Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Awkward Squad – The Customs House Theatre (Evening Chronicle)

BAFTA winning Emmerdale writer Karin Young introduces her play, The Awkward Squad to the Customs House, South Shields. It features an all-woman cast which portrays three generations of the same family, which has been forever altered by the mining strikes and their eventual closure. We start with a family that seems to have everything, a mother about to have a community centre named after her, a rich daughter with her money loving granddaughter and another daughter who is a BAFTA winning documentary maker. But things don’t always as great as they first seem

 

Comedy plays a huge part in the production, and they have case four women who can really make a crowd laugh. Whether it is dark humour in the face of adversity or slapstick I found myself chucking on numerous occasions, along with the rest of the crowd. Barbara Marten plays the exhausted but loving grandmother, who brings a real softness to the role, whilst always portraying matriarchal inner steel. Her daughters are played by The Bill star, Libby Davison and Emmerdale Geordie, Charlie Hardwick. They really compliment and bounce off each other well and the sisterly banter is rather authentic, while the rivalry and love shown creates some believable characters.  The granddaughter is played by Lisa McGrillis, who is charming and really comes into her own as the play goes on.

 

Social media and text messages are integrated into the simple set of the house, of which most of the play takes place, with them flashing up for the crowd to read on walls or the ceiling, keeping the crowd in the loop. As well as photos and videos from the strike and closures playing to help create a mood and bring the history to the foreground.

 

There is cultural and social commentary on the new values which are being pushed on women in today’s society. Life without purpose and the idea of being a WAG as a career choice is abhorred.  Whilst the idea of a strong family unit shines brightest. As everyone will taste failure at some point in their eyes, the play shows that with family by your side, a happier future can be found.

 

Heartwarming and thought provoking, what Karin Young has created is a play which shows an otherwise unseen side to the mine closures, and the trials and tribulations of the families trying to better themselves since. With humour and wit weaved against the darker depressing results, I found it to be both charming and smartly written.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

NME Awards Tour – o2 Academy Newcastle (Evening Chronicle)

Showcasing the best up and coming artists on the music scene, the NME Awards tour has been going since the 90s in the buildup to the awards themselves. Numerous participants have went on to massive commercial and critical success, such as; The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and even Coldplay.

This year saw headliners Two Door Cinema Club, being accompanied by Metronomy, Tribes and Azealia Banks.

First up was Azealia Banks, an American rapper from Harlem, New York. Most of the set fell a little flat due to a slow filtering in of the crowd, and unfamiliarity with the tracks from the audience. Though the one track which has been released over here, 212, actually had the room jumping. A rhythmic, fast pace off beat rap straight from Harlem, she definitely has an edge to her.

Metronomy added something different to proceedings, with their ebbing synthesizer backed strangeness. Indie-ness personified, they seemed very straight faced and serious with their combination of old fashioned bounciness and almost choir-like unrelenting vocals. Confusing, infuriating and intriguing in equal parts, I found myself swaying along with the rest of the crowd.

Tribes increased the pace, and really impressed. Moody blue and red lighting lit the band as they created a thick and complex wall of sound. The front man has a really interesting voice, unique and commercial in its quality. We Were Children, is a great live track and had the entire crowd going wild, with its explosive guitars and U2-like vocals.

Two Door Cinema Club have already had chart success, with their debut album, Tourist History, reaching number 26 in the album charts, and several singles charting in the top 100. It’s not hard to see why. With catchy hooks, rip roaring guitar riffs and soaring sing-along choruses aplenty. Combined with the massive light show which came from the darkness to surround them, they built up a real festival atmosphere. Readymade anthem, This Is The Life, with it bouncing repeated chorus went down extremely well with the rapturous crowd.

Whilst each artist was unique in their own way, the quality never dipped, and its plain to see why they are tipped to win big at the NME Awards this Year, and who’s to say where these guys are going to be in the next few years?

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/entertainment-in-newcastle/music/2012/02/13/up-and-coming-bands-go-down-a-storm-72703-30318329/

Tagged , , , , , ,

Snow Patrol – Metro Radio Arena (Evening Chronicle)

As if it were a test for the true Snow Patrol faithful, the day before the Newcastle show the region was covered in a layer of white. Though it had somewhat thawed before show time, a bitter wind still stung many peoples journey. Luckily for everyone who made the show, Gary Lightfoot and the rest of the band were there to turn up the heat.

Lights illuminated the stage and lasers pierced the darkness of the crowd, before the guitars struck; the band sparked and the first tune, I’ll Never Let Go, exploded into life. The massive backdrop which filled the back of stage flashed a kaleidoscope of imaged from the camera which recorded the action. Whilst a neon snowflake suspended from the ceiling broke apart and spiraled above the band.

As a front man, Gary Lightfoot doesn’t disappoint, he whipped up the crowd during their livelier tracks, dragging everyone up onto their feet in the seating areas. Immediately improving the atmosphere, which the band fed off in return. Just Say Yes, stood out, its slow deliberating synthesizer backed build up, drawing up to the crescendo in the chorus, when the crowd went crazy. However I think as an arena band I think they are at their best when the tempo slows and they play tracks such as Chocolate and Run, where the qualities of the bands vocals are laid bare. Gary has a great smoothness and tone to his voice, and the hypnotized crowd were held in the palm of his hand, while the emotion filled lyrics of, Set Fire To The Third Bar,  stirred the heart of even the harshest cynic.

The set list was a perfect balance of their older songs for the long term fans, whilst never alienated their ever growing fan base, by playing their current hits and singles. This meant all of their major albums were featured, whilst new tracks were dropped in, never feeling out of place. Due in part to the bands obvious enthusiasm for the tracks. As well as of course, their distinct sound and brand of storytelling which flows effortlessly through every song.

As a set of musicians these guys really are something special, and the genuine gratitude they show to the fans that got them to where they are, just endears them further.

Tagged , ,