Sunday, 31 December 2017
Thursday, 28 December 2017
This year's Doctor Who Christmas special, the final Peter Capaldi story, was a strange beast. It didn't have much of a plot, didn't really have a villain, and it starred a companion who wasn't really there. And yet I loved it. I must be a strange beast too...
As I said, it's quite a slim plot to hang a story on but, in true Steven Moffatt style, it's really an excuse for the Doctor to examine his own mortality and his own fears... and for each iteration of the Doc to crack a few jokes at his counterpart's expense. ( The "Mary Berry" line had me in stitches. ) The First Doctor is refusing to change because he fears the unknown, while the Twelth is tired of saving the universe after all these millennia and just wants to slip away. The consequence of them both dying at the same time in the wrong timeline would be catastrophic for reality, but luckily Bill Potts is on hand to help out...
Engine Summer, and is just as moving.
The scenes set during the iconic Christmas armistice at Ypres in 1914 hit home in a similar way, even though they are obviously sanitised for a Christmas Day tea-time TV audience. This brief respite from the insanity of the Great War is a lovely evocation of the Doctor's philosophy of seeing things from both sides and, when it comes down to it, just being kind to each other. This idea of kindness is now the defining theme of the initially cold and prickly Twelth Doctor, a man who has been made better and indeed kinder by the time spent with his human friends.
As for Capaldi - what can I say? It's another barn-storming turn from this great actor, bringing us a Doctor who's at the end of his tether, wanting to give it all up, but finding renewed hope in the future. The scene where Testimony restores the Doctor's memories of Clara is just sublime, Capaldi purging all the hurt from the Doctor's eyes and giving us a heart-melting glimpse of his softer side. And it was so good to see Jenna Coleman again, if ever so briefly.
I'm really going to miss Peter Capaldi. His Doctor may have started out a little shakily by being just a tad too unemotional and distant but he's grown into the role until he IS the Doctor - a crazy old rock 'n' roller who rattles around the universe in his old blue box, helping out, trying to be nice but not always succeeding, saving people ( most of the time ) and trying to find the good in his enemies. We've had 40 episodes of the Twelfth Doctor and he's been amazing. But now, a brand new era is just around the corner...
Well, if you can call next Autumn "just around the corner" - it can't come soon enough!
Four And A Half Out Of Five Sonic Scredwrivers :-)
Monday, 25 December 2017
Monday, 18 December 2017
Sunday, 3 December 2017
My mate Glenn had a spare ticket for this gig and recommended the band so I jumped in the car with Glenn, Gail and, er, Barry ( possibly ) and his dog ( it's some indication of my age that I can't remember this guy's name a week later... ) and headed down to Bristol. Specifically to the Trinity Centre, an old converted church that I'd strangely never visited before, but which - after much frustrating searching for a parking space - turned out to be a really cool venue.
Sweat who played some very upbeat, pop-inflected indie. Although still at the "talking to your mates in the audience" stage and employing a little too much ill-advised autotune they had a great sound and are certainly a band to watch.
And then The Moonlandingz landed...
They played a frenzied mixture of electro pop, psychedelia and rock 'n' roll, blurring genres right left and centre and kicking up a hell of a racket in the process. Front man Lias Saoudi wandered onto the stage carrying a bottle of wine and wearing what looked like his dad's old suit from the 1970s and then proceeded to give one of the most deranged performances I've seen in an age. After the first, relatively low-key, song the band launched into the sky-scraping Black Hanz and the gig took off like an electrobilly rocket bound for the Planet Gonzo. Shaking, twitching, screaming and bouncing around the stage, Lias stripped his rail-thin torso bare ( much to the delight of many in the audience ) and reminded us all how exciting a proper rock star can still be in this age of bland, corporate "acts".
Amongst the highlights were the Glam stomp of Vessels, the Cramps-gone-Kraftwerk of Glory Hole and the twisted singalong pop of The Rabies Are Back. At one point the bass guitar died and had to be replaced, prompting Lias to lead the band and the audience in an acapella folk song about "shovelling shite" - I remarked to Glenn that, alone in this crowd of urban hipsters, I was probably the only person with actual shite-shovelling experience.
All too soon we were told "you won't like it but this is our last song" and, after an insane Man In Me Lyfe with Lias virtually bellowing his lungs out onto the stage and the crowd going equally nuts, the short but sweet 50 minute set was over with no encore. Talk about leaving 'em wanting more!
Without a doubt one of the best gigs of the year and that ain't no fiction...
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
We'll start with Doctor Strange's last appearance in Marvel Premiere from March 1974, just before the Sorcerer Supreme regained his own comic book. This is the finale of the Cagliostro / Sise-Neg / Genesis epic by the titanic team of Steve Engelhart and Frank Brunner.
Finally, the pick of the bunch for me: Haunted Love no. 6 from October 1974. This short-lived excursion into Gothic romance is always difficult to track down so I was pleased to pick up this issue. ( I actually bought the two Charltons and the Phantom Stranger for £1.50 each in a junk shop in St. Ives. ) The main draw was of course the fantastic cover by that madman Tom Sutton - very spooky! The witch alone is enough to give you the cold sweats...
Sutton illustrates the main story that this cover is based on and it's a suitably overwrought tale of cursed love in Fin De Siecle Paris, with the occasional nod to Aubrey Beardsley - great stuff!
And here's the Wuthering Heights-esque corner box by the stupendously talented Joe Staton...
Right, I'll have to go now - I need to read some comics...
Saturday, 11 November 2017
Very sad today to hear of the passing of former Faith No More vocalist Chuck Mosley. He was one of the most memorable front men I've ever seen, a ball of energy and passion. Faith No More at the Bristol Bierkeller back in the late '80s was one of my all-time top 10 gigs. And here's a link to one of my old Favourite Gig Fridays posts about that self-same night.
Strangely enough, in the last couple of days I've been playing FNM's fantastic second album Introduce Yourself on repeat in my car, thinking about what an idiosyncratic, compelling vocalist he was, not realising he had passed away. RIP Chuck...
Friday, 10 November 2017
Sunday, 5 November 2017
I turned up at Two Rivers Studios in Cheltenham for my indoctrination into the cult and instantly found myself on bubble-blowing duties. ( Please try not to think of that outrageous old Michael Jackson joke at this point. ) Yes, I had to stand in front of the band while they were filming a "psychedelic" middle-eight and blow bubbles from one of those cheap kids' bubble-blowers until I was blue in the face. All for about 1/2 a second of screen-time :-)
Here are four of the 5 BT boys in full hippie regalia, going for a Bohemian Rhapsody vibe: