Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Some tracks for your ears.

Music. A few choice numbers.

I’ve actually had a handful of emails asking for another posting about music. As you will see, I’ve already reviewed Saint Jude live and the album by Broken Bells and I fully intend to continue with musical postings in the coming weeks.

What I thought would be fun is if I shared a few tracks that I really think you should have a listen to. For this one I’m going with tunes that put me in a good mood. I’m giving myself a maximum spend of £15 on iTunes as a guide for how many tracks to include, and I am fully expecting many of you to already have some if not all of my suggestions. Nothing too obscure here as I want them to be numbers you can get easily if your interest is suitably piqued.

As with everything on here, I welcome feedback and additional suggestions, so do make use of the comment box at the bottom if you want to add any thoughts.

This is in no order, just a random playlist.

1. Moths. 50,000 Watt Transmitter.

Moths are an undiscovered gem on the verge of greatness. This is their opening track from their debut and sets us up for the excitement that lies in wait across the album. Clear tuneful guitar sweeps around a walking baseline, punctuated with subtle organ hits and synthesiser, all mixed with aplomb. As with each track on the album, it is all held together with the hypnotic vocals of lead singer Chris Sheehan. Great stuff, and an excellent way to start this playlist if I do say do myself! Here is a youtube link to the video:

2. King Lizard. Rain On You.

London’s trailblazing ‘sleaze’ rock act, this is a band that is unstoppable. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys live on countless occasions and can confirm they absolutely rock the house! They write extremely catchy numbers and are electric live, an absolutely superb experience. Their album is just out and one of the tracks that best sums up their vibe and energy is Rain On You. Niro’s screaming guitar does battle with lead singer Flash’s titan vocal. They are a great band, it is a top tune. Enjoy.

3. Broken Bells. The High Road.

Having written a full review of the album (see below) I don’t want to repeat myself. I could frankly choose any of their numbers for this playlist, but why not start at the beginning with them. Great stuff.

4. The Cat Empire. Waiting.

The absolute best thing to come from Australia, and I include Shane Warne, Kylie and even Carl and Susan in that list! These guys are without question the best live act I have ever seen, as individuals these musicians are so good it is actually inspiring to witness. If you ever get the chance to see them live, take it. Waiting is the opening track from their latest album Cinema and is their classic blend of upbeat rhythms, sexy turntable, roomy bass, pounding trumpets, hard piano, rich harmonies and a gorgeous Hammond organ. The album is quite simply – amazing. Buy the album, have a party, thank me.

5. RJD2. A Beautiful Mine.

Instrumental hip-hop at its best. Strings, beats, guitars, percussion, a harp, bass. You’ll know this track at the title music to Mad Men, but the song stands alone as a brilliant piece of work. If you haven’t spent time with RJD2 before, let this one guide you in.

6. Shit Robot. Take ‘Em Up.

Yea! A dance floor track and probably the danciest in this playlist. From the outstanding album From The Cradle To The Rave, which is another album that deserves a full listen. This one is techno house charging flat out into electro pop and the result is one banging charmer.

7. Saint Jude. Soul On Fire.

See below for my review of them live. I am really into Saint Jude right now, and once you’ve heard this triumphant opener from them I think you will be too. Rock 'n' roll baby.

8. Nightmares On Wax. You Wish.

This is a celebration for anyone who loves a proper rich keyboard. Great groove, perfect for kicking back. Get this one on your stereo, crank it up, fall in.

9. Gorrilaz featuring Lou Reed. Some Kind Of Nature.

I was recently asked what I considered to be the best Lou Reed song, on balance I’d plump for Paranoia Key Of E…but this track manages to capture the essence of Mr Reed, that vibe that makes him so effortlessly cool. Gorillaz are up the front when it comes to both live and recorded. For me, their best track is Superfast Jellyfish, which is totally worth enjoying, but I’ve opted for Some Kind Of Nature for this playlist as it is ticking the box today!

10. The Robert Cray Band. I’m Walking.

Urban blues meets smokin’ soul. Cray’s voice jumps in for a bit of perfect synchronised swimming with a well-baked Hammond organ and some massive walking guitar. If this doesn’t make you feel better after a bad relationship, unlucky. It’s from their 14th album ‘Twenty’, can’t find a recorded link, so check em out doing it live.

11. Bitmap. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Dreamy, catchy, and a little bit special. It manages to fall into that ‘lovely’ song category without that being a bad thing. Another one to dive into. It’s from the album Alpha Beta Gamma, can’t find a youtube link, so have provided their myspace.

12. The Black Crowes. Remedy.

Love it. Love them. One of my all time fave moments of recorded music comes in at 3.42mins into the song. Outstanding. The Crowes at their peak.

13. David Ford. Go To Hell.

This man can play, he can sing, he can write, and he even seems like a very nice humble fella. Saw him perform live a couple of years ago, great stuff. Top tune and mind-blowingly talented video.

14. OK Go. End Love.

Thought I’d finish with a happy song with an exceptional video – if you’ve made it this far through my suggestions I think you deserve a great watch. Reportedly fantastic live, Ok Go are way more than just an act with great videos, but this is a great video! Once you’ve watched this one you must check out their others.

Saw The Final Chapter


There have been so many Saw films that I don’t feel I need to give you the backdrop to this one. It is the final movie in a franchise that has seen some high points, some very low points, and blood, guts, and gore like nothing before.

Within the first five minutes we are ‘treated’ to two really shocking scenes. The opener sees a flash back to the very first film where the ‘hero’, the man who managed to saw off his own foot, is seen, in great agony, ‘sealing’ the bloody wound on a boiling pipe. Delightful.

A Saw classic ‘game’ quickly follows this scene. Two men, in a shop window, awaken to find they are attached to huge electric saw blades. We then spot a woman who is chained above them, suspended over a third blade. A love triangle that is about to get bloody. This time with gruesome spectators including people who are filming the whole ordeal on their mobile phones.

It is grotesque, repulsive, and very very silly. The acting is often so bad it is almost comedic. There is a ‘plot’, but that will always play second fiddle to the twisted challenges.

There are two key points I need to make. First, unlike previous films from the franchise, this film seems so cheap. The previously horrifying torture games from other films that have seemed so ‘real’ in the past look naff, unbelievable, and very low budget.  Second, without the real villain Jigsaw, the film fails to have any charisma. Tobin Bell, Jigsaw himself, appears for less than five minutes of weak flashback. It is simply not enough.

This time around we meet Jigsaw survivor groups, Jigsaw’s widow, frequent flashbacks, nightmare scenarios, and plenty of recycled ‘games’ forced onto unwilling victims. There are plenty of ‘look away from the screen’ moments, but this is not to do with the gore, it is because this is a cheap and nasty film – at times they don’t even make the effort to hide the switch from human to dummy. Rubbish.

As with previous Saw outings, you do find that you are quickly desensitised to the shock and gore of what is unfolding, screaming, fake blood and human traps blend into a numbing nothing. This time around the entire thing failed to hold my attention for more than 20 minutes before I was utterly irritated.

Want to play a game? Actually, I think I’ll have a cup of tea and do anything else instead.

1/10. Utter garbage from start to finish with only one sequence of any note. A real shame they let it come to this.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011



Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich. Now that is a great sounding cast.

I did actually start off writing about the various ways the characters are spending their lives but frankly it’s better for us all if I just tell you they are retired. And bored.

Based on the graphic novel the story centres around Frank Moses (Willis) who we learn was as hard as they come but has lately developed a soft spot for the pension services lady (Mary-Louise Parker) he speaks to each week on the phone.

We are sucked into an adventure which sees Willis team up with his old friends (Freeman, Malkovich and Mirren) where plenty of action is peppered with a few casually written one-liners as he attempts to save and impress the girl, stay alive, and generally enjoy himself.

In case you are still wondering, Red stands for ‘Retired, extremely dangerous’. So you know what you are going to get – a softer, cuddlier version of The Expendables.

The film is cute, harmless (despite the body-count and endless explosions), cheesy, and will at times raise a smile.

There is a decent soundtrack of well-known funky/motown hits that keeps the whole thing dancing along and accompanies the rather frequent montage sequences the likes of which you would find in Oceans Eleven.

I don’t want to be too harsh on this movie, as it doesn’t stink. It just doesn’t shine either. The stellar cast disappoint to a man, but you can’t really blame them. The script is weak, but you don’t care. The action sequences are fine…and since when do you want to call an action sequence fine!

My feeling is that if you find yourself at home and see that Red is on, for free, then why not let it wash over you. It is one of the least challenging films I have ever seen and wasn’t an unpleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Don’t pay for it though, that would be criminal.

4/10.  I fear this is possibly a little generous, but I’ll stick to it for now!

Monday, 28 March 2011



Like being told that cows sit down before it is going to rain, echinacea is good for preventing a cold, and Bob Dylan is a genius (hmm), we have all heard the ‘story’ that human beings only use 20% of our brain capacity. In fact, I’ve even heard versions of the tale suggesting we use as little as 0.4%.

Your decision to believe this brain capacity fact can be suspended for the duration of this film as it is treated as gospel and indeed forms the core theme.

Our hero is a slacker who is bumming through life and amounting to an epic fail. Girlfriend has just dumped him, no words written on his anticipated first book, messy flat, unpaid rent, unwashed appearance. Chance leads him to acquire a drug that enables him to tap into corners of his brain that had previously lain dormant and thus his potential is limitless.

Whilst on the drug, he is a newfound super-human.

Neil Burger directs this adaptation of Alan Glynn’s novel The Dark Fields. More on Burger shortly.

The lead is a first time shot at top billing status for Bradley Cooper. You’ll know Cooper as the handsome one from The Hangover or as Face from The A-Team Movie. Cooper has not been tested as a leading man to this point so I was curious to see how he would get on carrying the film.

A note about Mr Cooper. He is a handsome man; there is no getting away from that. But unlike a handful of Hollywood handsome men, he still retains a real likeability. As a straight man, I am sometimes a little frustrated when I see model-good-looks actors getting amazing roles in films where it is clear they are only employed for their appearance, nothing to do with skill. An example that springs to mind is the woefully irritating Matthew McConaughey who never fails to get on my wick. McConaughey may have a chiselled jaw line, but he also seems to possess no discernable talent whatsoever…how would you get me to watch The Lincoln Lawyer? A cash bribe would be the minimum requirement, and I’ve actually heard it’s quite good!

So, I like Bradley Cooper and I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t routing for him to be good in this film.

Pleasingly, Cooper is very good, demonstrating an impressive range throughout his journey and keeping us on side at all times. As the film opens he provides an upbeat narration that is underscored by a soundtrack that initially sounds low budget to say the least – it just doesn’t seem to fit the expected vibe of this film. To my surprise, my early worry wears off very quickly.

Limitless is the sort of film that I suspect is going to invite disappointment. The fact is that the core idea is one we have probably all spent time daydreaming about and I often find with films like this the viewer is always going to feel a little let down that the concept didn’t go as far as their own imaginations could.

I certainly have felt this about numerous ‘single idea’ films in the past – Hancock, where Will Smith plays a hung-over superhero is one example that just doesn’t deliver to it’s concept potential. I Am Legend, where Will Smith is seemingly the last surviving human in a zombie possessed NYC. Men In Black, where Will Smith…only kidding. Another one would be Surrogates where humans are staying inside and letting their robotic replacements live their lives for them, another single idea film that just doesn’t go as far as you want it to.

It was with these examples in my head that I expected Limitless to entertain me to a point and ultimately disappoint due to lack of idea fulfilment or some sort of genius Kaiser Soze twist.

Well, actually I was very pleased indeed. The story is fun and exciting, sure it does become a bit of a thriller and of course it isn’t going to take you as far as you want it to. But it is all just so watchable and entertaining. There are twists and turns, moments when you find yourself really rooting for Cooper’s character, other times when you think to yourself ‘why would a super-IQ make that choice’ but the whole thing is a very pleasing ride.

As you may know by now, I’m not big on giving away plotlines, so I don’t intend to say much more about the story here. But I do want to talk about the style.

Neil Burger also directed The Illusionist, but other than that I was largely unfamiliar with his work. Well, Limitless is certainly a triumph for Burger. He tells the story with such pace and charm – it is a little like being on a merry-go-round whilst talking to someone delightfully fascinating, there is so much going on it is a fantastic blur, all you are really aware of is that you are having a good time. Probably!

The scenes where Burger really gets to show off are the moments when Cooper and others are experiencing the influence of the drug. He actually manages to demonstrate to the viewer with our measly 3 figure IQ’s how the drug would feel both in the high times, and the inevitable side effects.

I should also touch on the other characters. Robert DeNiro excels unsurprisingly as the fat cat businessman, but is frustratingly under-used. In fact under-used could also apply to Anna Friel and Abbie Cornish who play the ladies of the film. Andrew Howard is the films ‘bad guy’ who you can’t help but like, but I see this as credit to Howard who performs with style.

The winner of the piece is of course the concept. And as I touched on earlier, it is almost too good an idea for anyone to deliver the complete film to realise it.

What Limitless does, it does very well. Cooper is great. Burger directs with huge style and class. And if you don’t ask too many questions you will have a very entertaining couple of hours in the cinema.

I have to point out; it is not that easy getting to watch Limitless. Although it is currently on general release here in the UK there are a number of cinemas that aren’t screening it – I had to travel across town to catch it and this is a shame. It is a good film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. If it is on near you then get down there and enjoy, if not, it is worth travelling for.

I’d score it a very happy 7.5/10.

Now, I’m off to buy an umbrella, the cows are sitting down so expect a downpour.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Broken Bells


If Ed Harcourt, Brendan Benson, Morcheeba and Nightmares On Wax all fell into the machine from the film The Fly, Broken Bells would be what comes out.

This is the pairing of the most unlikely bedfellows. James Mercer front man and lead strummer for The Shins has pitched in with Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton. Danger Mouse is the dancy super-producer who has worked with Beck and Gorillaz, been nominated for a Grammy Award for producer of the year, and is the full time ‘other half’ of Gnarls Barkley.

But how do they get on together? The outcome is not what you’d expect.

Techno specialist beats are brewed for just the right amount of time in boiling rocky strummy guitar, but the beats come from real drums which have been very pleasingly preferred to the easier option of letting the computer in. I was expecting there to be a stronger foot in the dance/electo camp from which Danger Mouse has had so much success, but the computer is largely left gathering dust as the album is driven by ‘real’ instruments, wavy vocals, haunting lyrics, and plenty of catchy melody lines.

Vocals, guitars, bass, drums, organs, piano and synthesizers. Played with class, style, and often a refreshing simplicity.

There are a few unexpected but welcome twists that are laced into the mix with mariachi trumpets, sweeping strings and Wurlitzer-style keys, just a few notable high points that pepper the 10 tracks. This is a short album, 37 minutes in length, you do want more, but what you get is hugely fulfilling.

The album surfs its way through intricate melodies with a sometime nod to the Beach Boys and even some chord progressions that sound so stripped down and delightfully simple that John Mellencamp could have penned them.

It’s hard to say exactly where the right place to experience this album is. It is maybe not a car-in-traffic listen as it is too delicate at times and Mercer’s occasionally fragile falsetto vocals command a more intent listen. Headphones bask in the mix and overall I’d call this album a surreal fusion of dreamy meets poppy catchy.

I should make one thing clear. I think this is a terrific album, and it is astonishingly difficult to translate the experience of listening to it into the written word. From the opening track The High Road, I knew I was going to have fun with this album. The different journeys the remaining nine tracks invite you on are all worth the ticket.

V Season 2.

TV series. SyFy Uk.

After a quick recap the series begins with our hero Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell), probably the best looking mother of an 18 year old to ever bless the screen, walking amidst a city of bodies. It seems like she is the sole survivor. She races through the crowds of bodies searching for her son, Tyler. When finding him, alive, she takes him in her arms with pained cries of relief, but as rain hits his face he begins to melt grotesquely in front of her.

Oh yea! V is back!

I appreciate that this is a re-imagining of a classic series, but this time around the amount of resource this show has had thrown at it makes it such a delight to watch. Visually it feels like my HD box is taking my TV on a date and I’m the voyeur piggybacking on the fireworks. It just looks so good.

Everything about this series is good looking. All the actors are really hot, particularly the women, Anna, the alien queen played by Morena Baccarin is so compellingly attractive we sometimes forget about her inner reptilian. The vast sprawling sets, the props and gadgets, the special effects – it’s just all great to look at.

This is a big big budget show that is pulling no punches in its race for ratings. Let’s be honest here, the first series did not do as well as hoped so this second series may be on borrowed time and may not make it to a third…so make the best of it whilst it is here.

Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty to grumble about if I want to get picky. The characters have very little depth, the plot is exciting but nowhere near as complex as it thinks, and the dialogue is James Cameron-esque in its simplicity. This is a show for the eyes, not the ears.

Perhaps the shows pros and cons can be summed up in a quote from this first episode of the new series:

“Anna’s a lizard? That sucks. She’s so hot!”

Another gripe is two of the male characters, the vicar and the lead reporter played by the ageless Scott Wolf. These two just bug me with their over the top intensity and excessive make up. The younger characters of Tyler and Lisa are hopelessly wooden and clearly there for their model allure. The less screen time this lot get, the better the episode. When the focus is on Anna and Agent Evans we are much better off.

This new version may not have the ‘fun’ of the original, but it is still a romping adventure, good entertaining TV with plenty to hook you in to keep you wanting more. I’ll end with a few questions that may encourage you to catch the next episode to find the answers:

Has Anna, the Queen of the visitors, become affected by human emotion?

How will the first human/visitor hybrid baby turn out?

Just what does ‘bliss’ feel like?

If you like your Sci Fi, give V a try. 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Paranormal Activity 2


I’ll be honest; I did not rate the first one.

Although I am a huge fan of movies that scare me, make me jump or indeed haunt me late at night, I found all the fuss about Paranormal Activity perhaps the main scare of all.

In the first film I found myself largely bored and had little to no sympathy with the characters. Granted, there were a couple of jumpy moments and the ‘newness’ of the concept was pretty compelling, but given all the time I’d invested in the film I really did find myself wanting so much more. I wanted the film that the adverts promised with all those people collapsing in the cinema with fright. I didn’t get it.

Now you have the backdrop about what I thought of the first, you may be questioning just what has encouraged me to invest the required hour and a half of my life needed to potentially endure number two! A couple of reasons actually, the first one being that people I trust have told me it is worth it, the second is my curiosity about whether this is a fast-turn around money spinner as the studios cash in on the success of the first, or if it is a project that has been treated with time, class and consideration.

Like the first it is a found footage piece. All set in and around a house and following the movements of those who live there. This time around it is a family – Mum, Dad, teenage daughter, baby son, dog and initially a housekeeper. Like the first it is seemingly ‘self shot’ by the cast. Camcorders to start and, after an incident, fixed in-house security cameras adding a new dimension.

Like the first, we quickly recognise that there is something seemingly spooky in the house, closing doors, lights going on and off, pans falling down. The trouble is, we have seen this in the last film and this time it doesn’t have the advantage of being ‘new’.

I’m not going to waste time on spelling out the plot as frankly this is a film that if you decide to see it, will only be because you are hoping for a bit of a fright and it does make an effort with a storyline…so I don’t want to give anything away just in case.

I will say this – it isn’t a bad film, it’s ok. But ultimately it’s dull.

This film is one that to me just doesn’t work to a home audience. This is a film that could and perhaps did thrive in a ‘live’ environment. Late at night in a packed cinema ideally with one or two slightly drunk nervous types sitting close by. That is the arena for this film.

As I sat at home alone watching it I was craving the reactions, jumps, gasps and all round atmosphere a good, full cinema audience can add to a film because to be blunt, this film does not deliver on its own.

I can think of three sequences in the film that I did really enjoy. I won’t go so far as to say I jumped or my heart rate went anywhere near treadmill level, but they were decent moments that ‘saved’ the film for me.

It has been pretty well made. The cast do a decent job. The additions of the dog and the baby certainly up the stakes and add to the spook factor. But the main problem is that it just isn’t frightening!

If you find that this one is gracing your local cinema with a late night showing get your friends, head to a bar a couple of hours before and enjoy. If you are home alone, you will be disappointed, and you won’t be scared.

As I’m going to try and make a habit of giving movies marks out of 10 then I’d say this one romps home with an almost flat line 4/10.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Booth At The End

Online TV show (FX UK)

Now this one is a real gem I’ve stumbled upon, I think you may end up thanking me for the tip off!

The question: How far would you go to get what you want?

The set up: A man sitting in the end booth of a nondescript diner is visited by a series of different characters. Each character wants something, The Man (his character name is The Man) hears their request and offers them a deal.

The deals: In exchange for their requests; one wants money, another wants to be prettier, another wants to save the life of his son etc, the characters are told they should perform a task that will challenge their beliefs and moral code. One is told to rob a bank, another to kill a criminal…you get the idea. The characters have the choice of completing their challenge in exchange for their request, the only condition is they have to report back to The Man and tell him about it in detail.

The episodes are very short – ranging from just over a minute to about four minutes in length. It is simply shot, and because the concept is so gripping there is no need for padding. This is classic suspense TV. Over the first few episodes we meet all the characters (there are 11 in all including The Man), hear what they want and learn what they have to do in exchange. We then get updates on their progress as they filter back into the diner to give The Man reports, ask for help (they never receive help), and bring developments/doubts/twists.

It really is gripping stuff and I am so excited to see how it is going to unfold. I believe there are 60 episodes in total, but they are only being made available by the day – so far 17 are online on the FX UK site, other regions may already be able to see them all. Needless to say I watched all 17 in one sitting and am eagerly awaiting number 18.

There are some very neat twists around the core plot. Obviously we very quickly question who The Man is and how he is able to make these deals, one character asks him if he is the Devil but he doesn’t answer.  A terrific twist is the introduction of a Nun character, Sister Carmel, who wants to hear God again, in exchange for this she has to get pregnant. Interestingly Sarah Clarke who is the real life wife of Xander Berkeley who plays The Man plays Sister Carmel.

Xander Berkeley is fantastic as The Man, playing him dry and straight. There is no ego from someone with such power, no sense of right and wrong from him, and no effort whatsoever to persuade anyone to do it. It is clearly their choice.

It is also worth noting that not all the deeds sound that terrible – one man for example simply has to protect a little girl for 10 weeks, which actually sounds like a positive task.

No doubt the story arc and the different character tasks are on the verge of merging and building. Obviously I’d love to just sit and watch the entire thing in one hit, but this drawn out ‘one a day’ drip feed is certain to keep me coming back for more.

Saint Jude…Live at The Borderline. March 2011.

Rock N Roll/Soul/Blues

If you go to enough live gigs then you will know that every now and again it is possible to stumble into some magic.

This was one of those gigs.

I’ve been a fan of Saint Jude for a while, their album found me at the radio station and has been an ipod companion ever since. On first listen I genuinely felt like they were a group of great musicians who had basically sat down with a copy of The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by The Black Crowes and written an album that, song for song, followed the framework set out in the Crowes’ masterpiece. This nod to the Crowes is only meant to compliment Saint Jude as there are few other acts I hold in such high esteem as Chris Robinson and his soon to hiatus group of rockers.

I’m not here to review the album, but just in case you haven’t twigged it yet, it falls into the must own category in my view. It is all that, and a bag of chips.

So, live.

To those rare few that posses a real talent, something unique and different, something that hasn’t been seen or heard before, brilliance is effortless. Lead singer Lynne Jackaman is in possession of such a talent. If Saint Jude make it big it will be Jackaman who takes all the headlines. Her vocal chords have been dipped in the finest rock whiskey, distilled by anthems past, and woven skilfully into a pocket-rocket of a lead singer. Seriously, this girl can sing. Amazing. Like all great acts she, and the band actually sound better live where they have the freedom and adrenaline to let rip.

Jackaman’s voice is a joy to hear, and she doesn’t disappoint with her visual performance. Watching her face as she sings, she is feeling every emotion, guiding us through the meaning of the song as well as treating us to that great sound.

She looks the part too – a pint sized rocker with big sexy hair and a dress that oozes 60s hippy chick.

But how about the rest of the band? The dudes that’ll have to blend into the background behind this joyful, tiny superstar? In a word – outstanding.

I wasn’t quite sure if the band would be able to pull it off live. But I can report with delight that these fellas can play. They have either rehearsed to death or they grew up playing together as they followed each other in perfect sync. Two guitars, one bassist, drums and keys, occasional harmonica and even less occasional backing-vocal – they did their jobs with real class.

As a drummer myself I’m always looking to pounce on the rhythm section, but not a beat was dropped. Like all great drummers Lee Cook appreciates that real class lies in keeping it simple, pounding out the groove and letting the fills speak for themselves.

The guitars wove around each other with a psychedelic rock vibe that made me wonder if I’d fallen back into the 70s, the bass kept the whole thing walking on up soul street, and the unsung hero was the keys. Joe Glossop was stuck out on the corner of the stage, but like in the album, his contribution was to bolster the melody, enrich the tone and hit home some roaring chords from an assortment of gorgeous organ, key and piano sounds.

It was a great gig.

Is there a ‘but’ coming?

Possibly. Although this is not one of Saint Jude’s doing.

My concern actually was the audience.

Saint Jude will quite rightly praise and thank the people that have supported them so far…but I sincerely hope as word grows, the crowd demographic changes. It seemed that about 80% of the people that turned out were aging male rockers with old leather jackets and rapidly escaping hairlines. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with these guys, clearly a quality, well-informed bunch. But they won’t be the future for Saint Jude and actually I felt the band were held back a little by the crowd’s reluctance to get involved with the music. I can only recall one ‘sing along’ moment and there was very little dancing. I know they were appreciated, but this band needs a new market. It is a classic sound with a fresh spin and they deserve to be heard on a grand scale, they need to get young faces in their scene, they need to get female faces in their scene, and they need a party atmosphere that youth and a 50/50 boy girl split would help to drive.

I have a suspicion that Saint Jude are about to soar. Airplay is increasing, they are playing a set of gigs in Germany starting this week, and the festival circuit is about to welcome them with open arms. I really believe they have so much to offer. My advice is catch them before the world catches on so you can say ‘I saw Saint Jude back when they were still playing to a few hundred people’…so you’d better get a wriggle on!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Due Date


Well this was a very welcome surprise. 

I have heard essentially average to poor things about this movie. But I was chuffed to bits. 

Maybe it's a little bit like turning up to a party you really didn't want to go to and ending up having a great time, but I found this film very easy to watch and laughed out loud on several occasions. 

The plot is simple - two strangers find themselves having to drive across America together in a race against time. Robert Downey Jnr is the rich one in a suit with a short fuse, he is racing home as his wife has a C-section just days away. Zach Galifianakis, the bearded one from The Hangover, is the permed slightly camp actor with the tiny dog.

These are not two characters who will get along. And this is why it works. 

Two fantastic actors, some excellent comic timing, and a decent script. Bingo. 

It's no surprise to learn that Todd Phillips is the man holding the tiller, with Old School and The Hangover under his belt he is very much in his comfort zone with this one. 

There are no prizes for great direction, I can't think of a single 'original' moment, and you know exactly what is going to happen every step of the way...but none of this actually matters. Due Date is uncomplicated, flows very nicely and provides 95minutes of good, harmless entertainment. 

Much of the comedy plays on two key things - Galifianakis being an 'actor' and Downey Jnr's tendency for short and sudden bouts of violence, indeed he even punches a young boy at one point just to stop him messing with his tie.

I have no desire to spoil any of the gags, so I'll simply flag up a couple of high points I enjoyed - some great dialogue about a perm, fun references to Two And A Half Men ('it made me want to be an actor'), and a dog with a special skill. 

Of course, it wouldn't be difficult to find plenty of negatives about this film and certainly I think it fair to say it does lose its way a little in the second half. But let's not get overly worried about that, it's not trying to be an epic movie, it's a funny road flick with two excellent leads.

It's not an easy one to mark as I'm still smiling, mark it too high and you'll think it a 'great film', it's not, it's fun. But mark too low and it won't get a look in. So, I'm opting for 7/10 because I think it is worth watching. 

Let's get this baby off the ground...

Hello blog world.

Straight up time - I've never considered being a blogger before and have little to no idea what a blog is!

So what am I doing? Well, to be honest I thought this would be a forum for me to chat about a few things I'm into right now. So I wanted to talk film, TV, music and sometimes soccer.

I studied film at university, work in TV, am in a band, and have had a tough life as a football fan.

I can't pick a top film, but to demonstrate my tastes here are a few that I love - Blade Runner, Let The Right One In, The Silence Of The Lambs, Animal Kingdom, Howl's Moving Castle, Pan's Labyrinth, The Big Lebowski, The Dark Knight, Anchorman, The Hangover. I know, plenty of well known classics in there, but I don't want to get too obscure in my introduction.

As for TV. I consume far too much TV than is good for me and often find myself getting into shows that are basically crappy, but something about them will keep me coming back for more. It's always hard to choose 'best TV shows' so I'll just use my box-set keepers that are in view as a guide to my tastes: Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, Mad Men, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Californication, 30 Rock, nuts, that's all US stuff...ok, a few UKers - Misfits, Being Human, The Office, Spooks. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of guilty pleasure TV - in fact my Sky + is all set up for House, Fringe, the new V series and even Greys Anatomy...and these are probably what I'll end up banging on about!

Oh and a confession - I still watch Neighbours. I saw the first episode when I was a kid and haven't give up. It's the only soap I watch and, even though I know it is awful, I love it. I may even need to get a 'Neighbours Watch' kinda thing going on.

Music is an impossible passion of mine. An addiction. I'm not sure if I'll just talk about the gigs I'm heading to or link up albums etc here as well, but my taste is too broad to narrow down. Unless the tube is on, I have music on the house or on headphones. I have a radio show and am always on the hunt for the next big thing, but who isn't huh. Again, I'm not setting out to try and impress anyone, if I like something then chances are I'll want to give it a shout.

As for football, I am a long long suffering Newcastle United fan. It is a horrible thing being a football fan as it is so consuming. And when they lose, which my team make a habit of doing, it sucks. Like all good fans, there is total knowledge on my part that I could and should be the manager of my club.

So...what am I about to get into today? Well, I'm currently reading Y The Last Man, an incredible graphic novel set on Earth where suddenly, and from nowhere all the men on the planet die, except for one young man, a hapless magician who has a pet monkey. I've got to watch Due Date in the next coupla days as I promised a listener I'd discuss it on air next week, a movie I've heard mixed to poor things about. And tonight I'm off to watch Our Style Is Legendary at the theatre.

As for this site, no idea what to expect. I may find it great fun and be posting constantly, this may be my sole offering, watch this space I guess.