A weekend to remember


I wouldn’t say I’m a massively outgoing person as far as venturing far and wide, but in recent years I’ve tried to broaden my horizons, at least when opportunities arise.  Two such opportunities arrived the weekend just gone, not entirely planned as such but I jumped at the chance to go and see my favourite band once again … and then another opportunity came around to see a personal favourite TV sketch show’s live tour.

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Probably over a year ago I booked tickets to see Garbage again in London as well as meet up with a friend I’d made last time I went.  Some months later VIP meet & Greets were announced, and so yeah, once again I was going to meet the band and get a photo taken.  The whole experience this time around was even better than I’d experienced in 2016 at The Troxy.  For starters at Brixton Academy, the meet & greet q&a part of the VIP experience was in the same room where the photos were to be taken and it was a small, intimate affair with me sitting amongst 50+ fans within touching distance of the band (!!).  It was so surreal as it wasn’t as if I was sitting before my favourite band, but almost like old friends … it all felt so nice and relaxed and really f’ing cool.  I didn’t say much, as I knew I’d clam up (again) but did get a chance to say how fantastic I thought they were and that Version 2.0 (of which the tour was celebrating it’s 20th anniversary) was my favourite album of all time, by any artist.  I got my photo taken which turned out to be more of a fun thing, with me posing with the band and all pretending to be zombies, with outstretched arms etc. lol.

The VIP experience also meant early entry so I was pretty much at the front (one short girl in front of me, so I had an awesome view) and what was the actual concert like?  In short Garbage (Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker) were on electrifying form, belting out the hits as well as more obscure b-sides both word-perfect and with an energetic response from a sold-out Brixton Academy crowd.  It was intense, heart-pounding, utterly feel good and the best I’ve seen them perform.  Garbage are such a skilled and talented band and once again delivered an evening of rockin’ good entertainment that didn’t disappoint.

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Two night’s later I was heading off to Liverpool to see The League of Gentlemen at the Echo Arena and this British sketch comedy four-piece that started out on radio before creating a cult TV show of the same name were utterly brilliant.  They went through a plethora of their most famous sketches and iconic characters to deliver a 2hr+ show of bonkers humour, one-liners, political satire and toilet humour with no end of imagination and charisma.  Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Mark Gattis and (behind the scenes / co-writer) Jeremy Dyson are one of the best comedy groups Britain has spawned since Monty Python and that … is not said lightly.  Translating the sketch-based comedy of the show worked well on stage and the sets and costumes were all very well done and seemed to go off without a hitch, aided by what appeared to be some funny ad-libbing and natural glimpses of the guy’s personalities.  This show was partly a celebration of their 20th anniversary as well as a hinted at farewell to the characters unless this talented four-piece find a way to work together again at some stage … we’ll see.  For now though, me and a couple of friends as well as the sold out crowd had a ball.

As far as my usual weekends go, this was pretty intense, rather exhausting but utterly fulfilling, creating memories I’ll look back on for years to come.  So a big shout-out to Garbage and to The League of Gentlemen for making the past few days so very special.

Craig.

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Switch anniversary and the year ahead


Hi everyone.  I’ve not posted like this in a while.  Life’s been pretty busy start of the year despite me managing to cram in rather a lot of movies to review.  Also there seems to be some good stuff on the horizon for me, and thought I’d give it a little write-up.

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First it would be remiss of me not to mention that today marks the first year anniversary of the Nintendo Switch, a console I have fallen in love with and over the past twelve months has given me so much fun and enjoyment.  Highlights of course include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, but along with this smaller titles like Rayman Legends and Steam World Dig 2 have also been a lot of fun.  The portability, versatility of this system can not go un-mentioned either and it’s a unique joy to play it in bed, sitting in my living room or in front of my bedroom TV on a larger screen.  Having the best of both worlds.  In the process, the Xbox One and PS4 have fallen by the way-side and not the Switch is my go-to console of choice and with games on the horizon like Donkey King Country Tropical Freeze and Yoshi, I can see it staying that way for the foreseeable future.

IMG_0286I’m of course also looking forward to seeing Garbage again in concert in September.  It will mark the 3rd time I have seen my favourite band live and well, I’m still pinching myself that I actually got to meet them as well back in 2016.  This tour will mark the 20 year anniversary of their second album ‘Version 2.0’ and as it’s my favourite album of theirs where I went from liking the band to being a real fan, this concert where they’ll play every track and every b-side released at the time … fills me with excitement.  I’ll be meeting up with a few like-minded friends when I am there so it should be a great experience for me again.  Incidentally, lead singer Shirley Manson was recently honoured by UK publication NME with their first ‘icon’ award which was presented to the Scottish singer at their annual NME awards in London.  As a long time fan this was a very proud moment for me.  I have said it before and I’ll keep saying it .. Garbage don’t get the recognition they deserve and it’s awards like this that feel even more special simply for that fact.  Well done Shirley!  Currently they are working on album #7 with a hope of a release in 2019.

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In other news, I’m currently watching several TV shows, including new seasons of Homeland, X-Files, The Walking Dead and Mr. Robot, the latter I consider one of the best shows available right now.  Speaking of TV shows, I was pleased to see a brief return of one of my favourite cult shows over Christmas, namely The League of Gentlemen, which was only three episodes but it was bliss.  The creators, Mark Gatiss, Jeremy Dyson, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton then followed this up by announcing a tour, of which I rushed to secure tickets.  Strangely enough it’s scheduled for two days after I see Garbage.  What a weekend that will be!  Their brand of humour is rather dark, character-driven comedy that is probably an acquired taste, but I love it.


As far as this blog is concerned, I want to vary the content a little and might do special posts of certain subjects, like favourite actors, movie genres etc and more stuff on video games and music.  I’m unsure what form that will take as I want to make it as interesting as possible, but I continue to love writing this blog and it keeps my love of writing alive.  Hope you all manage to get something from it too.

Until next time.

Craig.

The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse


Viewed – 09 October 2013  DVD

A big-screen outing for the much acclaimed cult British TV series ‘The League Of Gentlemen’ would seem a natural progression for a series that spanned three seasons, a tour and even a pantomime (!).  But the reaction to this imaginative feature was bittersweet indifference at best.  I suppose in hindsight, basing a movie on the idea of these much loved creations being killed off, starts things with a downer from the off.  But let’s not be too hasty.  The characters of rural village Royston Vasey learn of an impending Armageddon on their world following a prophesy and choose to enter the real world in order to seek out their creators, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith so to convinced them to write them back into being again.

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For such a gifted group of comediennes, along with writer / producer Jeremy Dyson (played in the movie by Michael Sheen) such a premise seems right for them – they would never take the easy route and always come up with something clever – and clever this is.  Segway’s into a sixteen century ‘movie script’ featuring David Warner as a wizard plotting a King’s murder causes proceedings to lose their focus, but along with cameos from Victoria Wood, Peter Kay and Simon Pegg – the wealth of ideas and sharp dialogue (with many funny lines) manage to make this entertaining regardless.

Fans of the TV series will probably always find room to nit pick (as could I – not enough Pauline or Papa Lazarou, dodgy stop-motion animation, and the ending plays on one of the oldest clichés in the book). This is after all, the ultimate swansong for the characters, and it’s sad to see them go.  Yet on it’s own merits, Apocalypse probably is as good as we could have hoped for.  Isn’t that right, Dave?

Verdict:  3 /5

The Ordeal


Viewed – 09 April 2010  DVD

Very strange.  This urban chiller starts off like a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and BBC TV show The League Of Gentlemen, with a cabaret singer travelling through rural France until his van breaks down and he seeks shelter in a local inn owned by a kind by slightly wierd old man.  Only problem is, said old man seems to have more than a few screws loose, and it’s not long before he has dressed up our terrified singer in his wife’s dress and starts calling him Gloria. 

This is demented stuff indeed, with the local villagers offering no salvation as they are more busy sodamising the local cattle than being at all normal(!).  This is basically the main character’s torment until he finds a way of escaping his captors, and is age-old stuff, but does offer a more disturbing and unrelenting atmosphere than some similar movies even if in the age of torture-porn horror movies like Hostel and Martyrs, it can’t deliver a true horror experience beyond its odd flavouring.  The lead actor Laurent Lucas is lacking in personality and is hard to like, and the demented other members of the cast offer very little depth, and not much light is shed on why they’re so nuts.  On a plus, the direction by Fabrice Du Welz is stylish with the lack of mood music ramping up the eerie semi-documentary feel, and some of the camera work is very imaginative.

Worth a look then if you like strange, freaky movies – but for me, I’ve seen much better.

Verdict:  2 /5

The Cottage


Viewed – 08 November 2008  DVD

This was a no brainer.  A Brit comedy horror involving the kidnap of buxom blond bomb shell Jennifer Ellison by that guy who played Golum in Lord of the Rings (Andy Serkis) and the most talented one off the League Of Gentlemen TV series (Reece Shearsmith).  So we have a spooky, night-time set story involving two brothers, who are holding Miss Ellison for ransom in a spooky cottage in the woods.  Immediately, the bumbling due are a joy to watch (especially Shearsmith, playing the nervy, twitchy half to Serkis’ bullish, tough guy).  Jennifer Ellison is a mouthy, foul-mouthed pain in the ass for both of them and its not long before she’s escaped and run off – then the movie goes horror with the discovery of a zombie farmer lurking and killing at random anyone who turns up on ‘his land’.  Hence forth lots of comedy, some great moments and some decent if short-lived gore.

Although lacking in some of the horror elements, the comedy, whilst not laugh-out-loud has a similar dark edge as the aforementioned The League Of Gentlemen series, with the cast shining despite a limited script.  Well worth a look.

Verdict: 3 /5