Monday, 20 April 2015

Heaven 17 play to win at the Jazz Cafe

It’s been a while since I have been to a gig.  I have been poorly and actually had to cancel going to a gig in December.  So to say that I was looking forward to seeing Heaven 17 at the Jazz Café is an understatement.  I hadn’t gone to the Jazz Café last year and really regretted it as they play tracks that you wouldn’t hear at any other gig.  This year we had booked tickets for the Saturday night.  We decided to go posh and book a table so see the band and have a meal.  I was upstairs with the penthouse, not downstairs with the mob!

The Jazz Café is in the heart of Camden.  I love Camden. It’s my spiritual home.  It’s not quite what it used to be, it has become very commercial and touristy.  Pose with a punk for a pound anyone? No? But it still is one of the last places to go to find unique and unusual finds.  Kings Road and Carnaby Street have both lost their uniqueness, so for me Camden is still desperately clinging onto what it once was, fighting the corporate brands.  Why is there a ‘GAP’ in Camden? GAP screams of corporate and conservative clothing.  Camden should be about celebrating diversity and individuality.  And I was very happy to be back there.  We headed to our usual small café for a drink – and who should I bump into? But my German Heaven 17 friend, Thomas and his friends from Frankfurt.  It’s a very small world in the Heaven 17 world.
We headed into the Jazz Café for the sound check and bumped into Martyn outside. (As you do).  It’s lovely to see familiar faces who share a genuine love of Martyn’s and Glenn’s music.  I had not been into the Jazz Café before; it was a very small venue.  I just knew this was going to be a special night. I love intimate venues that make you feel it’s a performance just for you.  I have outgrown huge fields, surrounded by drunken people and portaloos.  This was much more my style. 

Suddenly there was a big bang and something blew.  Although we had lights – something bad had happened to the soundboard.  (Don’t ask me what – I’m not technical).  So sound check was delayed while technical types tried to fix it.  Glenn joked that it might be an acoustic set tonight and started to strum ‘Ziggy Stardust’ on his guitar.  Glenn and Martyn seemed unfazed and very professional about the whole situation.  It got to 45 minutes before the doors were due to open before they could test the sound levels for the gig.
We were asked to leave and come in again so that we could be ‘counted’ and as I went outside of the venue, who should I bump into but more of my Heaven 17 family.  We were only outside for a few minutes when we were back inside again.

I headed upstairs and met more Heaven 17 fans.  This really was a gathering of people who genuinely love Heaven 17.  I was told by someone that they think I am Heaven 17’s number one fan.  But I cannot say that as that honour goes to Steve, also known as Sumo, who goes to every single Heaven 17 gig and has done for many years.  But I still took it as a compliment.  It is true that I love Heaven 17.  Ever since (We don’t need this) Fascist Groove Thang I have loved them.  If I have to explain it, then you just don’t get it. But some of you reading this will know and understand.  I love the lyrics – they are meaningful and tell a story. (Example: Let’s all make a bomb).  I love the tunes – clear upbeat synths, which is especially obvious at the start of Geisha Boys and Temple Girls.  And I love the relationship between Glenn and Martyn.  Their friendship and warmth is very apparent on stage and it really makes them great to see live.
So back to Saturday night, we started to get excited as the lights went down and the black hit of space sounded in our ears.  Glenn told us that tonight’s show was being recorded, so we can all buy a copy of this and know we were a part of a very special night.

The fab songs continued with a mixture of songs from different albums.  One of my personal favourites of the night was ‘I’m gonna make you fall in love with me’.  I am also always happy to hear ‘A Crow and a Baby’.  The lyrics make me laugh (mushrooms growing from your back) and I will get shot down for saying so but I always preferred it to being boiled.  Glenn said he had no idea what it was about.  Martyn told him the crow and the baby was a metaphor. Glenn said thanks – that make it so much clearer!
The show was a long set and us lucky fans were given a fantastic range of songs of Heaven 17, early Human League and the odd Bowie.  Glenn does such justice to Boys Keep Swinging.  I am a huge Bowie fan and would normally avoid any Bowie covers, but Glenn and Martyn are also huge Bowie fans and giving it the Heaven 17 treatment, it is just perfect.  Of course if you want more of this you can see Glenn sing more Bowie in the upcoming Holy Holy gigs this June.

The set list was designed to be different from Friday’s set list.  I had been gutted to know that ‘Sunset Now’, ‘Contenders’ and ‘And that’s no lie’ was played yesterday so alas was not on the set list for Saturday.  However, this taught me a valuable lesson.  Next year I’m booking both nights!
Set List:
The black hit of space
I’m your money
Let’s all make a bomb
Geisha Boys
I don’t depend on you
Play to win
Height of the fighting
Come live with me
We live so fast
A crow and a baby
Loving feeling
Crushed by the wheels
Let me go

Boys Keep Swinging
Being Boiled

 And word or two on how club nights have changed….

After the gig had finished, we hung out at the upstairs bar chatting to Heaven 17 and waiting for the 80s vs 90s disco to start.  Now this is where I had a watershed moment once the disco started.  I realised that the majority of people there were an average age of 21.  And some were dressed up in fancy dress clothes.  Not in a kind homage way – more a taking the mickey way.  I saw a queen of hearts and mad hatter, Mario and a mushroom and a 90s boy with baseball cap flipped up and tracksuit.  Now you know I love Only After Dark night club.  Yes it’s a club and I love dressing up there.  But this felt different and I felt like a fish out of water.  These people weren’t even born when the 80s music was around.  It is time to retire from ever thinking I would want to club again.  Thank goodness for OAD. My music. My genre. My peer group.  And I love it there. Long may it reign!



Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Producers. Milton Keynes Theatre.

I know nothing about this musical except there might be Nazis in it and it was written by Mel Brooks.  I figured that if a Jew wrote it – it cant be offensive so I thought I'd give it a go.  After all, what else is there to do on a Monday night in Milton Keynes?

 Reasons to see this:

1.     Humour

From the first scene I knew it was going to be funny.  I loved the cast singing about how bad a show was. Great characters and a brilliantly written script.  Good start!

 2.    Costume changes

What I began to notice is every number was a big production number.  I did not count the amount of costume changes but there must have been a lot. I loved it.  This was a show that really gave you everything.  Even women in pink sparkly costumes coming out of filing cabinets!

3.    This show has a real story.

It’s a story about two producers who realise that they can make more money from a Broadway flop than from a success.  Now that’s an interesting story.  And it felt like there was some truth to it too.
4. The scenes were fantastic.

I loved the outfits, the character definition.  The songs were so strong.  Each song was a massive production number in its own right.  Every scene had been thought through and was executed brilliantly.

5.    You won’t all get this but one of the funniest bits was when Cory English accidentally sat on his horn.  I don’t think he hurt himself badly but said to the audience that he won’t be doing that again.  Apparently having the horn hurts.

     6.    Cast

The cast were amazing.  They all were brilliant actors, singers and dancers.  There was no weak link in this casting performance.  I have mentioned a few below.

Gayer than frank

David Badella is wonderful. I am a big fan of his work.  I have seen him in Jerry Springer the Opera, The Rocky Horror Show and more recently in Peter Pan.  But nothing – NOTHING – had prepared me for him in a dress and being more camp than Franknfurter from Rocky! And to top it all he had Louie Spence by his side!  This show makes Pricilla Queen of the Desert feel butch!  David is so very talented.  He can sing.  He can dance.  He can act.  And boy can he camp it up!  He looked amazing in his dress!  His first number is ‘Keep it Gay’ and boy do they stick to the script.  Louie also deserves a mention – he makes us all laugh as he kicks his legs and steals every scene.

 Is Phil German?

Phil Jupitus plays Franz Liebkind, who is an old German Nazi.  He was – well Phil.  I thought he did a sterling job and made the role his own.  I wonder if he really likes pigeons?  I bet a few have gone missing from the show. ;)

 Jason can sing!

Jason Manford is one of the producers.  Forgive me Jason, but I had no idea of how great your voice is.  I was really really impressed.  I saw you Monday night and watched you on Ordinary Lies on Tuesday night.  What am I going to do on Wednesday?


The love interest was played by Tiffany Graves. That girl was cartwheeling across the stage.  And has a body I am envious of.  She played the ‘dumb blonde’ to perfection.  Endearing and charming.

Corrr its Cory!

The star of the show was Cory English who played Max Bialystock.  He was in almost every scene and was funny, could sing dance and had a presence on the stage that you just loved.  He was truly loveable. And gave an outstanding performance.  You might not know his name initially but I will now never forget him.

Forget what are you going to do on a Monday night. We should be doing this every night!