Friday 22 July 2011

Cornwall, here we come...

I've been away from Blogger for a while because we've been incredibly busy with work, finally selling my Mum's house, having a new kitchen installed and visiting Fairford Air Show ( report to follow. )
I'll be away a bit longer now as we're heading down to beautiful Cornwall for a week. Yay!! It's just what we need - a chance to relax without dealing with builders, solicitors, estate agents, loss adjusters, managers etc. etc. Bliss!
See you all soon, hopefully with some cool photos...

Tuesday 12 July 2011


Last night UK Punk upstarts Gallows brought their own brand of chaos to Gloucester's Guildhall...

I missed the first support band ( they're called Thirty-Three, apparently ) but caught the next band, Bastions. They make a sound like a passenger-jet full of screaming gorillas crashing on your head, have song titles like Misery King and Nausea, and lyrics like "From the womb spew forth the dogs of war and kill the king." Lovely! To be fair, they are pretty impressive at what they do, which is a kind of Metal endurance test with constant tempo changes and crushing rhythms, and feature a frontman ( I hesitate to use the word "singer" ) who hurtles around the stage as if he's having a heated argument with himself. And losing. Which is all fine but I do wonder why they couldn't also include the occasional hint of..... I don't know, melody? I know I'm obviously an old fuddie-duddie who should be put out to pasture or sent to the glue factory, but I do find this kind of music joyless and sexless, and so lacking in light and shade that the endless aggression becomes a bit..... dull.

Anyway, next up are the tattooed Punk/Metal hooligans themselves, Gallows.....

And the crowd goes mental. The capacity crowd at The Guildhall are instantly drawn into the insane world of Gallows' frontman, Frank Carter. He sings/screams/shouts about how dark it is inside the belly of a shark, how violent London is for young Punks on the make, and how he dreads the night but loves misery. He gets the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to his girlfriend down his smart phone, orchestrates the building of a human pyramid on the dance-floor and encourages us to crowd-surf and stage-dive. The Guildhall security guys look daggers at him and pick bodies off the floor. It's all good-humoured, sweat-and-beer-drenched chaos. Frank has the audience in the palm of his hand and they love it. "You guys are the future of music" he tells them. Bless 'im.

The music is rifftastic Hardcore Punk with a Metal edge, recalling bands such as Black Flag and Minor Threat, but with a distinctive UK viewpoint. In fact, Frank's broken-glass-gargling vocals bring to mind early '80s Anarchist Punks like The Subhumans or Conflict, even though the lyrics aren't a million miles away from the more modern, London-nightlife-is-shite songs of Plan B, another tattooed tearaway with a big heart. It's all the more of a shame that Frank is leaving the band after this tour, citing that old favourite, musical differences :-(

It's an intense, intoxicating, celebration of being young, angry and out for a laugh, but not being a bonehead or a fake. It works for certain forty-somethings too.....

How to risk life and limb the Gallows way. It'll end in tears, mark my words.....

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Green Lantern

The Super Hero Summer soars on and on...

After the Norse Gods and Mutants of Marvel, the next "long underwear character" to hit the big screen is DC's Green Lantern.

Hal Jordan is a hotshot test pilot who has an on-off relationship with the boss' daughter, a reputation for irresponsibility, and the almost-standard Hollywood father issues. When dying alien Abin Sur's power-ring seeks out his successor to join the universe-spanning police force, the Green Lantern Corps, Hal is chosen as a potential recruit. Forced to confront both Earthbound and alien-born enemies, Hal has to prove worthy of the Corps and realise that with great power comes great responsibilities. ( Hey, wrong film! )

Green Lantern, while enjoyable, is a very by-the-numbers super hero movie, with nothing particularly new to bring to the table. Ryan Reynolds is better than I'd expected as brash hero Hal, while Blake Lively ( as love-interest Carol Ferris ) and Peter Sarsgaard
( as mad scientist Hector Hammond ) are fine, but don't have enough to do. Far better is Mark Strong as head Lantern, Sinestro, who is all sneers and pride and is obviously being primed as turncoat/villain if there should be a sequel.

The action scenes are effective, with Green Lantern's rescuing of an out-of-control helicopter being the best example of the power ring's will-power-created "constructs" in action, and the final battle with alien entity Parallax being similar, but superior, to the defeat of Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer.

The film comes into its own when the action relocates to Oa, home planet of the GL Corps and the blue-domed Guardians Of The Universe. The expansive CGI landscapes and huge crowds of assembled Lanterns make a refreshingly different backdrop to a super hero film, after the familiar cityscapes of the Batman and Spider-Man franchises. Hopefully, if there is a sequel, we'll see more of the green-screen wonders of the DC universe.

Green Lantern isn't a classic movie by any means, but I'd rate it Three Out Of Five Power Rings as it's just good fun, which surely counts for something when the biggest super hero film of recent years is the overrated and terminally serious The Dark Knight.....

And in the interests of "fun", here's a typically goofy Silver Age GL cover by the Green team supreme, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. They really don't make 'em like that any more :-)

Soundtrack: various '90s flashbacks by Portishead, Smashing Pumpkins, and Massive Attack

Monday 4 July 2011

Happy Independence Day... all our friends across The Pond.

Have a great 235th Birthday, America! And stay classy.....


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