Blakeson - Writer

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Keane / Acqua Nero

Went to the most triumphal gig ever a couple of days ago – the first night of Keane’s “Back From Hell” tour at the Cardiff International Arena. Never having seen them before, I was impressed by baby-faced assassin Tom’s command of the stage - peerless rock’n’roll posing. An excellent set-up too, with a triple stage, and live video feeds on multiple monitors. Not having listened to “Hopes and Fears” for a while, I was embarrassed by my inability to sing along with confidence – the sell-out Cardiff crowd did the whole Land Of Song thing exceedingly well. The sound was excellent too, and Tom even shocked us by playing a couple of tunes on guitar. The band seemed moved by the rapturous reception, which was moving in itself. Tom talked a lot about his “drug nightmare” period, and mentioned their one previous Cardiff gig at the Barfly, which was apparently attended by only eight people (their appearance at the Tsunami Relief show in the Millennium Stadium in 2005 having slipped his mind, for obvious reasons). Supporting were the brilliant Dears – more mini-epic pop for grown-ups; the perfect support set in that they played the hits and a couple of new songs and then got off after 35 minutes of rocking the house. Sadly, I hadn’t brought my camera, due to unfortunate frisking incidents on precious visits to the Arena – and of course, this time around, there was no body-searching, and cameras going off all over the place. And the occasional woman in flashing bunny ears, which is always wrong. I had a good position, too, about ten rows from the front. Possibly as perfect as a biggish gig can be. And, once again, I wasn’t the oldest person there.

My most recent theatrical experience was “Acqua Nero”, by Meredydd Barker, in the Studio at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre. The play, Sgript Cymru’s valedictory production, follows a character from a prisoners of war scenario in Germany at the end of WW2 to rural Wales in the 1990s, and appears to be about the deleterious consequences of losing one’s identity in order to save one’s life. Some strong writing, and an excellent cast (as is usual in Welsh theatre), but I found it a little earnest and humourless in a 1970s way, and several scenes outstayed their welcome (odd given the amount of editing that the play has been subjected to, according to one of the actors). A wonderful set (real trees, water, etc) and sound design, though. I’m afraid I ruined the final scene at the preview I attended by coughing all the way through it – my apologies. I guess it covers some of the same territory as Robert Shaw’s The Man In The Glass Booth”, but from a different perspective, and with less of a light touch. Worth seeing, though.

A few weeks ago, I watched some University of Glamorgan students in a performance of Victor Hugo’s rarely-seen (in this country at least) “Lucretia Borgia”. Highly enjoyable – and I’m not just saying this because of the profusion of leggy babes, or because it was translated and directed by the director of studies for my doctorate. Pure over-the-top melodrama of a type which both actors and audience really needed to embrace; the alternative being that it all falls apart in a welter of ill-logic and embarrassment. Very stylish.

I greatly enjoyed “Hot Fuzz”. It managed the trick which most American spoofs don’t, i.e. having some kind of narrative point to make  - about the potentially negative nature of “community”, and small-town English insularity - whilst also being very funny. Some reviewers are suggesting that there are a few too many drawn-out gun-battles towards the end, but I’m all for films which start with the climax then really get going.

Been busy writing a screenplay of my own – or, rather, an adaptation of an extant short story. It’s a strangely liberating experience, playing around with someone else’s characters. Maybe nothing will ever come of it and I’ll never get paid, but, hey, it’s keeping me from having to worry about job-hunting for a few weeks.

Final Thought: War – what is it good for? Er – getting rid of Fascist dictatorships. Next question?


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