Glastonbury announce Pilton Palais Cinema line-up!

Glastonbury has announced its line-up for the Pilton Palais Cinema at this year’s festival. The list is below or you can follow the link here for more info.

The area is always a highlight of every year at Glastonbury and is well worth checking out for a brief time, even if you only catch one film!

The whole thing is being curated by Tilda Swinton, returning for her second consecutive year. Her film Okja is lighting up Cannes right now and will no doubt be an interesting prospect for those in attendance.

My highlights are the two silent films: Metropolis and The Adventures of Prince Achmed. I’ve seen Metropolis several times on the big screen previously, but never with a live musical accompaniment. If you’ve never seen a silent film done this way then either of these are a must, though their favourable time slots will no doubt mean they will be popular choices.

Here are the full listings, in no particular order.

Wednesday
Sing
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story
Donnie Darko
Enter the Dragon

Thursday
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (with live score by The Guildhall Electronic Music Studio)
Robocop
Alien
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Frozen Sing-a-long
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Big Lebowski

Friday
Doctor Strange
Bunch of Kunst: A Film About Sleaford Mods (featuring guest appearance by the band)
Okja (UK Premiere)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Lupita: Castle in the Sky

Saturday
Metropolis (with live score by The Old Police House Collective)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Don’t Look Now
What About Bob
Bag of Rice
Gimme Danger

Sunday
Advanced Screening (TBC)
Paterson
Your Name
Rushmore
Hedwig

Live music review – Elton John at Leicestershire County Cricket Club, 11th June 2016

Setlist:
Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
The Bitch Is Back
Bennie and the Jets
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Daniel
Looking Up
A Good Heart
Philadelphia Freedom
Piano Improv
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Tiny Dancer
Levon
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Have Mercy on the Criminal
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
Your Song
Burn Down the Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me
All the Girls Love Alice
I’m Still Standing
Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore:
Candle in the Wind
Crocodile Rock


Elton John returned to Leicester for the first time in 40 years to play to a packed crowd of eager middle-aged middle-class concert goers. The day was geared towards his fanbase – all tickets were seated and it the whole thing was wrapped up well before 10pm. The main flaw was a vast underestimation of how popular fish and chips would be with a crowd who arrived before 5pm.

Elton didn’t waste any time getting stuck into his biggest hits, blasting into an epic take on Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding, before picking up the pace with The Bitch Is Back.

These concerts can always run the risk of such a well-established artist like Elton John just going through the motions. His touring band has been together for a while and have been playing these songs for decades, but it didn’t show. The important thing was that they all looked thrilled to be there, a sentiment that transferred directly to the audience. It wasn’t until he got into the slow-paced A Good Heart from his latest album Wonderful Crazy Night that the crowd died down and took a breather.

The mood was only soured when Elton launched a tirade towards some over-zealous security guards at the front of the stage, who appeared to be forcing the crowd to stay seated. Elton refused to continue until they sat down themselves, and this confrontation caused a slight break in the fun.

It must be difficult to stay in a bad mood, however, when your songs are being sung word-for-word by 1000s of adoring fans, and as the drinks flowed and the night drew in, the crowd fell in love with the superstar all over again. With songs this good, it’s easy to see why.

Live music review – Travis live at The Roadmender, Northampton, 25/01/2016

Setlist
Everything At Once
Writing To Reach You
Love Will Come Through
Driftwood
Paralysed
Side
Re-Offender
Animals
Where You Stand
Three Miles High
More Than Us
Closer
Turn
Flowers in the Window
Sing
Blue Flashing Light

Encore
Good Feeling
Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Back in 1999, Travis were on top of the world. They’d enjoyed moderate success with their debut album ‘Good Feeling’, but with ‘The Man Who…’ they had become relentlessly popular. Songs such as ‘Writing To Reach You’, ‘Turn’, ‘Driftwood’ and ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ were hard to avoid that summer, and they cemented their success with a glorious headlining slot at Glastonbury in 2000.

They may not still be considered mainstream, but those that have stuck with them know their form has never really dropped. The intervening years have given us a plethora of excellent album releases, from the radio-friendly ‘The Invisible Band’ in 2001, through the politically-driven ’12 Memories’ in 2003 to ‘Where You Stand’ in 2013, which is arguably their strongest set to date. Indeed, only 2008’s ‘Ode to J. Smith’ failed to trouble the top five of the UK album charts, showing that the plentiful die-hard fans kept coming back for more.

With 2016 promising new album ‘Everything at Once’, and with a couple of well-received singles in the bag, Travis decided to go out on a mini-tour to road-test the new material for these fans. I was there for the first of these gigs, at the Roadmender in Northampton, to catch their return to the stage.

The 850-strong crowd were in fine voice as they smashed their way through the first handful of songs. Opening with new track ‘Everything At Once’ was a brave move that paid off and it has already clearly been well received. However, it wasn’t until ‘Writing To Reach You’ kicked in that the audience really got going. A couple more hits followed before the next new track ‘Paralysed’ was given its first airing. It sounded good but singer Fran Healy admitted it would take five or six listens before any new material would truly sink in.

With an audience such as this – most were members of the mailing list that had been tipped-off about a ticket pre-sale – the more obscure songs will always be appreciated. Both ‘More Than Us’ and ‘Good Feeling’ from their debut album received huge cheers, as did ‘Blue Flashing Light’ as it closed the main set. It was this set closer that proved to be perhaps the highlight of the night, clearly now a fan favourite despite being buried as a secret track on ‘The Man Who…’.

And so the night came to a close with their signature song ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’, sung at full volume by everyone present. It was a night for Travis to get back into the swing of things in safe and welcoming surroundings, knowing they would receive a much-deserved warm response from their most dedicated fans. They are set to take their new album on the road this summer (an announcement is set to be made tomorrow morning at 7am). Whilst they might not win any new fans over, they certainly won’t disappoint those already converted.

Noel Gallagher live at BBC Radio Theatre, 07/12/2015

Setlist
1. It’s Good To Be Free
2. Talk Tonight
3. The Death Of You And Me
4. If I Had A Gun
5. Do You Wanna Be A Spaceman
6. Listen Up
7. Sad Song
8. The Importance of Being Idle
9. Cast No Shadow
10. Half The World Away
11. Slide Away
12. Wonderwall
13. AKA… What A Life
14. Don’t Look Back In Anger

Review
It’s not common to see an artist of Noel Gallagher’s stature in such a small venue. He may be seen at times to be divisive and opinionated, but whether you like him as a person or not, it’s hard to argue against his contribution to the music industry over the last two decades. His successes were never more apparent than tonight’s career-spanning setlist featuring new stripped-down twists on many familiar songs.

In terms of importance, doing a gig like this for BBC Radio 2 is about as big as it gets for most artists. Today Noel has performed a sound check during the Ken Bruce show in the morning (actually just a performance) and was then interviewee during the Simon Mayo drive-time show. The main event was an hour-long performance for Jo Whiley at 8pm, delivered in the intimate 400-capacity BBC Radio Theatre venue but beamed to millions around the world. So that’s three shows with very different demographics, plus the additional buzz for the last week or so on every show on the most popular radio station in Britain, plus coverage on the Red Button on any BBC TV channel.

Whilst Noel Gallagher doesn’t really need to do this now – he’s popular enough that his name will sell enough albums and tickets to turn a profit for everything he does – it’s impeccable timing with all those husbands’ and dads’ stockings to fill and a tour with a smattering of tickets left. It’s never a bad thing to remind everyone how good your tunes are. And that is exactly what he does.

The audience would have been forgiven for expecting stripped down versions of songs from his latest record. His second album Chasing Yesterday, released earlier this year, silenced anyone who was suggesting his debut was only good because he’s been saving songs from Oasis albums throughout their career. It was arguably better than that excellent debut album. However, Chasing Yesterday was conspicuous by its complete absence from the set tonight.

Indeed, prior to the gig my brother and I had joked about what songs he was going to play. Whatever we said, we didn’t honestly think we’d get six Oasis b-sides, two Oasis album tracks, three huge Oasis singles and just three High Flying Birds tracks (all from the first album). By the time Sad Song was being played, we genuinely wondered whether the suggestion that he’d play Little James as the encore seemed a little less unlikely.

With each track completely stripped down to suit the setting and played by a tightly rehearsed band, the songs have rarely sounded this good. This time 10000+ fans weren’t going to be singing every line back to him and with it being transmitted around the globe, precision was key.

So if the goal wasn’t to promote the new album but rather remind the world exactly just how good his back catalogue was, then this was the perfect night for Noel. Topped off with some great banter with the audience (Stoke and John Lewis were on the receiving end of some sharp quips) and a well-behaved crowd (sadly a rarity for Oasis-related gigs), it couldn’t have gone better. The audience left in disbelief that they’d seen so many songs they never thought they’d see live, all the more special when seen in such an intimate setting.

An excellent performance. Well done sir.

The Star Wars Saga – Orchestral performance by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Nottingham Trent University Choir

Setlist

Opening
20th Century Fox Fanfare
Star Wars Main Theme

Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Flag Parade
Anakin’s Theme
Adventures of Jar – Jar Binks
Duel of the Fates

Episode 2: The Attack of the Clones
Across the Stars
Yoda’s Theme
The Imperial March

Episode 3: The Revenge of the Sith
Battle of the Heroes

– Interval –

Episode 4: A New Hope
Here they Come!
The Cantina Band
Princess Leia’s Theme
The Throne Room

Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
The Asteroid Field

Episode 6: The Return of the Jedi
Luke and Leia’s Theme
Parade of the Ewoks
The Forest Battle

Review

The prequel trilogy of Star Wars has gone down in history as an underwhelming disappointment. The mixture of poor CGI, terrible acting from the pivotal role of Anakin by both actors, disjointed pacing and lack of interesting plot were four of the critical issues. One thing that has never been disputed, however, is the successes of the John Williams scores.

John Williams was one of the few elements of consistency across all six Star Wars films, providing a score that fuelled the anticipation for the films, especially Episode One. Seeing Duel of the Fates performed by a live orchestra and choir was reason enough to buy the tickets, and proved to be one of many highlights of the night.

The night unravelled in a structured fashion, with each film taken on in chronological order and introduced by voice actor Marc Silk. Conducted by Michael Seal with much vigor, the selections were made to highlight the dynamics on display across the saga. Whilst most people can hum the main themes for each film, it was a night to reflect on just how good the entire scores were.

The members of the large orchestra looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. They looked genuinely thrilled to be getting a positive and engaged reaction from the audience, and were well received. I’m sure they will have more high-brow performances this year, but there didn’t seem to be anyone complaining – on or off the stage.

The real highlights came when the 100-strong choir joined in to add extra passion and power to the performance. They were used sparingly, such is the nature of the source material, but when they opened up their lungs the whole auditorium was blown away.

I left wondering how feasible it would be to perform the original film with a live orchestral score. Now THAT would be a popular night out for fans.

A perfect night of entertainment and a wonderful way to whet our appetites ahead of the release of Episode VII in three weeks’ time.

 

Badly Drawn Boy live at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 16th July 2015

Setlist

1. The Shining
2. Everybody’s Stalking
3. Bewilder
4. Fall in a River
5. Camping Next to Water
6. Stone on the Water
7. Another Pearl
8. Body Rap
9. Once Around The Block
10. This Song
11. Bewilderbeast
12. Magic in the Air
13. Cause A Rockslide
14. Pissing in the Wind
15. Blistered Heart
16. Disillusion
17. Say It Again
18. Epitaph

Encore

19. A Minor Incident
20. I Love NYE / Something To Talk About
21. All Possibilities
22. I Saw You Walk Away
23. You Were Right
24. Silent Sigh

How Did We Get Here?

The first time I saw Badly Drawn Boy was during the infamous 2001 tour, which was to support his Mercury Prize-winning debut album The Hour of Bewilderbeast. I was only 15 at the time but I was completely dumbstruck by the completely unique style of concert I was seeing. His approach to dealing with his environment was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

Kicking the show off with three songs by the Royton Bellringers was the perfect way to set the audience up for what they shouldn’t expect. It was, at this point, unlikely that the album was going to get a start-to-finish play through from an obliging band. Arguing with the crowd about the location of a photograph of his newborn child he had passed around the standing section was a highlight. Refusing to take his hat off despite the fact the room was swelteringly hot in the venue showed an air of defiance. This was an artist who played by his own rules.

Over the intervening years there has always been a portrayed feeling that the audience was either getting in the way or at the very least distracting Gough. Sometimes it’s treated with ardent contempt. But there’s also an overarching feeling that it’s all part of the act. On many occasions, he has happily laid into one of the band members who hasn’t learned his part correctly, or even crowd members for talking. If you’re not aware of what a Badly Drawn Boy gig is like I imagine it must be hard to understand and enjoy. Being on board the rollercoaster can be one of the most rewarding live experiences around.

In some ways it is sad that Gough has become predominantly linked with his admittedly excellent debut album. In the years that followed its release he has provided many reasons to show it wasn’t a slice of luck. The more mainstream “About A Boy” soundtrack is filled with some of his best-loved songs, and this was followed in the same vein with the fuller-sounding “Have You Fed The Fish?” However, in providing a more robust and polished sound he moved away from many of the nuances that drew his fanbase to his fragile debut. Whilst this new-found sound had brought him some mainstream success this seemed to disappear slowly and, despite still producing some excellent music (the gorgeously orchestrated soundtrack to TV movie “Is There Nothing We Could Do?” is well worth checking out), people stopped listening.

Once More Around The Block

This tour is the perfect way for Damon Gough to remind fans old and new why they fell in love with his music the first time around. Whilst retreading old ground can seem a little like a cash-in for some artists, it makes perfect sense to reignite interest in The Hour of Bewilderbeast.

When the newly-formed backing band too to the stage for the first time it took a matter of seconds for the audience to realise what was about to happen. As the original recorded intro to “The Shining” resonated around the room, it became quickly evident that the album would be performed in its entirety. The sound of Alfie’s French horn and cello [1] faded away and all that was left was Damon and his acoustic guitar looking slightly daunted to do something he must have done 1000s of times already. There is something about the way he does this that draws the audience in time and time again, willing him to get through whichever of his intricately crafted tunes he is performing at the time.

Launching into “Everybody’s Stalking” allowed the crowd to liven up a little with the band unleashed for the first time. The four highly talented (and highly bearded) band members are obviously a tight group of musicians and were working off each other all night, clearly enjoying themselves. Dare it be said – at times these songs actually sounded better than the record.

The small snippets of ideas that added so much character to the original album were all present too, much to the audience’s delight. The excellent run of songs that starts with “Camping Next To Water” and ends with “Once Around The Block” was punctuated by a few nervous eyes looking around the stage as Gough worked out whether he should say “Body Rap” or just allow the recording to speak for itself. He eventually went for the latter – probably a wise move.

It was in these moments that the charm of the night really revealed itself. The Nottingham gig was the first night of the tour and there was bound to be a few mistakes as the technicalities of performing an album from start to finish were ironed out. I doubt an artist called Perfectly Drawn Boy would have been half as popular anyway.

The standout moment of the night was a beautiful rendition of “Epitaph”. As Gough stood there on the stage alone with just his acoustic guitar, he quickly realised that he wasn’t 100% certain of the lyrics and even less so on the guitar parts. Eventually opting to perform an acapella version of the album closer with the printed words, the audience’s response in singing every word straight back to him was so overwhelming that he was brought to tears.

He came back on alone following a short break to perform a handful of songs from later albums, eventually with his band joining him. Bringing the night to a close was “Silent Sigh” from the “About A Boy” soundtrack. With smiles beaming across the room, from the stage to the back row, it was a perfect way to end an excellent night of live music and will no doubt have the entire audience digging out copies of his albums and rediscovering him once again.

Badly Drawn Boy is on tour for the next month. Dates can be found on his website.

[1] The Hour of Bewilderbeast had many personnel involved, including several members of fellow Twisted Nerve label-mates Alfie and also Doves, who were complete unknowns when this album was recorded. It is best to think of the first half of being Badly Drawn Boy backed by Alfie, whereas the second half is mainly performed with Doves.

James Bay live at the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 26th June 2015

Setlist:

Collide
Craving
When We Were On Fire
If You Ever Want to Be in Love
Need The Sun To Break
Let It Go
Scars
Move Together
Best Fake Smile
Get Out While You Can
If I Ain’t Got You
Hold Back the River

On 28th June 2013 I went to see Jake Bugg perform a set on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival. As the hot new acoustic folk kid on the block, there was a lot of anticipation around his performance. He walked out boldly, with just himself and a guitar, and launched into the romantic “Fire”. As the set progressed, it became increasingly obvious that he wasn’t going to interact with the audience. Indeed, his body language just didn’t have any command to it. Whilst he had the tunes, he didn’t have the charisma to fill such a big stage.

Two years on, 2015’s JB found himself in a similar situation. He has been something of a revelation this year – he has been playlisted frequently on both BBC Radio 1 and 2 and his last few singles have all troubled the Top 40 in the UK.

As he performed album track “Collide”, however, I couldn’t help but feel concerned that he might be swallowed up as well. Then the crowd erupted, he shot out a smile and all was well. It was a fantastic moment.

From start to finish he blew away a rammed Pyramid Stage with some breathtaking vocals and subtly restrained guitars. He’s clearly very popular and it’s easy to see why, especially when around 60,000 people are singing every word back to him on “Take Back The River” and “Let It Go”. For someone who was largely unknown a year ago he clearly has what it takes to command the largest of audiences. [1]

Well done sir, you were fantastic.

[1] Ironically Bay’s biggest hit “Hold Back The River”, which hit number 2 earlier this year, was co-written with Bugg’s regular collaborator Iain Archer, along with half of his debut album. Small world, eh?