Archive for September, 2019


It’s an amazing injustice that despite the fact I purchased this band’s debut album, Showbiz, when it was first released, added to the fact I have seen most rock bands I like many, many times, I had never seen Muse until Tuesday September 17 2019. No reason, other than their shows were always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, I am glad this has now been rectified.

Watching Muse isn’t just attending a rock concert, it’s witnessing a theatrical spectacle and although I am usually more in favour of letting the music do the talking, this approach works for Muse. And it’s that mix of special effects combined with kick-ass rock which sticks in the memory most. From laser spectaculars, and an army of choreographed robot dancers, to the appearance at the end of a giant … erm, thing (Some sort of robot, monster, I think). The whole experience was immense.

Straight from the off, Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard showcased their recent album, Simulation Theory, throughout the show. Pressure is my favourite of the newer stuff, and I reckon I’d class it up there with the best in what is now 20 years of recording success.

But we also had the classics in Uprising, Plug in Baby, Supermassive Black Hole and Time is Running Out. I was also pleased to hear my favourite Muse track, Hysteria get an airing, and Starlight, too.

Towards the end, we had a mash up of Stockholm Syndrome, New Born, Assassin, Reapers and The Handler, all combined with that giant colossus on stage. Accompanying this, the release of hundreds of giant silver and black balloons, and yes, they were as massive as the music and effects.

I was lucky enough to have chosen a spot in the centre of the arena to stand. Fortunate, I say, as this had me within 20 yards of Bellamy and Co when they performed at the end of a catwalk, which they did on numerous occasions, including Dig Down.

To top off a brilliant night we had the mega Knights of Cydonia and everyone went home happy, including myself as I departed, having collared a huge black balloon as a memento, although it was a bugger to get in the car.

So, a late inclusion for Muse into my live arena, but hopefully, not the last from this wonderful band.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

Before going to see 9 to 5, I only knew three things about the show: Two songs and the fact it’s famous for Country and Western songwriter, Dolly Parton. And as the show kicks off, we get to see two of those with a video intro from Dolly before launching the title song, 9 to 5. A nice touch, but not needed as the cast straight from the start have the audience’s full attention with excellent song and dance, full of energy and perfected skill.

I had a special interest in this show, however, as Here for You was one of the first numbers I ever sang solo in my own stage exploits during a concert. Sitting centre of the stalls on row B, I got almost as good a view of Doralee (Ahem!) as when I was on stage.

Now, twenty minutes into the show and with both songs I was familiar with having already gone, I wondered if it had peaked for me. Not a chance. It does always help if I know songs, but such was the calibre of delivery, it didn’t matter. Around Here, Backwoods Barbie, Heart to Hart, Change It and Shine Like the Sun were all amazing. Great vocals with equally matching choreography.

Set in the 1980s, 9 to 5 is the tale of three women fighting their boss for equality, and leading the pack, former Eternal star, Louise Redknapp was outstanding as Violet. Then we had Amber Davies playing Judy and I have to say, what a shining performance, especially during Get Out and Stay Out. But how can anyone fit into the heels of Dolly Parton? Well, Georgina Castle did, and Dolly would be proud. The trio really worked well together and looked a close-knit team

Supporting well, though were Lucinda Lawrence as the devoted assistant, Roz, to the sexist Franklin Hart Jnr (Sean Needham). And we also had Christopher Jordan Marshall (Joe), Jemima Loddy (Missy), and finally, Laura Tyrer as the gloriously alcoholic Margaret.

9 to 5 is simply a fantastic feelgood show, full of laughs included in a good script from Patricia Resnik. But credit to the production on this tour who made the whole experience unforgettable. Jeff Calhoun (Director), Lisa Stevens (Choreographer) and Mark Crossland (Musical Director) led a great team.

A good indicator of how much I enjoy a show is if I immediately purchase an original cast recording. And I have (Well, streamed it, at least). This is a show not just for fans of Dolly Parton, but everyone. One of the best I’ve seen and appreciated by the entire audience on my visit.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

Let me take you back to the dark days of the 1980s. We had Thatcher (Ugh!), Orgreave, and just about every other abomination resulting from a decade of Tory control. However, it’s Friday after a night out in Brum and a few of us retreat to my mate, Ian’s, house. Here, with punk on the wane and before pretty-boy, bland, Depeche Mode became a cult institution, Ian treated me to music that … well, things you didn’t hear on Radio One (Unless you listened to Peel). One of these was a punk rock poet and I’d always say. “Put that guy on. You know … Nigel Wants to go to C&A and Russians in the D.H.S.S. Ian would oblige. I loved it. Then I got married and for the next fifteen years culture revolved around a surreal nightmare containing the Pet Shop Boys. Finally, my divorce and freedom with YouTube, Myspace and Facebook. Here, I began writing again and to my delight, I rediscovered Attila the Stockbroker.

I’ve seen Attila a few times now and the Kitchen Garden Café in King’s Heath is a great venue with character and intimacy. I sat on the front row. Then, showing the results of a bad flu virus and wearing a t-shirt of a man swinging his bollocks, Attila took centre stage.

You must hear him to understand, but I’ll try and explain. There is something familiar and at home about Attila the Stockbroker. Like the friend who always speaks sense. And I find myself agreeing a lot, I have to say.

Such heart-warming poignancy at times, but with an edge that cuts: The Leppings Lane End, Never Forget and Aunty Rose. But then you have the downright outrageous (and glorious) in A Hellish Encounter. What I enjoyed this time was material I had not heard before, but also renditions of oldies which have evolved over time. Libyan Students from Hell are now Corbyn Supporters from Hell, and I am proud to include myself in the latter. Plus, the classics too. I don’t think I’ll ever use someone else’s sleeping bag after hearing about Joseph Porter’s. And then there was the obligatory singalong to Prince Harry’s Knob.

If ever Attila is in town, go and see him. I can guarantee entertainment of the highest quality. And I picked up a recent CD and two books this time.

I haven’t seen my mate Ian for many years, but I’ll always be grateful to him for introducing me to Attila the Stockbroker. Punk rock isn’t dead, and neither is poetry.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

Just who the hell is Alan Menken? Let Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) enlighten you.

The Little Mermaid, Hercules, Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, Little Shop of Horrors and Pocahontas are just some of the shows by this wonderful songwriter and composer. Tunes from these and many more, including AMCS’s 2020 production of Sister Act will be featured in a showcase concert at The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock at the end of November.

AMCS have been producing quality shows for over 50 years and Magic of Menken will be no exception. With a talented cast, AMCS also benefit from having Mark Bayliss as Musical Director (Directing/Producing this time around too) and Sarah Beckett in charge of choreography. These are two people most companies can only dream of having so expect great vocals and harmony combined with excellent dance: Be Our Guest, Zero to Hero, I See the Light and Topsy Turvy, to name but a few.

One thing is sure, an AMCS audience always goes home happy and with mainstream theatre so expensive, this is a great alternative.

Magic of Menken is on 28 to 30 November 2019 (1930 start) at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock. Prices are £14/Adult with Concessions and Under 16s/£12.

Tickets are available by calling 07588 141841 or the Box Office on 01543 578762. Alternatively, you purchase online.

BUY TICKETS ONLINE HERE

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

It’s amazing to think that Soho Cinders is only the third outing for Third from the Right Productions. And it’s been a privilege to experience all the shows from this talented lot. And how they’ve grown. From a cast of six in Shout, to eight in Disenchanted, and now a full company with a massive 24.

Loosely based on the fairytale of Cinderella, Soho Cinders sees us in modern day London with our own Cinders (Robbie) trying to juggle his love life between the possessive Lord Bellingham and London Mayoral candidate, James Prince. Other elements from Cinderella include the ugly sisters in Clodagh and Dana (Two 1970s Eurovision names, perhaps?) and Robbie’s best friend, Velcro, who is unrequitedly in love with him. Of course. Velcro/Buttons. Took me a minute to get that one. Simple but clever.

In Styles and Drew, Soho Cinders have songwriters of the highest calibre, having been previously given the job by Cameron Mackintosh to add new songs to enhance the classic Mary Poppins for the stage, plus, the recent revival of Half a Sixpence.

Playing Robbie was Joshua Hawkins who gave a good performance, excelling in the number, They Don’t Make Glass Slippers. Opposite, him, Prince Charming was Adam Siviter who combined well with Hawkins on Gypsies of the Ether.

The last time I saw Kerry Davies and Sarah Coussens with Third From the Right, they played a clinically insane Belle and an out-of-rehab mermaid in Disenchanted, Now with more serious roles, they worked brilliantly together as Velcro and Marilyn in one of the numbers of the night – Let Him Go. Another performance of note was Carl Cook as the shady William, especially with The Tail That Wags the Dog. And I can’t mention character performances without heaping loads of praise on Gillian Homer and Natalie Baggott as Dana and Clodagh, especially during their rendition of Fifteen Minutes.

Supporting well on the night, we had Tony Newbold (Lord Bellingham), Amy Pearson (Sidesaddle), Kaz Luckins (Sasha) and Jake Winwood (Customer and Goldfish Man). Finally, adding narrative to proceedings was Matt Dudley.

As I have said already, Soho Cinders was a step-up with the introduction of chorus, and these new members worked well with energy and enthusiasm. It must be difficult for a relatively new company to build up camaraderie and a family atmosphere, but Third from the Right pulled it off.

Other top numbers of the night for me included: Old Compton Street, You Shall Go to the Ball and Who’s That Boy?

At the helm in production and having done a great job was Gaynor Whitehouse with direction and choreography, assisted by Jez Luckins and Dave Gardner. And in charge of an effective five-piece band, with high standards as ever, was Chris Corcoran.

The only criticism I would have of the show has nothing to do with production or cast, it is that the script felt a bit sluggish as times with not enough laughs. This I’d put down to the writers combining their obvious songwriting talents with delivering the book. You really do have to be top drawer in all departments to achieve this. Also, some of the lines could have made Robbie and James more likable. As it was, I had little empathy for them and more so those they left behind.

Still, we had a good show complete with a vibrant ending. A new dawn for a wonderful company. Long may they continue.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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