Blakeson - Writer

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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cherry Ghost / Farewell Cardiff Barfly

This week, I paid my first visit to the recently refurbished Globe (my first, at least, since it was, for a brief period, a Chapter-run cinema), for a night of pop music aimed at discerning grown-ups. First up were Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam, the four-piece from North Wales, who treated us to some very charming electro-folk; lyrically sparse, but impressively multi-layered, like a rockier Sigur Ros – there was even an mbira in there, which was good to see. Headlining were Cherry Ghost, fronted by the smoky-voiced Simon Aldred. A remarkably strong collection of songs, perhaps a little less lush and country-tinged than on record, but mood-elevating nonetheless. They made us wait until the obligatory fake encore for their all-time classic “People Help The People”, but made up for it by ending with a stirring rendition of CeCe Peniston’s gay-disco anthem “Finally”. Beautiful.

On a related issue, I was sorry to hear of the recent closure of the Cardiff Barfly, having had numerous wonderful evenings there over the past decade (Glenn Tilbrook, Editors, Electric 6, Luke Toms, We Are Scientists, Wannadies, Hard-Fi, Hope Of The States, McClusky, I Was A Cub Scout, Willy Mason, The Afternoons, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Feeling, Acoustic Ladyland, Dirtbombs, Wombats, Envy Corps, Black Keys, Amy Winehouse, Snow Patrol, an unexpected appearance by the Webb Brothers, a triple-bill featuring Athlete, The Leaves and Longview, another one involving Ida Maria, Cage The Elephant and Spencer McGarry Season, being one of around two dozen people watching Kaiser Chiefs mere months before they became massive, being kissed by the lead singer of The Blood Arm…). If truth be told, it’s been a good while since an up-coming show there caught my eye, such is the depth of the indie-guitar slump. Sad times.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shorts

A collection of my short films.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Talking To Wordsworth"

The latest “On The Edge” presentation at Cardiff’s Chapter, was a double-bill of rehearsed readings of short plays with a vague mental health theme, directed by Gilly Adams. First up was a revival of one of Hijinx’s “learning difficulties” plays, “Wishful Thinking”, a devised piece with music. It tells the story of three sisters (excellently played by Claire Cage, Adrienne O’Sullivan and Nicki Rainsford), one of whom is a carer for the youngest, while the other has “escaped” - her long overdue return disrupting the family routine. Very poignant, with a beautiful music score, but a more developed narrative might have enhanced its resonance. Heartstrings were also tugged in “Talking To Wordsworth”, National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke’s play which was first performed as a joint Sherman Theatre/BBC Radio Wales production in 1997. Cage starred as the trying-very-hard-not-to-be-patronising poet visiting a hospital for the elderly mentally ill, with O’Sullivan as the hard but caring nurse, Lynn Hunter as the ward busybody, Rainsford and producer Michael Kelligan providing background colour, and Richard Berry as the elective mute who is slowly drawn out by the magic of words. Very effective, if inevitably slightly sentimentalised. Another satisfying evening’s entertainment.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

"Morecambe"

I took an evening off from some actual work to go and see the Edinburgh/West End hit “Morecambe”, on tour at Cardiff’s New Theatre. Directed by one-man-show veteran Guy Masterson, the show is a primer not only in the career of Morecambe and Wise but also the addictive nature of the urge to perform. Basically a biographical comic monologue, supported but not overwhelmed by highly impressive sound and light design, it’s pretty much a master-class in stagecraft, with a beautifully nuanced script by Tim Whitnall (“The Hide”, the film version of his play “The Sociable Plover”, is well worth catching on its occasional TV airings) and a wonderful central performance by Bob Golding. It’s a brilliant evening’s entertainment, which never lets up comedically, even as darkness descends. Ernie Wise is represented as a ventriloquist’s dummy, which seems disrespectful on paper, but comes across as loving; and most of the references will be unfamiliar to anyone under 40, so their effectiveness was largely dependent on audience goodwill (which was plentiful), but the production’s creators are to be congratulated for avoiding the “greatest hits” approach. And they threw in some free comedy spectacles. Added to which, it being a scandalously not-sold-out first night, I got a seat upgrade worth £10, which was most welcome.