Archive for the ‘2016’ Category


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So, nothing much happened in 2016 it seems…


The Kindle continued to be used. Perhaps not as much as last year. Main even on there was the last James Ellroy. Man you have no idea how angry that made me. Not even treading water. Sebastian Faulks put out a collection of parodies from super-smug literary Radio 4 quiz the Write Stuff. Even he would’ve baulked at this evel of descent into a cartoon of yourself. It’s just awful. And, a bit sad.

My promise to read more ‘literary’ books or non-fiction was forgotten come January 2nd


I saw most of the movies on the best-of lists (except some glaring exceptions). Some really don’t deserve their places on those lists. Best for me was – inevitably – Green Room. In among the tension, horror and excellent performances (especially tragically in the case of Anton Yelchin), there’s a real true sense of what it’s like to be in a touring punk band. 


A year of the old favourites raising there heads; The Handsome Family, Rick Redbeard, Angel Olsen (with some staggering live shows) and, of course, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. The latter including 6 gigs across not just Europe, but for the first time more than just London in the U.K.  Hopefully not the last. 

I did make an effort to listen to more new music. And, did not bad. Some was brilliant. But, it was the chancing across The Downtown Boys on the bill with another band I wanted to see that led to the best discovery for me. Loud, angry and blisteringly good fun. Hope they come back soon. 


Plenty of it. Lots of very top quality stuff. No sock-blowing ones.  Tommie Sjef‘s wild ales at Brettfest do stand out as the ones that did force me to encourage everyone around to try them 


Czech Republic – loved it and WILL return asap


Written by Tony Kiernan

01 January 2017 at 12:01 am

Tell me July

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Elvis & Nixon

Michael Shannon is great in this. Very few people can walk that line of damaged and psychotic without getting cartoony. Except, he’s not really Elvis.

Spacey is also excellent as Tricky. But, ultimately this says little about either man. Or the times. Or our times. And, isn’t funny enough to just be a ceraaaazy story you just won’t believe actually happened.

Diverting enough, though.

Penguin Cafe – Barbican (2 July 2016)

Love, love, love, love, love….

I believe this body of work will continue to grow in stature. It should be regarded shoulder-to-shoulder with Britten in the pantheon of British 20th century composers.

The Bookhouse Boys – The Moth Club (8 July 2016)

Never heard these guys before. Their’s is a sub-Devotchka, mariachi-lite kinda rock. It has some really great moments. Most of which when the singer-bloke isn’t singing. The audience of their fans are so excited that they’re playing again for the first time in years that they can’t keep their traps shut. necessitating a steady push closer to the stage to drown them out. Seems the Moth Club pa is not up to this task.

The Taming of the Shrew – Shakespeare’s Globe (9 July 2016)

Second visit. Groundling, where I belong. Again, questions of adaptation are foremost in my mind. In discussion with one of my theatrical chums, he summed up with the question of should this venue be a museum or a challenging theatre space. I must admit, I kinda lean towards the former. When you can go see the bard on motorbikes in a condemned chemical plant and weekend, it’d be nice to have somewhere that you could get a solid, traditional, take guaranteed.

Director Caroline Byrne, does not agree. Setting her version ‘on the eve’ of the Easter uprising, gives it a Peaky Blinders (actually, more O’Casey – but I’s trying to be relevant) aesthetic. Although, she does also manage to be redolent of Beckett (at his Marxist best) and The Quiet Man. (I don’t know enough about Joyce, but I’m sure he’s in there too.) In the Q&A that followed it was explained that following the rising, there was a declaration of equality of all Irish men and woman. (Something the members of the cast found still debatable.) So, the setting is theoretically the last days of the old patriarchy.

Soliloquy’s are delivered as laments. There’s some huge knock-about business. (In the Q&A one pompous ass asks if it was the director’s intention to drown out the text with such business.) But, ultimately, the strength of this production lies in how it handles the problems we should have with the text in this day and age. Instead of being beaten in to starry-eyed adoration as the text, Katherina finishes this version broken and abused. Giving her final speech from the perspective of goods and chattels, rendering the declaration of her husband as lord, life, keeper, head and sovereign a hollow bitter victory. It’s really nicely handled.

Pretty damn good production. I’m still not sure it’s what I want from the Globe.

Molly’s Plan

Either I’m getting old or this isn’t as painfully cute and smug as it really does appear to be. Great performances and a good few laughs. I enjoyed.

Although, will somebody think of the children!!

The Neon Bible

Latest NWR (as he appears to be known these days) movie is your usual tale of the vacuity of the modelling world and how it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.

I’m really not certain about it. Not sure if the style does win out over its lack of substance. However, it does have Keanu in it. And, we like him

Macbeth – Shakespeare’s Globe (19 July 2016)

Even the presence of the ever fragrant Tara Fitzgerald cannot save this blustering, shouty, grab-bag of ideas production. Meh.

Stalking the Boogeyman – Southwark Playhouse (21 July 2016)

Check me out and my regular theatre going!

Stalking the Boogeyman is an adaptation of a This American Life story, apparently. Which makes perfect sense. It has all the hallmarks of a one-acter from them. This is a good studio-theatre production. Intense and quite moving.

DOA – New Cross Inn (23 July 2016)

How many songs about World War III should your band have? Answer: n + 1, where n is the number you already have.

Great show. Awesome crowd. Cool night all in. AND, they finished with Full Metal Jack-off.


Yeah. Alright. Made me laugh quite a bit. Not as bad as could be feared, but not as astounding as could be hoped. Annoyingly, all the good Kate McKinnon bits were in the trailer.

Tempting Failure Day#5 – Hackney Showroom (25 July 2016)

Art happening type stuff. And of course, you just had to be there…

Oblivians – The Dome, Tufnell Park (27 July 2016)

Seems wrong to complain about the sound for a band as garagey. But, the kick-drum is stupid. And, I’m sure it’s not intentional. Despite that, this is an object lesson in what real elemental rock should be like. It’s pigging awsome.

Drummer Jack Oblivian gets a shot on the guitar for a good 15 minutes or so. Seems he’s a better player than the other two. So, it all starts to get a bit too swampy-blues; a bit too musical. Then he goes back where he belongs and it’s back to the primitive all the way.


Odd. Funny. Greek. Yup, think that covers it

Shilpa Ray – The Social (29 July 2013)

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Ms Ray hitting the UK since reading Mishka Shubaly‘s Beat The Devil in which he describes a rock-n-roll ball-of-fury and force-of-nature. Got to be worth a watch.

And, she’s good. What she’s doing now isn’t 100 miles from the stuff BTD were doing (in fact I recognise some tunes, so definitely doing stuff from previous bands). Of course, now seems like it could be the time for that (ie, the time of Calvi, Barnett, Olsen et al). It’s good. But, not amazing. Everything has that quality of being very nearly something else you just can’t put your finger on. It’s good. I’d see her again. It just doesn’t blow my socks off. Or even live up to the few scraps from previous ‘bands’ (some of which turns up tonight) I’ve listened to previously.

White Heath – George Tavern (30 July 2013)

Still looking a little uncomfortable in this new line-up. Still blummin’ majestic at points. Still convinced they’re going to be massive (in some way)

Written by Tony Kiernan

04 August 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in 2016, Film, Gigs, London, Music, Theatre

April amusements

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Batman Vs Superman

Well, I thought it was better than a lot of people have made out. I mean, it’s complete rubbish. But, the fact there’s less jokes than the execrable Age of Ultron is no reason to think it any worse.

Looking forward to them let Batfleck do a film alone.

Vodun – The Lexington (7 April 2016)

Vodun are pretty much your oh-so-millennial set up of drummer and bluesy metal guitar. What makes them interesting is the fact they are a three piece. Fronted by a proper black soul diva, instead of some reedy Plant-a-like.

Emblazoned in day-glo body paint, the can at times make a seriously impressive racket. Of course, at times, it descends to lumpen metal tropes. But the other bits are enough to outweigh those.

This is the debut album launch show. I’m genuinely excited to watch this band grow and mature. Unless someone throws money at them

Darren Hayman/Ralegh Long/Deerful – Shackewell Arms (8 April 2016)

Deerful have/has been pleasing me greatly with her laptempi pop ditties of late. TBH it’s the presence on this bill that’s had me venture out when I could really have done with not bothering.

Despite public transport conspiring to make me miss half the set, it doesn’t disappoint.

I’ve seen Ralegh Long perform a song once before. He struck me as the worst tedious type of singersongwriter. But hey, it was one song. I’ll give him a second chance.

He didn’t deserve it.

Hayman was Hayman. Which sounds maybe more dismissive than it should. I always enjoy his gigs. As should anyone. I think maybe I need to have a breather before the next.

Midnight Special

There’s a lot to like about Jeff Nichols‘ new movie. There’s also a lot to kinda ponder “did they really do that?” “why was all that in the trailer?” “was it any good?” about

I think it was. In fact I’m sure it was. Yes, it was…

The Heads – The Lexington (14 April 2016)

Somewhere about the Headlong Dive record, they cut back on the tedious hippy workout wank. I much preferred the droning driving thunderous garage band version. So, I’m always a little wary that they’ll revert to type. Go “back to their roots” or somesuch other twaddle. The support (whose name escapes me) was one of the guitarists and the roady with an electric bow fiddle improvising for a chunk of time. It’s interminably awful. And fills me with dread for the main attraction.

No need for such fears. They brought the chundering grooving RAWK!! In full throttle, they are something wondrous to behold. I wish they’d get out and do this more often. (Because, christ knows when anyone’ll next be warming up for an ATP event.)

The Jungle Book

Well, who would have thought it? This is really blummin’ good.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

In this country we can fart out top-quality true-story period-drama. So why is this so bad? A waste of the talents of all involved.

Future of the Left – Electric Ballroom (21 April 2016)

You’ll still get blank looks from people that claim to love McLusky at mention of FotL. Which is there loss, but also a shame. Over the past decade this band have become one of the most interesting and challenging rock groups out there. They also completely kick-ass. So, all you retro johnny-come-lately types, get on board with this lot before they’re gone too and you start claiming to have always loved them.

Helen Love – The Lexington (24 April 2016)

Does you heart go boom? Yes, yes, and again yes.

Eye In The Sky

At it’s heart, Eye In The Sky, really rather distastefully manipulates it’s viewers’ perception. Is it really necessary to make the muslim girl at the heart of the movie’s moral dilemma the child of a liberal family that encourage her learning and playing? Does this make here more of one of the good-ones that we should care about more than one dragged up in drudgery and oppression? Just how cynical can you be about your audience?

Of course, I’m assuming that audience is the same one that when you tested the movie insisted on the pointlessly tagged on denouement?

All of which is a shame, because the rest of it’s rather good. It just seems to have hedged it’s bets enough to not be the dark, dark satire that’s really at it’s heart. Which is a shame, because we would’ve been looking at a new Strangelove.

Louder Than Bombs

Mumblecore done right. With Gabriel Byrne and a title nicked off The Smiths. What more could you want? OK, laughs. Adventure. Derring-do….


Woefully bad brain-swap (is that a genre) movie. Worth noting for Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones hanging out in my local pharmacy.


Is this Bollywood? It’s jolly entertaining and the second film I see tonight to feature The Rake.

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 May 2016 at 9:08 am

Posted in 2016, Film, Gigs, London, Music


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Violent Femmes – We Can Do Anything

New album. Played this to death

*happy dance*

Is it one of their greats? No. Is it better than yours? Fuck, yeah!

Hail, Ceasar!

AND new Coens!!!!!!!. I expect to not awake in the morning.

It’s like they came up with the device of being able to do all the scenes they ever dreamt of but couldn’t find a place for by throwing them into a great bug hollywood dressing up box and film-within-a-film premise. It’s all over the shop. But, ultimately such a joyous celebration of a golden age of movies. Still grinning.

The Others Below

No-budget brit c-movie. Manages to be quite creepy and darkly funny. Althought I wouldn’t put money on the latter being deliberate.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Some-budget US b-movie. Who doesn’t like John Goodman at his most sinisterly avuncular best? An object lesson in economic story telling and vision. Great fun.


So disappointing. Looks amazing. Fantastic performances. And, it tries.

Suspect when it was called unfilmable, they should’ve listened. Seems really long, yet really rushed. Maybe a six part series would’ve worked better.



I think I liked this. Despite it’s best efforts to the contrary

Pere Ubu – The Dome (24 March 2016)

Contrary to expectation, a rather mirthful gig. If a little long.

Momus – Cafe Oto (25 March 2016)

Right up with expectation, an enormously mirthful gig. With those moments. Always essential.


*crash bang*
*stabby killy*
Fin. WTF?

Yes, it is French

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 April 2016 at 2:18 pm

Posted in 2016, Film, Gigs, London, Music, Records

February fings

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They Might Be Giants – Electric Ballroom (8 February 2016)

Epic career-spanning set, performed with their usual vigour, humour and charm.

Bridget Christie/Sara Pascoe – The Amersham Arms (8 February 2016)

I’ve never seen Pascoe live. Having heard her interviewed at length, I always been a little underwhelmed by the panel show appearances. But, then, they shouldn’t be used as a measure of anything. Her live show is wicked smart and deftly charming. She goes on the catch-a-full-show list.

I have a lot of thoughts about the current attitude to ‘rape jokes’. And, sensibly, I keep most of these to myself. Thankfully Christie seems to have decided that he new material is going to take it on head first. It’s everything you want; hilarious, thought-provoking and, at turns, uncomfortable. Really looking forward to where this goes.


Ultimately, a really, really good TV movie. Bryan Cranston is superb. In this, like. Not just in general.

Mighty Mighty – 100 Club (19 February 2016)

More indie-schmindie nostalgia for me. Yet another unsightly bunch of men of an age that should-know-better shambling on stage and raking over material over 30 years old.

Every note of it made me feel 16 again. Like what a good pop tune should.

Terminal Cheesecake – The Lexington (20 February 2016)

Really enjoyed this. Yet, found myself focussing on just how fantastica powerhouse the drummer was. Which is never a good sign.


More Oscar® botherers. Also televisual. Unlike Trumbo, this was a movie aspiring to being an HBO mini-series, not vice versa.


Really wish I’d had the time to write the meditation on Ryan REynolds I wanted to write after seeing Mississippi Grind. Then I could be all smug. Seriously, ask anyone I went to the pub with in the last part of 2015.


Finally got round to watching what I had been told was The Wire of live-actioned Marvel. A bold claim. TBH, one that only Vincent D’Onofrio‘s near-Shakespearean take on a cartoon villain comes anywhere near fulfilling. Which, in itself, made the journey worthwhile.

I realise everyone’s probably finished the second season by now. I’ll get round to it. But, I’m not certain it’ll be able to keep that up without him.

Bat-Bike – Getting Back

Attempt to get to more new music. Random pick from blogs. Turns out they are local to me. This is great. Squinty psychedelics. Garage aesthetic. Gonna catch them live asap.

The Love Triangle – Clever Clever

Random Facebook recommend. Great stuff. The kind of fuzzalong powerpunk pop tunes that sound like they’re a dawdle to throw together. If they were, surely more people would be doing it?

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 March 2016 at 6:33 pm