Monthly Archives: March 2011

Monkeys, Meatballs and Magic!

Unfortunately you can’t, with any good conscience, review a Derren Brown show as such – because it’s packed full of things I could spoil by doing so, which would be rather unfair to performer and readers as-yet-to-see-the-show alike.  Not that my site gets that much traffic, but well, you know what I mean.

Rich and Em kindly bought Cat and I tickets for Derren’s ‘Svengali’ tour this weekend at Liverpool.  Unfortunately Cat was poorly, so sensibly opted to stay at home whilst the rest of us set off early in the morning due to some diversions – because Rich and Em had to meet up with their wedding venue, which is kinda en route, we found ourselves with a whole day to kill before the gig.

We decided to visit The Monkey Forest near Stoke, which was ace – it’s quite easy to describe really, a woodland enclosure full of monkeys.  Barbary Macaques to be precise, and they were great fun – watching the baby monkeys playing in particular was hilarious.  I don’t think it that you could make a full day out at the place, but £7 for an hour or two’s monkey magic is well worth it.

Onward we headed to the North West and went to Ikea to get some tealight holders for the impending wedding, and took the chance of course to grab some meatballs – nom!  On the trip we managed to offer Cat’s ticket to Mark, who lives in Manchester, so we arranged to meet him in Liverpool in time to watch England stroll past Wales.

So we watched the match in the Walkabout in Scouseville on one of the best definition big screens I’ve ever seen.  To say it was a walk in the park for England is an understatement – game over after 15 minutes or so, and barely a sweat broken.  Despite not really being into international football to any great degree it’s nice to watch on occasion.

For some reason Torres doesn't seem popular!

After further mooching around – a Subway, a quick drink in a really dodgy pub near the theatre (that stank of piss, and was tastelessly bedecked in Liverpool FC memorabilia – I suppose that’s an occupational hazard in Liverpool itself though!) it was time to take to the theatre itself.

The show was at once excellent, enthralling, stimulating and entertaining – I won’t spoil any content, but Derren Brown never disappoints.  I think, on balance, I liked his last show Enigma better – but this was plenty beguiling and confounding enough.  And a little sinister.  Also hilarious, because Mark was singled out quite early in the show and as a result revealed an ingenius story about himself (after being warned about surreptitious camera use and threatened with being asked to leave!)

I didn’t manage to grab a frisbee, again – indeed, only one came up to the circle where we were sitting.  Never mind!  It was still tremendous show, and well worth missing out on more direct involvement because of Mark’s revelations – which admittedly was trumped somewhat later, all I can say about that is ‘Hammer Time!’

Then it was for poor Rich to finish off a very long day with a nightime drive back to Nottingham.  All in all, a long but thoroughly entertaining day.  Not looking forward to being back at work in the morning…!

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Your policies have failed the test of time, ‘coz you sold ’em down the river..

The Levellers - in Glasgow the night before we were to see them..

It’s no secret on these pages about my mild obsession with all things Levellers – and they didn’t disappoint last night to pick me up after another serving of turd courtesy of Forest.

I hotfooted it straight from the City Ground to meet the rest of our group going to the gig, and we headed straight to the early-opening Rock City.  Spotted Jen, Amanda and Brian at the front of the queue, as ever!

Also saw the perpetually dishevelled Mr Chadwick ambling up the other side of Talbot Street, I imagine having had a few cheeky pints down at Langtry’s.

First up though were The Wonderstuff, a band I was dimly aware of ‘in the day’, and have been listening to more recently – wondering why I didn’t know more about them.  At least, two of the original band were there – but they were great fun.  Miles certainly seemed to be genuinely enjoying his time on the stage and this was infectious into a greater degree of crowd participation than you’d usually get for a support act.

I watched the support from a cunningly secure eyrie on the balcony which provided a cracking view of the stage, but was a bit distant.  The big plus side for The Levellers in this gig – the 20th anniversary of Levelling the Land – was that they were playing it in order, so I knew which songs were coming up.  After a montage of political imagery the boys took the stage, and I’d found myself a suitable spot in the mosh pit as they broke straight into One Way.

The thing that struck me, around three people from the front in the middle of the stage, was the volume of people around me singing along with every song.  This is an album that, twenty years on, still speaks to people with the ferocity it did back in the day – indeed, the crowd singing competed with the PA which I’ve never experienced before.  It’s quite moving really.  Impressive too that people were finding the air to belt out singing whilst leaping around and the usual pushing and shoving!

As the half-way point of the album was reached a selection of B-sides featured whilst the virtual LP or tape was being turned over.  I was starting to tire from my proximity to the stage, but really wanted to be up close for Sell Out so toughed it out to do just that – it was a worthy endeavour, it’s probably one of my favourite songs on the album.  It’s followed by probably the first song of theirs that ever really ‘hit’ me back in the day.

Another Man’s Cause is a timeless anthem and sadly seemingly always relevant – it’s also a quieter song.  My timing was pretty good in making a tactical withdrawal to the balcony from this point, because I wanted to hear the band rather than the fan singing at this point.  It worked really well – I’m getting a bit too old to last a whole Levs gig in the mosh pit!  Being right at the front is okay, but 3-5 people back is hard work!

Eventually Beanfield ends the album proper – there was time for a few extra tracks like Cholera Well and Beautiful Day before oddly we were outta there by 10pm, a bizarrely early finish.  Having had a fair bit to drink throughout the day though, I was ready to head home rather than stay out.  I think I made the right call – including the chicken tikka kebab from Victoria Kebab on the way to the taxi.

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Without our stories and our songs, how will we know where we come from?

I’ve been spectacularly lax on updating this site really.  Life’s kinda ticking along which doesn’t inspire updates – I suppose it should do still, but I’m lazy too.

However, excitement is mounting for me as The Levellers come to Nottingham on 12th March as part of their 20th anniversary tour for Levelling the Land.  To say I’m unfeasibly excited by this prospect is a massive understatement.  Of course, in football too Forest remain in the mix for promotion but have faltered of late in their form – hopefully they can get back to winning ways tomorrow when Hull come to town.

Other excitement for a gadget-nut like me is that we’ve bought some new home entertainment things – after our last ‘proper’ telly blew up (probably because one of the winged menaces landed a direct hit down the back of the air vents) we’ve made do with a smaller cheap one – which has done admirably.  We are finally joining the proper HD revolution though.

We are planning on wall-mounting the new telly in a recess in the chimney breast – this will prevent our feathered friends from sitting on top of it you see.  Over-engineering, perhaps – but it will look pretty too.  To go with the telly we have an alarming array of wires and peripherals to plug into it, as well as a splendid hand-made unit to house them.  That arrived today.

Unfortunately the builder who is going to do the difficult bit for us is tied up for three weeks so we’re going to have it set up on the new piece of furniture in the interim, which is pretty exciting in itself.  We’ll be a three-console household which feels rather decadent, particularly since I’m not a particularly hardcore gamer by any stretch of the imagination – but well, meh.. the PS3 is also an excellent blu-ray player and media streaming device which was the main reason.

Finally a blast from the past caught up with me – Audiogalaxy was my favourite p2p downloading means in the early noughties.  I used to install the satellite application on my work PC which had uber-fast internet connectivity and then remotely send whatever music occurred to me whenever to it, then brought them home on zip disks (remember them?!) to add to my library.

After it was closed down – understandably given the questionable legality of the operation – it was a real bind.  Well, it’s back – albeit in a very different, but still bloody useful, guise.  You see, you can install their ‘helper’ programme on your computer housing your music collection – and then access that collection wherever you are with an internet collection or, for iPhone users at least, on your phone.

Nice features like integration with Last.fm, Twitter and Facebook are good bonuses, and I’m hoping that in the future they might enhance the social media aspect of the project by enabling you to listen to your friends’ music collections etc – really cool, I like it a lot.  It means I can refine the music I carry around with me on my iPhone now and free up space for, well, other stuff (as yet to be determined).

Good to have you back, Audiogalaxy!  Rapidly approaching is my birthday and then a week-and-a-bit break in Dorset which I’m looking forward to, could use some down-time!

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