SYMPHONY FOR THE DEVIL – BY PAUL LAIGHT
I’ve been very busy culturally speaking this year and here’s a rundown of the various things that I have experienced in the last month or so.
BOROUGH MARKET – LONDON SE1
If you’re ever starving and skint (on a weekend) and near Borough Market then go there! You can live like a King or Queen (of Lichtenstein – don’t get carried away!) on all the samples they give away from: cheese to meat to oils to bread to, curries to burgers to scotch eggs to cakes and so much more. If you have money and DON’T want to live like a tramp then fill your boots; just don’t wear them after. Shut-up – it’s a metaphor. What I’m saying is the food is AMAZING – it’s an epicurean delight!
CONFLICT, TIME, PHOTOGRAPHY – TATE MODERN
This fascinating photographic exhibition showed past and present images of war ordering them as per their chronological occurrence. It was an intriguing idea and many of the works were very moving indeed bringing home the horror of the multitude of conflicts humans have perpetrated on themselves.
DEAD RISING 3 – XBOX ONE
From proper war to zombie warfare on the Xbox One, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing this videogame in my down-time. It’s a stylish no-nonsense kill-fest with a reasonably coherent narrative unlike the mental horror game Evil Within. Set during 2021 you are mechanic Nick Ramos, an unlikely hero, and you must get out of the quarantine zone (established in Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2) while battling hordes of the undead and the military and SAVE your disparate rag-tag bunch of fellow survivors. It’s bloody brilliant and as you’re a mechanic you get some amazing hybrid weapons and vehicles to massacre zombies with!
LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA – FESTIVAL HALL
Myself and my girlfriend once again went to a follow-up concert entitled: Rachmaninoff: Inside Out featuring the compositions of the great Russian genius. I have to admit that having been to a couple of recitals this is just not my bag. I appreciate the wonderful talent on show and the incredible ability of the orchestra but I find the experience TOO passive and without narrative. I love classical music in films, radio, via the IPOD and even in adverts but not in the live environment. Weird!
THE OFFICE – AN AMERICAN WORKPLACE – FINAL SEASONS
After my comedy binges of South Park and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia in the last couple of years I set about watching all 200+ episodes of this amazing ensemble comedy giant starring Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson my favourite character Dwight K. Schrute. Of course, it used the British comedy classic as a springboard but for pretty much most of the episodes it was just gloriously funny. I think it peaked around Season 7 and lost something when Michael Scott left but the final seasons still had some wonderful times and gags and events. It was all wrapped up with many happy endings by the finale and will stand as one of the consistently great comedies of our time, in my opinion.
SPANDAU BALLET, BRIGHTON CENTRE
To cut a long story short I went to see Spandau Ballet in concert in Brighton. No, I haven’t lost my mind because I went as a new romantic gesture for my girlfriend. I basically took one for the team guys! But you know what they were absolutely fantastic and a testament to the professionalism and talent of Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Tony Hadley, John Keeble, Steve Norman et al that they delivered a powerful show full of hits from their illustrious past. I personally prefer their early Depeche Mode synthy stuff over their slushy ballads but overall it was a highly entertaining concert.
STEWART LEE’S COMEDY VEHICLE SEASON 3 (DVD)
Preaching to the converted here but if you like Stewart Lee’s comedy then I’m sure you’ve seen this DVD of his 3rd season for the BBC. Comedy Vehicle 3 mixes incredible stand-up rants, opinions and intellectual ideas and routines with fine sketches/short films; all interspersed with Lee verbally sparring with another comedy legend Chris Morris. 32-Carat Comedy Gold!
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE – WYNDHAM THEATRE
Oh this was just terrifically meaty drama. I haven’t been to the theatre much in recent years but I was right in the heartland of culture here with a sinewy, socio-familial-gut-wrenching story driven by jealousy, self-destruction, masculinity-in-crisis, lust etc.
The setting is New York, 1955, and Arthur Miller’s emotionally complex script shadows Eddie Carbone, a longshoremen at the docks, as he comes to terms with the chaos of family life, hiding immigrant ‘cousins’ from overseas, and the fact his adopted ‘daughter’ is fast growing into a woman. As Carbone attempt to control those around him his family are pushed further and further away until one act of treachery leaves him stranded socially and politically. Mark Strong is incredible as the docker Carbone as he sees all he loves slip from his grasp and he is ably supported by Nicola Walker who plays his wife.
The sparse set made me feel like I’d walked into an intimate, yet souped-up rehearsal and the ending was something to behold as the family literally go to hell in the final moments. The play, not surprisingly, has just won Olivier Awards for acting and direction by Ivo Van Hove.