Not Q.P.R but Hippopotamus Heavy

Who: Sparks

Where: Shepherds Bush Empire, London

When: 27th September 2017

The boys in blue-and-white hoops are here but this is not Loftus Road and this is not Queens Park Rangers. But we are in West London. No, this is Sparks, some 45 years into their career returning to the city that they say is their second home.

Sparks are enjoying their second summer of critical or commercial success. Strike that. Perhaps their third or fourth.

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Going Forth With The Shakespearience…

What: Go Forth With The Shakespearience

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith

Who: The Shakespearience

When: May 2017

One day whilst I was in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the Royal Shakespeare Company, I woke up in my hotel room with a fairly fully formed idea for bringing Shakespeare to schools, using professional actors and musicians, and giving young people a first exposure to live theatre.

It’s now 8 years since we started working with local schools as part of their literature programme. We’ve always worked with the schools in the areas of faith and religious education but we thought as well as enhancing the teaching in those areas, we ought to give back to the community in the areas that God has gifted us in. This has meant that over those years we’ve worked on poetry workshops (with Paul Cookson), performances of Shakespeare and more recently, since Chris Jarvis has joined us in a range of other hands-on activities.

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The pleasure of poetry with Paul Cookson

I first met Paul Cookson in the early 1980s at an Arts Festival called Greenbelt. Back then he was writing poems for adults and selling them in self-published booklets on the “fringe” area of the festival.

A couple of years later he had found his true vocation and graduated to writing poems for children. We started doing schools presentations of his work about 15 years ago and when I opened the theatre “Ravenscourt Arts@ Ravenscourt Baptist Church”, his performances became a regular if occasional part of our repertoire at the theatre as we have invited Paul to work with local schools groups.

This tradition continued in March 2016 as over 800 young people joined Paul over 6 events and laughed, worked with words, invented rhymes, and wrote their own poetry.

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A Cracker for Christmas

What: A Christmas Cracker

Who: Riding Lights Theatre Company

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: December 9 & 10th 2015

This was the second annual Christmas play / pantomime at the Ravenscourt Arts theatre in Hammersmith and saw the theatre once again join forces with the Riding Lights Theatre Company from York to bring joy to the lives of an audience who were mostly between the ages of 4 and 11 with a smattering of teachers and parents.

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Cracker the Dog

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Hackett Ascending

Who: Steve Hackett

What: From Acolyte to Wolflight with a sprinkling of Genesis

Where: Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

When: October 7th 2015

Last year, I was asked to review Steve Hackett’s “Genesis Revisited” project when it visited Hammersmith. I have to say that I was, initially, not that enthusiastic at the prospect. Hackett had been off my listening radar for quite a long time and I’m not a huge one for nostalgia and sentimentality. However, I had caught up with the former Genesis guitarist via his “Beyond the Shrouded Horizon” a little time before, which I had enjoyed and listening to “Genesis Revisited II” suggested he was been faithful to earlier versions of those songs so I accepted the commission and went along to spend an evening revisiting some past pleasures. After all, it couldn’t hurt, could it?

Well, I was suitably impressed and produced a quite exuberant review which also reflect on my personal journey with Genesis’ music which can be found here: https://twilightdawning.com/2014/11/04/time-lapse-in-hammersmith/

After the new tour was announced I was asked to once again go see the show when it came to my neighbourhood (this time to the slightly smaller Shepherd’s Bush Empire). I thought it would be an interesting contrast. The emphasis this time would be on Hackett’s solo career – both recent and early (he has a boxset of his early solo albums about to drop into the marketplace) and it would be interesting to see if he could cut it without relying too much on the songs of that old band he used to be in.

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An Embarrassment of Riches

Who: Daughters of Davis

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Ravenscourt Road, Hammersmith, London

When: October 3rd, 2015.

The season at Ravenscourt Arts ended at the beginning of the summer with an outstanding concert of acoustic music from Judie Tzuke which played to a sold-out venue. The show tonight had one of those things in common. This was truly a night of great acoustic music even if there were a number of vacant seats around. No accounting for that – last time Daughters of Davis played here, they played to a very healthy audience indeed so let’s concentrate on the music.

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More Songs and Stories

Who: Judie Tzuke

What: Songs and Stories Tour

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: 11th April 2015

On the opening night of Judie Tzuke’s first UK wide all-acoustic tour, questions were invited from the audience as they will be on every night of this long jaunt around the country.

One sample question: What do you do to keep your voice so strong for so long?

Answer: Nothing. I was once given some vocal exercises but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten them.

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