T + 572 Culture Vulture

All ticking along ok on the medical front at the moment I am pleased to say. My skin has the odd patch of GVHD but very mild and a couple of days of betnovate cream sees it off. At the moment I am trying to lay off treating the patches as they are pretty minor and not spreading or getting redder. I'm hoping the lack of attention will mean the GVHD gets bored and finally stops playing up. ( Yes I know it is not very scientific to characterise GVHD as a petulant toddler).

Meanwhile in the last couple of weeks or so I've had, for me at least, a veritable flurry of days out.

Here are the highlights.

Kick Ass

I saw this film at The Electric Cinema and was really impressed with it. I had only seen a couple of posters about it and wasn't really interested but Gareth was keen to go and I was so glad I went with him. It is probably one of the best films I have seen this year. Funny, clever, thought provoking and with an excellent cast, even with old Horse Face himself, Nicholas Cage. ( This is the first film I've watched all the way through with him in. )

I won't go into the plot, you can go google that easily enough. Suffice it to say if you haven't seen it yet and enjoy clever humour mixed with strong comic book violence with an edge of realism then you'll love this film.

I was so impressed I ordered the graphic novel the film was based on, well actually developed along side as it happens. When I have finished my current book this will be my next read.

Cerys Matthews

I saw Cerys Matthews at the Glee Club which is an excellent, intimate space to see musicians as well as comedians. ( In fact I've been to far more music gigs there than I have comedy gigs). She has a new album out and this was the first date of a UK tour to promote it, but it was really a retrospective of all her work including some songs from her time in Catatonia.

She was accompanied on stage by two guitarists, one of whom, the American Mason Neeley also provided percussion and was hilarious when pronouncing the name of one of Cerys' collaborators on her next album. The great Welsh baritone, Bryn Terfel came out as Bren Tuffle.

The sound mix was excellent and her beautiful, lilting voice came through well. That said it is a tribute to the quality of the production of her albums that her recorded voice is almost as good an experience as her live performance. Almost but not quite.

Cerys also proved a very funny raconteur in between songs to the point she could almost have done a comedy gig at the Glee Club instead.

Les Miserables

I saw this at the Birmingham Hippodrome at a packed Saturday matinee. This is of course a very well known musical based on the work by Victor Hugo. The Glums as it is sometimes flippantly called is a "fully sung" musical by which I mean it is more operatic in nature and there is no spoken dialogue, every word is sung. ( I much prefer this to the bit of acting then "let's everybody burst into song" type of musical. Unless the setting is appropriate as in something like La Cage Au Folles which is totally camp and over the top and based around show business. ).

The whole afternoon, three hours including the interval, was riveting with the set, the orchestra and the performers all coming together create the illusion of 19th Century Paris during the French Revolution brilliantly.

A big surprise was the performance of Gareth Gates as the romantic lead Marius. The power and subtlety of his voice was a real treat. In fact there was a little debate about whether it was actually him as at the start of the performance there was an announcement saying one of the roles would be sung by someone else and we didn't quite catch it but thought it was the role of Marius.

We were quite high up in the circle and although the view was good it wasn't easy to make out people's faces, thus given the strength and tone of his voice I assumed it was someone else. It was only in the last twenty mins or so Gareth ( not that one, "my" Gareth) convinced me it was his namesake performing.

The lead role of Jean Valjean sung by John Owen Jones was excellent and carried the show with his mix of haunting light tenor and moments of real power.

I'd say go see it if you can but apparently the entire run is completely sold out and I'm not surprised.


A couple of quick garden notes for me.

The first leaves of my potatoes are showing through and my onions are well established leading me to remove the bird netting as the tops are starting to touch the net in places.

I did some weeding and a light watering in view of the couple of days of warm dry weather we have had.


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