Blakeson - Writer

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

Monday, December 07, 2015

Alt-J / "Touch Blue Touch Yellow" / "Alix In Wundergarten"

My most recent concert-going experience was Alt-J at Cardiff’s cavernous Motorpoint Arena; something of a Mercury Music Prize mini-festival. First up was Ghostpoet (two-time Mercury Prize nominee, recent judge), who just about managed to make himself audible amidst the muddy sound-mix. His languid vocalising – not quite singing, not quite rap, not quite spoken-word poetry – was very seductive, and well-received, but his set would probably have better suited a much more intimate venue. Still, thanks to BBC6 Music, I was more familiar with his repertoire than I had previously realised.

Second in support were The Horrors (one-time Mercury nominees), who provided a more than passable, trippy Goth wig-out; the only songs I knew were the singles “Still Life” and “I See You” which duly impressed.

Excitement reached panic-levels for Alt-J, though – one of the few indie-bands who can cite Gregorian chant as a major influence. For such a sensitive crew, they inspired much boisterous foot-shuffling and head-bobbing. The complex, nuanced songs from their Mercury Award-winning “An Awesome Wave” and more recent “This Is All Yours” albums just about survived the inevitably murky live experience and were greeted rapturously, from the unlikely blues-rock-inflected “Left Hand Free” to the intensely moving “Matilda”. The light-show was impressive as well, although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed not to see an image of Miley Cyrus appear alongside her sampled vocal of “Hunger Of The Pine”, part of the four-song encore. Magical, frankly.
Touch Blue Touch Yellow

A couple of days earlier, I went to see and review Tim Rhys’ “Touch Blue Touch Yellow” – a play partly informed by his experience as the father of a child who is on the autistic spectrum. Intending to combat some of the myths propagated by work such as (the admittedly excellent) “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” in terms of savant-ism and lack of emotion, it was a sobering look at the experience of “sufferers” and their families, and featured an excellent central performance from Joshua Manfield.

Alix In Wundergarten (photo by Aenne Pallasca)

My first vaguely festive-themed production of the year was “Alix In Wundergarten” – a co-production from The Other Room and difficultstage. Taking the form of a staged radio recording of an adaptation of “Alice In Wonderland”, it was a surreal exploration of the actor’s ego. Very funny in parts, but perhaps a tad over-long.

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