The Review That Got Me Fired

I’ve been writing reviews for a few years now, mostly for an online local arts journal, but before that, I covered a few shows for a print publication. I considered myself very lucky and honoured to be a part of the team, and took my contributions very seriously. One day, though, I stopped receiving invites, and the following review was the last I ever submitted. It was never printed, and I never knew why. Indeed, I never even heard from the publication again. I’ve been back and forth over it since then. Is it just not good enough? Did they have a special relationship with the performers I was unaware of and didn’t honour articulately enough? Did the draft I submitted contain hidden Satanic messages? I still don’t know, but having revisited the review again, I’d like to share my appreciation for the show, which I did really enjoy, here.

Music Review: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
Grand Opera House, York, Wed 17th June 2015

From American Blues to Russian folk to British pop, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have got it covered in their touring anniversary show, 30 Plucking Years.

Formed in 1985 “as a bit of fun”, the charm and energy of this eight-piece ensemble after thirty years of international touring is impressive to say the least, in an industry where most artists perish after around five years. It’s fair to say that the speculation on the Orchestra being a big part of the inspiration behind the current worldwide trend for turning every tune into a tiny, twangy cover is justified. Of course, the instruments may be small but the sound is anything but.

Willingly misleading segues and nonsensical, self-aware banter fill the gaps in a pleasing array of covers across genres including Kiss by Prince, Life On Mars by David Bowie and the inevitable Get Lucky by Daft Punk; all with their own individual twist. Each of the six men and two women take their turn in the spotlight with effortless prowess, hosting tracks suited to their various voices and tastes. The band allow the audience to let their guard down in the second half with some low-key numbers before a punchy, funky finale.

The group are fleeing to Germany – one of their “this song is very popular in…” inspirational travel destinations – for one gig before returning to the UK to continue their tour on the 27th June.

I believe this particular tour is over now, but you can read more about The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and their upcoming gig dates all over the world here.

Web Series Review: Tales of Bacon

Photograph by Matt Durrant

Photograph by Matt Durrant

Tales of Bacon is an original medieval comedy web series by Plotting Films, written by Natalie Roe and Max Gee, directed and produced by Natalie Roe. The pilot has now been released online, with series one pending funding.

As the story goes…

The year is 1380: Young noblewoman Elfrida Deverwyck (Gemma Shelton) is on an adventure after running away from home and following the pilgrim trails of medieval Northern England. She is accompanied by rascally Pardoner Thaddeus Bacon, (Adam Elms) much to her annoyance, though he may prove to have his uses…

Expect medieval in-jokes, homages to folk tales, songs, historical figures known and obscure. Python meets Blackadder meets Chaucer meets Maid Marion.

Plotting Films have built an authentic world and hit the high notes of production value on a shoe-string budget, thanks to the expert cinematography of Tony Hipwell, Roe’s measured direction and the delightful performances of the leads. Research aided by York academics and museums has paid off, and they’ve made something worth sitting up for. (I’m sure Thaddeus and Elfrida would agree that standing would be beyond the call of duty, as you can enjoy this series from the comfort of your chambers, or your outhouse, if you’re so inclined.)

This series is charming and feisty from the off, with wonderful performances all-round, big fat tongues in cheeks, and an informed, thoughtful script and production team that will delight feminists everywhere. The setting may be old, but the perspective is refreshingly new. Postpone your premium blockbuster plans and enjoy this satisfying new story for free in your own home.

You can watch the pilot episode online now, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBPsQjflhGs

And when you can’t wait for more, you can fund the completion of the series here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tales-of-bacon-a-medieval-comedy-fundraiser?fse_1=c

Photograph by Matt Durrant, Poster by Laura Gale

Photograph by Matt Durrant, Poster by Laura Gale

#99

The girl’s past tutors
watch her on television
not seeing a sell out to music
but enjoying that she still
performs, magnetic,
disciplined, captivating
they are on her side

#98

Dear Héloïse Letissier,

Having just watched your music video for the song Christine, I know that we are meant to be together. As sisters, lovers, soulmates.

Yours sincerely,

#97

Glass breaks around my family
There’s that time I chased my brother down the street
And he ran inside and slammed the door
And my outstretched hands
went straight through the panes
The time mum slipped on the back yard in the rain
And somehow there was glass there
She sat on the stairs, wrist dripping onto the lino
giving me a phobia of blood
And of course she is static
Every touch is an oh-for-fuck’s-sake
Every computer blows up when she plugs it in
And the glasses she paints
Sit still in the cupboards of relatives
Waiting quietly in case we notice them

#96

I am going on a date
I met a dog online
and his parents want to suss me out
So I’m donning my most responsible outfit
Fleece and wellies
treats in my pocket to seem thoughtful
first-time conversation cards at the ready
and my first breath of autumn
is a deep intake of well-meaning nerves