Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Hobbit - The battle of the five armies.


The Hobbit – the battle of the five armies
Well if you don’t know about Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit films by now where have you been?
Middle Earth is my place of choice to fantasise about. I love this more than Star wars, Star Trek or any other Sci-fi fantasy film. This is my home.

My long hair hides my pointy elfish ears and my home is Rivendell.  But I digress….
Anyway this is the last of the Hobbit films…It starts exactly where it left off with the dragon about to attack lake town. It’s like someone unpaused the film. So you do need to have seen the other films to get this one.

There is less humour in this one and a huge amount of action. It’s almost too much action. Too much cgi. I want more magic. I want Gandalf the Grey to use his magic. I want more interesting dialogue.
But I love hobbits, dwarfs and elves and unite with them against orcs. I hate orcs. I forgot I was in a cinema, I was in Middle Earth. I was ducking and avoiding the swords and arrows. I was screaming at Thorin that the Orc wasn’t dead and it was going to be a ‘Carrie’ moment under the ice…

For those who don’t love The Hobbit they won’t love this. But for me…I enjoyed it a lot. It’s not my favourite film..but another adventure of my favourite dwarves.
Finally...where does a major keep his armies...up his sleevies of course!
Merry Christmas!
 


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Calamity Jane

I have always loved the old musicals.  I have them all on dvd and watch them regularly. Calamity Jane is one of my favourites but sometimes going to see it in the theatre isn’t as good as the films.

I had no need to be worried with the production that blew into the windy city of Milton Keynes this week.
My friend Cathy (who doesn’t know the musical at all and came with to experience it with me) and I had front row seats.  I love the front row as you can really see the expressions on the actor’s faces.

This version of Calamity had many changes from the film including many songs I was unfamiliar with. But they were great songs and executed really well.
Two things separated this show from others I have seen.  Firstly there was one scene for the entire show.  The set never changed.  This was challenging, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘lets make a stagecoach out of some chairs and jog on it as if we are being pulled by horses’.  It was the sort of stuff you did in your living room as a child.  I loved it as it made it accessible for anyone to go away and give it a go.  Who needs expensive props?

The other unusual difference was most of the actors and dancers in the show were also the orchestra. I have never been to a show where all the instruments are played by those acting in it.  I personally didn’t like this.  I feel it is a way of the show saving money of a traditional orchestra. However it did work in this particular production (as it felt intimate and fitted with the set idea) and I have nothing but a huge admiration for the cast.  To act and dance and remember your lines is challenging enough, but to play instruments (and I am talking pianos, double bass, violins etc) just goes to show how very very talented the cast are.
I also have to mention a couple of names in the show.  Tom Lister played Wild Bill Hickok.  I do not watch soaps so had no idea he was in Emmerdale.  But he could sing and dance and his acting skills were fantastic.  I really enjoyed his performance, and so did my friend Cathy, especially when he blew her a kiss. She turned into a giggly schoolgirl.

Jodie Prenger played Calamity Jane.  She did the part justice and when it came to ‘Secret Love’ (my favourite song from the show, she took my breath away.
I have to mention Paul Kissaun who played Rattlesnake.  I had to look up his name as I could have sworn it was Alan Davies with a wig on!  (funnily enough the last thing I saw in Milton Keynes Theatre was Alan Davies stand up comedy show).

All I can say about Calamity Jane is there is no Calamities in it.  It is a well-executed production with an excellent cast.

And it is funny. Go and enjoy it while you can!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Rusty at The Groucho


Rusty at The Groucho

My reviews are my personal opinion.  And my personal opinion of Rusty Egan is that he is one of the best DJ’s in the world!
If you are not sure who he is…well he is a legend.  He was the resident DJ at The Blitz club. The Club that he and Steve Strange set up in the early 80’s.  It was THE place to be. Even David Bowie turned up at the club…and I have heard Midge Ure tell the story of how everyone there thought they were cool until Bowie turned up…then all their make up cracked.

Rusty has always been cool.  His musical career has included drumming for The Rich Kids and The Skids as well as writing those fantastic tunes as the talent and inspiration in Visage. But this is not someone stuck in a time warp.  Rusty does his stuff in Ibiza and the Isle of Wight Festival drawing in huge crowds.
Rusty knows good music.  And the man can seriously mix.  So when he asked me to come along to see him do a spot at The Groucho Club..how could I say no?!

The Groucho club is a private members club in Soho, London. So this event wasn’t open to everyone, only members and their guests.  But what a night it was.  Rusty mixed old and new tracks to get people dancing.  And dance they did. I knew I would want to dance, so yes people…I wore my more comfortable boots. (Known as my Rome boots cause I bought them in Rome).  My Turin boots would have been much more uncomfortable!
I danced.  I laughed.  I hugged a lot of people.  But to be honest, the hugging can be blamed on the alcohol.  I think they automatically give you double measures at the Groucho and I am a bit of a lightweight!

Now I know I may have had a bit of alcohol that made me a bit squiffy, but it was a bit strange and surreal when three separate people said I look like Kate Bush.  Now I know people think this as I have been told this for 30 years, but three in one night?  Trust me, If it was me, I would not have waited 35 years to get out on that stage again.
The Groucho was also an education.  I am rather short (only 5ft) but I learnt what I have been doing wrong in trying to get the barman’s attention.  I got chatting to a guy at the bar who said if you pinch someone’s bum they let you go in front of them.  He said it works on men and women. I said that must be where I have been going wrong all these years.  I said I hoped he didn’t think I had pinched his bum. He said he wished I had!  So now you know people!

The other really lovely thing that happened to me last night was that I met some people who could really dance.  I mean you could see they had been trained and they really could take the floor.  But they came over to me and told me they liked my moves.  At this point my moves involved doing all I could to stand up straight and not fall over!  But they liked my dance moves.  I have never had any dance training and if invited on Strictly would be one of those that Craig would say ‘a zimmer frame can move better than you, Darling!’.  But I have learnt over the years to take a compliment and was very grateful.
It was a fabulous night and Rusty seriously rocked the house.  He is the man.  I still have Daft Punk in my head now…I certainly feel I got lucky!

If you ever get a chance to see Rusty perform, it is really worth going.  And he is also still writing music.  Please check out his sites below.




 
 
 
 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sarah Jane Morris at the Union Chapel for the launch of Bloody Rain

Sarah Jane Morris at the Union Chapel

I was lucky enough to be invited by Sarah Jane Morris to the launch of her new album, Bloody Rain.
I had not been to the union chapel before, but found it to be one of the most beautiful venues around.  We had options of hot food, drinks from the bar, or teas and hot chocolates, while we sat in the pews awaiting the performance to come.  It was a very civilised affair.

We started of the night with Joe Cang.  His songs were light, funny and in a calypso style.  I particularly loved the one about regretting a tattoo, which he has yet to record.
Sarah Jane is probably best known as the singer on ‘Don’t leave me this way’ with The Communards, but she is so much more than that – and has ventured away from pop music to find her true calling.

Her voice is stunning.  She has a great range and you can really feel the soul coming out of every pore.  She sings with such passion and that passion is contagious.  I could feel the words and music deep within me, moving me.
Bloody Rain is a triumph of talented artists who have come together to make meaningful songs.  Words that really mean something.  Each song tells a story.  For Example ‘David Kato’ was considered Uganda’s first openly gay man and was murdered for it.  Sarah Jane sings:

Who are the queer folk here?

Who is really living in fear?

Who is twisted at the end of the day?

Who sees life in a perverted way?

 
In contradiction to that, ‘Men just want to have fun’ has fun lyrics and an uplifting tune.

Men just want to have fun.

Men love to play with a loaded gun.

Shoot off all the barrels and done.

You hold up a condom, just watch them run.

 Before each song, Sarah Jane explained the meaning behind the lyrics.  It really did bring weight of the words together.  And Sarah Jane is a wonderful warm and funny person whose personality shines through.  She has an amazing smile and when she smiles the whole room lights up.  I also have to mention her fantastic style.  I love the dresses she wears.  She always looks fantastic.

Sarah Jane’s son was one of the backing singers, but when he did a line or two on his own, he really shined.  He has a fantastic range and if talent was currency, he is very rich indeed.
The whole night was an amazing collaboration of talent, tunes and people getting together.  It was a very special night.

She finished the evening by getting everyone out of their seats, with her own version of ‘Piece of my heart’ and of course, ‘Don’t leave me this way’.  Don’t leave me this way is a very special song to me. I would never be able to just sit down and listen to it. I HAVE to dance to it. And I danced like it was 1986!
For the encore, we all sung ‘I don’t wanna know about evil, I only wanna know about love’ which she did for Martyn Ware’s BEF’s album (volume three).  I just love love love her version of this!

This album is special.  Just reading the lyrics without even hearing the songs, you can see that. But the tunes bring another dimension to the songs. These are great songs.
I would never tell you what to do, but on this occasion you should go out and buy this album. I know you will love it!

Set list

Feel the love

For a friend

David Kato

Bloody Rain

On my way to you

Wild Flowers

Across the desert

Deeper well

Get them out

Coal train

Men just want to have fun

I shall be released

Piece of my heart

Don’t leave me this way

I don’t wanna know about evil
 
 
 
 

 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Holy Holy its a Spider from Mars! (and other special guests)

I had a dream. I dreamt that I got to see the last Spider from Mars, Woody Woodmansey play with legendary producer Toni Visconti a David Bowie set. My dream came true last night.

My dream was not as good as the reality. For how could I have ever dreamt I could be so lucky to not only see that, but to include the hugely talented Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17, who has an amazing voice. I see Heaven 17 a lot, and have heard Glenn sing ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ so I had huge confidence that he could do this along with the Holy Holy band. I also have to mention Steve Norman, a huge talent that you probably know best from being in Spandau Ballet. He is stylish and talented playing sax and guitar and is part of the band.  Paul Cuddeford rocked his guitar too.  Add to this Mick Ronson’s sister Maggi and Lisa Ronson too…and you have the makings of a very special night.
I was already beyond excited for this gig. The first time ever that this legendary group of people will come together to perform ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ in its entirety.

I headed up to the Famous Cock (yes it’s a pub opposite the Garage venue) and counted the amount of Bowie T shirts! What a fantastic group of people with exceptional taste in music.
There was a massive queue to get in and I was surprised at how small the venue was.  Everyone crowded in and the excitement grew. It was hot. It was sweaty. No one cared. We all knew we were about to witness history being made.  Just those first few notes of Width of a Circle and I knew I was where I belonged.

I know I am writing a review but it is so hard to explain to those who did not experience it how life changing it was.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Marc Almond from Soft Cell comes on to sing ‘After all’. Now I have a story about Marc.  Many years ago I wrote to Jim’ll fix it to ask to meet him.  I have never seen him sing live and he is one of very few people I had on my list that I hadn’t seen.  I was almost in tears at his amazing performance.  I cannot say enough thank you’s to whomever made it possible for him to be there…but thank you from me. I knew he was going to do the Shepherds Bush gig next week, but not heard he was doing this one. I was blown away.

Lisa Ronson came on to do ‘Lady Stardust’ and boy can that girl sing. Not only is she beautiful and looked stunning in her dress, but she can really sing and did an amazing version. Can I go so far as to say it was better than Bowie’s? (I am trying hard not to be blasphemous) but probably yes.  She was amazing.
Glenn is so good. Glenn can deliver. Each song was sung with passion and love. Glenn is a big Bowie fan himself and really had the crowd going. Glenn also brings his great sense of humour to the show. When he asked the band what was the next song, I shouted out ‘Five years’. He winked at me and said they weren’t doing that one and said let’s do ‘let me go’ instead. ‘Oh no wrong gig’ he joked! I had been lucky enough to hear a private practice of Five Years and Glenn knows it is one of my all-time favourites, so I did have an inkling they were going to do it.

Of course I cannot talk about this gig and not mention two of the legends on that stage. I cannot tell you enough how impressed I was with Woody’s drumming. He really can give it some! He seems a humble person and that just made us love him all the more.
And of course the other legend, Tony Visconti. He can sure play Bass and has a great sense of humour too. I was so chuffed when he blew me a kiss. I felt quite special.

But the whole gig was special. You don’t get gigs like this very often. I had already said that in my interview a few weeks ago. I told you all to buy a ticket. If you didn’t you only have yourself to blame for missing not only the gig of the year…but the gig of a lifetime!
Thanks to Mark for the photo!
 
 

 

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Man Who Sold The World - exclusive interview


2014 – So what’s the best gig of the year?  Prince?  Kate Bush?  Sorry you are wrong.   The best gig of the year hasn’t happened yet. But in September on four very special nights, some very talented people will be doing David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World album in full.
It is a rare and exclusive chance to hear the drums of Woody Woodmansy (Yes a real spider from Mars) play alongside the very talented Mr Tony Visconti, who will be playing bass on the night.

But that is not all.  Others involved are also very talented professionals and include Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet and Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17.  It will also feature Mick Ronson’s sister, Maggi.
Now I ask you..How often does a gig this unique and rare come along?  This is the sort of gig that you want to say  ‘I was there’.

I have heard Glenn sing ‘Boys keep swinging’ with Heaven 17 and he knocked it out the ball park.
And if I haven’t tempted you yet, exclusively to those going to the gigs is the opportunity to buy a special numbered limited edition picture disc signed by the band that is only available at the gigs? Want a ticket? Of course you do!

The Garage gig has sold out but there is still the Shepherds Bush gig (with Marc Almond) in London, another in Sheffield and Glasgow. You can buy the tickets here: www.ticketweb.co.uk
In the meantime…I asked a few of the band some questions….enjoy!

 
Paul Cuddeford
Involvement in the band: Occasional gob & Guitar
What is your favourite Bowie album and why?  Hunky dory – the first proper album I bought and subsequently wore it out.

How did you get involved with TMWSTW project?  James was busy with the Cult before Christmas for which I am grateful.
What does TMWSTW album mean to you personally?  A great album with Loud bass.

And finally...what is your favourite Bowie lyric?  ‘Falls wanking to the floor’.  Obviously.

Glenn Gregory
Involvement in the band: singer

What is your favourite Bowie album and why?
Oh it’s hard to choose… I love Young Americans because it’s such a cool album, the whole look and the change in musical direction was a surprise and inspiration at the time.  I think it’s probably the Bowie album that I listen to the most.  But then again, Aladdin Sane really made an impact on me when I was young.  It was an album that I played that my mom and dad didn’t like, that’s always a milestone record.  I like diamond dogs as well, oh and Station to Station and Low, and… Sorry that’s not been a very good answer has it?

How did you get involved with TMWSTW project?
I had been working with Tony Visconti on the Stephen Emmer, International Blue project.  I met Tony in Abby Road Studio’s, as I walked into the control room he was sitting at the desk mixing my voice.  It was such a pleasure to meet him and to be singing in the background as we were introduced was very cool.

Sometime later, I had a call from Stephen saying that Tony was wanting to talk to me about something, very intriguing … Later that day I found out what it was Tony wanted to talk to me about. He asked me if I would sing the songs for TMWSTW concert.  I said yes without thinking at all, what an amazing, and fantastic opportunity.  Later that day I received the full set list for the gig, I’ve been lyric cramming ever since.

What does TMWSTW album mean to you personally?
It’s a very influential album… I was very young, it was around that time I met Martyn and Ian (Heaven 17) we used to put it on after all night parties and drift off to sleep on someone’s floor whilst listening to it.  It was a favourite at the time and I’ve always loved it.

From this success, are there any plans to do any other Bowie albums in the future?
I don’t think it’s the kind of thing I would continue to do, it was fantastic to be asked by Tony Visconti to take part in the recreation of TMWSTW but I’ll have to go back to my day job, there’s a new Heaven 17 album to write.

And finally...what is your favourite Bowie lyric?  All of them.

Maggi Ronson 
Involvement in the band: Backing Vocals and Recorder

What is your favourite Bowie album and why?
TMWSTW of course.  Rats/Ronno meets David Bowie.  Actually Hunky Dory.  Great songs and Michael amazing arrangements and guitar work

How did you get involved with TMWSTW project?
Having the privilege and blessing of being Micks sister I guess and knowing Woody since I was knee high to a grasshopper and of course singing is my passion and singing BVs for Holy Holy is so much fun.  Not forgetting my good friend Major Tom who put it all together

What does TMWSTW album mean to you personally?
TMWSTW was like listening to  The Rats/Ronno Hull band, the one I'd grown up listening to in my childhood meets David Bowie, an extra ordinary individual with amazing songs, lyrics and persona.  All the Madmen is one of my favourite Bowie songs and it was like a whole new world/universe was opening up to me.

And finally...what is your favourite Bowie lyric?
Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly and the Spiders from Mars.

Photo reproduced with kind permission (c) Paul Fryer.






 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

House Party gig – Steve Winch third album preview launch


House Party gig – Steve Winch third album preview launch

I have never been to a house party that hosts a real gig before. I’ve done gigs.  I’ve done house parties.  But never a combination of both.
This was a private party to have a sneak preview of Steve Winch’s new album, songs from the killer floor – volume three.  

It was very intimate.  Nice people.  Food and drink.  And good music.  What more do you need?  
We started off with a warm up from Adrian Stranik.  He is a rockabilly who gave us a range of blues, rock and roll and even a bit of Elvis Costello (well it was his birthday today).

Then onto the main event.  Steve has already two albums and is just about to launch his third album called Songs from the killer chair volume three.  Lucky attendees had an opportunity to buy a copy before its general release.
The set started with Tumbleweed.  This is the first track of the new album and one of my personal favourites.  I actually have quite a few favourites on the new album.  I would invite you to check out Ill wind gonna blow – which sounds like it could be used in a Tarrantino film!  I also really love Don’t you think it’s time and chasing freedom.

Steve has a lovely voice and is an accomplished songwriter.  He delivers the tracks so well that on Queen in my pocket (from his second album) he sang it so beautifully that he got a marriage proposal from a woman in the audience!  He can rock.  He can roll.  He can deliver with meaning, with humour and with passion.
He is a very talented individual.  And backed up by Steve Askew on Bass and Kristian Carter on drums, he delivered a great set and taster for his new album.

Want to know more?  Come along to the Launch of his new album on 4th October at the Stables, Milton Keynes and see for yourself.  Tickets available from www.stables.org
More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasminestormie/sets/72157646863668945/

Set list

Tumbleweed

The hand that rocks the cradle

Mrs Robinson (cover)

The price I must pay

Five by Five

Portrait of a broken dream

The queen in my pocket

Teenage kicks (cover)

Roadmaps for the soul.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Symix at OAD – I review my husband – this could get messy!


Symix at OAD – I review my husband – this could get messy!
It wasn’t an official OAD special. But the 19 July 2014 was always going to be a special one for me.  My husband Simon, known as Symix in the DJ world was going to do a set.  I have been with him almost nine years now.  I know he underplays himself and what he can do.  I have heard the stories of all the famous people he has met and mixed with.  I even went to see Lee John from Imagination with him and found one of his mixes on a CD that was being sold there.  (It had been used for Lee John’s European tour).  But my husband is not one to draw attention to himself.  I wanted to shout it to the world.  Yes I’m the loud one in the relationship!  But I have never heard him DJ.  He still mixes but stopped performing before I had met him.  This was my chance to see him in action.

Anyway, you should by now know how much I love OAD.  I have written several blogs about how great it is and how much fun I have there.  Simon had not let me see the set list before the gig.  He had told me nothing.  Given me no hints and no matter how hard I try, I couldn’t get the information out of him.  All I knew was Fame by David Bowie was in there, along with No GDM by Gina X. That was it.  That’s never gonna last an hour set!  But he wouldn’t let me know what he had planned for his set list. It was driving me mad.
We got to Birmingham in the pouring rain, and I was glad to get to the hotel.  Well I would have been glad but before  I had even got to my room they had a power cut and we couldn’t even see to go to the toilet.  We were on the 4th floor which meant a lot of energy up and down the stairs to complain.  I was worried I would have no energy to dance later.

We went to the pub next door and had something to eat and drink, then checking the hotel again (still no electricity) we walked into town and found a food festival on.  There was a gin stall that gave demos of mixed gin cocktails, well while in Brum.  So I did.  After another hour we headed back to the hotel and sat in the dark reception area.  (Yep still no electricity).  I got talking to a hen party who offered us some wine. Well while in Brum.  So I did.  I had just about given up the thought of having time to crimp my hair when the lights came back on – almost four hours later!  I hurried up to our room to get ready.  Well it does take some time to transform me into Jasmine Storm!
We were at OAD quite early.  I am always early.  It’s a bad habit.  But I would rather listen to music I love than sit in the pub or my hotel room.  It started to fill up and the anticipation of getting to hear Simon’s set grew.  It was so lovely to catch up with all my OAD friends . More like family really . Genuine lovely people.  You don’t realise how rare and lucky us darkling’s are until you stop and take a moment to realise. 

Simon’s set was due to start at 12.30am.  I took my place near the dj booth and was ready to dance.  Fame started the set. Bowie is always a good choice.  (My idol so excellent choice for me) but everyone else was also up and dancing.  Gina X – No GDM is one of my all-time favourite tracks and I loved dancing to that.  Well that was the two tracks I knew done and dusted.  What next?  More Bowie that’s what!  Fashion works for me.  Two Bowie’s – double bonus and on top of all the Bowie David already plays.  I know Simon put Memorabilia by Soft Cell in for me too.  It’s one of my favourite Soft Cell tracks.
But it wasn’t just me dancing and enjoying the set.  Everyone was on the dance floor.  I overheard someone say ‘This DJ is great.  Does anyone know who he is?’  I have never been more proud to be able to say  ‘That’s my husband!’

I love OAD, the atmosphere, the people and the music.  This night was a special to me.  But don’t take my word for it.  Here is what a few others have said in the Facebook group.
Fantastic night as usual and loved the guest dj’s

Fad gadget – that is all. Xxx
Some interesting tracks played and the usual lovely people

Top night. Loved the guest dj sets and the mixing was great. Haven’t heard that for a while. Big big thank you to everyone who made it happen

Yet another fab night! My highlight was the beach mixed with da da da in symix’s set. Genius :D
And final word comes from David, the manager of OAD - .For me, Symix’s DJ set was the highlight of the night, even more so because it was his first time as a guest DJ at OAD.  You will certainly be asked to DJ again!

Original Set List

Fame - David Bowie

Back to nature – Fad Gadget

No GDM – Gina X

Fashion – David Bowie

Lady Shave – Fad Gadget

Feel Me – Blancmange

Love Song – Simple Minds

Memorabilia – Soft Cell

Life in Tokyo – Japan

Planet Earth – Duran Duran

The Beach – New Order

Da Da Da – Trio

Just can’t get enough – Depeche Mode

Baby turns blue – Virgin Prunes

To cut a long story short – Spandau Ballet

Sound of the crowd – The Human League

We live so fast – Heaven 17

 

Note: We live so fast was cut from the set as the video was played just before, so the set was changed to the following:

Der Amboss – Visage

Love will tear us apart – Joy Division

Night train - Visage

 


 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Commitments Show (Palace Theatre)

The Commitments

My son’s 17th birthday. Over the last few years we have set a new tradition of going to see a west end show to celebrate. But 17 is a difficult age. I didn’t want to take him to something he would consider babyish.  The Commitments was the perfect answer. He is a guitarist himself and studying music so this was the perfect show. He loves blues and soul. He plays guitar and he likes musicals. How much more perfect can I get?
We had a lovely day in London, spending time at Covent Garden and Camden. We ate in his favourite pizza place and then onto the theatre.  I love the Palace Theatre. It looks old and yet feels rather small and intimate. It makes you feel special as if there are only a few of us that are viewing the performance.  The Commitments do soul and blues. The Palace Theatre feels like a tenuous link to the Palace Theatre Ballroom in The Blues Brothers.

Anyway on with the show.  The sets were good. I really loved how the Rabbitte’s home worked.  They even had a front door and old-fashioned wallpaper!
The opening scene was great, there was no wedding scene, but instead they were playing in a shop window. Fab start. I actually preferred it to the wedding scene in the film version.

I had always really loved the auditions part., when Jimmy is getting a band together.  I had hoped they had kept that as it was always one of my favourite scenes in the film. It was so funny. Don’t you want me was a great song for the audition!
Every actor/singer on stage could sing. (Yes even Jimmy!) But Deco was breath-takingly amazing. His voice would get him laid no matter how gross his habits.  Killian Donnelly played the part really well. I also loved Jimmy, played by Denis Grindel. He was so personable. But every performer was talented and really gave their all. Outspan was just like you expected him to be. Joey Fagan still gets all the ladies (and even winked at me!).  I couldn’t fault one of them. And authentic lrish accents to boot!

Some things have been changed, but this did not detract from the overall greatness of the show. Imelda was Jimmy’s friend (not Bernie as in the film) and they made Imelda a brunette instead of a blonde. And there was no Elvis conversation with Joey The Lips Fagan– which I always enjoyed.
Some of the songs felt a bit removed from the genre, for example ‘what becomes of the broken hearted’ (Jimmy Ruffin) and I cant get no satisfaction (The Rolling Stones), but I realised why towards the end.

The end of the show is The Commitments giving us the performance of their lives. I was out of my seat dancing and singing at the top of my voice. As I was first row, it may have helped get some others out of their seats. I have never been shy and sang away is if my life depended on it.  Mustang Sally, River deep mountain high and Try a little tenderness are a few classics and the performers gave their all.
It was an amazing show. At the end someone sitting in my row came up to me and told me how impressed he was I knew all the words to every song.

If I could, I would see this every night. If you are looking for a feel good show - This is it!
 

 

 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Maleficent is magnificent


Maleficent is magnificent

We are going to re-tell a story …let’s see how well you remember it.
What a beautiful opening to this film. A young fairy called Maleficent who smiles at everything and everyone in her kingdom loves her.
This is no fairy tale. This is a film NOT for children. This is a film with adult themes. The theme of love, betrayal and revenge.
Yes the sweet Maleficent falls in love with a human boy…and he is power crazy. This film made me feel so sorry for Maleficent. I felt her pain when she was betrayed. I felt her love when she was happy.
The young Maleficent is not on screen for long but she sets the scene and is so sweet you think how someone can turn so evil. But of course if I had been treated the same way..I would also react that way. A woman scorned and all that.
The three fairies are funny and add a light hearted sprinkle to the serious themes of the film.
Strong female characters are rare in films now..so this was refreshing and a joy to watch.  Forget Salt. Forget Tomb Raider, this is  Angelina Jolie’s finest hour.
Excellent film. Excellent cast. And the girl who day-dreamed really understood Maleficent. Forget girl power.  This is woman power.

 


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

West Side Story hits Milton Keynes! (June 2014)


West side story

This is my all-time favourite musical. I grew up knowing all the songs and dreaming of finding love like this.  When something is so precious to you, it is a little nerve wracking to see how it translates to the stage.
I first saw West Side story on stage 16 years ago when I took my 10 year old son to a matinee performance.  I had been blown away with the choreography.  It was something that he and I shared for years.
So when I heard last year that it was on stage again. I knew I had to go.  I suggested it to my youngest son and my older son overheard and said he wanted to come and see it again.  So it was an extra special night that I went to see West Side Story accompanied by both my sons.
I was again worried it wouldn’t stand up to my high expectations. I had no need to worry.
The opening scene was very true to the film and was excellently executed.  It really set the scene of the show.  The dancing and chorography was outstanding.  I cannot say enough how amazing it really is.
I really liked the dance interpretation of how it would be if Tony and Maria ran away together.  Everyone was dressed in white and through the power of dance it showed no matter what, they could not escape what has happened.  It was a fantastic scene and one that would be deserving of time on Strictly.
The outstanding numbers for me were Gee Officer Krupkee, which is fun and well done.  It was true to the film and worked well.  I also loved how they call came together for tonight at the end of the first act.  Good use of lighting and set gave it atmosphere.
All the performers were excellent, but their were two who stood out to me.  Maria, played by Katie Hall, was a perfect Natalie Wood and had a good accent as well as being able to sing, dance and act.  Her performance was so powerful I was in tears for much of it.  Absolutely fabulous.  The other outstanding performance was that of Anita, played by Djalenga Scott. She was fabulous, giving energy, character and charm to the part.  The girls definitely stole the show.
Others that deserve a mention are Action, played by Matthew Hawksley and Anybodys, played by Jessica Fiala.  They both gave a true reflection of the roles and made the characters believable.
For the traditionalist there were some changes I was not that happy with.  America is one of my favourite songs.  But it relies on the dynamics of the men versus women.  Unfortunately someone decided that the change of clothes for the men was more important so they did it with one girl verses the rest of the girls.  This is just wrong.  It needs the men.  It needs the original words.  It needs not to be changed.  I was very disappointed with this rendition, not because of the effort of the cast, but because it really needs the men to be true to the story.
The other issue with the show is the order of the songs.  At the end of the first act they had already stabbed and killed each other but gee officer krupkee and I feel pretty were in the second act.  This meant you were sad when you should be happy. It wasn’t right to move the order around as it does change the atmosphere of the show.
This is no fault of the cast, but of the director and producer of the show.  It is a shame as otherwise this show was perfect.  And I rarely call anything perfect!
None of this detracts from the excellent performance of the actors/dancers/singers. They were all very professional and delivered an outstanding performance.
If you can get a ticket…go. West Side Story is amazing and I sure hope it isn’t another 16 years before I see it live again!

 

Monday, 2 June 2014

OAD 5th anniversary featuring Midge Ure (acoustic set)


OAD 5th anniversary featuring Midge Ure (acoustic set)

It was Only After Dark’s fifth birthday. It was also my anniversary.  I had discovered this wonderful club a year ago.
Once again it was sold out and packed out.  You couldn’t move for it was full of people with style and class.  The darkling’s were out in force.
Midge was to come on early so unusually this meant the club opened up at 8pm.  We got there about half past seven to find out that it was happy hour. Boy did that make us happy!
We went in early to get a good spot but that didn’t stop me from dancing to ‘The Bunker’ (Bollock Brothers) while we were waiting for Midge to come on.
I had seen Midge with Ultravox last November when they supported Simple Minds.  I had written back then how impressed I had been with Midge’s vocals.  (See that blog here: http://jasminestorm09.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/where-is-my-glittering-prize.html)  How he owned the room.  (And that room was the O2!).  How different would a small crowd of 200 be?  What would an acoustic set be like when we are used to hearing his songs with electronic backing?  I was about to find out.
He came on and sang a range of tracks including Fade to Grey (he was in Visage), many Ultravox tracks including, Dancing with tears in my eyes, The Voice, Love’s great adventure and Vienna, and some of his own solo stuff such as If I was and No Regrets.  He even did a riff from an old Slick track.  This man has style and fits into OAD perfectly.
He gave an excellent vocal performance….
but much more than that. He played guitar.  Not Ziggy but Midge!  He played it amazingly well.  A very talented man.
…But not only that, he was funny and charming.  He had the crowd eating out of his hand.  This must be challenging for a man who is used to being in a band.  And playing to a small crowd who he could see the faces of.  (Mine being right at the front!)
And finally he gave a rendition of Lady Stardust.  He told the story of the night he was at the Blitz Club when David Bowie came in.  He said everyone had thought themselves cool until that moment.  David Bowie is my personal hero and I loved hearing this story.  He played an excellent version of Lady Stardust and I was truly impressed.
Impressed with his professionalism.  Impressed with his sense of humour.  Impressed with his talents.  What a performance.  What a gig.  What a night!
My only disappointment was that Midge did not meet his fans afterwards.  We have been very lucky and spoilt with many specials at OAD having the artists meet you for a photo and signing.  I know I was not the only person who would have loved a photo and a word with Midge.
Well Midge…I didn’t get to speak to you directly…so here are my words to you.  I loved your performance.  Come back and visit us again soon.
After Midge had gone, we all danced and danced all night.  I love OAD.  I love my friends there, (I wrote a blog about that: http://jasminestorm09.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-girl-who-daydreamed.html) and I am proud to be a part of it.
A huge thank you to David, Sara and Sam for all their hard work so I can travel back in time once a month.  Long may OAD reign!