Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Welcome to my world – Depeche Mode at LG Arena, Birmingham. 27.01.14

Welcome to my world – Depeche Mode at LG Arena, Birmingham. 27.01.14

I was excited about this gig.  I had not seen Depeche Mode live since 2009 (Masters of the universe tour) and was keen to see them again.  So I had patiently waited until now.
I need to confess to you…can you be my personal Jesus?  For many many years, I told people that I didn’t like Depeche Mode.  This isn’t true. I love them.  But I told people that as my ex-husband loved them.  I protested too much because I didn’t want to like what he liked. I was young.  But the truth is – Depeche Mode are better than ever.  They have stood the test of time and came up smelling of roses.  They continue to produce great albums which are on a par with the legendary Joy Division.  So that is my confession.  I do love Depeche Mode. I can say it loud and proud now.

I got a bit lost finding the LG Arena.  It was my first time to this venue and I ended up walking around the whole of the NEC twice before walking in the right direction!  Well at least I was building up my stamina for the gig!
The LG Arena is impressive.  Not quite as big as the O2 but big enough and with lots going on outside before you go in.  There was a band playing as you walked in.  A live band!  I don’t think I have ever been to a gig where there is a gig within a gig!  And even the security guards were friendly and helpful.  (I have been to venues that make you feel like a criminal – Hammersmith and Brixton come to mind), so it was refreshing to have friendly security at such a big gig.

And people seemed happy.  They were all happy to be at the last gig of the Delta Machine tour. And what a gig it was.
After buying up the merchandise, we headed straight into see the support act.  For some reason they had pulled the whole gig forward half an hour so I felt a bit sorry for Feathers as many people were still milling about outside not realising they were missing it.

Feathers are a dark electronic band with a female lead singer.  She was very good.  Actually they were a very good band and probably not appreciated with only the die-hard DM fans in the venue at the time.
But then you are welcomed into Depeche Mode’s world.  I feel Delta Machine is one of the best DM albums to date and the band played several tracks off the album, choosing to open with Welcome to my world.  The words to this are so touching.  I just adore this track.  I can almost hear it as a film score to a vampire film…

And if you stay a while
I'll penetrate your soul
I'll bleed into your dreams
You want to lose control

I weep into your eyes
I make your vision see
I'll open endless skies and right your broken wings.
Welcome to my world!

This was followed by the second track of the album, Angel.  (Do you see a theme developing?) Angel is dark and angry.  These tracks symbolise why DM are still so successful internationally after 30 years.  They provide a way to feel, when you feel low, feel angry, feel angst.  These are the songs to fill your heart.  This is not the pop music ‘Just can’t get enough’ DM of old.  This is a darker DM looking to fulfill your every desire to full satisfaction.  I want to be satisfied completely.
The set list was excellent, giving full satisfaction for new fans and old.  The big hits were there such as Enjoy the silence, Policy of truth and Personal Jesus, of which Dave Gahan had the whole crowd trying to ‘reach out and touch faith’.  Dave is the minister and knows how to work his flock. We all have faith in DM.

Martin Gore sang some songs on his own.  Martin has a pure voice (in contrast to Dave’s dark sexy tones) and it was just beautiful to hear him sing Slow (from Delta Machine) and when he sang shake the disease I was nearly in tears feeling his pain.
Here is a plea
From my heart to you
Nobody knows me
As well as you do
You know how hard it is for me
To shake the disease
That takes hold of my tongue
In situations like these
Understand me

I want to understand you Martin!
The truth is that if you go to a Depeche Mode gig, you are going to have a good time.   They are professional, know how to work a crowd and certainly put in the effort on stage.

To the ladies sitting behind me or Rules for a DM gig. I came to a DM gig to enjoy myself.  Enjoying myself means, standing, dancing, singing, cheering, clapping and generally letting the band know I am loving what they are doing.  To say I am being inconsiderate cause I chose to stand up and dance means you are either too old to be going to a Depeche Mode gig or you need to realise I was indeed very reasonable and you should try going to a New Order or Green Day gig to really experience gig life.  I am only 5ft and have never asked anyone to sit down at a gig.  Never!  The bands want you to get up and dance.  So if you plan to go to a gig that is not a classical concert – expect people to stand up in the seated seats!  Sit down for a Depeche Mode gig?  You gotta be joking!!!!
Set list

Intro (Excerpt from 'Welcome to My World')

Slow (Sung by Martin)

But Not Tonight (Sung by Martin)


Shake the Disease (Sung by Martin)




Sunday, 26 January 2014

Last Vegas

Last Vegas
This is a feel good movie.  It is The Hangover movie for the over 40’s.  And I loved every moment of it.

It is full of acting royalty.  Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman and of course Robert DeNiro.

And the script is outstanding.  It is funny without having to resort to being crude or disgusting such as the sequels to  The Hangover film. 
I cannot say who the demographic is for this film as the age range in the cinema varied from about eight years to 80!  This is not what I would call a family film, but it is certainly much milder than some of the other options out there at the moment.

The story is a familiar one.  One guy of four friends is getting married in Vegas and they have to throw him a bachelor party. (Stag do to us Englanders!).
It is an adventure of a weekend but with heart and soul – which Bridesmaids and Hangover do not have.  Maybe I am just getting old.  But I loved this film.  It was a predictable story but with fantastic performances, fantastic script and heart – I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It is a fantasy film – Because a 20 year old pretty young thing would never go with a married 60 something guy unless he was a millionaire and single.  Also how many of you get free accommodation in Vegas?  Yeah, thought so.  It is pure fantasy but ideal for a wet January weekend.
Go cheer yourself up and see this.  It will be a refreshing change from Mandela, The Railway Man and 12 years a slave.

Jason Donovan has kissed my hand and other reasons to go see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!

Jason Donovan has kissed my hand.  Have I told you that?  It was a long time ago and yet people today are still interested to hear that story.

It is because of that story that my sister bought me tickets to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert starring Jason Donovan for my birthday.
So one rainy Saturday afternoon in January, we glammed ourselves up and went to Milton Keynes Theatre to see the show.
And what a show it is! Priscilla makes The Rocky Horror show look like a shy closeted virgin compared to this!
Firstly I have to warn you how much I am about to use the word ‘Fabulous’.  Cause it is absolutely and totally FABULOUS!
The costumes were second to none and I have never seen a show with so many costume changes!  There were cake costumes, ostrich and feather costumes, paintbrush costumes (I kid you not!) and many other outrageous costumes, fake eyelashes (longer than I have ever seen!) and a lot of pink!
Some of the one-liners were really funny – ‘Go take your hormones’ – comeback was ‘Yes I just saw a whore moan’.
Jason Donovan even got a line in saying ‘how he had always fancied Scott from Neighbours’.
I loved the opening lines, ‘Hello ladies and….er ladies.  Who doesn’t want to dress up in makeup and glitter and dance around…oh yes…the lesbians!’
It is a well written script, and was delivered well.
I did love the lead in to MacArthur Park.  Bernadette and Bob had been eating cake and drinking champagne.  They left the cake out in the rain…I don’t think that I can take it…as it took so long to bake it…and I’ll never have that recipe again. Oh no! Just brilliant!
And the bar scene at Broken Hill.  A very funny and well-choreographed scene with the red-necks and mullets.  The contrast with the drag queens just made it really funny. Fabulous!
The whole cast were fabulous but I need to give a special mention to the following for their outstanding performances.
Felicia (played by Graham Weaver) – he could really sing and was fantastic at camping it up. I just loved his performance.
Bernadette (played by Wayne Fitzsimmons) who carried the whole show!  He was a perfect Bernadette (even though he was the understudy for the role) and really showed us how talented he is. Outstanding performance and very moving in places.
The three girls who were like mermaids in the air doing all the singing were absolutely fabulous. They could really sing! Forget ‘The Voice’.  These ladies know a tune or two.
I also have to mention the young boy who played Benji.  He is not named in the programme but was outstanding in his role.  I know he will be big one day with that sort of performance under his belt.
In fact the only person who I didn’t think gave their all to their performance was Jason Donovan.  His dancing and singing was half-hearted at best.  He really looked like he was struggling with his performance and at the end he said he was exhausted and glad there was only one more show to do.  Jason – that is not the way to keep your fan-base! You should always give 100% or just not do the show.  I know he is better than that as I have seen him in other performances.  It looked like he was frightened to camp it up too much.  All he did was to show how talented the other performers are around him.
I totally loved the show. It’s the most camp and outrageous show around. But just don’t see it with Jason in it!
PS. Did I mention they had my lipstick on?!  My lipstick from the Clothes Show.  You don’t remember?  The photos never lie! ;)



Thursday, 9 January 2014

It's Panto season! Snow White and the seven dwarves.

It was a show like no other.  Snow White is my all-time favourite Disney show and I was delighted to hear it was this year’s panto at Milton Keynes Theatre.  I was doubly delighted to hear that Kev Orkian was going to be one of the stars.  I had seen him a few years before and remember how much he made me laugh so I was really looking forward to it.

 We had stalls (row cc so very near the front of the stage) and despite it being a Monday night in January, it was a warmish evening with not much rain.  So of to the panto we went. Oh no we didn’t. Oh yes we did! (What?!  Too early?!)

The performers were brilliantly cast and although I don’t think Snow White lends itself as easily to panto as ‘Cinderella’ or ‘Aladdin’ does, it was a good panto, full of a range of songs, dances and comedy.  I know I am getting old when the first song sounded like The Clash’s ‘Should I stay or should I go?’ but turned out to be a song by One Direction called ‘Live while we’re young’. (I hope Mr Cowell has paid the duties for stealing the song!).

Kev Orkian did not let me down.  He made me cry so much (with laughter) I am sure he could hear me.  My favourite bits of Kev were:

·         Gagging at the ugly woman

·         Commenting on the trees moving (It was painted scenery)

·         The song with the prince about being all alone

·         And finally…he brings kids onto the stage and ad-libs with them.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the poor kid who got a jigsaw puzzle in this day and age. He just hugged her and the whole audience felt sorry for her.

Kev is a true professional and I would highly recommend going to see him if you get the chance. He is just brilliant! I know he is also a talented pianist but we didn’t see that in this Panto.  Oh no we didn’t!

Although the show was very funny – the thing that was the funniest and what we will remember for a very long time to come, was the ‘Mr Smelly’ that my son had to sit next to (well I couldn’t sit next to him or I would gag). When I say he smelled. He SMELLED!! It was so bad I could taste it and felt I had a tissue out to cover the smell for most of the show.  My nose had been violated by the stench of that man.  He obviously wasn’t homeless as he had paid for a ticket and had a mobile phone.  But he was alone.  I just hoped people didn’t think we were with him or that we were the ones that smelt.  This wasn’t just a smell of B.O., it was the smell of someone who hadn’t washed in weeks or months. The last time I had smelt anyone that bad was in middle school where a boy on my table smelt the same.

When the wicked queen talked about snow white drawing her last breath, I knew how Snow White would feel.  I was gasping for breath and had to go out in the break, not for a drink but for some fresh air.

Just before the second half I got talking to the lady sitting behind me. (Behind you!!!Oh come on this is panto-season!)  She moved up a seat cause he smelt and got her perfume out and sprayed him with it.  It didn’t help much but I couldn’t stop crying with laughter.  I don’t think I would have the nerve to do what she did but was so grateful to her for trying.  I felt her and I carried the audience this night as many of them didn’t shout out much and didn’t stand up to dance.  I believe I was the only one standing up and dancing but this is nothing new!

Jennifer Ellsion is a talented singer and looked fabulous.  I loved her dress and she did make a very good wicked queen.  I just wish she would leave more time for the booing – otherwise we miss what she is saying.  Snow white was played by Kate Stuart and she had a lovely singing voice.  She didn’t seem hugely confident and I wish she had interacted with the audience more to get them to warm to her.  When Herbert was about to stab her in the woods the only person shouting no was the woman behind me. (Behind you!!!)  The prince was played by Shaun Dalton and he could sing and was very good at playing the slightly dumb prince.

However the other outstanding stars of the show were the seven dwarfs. I don’t know if it is still politically correct to say dwarves, but they were professional actors and were so good at portraying their individual characters.  I know Warwick Davis needs no introduction – he has been in everything including Star Wars and Harry Potter.  Well he didn’t get where he is today by not being a very talented actor – and my personal favourite of his in the show was when he did the Elvis impersonator songs.  I never saw that coming and boy was he great!  It was a total joy to watch.  I do believe I was the only one dancing to his ‘suspicious minds’ and wish I had brought some knickers to throw at him!

I did love all the dwarves. It was nice to see real actors play these roles rather than children and as professional actors they really brought the characters to life. I did recognise most of them from Star Wars and Labyrinth – they are true veterans.  I had seen Danny in the pub across the road a week before and starred at him. I hope he realised it was because I had recognised him from the movies. I just wasn’t brave enough to go over and say hello. I do regret that now. I’m sorry Danny!

I also have to give a mention to the dancers.  Thriller was absolutely fabulous. Michael would have been proud of you.  I wanted to get up with you and join in.  It was perfectly executed.

All in all it was a very good show.  I did miss men in drag doing ugly sisters or Aladdin’s mum but it was lovely to see a Panto where everyone had talent and wasn’t just in it cause years ago they might have been on the TV!  So a huge thank you to all the cast and crew for such an entertaining evening.

However – I was so glad to get away from the seat and breathe again. I carry a big handbag but never thought I would need to carry Febreze.  We got home and bathed as soon as we could!