Posts tagged “Gig

This is England / Dreadzone


This is England  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

“This is England” tells the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), an 11 year old kid growing up in the North of England. Set during the summer holidays of 1983, it follows his journey from a shaggy haired ruffian grieving the loss of his father into a shaven headed thug whose anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead fraternity.  Largely based on Meadows’ own personal experience, “This is England” not only captures a specific point in British history, but also beautifully articulates the allure of being part of a gang.  Brilliantly charting a course from the joyous early passages to darker territory, Meadows also skilfully and with great sensitivity deals with the complexities of rage, race and masculinity.  Featuring astounding performances from Stephen Graham, (“Gangs of New York”) and newcomer Thomas Turgoose, “This is England” is a riveting and deeply moving portrait of an often-overlooked moment in cultural history and is arguably Meadows’ masterpiece.

2006 –  Certificate: 18  –  British Film
Rating Details: Very strong racist violence and language
9.0 out of 10

Went to see Dreadzone two nights ago. It was playing Sub89 in Reading, which is great because it’s a 20 minute walk from where I live in Cactus World.  There was a massive queue outside when I got there.  In fact it was so long that as I was walking alongside it, I started to doubt whether it was actually the queue at all; and the people in it mostly didn’t look like the sort who would go to a Dreadzone gig either.  In the end I took a walk around the block so I could reconsider the problem after having a bit of a think.  (I have a real phobia of new gig venues, although I’ve actually been to Sub89 quite a few times.)  However, after a little bit of loitering by the bus stops opposite, I decided that for some reason the doors that aren’t normally used for gig entrances were actually being used in this case.  It appeared they’d put the gig in the downstairs bar and the nightclub upstairs where gigs normally take place.  It’s a damming indictment of England and further proof that as a national were totally fucked, when the queue for a nightclub to dance to ‘chart music’ is about 1,000 times longer than the one for a quality band like Dreadzone.  The young of today have been brainwashed into accepting mediocrity as the norm and not wanting to rock the boat, because they’ve got no job or a massive student debt to pay off (or both) and need to save up for their pension, mortgage and overpriced wedding.  Fortunately, a few are still alive and they’d managed to make their way into the gig, along with a few survivors of times gone past.   The gig was in the Bowery District, which is basically a posh cocktail bar.  Having said that, it did have a proper little stage, some reasonable cider and a decent sound system.  (Then again, most systems sound okay if you hang around about a metre away from a speaker stack all night…)  What was also interesting about it is that if you stand near the stage, the design of the space effectively makes you feel you’re in a much smaller place and does a nice job of making things feel very intimate.  So actually it wasn’t bad at all.  Dreadzone played for what seemed like a long time.  There were no support acts; something that doesn’t happen very often.  It’s not a band I have a lot of recorded material by, but it’s one of those bands I’ll always try and go and see live, as that’s where it works best.  I was pretty tired by the end.  Dreadzone has quite a complex mix of beats and they certainly tax my abilities to the limit.  (Then again, a click track would do that too.)  The top of my legs are still somewhat sore today; which is odd, as it’s normally my calves that get knackered.  Fortunately it finished at 22:00, so I was home by half ten.  Dreadzone  –  Gangster  Dreadzone  –  Too Late  Dreadzone  –  Beyond a Rock  This is a film that features lots of music too.

Except for a period in the 80’s, I’ve always kept my hair pretty short. These days I shave it myself (a “Number 1” for the technically minded), because I’m too mean to pay someone else £10 to have it done each time.  I’ve been doing this for several years, so I imagine the part at the back that I can’t see probably looks a total mess now.  For years, I also used to wear a pair of DM boots too, (before I became vegan in about 1989).  Despite this, I’ve never really been a skinhead.  But it really, really pisses me off to see morons appropriate my flag and some of the musical styles I like for their racist shit.  These people have as much in common with the roots of the culture as IS has with the teachings of Islam (i.e. nothing), but as a result have tarnished a whole way of life.  This is a film that well illustrates the best and the worst of the skinhead culture in the early 80s.  It’s a brilliant movie on just about every level and a film everyone should see, if only to give themselves a history lesson.

As a film based on skinhead culture, it ought to have some great music in it and it doesn’t do too badly, although it would have been good to have a bit more. We get a good mix of reggae and 2 Tone ska, plus (rather more inexplicably), “Warhead” by the UK Subs.

In common with the film, its trailer is a top one too.  It’s exciting and intriguing, but doesn’t give the details of the plot away.

Recommended for skinheads, and anyone who’d thinking of putting a young character into a film and wants to see how to do it without making everyone groan.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Woody and his gang of skinheads befriend an 11-year-old boy who’s being bullied at school.  They get him some proper clothes, a decent haircut and expose him to some quality reggae.  That’s badass.  What a shame it all gets spoilt by a racist idiot.

This is England at IMDB (7.7 / 10)
This is England at Wikipedia
This is England at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
This is England trailer at You Tube


Death Wish V: The Face of Death / MxPx at the Underworld


Death Wish 5  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Canadian Release

Paul Kersey has been retired from vigilantism for several years. Under an assumed identity, he’s adopted a new life as a teacher in a small town college outside New York.  Paul is a changed man.  He’s even fallen in love and become engaged to Olivia, a former fashion model turned industrial entrepreneur.  But fate won’t leave Kersey alone.  On a visit to Manhattan he finds himself caught in the middle of a street shootout.  Then he learns that his fiancé is a victim of a protection racket run by her ex-husband mobster Tommy O’Shea.  When Olivia goes to the district attorney for help, Tommy has her disfigured, then brutally killed.  Once again, Kersey becomes the relentless vigilante.  Only this time, instead of relying only on his .357, Kersey uses some creative technology to avenge his lover’s murder!

1994  –  Certificate: 18A  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

Went to see MxPx at the Camden Underworld last night.  That’s the fourth time I’ve seen MxPx since 2005, although the last time was in 2008.  It only has one of the original members left these days, at least as a touring band.  I like the Underworld.  It has a capacity of 500, the sound’s decent, the vibe’s good, there’s no crash barrier in front of the stage and the beer isn’t too extremely priced for a London venue; (it was £4.20 for a pint of cider yesterday, even though I do have the distinct feeling that the price varies from gig to gig).  It’s the gig venue I go to most often.  Unlike the 100 Club, the concrete pillars that’re in front of the stage (they hold the building above up) don’t seem to get in the way too much.  It has a decent raised area around the dance floor too, with a railing that’s good for leaning on when you want to watch a band and don’t want to get your drink spilt.   It even seems to have got some new signs outside recently, so you can actually tell it’s there!  It was a lot of fun, even though I felt a bit ‘slow’.  I think I’ve been to see too many old bands and reggae groups recently; I’ve forgotten how fast punk rock can be live.  There were a lot of young women crowd surfing last night; clearly the new ‘no stage diving / crowd surfing’ poster stuck on one of the concrete pillars wasn’t having much effect.  There was also a young chap with his mum there too, right at the front; it’s a 14+ venue but he didn’t look any older than 12 to me.  He went for a surf too at one point.  That’s one cool mum.  It’s also been quite a while since I’ve seen so many happy people at a gig.  Nearly everyone seem to be so pleased just to be there, which was rather nice.  I can’t be bothered with miserable sods at gigs these days.  Got wacked the mouth at one point in the most pit so have a bit of a fat lip today, but that’s okay.  Charles Bronson does more than that to people in this movie.  (This is probably just as well, as otherwise it would have been a very boring vigilante film.)

Another year and another of Paul Kersey’s relationships ends with a rape and/or murder.  Some people seem to be born unlucky.  This, the last Death Wish film, doesn’t break the cycle.  Released in 1994, it’s a film that now looks and feels its age, in fact older; some of the story is a bit silly too.  However, Tommy O’Shea is one of the ‘forgotten’ badass movie baddies.  It’s worth watching for him alone.  In fact it has quite a few good characters in it.  Paul Kersey is a strange guy, even ignoring his habit of blowing away underworld scum.  Here he is, engaged to Olivia Regent, who has a young daughter.  Olivia is a ‘big deal’ in the New York fashion industry, (and about 30 years younger than him).  Yet he doesn’t seem to know very much about her ex-husband or even to have met him before, yet he turns out to be ‘Mr. Big’ when it comes to extorting money through controlling the local fashion industry and Olivia’s company in particular; as well as being her daughter’s father.  You would have thought they might have talked about him just a bit at some point; it hardly struck me as a whirlwind romance.

I didn’t much care for the soundtrack, but for the film itself it’s a great fit and helps to set the mood well.  In that sense it’s a bit like rain; it’s a pain in the arse when I want to do something outside, but it helps make things grow.

This film has a great trailer.  In fact, if someone ever makes a trailer about me, I want the guy who does the voiceover on this one to do mine.

Recommended for fashion designers and entrepreneurs, vigilantes, ineffective police officers and gangsters.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Charles Bronson and one of the best ‘forgotten’ movies baddies ever, Tommy O’Shea, face off in the last Death Wish film.  There’s enough badass action in this movie for you to need a rectal examination after watching it.  Charles Bronson was 74 (I think) when he made this film.  If he got involved in setting governmental pension policies, I doubt any old grannies would be dying from hyperthermia in winter because they couldn’t afford to put their heating on.  That would be badass too.

Death Wish V: The Face of Death at IMDB (4.6 / 10)
Death Wish V: The Face of Death at Wikipedia
Death Wish V: The Face of Death trailer at YouTube


North Sea Texas / The Return of China Drum


North Sea Texas  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)North Sea Texas is the feature film debut from cult director Bavo Defurne.  His short films are love letters to the male form and soaked with lush visuals, garnering fans from across the globe and drawing comparisons to Pierre et Gilles, Herbert List, Dreyer and Eisenstein.  Pim lives in a small town on the Belgian coat, together with his single mother Yvette, a local accordion starlet.  It’s an ordinary existence which Pim brightens up by dreaming of princesses, beauty queens and handsome Gino, the boy next door. But when hunky traveller Zoltan blows through town, Pim’s life takes an exciting and unexpected turn.

2011  –  Certificate: 15  –  Belgium
Rating Details:  Infrequent strong sex
7 out of 10

On Thursday I went to see China Drum play at the Garage in Islington, London; its first gig for 13 years.  Since The Undertones reformed in 1999, it’s been the band I’ve wanted to see get back together more than any other.  Playing as a 5-piece, I can’t even begin to express the kick-ass awesomeness of this gig. The place looked packed out and despite a somewhat alarming number of 30-something couples, the mosh-pit was great.  The band played most of “Goosefair”, plus a few other tracks.  I was really glad they played “60 Seconds” from the second album.  China Drum is the band that singlehandedly got me back into going to gigs after about ten years of not really having been to any.  Without China Drum, my life would be an empty void, without meaning, without value, without soul.  (Well maybe not totally, but I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here.)  It’s also a band that means a lot to me on a personal level and reminds me very specifically of a certain time in my life.  When the guitar chimed at the start of “Simple” (possibly the best revenge song ever written), 13 years of crappyness in my life was distilled into two and a half minutes of pure, sonic anger.  “And if you ever get a life, I hope that it’s in hell, I wish that I could kill you, I’d slit your ugly throat, I’d wrap you up in concrete and throw you from a boat.”  Well… sometimes you need to offload a bit of life’s baggage.  They ended the set with the best cover version by any band ever, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”.  I hope they don’t make this a one-off.

This film is about a right miserable little so and so.  Then again, I suppose having a less than attentive (accordion playing) mother and living in a boring little town on the coast of Belgium, (which as everyone knows is boring at the best of times anyway) and being called Pim, is probably enough to make any young teenager miserable.  This film follows Pim’s life for about seven years, as he falls for the handsome, older boy next door, Gino, who then basically dumps him for a girlfriend.  He also gets nowhere with the hunky border Zoltan, who then proceeds to run off with his mother, leaving Pim on his own.  Moving in with Gino’s family, the latter’s mother then dies.  Rarely smiling, seemingly having no job, no friends and no prospects, Pim spends his time moping about doing nothing much at all, spreading an air of negative vibes wherever he goes; what Gino’s sister saw in him I’ll never know, but it was clearly more than he saw in her.  There’s being “sensitive” and then there’s being “sullen”.  Then there’s the whole, are they or are they not half-brothers, bit going on too.  This film does its best to drag the viewer down to Pim’s level, with its unending vistas of meaningless days and general hopelessness.  (It’s a shame Pim didn’t get to hear China Drum.)  Despite its gay theme, this is more accurately a film about loneliness and rejection.  It’s a metaphor for life, a few good parts adrift in a sea of disappointment.  I guess that’s why I bought it.  It’s the sort of thing Thomas Hardy would have written, if he’d penned gay-themed screenplays, set in the latter half of the 20th Century in Belgium.  This is a movie which does an excellent job of capturing the futility of life; it’s well acted, the characters nicely rendered, it looks the part and it’s eminently watchable.

The music used in the film is mostly heard in the background, in pubs and on the radio, that sort of thing.  The theme song, “Wooly Clouds”, works well as a quirky little song that fits the overall feel of the film.  I really rather liked it actually.  (And it really is spelt “Wooly”; it must be a Flemish thing.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for The Borg; in this case, resistance really is futile.

Top badass moment?  Pim burning his shoe-box of ‘mementoes’ on the beach, before running off into the sea naked.  I prefer to work out my frustrations with life in the mosh-pit, but hey, each to their own.  Burning things is a classic way to make a break with the past; irreversible, final and violent.  It’s always good to make a fresh start, just so you can bugger things up again from scratch.

North Sea Texas at IMDB (7.0/10)


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: 5.0 Stars


Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Skynet Edition   -   Front Blu-ray cover (UK)I went to see The Wedding Present play in London last night.  There’s not much point me saying anything about its performance, as it’s the 4th best band on the planet.  Instead, here’s what I remember about the gig that doesn’t include the band.  At the end of its set, the guitarist from the first support band, Dead Wolf Club, smashed his guitar on the stage; very rock ‘n’ roll, except I got the distinct feeling he does this a lot and then just glues it back together again for next time.  The other support band, TOQUIWA (formally the Pinky Piglets), was from Japan and therefore made no sense whatsoever; three Japanese women running about on stage singing about wanting a chocolate and doing a lot of things that I haven’t a clue about, confirming my belief that Japan isn’t really from this Earth.  The venue, Koko in Camden, was really cold.  Koko has the worst bar of any venue in London; nothing on draft, with tins of bog-standard cider around £4.50 a can.  Koko has the worst decor of any venue, all gaudy red and gold.  Koko is the worst venue to get out of afterwards; considering its size, it takes forever.  A few years ago Koko used to have crappy sound, but it’s now much improved.  Between each band’s set, the stage lights got pointed towards the crowd, which was really annoying; I shall be seeing yellow spots before my eyes for weeks.  The stage at Koko is too low.  (As you’ve probably gathered, Koko is not my favourite place to see a band.)  As far as I can remember, this was the first time I’d been on the proper Guest List for a gig; I’d like to say I was a ‘friend of the stars’, but in reality I just happened to get my ticket in a slightly obtuse way.  My journey there was swift and easy, as I basically walked onto all three trains without a wait; I think the track in the West Country should get flooded every week, as it seems to improve train availability, despite there being lots of cancellations and delays.  My journey back was also easy; I even had my ticket checked on the train.  The woman sitting in the row of seats in front of me didn’t have a ticket, although there’re a million ways to buy one at Paddington Station, so it was obvious she was trying to get away without paying; she had an American Express credit card too, so I doubt she’s exactly poor; I’d have thrown her out of the train’s airlock into deep space (or whatever the train equivalent is) if I’d been the ticket inspector.  I read the London Evening Standard on the journey back, as there was a copy on the seat.  The Standard is a shit paper, no wonder it’s given away free.  This edition included some dreadful rubbish about young people and claiming housing benefit; if any other group in society was so picked on and vilified, we’d all be out on the street demanding equality and new laws.  Had an interesting chat with two guys in the crowd while waiting for the bands to appear; one later decided my t-shirt’s arm would make a great way to dry the sweat off his head, but I’m sure it was a sign of solidarity; but honestly, what sort of person wears a leather jacket in a most pit?  It’s going to be hot there!  The Wedding Present has very happy fans; the guys behind me in the crowd spent half the set just laughing as everything going on around them.  The band’s fans are mostly men. The gig finished before 10:00pm; a nice, civilised time.  Like the Wedding Present, there’s little point in my trying to give any sort of objective consideration to this film, as it’s just so awesomely amazing.

1991  –  Certificate: 15  –  USA

What can I really say about this movie? Everything about it is great.  It’s probably in my Top Ten films of all time.  This was the first time I’d watched it on Blu-ray and it looked and sounded fab on that.  I was also watching the Ultimate Cut for the first time, which includes a number of extra scenes, even more than the Director’s Cut, including a great dream sequence that features Kyle Reece from the first Terminator movie that was entirely omitted from the version shown in cinemas; and a not quite so great extended ending.  A modern classic and possibly the greatest action movie ever made. 

Recommended for everyone.  Well nearly everyone.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  There’s a fair bit of shattering, melting and general ripping apart going on though.

Top badass moment?  “Come with me if you want to live.”  No ifs or buts there.  100% badass and good advice at any time, especially when some liquid metal freak is after you.  Trust me, I know….

Terminator 2: Judgement Day at IMDB (8.6 / 10)


School of Rock: 3.5 Stars


School of Rock  -  Front DVD CoverI went to two really great gigs this weekend, the New Town Kings at the London Camden Barfly and Random Hand at the London Hackney Trashbar.  Each had really good support bands too.  The Barfly is in an upstairs room over a pub and the Trashbar in three adjoined cellars below an organic food store.  The Barfly is a well established venue, whilst the Trashbar only opened in March.  It took me six trains to get to and from home to the Barfly and four trains and two busses to get to the Trashbar and back; only London can manage to have a traffic jam for busses to get caught up in at midnight!  The Barfly sort of has some sort of air conditioning so it was only hot, the Trashbar has zero anything and a really low ceiling, so it was about 1000 degrees in it; in fact the ceiling is so low that two of the bands’ singers had to stand on the floor in front of the little stage, as they were too tall to stand upright on it.  Well anyway, both gigs were great and I was suitably knackered at the end of  them.  I felt sick on the way back from the NTK one on the Tube (too dehydrated) and (a first for me) felt sick on the way to the Random Hand one, (before realising I’d hardly eaten or drunk anything all day so was again dehydrated and probably suffering some sort of energy crisis as well).  Talking of gigs and music (and it makes a change to actually be able to draw a sensible link between the crap I’ve written in this paragraph and that in the next)….

2003  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild language and sex references

I can’t decide if I want to really really like this movie or really really  (which makes it a lot more realistic), the kids in it are generally pretty cool and okay it’s quite funny in places too.  Against it are the facts that the music featured in it is shit, (well, mostly anyway, except the Clash and Ramones songs, and I guess Immigrant Song is okay too if you really have to like that sort of thing), the school is also shit and has zero child protection in place, the end is way too “Hollywood” and Jack Black’s character is at times just a little bit too creepy.  I really want to like Jack Black, simply because he doesn’t look like George Clooney or Johnny Depp, but he makes it so, so difficult in his films at times.  (It’s the eyebrows I think, he moves then about way too much for me; they certainly take me outside my comfort zone.) In the end I’ve decided it’s an okay movie.

Recommended for people who like the sort of rock music that punk should really have finished off when it had the chance; you will either like hearing it, or get annoyed at hearing your favourite songs mangled by a load of kids and associated grown-ups; a good thing too if you take it that seriously.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be Jack Black’s “touch the kids” line.  It’s so way out of the park compared with the rest of the very safe script that you end up thinking, “wtf, did he really just say that”?  The delayed reaction of all the parents present in the scene (who are obviously busy thinking over what he’d just said too) makes it the best badass line in the film.

School of Rock at IMDB (7.1)


From Carpet Tiles to 9/11, via Feeder and Sum 41


My legs ache. When I say this I really mean the muscles in my calves and the front of my knees are all totally wasted. Last night I went to see Sum 41 and the night before I went to see Feeder. I also spent the Feeder gig day cutting and laying carpet tiles in our new office at work, kneeling on the concrete floor to do it. I think these four things are quite closely related.

The Feeder gig was great. Feeder is a band that seems to consistently punch above its weight live. Of the two gigs I think I preferred this one, although to be fair there isn’t much in it. Two excellent gigs in fact.  Feeder has a very mixed fan base and this felt the more friendly of the two gigs too. Think I nearly overdid it in the most pit though. Sum 41 are great live as well and have a better selection of songs. (Feeder can sound a bit too much like Coldplay at times; a sickening and perverted thought I’m sure you’ll agree.) Got floored once in the mosh pit, the first time for many months I’ve ended up in a heap on the ground.  Actually I ended up more on my knees, as I tried to twist to one side to avoid falling on top of someone else; this was very painful, given the state of them at present.  I know I know, I’m such a self-sacrificing hero to the masses.  However, the Kentish Town Forum has quite recently had its wooden floor polished, so it did at least provide me with a really great and unexpected opportunity to examine it up close. (Who says you can’t combine a detailed study of interior design and moshing?)  Sum 41 also boast “Still Waiting”, which is in the “Top 50 Songs Ever Written” in Cactus World. And here’s the rather excellent video for it.

So am I still waiting, for this world to stop hating? Can’t find a good reason, can’t find hope to believe in”.  Lyrically, a powerful blast of nihilistic energy and a song inspired by the dreadful things that happened on September 11th 2001.  (It obviously brings out the music journalist in me too.)

Tonight I watched Sherrybaby, a film starring the very lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Another film about a dysfunctional family and well worth a watch. Very good acting and a very realistic feeling film too.

Right now I’m listening to a live version of “Apathy” by Subhumans.