Monday, November 26, 2007

Seasick!

On Saturday night I celebrated my 32nd birthday exactly two months late. The delay was down to my bicycle accident back in August, when I fractured my jaw in two places, rendering me unable to party for a while. Having been such a long time coming, and being my first big social occasion since the accident, the sense of anticipation was stronger than for the average party – I was excited and nervous, not least because I had no idea whether my stamina would last out the night. But despite sporting ridiculously high-heeled boots in which it was virtually impossible to walk - let alone dance - and a restrictively tight corset that led to several light-headed episodes, I had a ball! All my friends had risen to the challenge of the theme (Seasick!) with admirable imagination and enthusiasm, making for an impressive array of costumes and characters, and a fantastically silly atmosphere. Some live folk music from The Unisexuals, a misfortune telling booth, a tattoo parlour, and some ‘Stick It On’ type DJ-ing, all helped the night go off with a bang, and by all accounts, a good time was had by all - especially me.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Music is the New Religion: Iron & Wine at St George's

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Iron & Wine at St George's church in my local village of Kemp Town. This still functional place of worship also serves as one of the best live music venues in Brighton - used regularly by top promoters Melting Vinyl to showcase an eclectic offering of alternative bands and artists. As well as boasting an amazing acoustic, thanks to its beautiful barrel vaulted ceiling, the church affords an unrivalled atmosphere that can turn a great gig into an almost spiritual experience. I'm pretty confident that the place never attracts such a prodigious crowd in respect of its primary religious function (other than possibly at Christmas), and I personally find it pleasing that in a time of widespread spiritual apathy, this lovely building has found another means to inspire the masses. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the gig, and a testament to the warm-fuzzy feeling engendered by the surroundings, was an amusingly middle-class and unusually friendly heckle between songs, when someone shouted: "This is brilliant, thanks" - a refreshing change from the typically inarticulate, and often disparaging cries, to which any regular gig-goer will have become accustomed. And it was certainly a most justified exclamation, judging by the collective whoops of agreement, which included my own enthusiastic seal of approval.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hurrah for the Underdog

Last night I went to see Wicked for the third time - a Halloween outing organised by the lovely Neel, and a (very) belated birthday treat from me to Jo. I shall refrain from waxing lyrical about the show itself, as I have already blogged about it excessively, but I wanted to give well-deserved a nod to Cassidy Janson - the current Elphaba understudy - who was standing in for Kerry Ellis last night. Much of the cast has changed since Wicked opened in the West End just over a year ago, when the awesome Idina Menzel stole the show in the leading role. I was delighted to witness in Janson much that was lacking from (Menzel's successor) Ellis's execution of this intimidatingly demanding part - most notably a refreshing humility which suited the underdog nature of the role. Ellis had seemed too self-consciously starry when I saw her earlier this year, and also irritated the hell out of me with her grating Americanisation of the songs. Janson managed to avoid this trap, into which many British performers seem to fall these days - for which she scores huge brownie points in my critical eyes. Her diminuitve physical presence was more than made up for by a natural stage-presence that brought the necessary weight to the complex character of the wicked (or is she?) witch. So, hurrah for the underdog... or in this case, the understudy!




Cassidy Janson singing No Good Deed from Wicked