One of the things I love most about this city is the sheer variety of gigs, concerts, shows, performances, recitations, displays, exhibitions, and other incarnations of talent that you are exposed to, and as some of you will no doubt have noticed I like to take advantage of these things from time to time. It was a few weeks ago now, but it's still worth sharing…
On the Monday night Leanne and I were meant to go to a recording of QI, but we kinda got screwed over by their ticket giveaway procedure, and wound up making a last-minute dash to the Blue Man Group instead. Every bit as cool the second time around.
On the Friday night a bunch of us went into the West End to see Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible. I think it's the first bit of proper theatre I've seen since getting here which didn't have the spectre of celebrity performance looming over it (although it did have the “No, no, no, no… no no no… YES” guy from The Vicar of Dibley in it), and it was a little weird, because I gathered that I was about the only one amongst our party who hadn't studied it at high school. As such, any analytical comment I came to make after it felt a little undergraduate, and I stuck with keeping my trap shut.
Anyway, another theatrical event I got along to was in Wimbledon, in the form of The Blair B'Stard Project – a live episode of 80's sitcom The New Statesman, starring Mr Rik Mayall. Pretty exciting stuff, sitting in the front row only a few metres from British Comedy Royalty… I can't even really tell you what the show was about; the usual sitcom based around outlandish characterisations & premises, with a few complete collapses of character which made the whole thing more contrived than it already promised to be, and heavily reliant on potty humour and mock violence. But at the same time this is exactly what we all expect of Rik, and to that end it was spot on and utterly utterly excellent.
Part 4 of this amazing entertainment showcase was a gig in Camden for tongue-in-cheek hard rocking cover group Beatallica. As the name suggests, their M.O. is playing reinterpretations of Beatles lyrics, in a Metallica style. This gives rise to such musical gems as “And Justice For All My Loving”, “Leper Madonna”, “Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band”, “Everybody's Got A Ticket To Ride Except For Me And My Lightning”, and the quality heart-rending ballad, “Hey Dude”. A personal favourite of mine was the not very amusingly titled “Sandman“, which was an Enter Sandman-esque interpretation of Taxman (from the Revolver album). A completely top gig, spoilt for me only by the fact that the baind clearly has a fixed repertoire, which they had exhausted by second encore, however the crowd were going ape crazy so the only option they had left was to come out and admit they were out of material, then tell the crowd “We're gonna play an E chord, you guys go crazy, then the gig's over. Thanks a lot !”, and they duly did so. V. bizarre.
But what I think was the biggest gig of the week was on the Tuesday night when Paul & I ventured out to Wembley Arena for a live-concert mounting of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of War Of The Worlds. Amazing. There was a full string section, joined by a fairly early-80's style synth band, and the whole affair was – as in the recording – narrated by the voice of Richard Burton. Owing to the fact that Burton died in 1984, this was made possible by projecting a computer generated image of Burton's face – animated with lip and eye movements to suit the part – onto a giant 3 dimentional head-shaped screen, hovering above the stage. The other performances varied, with great singing & incredible overacting by the Artilleryman and the Parson, Nathaniel, and an incredibly self-obsessed performance by Justin Hayward, reprising his original role of The Journalist… The tightness of the orchestra and the magnificence of the material could not be disputed however, and the night got just a little bit Spinal Tap when a giant Martian tripod descended from the lighting rig, being at the same time amazingly atmospheric, and incredibly incredibly twee.
Mmm, so that wasn't yer average week, that's for certain !