Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

08
Jun
09

Review: Radiophonic Workshop at The Roundhouse, May 17th, 2009

Well, I promised this, so here we go, lol. Jo! and I have a natter about it in the first Flashing Blade podcast, but I thought I’d pop a few thoughts – and vids – here for folks.

In all fairness, I had no idea what to expect. All of the Workshop’s output was created, realised, bolted together in the Maida Vale studios. So how well would this transfer to a live stage setting? Well, not too badly. Yes, there were the odd fluffs, but it couldn’t be helped.

It started off with the start of the Generic Sci Fi Quarry, featuring a white coated Dick Mills torturing a poor, early noise making machine of some unknown name. After that, Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb and Mark Ayres popped onto stage – all dressed as the boffins they are, white coats flapping. Each musician had their time in the spotlight, playing some of the music for which they are possibly best known. Well, except for poor old Mark who, technically, isn’t a member of the Workshop – however, as official archivist and the guy who saved so much stuff, he should have some kind of honoury Boffin-hood bestowed upon him.

It was very nice to see that the guys covered the history of the Workshop, from Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Orme, through John Baker and Delia Derbyshire (Huge cheer there – especially for Ziwzih Zwizih oo oo oo ) Interestingly, the guys did add a little to some tracks, playing stuff either live or cued in from the now obligatory notebook. The John Baker track, New Worlds had a live jazz second verse added which led back into the radiophonic version…with a certain children’s news programme logo hitting the main screen just at the right moment. Cue cheer, LOL.

The band had a band…brass, percussion etc. This was usefull on some tracks though on others it did tend to jar with what one recalled tracks to sound like.

Other tracks included Roger Limb’s ‘Sea Trek’, Peter Howell’s Greenwhich Chrous and Paddy Kingsland’s ‘Southend Pier’ from the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Of course, Doctor Who was covered. I mean, if that how the Queen knows the Workshop, it would be a huge ommision….

So, we ended up with a new version of the Derbyshire theme, done for the show, with added Tardis noises, Im assuming as marker points. Then the Tardis demat, something from The Wheel in Space, then the joy that is The Sea Devils. A bit of the Masque of Mandragora and then the guys went ‘live’. Well, as near as dammit. The Logopolis regenration, Nyssa’s theme, a suite from the Five Doctors – including the almighty fart of Rassilon. All with suitible graphics on the screens behind them. A bit later the Howell theme was played, with the main melody statement played live, as well as the middle eight and the odd chord. Unfortunetly, due to the tech and composer’s own skill, some of it didn’t work – playing against the sycopation in Space for Man/ The Case for the Ancient Astronauts, for eg, a bit similar to the middle eight of the Howell theme.

All in all, however, it was one hell of a night. A greatest hits compiliation from one of the most underated group of people in music. I’m so badly hoping they do more…

with thanks to all those who’ve shared on YouTube – beats my camera footage hands down, lol.

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09
May
09

Review: Big Finish – ‘Doctor Who – Orbis’

When last we left Doctor Who and his plucky girl assistant, Lucie Miller, Doctor Who had pushed that naughty Evil chappy, Morbius, over a cliff – some things just never change – and had unfortunetly forgotton to let go.. Oopsies… and Lucie Miller had been shot.

It happens.

Orbis carries on from where the last Paul McGann series finished. Well, for Lucie, anyway. For the Doctor, well…lets just say time passes….and passes…..and passes….

Lucie has been shot with a temporal bullet type mcguffin thingy by the Headhunter – who still reminds me of Neil Pye’s (from the Young Ones) mother on ‘Neil’s Heavy Concept Album’ – especially the track ‘Bad Karma in the UK’… ahem, I’m drifting. This bullet thingy means she can be killed and then ressurected more times then Ainley’s Master on a bad day. Actually, it sounds quite fun. It’d certainly let Richard Dawkins come up with definate proof either way, LOL. No, seriously, imagine the fun…you shoot Trevor, then bring him back, then shoot him, then bring him back then…. Instant YouTube classic if you ask me…Note to self: Remember to bring him back, tempting as the other option is… Ooh, but I’m bitchy this afternoon – I’m putting it down to only having had the one nice cup of tea so far and having to go into town ‘cos our local ATM no longer works ‘cos the local supermarket has shut.

Anyway, the Headhunter has somehow got hold of the TARDIS. Bless. That Ship is such a tart, honestly. And she needs to find the Doctor. Or else <DRAMATIC CHORD!> the universe will end. Or something. So off the two ladies pop, into Time, Space and Debenhams.

I may be lying about that last part.

The relationship between Lucie and the Headhunter is in places hilariously funny. Lucie is perfect Doctor Who companion material in that she’s thick, accidently clever, slow on the uptake, yet tenacious, plucky and the perfect foil to McGann’s Doctor. Talking of whom…

‘Old Doctor’ is stuck on this planet, see? And has been for, wait for it…. 500 years! Just as well this story has come along as he’s probably filled up that diary of his by now.

‘Tuesday – spoke to bubbling, molluscy type life form.’

‘Wednesday – spoke to bubbling, molluscy type life form.’

You can see how this may, possibly, get to someone. As it is he has the Sisterhood of Karn to thank for being stranded on this somewhat damp planet. Bless them and their amazing powers of teleportation. Possibly a map, an A-Z or a universal version of Tom-Tom may be of use to the dear Sisterhood…?

Anyway, there is evil afoot. No, really. Eeeevil. However, it’s a very clever sort of evil in that it involves using the local planning laws – people from Jersey will be all to familiar with this type of evil, lets be honest here. And somehow the Headhunter is involved. As is the Remote Stellar Manipulator that Morbius happened to have lying around the place. Now, face facts, when a Remote Stellar Manipulator gets involved you just know it’s going to end badly for someone – just ask Davros.

‘I say, you Dalek fellows, heres fun. I’ve got this Hand thingy – makes up for me only having the one, lets be honest here, chaps. What say we fire it off, eh? It’ll be a jolly hoot, what? Yes? Right oh…shoot the thing then. Sorry? What was that? Skaro’s sun..? Oh….Oh blast. Um…look, you chaps, I’m just going into this little escape capsule thing to have a think about what we’re going to do next. You just concentrate on mixing up some cocktails for the party later. What do you mean, ‘What party?’ You know, the ‘We now have mastery over Time’ Party? Yes, yes, ok, I admit, that went a bit pear shaped, but still, a partys a party… Look, let me go have a little think, ok? Oh and you may want to consider moving the ship as I think, just think mind you, that the Hand thingy may be on its way back here – and we really don’t want it’s sort hanging around, now do we?’

You see? It never ends well.

So, it’s been 500 years for Time’s Kitten…and..ah…he’s forgotton a lot. Including plucky girl assistant Lucie Miller. So, when she turns up, all dripping and grumpy, he hasn’t the faintest idea who she is and indeed, thinks she’s behind the Evil that may be occuring. Or at least, the nasty form filling at the local planning office.

Sheridan Smith continues to amaze with a wonderfully brilliant performance. She is, quite simply, the best thing to happen to the Big Finish range  in years. The charecter of Lucie brings out the sense of fun in the Doctor that’s been missing for so long. I’ve been moaning that Big Finish does have a tendancy to take itself far too seriously. Well, this play is very much in the style of ‘Partners in Crime’ – a hoot from start to finish. Though, without giving too much away, it doesn’t end well for the locals who all sound like Mattresses from H2G2 – they floop and glooble…I was expecting Marvin to turn up! Andrew Sachs is, I’m afraid, wasted in this production. He needs a decent role to really get his teeth into. And no, I do NOT mean Adric! Bring back Mathew Waterhouse, that’s what I say! McGann is his normal, sterling self – a bit grumpy, understandably, to be honest. And I’m wondering if BF are slowly aiming Doc 8 towards the Time War as he’s started to go on about ‘stupid apes’, something his successor was wont to do… Not that they’ll ever do a Time War series….shame that. Ah well.

So, bottom line then. A great deal of fun, not too much pre-knowledge of the range needed to enjoy this – and just who is the Headhunter really working for? She claims that without the Doctor someone has to take his role in the universe… I’m really enjoying these McGann series, mainly because of the dynamic between McGann and Smith.

But for Bod’s sake, someone take Nick Briggs into a little room and beat him till he agrees to change the theme. I said on the WhoCast that it’s a great track, just inappropriate to top and tail a play.

Buy this play – get the cd or download it…you won’t regret it.

25
Apr
09

Review: Ultravox, Hammersmith Odeo..er..Apollo, 24th April, 2009

Viewers who are aware of my peccadillos will be aware that I have a certain….um…passion about the music of Ultravox. So this review isn’t really going to be that critical, lol..Anyway, its more of a ‘what I did on my day in That London.’ sort of thingy.

So, for those that don’t know, a little bit of history. Ultravox started waaaaaaaayyyyy back in the early to mid 70’s and went through a few name changes until they settled on Ultravox.  They had a deal with Island records and came up with three albums..then the deal ran out. The singer, John Foxx left the group, as did the guitarist. So the three remaining members, Warren Cann, Billy Currie and Chris Cross went on the hunt for a new lead man. It was suggested to them that they might like to get Midge Ure involved.. They then went ahead and became incredibly succesful, being one of the most influential bands of the eighties. Their track, Vienna, is considered by many to be the definative track and sound of the eighties.

In November 1988  the band split as they’d slowely drifted apart.

And I never go tto see them in concert. Oh, I’d seen the Monument video, yes, and seen their stint at Live Aid, but that was it. Ever since I discovered the band in 83 – yeah, I came late to the party, blame my mother – something about the sheer power and poetry of their music appealed to me. It wasn’t just hard edged pop or rock with synthesisers. There was a classical element to it which struck a chord with me – no pun intended.

Over the years I’ve been to Midge Ure solo concerts, but, well, no offence to Midge, it just wasn’t the same – and rightly so. Midge solo is a very different sound to Ultravox and damn good in it’s own right.

However, Ultravox reformed. The 4 members from the eighties’ line up got back together and have been playing a string of dates across the UK. And last night they camed to Hammersmith, to what many have called the band’s spiritual home, the Hammersmith Odeon – or HMV Apollo as it’s now called – blech.

I’ve never been to a ‘proper’ gig as such before and the fact it was Ultravox had me bouncing off the walls for a few days beforehand. Jo and I met in Victoria and tubed it to Hammersmith. Jo needed to collect her ticket and when she did found a lovely little surprise – vip passes that would allow us to the vip lounge and the after show party. Both of us, truth be told, were a little..hmm…surrealed out just by the fact we were seeing the band – seeing their name on the front of the venue was a warming, if odd moment. Anyway, not managing to get tickets to the pre-gig ‘Voxgate’ meant we had to pop to a local boozer – and my Bod, we actually discovered decent pub grub! It actually exists!

After a couple of rums and the grub, we popped back to the venue to find the street outside packed with people. The band had sold out Hammersmith. We eventually got in and bravely fought our way to the merchandise fortress. Then we dug out a couple of certain passes and popped up to the completly empty vip lounge, LOL. To be honest, it was just what I needed – some time away from a large mass of people, as my brain was edging towards ‘panic-mode’. That and my legs were a lil wonky and so the provision of the Sofa of Extreme Comfort in the vip lounge was a blessing, lol.

We missed the support – apologies for that, but took our seats – which were rather good uns – in anticipation. The stage darkened…

And the ‘tinks’ began.

Astradyne.

What a great way to open a show, a huge wall of sound blasting out a wonderful instrumental track that every fan knew. My face started to break into what can only be described as a dazed smile. A quick look at Jo had me realising that any hope for an inteligent response off her would have to wait for a couple of days. The crowd had got to it’s feet, everyone at a sold out Hammersmith just eagerly awaiting the time of their lives.

Billy Currie

Billy Currie

The crowd cheered when Billy popped forward with his fiddle  – a long held iconic moment for the band. After that, We Stand Alone and, alas, despite UN Resolutions to the contrary, I started to sing.

I can only apologise.

Oopsies.

Billy, Midge and Warren

Billy, Midge and Warren

mr-x

mr-x

I’m not going to go into it track by track, there would be no point. Nearly all the hits were there – I may be wrong but I think only We Came To Dance and Love’s Great Adventure were missing. They played nearly all the Rage In Eden stuff, nearly all the Vienna stuff – including some choices that some have found surprising – Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again) being one of them – with a wonderful swinging lightbulb on the screens behind the band.

Cloistered Shadow.... :P

Cloistered Shadow.... 😛

Midge Ure

Midge Ure

Warren got to do his Mr. X vocals, proving he still has one of the deepest voices in music, lol. The audience was incredibly lively and totally into it, each track being greeted with a roar, and finished with huge applause. The band themselves looked like they were having a whale of a time, smiling, beaming even..  Midge’s voice was probably the strongest Ive heard it live. Yeah, there were a couple of little hitches – soemthing happened with The Thin Wall and during the encore of Sleepwalk Billy’s Mac decided to conk out, meaning no solo from him.

Billy Currie with orgasm face, lol

Warren Cann to the left and Billy Currie with orgasm face, lol

Chris Cross (no, really...)

Chris Cross (no, really...)

The crowd sang along happily – it was a joyous event – blasting out One Small Day and Hymn. Then the final song; The Voice, long a favourite of fans at Ultravox concerts. Tbh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard three drums being snuck onto front of stage greeted by such a huge roar from the audience. You see, the band finish The Voice by beating the living daylights out of the drums – its a show stopper. They didn’t let us down.

THE Voice

THE Voice

Midge Ure

Midge Ure

billy avec violin

billy avec violin

And so the show finished. Time had flown by – to be honest it felt dreamlike – I’m still wondering if it actually happened, lol. Being in that audience felt almost like being in a huge congregation of a gospel church. I had a simpley wonderful time, fulfilling a teenage ambition.

Ultravox

Ultravox

Buggered if I know what I’m going to do now, lol.