Monday, 29 November 2010

'End Of The Rainbow' at The Trafalgar Studios

On Friday we went to see 'End Of The Rainbow' which, as you might guess from the title, is about the final days of Judy Garland. I don't know an awful lot about Miss Garland other than a few films and some songs, and this play didn't really fill in the background.

The play opens with Judy's pianist in London tootling away on the piano in her hotel suite when she arrives in London to play her residence at The Talk Of The Town in the late 60s, accompanied by her new fiance and manager who is 20-odd years younger than her. The play then alternates between her hotel suite and the nightclub, with a few songs followed by depressing scenes and then another song at the nightclub. We gradually see Judy's dependence on pills of one sort or another grow and her performances become more chaotic and shambolic.

Tracie Bennett's portrayal of Judy was great stuff but I was less convinced by anyone else in the play. At one point when the play faltered I remember wondering whether I was watching an impersonators show, with someone doing a good Judy, someone doing a poor Brooklyn accent and someone else doing a rather camp piano player. I found the play rather hard work and couldn't quite see where it was taking us and then I realised it wasn't particularly taking us anywhere. It was a series of set pieces - Judy at the Talk of the Town, Judy wanting pills, boyfriend bellowing, camp pianist being camp, etc etc - rather a particularly strong narrative. The most annoying bit of the play was when the gay pianist tells the boyfriend that it was the gays who loved Judy first and would keep her memory alive - did he really say that in 1969 or is that hindsight? Eh?

Much as I enjoyed Tracie Bennett's singing as Judy I was quite frankly stunned by the instant standing ovation at the end. Was I in America, I wondered? The play is manipulative and tugs all the right strings but overdoes the Judy-as-the-drug-fueled-madwoman, boyfriend-as-evil-manipulator and pianist-as-gay-friend bits. It was all terribly one-dimensional and false. Still, people seemed to be enjoying it so maybe I'm just a bit jaded? Or maybe it isn't a good play but has the right level of populist moments with a great lead to make it work.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Christmas Lights

This evening I sneaked out of work early for dinner at the Soho Pizzeria followed by a viewing of the Christmas lights on Carnaby Street.

In recent years Carnaby Street has won the Christmas lights competition hands down. The designer has flair and imagination, taking a risk and seeing what works. My favourites are the giant Christmas tree lights from around 2005 and the giant snowmen from 2008. Last year was a little bit ho-hum (other than the lovely pink reindeer) but it's back to form this year with a solar system theme, with Santa in a space suit floating in the sky and colourful planets, asteroids and meteors strung across the street.

The lights on neighbouring Regents Street with its boring net of lights across the street and film adverts (same as for the last few years) and Oxford Street with its bright Christmas presents wrapped in lights (same as last year but still quite good) add brightness on these gllomy, cold nights, but don't really add any fun or thought. Carnaby Street at least tries to take a different view on traditional Christmas lights and I'm pleased it does. Here are a couple of photos taken with my phone (sorry for the poor quality) to give you an idea...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

New Christmas Records

It's always difficult getting the Christmas Laws right. One of my Christmas Laws is that I can't listen to Christmas music until 1 December. That's when I get out all the CDs and load them onto my iPod and can start listening to some old favourites again. I also like to discover new favourites and every year brings a few new Christmas records. This year I've got four new Christmas albums to get to know and enjoy.

The first one is 'Destination ... Christmas' by The Superions. For those of you who've never heard of them before then you need to know that Fred Schneider is the singer and co-writer of the songs and Fred is, of course, the voice of the most wonderful B-52's. Fred's involvement means the songs are quirky, electronic, a bit daft and not quite what they seem. I think my favourite is 'Fruitcake'...

There's a new record from the Indigo Girls called, 'Holly Happy Days'. The packaging is great, with a cardboard ribbon wrapped round it and three card baubles inside - a lot of thought and design has obviously gone into it as well as into the songs.

Another new record is Annie Lennox's 'A Christmas Cornucopia' with Annie singing traditional carols and I'm pleased that, today, 'This Is Christmas' by Petula Clark was delivered. This is another record of traditional songs with a couple of new ones written by Petula. I've listened to just a few tracks from each record (I'm saving them for December) and I already love Petula's version of 'Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant' in her impeccable French. Mind you, I also love Annie's more upbeat version with some big drumming and harmonising.

Bearing in mind the Law Of Not Listening To Christmas Music Before December I haven't actually listened to all these albums yet. I've dipped in and played a few songs - just to make sure the CDs work, of course - so I still have a lot of unheard music to enjoy next week.

Of course, the big Christmas news this year is the free single from Poly Styrene (and Celeste Styrene) 'Black Christmas' - needless to say, I love it.

What new Christmas music have you discovered this year?

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Human League - 'Night People'

The wise one's know that The Human League are stirring and have a tour in the diary over the next month and a new album due out early next year - and a single released NOW.

'Night People' is the latest slice of dance synth-pop from the Human League in advance of the new album and it sounds mega tres fab! It has all the makings of a classic League single with it's repetitious lyrics and foot stomping insistant electronic beats. It sort of feels a bit like Petula Clark's 'I Know A Place' in a (very) odd way because the Night People know where to go. Of course they do, and we'll be heading to the Royal Festival Hall on 10 December to see the Human League in all their splendour. I can't wait!

You must download it now from your downloady site of choice - it's 69p on Amazon so grab it now! And take a look at the video - very night people!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

'Fela!' at the National Theatre

This week we went to see the new musical in town, 'Fela!', the Broadway production transferred to the Olivier stage in the National Theatre.

I enjoyed the show on Broadway and it will always be associated with the freezing cold of Snowmaggedon on the streets with the heat of the Eugene O'Neill theatre as the setting for Fela's nightclub in Lagos, Nigeria, The Shrine. And I'm pleased to say that they've taken the same approach with the staging of the London show, with the theatre decked out in posters, strings of lights hanging from the ceiling, paintings on the doors, decorating it like The Shrine.

'Fela!' tells the story of Fela Kuti, Nigerian musician and political activist who invented Afrobeat (especially in it's 20 minute extended version!). The show is loosely set around his last performance in The Shrine in the late '70s and tells us how he went to London to go medical school but really how he discovered the music that would eventually emerge as Afrobeat and how he was politicised in America by the Black Power movement of the late 60s. The second half of the show is darker, with an extended dream sequence of him on a trip to the underworld and a chilling sequence about the invasion of his compound and the abuses his extended family suffered at the hands of the army.

That precis doesn't give you any idea what the show is really like. It throbs. It is hot. It sweats. It is sex. It is ebo (marijuana). It is cake. It is loud and proud and in your face with dancers gyrating and thrusting in your face and groin, non-stop, and they're all over the place - on the stage, in the aisles, in the balcony and on the walkway around the top of the stage. There is no escape so don't waste your time even trying. The dancers were magnificent and must be the fittest people in London at the moment to sustain the almost non-stop movement throughout the first half. I was weary within minutes just watching. They really are impressive.

All credit must go to Sahr Ngaujah in the role he originated on Broadway as Fela, and won all the awards last year. He controlled the show and controlled the audience, including numerous ad-libs to shout outs from the audience. He got us all - and I mean all - on our feet to do the clock after only half an hour. Has that ever happened in the National before? The clock is a series of hip and crotch thrusts aimed at the stations of the clock with the most blatant being 6 o'clock and midnight. And we did it, it's great fun (just watch out if you've got a bad back).

I'd also single out Paulette Ivory for a name check who played the American Black Power activist who has some great songs, both solo and with Fela, and who has a great voice and great moves. And, of course, I can't fail to mention Jacqui Dubois who played Miss Brown, the hat seller ("international styles, local prices") in 'The Harder They Come'. She didn't have a very obvious role but it was nice to see her anyway. The band also deserves a mention, being on stage and playing before the show starts and during the half time break.

The alternate Fela is Rolan Bell, who played the lead in 'The Harder They Come', our rebel hero Ivan, so there's a nice link with one of my favourite productions. I'd quite like to see 'Fela' with Rolan in the lead just to see what he does with the part.

If you get the chance, go and see it - it's a great night out, you'll learn something and you'll see some incredible dancing. Do the clock!

I Have A Life Too...

You might think we're heading into the season to be merry, but I think we're in the season of the reality game show. We've had 'Strictly Come Dancing' and 'X-Factor' for a few weeks now, and we've just seen the start of 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here', three prime-time telly programmes designed to keep us occupied on the long, cold and damp winter nights. Personally, I'm enjoying Sue Perkins and Giles Coren in 'Live The Good Life' which has some genuine originality and humour at its core.

It's really odd the way we seem to invest so much in people simply because they're on telly for a few weeks. I accidentally caught 'X-Factor' and saw the unfortunate Aidan get voted off and was astonished the following morning to see the vengeful anger on Twitter. People seemed to be angry and in tears about this boy who (a) couldn't sing and (b) couldn't talk but (c) could pull faces in answer to questions like 'how do you feel?'. I think it's quite easy to be able to tell whether someone can sing - it's called carrying a tune - and he clearly couldn't, but people still got upset. I don't understand.

I find myself getting really annoyed with the judges and their stupid comments about how someone who can barely hold a tune 'owned the stage', how we're finally seeing 'the real you' and how they've 'got it all and they 'are a star'. I think that's all just plain cruel. How many people from these types of talent shows go on to have a career? Very few. So why do these stupid judges build them up when it's plain as dish water that few of them can actually sing. As Damon Albarn said the other day, it's a karaoke coliseum - there's no originality or real talent, just a bunch of hopefuls singing other peoples' songs and if that's not karaoke I don't know what is. Cut back on the light show and the hoards of dancers and it might be a showcase for talent - but I doubt it. It's a marketing dream and is all about money.

I never used to watch 'celebrity' shows like 'Strictly' and 'I'm A Celeb' but they've developed a sort of morbid fascination for me and I now tend to watch the first episode when we meet all the s'lebs knowing that I'll be saying 'who's he?' and 'what's she famous for?' as they're introduced. There are too many soap and reality TV 'stars' taking their moment of glory before fading back into their character or obscurity (whichever). Still, at least they grab their 15 minutes and try to milk it for all it's worth.

Then there are some real stars and I can't help but wonder why on earth they are on these shows. There's the lovely Felicity Kendall demonstrating her flexibility on 'Strictly'. Now, she may not be the best dancer (OK, let's be honest, she's not) but she has 40 years behind her on TV and stage and even starred in a film about her own family back in the 60s. And she's incredibly bendy. There's also Pamela Stephenson who seems to be known as Billy Connolly's wife these days, but I remember her from 'Not The Nine O'Clock News' way back when. And she is a good dancer.

There are a few real s'lebs on 'I'm a Celebrity', like Nigel Havers and Shaun Rider but most mean nothing to me and, quite frankly, I'm not interested in any of them although it's nice to see those cheeky Geordie lads, Ant & Dec, on telly again. I do like a bit of Ant & Dec now and then. I only started watching 'I'm A Celeb' when a certain John Lydon went on it and got pecked at by ostriches or emus or something, and, of course, George Takei aka the immortal Mr Sulu.

I am weak and will probably watch on and off over the next few weeks - some things are inevitable...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Poly Styrene - 'Black Christmas' Video

I've been hugging myself with glee over the new video for Poly Styrene's new single, 'Black Christmas'. The single is an excellent Christmas present from Ms Styrene and it's lovely to see her again in the video, along with her daughter Celeste (and doesn't Celeste Styrene look like her mam!). I last saw Celeste wigging out massively on the stage of the Roundhouse a couple of years ago when she joined Poly for the encore of 'Oh Bondage, Up Yours!' at the X-Ray Spex gig (buy the CD and DVD by clicking on the X-Ray Spex logo on the right >).

Poly looks in fine form and flashes the biggest smile in the world at the end. Welcome back Poly!

Poly Styrene - Black Christmas

Friday, 12 November 2010


It's amazing what you can come across by accident online and today I discovered Movember (and no, that's not a typo). Movember refers to a moustache in November - start the month clean shaven and grow a tache for the rest of the month so you become a walking advert for mens health issues, particularly prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Charity is the beneficiary of Movember in the UK and I quite like the strapline of 'A gentleman is, after all, still a man no matter how gentle he is'.

I grew my facial fur by accident three years ago and wouldn't be without it now so there's no way I'm shaving it off, but I'll happily let it grow and be styled appropriately to support Movember. I could always have a Salvador Dali-esque tache on my upper lip to demonstrate my support for this important work.

If you know someone taking part then please support them - if you're doing it yourself, then well done that man!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Poly Styrene - 'Black Christmas'

The wise ones already know about the new free download from Poly Styrene, her Christmas single, 'Black Christmas'. If you haven't given it a listen then scoot on over to Poly's site, sign up for her email list and get an early Christmas present from Ms Styrene in the form of the mp3 download.

"I'm dreaming of a black, black Christmas
Black smoke blows against a midnight sky..."

It's punky reggae in the best traditions of 70s punk and it's got Poly's unique take on Christmas and her great voice. Go on give it a listen - I love it!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Who Are You?

Hello, nice to meet you, but who are you?

I sometimes marvel at the number of people who look in on my blog, and the peaks and troughs of traffic (ie, you). Why do you look at some posts and not at others? You're still looking at my Jane Aire & The Belvederes post (for which, thanks) and even Jane Aire herself has commented on it, but I have no idea who you are. Of my recent posts, 'Whalesong' has been very popular but who reads poetry?

You rarely seem to read my last post, rather you read something older - I still see people are looking at my account of my hernia operation. Why is what I did last year of more interest than what I did last week? I am puzzled.

From the number of visits, I went off the boil earlier this year but have been slowly improving and I have no idea why. Would you mind giving me some feedback? Why do you like some blog posts and ignore others? I'd really like to know.



Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Poems On The Underground - 'First Contact'

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a poem in the 'Poems On The Underground' series that I saw on the Tube ('Whalesong') that made me sit up and take notice, and I saw another one today, 'First Contact' by Hattie Grunewald. Hattie is another youngster penning interesting work.

The poem is self-explanatory really, but I like the hope that sits behind it, the aspirations and, ultimately, the let down. It reminded me of getting my first contact lenses and that the first thing I did once I started wearing them was to go out and buy a pair of sunglasses. Take a read and see what you think:

Well done, Hattie! She's 18 and is on Twitter as @madhattie so if you like the poem you should follow her. I am.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Ray Davies - 'See My Friends'

After a more-than-usual frustrating day at work I popped into HMV on the way home to get a couple of new records - 'See My Friends' by Ray Davies and friends and 'The Lady Killer' by Cee Lo Green. When I handed them over at the counter there was a momentary flicker across the face of the lad at the till almost as if he was thinking I was getting Ray because I'm old and was getting Cee Lo for my children, again, because I'm old. As Cee Lo would say, 'Fuck You' but I, of course, wouldn't be so verbal.

I think it's quite brave of Ray to release an album of cover versions of his own songs so soon after releasing a previous record of 'covers' in 'The Kinks Choral Collection'. I was rather dubious about the choral record but was won over to the new versions after a couple of listens, especially after being lucky enough to see most of them performed live last year.

Part of the risk with this album is that, with a few exceptions, we're all used to hearing Ray's voice in the lead, lending his north London accent to the songs and making them real for us. The arrangement of the music might alter or there might be a choir in the background but it's still Ray singing. This album is different in that he shares singing duties with his friends, so that top-line sound is very different and, on a first listen, I'm not sure it always works. For example, Jon Bon Jovi's contribution to 'Celluloid Heroes' is negligible and his singing style detracts from the carefully crafted words with his warbling (but I like the guitar work).

At the same time, some of the songs instantly work and add a new texture and flavour to the songs we're used to. In this category I'd pick out 'Lola' with Paloma Faith which works for me and it's nice to hear a woman singing a song about a Soho transsexual with her voice reflecting and complementing Ray's voice. I've also got a sneaking liking for 'You Really Got Me' with (and please forgive me for this) Metallica, 'Waterloo Sunset' with Jackson Browne and 'Dead End Street' with Amy MacDonald. I also like the version of 'All Day And All Of The Night/Destroyer' with Billy Corgan in which Ray does a re-telling of the story of 'Lola' in a rather fun way that you need to listen to to understand.

I think it'll take a couple more listens to firm up my opinion of the record but it's definitely in thumbs up territory. Well done Ray for taking the risk - now all you've got to do is get all your friends together at the same time for a gig! No pressure then!

I think this is one of those records with different tracklists for different releases and I vaguely think I've seen somewhere quoting slightly different songs on the European and American versions of the CD so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled on iTunes for 'bonus' tracks or whatever.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

'Company' at The Queen's Theatre

Last Sunday it was 'Merrily We Roll Along' and today it was another production in the Sondheim at 80 series, 'Company'. Again, it was a staged concert version of the musical with the Donmar cast reunited and staring the excellent Adrian Lester and Sophie Thompson. It was the same format as last week, with a production of the whole show without sets or costumes, the cast sitting in a large semi-circle on stage throughout just getting up and moving to lecterns for their lines and songs.

I haven't seen 'Company' before and was a bit surprised to find it all about marriage, the good, the bad and the accidental, set in a knowing New York. It strings together different scenes with various married couples who all know our hero, Bobby (Adrian Lester) who is the only single person in the show and who keeps saying he's ready for marriage yet somehow isn't married.

I'm sure there are people out there who will know the exact number of words in each Sondheim play but this one seemed very wordy to me, more words and fewer songs than usual. It also seemed to have a cast of actors who can sing rather than singers who can act. Adrian Lester is a fine actor and a charismatic centre for the production but he's not a singer ... or so I thought until the final song of the production, his song where he can let rip and let rip he did most excellently. And Sophie Thompson is a fine actress who did herself proud with 'I'm Not Getting Married' at breakneck speed. I also liked Haydn Gwynne's drunken 'Ladies Who Lunch', even spilling her drink with some expansive arm movements. There were some nice comic performances in what was otherwise a rather serious production but the audience loved it and awarded it a standing ovation at the end.

So, that's another Sondheim musical I can cross off the list. There are still more to come but that's four in the last few months: 'Into The Woods', 'Passion', 'Merrily We Roll Along' and 'Company'. Wonder what will be next?

SLADE Reunion

I've kept this a secret for far longer than I thought I'd be able to, but I must spill the beans before I burst - SLADE are getting back together next year! O yes they are, Sir Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Dave Hill and Don Powell will stride across the stage again in 2011. I've decided it will be so and so it will be. I have faith.

SLADE's first hit was 'Get Down And Get With It' in June 1971 and their first Number 1 was 'Coz I Luv You' in October 1971 so, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, I predict a SLADE reunion in the second half of 2011. And I will, of course, be in the second row of the audience for the reunion gig.

Now, SLADE don't actually know it yet, but I've been planning their setlist and stage show. Much as I'm tempted for it to be old school with just the lads on stage giving it some heavy rock guitar and drums, I think I need to update the set with more modern lights and stuff. The banks of amps will still be at either side of the stage for Jim and Dave to climb up onto, but they will be glitter-encrusted and have a bank of lights focused on them to generate the right effects. Sir Noddy will, of course, use his mirrored top hat to manage the light show.

The show will be in two halves and the first half will include the current line-up of SLADE as well as Sir Nod and Jim. They've kept the band alive all these years and deserve some credit so will have a role to play in the reunion gig. Then it'll just be original SLADE in all their glory playing the big songs of yesteryear but including some of the 'B' sides they never did live back in the day. I'm so looking forward to hearing 'Take Me Bak 'Ome' and 'Mama Weer All Crazy Now' again.

And, of course, it will recorded for a live CD and a DVD that will be out in time for Christmas 2011 (so guess what will be in my letter to Santa?). It'll probably be broadcast on BBC2 at some point over Christmas (I haven't negotiated that bit yet) and be followed by a rare screening of 'SLADE in Flame' and a 'SLADE at the BBC' programme. Clearly my work schedule is going to be pretty busy if I'm going to have all this ready for next year. Still, it's got to be done.

Of course, work has already begun to get the spotlight onto the Lords of Noize with a Facebook campaign to get SLADE to the Christmas Number 1 again rather than an X-Factor dirge. You can show your support by clicking here and doing the right thing by joining the group.

Right. I'd better get back to my planning and wait for the phone to ring with the commission from SLADE's management.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

'When We Are Married' at The Garrick Theatre

Roll up, roll up! It's old pros season at the Garrick and what old pros they are! Rosemary Ashe, Lynda Baron, Susie Blake, Michele Dotrice, David Horovitch, Roy Hudd, Sam Kelly, Maureen Lipman and Simon Rouse - if you live in the UK you know at least half of these people, if not by name then by the characters they've played on telly, and what great fun it is to see them all on the same stage!

I actually didn't notice the cast when I booked the tickets a while ago - after seeing 'Time And The Conways' at the National Theatre a year or two back I decided I wanted to see some more plays by JB Priestly so I booked tickets to 'When We Are Married' when it was announced. And I'm very pleased I did.

It's a big daft farce about hypocrisy and class set in Yorkshire with three couples who were married together at the same time 25 years earlier and are now celebrating their anniversary when it turns out that the vicar who married them wasn't qualified to do so. So it's major shock horror in the Edwardian living room with the middle aged worthies who have to face some truths about themselves. I sat through the second half with the biggest smile all over my face as the play moved from problem to resolution.

It was great fun to see some of the actors in the flesh for the first time, with Sam Kelly getting the first great rise out of the audience and almost an ovation for simply breathing out after taking a swig of whisky - a marvellous comic moment. It was also a delight to watch Michele Dotrice in action. I'd always viewed her as the 'straight man' in 'Some Mothers Do Have 'Em' but her comic timing was spot on tonight with every little gesture and sigh timed to a tee, a great comic performance and she's gone way up in my estimation. And Roy Hudd, a grand old man of comedy, was excellent as a drunken photographer in full flow on the stage. Susie Blake almost turned into Maggie Smith every now and then with her shrill put downs and Maureen Lipman was, well, Maureen Lipman and well worth watching. Lynda Baron will always be Nurse Gladys Emanuel to me so seeing her playing a Yorkshire woman of firm views was spot on.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a dreary November night and it sent me away with a smile on my face - what more can you ask? The women (particularly Michele) outshone the men and had the best lines. Go and see it and put a smile on your face. Cheers!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Mary J Blige at the O2 Arena

Last night we went to see Mary J Blige at the O2 and, after seeing her on her last tour I knew to expect my soul to be wrung dry of all emotion and spilled on the stage in front of her in homage. Mary gives good show and, just to be sure we all heard our favourite songs, she sung approximately 273 songs in the 1:40 hours she was on stage, an exhausting repertoire dragging us into her world of pride, self-confidence and righteousness.

She opened with 'MJB da MVP', her own tale of empowerment and then segued into song after song after song, one extended medley of her songs after another while she prowled the stage, never still, walking back and forth, crouching, springing, a wild creature whose mission is to set us free from ourselves and the crowd loved her. She was backed by a powerful band and singers, all on a raised set in the back half of the stage, leaving the front of the stage empty and clean for MJB to prowl. She was joined a couple of times by two hip hop dancing lads but only for a minute or so each time which meant she was, effectively, alone on the front half of the stage for the majority of the time. Such power has she, that I hardly noticed, eyes riveted on the woman commanding this vast arena with her own personality, voice and songs, a very impressive performance. And the time flew by, no sooner had she started than it seemed the show was nearly over with the big songs towards the end of her well constructed set.

She wore a skin-tight navy blue sparkly cat-suit, like a blond Catwoman in razor-sharp sequins as she prowled the stage before changing into a gold sparkly tunic for the second half of the show, that also included a short acoustic set - yes, MJB goes acoustic. There were two minor disappointments, very minor. Firstly, that she let the crowd sing most of 'I'm Going Down' - I want to hear her sing it - and the second was that she didn't sing 'Whole Lotta Love' from the latest album. I love her version of that song and if you're going to sing it anywhere it's in London at the O2 where Led Zep got together their reunion gig a few years back. I'd already imagined the pyrotechnics and light show as she screamed out the words... but not, as the case was.

The highlights for me were the biggies, as you'd expect. 'Not Gon' Cry', the joyous 'Just Fine' and the heart-wrenching 'No More Drama'. How on earth can Mary crouch down on the stage and still manage to jump up from the stage in that position? Is it humanly possible to jump and maintain that position? She's a very fit woman, obviously. And, suddenly, the show was over and the band was playing an outro as hoards of people streamed away to the exits. Feel free to come back any time, MJB.

MJB has a strange demographic going on with her audience - well, I was there for a start. The couple next to me must've been in their mid-50s and they were boogieing on with the best of them (I did my own trademarked shuffle). It was nice to finally meet David whose path we keep crossing but never actually meeting and, finally, we did as we discovered the oddness of the 'Blue Room' (or whatever it's called), an empty bar while the bars in the Arena have huge queues. I'll remember that for the next time.

Of course, as with virtually every trip to the O2 it's a problem getting home. The Tube strike didn't affect trains as far as Waterloo so we could've got the tube but I'd booked a cab, thinking I'd be clever for a change. Of course, the damn thing was 20 minutes late and then took the strangest route across south London, using every narrow, car-lined street the driver could find on the way home. Either I never learn or the O2 is cursed... probably both!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Obsessions and Addictions

I seem to go from one obsession to another at the drop of a hat these days. It must be something to do with the weather, putting the clocks back to GMT or, perhaps, there's just a lot of good news around at the moment?

No sooner do I hear about a new Christmas album from Fred Schneider and the Superions than I hear that Poly Styrene is giving away a new Christmas single with an album to follow in March next year with the excellent name of 'Generation Indigo'.

That's on top of the marvellous Dresden Dolls getting back together and touring in America - I obviously hope for a gig in London and a new record and I refuse to give up hope.

Of course, in the flurry of news about the above events I totally forget there's going to be a new Human League album - the album has been pushed back until next year but the new single, 'Night People' is released in 20 days. How do I know? Because Mr Oakey tells anyone who clicks in their new website here. Is it OK if I say 'wow' now?

All I need is another new Buffy Sainte-Marie record and an original SLADE reunion and my cup would well and truly make the place damp.

You see, I have a theory, especially after seeing Sir Noddy on telly the other night, that 2011 will be the year for the great SLADE reunion. It'll be 40 years since their first hit single and first No 1, the perfect time for a reunion. I predict late summer or autumn for the reunion gig that will be recorded for CD and DVD. By the way, watch out for me in the second or third row in front of the stage in the DVD, since that's where I'll be. Do you want me to predict the set list?

I *believe*.