Ready For This? (Are you sure? It’s quite long…)

8 09 2009

Tim Minchin-Ready For This? The Lowry, Salford. 2nd September 2009.

 

I’d been waiting for this for a while after one song on the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 2008 got me hooked on the genius that is Mr. Tim Minchin. Repeated viewings of his "So F**cking Rock" DVD and You Tube videos had fueled my obsession thus far due to various things that meant I couldn’t get to see him live.  Finally I had the tickets in hand and was on my way… only to nearly miss the start of the show.
We (my brother and I) made it though and got settled into the particularly good seats we had.

Excitement kicks in as my eyes fix on the grand piano sitting centre stage in front of a black backdrop reading "Ready For This?". I thought I was but it turns out that I was wrong…

The sound of the title track of the tour Ready For This? blasting through the speakers and strobe lighting built up the anticipation for Tim who appeared during the song with his usual big hair and bare feet and asking amusingly "Who needs a band? Who needs friends?"

With Tim sat behind his piano he launched into Prejudice a very clever song which leads your mind one way for a good two minutes before fooling you and taking you down a different, hilarious route. The beginning of the song implies that it will be about the use of the word "nigger". This seems to make a few audience members a bit worried as to what is to come in the duration of this gig as obviously this word is used rarely and with extreme caution usually, although comedians do like to break the mould. It turns out however, that it is a very catchy song about gingers. The audience burst into laughter as they hear the line "only a ginger can call another ginger, ginger" and then again when they realise the anagram. Tim encourages the audience to sing along which might have worked a bit better if the audience had a better understanding of Tim Minchin. To me it seemed that the majority of the audience were new to Mr. Minchin and at this point were just trying to work him out. Quite a few members of the audience were aware of Tim though and his ways. These people, including me, were only too happy to join in the singing. Through interjections of laughter of course.

Next up was Tim’s attempt to  talk to the audience, which he admits he isn’t very good at. Personally, I like his slightly awkward style and to watch how he eases into the gig. It could have been a help or a hinderence that a girl screamed out that she loves him. Not the best idea as she was sitting on the front row.
His "stand-up" sections are mainly put in place to give a background story or outline to his songs. He has a quality Australian accent which makes me smile anyway, regardless of the jokes, which are in fact very funny. One that sticks out inparticular is an observation on Henry VIII’s song, Greensleeves. The joke involves ice-cream vans and paedophiles. It’s the way you tell ’em… and I er, can’t!

As this review is rather delayed the exact details are beginning to fade. I clearly remember all the songs though. I would go as far to say that Tim Minchin’s songwriting skills are genius. He is a fantastic pianist and manages to combine incredible piano solos with witty and hilarious lyrics.
I Love Jesus is a song that doesn’t actually include a piano or many lyrics but it is hilarious. As Tim went to pick up his guitar we saw a glimpse of Tim’s first night nerves as his guitar strap got tangled up in the lead. Nothing major. He also stubbed his toe twice throughout the gig. Slightly worried about his feet for the rest of his tour…
Back to the gig though. I Love Jesus is another audience participatory song, they were more eager to join in this time despite the awkward sense that we wereat church. That was the point of the song though, the whole hippy Jesus stuff doesn’t really work anywhere else.
The Good Book is delivered in the style of a slow witted American further proving the ridiculous nature religion can have.
He then moves onto a song dedicated to his wife entitled If I Didn’t Have You. I was particularly excited to see this live after I read it was to be included in the set (thanks Twitter) as previously mentioned it was the song that got me hooked and it includes a comedy wiggle that gets me grinning from ear to ear. Sadly the wiggle wasn’t at it’s best as Tim admitted, "what’s up with my wiggle? It’s fucked up". The song is still very funny though with it turning into a mathematical evaluation about how it is very unlikely that she is "the one".
After some more set up talk describing how a bad review had knocked his confidence and taken a while to get over, the song which "journolousts" must dread (not this one [haven’t got a bad word to say about the guy] although being in the mindset of a journoloust technically doesn’t qualify me to be one). Set up as a song written to show how Tim has moved on from the review he launches into Song For Phil Daoust. It begins as a forgiveness song but has quite a gruesome twist as he sings "But I still want to cut big chunks of flesh out of your stupid face, and make your children watch while I force you to eat them." This reminds me of the only part of a Hannibal Lecter film I have seen and the reason I won’t watch anymore of them. The song is quite upbeat however, and makes me very happy. Que another dose of uncontrollable laughter.
Dark Side came next in all it’s theatrical and frankly genius glory. This song has everything, the funny lyrics, a smoke machine, amazing piano solos (which at one point encourage him to do a one line rendition of Kings of Leon’s Sex On Firebefore incorporating Greensleeves into the end of the solo), a focused and "dark" element, an upbeat section andit’s catchy. Not in that "aargh, get out of my head" sort of catchy, the kind of catchy where something in your everyday life will remind you of this song and you’ll start singing it only to have people looking at you strangely as quite often they haven’t heard this song or Tim Minchin. These people need to be helped and shown the way of the Minchin.
Dark Side finishes and takes us into an interval. In which the interval song is played which sneaks into your brain and refuses to escape for a while.

Second half and there is a buzz in the audience as they are largely intrigued as to what is lying on the chair on stage, they slowly realise what is on the chair they move onto "why".
It is a bear suit which is laying in waiting for some (un)lucky audience member. Tim selects one of the guys who he had picked on in the beginning of the show. He was reluctant to get on stage so Tim picks him up and puts him there, it’s one way to keep the gig moving! Now to get him into the suit, he took a while due to constantly sticking up the middle finger to his friends, irritating. Instructions were then wispered into his ear before Tim started Bears Don’t Dig On Dancing. Another different song style which includes a clip of Jump Around and a rave section. Towards the end of the song "Matthew Bear" had to dance, he did well although the majority of his dance included yet more hand gestures to his friends. Tim admitted that when the song was originally performed a professional dancer was used and had forgotten exactly how long he needed to dance for. A few audience members were getting into the dancing spirit themselves.
After Matthew had de-beared himself Tim launched into the first of the Twitter selected songs in the form of If You Really Loved Me in which Tim reels off several odd yet comical things that someone should do to prove their love. The audience really seemed to like the idea of videoing someone while they pee…
To introduce the next song Tim explained that no matter how well or indeed how bad a gig was going there was generally always a lull three-quarters of the way through a long set. He explained that he had come up with a problem to solve this-a 9 minute beat poem entitled Storm. A very impressive section of the gig involving Tim debating with a new-age hippy at a dinner party. His linguistic and delivery skills shine blindingly here. I was astounded as to how he could remember all those words and the pace in which to deliver them, but that’s his job I guess! By the end of it if he had me 100% converted to rationality and the wonders of being in the world we are, and I wasn’t even sure that I needed converting.
Sadly the gig is drawing to an end but not before Tim is back behind his grand piano to play Confessions. A song split into three parts, each of which focuses on an important issue yet finishes with an upbeat song about boobs. The audience quickly pick up this twist and eagerly join in. To their delight the conclusion to this song includes a reworking of the Dolly Parton classic I Will Always Love… Boobs!
The gig finishes with a more spectacular version of Canvas Bagsthan I had previously seen during my You Tube searches. Arms were waving, voices were singing along and lights were flashing. As the fan was blowing through hair hair, both on his head and chest as his shirt was now flying open, he looked like a full on rock star and rightly so. The pyrotechnics went off in the background before the shout of "blackout" from Mr. Minchin. We were left blown away, with huge smiles on our faces.
For the encore we got the second of the Twitter selected songs, You Grew On Me. Would have preferred Rock N Roll Nerd or Not Perfect but it’s still a good song and the audience loved it.

Tim Minchin’s gigs are the perfect mix of comedy and musical genius. As his musical style varies from song to song and his skills on the piano are worth the ticket price alone anyone with a love for either music or comedy would fully enjoy his show. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I think The Scotsman describes him best when they say "He plays like an angel, sings like a rock star and has a devil sense of humour."

We also managed to meet Tim after the show (something which I usually avoid doing, these situations often turn out to be embarrasing). We chatted for a while in more of a friend to friend way rather than artist to fan, which was refreshing. He stayed until he had got to see everyone who wanted to see him despite his initial rush to get home. What a nice guy.

Tim Minchin
Angry (Feet) An ace fansite.

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Ready For This? (Are you sure? It’s quite long…)

7 09 2009

Tim Minchin-Ready For This? The Lowry, Salford. 1st September 2009.

 

I’d been waiting for this for a while after one song on the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 2008 got me hooked on the genius that is Mr. Tim Minchin. Repeated viewings of his “So F**cking Rock” DVD and You Tube videos had fueled my obsession thus far due to various things that meant I couldn’t get to see him live.  Finally I had the tickets in hand and was on my way… only to nearly miss the start of the show.
We (my brother and I) made it though and got settled into the particularly good seats we had.

Excitement kicks in as my eyes fix on the grand piano sitting centre stage in front of a black backdrop reading “Ready For This?”. I thought I was but it turns out that I was wrong…

The sound of the title track of the tour Ready For This? blasting through the speakers and strobe lighting built up the anticipation for Tim who appeared during the song with his usual big hair and bare feet and asking amusingly “Who needs a band? Who needs friends?”

With Tim sat behind his piano he launched into Prejudice a very clever song which leads your mind one way for a good two minutes before fooling you and taking you down a different, hilarious route. The beginning of the song implies that it will be about the use of the word “nigger”. This seems to make a few audience members a bit worried as to what is to come in the duration of this gig as obviously this word is used rarely and with extreme caution usually, although comedians do like to break the mould. It turns out however, that it is a very catchy song about gingers. The audience burst into laughter as they hear the line “only a ginger can call another ginger, ginger” and then again when they realise the anagram. Tim encourages the audience to sing along which might have worked a bit better if the audience had a better understanding of Tim Minchin. To me it seemed that the majority of the audience were new to Mr. Minchin and at this point were just trying to work him out. Quite a few members of the audience were aware of Tim though and his ways. These people, including me, were only too happy to join in the singing. Through interjections of laughter of course.

Next up was Tim’s attempt to  talk to the audience, which he admits he isn’t very good at. Personally, I like his slightly awkward style and to watch how he eases into the gig. It could have been a help or a hinderence that a girl screamed out that she loves him. Not the best idea as she was sitting on the front row.
His “stand-up” sections are mainly put in place to give a background story or outline to his songs. He has a quality Australian accent which makes me smile anyway, regardless of the jokes, which are in fact very funny. One that sticks out inparticular is an observation on Henry VIII’s song, Greensleeves. The joke involves ice-cream vans and paedophiles. It’s the way you tell ’em… and I er, can’t!

As this review is rather delayed the exact details are beginning to fade. I clearly remember all the songs though. I would go as far to say that Tim Minchin’s songwriting skills are genius. He is a fantastic pianist and manages to combine incredible piano solos with witty and hilarious lyrics.
I Love Jesus is a song that doesn’t actually include a piano or many lyrics but it is hilarious. As Tim went to pick up his guitar we saw a glimpse of Tim’s first night nerves as his guitar strap got tangled up in the lead. Nothing major. He also stubbed his toe twice throughout the gig. Slightly worried about his feet for the rest of his tour…
Back to the gig though. I Love Jesus is another audience participatory song, they were more eager to join in this time despite the awkward sense that we were at church. That was the point of the song though, the whole hippy Jesus stuff doesn’t really work anywhere else.
The Good Book is delivered in the style of a slow witted American further proving the ridiculous nature religion can have.
He then moves onto a song dedicated to his wife entitled If I Didn’t Have You. I was particularly excited to see this live after I read it was to be included in the set (thanks Twitter) as previously mentioned it was the song that got me hooked and it includes a comedy wiggle that gets me grinning from ear to ear. Sadly the wiggle wasn’t at it’s best as Tim admitted, “what’s up with my wiggle? It’s fucked up”. The song is still very funny though with it turning into a mathematical evaluation about how it is very unlikely that she is “the one”.
After some more set up talk describing how a bad review had knocked his confidence and taken a while to get over, the song which “journolousts” must dread (not this one [haven’t got a bad word to say about the guy] although being in the mindset of a journoloust technically doesn’t qualify me to be one). Set up as a song written to show how Tim has moved on from the review he launches into Song For Phil Daoust. It begins as a forgiveness song but has quite a gruesome twist as he sings “But I still want to cut big chunks of flesh out of your stupid face, and make your children watch while I force you to eat them.” This reminds me of the only part of a Hannibal Lecter film I have seen and the reason I won’t watch anymore of them. The song is quite upbeat however, and makes me very happy. Que another dose of uncontrollable laughter.
Dark Side came next in all it’s theatrical and frankly genius glory. This song has everything, the funny lyrics, a smoke machine, amazing piano solos (which at one point encourage him to do a one line rendition of Kings of Leon’s Sex On Firebefore incorporating Greensleeves into the end of the solo), a focused and “dark” element, an upbeat section andit’s catchy. Not in that “aargh, get out of my head” sort of catchy, the kind of catchy where something in your everyday life will remind you of this song and you’ll start singing it only to have people looking at you strangely as quite often they haven’t heard this song or Tim Minchin. These people need to be helped and shown the way of the Minchin.
Dark Side finishes and takes us into an interval. In which the interval song is played which sneaks into your brain and refuses to escape for a while.

Second half and there is a buzz in the audience as they are largely intrigued as to what is lying on the chair on stage, they slowly realise what is on the chair they move onto “why”.
It is a bear suit which is laying in waiting for some (un)lucky audience member. Tim selects one of the guys who he had picked on in the beginning of the show. He was reluctant to get on stage so Tim picks him up and puts him there, it’s one way to keep the gig moving! Now to get him into the suit, he took a while due to constantly sticking up the middle finger to his friends, irritating. Instructions were then wispered into his ear before Tim started Bears Don’t Dig On Dancing. Another different song style which includes a clip of Jump Around and a rave section. Towards the end of the song “Matthew Bear” had to dance, he did well although the majority of his dance included yet more hand gestures to his friends. Tim admitted that when the song was originally performed a professional dancer was used and had forgotten exactly how long he needed to dance for. A few audience members were getting into the dancing spirit themselves.
After Matthew had de-beared himself Tim launched into the first of the Twitter selected songs in the form of If You Really Loved Me in which Tim reels off several odd yet comical things that someone should do to prove their love. The audience really seemed to like the idea of videoing someone while they pee…
To introduce the next song Tim explained that no matter how well or indeed how bad a gig was going there was generally always a lull three-quarters of the way through a long set. He explained that he had come up with a problem to solve this-a 9 minute beat poem entitled Storm. A very impressive section of the gig involving Tim debating with a new-age hippy at a dinner party. His linguistic and delivery skills shine blindingly here. I was astounded as to how he could remember all those words and the pace in which to deliver them, but that’s his job I guess! By the end of it if he had me 100% converted to rationality and the wonders of being in the world we are, and I wasn’t even sure that I needed converting.
Sadly the gig is drawing to an end but not before Tim is back behind his grand piano to play Confessions. A song split into three parts, each of which focuses on an important issue yet finishes with an upbeat song about boobs. The audience quickly pick up this twist and eagerly join in. To their delight the conclusion to this song includes a reworking of the Dolly Parton classic I Will Always Love… Boobs!
The gig finishes with a more spectacular version of Canvas Bagsthan I had previously seen during my You Tube searches. Arms were waving, voices were singing along and lights were flashing. As the fan was blowing through hair hair, both on his head and chest as his shirt was now flying open, he looked like a full on rock star and rightly so. The pyrotechnics went off in the background before the shout of “blackout” from Mr. Minchin. We were left blown away, with huge smiles on our faces.
For the encore we got the second of the Twitter selected songs, You Grew On Me. Would have preferred Rock N Roll Nerd or Not Perfect but it’s still a good song and the audience loved it.

Tim Minchin’s gigs are the perfect mix of comedy and musical genius. As his musical style varies from song to song and his skills on the piano are worth the ticket price alone anyone with a love for either music or comedy would fully enjoy his show. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I think The Scotsman describes him best when they say “He plays like an angel, sings like a rock star and has a devil sense of humour.”

We also managed to meet Tim after the show (something which I usually avoid doing, these situations often turn out to be embarrasing). We chatted for a while in more of a friend to friend way rather than artist to fan, which was refreshing. He stayed until he had got to see everyone who wanted to see him despite his initial rush to get home. What a nice guy.

Tim Minchin
Angry (Feet) An ace fansite.





Inglorious Basterds. Interestingly Bloody.

29 08 2009

Before I begin I must confess that I haven’t got the greatest Quentin Tarantino knowledge (I’m not even sure if I’ve spelt his name right!). I haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction or either of the volumes of Kill Bill. I know, I know I have a huge list of films I "should have seen".
There are two things I know about Quentin Tarantino:1. He likes blood and gore.
                                                                                                 2. He is a bit crazy.

These points clearly come across in his new film Inglorious Basterds. I went to see this film unsure whether I would like it or not. I mean I can handle gore to a certain extent but from what I’ve heard Tarantino takes it to the next level. Plus, I wasn’t really sure what the film was about, the trailer doesn’t even include the full title nevermind a proper idea to the plot. At least it didn’t give everything away though as trailers tend to do these days.

From the minute the film began I knew it wasn’t going to be what I had expected. The film was spilt into different sections. The first of which introduced a evil yet strangely likeable character named Col. Hans Landa. Unexpectedly humerous and intellegent he seemed to portray the nazis in a different light. I eventually grew to hate him mind.

The camera work and interlinking of different sections of the film was cleverly done. The plot to me was unpredicatable and characters lives were not guarenteed. I also found the film quite funny at times. The majority of the cinema audience seemed to agree. As for the violence and gore it did seem a bit over the top at times. Without wanting to reveal too much, my scalp felt sore during certain scenes. For the majority of the film I feel the violence was required, obviously due to the nature of the topic and because it just wouldn’t be a Quentin Tarantino film if it didn’t involve a bit of gore. I did make me stop and wonder what a danger Tarantino would be to the public if he wasn’t making films.

Brad Pitt was obviously played a key role and once I got over his odd accent I actually quite enjoyed his character. For me however, it was the foreign and lesser known actors than shone. Such as Chistoph Waltz who played Col. Hans Landa, Melanie Laurnet who played one of the few women roles, Eli Roth known throughtout the film as "The Bear Jew" and who also directed the film within the film "Nation’s Pride" (thanks IMDb) and Til Schweigher who provided both the loudest laughs and the most gruesome killings as Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz.

To my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed Inglorious Basterds and may now have to finally watch those fore-mentioned Tarantino films.

As a footnote I guess I should mention that three different couples walked out during the film so I guess it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…





Quarantine. Use your time wiser.

1 12 2008

Sunday afternoon, weather is freezing outside and everyone in halls is planning on a day in bed. Perfect time to escape to the cinema.

It seems to have become an unwritten rule that my whenever my friend Sarah and I watch films together it must be from the horror genre. I think she enjoys watching me squirm! Today’s (well technically yesterday’s) choice was Quarantine. After buying ridiculously overpriced refreshments we untangled ourselves from the many layers we were in and watched the trailers. I say watched the trailers, I had my hands firmly placed over my ears and found myself being very interested in the bag of Malteasers whilst Sarah took mental notes of the films I found most disturbing as these would be later be penciled in for future cinema trips.
The film begins. Five minutes in and I’m already disliking the woman in the lead role. I tell myself i’ll be too distracted by the events of the film rather than her annoying characteristics and bad acting. After what feels like half an hour we still find ourselves watching this annoying woman flirt her way round a fire station whilst being followed by her ‘cameraman’. I use the term loosely as he doesn’t seem to have much control of his camera and if I were more susceptible to motion sickness I would be regretting the bag of Malteasers by now. Eventually the plot moves on and the firemen get a call. The woman seems far too excited about the prospect of an emergency call for my liking but I’m surprisingly ready for some horror action. Sarah and I also thought that the sooner the lead woman became involved in the horror scenes the sooner we could be scared for her and become less annoyed by her. Alas this did not happen and later on in the film after a twenty minute hysterical screaming session we started counting down the minutes to her death. Harsh I know but she was just so irritating!
Okay so to sum up the other hour of predictable, irksome film imagine 28 days/weeks later but confined to an apartment, without any character depth and close up gore. That’s not to mention the stupid elements of the plot and the bad camera shots. I realise that it was meant to be “in the moment” shots from the point of view of the cameraman to make the viewer feel like they are there but at some points all we were watching was people’s (surprisingly clean) shoes. One scene involved the cameraman killing one of the infected by repeatedly beating it with his camera, this meant we were watching a blurry zombie in extreme close up through splatters of blood. As not much could be seen it isn’t what I would call a good shot. Good to know they make zombie proof cameras these days though. The ending is pleasing however, partly because we finally get to see the woman disappear, but mainly because it is the end.
To sum up it’s a bad film with a predictable plot line we’ve all seen before involving characters the audience doesn’t really care about and foolish errors. Enjoyable comedy though.