And a Wasted Youth is Better By Far Than a Wise and Productive Old Age…

Rock and Roll meets the Kids From Fame in the West End

What: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Who: Jim Steinman et al

Where: The Coliseum, London

When: July 2017

I remember everything! I remember everything as if it happened only yesterday…

About a life time ago I was playing football on the front lawn of my friend, Richard Chipchase. During a break in the game, he mentioned that his brother had seen a new band on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” the night before. He said that their name was “Meatloaf” and his brother said we ought to look out for them. Neither of us realised that Meat Loaf wasn’t a band but the singer.

Not long after, I picked up “Bat Out of Hell”. Then “Bad For Good” (composer Jim Steinman’s own album). Then “Dead Ringer” (remember buying that one in Casa Disco on the day it came out, assistant grumbling that she was fed up with taking the empty album sleeve back to the rack).

After that you realised that Meat relied on Steinman to come up with the songs to be at his peak. There was a long wait until “Bat Out of Hell II” and then another falling out between Steinman and Mr Loaf which surrounded “Bat Out of Hell III”.

There was a general deterioration in Meat Loaf’s health and voice and then another Meat Loaf / Steinman disc, “Braver Than We Are”.

And then there was “Bat Out of Hell – The musical” in Manchester and then it moved to London, the city where I live.

Musicals are not my thing – although I was in a touring musical once (that was years ago when I was young and foolish) so I decided to give this one a wide berth.

But then I was asked to go along and see the show and offer some comments prior to a possible transfer. So with some trepidation I decided to do just that.

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Kabaret at Karamel… Two in Perfect Harmony

What: The Incorruptibles Soiree

When: 7th July 2017

Who: Louise Kleboe and her Society of Imaginary Friends; Darren Hirst; The Astronauts; Martin Wakefield and more

Where: The Karamel Music Club and Restaurant, Wood Green, London

The band who opened Glastonbury

A kind of punky-folky rock band

A poet talking about creation

And the ghost of the white-faced clown holding a teddy and reciting Shakespearean monologues and soliloquies.

In a vegan restaurant and bar.

What could be more everyday? What could go wrong?

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This Timeless Tragedy…Why Dost Thou Laugh?

What: Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

Where: The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon, 

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: 4th July 2017

The RSC’s current production of “Titus Andronicus” is a bloody mess.

And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.

“Titus Andronicus” is meant to be violent and bloody and the RSC have achieved that with great aplomb.

However, “Titus Andronicus” is meant (in my view) to be macabre rather than comedic and here too much is played simply for laughs.

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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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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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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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