  Will he still be doing old stuff?  Will he be writing new stuff?  Can he possibly see himself back with New Order?  I can tell you I do not think his future is rosy if he continues performing like this.  My husband and I are die-hard fans of New Order and would pay gladly to see a good performance.  But we would not do this again.
Where does that leave you Mr Hook?  

All in all, a very disappointing evening.
PS. Anyone who says it was a great evening was either drunk, on drugs or has never seen hooky play with New Order /Joy Division before!

Friday, 21 June 2013

A Chorus Line

I have always loved A Chorus Line but had had problems trying to find another person who loves it like me to go with.  Imagine my surprise when my Dad suggested he go with me!  I knew he loves strictly but never imagined he would love a musical.

We had eaten a lovely lunch at J Sheekeys’ Oyster bar before going to a matinee performance.  I had not been to the Palladium for many many years and had forgotten what a beautiful theatre it is.

I was surprised there was not more merchandise on sale but they had programmes, mugs, key rings, t shirts and a sweat shirt.

We had great seats (second row of the stalls) and took them just before the performance started. The theatre was packed out so there must be other people like me who love A Chorus Line.  I saw no indication that there is a recession on – or perhaps a good show will always pull the crowd?

But would it live up to my rather high expectations?  It did! It was amazing.  I felt like I was living that audition with them.  I cried when it was sad and I laughed when it was funny.  ‘Sheila’ has the best line in the show – ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘Young!’

I love how each person really gave a good acting, singing and dancing performance.  It is hard to be an ‘all-rounder’ but the person who recruited this group of actors and dancers did good! Even my Dad was impressed and he is notoriously hard to please!

It is hard to pick one outstanding performance as every actor was perfect and I personally loved how they start off not being co-ordinated as they learn the steps through to being dazzling at the final curtain.

To me, the shows meaning says that a chorus line is never ‘just’ a chorus line. Every person in it has personality and issues.  It shows the very human side of show-business and what a difficult emotional process auditioning is.

The show is a very uplifting one and I left the theatre singing and wanting to kick my legs all through Leicester Square.  This is not just a show for ‘luvvies’ – it is a show for anyone who loves a ‘people’ show!  Go and see it – and if you need someone to go with, I’m available!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Man of Steel

Man of Steel
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No its ..erm a man of steel!  It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?!

The film starts with a view of Krypton in a state of emergency.  Krypton is dying.  They have exhausted all the natural resources on the planet.  They decide to send a new-born baby to Earth as it is a young planet with resources and could be the future of the Krypton race.  This film gives you more of Krypton that we have ever seen in any previous Superman films, but unfortunately it leaves us wanting more.  Although this does explain the reasoning behind the fact why a normal Krypton would have super-powers on earth. 
You see several flashbacks of Clark Kent’s childhood which builds into the story of the man who is hiding his true identity. The nine year old Kent (played by Cooper Timberline) out-shines Henry Cavill’s version of Superman.  Henry’s version feels very wooden and his only expression being one of a slight frown (puzzlement that an Englishman got the role, perhaps?)

Both Kevin Costner (who plays Jonathan Kent) and Russell Crowe (who plays Jor-El) are both seasoned actors and it shows. They both give fantastic performances and make the bits where things aren’t being blown up, worth watching.
The ‘baddie’ for this film is General  Zod.  I feel he is a misunderstood character and Michael Shannon who plays him gives a great performance and gets a lot of well-deserved screen-time.

Amy Adams plays Lois Lane. Amy is a beautiful woman who started off life as Giselle in Enchanted.  So did the wardrobe department purposely move away from that look to give her the drabbest clothes they could find?  It really wasn’t necessary or fair on poor Amy.  Amy makes a great Lois as she is inquisitive, intelligent and not too pushy.  Lois also gets the best line in the film when Clark Kent joins the newspaper team…’Welcome to the Planet’.
Unfortunately there is little else in the script that lends itself to amusing and intelligent writing. I think the brief for this film was ‘Lets blow lots of stuff up’.

The special effects are good in places (such as on Krypton) but they overdo it in places with the CGI and smash as much as possible.  And I am irritated when the gung-ho troops say something like ‘How do I know you won’t turn on America?’ to Superman. Not ‘the world’…only the USA.  It felt rather arrogant.
This film has gone a long way to distance itself from the superman films of old. He doesn’t wear pants over his tights anymore and the ‘S’ is a sign for hope on Krypton.  It’s not an ‘S’ for Superman. This is Superman for a new generation.  But compare this film to any of the current other Super-Heroes films and this film is lacking.  Avengers Assemble and Iron Man are much better made with a much tighter script.

Of course this is only my opinion and I know I will not stop a billion-dollar industry who I am sure have already agreed for at least three more films on the contracts of the actors if this is a financial success (of which it will be).  But from one small person on the planet – I was not hugely impressed.
Or maybe I just prefer Batman or Iron Man (with their gadgets and feel more believable) to Superman.