Friday, June 29, 2018

Get some variety: Cromer Pier Show, all summer long!

Cromer Pier Show 2018

If you grew up with Morecambe and Wise' shows with their selection of diverse guests, or if today you watch TV talent shows such as Britain's Got Talent or America's Got Talent, then you already know what a variety show is. That's what the Cromer Pier show is: a huge variety of acts, styles and material, presented by a group of very talented people, with a comedian keeping everything flowing--making for a very entertaining show indeed. If you have never yet experienced a variety show, it's about time you did... here's your opportunity, in the beautiful seaside town of Cromer, Norfolk!

Cromer Pier Show 2018
Dancers from Marlen's School of Dance, with Emily Yarrow
Over two hours of music, dance and laughter. There is a team of young dancers from Marlene's School of Dance, based in Cromer, and the music ranges from pop to Broadway to musicals such as the King and I and the Greatest Showman, right through to opera... the dance from high kicks to modern ballet. There are illusions and quick changes and naughty jokes and a man called G who has a million voices in his head (in a good way)... from Ken Dodd to Billy Connelly, all of whom have an uncanny knack of subtly changing their lyrics.

Cromer Pier Show 2018
G, Cromer Pier Show 2018
The adult performers include vocalists Emily Yarrow (read an interview with her here), who returns to the Cromer Pier show for a sixth season, and Harvey James, also returning to Cromer--he performed at the pier show in 2006 and 2007.  Steve Terry is the compere-comedian (if you bump into someone who sounds like Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, it might be Mr Terry). The illusionists and quick-change artists are Zooka and Suzie Q

Cromer Pier Show 2018
Dancers, Cromer Pier Show 2018
I hadn't been to a live variety show, or to see stand-up comics perform, in years. I really enjoyed Cromer Pier show... I was reminded how much I always enjoyed The King and I, I laughed out loud at the jokes throughout the show, again inspired me to photograph more dance... and I especially loved how G morphed into all of his characters while still being totally himself (just don't report him to the fashion police).

Cromer Pier Show 2018
Zooka and Suzie Q
The show is a fast-moving two-or-more hours of flowing entertainment. It's fun. It's for all ages--bring the kids and introduce them to musical styles that they'll never hear on Radio One. You never know, it might be their introduction to a lifetime of musical exploration. Make Cromer Pier Show part of your family's summer holiday tradition.

The Cromer Pier show continues and upholds a great tradition in British theatre and entertainment. The Pavilion Theatre is the perfect setting: velvety seats, a gallery, gorgeous set design. The show is billed as the only remaining end-of-pier variety show in the world. I didn't see Simon Cowell in the audience--there's no judgement, just a whole load of good, happy, talented and enjoyable entertainment.

Cromer Pier Show 2018
Emily Yarrow and Harvey James
More information about the Cromer Pier show can be found here--it has been running each summer for over forty years! The show season runs from now throughout the summer: there are two different shows, and the final two weeks will see acts from both versions as the Ultimate Cromer Pier Show. Book tickets here for Show One, here for Show Two, and here for the Ultimate (11-22 September 2018).

Cromer Pier Show 2018
Steve Terry, Cromer Pier Show, 2018
For more photos, see the Cromer Pier Show 2018 gallery here!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Album review: Fantastic Negrito, Please Don't Be Dead

Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz) has just released Please Don't Be Dead, and it's a beautiful collection of gritty, warm, blues-and-soul-and-street-inspired California music.

California, like the night streets of the East Bay cities and of waiting for Greyhound buses in dusty, suspicious, flourescent-lit, asleep-on-the-floor bus stations, not the California of the Golden Gate or Hollywood. California, like a seven-hour central valley road-trip: see-saw oil pumps to your right, migrant workers bent in drought-thirsty fields to your left, and the empty railroad tracks running parallel to the miraged road: when the daily train passes, it takes forty minutes and no wonder people dodge the gates to cross before the train. California, like desert-hot thirst and cracked, dry reservoirs and a glassful of sweating ice in a dark, midnight bar, not the California of dreams and beautiful-people-on-Venice Beach.

Fantastic Negrito's Oakland upbringing and life colour his music, and it's wonderfully atmospheric.

I first heard Fantastic Negrito through the theme song to Hand of God, a TV series in the USA starring Ron Perlman, when I had to immediately grab Shazam to find out who was singing. While I'm sure much more of his music will find its way to TV and movies (I see Samuel L Jackson when I listen to Bad Guy Necessary), this album deserves to be part of your collection. It's good. It's very, very good.

Fantastic Negrito is currently on tour around the USA and with several upcoming dates in Europe, including Winchester in the UK (at Boomtown Fair).

Find Please Don't Be Dead and more of Fantastic Negrito's music here on his website--or through your usual outlet. Take a listen through his YouTube channel, too.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Album review: Bad Wolves, Disobey

A few days ago, Bad Wolves -- the same band that brought us the stunning cover of The Cranberries' Zombie earlier this year -- they were supposed to release their debut album. While they did, indeed, release the album titled Disobey, I think they forgot that it was supposed to be their debut.

Instead, they came right out and released the collection of songs that was probably intended to be a third or fourth album: you know, that album where the musicians know each other inside-out: where they each weave their magic in, out and around each other, building the pattern and fabric of sound; the one where the songs are all different, and each and every one is good; that album that says, we're here to stay. That's the album that they released with Disobey.

Yesterday, they also released the official music video for "Remember When", tackling family dynamics, addiction, alcoholism and mental heath... here it is:

Yes, they are all seasoned and experienced musicians: vocalist Tommy Vext (Divine Heresy, Snot), guitarists Doc Coyle (God Forbid) and Chris Cain (Bury Your Dead, For The Fallen Dreams), drummer John Boecklin, and bassist Kyle Konkiel (In This Moment, Vimic) together build a sound that's going to make a lot of people sit up and listen.

You can't classify Disobey. It's heavy, very heavy-and-angry-enough for metal fans. Intricate, complex and daring-enough for prog and progressive-metal listeners. Moments of beautiful melody that makes your hair stand on end; lyrics that make you think. The title track jumps right in and there's nothing held back.

And that bass. Did I mention the bass? I wish I could play bass like that...

Bad Wolves have recently been touring with Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown, both of whom also recently released new albums. Bad Wolves have a whole load of dates lined up around the USA--find tour details here-- (some supporting Five Finger Death Punch, some with From Ashes To New), and then will be at both Louder Than Life and Aftershock festivals at the end of the summer. No UK or European dates yet... I bet it won't be long!

Find Disobey here on the band's website or at your usual music outlet... it won't disappoint.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Review: Jonathan Davis at London's Islington O2

Cherubs, St Paul's Cathedral, London
The past three times that I have seen Jonathan Davis perform, it's been as the frontman for Korn; before audiences of tens or twenties of thousands of people in California and in Chicago, out in the open air, and from the perspective of a photographer in the pit between the stage and the barrier, the performers and the enormous crowd of  fans. Crowdsurfers, muscular security teams, stunning light shows, intense heat, and that beautiful, entrancing Giger mic stand.

Last night, it couldn't have been more different.

O2 Acadamy Islington is inside a shopping center, in one of London's ancient corners: Angel, Islington. Just across the road from a tube (underground) station; close to random budget hotels, and with a street full of cosy, boutique restaurants, mobile phone shops, traditional English pubs, the usual high-street brandnames, and places that sell breakfast, but don't open until 11 a.m. The venue is like an empty, concrete cube, with a small stage, a couple of bars, and an upstairs gallery that runs around two sides of the stage. It reminded me of the drama studio at my high school, and probably held about the same number of people: capacity for the O2, Islington, is 800, and from my spot on the barrier at stage left, it looked like we sold it out. (If you know Sacramento's Ace of Spades, O2 Islington is about half the size.) I didn't go and count, because heck, I was not moving from that spot on the barrier. Sometimes you just have to let the inner fan girl or boy run wild.

On tour with band of creative and talented musicians, and including double bass and violin, Jonathan Davis brings his first solo studio album to life on the stage. Playing almost all of Black Labrynth (here's the earlier review), with a few earlier songs in the mix: Slept So Long, and Love On The Rocks, a wonderful, gritty Neil Diamond cover... with a twist.

Wonderful show. Amazing privilege, to see such a huge performance in such an intimate setting. Like inviting them to play in your own front room with all the neighbours invited. You could tell: the band enjoyed it as much as the crowd.

Two weeks after the album was released, and it seemed like everyone there already knew all the words. That's a pretty darn good endorsement. I think we know why.

Jonathan Davis played this evening at Download Festival, Donington Park, Derbyshire--back to festival-huge crowds--and will follow that with dates and festivals in Europe: see here for more info. And then later in the year, Columbus OH, and then Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, California. Catch him if you can!

I still love this shot. Any excuse to share it again.

Jonathan Davis, vocals, Korn, Aftershock 2013
Jonathan Davis performing with Korn, Aftershock, Sacramento

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Louder Than Life festival lineup announced.... and it's so very, very good!

Louder Than Life is a three-day festival in Louisville, Kentucky... and the lineup has just been announced. That's a wow...  Tickets go on sale this coming Friday, June 8th!

All info can be found here, on the festival website: (Hint: you need the festival in the URL otherwise you'll end up somewhere rather weird.) Want to make a vacation? The previous weekend sees another festival at the same location, Bourbon and Beyond (lineup can be found here). In between? Check out the Muhammed Ali museum, I went last year and it's a winner.

One to look out for: The Magpie Salute: single, album and festival dates

Just announced: The Magpie Salute's first studio album, High Water I, will be available--worldwide--on August 10th. Their style, an intriguing mix of hard, southern, gritty and bluesy rock and beautiful melodies... take a listen to the first single from the album:

The Magpie Salute will be on tour throughout the USA and Canada this summer, including festival dates in Thunder Bay, Ontario at Thunder Bay Blues Festival, Fredericton, New Brunswick's Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, and Louisville Kentucky's Bourbon and Beyond (which is right before Louder Than Life... more on that later.)

For more info on The Magpie Salute, check their website and Facebook.

And such a cool name for a band... there's an explanation in this interview.