Group - Birmingham

Welcome to The Perfect Curve.

There are 24 posts in total.

david garside + band - ceol castle, balsall heath, 16/08/2006

simon gray - 2006-08-20, 12:50:10

in my experience, there are two kinds of bands you're likely to see in a pub. 

firstly, there's the band which is designed to appeal to 'the crowd' - they'll typically be loud & impressive, with lots of guitar solos in practically every song (with the lead guitarist taking at least three axes with them onto the stage) and the obligatory drum solo in the last one, guaranteed to get all da chix cheering along. 

then there's the band which not only the crowd will like, but also any musicians in the audience too. not for this kind of band are the easy wins, the rock clichés. the muso's band relies on quality of performing and originality of songwriting to impress. it is into this category which david garside & band firmly fit. 

the band is basically an acoustic band - acoustic guitar & electric piano (Nick Wiley) being[...]

paradise dreaming - a city fairytale, by hamfisted - chamberlain square 23/06/2006

simon gray - 2006-06-23, 23:09:18

it's difficult to know where to start with this performance; billed as it was as 'a contemporary performance of shakespeare's a midsummer night's dream', celebrating the wedding of 'helen' and 'dominic'. 

certainly when one arrived at chamberlain square to pick up your ticket (a buttonhole plastic flower) you were given the impression of something promising - if you had seen the setting up of the space in paradise gardens down in front of the conservatoire, you would have seen the potential for something magical. the staging around the chamberlain square fountain was less impressive - but that's ok, because most outdoor performances of amnd i've seen have been minimally staged for the first half; it's all part of that suspension of disbelief, innit? 

in the warm-up before the performance was scheduled to start at 8:30 a number of schoolchildren came in to the space, showing off their circus skills with diabolo,[...]

Jerry Springer: the Opera - Birmingham Hippodrome, 07/02/2006

simon gray - 2006-02-07, 23:03:46

Bill of Rights 
Amendment I
 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
 

Such is the above extract from the constitution of the USA quoted on the first page of the programme for Jerry Springer: the Opera - which is widely interpreted as being the part of the constitution which guarantees the people the right to free assembly, to protest, to speak freely, and to enjoy and practice their religious beliefs (or lack of them) without interference or favour from the State. 

Of course, the USA constitution does not apply to us (no matter how much George W Bush would wish it to be so), but many of its principles are sound[...]

Jansen Ensemble - symphony hall, 18/10/2005

simon gray - 2005-10-18, 22:59:28

the three baroque concertos (or concerti, if you really are an italian) from tuesday evening's concert all stem from the body of music which treads the line between chamber music & orchestral music; indeed, prior to the rise of the so-called 'authentic performance' movement would often have been performed as orchestral works. 

the jansen ensemble, led by violinist janine jansen, whilst not quite performing in the totally authentic camp were certainly well in the spirit of it - a single player per part, & the musicians all (where feasible) standing to play rather than taking it easy on the award-winning symphony hall chairs. 

opinion is still divided as to whether there is a right or wrong way to perform baroque music, but for myself i certainly prefer to hear it cut back to the minimum, in order that the baroque twiddly bits (which are, after all, the point of the genre !)[...]

the mexicolas + paperweight industry - bar academy, 22/09/2005

simon gray - 2005-09-22, 01:46:22

i have to admit to feeling a little sorry for the mexicolas after seeing them last thursday at bar academy. if the arguing about them, pro & anti, which took over the birmingham alive forum is representitive of real life, they've got a lot to live up to. 

now obviously a band can't control what people say about them in public, but when that discussion reaches the levels we saw here then you can't help but wonder whether their publicity machine has at least had a little involvement in it. it's a dangerous game to play, though, because when you create such a buzz about something, you've got to ensure you've got the product to match it - & sad to say, i don't think the mexicolas delivered. in any respect. 

in fact, when the previous band, paperweight industry took the stage, i actually mistakenly thought they were the mexicolas, as they had[...]

against the wheel - flapper and firkin, 20/06/2005

simon gray - 2005-06-20, 01:42:57

i often see people complaining about the lack of a live music scene in birmingham. whereas there's some truth in it - there's not as much of one as there used to be - it's not really entirely true. you might have to look for it, but it is there to be found. 

i say you might have to look for it, but is the flapper & firkin really a hard to find on a monday night? many a band plays there to its gathered crowd of mates (& the other bands sharing the bill), but it seems not many people go out just paying 3 quid (just over the price of a pint in most city centre pubs) to see whoever might be playing on spec; to my shame i realise i've been a bit lacking myself in that respect of late. 

so perhaps that's part of the problem.[...]

gilad atzmon and the orient house ensemble - cbso centre, 22/01/05

simon gray - 2005-01-22, 01:39:14

Under normal circumstances, if you went to a gig by a punk band at the Birmingham Academy on one saturday, you might be forgiven for being somewhat surprised the following saturday at a jazz concert in Birmingham's CBSO Centre to recognise the saxophone player in that gig from the one the week before. 

That's normal circumstances, but anybody who knows anything about band The Blockheads and saxophonist Gilad Atzmon knows that in this case, normal circumstances don't apply. The styling of The Blockheads as a punk band was always whilst in one sense technically true somewhat of an oversimplification - punk lyrics and attitude maybe, but always backed by a hard jazz-funk musical soundworld. An ideal setting in fact for Gilad Atzmon, perhaps one of the most creative musicians on the scene currently, to have his 'other band'. But The Blockheads was the other gig. 

Atzmon's stance is intensely political, and he uses his art, be[...]

Behzti (Dishonour) by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti - birmingham repertory theatre, 20/12/2004

simon gray - 2004-12-20, 01:34:09

I was hoping to be able to write a review of the young Sikh writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's playBehzti (Dishonour) playing at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, but unfortunately I was unable to because it was cancelled before I had chance to see it. So this article is unfortunately going to be on the basis of 'what I've heard about it' rather than what I know to be the facts about it. 

The play is a black comedy set around a Sikh community, focussing on the relationship between Min, an unmarried woman ('past her prime') & Balbir, her sick mother. It was their first trip out together for some time. Min was hoping to meet up with a friend whose birthday it was, but Balbir had other ideas - a trip to their nearby temple. When Balbir meets old friends there a past shocking event is revealed... 

The shocking event in[...]

Mitch Benn & the Distractions - the glee club, 26/11/2004

simon gray - 2004-11-26, 01:25:00

"Mitch Benn is one of the foremost exponents of musical comedy in the U.K." - so opens the biographical notes in the press material for his current UK tour. 

I'm always somewhat dubious when I see an artist's own publicity manager make such bold claims about their clients, but in the case of Mitch Benn, the statement is more than justified. 

Is he a stand-up comic, is he a singer/songwriter, is he an impressionist, is he a guitarist, is he a bandleader ? For most people, to be able to do one of those well is an acheivement in itself, but Benn is one of those rarities who can actually do all five at once, & do it excellently. 

For his performance at the Glee Club he was unable to provide his usual gimmick, that of an all-female backing band because unfortunately his usual drummer Tasha Baylis was ill that night.[...]

the australian pink floyd - symphony hall, 02/10/2003

simon gray - 2003-10-02, 01:21:03

Just before the show started my colleague recounted an anecdote from an old Pink Floyd interview – “The time will come one day with technology when we’ll be able to just set the equipment up, press a button, & go. In fact the time will come when we’ll be able to send another four people out to do the gig instead of us!”. I don’t think when they said that they envisaged the modern day popularity of tribute bands... 

I’m not sure I really ‘get’ tribute bands; OK, we’ve all been there, from sitting in the music shop with the guitar we can’t afford to buy playing the opening bars of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (or ‘Purple Haze’ if you’re of a different bent), through to your first few bands from school and college playing mostly other peoples’ songs. But when you’ve developed your ability a bit, you start exploring[...]

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