Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Grand Glee Finale: End of Act One

Warning: Luvvie Alert (if you have have an aversion to campery or showbiz of any kind, you may as well stop reading right now. If however you are fond of a showtune or two, or like me, are a fan of Glee, welcome to the party...)

Since I first raved about it back in January, Glee has become my only must-watch TV show (oh, OK, there's Mad Men too), providing wry satire and sparkling musical entertainment every Monday night, which, I think you'll agree, is just what Mondays needed. Like any long-running series, it's had its occasional 'nothing much is happening this week' episodes and a few ill-conceived or just plain vomit-inducing musical numbers. But on the whole it's been first-rate.

We've followed the ever more complicated fates of a group of High School misfits and their equally troubled teachers as they prepare for Glee Club sectionals, an inter-school musical performance competition traditional in America. We've wondered who will end up with who, whether the club will survive its many slapstick bust-ups and whether they will make it through to the next stage of the competition.

There's decent eye-candy in the form of mohicaned bad-boy Noah 'Puck' Puckerman (or pretty boy Finn Hudson if that's your thing), but the undisputed comedy star of the show is cranky sports teacher and cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester, whose cutting one-liner comebacks are legendary. My favourite from this week's episode: "You'll be adding revenge to the long list of things you're no good at, right next to being married, running a high school glee club and finding a hairstyle that doesn't look like a lesbian." Genius.

The highlight of each episode for me is invariably the big showstopper number, generally performed by the group or two main characters in the midst of a poignant storyline. The episodes that fall flat are always those in which they get the showstopper wrong. Thankfully for the mid season finale this week, they got it very very right with a magical rendition of 'Don't Rain on My Parade' from Funny Girl:


As someone who performed in many musicals as a youngster and harboured aspirations towards professional singing, I was right there with (the talented but irritatingly fame-obsessed) Rachel as she stole the show at the Glee Club competition sectionals. Her heartfelt performance perfectly encapsulated the hunger and drive I so vividly remember experiencing as a teenager treading the boards; it was thrilling, infectious and rousing - bringing back a rush of teenage yearnings.

Both Ant and I have been humming the tune ever since and going back to watch this video of said performance to re-experience the tingling sensation all over again. It was so powerful that I can't even recall what the other songs in the episode were. Now that's what I call showbiz.

If you are still reading and have yet to experience Glee for yourself, you can catch up on the last few episodes via 4oD, or order the DVD from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Twestival Strikes Again

Have you heard about Twestival? It's a global Twitter meet-up that happens every six months or so in hundreds of cities around the world.

At the first Twestival a year ago, I didn't really know anyone except my other half (aka @meeware) and my then brand new boss (aka @rogerwarner) - whose presence ensured that I remained sober and sensible for the duration. It all felt a little cliquey but I met a couple of cool people and it led to some fruitful online conversations in the following months. I did a little write-up of Twestival 1 on the Content & Motion blog if you're interested.

Twestival 2 was a whole different kettle of fish. @meeware was away and I'd ditched the 'no drinking in front of the boss' policy. There were quite a few more familiar faces, if only recognisable from their Twitter avatars. There was role play and murder mystery which really broke the ice and got everyone out of their cliques. 

After an excellent night of non-stop ranting and a fair bit of dancing, I ended up at the infamous Bulldog pub (of all places) until four in the morning with a gaggle of hardcore Twitter reprobates. Classy. The picture on the right (by Clive Flint) shows me pulling a classic "I'm not at all drunk, oh no, not me" face, about half way into the evening. Thank goodness there are none from later in the night.

Tomorrow night (Thursday 25th) it's time for Brightwest 3, I'm going with a whole crew of recently converted Twitter cohorts and am all set to DJ - I just hope the Brighton Twitterati are ready for my eclectic selection. This time there's a Speakeasy theme and we're being encouraged to dress up, as if I needed persuading.

As always, the proceeds all go to charity and loads of fabulous goodies have been donated for an auction and  'Twombola'. So if you're a Brighton Twitter person, or even a Brighton non-Twitter person who'd like to see what all the fuss is about, you should definitely come along. Tickets are available online or at the door. Here's a map, too, just in case you get lost. If you're a non Brightonian reading this, you can find your nearest Twestival via the official website. Come on, it'll be fun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thomas Truax Gig in Brighton

Ever since I discovered him at a Freebutt gig around this time last year, I've been raving about Thomas Truax, the eccentric one-man band with a penchant for weird homemade instruments. If you read my Great Escape 2009 write up or a recent post on the zombie music video shoot, you might be forgiven for thinking I was stalking him. You might even be right. He's one of those performers who taps right into my own personal madness and throws something even stranger back. Here's a little taster:



If, like me, you're game for a bit of oddball entertainment, you should get yourself down to the Freebutt in Brighton on Friday night, where Thomas Truax is playing again, along with Woodpecker Wooliams and Dug Champion. I'll be there, come and say hello. Londoners can also catch Thomas at the next White Mischief event on 27th March.

Watch this space for more gig recommendations coming soon.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tunng Live and Acoustic At Resident Records

One of the nicest things about living in Brighton is that there's never a shortage of happenings, even on a Monday night. Admittedly it's rare that I make the most of Mondays, being content to crawl under a blanket on the sofa and watch a DVD after a hard day at work. But this week I broke the mold and accepted an invitation (thanks Steve) to see Tunng do an acoustic set at Resident Records in honour of their latest album release, And Then We Saw Land.

If you've never been to Resident, picture a small shop with a big shelving unit right down the middle and space at either side filled with Brighton hipsters, music lovers and middle class culture junkies (I won't tell you which cliche I consider myself to be). A pared down version of the band, minus drummer and usual array of percussive accoutrements, shuffles into the narrow space in front of the till and warns the excited crowd: "this might be a bit quiet". In fact it is the perfect volume - thanks to the fact that it's one of those polite occasions where people refrain from talking during the set; if only the same could be said for all Brighton gigs.

Having seen the full Tunng line-up live at Green Man Festival in 2007, I wondered how they'd come across without the trademark twiddly electro tinges, but actually the softer folkier sound of an unplugged performance suited them. I found myself swaying along and drifting away as they played mostly songs from the new album. Even the little tiny baby next to me (who, I should point out, was accompanied by its mother) seemed rapt throughout and hardly even squeaked. It was a jolly lovely start to the week and a pleasant change from the usual Monday night torpor. I must remember to make the most of Mondays more often.

Find Tunng on MySpace or buy the new album on Amazon: