JUST AN OBSERVATION
Just an Observation Thursday 31st January
My definite highlight over the last week’s adventures would have to be Homesick Aldo’s amazing and mind-blowing performance at the Miss Spin charity night last Saturday. Billing himself as a cross between Johnny Thunders and John Cooper Clarke- I was already sold at this point- meets Sonny Boy Williamson he more than met these criteria and then some. For anyone who thought the White Stripes were a return to basics and as minimalist as rock and roll got then this boy takes it one step further by being a lone wolf who manages to enrapture, enthral and send an audience into paroxysms of unabated bliss and sheer wonder at his adept skills involving little more than a harmonica and a bluesy wail with the occasional and primal addition of a beating drum or shaking tambourine.
Within thirty seconds of taking the stage he had the whole audience’s attention and within another thirty seconds he had their souls and their devotion. A truly stand out performance and in a world where non-entities on Big Brother and any other talentless show are referred to as ‘Genius’ or ‘Awesome’ with regular inaccuracy here, at last, is someone who deserves such soubriquets cast in his direction.
Opium Kitchen were also on the same bill and their performance once it got underway- initial proceedings were beset by sound problems- also turned in a blistering set which revealed the darker side of their repertoire and captured the slaughter in the air vibe which surrounded their set. Highlight was their closing number ‘The Mayor of Pigalle’ which is a powerhouse of a track which descended/transcended into a dissonant frenzy of feedback and took the form of a musical tantrum. Wonderfully so, I may add.
It certainly awoke me from the slumber of the previous day’s excursion to the cinema where I sat through the twenty four hour marathon that is Lincoln. Actually it is little over more than two hours long but on leaving the cinema I felt as if I had lived through the civil war it depicts in its storyline. It is hard to work out how a film with such major talents behind it manages to be such a bore. It is , of course, beautifully acted and directed- the cinematography is astounding and many scenes could be frozen and placed in an art gallery- but somehow it never fails to ignite and the whole thing drags on and on ad nauseum. Spielberg seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that perfection makes perfect but somehow in his quest for this he also managed to suck the lifeblood out of the whole saga. He actually managed to make a hugely important time in history into little more than a trivial, but beautifully shot, drudge. A full review can be found here.
Far superior is Kathryn Bigelows attempt to capture the recent events regarding the hunt for and eventual assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty. As it details events which are less than two years old there is something knee jerk in its storyline but this spontaneity and lack of studied historical perspective gives it a sense of immediacy and life sadly lacking in Spielberg’s film. Only time will tell how accurate a portrayal this is of these events as it is only one very biased side of the story and could be seen as America getting their version of events out there first but it is nevertheless a well executed-no pun intended- film which although just as long as Lincoln unlike that film does not allow your attention to wander. A full appraisal of this effective work can be found here.
Television highlight of the week for me at the moment has to be Channel 4’s Sunday night offering-in the highly venerated ‘Homeland’ slot- ‘The Hotel’. Featuring a hotel in Torquay which is run by a manager constantly trying out ‘new’ ideas in order to entice more and better class customers in with excruciating results it is an embarrassment and often leaves me believing it is scripted for comedy and shock value. Similarities to the classic British comedy ‘Fawlty Towers’ which also featured a hotel in Torquay run by a manager etc. etc. are inevitable but the main difference is that real life manager, Alan, somehow manages to make the insufferable, racist and snobbery of his fictional counterpart, Basil Fawlty, seem like a consummate professional.
Last week saw this buffoon’s attempts at organising an Indian night wherein he wore a turban and blacked up his face whilst encouraging his staff to wear saris-one waiter inexplicably dragged up possibly just to add insult to injury- and despite the protestations of many of his staff refused to believe his actions and ideas were in any way offensive. His reasoning behind his mindset was that ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show’ and Al Jolson-cue toe curling version of ‘Mammy’ which would take the kink out of any afro- were popular therefore his ideas would be also. At one point I actually believed Ricky Gervais was responsible for this production but as Alan’s blind faith was actually more amusing than offensive I decided to dismiss this possibility. It is despite these misgivings compulsive viewing as it is fascinating to observe exactly what ridiculous notion he will conjure up next.
Alan’s actions were however nowhere near as offensive as a scene I witnessed quite by accident on Monday night when I tuned in –pre-watershed and with no warnings I hasten to add- and caught Gail from ‘Coronation Street’ engage in full on tonsil tennis with Nigel Havers. Accompanied by a simpering baby voice which can usually only be heard if overdosing on helium and still minus her long lost chin I can only assume the switchboard was logged with complaints from those who were not bent double over their toilets struggling to hold onto their dinners. Enough! Please! This type of television really is not necessary.
This week also sees a new high end fetish and sexually orientated shop called White Rabbit open in Broughton Street. At present I know little about this venture but I am visiting the premises today ahead of their opening tomorrow in order to report back with more information. That is provided there is not so much on offer there to entice me that I perhaps never leave!
Here to lead you into the weekend is a link leading to a glimpse of the amazing talent which is Homesick Aldo at last Saturday night’s gig.