Archive for the ‘Literature and Arts’ Category

Three bands that got it loud at ‘Get it Loud in Libraries‘ – Lancaster Library’s fabulous and deservedly prize winning semi occasionally regularly excellent series of music nights. A big and alarmingly youthful crowd gathered squished in amongst the shelves in the music section and were treated first to Leed’s Sky Larkin, a three piece who made a pleasant but occaisionally icy sound which made me think a lot of the Delgado’s. To my mind this is a good thing… I can’t recall to much to say about them, which is sad but I definately felt their style was natural and not affected. Worst review ever so far…. Hang in there…

Next up were You Say Party, We Say Die who came across like some over excited poodles on helium performing crazy high school cheerleeder chants. They were (and I quote) ‘super excited’ to be here and they were indeed super exciting to look at with shapes thrown, speakers climbed and jumpsuits worn. I didn’t find any great revelation in the music which if I’m honest was a bit too wilfully brutal and primal for my pallate but then, nine out of ten for effort and a perfect ten for the name.
It was all a bit like watching the cast of fame perform the hits of Iggy and The Stooges whilst wearing the clothes from fraggle rock or something, but again, in a world that gives us a billion soulless ‘gang of four-lite’ acts then I’m not going to make a thing of criticising them. Go see them – They are very good fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun…..

And finally we had the aural and visual delight that is Los Campesinos, camp as a big camp full of people camping camply and all the better for it, they touched some reference points that I can’t ignore – Imagine Hefner playing with Bis and your somewhere there, but there was much more to this lot than camp twee musical self reference cos they had tunes and that too, lovely swirly synthy tunes, sparky bitter, witty tunes and sweet, twee, brilliantly toe curlingly fantasticly intelligent tunes. Bedecked in in a Sleater Kinney T Shirt, the frontman is a disarmingly engaging sweet thing and there were 7 of them all up to all sorts of glockenspiel pinging, violin picking and effects pedal fiddling. There was I think something quite sweet about this lot – The same thing that makes say B&S all the better for the way they tread on the line between smugly hatefully self indulgent and soul bearing genius and seem to come out all the more wonderful for it. Damn, man, they had a group hug whilst they sung a song to each other before going on stage and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band smile so radiantly at each whilst playing – Go and buy their music then. I reckons it’s pretty reet by me.

So, that was indeed that – Next up at the library is The Whip on Oct 24th whom I saw at Beatherder and Wickerman this summer and whom on both occaisions were quite good. For me, hopefully next thing will be John Cooper Clarke in Morecambe. Hurray for that.


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Pickled Image’s devised work Houdini’s Suitcase promises a dreamlike world, a piece of visual poetry and delivers pretty much on that pledge. An intriguing mixture of performance, puppetry and a rich soundtrack, the action centres arround an old man on a railway station surrounded by his suitcases. Each of the suitcases seems to hold a different aspect of his memory, much of which is taken up by macabre recollections of life as a circus performer.

The production has some lovely touches of dark humour, such as the King of Pain puppet, a figure who lives in fear of his own acts of self mutilation and a magicians hat that contains the fetid decomposed corpse of a rabbit. The circus segments are largely narrated by a static, ringmaster puppet and each of them work well, aside perhaps from a sequence in which a large dancing bear enters the stage and the action slows. As with all the puppetry sequences, there is a certain magic, but the huge bear moves a little too tentatively.

Where the production really takes on a magical aura is during the darker, more personal memories explored. We see the old man’s terrifying recollections of war, death and childhood illness enacted beautifully by a tiny sobbing child puppet, that later flew in the sky, footlit to cast a huge shadow accross the stage as anti aircraft guns and air raid sirens pierced the stillness. Most movingly of all was a beautifully worked section in which the old man discovers a dress in one of the cases and waltzes through his life and love with this dreath, spelling out passion and loss with dexterity and ingenuity.

In summary, this play offers a thoughtful meditation on the nature of memory and mortality. Though I might have liked a tad more energy from time to time and wished the macabre and vulgar might have been pushed a little further, I cannot offer to much criticism of a fun and highly inventive showcase of theatrical invention!.

Pickled Image Website + Pics

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I think like anyone, 9:11 capitivated me. I think like most people apart from a few mad Americans who actually want to be at war, I’m fed up of hearing about it.

I’m not interested in conspiracies or recreations or tragic tales. So why did I read
this book then? Perhaps I am interested after all? – Maybe, those wierd days, when we kept being told ‘The world is different now,’ those odd few hours, when it was all but impossible to work out was going on did require some reflection upon.

Now, Delillo – hmm, I read Underworld, and thought it half a book of staggering insight and half a bit dull. Some of his other stuff is, well, pretentious.

And I like pretention, but well, I dunno, Dellilo seems sometimes like, pre packaged philosophising and all grand, over – blown conclusions where none really, actually exist. His characters seem to spend a lot of time coming to giant realisations about the nature of life and being and I can’t help wondering if either

 a)Mr D likes to show off


b) Mr D’s readers like to see themselves as quite intelligent and his characters provide a few thoughts for them to pass of as their own moments of epiphany.

Whichever, what I liked about ‘The Falling Man’ was it was refreshingly free of wisdom and rather full of what Mr D does best, which is – description . I wish more writers would realise that plot, actually is vastly over rated and deliver instead, the kind of detailed evocations of mundanity that masage the visual parts of the mind. Such books can make you feel as if you’ve travelled and watched the ebb and flow of life.

This particular example leaves you as a fly on the wall of a seperated couple thrown back together by the happening of 9/11 and though it does dwell on that day, it also paints a vivid and yet mysterious picture of two lives entwined but remaining isolated, of people, not quite in control of their own destiny and how those who realise this deal with the surrender of control to random chances.

 In this, I suppose I could draw elegant paralels to capitalism and post modernity and the hopelesness of modern life, but there is more than posturing here. I found the characters rich, believable and despite Delillo’s skill at writing you into an impassive observational role, the way the parents found their son a complete mystery quite touching.

So, all in all, I’d say – it’s not a bad book by any means, it’s not a great book either but it is one that offers a level of insight into humanity and some thought about human behaviour whilst eschewing any need for great drama and emotion. As it’s book set in NY during and 9:11, this I think is a pretty admirable thing.

Another review, that uses bigger words here 

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