Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Enemy For The People / Captain

I went to see Gary Owen’s play An Enemy For The People in Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre, last Friday. I enjoyed it, despite the muted audience reaction to the piece’s comic aspects, and subject-matter which might be viewed as hackneyed, i.e. “all politicians are crap.” The cast and direction were excellent, though, and Owen did feature an audacious plot twist, in which the leader of a semi-autonomous nation sacrifices his career for the sake of full independence. Unless I’ve fundamentally misread the author’s intentions, he appears to suggest that perhaps citizens and their representatives should be less obsessed with the minutiae of crime figures and hospital waiting lists, and more concerned with the pursuit of happiness. How bizarre.

Another excellent Cardiff Barfly gig this week: Captain, highly effective, trenchant and melodic pop for grown-ups. I suspect they’re being compared with the Guillemots, but I caught a hint of the sainted Microdisney in there. Supporting were locals Yossarian, who deserve some respect for naming themselves after a character in one of the greatest novels ever written; and also for being somewhat meatier live than in the track showcased on their Myspace page.

And another thing - All-American Rejects, Good Charlotte, AFI, Panic At The Disco, Fallout Boy, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Angels And Airwaves… enough, already. Power-pop was 25 years ago.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dylan/Mamma Mia

Still struggling to process the fact that but a couple of nights ago I was in the presence of one of the very few authentic legends of popular music, Bob Dylan, as he gave one of only two UK concerts scheduled this year, at Cardiff’s International Arena. OK, so from my vantage-point he was about the size of a postage-stamp, he scarcely spoke, he doesn’t play guitar any more because of his arthritis, he wore a Stetson which largely obscured his face, he was only on stage for an hour and a half, and as is apparently customary, he rendered his most well-known songs (She Belongs To Me, Positively 4th Street, Don't Think Twice, It's All Right) unrecognisable – it was Bob Dylan! Never seen him in concert before, may never see him again, but it was a transcendent experience. He climaxed with an encore featuring Like a Rolling Stone and a Hendrixesque All Along the Watchtower – such stylish insouciance. It was also a novelty to be one of the younger members of the audience.
On the other end of the popular cultural spectrum was my birthday trip to London to see Mamma Mia in the West End. The songs of Abba transformed into show-tunes, a storyline featuring wounded matriarchs, dance routines featuring semi-clad chorus-boys – I’m guessing this show is largely aimed at the gay audience. Great fun, though, although it might have been improved by not abandoning all pretence of a coherent plot halfway through Act 2. Earlier in the day I experienced the ingenious re-hang at the Tate Modern – juxtaposing stylistically and thematically similar works, regardless of chronology. Dizzying as ever, although my schedule was somewhat thrown off by the fire-alarm-induced evacuation.