Sunday, August 22, 2021

Cromer Pier Show is back - and it rocks!!!


Cromer Pier Show summer 2021
Les Miserables, Cromer Pier Show

 Now open and performing throughout the summer until the beginning of October, Cromer's famous and unique end-of-the-pier variety show is back! New cast, new acts, new production, and a lovely new lighting rig and large screen too - the show opens with a video montage look back over the past eighteen months and the return to the stage. It's been a long time coming.

Phil Butler and Max Fulham, Cromer Pier Show
Host Phil Butler and ventriloquist Max Fulham

Compere and host Phil Butler brings comedy, magic, and artistry to his fifth season on the pier. Rubik's cubes, playing-card-mind-reading, and painting with sand plus making us laugh? Yes, you have to see it!

Max Fulham, ventriloquist, Cromer Pier Show
Max Fulham and Grandad

In a slight change to previous years' summer shows, this time there's a new special guest each week - so if you're in Cromer for a two week holiday go to the show twice to see the different acts! Last night's special guest - ventriloquist Max Fulham and his monkey, grandad (fully clothed and cover-my-eyes, in a red Speedo), pedal bin, and fly were exceptional. Funny, clever, and so talented. Look out for Max (and all his friends) - they will be going far.

Duo Fusion UK, cirque, aerial and acrobatic, Cromer Pier Show
Duo Fusion UK

For the first time at Cromer Pier, Duo Fusion UK: an aerial and acrobatic show of flexibility, strength, agility, beauty, and - ultimately - trust. Suspended above the stage performing moves that would have graced the Olympics gymnastics floor, with no net, Connor and Tiffany made us all hold our breaths. Incredible!

Reiss Thomson, dancer, Cromer Pier Show

Cromer Pier Show summer 2021
Cromer Pier Show dancers

The dance that's a big part of the Cromer Pier Show is beautifully choreographed throughout. Such a big show fits onto the end of a pier in the North Sea is always intriguing to me. The Irish dance set was stunning; nothing like any other Irish dance I've ever seen, this was dark with a touch of menace and totally brilliant. 

Rob McVeigh, lead vocalist, Cromer Pier Show
Marina Lawrence-Mahrra and Rob McVeigh in a scene from Mary Poppins

This season's lead vocalists are Marina Lawrence-Mahrra and Rob McVeigh who together with the show's dancers Chris, Emily, Georgie, Luke, and Reiss and the rest of the cast take us on a musical adventure, with the first half of the show being scenes and songs from Mary Poppins and the finale, after two hours of wonderful family entertainment, from Les Miserables.

Rob McVeigh, lead vocalist, Cromer Pier Show
Rob McVeigh and the ensemble, Les Miserables

Marina Lawrence-Mahrra, lead vocalist, with Emily Hardy and Georgie Cox, Cromer Pier Show

Each part of the show is a gem. As a whole, it's the crown jewels - and what shines throughout is the comeraderie and friendship and hard work of the performers. Performing arts - perhaps more than any other profession - have had to overcome enormous challenges since the beginning of the pandemic, just to be able to come back now that the world has started to open up again. We as the audience have missed them - now's the chance to take back the theatre, take back the concerts, support the performers - and just get out and have fun. That's exactly what you'll do at Cromer Pier Show!

Cromer Pier Show summer 2021

All Alison Toon Photographer photos from this summer's show: Cromer Pier Show summer 2021

Previous Cromer Pier Shows: Cromer Pier Shows

Book your tickets here: https://www.cromerpier.co.uk/cromer-pier-show/the-cromer-pier-show-2021/

 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

Union Jack Typhoon diving
Typhoon, Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

 This past weekend, July 31st and August 1st, saw the return of the Old Buckenham Airshow. Pilots making their planes dance against a background of spectacular clouds and breakthrough blue skies. Click on the links for the full photogalleries or go here to see them all.

Little and Large Extra Duo
Little and Large, Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

A wonderful, family-friendly sold-out-in-advance event, close to Norwich, England. With acts ranging from the huge Sally-B Flying Fortress - the only 'Fortress regularly seen in Europe - and a zooming, Union Jack Typhoon jet to stunt aerobatics from the Matadors (the guys who fly through hangars), Fireflies with lovely synchro, to a reenactment of the last dogfight of WWII (it involved spotter planes and a service pistol).

The Red Sparrows
The Red Sparrows, Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

Matadors Aerobatic Team
Matadors, Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

There were the Turbulent Team planes chasing balloons and limbo-dancing a few feet from the ground, and a stunning display of synchronised flying by Little and Large - a full-sized plane flown by the human pilot, and a scale model flown remotely.

Beechcraft Staggerwing
Staggerwing, Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

 Spitfires and a Hurricane and a lovely, plum-coloured Staggerwing. A here-comes-the-baddie Messerschmitt. An American AT-6. Even the Red Sparrows!!! (Yes, you heard that right.) Many more... brilliant day out!

Boeing B-17
Sally-B Flying Fortress, Old Buckenham Airshow 2021

Old Buckenham airfield was built as the wartime home of the US Airforce 453rd Bombardment Group and there's a museum on site (which I must go back to explore). Today it operates as an airfield and training school and an event venue for just about anything you need space for

As always, any errors in naming these planes are mine - please send any corrections!

Many more photos from this, and other, airshows here on the airshow gallery page

California Capital Airshow stories here and here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Live music is back!!! The Legends Festival, Cromer

CROMER, UK: 17 and 18 July 2021, people having fun at the Legends Festival, Cromer Hall, Norfolk, England.
People having fun at the Legends Festival, Cromer, 2021

 The return of live music - after many, many months without it - is something to celebrate. My last festival was Aftershock 2019, last concert Insomnium in January 2020 and I know everyone has similar stories to tell. So this weekend's Legends Festival at Cromer Hall, Cromer, Norfolk was a delight. Well organized, lots of space, a natural festival setting with a gentle slope allowing everyone to see the stage. Everyone brought seats, picnic blankets, even tables laden with food for all the family. Some of the photos taken with the long zoom look like everyone was close together - not so, we sat, stood, and danced in groups with lots of room between. So happy for people to be together again, enjoying the music, and having loads of fun - that's really the point of festivals, right? 

Birthday parties, hen parties, and general happiness. People of all ages from tiny kids suitably equipped with ear protectors right through to seniors rocking out to the music of Queen, the Beatles, and ABBA. The festival is all tribute bands; singalong, dance-along music.

Day one began with Cloneplay, a Coldplay tribute - one of those bands where, unless you're a major fan, you don't always remember all the many hits that they had, until you hear them again - at least, that's how it is for me. Of course! Yellow! and then of course! the next and the next and the next.

Cloneplay

Then Wildboys were scheduled to play but had to drop out due to someone testing positive for Covid - that's going to happen these days - but the festival organizers brought in the Amazing 80's at short notice, and they really, really shone. Non-stop high energy hits from all of the 80s, from synthpop and new age to two-tone and hairbands. 

Amazing 80s

And the icing on the cake: UK Queen, with vocals and sound so very reminiscent of the real thing. Made me want to hear UK Queen and Queen Nation play a tribute show together. 

Alexander Koronka, vocals, UK Queen

Day two kicked off with Jimmy Love as Elton John. He really looked like Elton while making the songs his own. 

Jimmy Love as Elton John

Next: The Upbeat Beatles - so very cool. Paul McCartney with those eyebrows and playing Hofner bass left-handed? Check. George looking occasionally morose but playing beautiful guitar? Yep! John over on stage left with his famous glasses and sound? Right! And Ringo rocking the drums? Of course! Complete with a video history of Beatlemania they took us through the days of the Beatles, from rock'n'roll in the Cavern, the Sergeant Pepper days, through to the band's breakup. I'd absolutely go see Upbeat Beatles again.

The Upbeat Beatles

Final act of this year's festival: ABBA Mania. All the ABBA hits, all the moves, all the on-stage relationships between the band members.

ABBA Mania

It was a very memorable weekend and I'm already looking forward to next year's. The grounds at Cromer Hall are such a natural place for all sorts of festivals - not just tribute bands - I wonder if we can persuade them to hold more. A local Danny Wimmer Presents festival would be a joy! Cromer has lots of holiday accomondation, there's local camping, and the access to parking was easy - at least with this past weekend's dry and sunny weather. We couldn't have ordered a better two days of sunshine - it was just right. 

Live music is back, and it's so good.

Photo galleries:

CROMER, UK: 17 and 18 July 2021, people having fun at the Legends Festival, Cromer Hall, Norfolk, England.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Pop Evil: Versatile, out now (21st May 2021)

Pop Evil
Pop Evil, O2 Islington, London, UK - 2019

If you pre-ordered Pop Evil's new album, Versatile, today is the day - for a real treat. If you didn't pre-order: today's the day to buy your copy.

         

 Available from all the usual outlets.Today!

There is always such an energy, a power, with Pop Evil's music - moving you onwards, forwards, through and through. A driving force, drums and bass behind everything. This is so strong beginning with the opening track, "Let the Chaos Reign" and even greater in "Work" - if you're looking for a new workout song, this is it. Then it moves into something more gentle; "Inferno" is rather beautiful... there's a distant quality to the song, almost underwater, "slowly sinking in sand".

Leigh Kakaty, vocals, Pop Evil
Leigh Kakaty, vocals, Pop Evil

Leigh Kakaty and Hayley Cramer, Pop Evil
Leigh Kakaty and Hayley Cramer, Pop Evil

Several of these songs were released online before today... hearing them within the context of the entire album brings them even more to light.

I apologise... I intended to write a much more in-depth review. Instead, I just want to listen to this music. On repeat. You should try it too.

Upcoming tour dates: https://popevil.com/tour-dates/ I really, really hope to be at Aftershock Festival. Fingers crossed, vaccinated, tested... everything crossed that international travel is allowed by then! (As my family is spread across several countries and continents, so is Pop Evil: I'm wondering how the band-family is handling this (drummer Hayley Cramer is based in the UK; rest of the band in the USA). 

More Pop Evil:

Concert at the O2, Islington, London UK

Ace of Spades, Sacramento, California

Chicago Open Air festival

All the Pop Evil photo galleries

Matt DiRito, bass, Pop Evil
Matt DiRito, bass, Pop Evil


Thursday, May 20, 2021

What I've been listening to lately

 Suddenly. So many new album releases - and so much that I'd just missed. So much good music. Here are just a few that I've been listening to recently.

Chaoseum: it was this song that grabbed my attention - sounds so much like Korn - but listen to the entire album Second Life, and their music is their own. The band hails from Switzerland and are very much worth a listen.


Paul Weller: his latest album, Fat Pop, has been on repeat. It's something special and it's very alive. (If like me you have a ticket to his much-moved tour, the latest dates are here.) To go with the release, the Modfather and friends made this live video:


Myles Kennedy: also released last week, Myles' second solo album, The Ides of March. This one is to listen to over and over again - you discover something new on each listening (and this is exactly how I listen to it - you can't beat vinyl at home). Great voice.:


And something a little different: Gleb Kolyadin's solo album, Water Movements. It's liquid and it's calm and it's beautiful. You may know Gleb Kolyadin from the duo/band Iamthemorning. Listen to Water Movements here: