Theatre

God of Carnage, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

I went to Glasgow on Saturday 18th March to watch Bridget Christie’s show Because You Demanded It in the evening.  I had managed to miss all of her highly praised shows in Edinburgh last year as I was committed to something else at the time of each of her performances during the Fringe.

Travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow nowadays is a fair commitment in terms of time and to an extent, money.  A proper country would have a bullet train or some similar arrangement between that country’s capital and its major city; here, it takes nearly two hours to travel the forty-four miles from city centre to city centre on a bus; although the train does not take as long, you’re less likely to get a seat and it is (to me) too expensive for too little gain in time.

(But hey, we’ve got trams in Edinburgh which take you from the airport to a shopping centre to a business park to Haymarket Station to quite near Waverley Station and then terminate before they do the return journey.)

So it is desirable to maximise the bang per buck, or the power per hour for the Edinburgh/Glasgow journey.  Luckily, I’d noticed that there was a production of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage on at the Tron Theatre and there was a matinee on the afternoon I would be making my lengthy journey.  The final selling point was that Lorraine McIntosh was among the cast; I had enjoyed seeing her act in NTS’s production of Men Should Weep some years ago (she is, of course, also the focal point of Deacon Blue’s stage) and was keen to see how she would do comedy.  (The answer to that question is “very well indeed…”)

This is a rehearsal picture from the director’s Twitter…

 

God of Carnage Glasgow Tron

I was first aware of God of Carnage from Polanski’s film version (called Carnage) in 2011, although as I wrote at the time, my enjoyment of the movie was somewhat compromised by having seen two cuts of the trailer so many times that there were few surprises in the actual film.

It’s a simple enough story; two well-off, well educated couples meet to resolve the aftermath of a fight between the respective couples’ sons and during the course of a couple of hours, what starts off as a civilised discussion turns into a bunfight involving rum, projectile vomiting and regression to feral gender and societal archetypes.  Polanski set it in New York, the Tron’s production was set in France.

The Tron Theatre is a lovely experience.  There’s a pleasant, well lit bar and sufficient staff to provide excellent customer care to get you to your seat.  A word also for the lovely lady who sat at the edge of the stage interpreting the play in sign language – I am always so impressed at the stamina that must take.

I was in the front row, which allowed me to take in Karen Tennent’s excellent design for the stage.  All the action of the piece is set in one room of an apartment and that one room was indeed represented, but the main stage was surrounded by a moat of softplay balls, which I thought were simply for effect until the first time one of the cast fell into them.  Thereafter, submersion in the balls allowed the characters to fight and bicker like the children the play has them become; or to freeform drunkenly, protected from physical harm.

 

Maggie Simpson God of Carnage

Direction by Gareth Nicholls was bright, to the point and allowed the cast to shine.  God of Carnage is not deep, but it’s not meant to be.  Nothing wrong with a fun afternoon at the theatre watching a well written play which is well designed, directed and acted.  We are blessed.

It runs until 25 March.

Gigs · Music · Pubs

Roy Wood in Glasgow 26 February 2017

Roy Wood in the Griffin Bar Glasgow with Stuart Ferguson

 

This picture was taken last week in The Griffin in Glasgow, before Roy’s show at The King’s Theatre.

This show was announced late last year, much to my surprise.  Roy Wood was probably the only artist I had not seen that I would have liked to see, that I could see and my friend Barry hipped me late on a Sunday night via Facebook that the Roy Wood tour would be coming to Glasgow.  (Actually, that’s not strictly true; I did see Wizzard at the Edinburgh Odeon when I was young, in the 70s, but it was a matinee show and even as young as I was, I knew they were holding back a bit for the adults’ show later…)

He appears to have kept a low profile over the last decades, touring sporadically and not very often, which is a shame for an artist who has not really had the widespread acclaim for his work with The Move, Wizzard, Electric Light Orchestra and indeed his eclectic and always entertaining solo work.

Late in the evening though it was, I got on to the King’s Theatre website and got two tickets in the front row.  I went to bed happy with the glad tidings…

A couple of days later, I wanted to check whether I had requested the tickets to be sent out or to be retained at the box office, so I went back to the website to check.

It was confirmed I had two tickets in Row U…which didn’t sound like the front row.

Now, I may have had a couple of glasses when booking, but I’m not that bad, so I checked the seating plan for the stalls of The King’s theatre and sure enough, I was not alone – most of the back three rows of the stalls had been booked, the front few rows being fairly sparsely taken.

The way the stalls are laid out is the opposite way round to everybody else’s seating plans, so everyone had assumed the long row was the front row.

It got fixed though.  I was in Glasgow earlier in the year and went to pick up my Row U tickets and was able to swap them for Row D.

So, before the show last week, my friends and I were in The Griffin, which was unusually quiet, at least until Roy and some of his band walked in, then it got quite busy, which I guess is the power of social media.

The show itself was great.  Mr Wood was relaxed and delivered everything I wanted.  Even the encore of “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” did not seem too incongruous in late February.

Thanks to Barry for the picture below.

Roy Wood gigs live in Glasgow 2017

 

 

 

Movies · Music

Average White Band

We went to see the Average White Band in Glasgow on Friday night.  Always a pleasure and you never know when will be the last time.  Loads of power, although the drum solo did take away a bit of momentum… but the drum solo will do that.

I’ve just noticed that Person to Person will be playing in the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival in July – with Hamish Stuart, Steve Ferrone and Molly Duncan, they actually have one more AWB member than AWB.

I came across this film from 1970 – is this Alan Gorrie, the porn years?

Permissive is actually available on DVD, reissued by the BFI (I had a copy in my hand the other night but couldn’t quite commit.)  Judging from this trailer, I can only assume it exists for kitsch value.

Gigs · Music

Gaga hits Glasgow

The ARTPOP Ball - Lady Gaga in Glasgow

The day after the first intense musical experience of the weekend, The Pearlfishers at The Tolbooth in Stirling, we went to Glasgow for the second.
I’d not been to the SSE Hydro on the bank of the Clyde before, having managed an epic fail in getting tickets for the Still Game shows. I was apprehensive as I don’t have good memories of enormodomes and swore off the SECC in 2004 – to my credit, I have never been back and don’t feel I’ve missed anything, as generally the value of any performance there was outweighed by the ugliness of the experience.
However, this was the only chance to see Gaga without a lot of travelling and it was a new venue; move on…
Got to Glasgow, had a couple of pints in The State Bar in Holland Street (which still sells Golden Wonder crisps and has magnificent decor and prices) then headed to The Griffin for food and more beer. Reassuringly, latte is still £11.95 on their menu (“for God’s sake, get a grip…”) and they advertise “apparently friendly” bar staff. Great pub, which was the scene for some of the interiors in the film Sunshine on Leith, which I guess may be due to it being a favourite of Peter Mullan.
Then we went off to see what the SSE Hydro would present us with…and were presented with this!

Artpop Ball SSE Hydro Glasgow Lady Gaga

 

It’s a big spaceship on the Clyde, with coloured lighting revolving inside bathing the people approaching like in Close Encounters!  Right next to the grisly SECC and the rather more pleasant Clyde Auditorium (aka the Armadillo!)  I was torn between feelings of wonder that such a beautifully designed building could exist here and annoyance that such a venue is only one among the catalogue of venues that Edinburgh doesn’t have.  (We’ve got trams though…)  I spent a few minutes walking around it then went inside, expecting it all to be illusory and the interior to be made of cardboard, orange peel and spit.
My cynicism was unrewarded, because the interior was pretty spiffy as well; loads of bars, toilets, staff, merchandise outlets, nice and spacious…when we eventually reached the auditorium, we would be equally impressed with the space and the seating.  Thought through well and well thought-through.
We’d made sure we got to the venue nice and early so we could check out the atmosphere and the audience; the vibe reminded me of Prince’s Lovesexy tour at Wembley in 1988, in that the air of expectation and event was charged.  There were loads of Gaga lookalikes (there’s a lot of scope given her protean image) and not too many Lady SAGAs.
We met a couple of great girls from Maryhill, Laura and her pal whose name I didn’t catch…they were really keen to help us get into the standing area and said they knew a way to do this at the interval.  Laura asked me where I was from and when I told her Edinburgh, immediately offered me her cup and told me to try her drink.
“That’s Buckie, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Aye!”
Although I loved the fact that Laura thought an Edina flaneur maximus would be ignorant of Buckie, I declined…I was given a bottle of the stuff once and never has an alcoholic beverage lasted so long in my home.

Lady Gaga artrave artpop ball Glasgow

So, after the preview, into the main show…again, wildly impressed with the interior of The Hydro.  For a 12,000 seater, it doesn’t feel big at all.  There is plenty of room in the seats (please note, Edinburgh Playhouse bean-counters,) no-one is sitting on top of you, no-one’s in your way and you’re in no-one’s way, even expecting that the audience will be on its feet for most of the main event.  Nobody’s even that far from the stage, so clearly this wasn’t going to be an evening watching the big screens either side of the performing ants.

Breedlove was the opening act and you had to feel sorry for the wee laddie.  An unadorned rapper in front of a curtained stage (behind which curtain you know would be an Oz/Wonderland playground,) he rapped and humped the air gamely to waves of indifference.  Next up was Lady Starlight, whose importance in the ascendancy of Gaga is undisputed, but, again, given the air of expectancy for the main turn, it was hard for her to make a huge impression given that she is a DJ (needle-dropper, button-pusher, knob-twiddler) and anyone standing behind a couple of decks is going to have to be very special to have any sort of presence.  Twenty minutes of drum samples ensued, with her jigging about a bit.

 

Lady Starlight Lady Gaga

There was no interval before Gaga, so not even the temptation to meet the Maryhill gang and get into the standing area illegitimately.

And she was fabulous.  The set seemed to fly by in about five minutes, with all the costume changes, bonkers set-design, lasers, dancing and musicality of legend.  There was an island stage with a crystal encrusted keyboard in the middle of the standing area, reached by catwalks from either side of the main stage – each catwalk had a mini-platform about half way down, so Gaga was “among us” for a lot of the show.  She played most of Artpop and all the hits, everyone was happy, especially the young guy who was hauled out of the crowd and sat next to Gaga as she sang a ballad version of “Born This Way” for him.

So; a good day for me and proof that art and pop can successfully commingle with commerce.

Gigs · Music

Frankly magnificent news…

Lady Gaga for Versace
Is there a wee half-bottle in the handbag?

 

…is that Lady Gaga will be in the UK in October, including a show at The Hydro in Glasgow on Sunday 19th.  ARTRAVE if you will; I’m already getting a vibe like the Prince Lovesexy tour in 1988.
As a Gaga and indeed Hydro virgin, I’m quite excited about this; everything I’ve heard about The Hydro has been very positive and certainly, there is little to live up to venue-wise in that area…

The shot above is from the Versace Spring shoot, another puzzling move from the maverick Mother Monster – is it the return of heroin chic, or just morphing into Donatella Versace?  What’s worse?