The New York Yankees – The Pitchers in May (2017)

As we pointed out in our last column, the Yankees are having a steady, productive and successful season so far. The same can be said of their pitching. With the exception of Aroldis Chapman whose struggles led to further medical examination and then to the 10-day disabled list, most everyone is living up to or exceeding expectations. Let’s look in a little more detail:

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Can you light a fire…

Who: Steve Hackett

What: Classic Hackett and Genesis Revisited

Where: The Palladium, Argyll Street, London

When: 19th May 2017

In the last few years, Steve Hackett’s career has found a whole new momentum. Not for him the way of some older artists who peddle their glory years alone. Rather he has record a succession of varied and interesting albums which he brings to venues across the UK and pairs in live performance with a set emphasising that he was once lead guitarist with Genesis.

This way everybody wins…, the venue sells out… and the fans love it.

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A Dish Fit For… Everyone

What: Julius Caesar

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: 4th May 2017.

This reviewer is confused

The RSC decided in their wisdom to have “press day” for both Antony & Cleopatra and Julius Caesar on the same day. Figuring that seeing two plays on one day would rather ruin the palate for the second, I decided to opt out of one. On the flip of a coin and because I prefer the “Cleopatra” play normally, I decided to come back and see Julius Caesar another day even though my review would appear later than everyone else’s and although it would mean seeing the plays out of sequence. Also, sequentially, it makes much more sense for Julius Caesar to be seen first.

Now I have to say that “Antony and Cleopatra” was horrible and the worst production i have seen from the RSC for a number of years.

Now since there is a director overseeing the four productions in the RSC’s Rome series, I estimated that this production would go in roughly the same direction as Iqbal Khan’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” and would need some fine performances to save it.

I needn’t have worried because Angus Jackson’s “Julius Caesar” is confusingly, truly excellent. Not flawless but truly, truly excellent and you would do well to see it.

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The New York Yankees – The Pitchers in April (2017)

The Yankees’ pitching rotation, going into the season, looked quite evidently their greatest weakness.

By contrast, their bullpen looked like their greatest strength.

What would happen if the bullpen lived up to its billing and the rotation was more consistent than expected?

That would be April 2017, which is the way that it has worked out in practise!

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The New York Yankees – The Batters in April (2017)

The Yankees went into the regular season with a positive outlook. They had led the league in Spring Training game wins and the young heart of the line-up (Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez) had had a phenomenal spring. There were still large questions about the depth of durability of their pitching rotation but their bullpen was the strongest around. At the very least, they had given themselves hope.

…And then the season began…

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Valli Scales the Heights

Who: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

What: Greatest Hits Tour 2017

Where: Bournemouth International Centre

When: 21st April 2017

A few years ago if you’d asked the average man on the street in the UK to name the legends of rock’n’roll, he would have begun with Elvis Presley and the Beatles but he might not have ever got to Frankie Valli or the Four Seasons. Since then a musical called “Jersey Boys” has become a phenomenon on Broadway and in the West End.

Now people’s awareness of how many great songs Valli and Seasons’ writer, Bob Gaudio are responsible for, has increased beyond recognition. And Valli and his current band, who were once reduced to playing medium-sized venues, are now back in the big leagues as a live draw.

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“a …piece of work; which … to have been blest withal would have discredited your travel.”

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company

What: Antony and Cleopatra

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre

When: 23rd March 2017

This is the first of four reviews that I will deliver over the coming months on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Rome season. We begin with Antony and Cleopatra and then head through Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. The comfort of this is that it gives the RSC three attempts to improve upon this woeful Antony and Cleopatra.

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