Sunday, April 29, 2018

Swan Lake, Vienna Festival Ballet, Cromer

Vienna Festival Ballet, Cromer
Last night, I saw a beautiful production of the ballet, Swan Lake, here in Cromer at the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier. Performed by Vienna Festival Ballet, with everything just right for the setting; fog on the lake, dancers at the ball, romance, friends, a jester, the bad, bad guy; the evil twin, the beautiful swans, the deception and the heartbreak.

Beautiful dancing, and so cool to see how a major performance can happen in quite a compact venue. Not only that: when you realise that this ballet company, with all the sets, gorgeous costumes, dancers and backstage crew pack up and move on to another, distant venue overnight, it's difficult not to be stunned. It's not just rock bands who live on the road.

(I particularly loved Ashley Selfe's jester. He wasn't simply dancing the part... he was a character, the entire show.)

Last night, there were people of all ages in the audience. Last year, I really, really wanted to take a certain little lady to see Sacramento Ballet's annual Nutcracker at Christmas, back in California... but what felt like sky-high pricing put it way out of reach, especially as I wasn't yet sure how a three-and-a-half-year-old would react. She most likely would have been mesmerised, like the children in the audience last night; or she might have needed to leave after a few minutes, but without an accessible ticket price, we didn't find out. Last night's show opened up professional ballet to everyone, and Vienna Festival Ballet do the same year-round.

Take your kids to the ballet, and to modern dance. Let them hear opera; let them experience classical music, heavy metal, folk, rock, everything. It's how they learn who they are. You never know, one of them may be the next Nureyev or Fonteyn.

Vienna Festival Ballet are constantly touring and performing a variety of ballets: check out their website for all the tour dates... and don't miss!



(Now I need to find a ballet to photograph... let me know if you have one!)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Red Sun Rising: Thread, a review


I took Red Sun Rising's new album, Thread, for a drive to Norwich and back the other day. I've been looking forwards to this release for a while; expecting them to build on Polyester Zeal and hoping for more of the beauty of their cover of Alanis Morissette's Uninvited.

Thread is a collection of eleven hard rock songs, topped with Mike Protich's winning vocals. I hear a lot of influences in here... from the opening notes of the first song, Fascination, which I thought was going to morph into Zombie, but didn't, to Deathwish, which at one minute in sounds more like a Blind Guardian song than any song I've heard while not listening to Blind Guardian, but then segues to an Avatar-esque stomp and ends as a stadium-rock, emotional singalong.


Stealing Life is a rather beautiful rock ballad. Clarity, on the other hand, is a huge, heavy, rock blast. Benny Two Dogs? A story...

Thread, in its entirety, is a grower... an album to listen to over and again. Red Sun Rising sometimes feel as if they are trying to be rock stars, rather than just being the musicians that they already are. At some point, the music will take over, and we'll look back at this album and at Polyester Zeal and Uninvited and say, wow, this is where it all began. (They've also started a thread of pretty-cool videos, directed by Brad Golowin... see the connection between Deathwish, and Uninvited yet?)

Mike Protich, vocals, Red Sun Rising
Red Sun Rising, Sacramento\s Ace of Spades
Find Red Sun Rising on Facebook here, and tour dates here... including Northern Invasion and Aftershock festivals in the USA. I hope to see them tour the UK/Europe soon!

Red Sun Rising are Mike Protich, Ryan Williams, Dave McGarry, Ricky Miller, and Pat Gerasia.

P.S. Comparison to Blind Guardian can only be a good thing. Now I have an appointment with Hansi Kürsch for a walk on the beach...

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Marillion tour: Gateshead and Cambridge, England

Marillion
Marillion at The Sage, Gateshead, England UK
Sometimes, people ask: why see the same band, over and again, whenever you have the opportunity? (Maybe they ask, because they haven't seen Marillion, yet?)

Well... because. Because we all have one or two performers who we want to see, again and again, because every time is a new experience. Marillion do that for me, without fail. Even with a similar set list and even with (some of) the same audience, a different town, a different venue, another evening, a new day, a new twist... every show is new. Every show has its own character, its own personality, its own being, and the two Marillion shows I saw this week were no exception.

They are a joy to listen to, and a dream to photograph.

Marillion
Marillion at The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, England UK
The tour continued last night in Birmingham, and then on to Brighton, Bristol, Reading, Liverpool and York, with many dates long sold out. The set list, a strong mix of the latest Marillion album, F.E.A.R., and songs from other albums from the past thirty or so years. (Not revealing the setlists here... go to setlist.fm if you want to know.)

Steve Rothery, guitar, Marillion
Steve Rothery, guitar, Marillion, Cambridge
The expressive, dynamic frontman Steve Hogarth in full voice; Steve Rothery's hypnotic guitar, Pete Trewavas' wonderful bass, Mark Kelly's masterful keys and Ian Mosley driving it all along on drums, together with a wonderful light show, entrancing video, and a beautiful sound production... what's not to love.

Pete Trewavas, bass, Marillion
Pete Trewavas, bass, Marillion, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead: a venue built for symphonies, with acoustics that orchestras dream of; soft seats, no standing, two ringed balconies; a place for sitting and dreaming away with the music. The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, a historic and lively building that once saw the weekly trading of farmers, reminiscent of Thomas Hardy; (I was wandering around Cambridge all afternoon thinking of Oxford and Hardy... another place I need to visit.)

Steve Hogarthy, vocals, Marillion
Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion, Cambridge
There are people who travel the world to see, and hear, their best bands; Marillion fans, more than any band I know. There's a reason for that.

Mark Kelly, keyboards, Marillion
Mark Kelly, keyboards, Marillion, Gateshead
If you haven't seen them live yet, make sure you do.

Ian Mosely, drums, Marillion
Ian Mosely, drums, Marillion, Gateshead
All Marillion tour and festival dates can be found here: http://marillion.com/tour/ 

Marillion
Marillion, The Corn Exchange, Cambridge
Many more pictures in the photo galleries, and you can buy pictures too:

- Marillion at The Sage, Gateshead, 11th April 2018
- Marillion at The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 13th April 2018

Marillion
Marillion, The Sage, Gateshead

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Some Guys Have All The Luck... The Rod Stewart Story at Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Paul Metcalfe as Rod Stewart, Some Guys Have All The Luck
Easter Bank Holiday weekend in England, the seaside town of Cromer is bustling with visitors, despite the rain and the cold weather. And the Pavilion Theatre at the end of Cromer Pier, full at 8 p.m. for an evening of Rod Stewart's music, presented by Paul Metcalfe and his band: Some Guys Have All The Luck.

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer, 2018
There's a huge difference between tribute bands and covers. The tribute band takes on the personality, the voice, the charisma of the personality they are emulating, throughout the entire show. Some Guys Have All The Luck does this, very, very well.  Mr. Metcalfe sounds, and moves, like Rod, for the entire evening. And the first half of the show is an interesting and educational mix of music and anecdotes from Rod's life story, with some wonderful archive photography on the big screen. The second half (yes, there's an intermission, it's theatre after all) is a rocking Rod Stewart concert, plain and simple.

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre, 2018
Beginning with songs from early in Rod Stewart's career--Handbags and Gladrags, and the wonderful contribution to Python Lee Jackson, In a Broken Dream--a snippet of Maggie May, and on through the years... You Wear It Well, First Cut Is The Deepest, Tonight's The Night... all of Rod's biggest hits. The poignant Killing of Georgie. The amusing Do You Think I'm Sexy? All the goodies, not forgetting Baby Jane... finishing off with the inevitable Sailing, and then the full version of Maggie May.

(Maggie May was "my first" Rod song--and my first Top of the Pops! A schoolteacher set us some statistics homework: go home,  watch Top of the Pops and then report on how statistics are used in the music charts. That night, Maggie May was number one--with Slade's Coz I Luv You soon to follow. Go ahead, do the sums, I don't care one bit.)

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer Pier, 2018
The most important part of a tribute show is that it be fun, and Some Guys Have All The Luck was definitely that; there was dancing in the aisles, the band were very obviously enjoying themselves, and we were all singing along. A very enjoyable and entertaining evening!

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Some Guys Have All The Luck, Cromer, 2018
Catch the show at another of their tour dates: full schedule is on the band's website. Many shows all around the UK this year! If you can't get to Vegas to see Mr Stewart himself... go see Some Guys Have All The Luck instead. Or do both...

See the full photogallery from the show at the Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, here!

Some Guys Have All The Luck: Rod Stewart Tribute
Paul Metcalfe as Rod Stewart, Cromer, 2018
(I'm really happy the show closed with Maggie May. Sailing is, for me, Rod Stewart's equivalent of Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red. A beautiful song... and yet so played-to-death that I don't want to hear them again. Maggie May I will never, ever tire of.)

Walking the beach with Chris Rea


After listening to a lot of Rod Stewart, while working on the photos from the show on Saturday night (coming soon... tribute band, not realRod), I took another old favourite for my walk on the beach; Auberge, with all the slide guitar and orchestration on the way to Overstrand, and The Road To Hell on the way back. Not that the beach is the road to hell, very much the opposite.

This guy deserved/deserves to be so much better known than he ever has been.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Looking for wall art? How about a seascape?

Seascape; dramatic, overcast
Seascape, North Norfolk, England
I have added a load of seascapes to the photography portfolio and website, http://alisontoon.com: if you are looking for some wall art, please take a look! While they can be purchased as high-resolution files for personal printing, the professional print option will provide top-quality, delivered to you directly.

Playing around with the different options and print sizes will show various price options, ranging from lower-cost, high-quality professional prints, right through to an investment in a print on a large block or ready framed for mounting on your wall.

My personal favourite is the beautiful print quality of a Hahnemühle Fine Art Print on Photo Rag Paper. To find this option:
  1. Click the Buy button
  2. Select "Buy from UK Printer"
  3. Select "Fine Art Print"
  4. Select "Hahnemühle Fine Art Print"
  5. Select the size that you'd like
  6. Select "Photo Rag Paper"
  7. Click Add To Cart. 
If you are in Cromer this week and would like to see some examples of these various print qualities, pop in to the Cromer Art Week exhibition at the Parish Hall--it continues until Thursday. My portrait of a gentleman on the street is printed on the Hahnemühle photo rag paper... the two band photos are on coloured blocks.

Seascape; dramatic, overcast
Seascape, North Norfolk, England