Thursday, 26 March 2015

Mobb Deeep @ ABC

Sound & Vision @ GFT

‘Film festivals have struck upon a rich seam with live music, so expect to see many more such events creep into upcoming programmes. But they won’t get much better than this’

– Nick Mitchell, WOW 247, on GFF event A Night at the Regal

Following on from its success at Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow Film Theatre has incorporated the Sound & Vision strand into its year-round programming with major events and screenings taking place throughout April and May, including live performances from Mercury Prize nominees Field Music and legendary 90s synth-pop pioneers 
Saint Etienne. Glasgow Film Theatre will also become a venue as part of Stag and Dagger presents Live at Glasgow 2015, with film screenings during the all-day multi-venue music festival, including a special preview screening of the new Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You.

I didn't realise Saint Etienne were still going: last time I looked, their main man was writing articles for The Guardian. Still, I'm at that age when their cover version of Only Love Can Break Your Heart  is a magical memory of a beautiful youth.

GFT will team up with Monorail Music to host a special late night Record Store Day screening of the ultimate 90s independent music store cult classic Empire Records, and a one-off screening of My Secret World, a documentary about the famed Bristol-based record label Sarah Records, with founder Clare Wadd in attendance. GFT will also be screening the all-new Curt Kobain documentary Cobain: Montage of Heck, a devastatingly insightful documentary about the troubled icon that features a previously unheard 12-minute acoustic track by Cobain.

Assuming there is not a very good reason why that track has remained unheard, this is like a trawl through my back pages, when music meant something to me, in the way that celibacy and theatre do now...


Saint Etienne are one of the most important British bands of the past two decades and Glasgow Film Theatre is delighted to welcome them for this extra special limited-capacity event. The core band consists of the trio Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, who have been making innovative left-field pop together since 1990. 

For this event they will be joined by 5 other
musicians, making an 8-piece band that brings to life the evocative images on screen. The band will play their live score to Paul Kelly’s film How We Used to Live; a woozy, poignant and telling document of London’s past from 1950s to 1980s. 

Using only colour footage from the BFI archives, the film charts the early days of the welfare state up to the opening days of Margaret Thatcher’s reign. This event is in partnership with Monorail Music and will take place on Tuesday 19 May (19.30).

Stephen McRobbie (perhaps better known as Stephen Pastel) of Monorail Music said:

‘We have a long and happy association with both Heavenly Films and the GFT. We are extremely proud to be involved in the screening of Paul Kelly’s newest film, How We Used to Live; a mesmerising, occasionally brutal but always poignant elegy to a disappearing London. With a live music score by our friends Saint Etienne, this is truly unmissable.’

In 2013, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival commissioned one of the most critically acclaimed bands to emerge from the North East of England, the Mercury Prize nominated Field Music, to compose a new cinematic score to accompany seminal silent documentary Drifters, by John Grierson. The band will now restage that hugely acclaimed event at Glasgow Film Theatre, with the band’s original line-up of brothers Peter and David Brewis playing with Andrew Moore. This event will take place on Sunday 31 May (20.00).

David Brewis of Field Music said:

‘It's incredibly exciting to be given the opportunity to tour Drifters as writing and performing the original commission for Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival in 2013 was a true pleasure, culminating in a wonderful evening. We are delighted that we can do it all again at some truly lovely cinemas and art spaces around the country.’

On Bank Holiday Sunday 6 May, Glasgow’s most popular city-centre music venues will be taken over for a one-day festival of live music presented by Stag and Dagger called Live at Glasgow. As part of the festival, Glasgow Film Theatre will be hosting a series of screenings, including a special preview of the new Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You

Paul Cardow of PCL says:

‘Given our history of working with the incredible talent that was Elliott Smith – having hosted memorable shows for him in Scotland – we are extremely proud to have this opportunity to be involved with the GFT in screening this special tribute to his career, as part of our multi-venue festival Live at Glasgow. It's especially fitting to have this film involved, as Elliott's music was hugely influential to many of the artists that have performed at the event over the years, with this year being no exception.’

In much the same way as independent cinemas like GFT offer a haven for film-lovers, independent record stores are a highly treasured cultural touchstone for lovers of music

Nostalgia is the Enemy

Despite Liam Howlett's talk of The Prodigy's 'angry album', and the aggressive titles ('Nasty', 'Get Your Fight On'), The Day Is My Enemy is a musically conservative album. Aside from sprinkling occasional samples of Arabic music, and a melody line on 'Wild Frontier' that evokes eight-bit computer music, The Prodigy work the same template, of shouted vocals, industrial strength beats and ferocious electronic sounds, that bought them to national attention in the 1990s.
Gareth K Vile, The List 2015

The cheap price of land along the river pushed the larger media institutions further west from the city centre: the state television station and the commercial rival built huge glass warehouses, filled with studios and technicians and research experts and runners and interns and bored producers.

'The landscaping of this area, on both banks, has been a lesson in the clinical application of concrete,' says the tour guide, as they rush past the twin arena towards the more picturesque environs of the University. Criticulous stubs on his cigarette on his shoe and enters the red tube that takes him across the motorway to the Conference Centre.

He can feel the buzzing of the transmissions from around a mile away. In more sentimental times, he believed that he could hear individual words, that the satellites were calling him. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hierarchy in Theatre: It always ends in a fight

Reverse Sexism in the blog

I find this article hypocritical and incoherent. You make the argument that banning Davidson is not an effective strategy for eradicating sexists. However, nowhere in the article do you cite an example of anyone actually wanting to ban him, or proposing that banning Davidson would be a way to combat sexism. You seem to be arguing against a non-existent issue. You say yourself the show was stopped as a result of poor ticket sales or drunken indiscretion.

Thanks for taking the time to respond, Oskar. Yep, you are right: no-one wanted to ban Jim. However, there have been a few campaigns lately that did  try to no-platform artists because of their jokes... I'm following on from previous posts that rejected this strategy.

You say that you had intended to see the show as a means of challenging your leftist politics. Then you indicate that you didn't actually plan to see the show as its blatant racism was too distasteful.

Perhaps luckily for me, the run was cancelled before I had to make the choice of going to see it or not. 

You say that "those who resist Jim Davidson are as sexist as he is". 

Yep, that was a clumsy way of putting it. A better way would be 'those who call Jim Davidson a cunt are using language that reveals their own, perhaps unconscious sexism, by using a word for female genitalia as an insult.'

Yet you have shown your own resistance to Davidson throughout this entire article, stating you find his comedy crude, racist and old-fashioned. Going as far to say you would not attend his show. Are you saying you are a sexist for being resistant to Davidson? There are obviously many legitimate reasons to find him awful.

You don't actually offer any reasonable explanation for why resisting Davidson makes someone sexist. 

You are quite right. I apologise for being vague.

You seem to imply that those who seek to ban words or ideas are automatically sexist. 
Again, bad expression on my part: I would say that 'those who seek to ban words or ideas are automatically totalitarian in their approach.' Not that this means I don't respect their opinion, or even reject their efforts - I just oppose them.

Aggressive censorship may be a tool used by sexists, but it does not seem to be sexist in and of itself.


You say that "simply banishing certain ideas or words, or even people, does not get rid of the ideas themselves". In the very next paragraph you tell people not to use the word "cunt". You acknowledge that banning certain unpleasant words is a futile exercise in censorship that doesn't address the societal issues at the root of these negative ideas, then you immediately try to ban the use of an unpleasant word. 

Not necessarily ban.. again, I ought to be clearer. I would rather people didn't write the word 'cunt' on posters, because children might read it. I'd also suggest that another insult is more appropriate.

After telling people not to use the word cunt because it is sexist, you then offer a list of insults based on male genitalia as an alternative. How is this not simply displaying another form of sexism? 

We would have to get into a debate about the nature of sexism here, so I have to nod my head and say yes - it is equally obnoxious.

Are you saying that offensive words for female genitals are unspeakable, but male-focused insults are absolutely fine? 

No: I think our genital insults ought to be gender specific.

Obviously I accept that men have not been subject to nearly the same level of denigration or disadvantage as women. and I recognise that "cunt" is a more hateful and emotionally-charged word than prick or bell-end. But if your point is that we shouldn't use such explicitly gendered insults against women, simply offering another list of gendered insults seems like a lazy and hypocritical alternative.

Quite true: and there are plenty of non-sweary words that could be used to describe Jim Davidson, which would actually be more to the point. 

Thanks for your time again, Oskar: I appreciate your thoughts.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mark Thomas wonders who is watching

Cuckooed review
Mark Thomas wonders who is watching

Gareth K Vile

//Star rating

//Body text
Polemical and intense, Mark Thomas merges the political and personal in this taut and true tale of friendship, activism and betrayal. Based on Thomas' experiences campaigning against the arms trade – and explaining why he would become the trade's scourge – it examines the question of whether one of his closest allies had been spying on him for the people that they both protested.

Thomas' charisma carries the story, even in those episodes which require concise political detail. While he still manages the occasional joke, he is clearly moving away from being a stand-up comedian towards an effective, dramatic monologist. Using video projection to bring in a range of verbatim speeches from other members of the campaign, and trying to draw a rounded picture of how it felt to be betrayed, Thomas reveals a sensitivity to theatrical spectacle, even as he insists on the piece's integrity and honesty.

Emma Callendar's direction keeps the pace sharp, but it is Thomas who – as the writer and performer, and the heart of the story – maintains a ferocity that is equally personal and political. His passion for freedom from surveillance, and belief in the possibility of change makes this more than a drab, rhetorical exercise. It is an appeal to action.

Yous are All Sexists

About a month ago, massive images of 1990s' comedian Jim Davidson's face began appearing on posters dotted around Glasgow, bearing the news that his latest theatrical tour de force, "adult pantomime" Sinderella 2: Another Scottish Romp, would soon be rolling into town. It didn't take long for the city's sharpie wielding pranksters to start making their own additions to Jim's smirking face.
Liam Turbett, Vice Magazine, 2015

I am sorry to have missed Nick Nick's unseasonal pantomime. Apparently, Davidson got pulled, either because of poor ticket sales or a drunken indiscretion. Whatever, as a champion of freedom of speech, with a passing interest in being offended by art, Sinderella 2 was on my to-do list.

Turbett's review, predictably, coruscates Davidson for the laziness of his humour - he recognises that the problem with 'funny' racism, sexism and crudeness is that it relies entirely on the audience finding the subject intrinsically funny. He conjures an image of Sinderella as the cave where the 1970s  crawls off to die, with aged jokes and poor performance competing to bore the audience. 

yeah, they really did this
Obviously, I would never call for a ban on work like Sinderella (it seems as if the show can implode without any outside pressure), but I am not entirely enthusiastic about the revival of abusive comedy. As a pretentious theatre critic, I'm used to difficult art, but it rarely challenges my vague leftist politics. I was hoping Davidson could provide that challenge. But if, as Turbett suggests, that challenge involves imitating the dumb racist impressions that ruined The Two Ronnies, I'm out.

Since I missed the show, I don't really have the right to comment - but I am going to make a point about the resistance to Jimbo, Dapper and their ilk. Apart from their continued existence being partially the fault of liberals who laughed when 'irony' came into play as the big excuse for saying the unthinkable, banning these guys is not an effect strategy for eradicating brain-dead sexists. 

Dapper's new persona
Language does allow the human mind to form offensive ideas, but simply banishing certain ideas or words, or even people, does not get rid of the ideas themselves. Indeed, those who resist Jim Davidson are as sexist as he is... 

Look at the word used to make Jim look stupid on the poster. To demonstrate how low Jim is, the writer has used a swear word that is... oh, come on. This is 101 stuff. Call him a prick, a knob, even a bell-end.