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Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

p.18 BrisFest The city’s annual community music, arts and performance weekender explodes into life this month. We hung out at BrisFest HQ to see how the whole thing comes together, plus we look forward to some of the tastiest titbits on this year’s menu.

p.24 Open door policy

p.30 The fame game

It’s back! Doors Open Day sees the South West’s most ornate, ostentatious, intriguing, inviting and downright weird buildings and venues fling open their doors for you to come and have a poke around. Join us for a spot of snooping…

A famous painting depicting the city’s great and good is about to get a modern makeover. We see who’s about to be immortalised on canvas and have a crack at our own (slightly sillier) version.

Regulars Features p.15 Firebrand stand-up Mark Thomas on walking the Israeli Separation Barrier p.22 Derby day: get on trend with one of the South West’s most fearsome, fashionconscious all-female sports p.27 Les Dennis plays a frazzled Scouse comedian at the Tobacco Factory

// INBOX // p.4 Letters, opinion, guff…

// Film //

// Comedy //

p.39 Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford tool up in ‘Cowboys & Aliens’

p.70 The pick of this month’s funny stuff

// Music //

// I Saw You //

p.48 The Next Generation, Hard-Fi, Josh Arcoleo, The Unthanks

p.7 There you were, there I was…

// Clubs //


p.61 No sleep till Bedminster: it’s Rave on Avon!

p.34 August. The hottest month of the year in local news. Apart from next month, perhaps. Tuck into the scoops of the summer right here.

// Performance // p.65 Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London, Ian McKellen, Camus

Get every issue of venue delivered early

// ART // p.73 The Museum of Incest anyone? Enter the Arnolfini’s “museum of museums”

// BOOKS // p.77 Joe Berger: king of the cartoons

// Days Out // p.79 Bath’s explosion of kid lit

// skills // p.83 Workshops, courses, jobs and more

to your door for just £2.99/month direct debit or £37.50/year

// gay //

Phone 0117 934 3741 or email to set it up.

p.89 Local LGBT events and news


Contents 972.indd 3

SEPTEMBER 2011 // 3

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Inbox You Ab-salute Rogue // Nice feature you did about the Harbour Festival [Dock Rockin’ Treats, issue 970] – shame you didn’t mention the Invisible Circus’s amazingsounding Rogue’s Salute event, though: “an overflowing barrel full of dockside delinquency and delights, with a big top on the old gaol ferry bridge site teeming with salty sea dogs, filthy pirates, swindlers, mermaids, navvies, sea monsters and circus.” Any reason for ignoring it? Are ye afeared of them feisty piratical types? Roger the Cabin Boy, via email

Yes, Roger, we are mighty afeared. Also, as the Harbour Festival feature was being written (way back in June), the Rogue’s Salute event remained unconfirmed and subject to licence agreement and other such not-particularly-piratey concerns. Needless to say, it was in our favourite ten things to do the following issue – and we’ve reviewed it online. You can find it here: Meanwhile, young Roger, tell us which port your ship’s moored in and we’ll sling ye a rum-soaked £10 Waterstone’s voucher from our booty-laden hold. Yarr! Avast! Etc. (Please stop that. – Ed)

Up in smoke

university and the library. And the grant from Wills, which was given over ten years ago, has been used to support the development of M Shed and further underpin culture and education in the city. Given that Imperial Tobacco was a major employer and economic driver in the city for nearly 200 years, it would be impossible to ignore the role the tobacco industry has played in the city’s history. It has seen thousands of

In response to the letters on last month’s letters page regarding the M Shed being part-funded by the tobacco industry, Bristol City Council sent this: “M Shed is an amazing new museum, it tells the story of the city through the lives and objects of local people who have helped shape the city we have today. Over the years, the Wills family have supported the city’s museum (they founded it), the

Letter of the month

people employed in its factory over time – Wills and Wills money are part of the history of the city. The acceptance of the grant does not in any way diminish the council’s drive to improve the health and wellbeing of local people. The city council supports the World Health Organisation’s ruling of 2006, and no further grants from tobacco companies will be accepted.”

Beggar’s belief The article on debt advice in last month’s edition [In the Red, issue 970], was spot on. It is true that people can fall into debt through no fault of their own, and people can be so judgmental. It didn’t mention, however, the issue of people ending up on the street. In Victorian times, it was widely believed that if a person was poor, or living on the streets, it was their own fault. Poverty was seen as a sign of laziness or vice. Joseph Rowntree (owner of the

Issue 971 Brisfest 2011

4 // SEPTEMBER 2011

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Venue Magazine Bristol Office Bristol News & Media, Temple Way, Bristol, BS99 7HE Tel 0117 942 8491 (12 lines) Fax 0117 934 3566 Bath Office Bath News & Media, Floor 2, Westpoint, James West St, Bath, BA1 1UN Tel 01225 429801

Fax 01225 447602 Email (Editorial): editor@ / (Advertising): / (Classified ads): Website Twitter @venueeditor Group Editor Dave Higgitt Editor-at-large Joe Spurgeon

Associate Editor Mike White Studio Manager Cath Evans Design Team Sarah Clark, Sarah Malone Production Charis Munday Sub-Editors Tom Phillips, Jo Renshaw Advertising Manager Becky Davis Bristol Advertising Adam Burrows, Ben Wright, Bex

Rowntree factory) took poverty seriously and conducted surveys into the causes and aggravators of poverty. This led to gradual social reforms, for example the Old Age Pensions Act (1908) and the National Insurance Act (1911). We may think that we have greatly moved on, but there is still a great amount of ignorance surrounding poverty. When you want to avoid

Baddiley Bath Advertising Nejla Unal Distribution and Subscriptions Simon Butler Publication Co-ordinators Emma Gorton, Ruth Wood Art Steve Wright Books Joe Spurgeon Classical Paul Riley Clubs Adam Burrows Comedy Steve Wright

Days Out Anna Britten Dance Steve Wright Events Mike White Film Robin Askew Jazz Tony Benjamin Lesbian & Gay Darryl Bullock News Eugene Byrne Rock Julian Owen Roots Julian Owen Skills Anna Britten Sport Simon Fry Theatre Steve Wright


8/24/2011 6:39:32 PM Each Letter of the Month receives a £10 voucher to spend in any Waterstone’s store nationwide.

beggars on the street, you can prevent yourself from feeling too guilty by thinking of them as dangerous and depraved; people that you do not want to welcome into your life. Likewise, if you do not want to give them money, you can always console yourself by thinking that they will only go and spend it all on alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. In some cases people do end up on the streets because of drugs or alcohol problems, but they may also find themselves there if they have run away from home, or have found themselves with debts that have spiralled out of control. I believe that regardless of the reason for why people are on the streets, they still deserve our help. Next time you pass a homeless person, look them in the eye, so that at least they feel more human, rather than a ghost with no connection to society. You do not have to give them food or money, but instead of turning guiltily away, try and say a few words. You could tell them about the Bristol Soup Run Trust, which works at the Pip ‘n’ Jay Church, Redcliffe Wharf and the end of Whiteladies Road opposite the Methodist church, where food and blankets are distributed. Or you could recommend the Julian Trust Night Shelter, which can be found on Little Bishop Street, on the edge of St Pauls in Bristol. After all, you may be cushioned in material possessions now, but things change. Sam Farthing, Totterdown


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// SEVERN BORE // Opinion. If you like that sort of thing...

Gorilla tactics I just wanted to say that I love all the colourful gorillas dotted around Bristol. They really make a difference in making Bristol more vibrant and attractive. My daughter Katy, who is 10, already likes art, and she thinks that the gorillas are fantastic. I think that the new installations will encourage more young people to get involved in art. The gorillas take art out of dusty old museums and elite events, and allow people to experience them first hand. They show that art can be simple, colourful and fun. Besides, they’re sponsored by local businesses, and it is about time that those organisations gave back to the community – they get enough money off us, anyway. I hope that the gorillas are not destroyed like

other works of art have been. The bronze sculpture outside the Royal West of England Academy was vandalised quite recently, and there was that statue of William Tyndale – all that remains now are its feet! It’s time that those vandals learnt to create, rather than destroy. It’s so sad when such a small number of people ruin something for so many. I also like the new ‘please give generously’ statue outside the gallery. It is a bit ugly and attention-seeking, but the arts are not funded enough, and I am glad someone is making that point. Rebecca Tasley, Montpelier

Cash registered Tesco in Stokes Croft seems to be doing very nicely after all, doesn’t it? How about that, eh? Bill, Picton Street

// Did you look in on the See No Evil event down in Bristol's Nelson Street back in August? Over 70 artists, including celebrity graffers of world-wide standing, used 13,400 spray cans, 26 scaffolding towers and 320 litres of emulsion to nice up one of the city's drabbest areas. It culminated in a wee festival with music, street dressing (astroturf! deckchairs!), it didn't rain and there were no riots. Jolly good show for Bristol (look how alternative and sidewise-thinking we are!) and a triumph for the city's "Director of Placemaking", Mike Bennett, who had the idea, organised it and stuck £40k of his own salary into making the thing happen. Many of the paintings will be there for years to come. Maybe it'll become an annual event, helping to keep Bristol buzzing in the coming years of austerity. A few nights before the party, Severn Bore tagged along with the great 'n' good for a preview. And it was the sight of the Lord Mayor (in full Mayoral bling), sharing a joke with a member of New York's Tats Cru, that shows how interesting things have got. Sure, we all know Banksy is good for business, and official Bristol grudgingly accepts that all that amazing stuff happening on Stokes Croft just might help turn the area round... But now street art, with all its subversive undercurrents, is not just tolerated, but actively promoted by official Bristol. From Clifton dinner parties to inner-city squats alike, the talk is of whether graffiti has lost its soul, sold out to the man. This is an amusing parlourgame, but that's all it is. What matters for now is it's good for Bristol's wider image, good for the local economy, good for attracting and keeping productive people, good for tourism. Good for us.

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8/24/2011 4:08:10 PM


To submit an I Saw You email web

// Reach out to someone // I Saw You ND, sat next to me in the dressing gown I turned baby blue by accident. You said you didnt think I loved you anymore, it broke my heart. You are my best friend and my future husband. I love you more than Ive ever loved anyone. I will try harder to show you just how much you mean to me. I want to draw for you for the rest of my life. I Saw You - A vision dressed in black leather coat and long boots with gleaming black hair walking though the cabot circus saturday 20th August ,I loved your look so convincing ,although you probably didnt see me .I would welcome the chance to rectify that ,do these ads ever work I wonder I Saw You on the train to Cardiff 13/8. You gorgeous brunette on the way to stewarding at the Brecon Jazz festival. Me guy in Welsh rugby shirt porbably older than you imagined! You kept me spellbound for the entire journey until I lost you in the crowds in Cardiff. I suggested the Apple but didn't have the courage to get your number. How about meeting one evening ? I Saw You petite girls of Bristol in your early to mid 20s, looking lovely and often smiling at me only to pass me by. I have any idea, hello is every bit as good as a smile. I'd do it but I am just a bit awkward and shy for it! Well anyway, next time you pass me and smile, you'll know it's me, I'll be smiling back and then looking at my (usually rather dapper) feet, stop and say hello...I'll compliment you and we can chat. Is that how this used to work? People talked...Well, my email is here to for anyone like me that is more of a smiler than a chatter! X


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I Saw You gorgeous man working at the Better Food Company in St. Werburgh's. I find you very attractive and fancy you like mad, but I do not know if that is or ever could be reciprocated, because I find it hard to tell if I am being fancied, and because my gaydar does not work, so I can't tell if you are gay/bi (as I am) or not. I am too shy in such matters to ask you outright or let you know my feelings overtly.

suspension bridge. Gave me a lovely smile as you approached me. I was in a black car with a bike in it. Wearing a beard and messy hair. Wanted to turn round to say hello and maybe get your number but was caught in the bridge flow by then. Hope you see this. Would love to see that smile again. I Saw You at the Grain Barge on 13 August. We didn't swap numbers!

I Saw You Clifton Pony Girl, in a dream I had. Or maybe it was a night "mare". Either way, even though we haven't seen each other in years, I still think of you from time to time.

I Saw You in 'all bar one' lastnight and thought you were the only guy there wearing a cool checked shirt. :) I was the girl sat opposite with the pink hoody.

I Saw You say goodbye until September. You do worry me sometimes but I'll still count the days....

I Saw You in the mirror today and thought you looked old, worn and neglected. Feel for you. Better times ahead I hope.

I Saw You Cute hippy chick. Walking away from the

I Saw You Don P... I didn't get your politics at first - thought maybe it was some sixth former from Clifton College. But having seen the Guy Fawkes grafiti by Fowlers I understand now: You are a Spanish sponsered Catholic monarchist, who wants to remove the democratically elected parliament! Of course.. Ignorant plonker!

I saw you working in Wild Oats every so often. I come in and buy soyabased products on the off-chance you'll be working so I can see you. You have piercings, tattoos and you really are so beautiful it makes me happy to just see you. I'd talk to you if I had the confidence.

I Saw You happy man in Ashton Court lower Car Park on 4 Aug late afternoon. You were with a friend. I just arrived and I stepped out of my vehicle and turned to see your nice smiling face. You said Hi, I wanted to say something but it didn't quite happen...awe, pity. The moment was lost, could it be revived? I hope you see this whoever you are :-)

I saw you and your gorgeous curls defending me from skinny tigers which were making me uncomfortable. Thank you for making them disappear wearing a black hoodie and running shorts. You have black bobbed hair and a dolphin tattoo on your thigh (or some kind of aquatic creature). I was the guy at the pedestrian crossing next to you wearing a trilby and you have rocked my world! Please get in touch if you are reading this! I Saw You I want you. I need you. I love you. I miss you. Little spoon xx I Saw You in the street, in the park, at the bar, in a crowd, in a field and in my car and now i can't see you so much anymore. Just wanted to let you know, I think you're brilliant too... and thanks for the i saw you! X I Saw You - To the lovely lady from Australia who practices pilates... we emailed each other several times... now is the time and I'd love to get back in touch, please please write and let me serve you, Tommy xxx I Saw You or is it me? or is it you being me? Hmm… I Saw You last Saturday again throwing something slightly unexpected into the mix but this time it was perfect. Thank you! x I Saw You - I see you my beautiful mister mister. Cannot wait. Just cannot wait. I love you

I Saw You Lofty, heading out into the wilderness, 3 weeks is too long, miss you, CF, Shortyx

For more i saw you – plus I’m Sore At You – see:

I Saw You at the Clifton Triangle SEPTEMBER 2011 // 7

8/24/2011 10:47:50 AM

mark simmons photography Tel: 0117 9140999 Mobile: 07778 063 699 “The photo’s are amazing! Thank you so much for capturing so many great images, they are awesome. You brought out the best in everyone, your B&W’s are especially stylish - we’ll be recommending you!”

Natural Weddings

Joby & Zoe 8 // september 2011

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8/24/2011 4:09:46 PM

ISawYou Are you a photographer?

// Pro, semi-pro, amateur… if you have a Bristol or Bath-related pic and want to show if off, email it to and the top three will get posted up here.

email web

// bristol & bath in pictures //

‘Planet Neptune’ – Chris Bond (left)

this mont winner!h's

//The familiar, subverted. Chris stitched together 212 different photos to create this globular version of downtown Bristol. Ffi: chris_bond

‘Untitled’ – Stephen Dowle (Top) //“This was taken with my first camera, a primitive pre-war model which could not be focused or adjusted to the light. It was taken at Lawrence Hill in 1970. All the background has disappeared since.” Ffi: fray_bentos

‘Fast Food’ – Carly Wong (right) // Part of a series where “the running theme is a person ... and a red Royal Mail post box.” Ffi: alkalinemouse This month’s prize (CDs or downloads up to a value of £50) is kindly provided by AudioGO (formerly BBC Audiobooks) who publish thousands of comedy, drama and factual programmes in both CD and downloadable format. Ffi:


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SEPTEMBER 2011 // 9

8/24/2011 10:48:42 AM

And another thing... Robin Askew won’t be getting the needle.


hy don’t you have any tattoos?” The first time I was asked this question, it just seemed a bit odd. By the second or third occasion, it dawned on me that I had become a minority in the admittedly rather degenerate social circles in which I move. I don’t have any aesthetic objections to tattoos. Quite the reverse, in fact; I rather admire the professional inker’s art. A stylishly executed sleeve or striking full back design can be just as impressive as anything hung in a gallery or stencilled on a wall by Banksy. And imaginative body modifications (scarification, subcutaneous insertions, eyewatering piercings and so on) can be even more creative methods of pimping one’s carcass. They also require a commendable degree of commitment. What could be a more explicit way of announcing to the world “I will never work in customer services or for the Walt Disney Corporation” than a facial tattoo? So what’s the problem? As with most philosophical questions, it was Mr John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne (no stranger to the tattooist’s needle himself) who phrased the argument most eloquently. In the

“The stretchy, faded tramp stamp above a rapidly spreading muffin top is not, I submit, a good look.” 10 // SEPTEMBER 2011

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episode of ‘The Osbournes’ where Kelly announced that she wanted to have a tattoo in order “to be different”, her father observed: “Every f*cker’s got a tattoo. If you want to be different, don’t have a f*ckin’ tattoo!” In the ghastly rural backwater where I grew up, only two groups of people had tattoos: scary old fishermen and members of the criminal community, who obligingly branded themselves for convenient identification by Mr Plod. So it’s easy to see where the notion of the tattoo as shorthand for ‘non-conformist’ or ‘outlaw’ came from. Today, however, even Fern bloody Britton (a mumsy fiftysomething TV presenter popular with housewives, m’lud) has butterflies inked on her stomach – evidence, if ever it were needed, that tattooing has not only jumped the shark but exited the pool and made for the open ocean. Now imagine, if you will, that you were the very first woman to acquire a lower back tattoo, circa 1993/1994. You know the ones: just above the butt crack, visible every time you bend over. For a few weeks, or even months, you were admired and envied by all your girlfriends. Little could you have anticipated that within a decade virtually every unimaginative young female on the planet would have copied the idea, or that it would have acquired its own pejorative description: the ‘tramp stamp’. Obviously, this isn’t a phenomenon that afflicts women exclusively. The male equivalent is the equally overdone so-called ‘tribal tattoo’. It’s never been clear exactly which tribe goes around covered in blocky swirls of black ink of a vaguely ethnic nature, but there’s no shortage of blokes who want to join it. The real problem with me-too twerps making your imaginative

Tattoos: idiots, please form a queue

inkings look naff over time is, of course, the permanence of tattoos. It’s rather like deciding you look cool with a mullet for two weeks in 1986 and then finding you’re stuck with the bloody thing for the rest of your life, while everyone else howls with laughter. One solution is to choose a design so damn offensive that no one in their right mind would think of copying it. A self-styled ‘deviant tattooist’ who goes by the name of Woody and operates out of High Wycombe, of all places, has pretty much cornered the market in these. Most of his art can’t be described here, but he once tattooed a woman fellating a horse onto a girl’s upper arm. Few people are prepared to go that far. Fewer still can guarantee that a design they consider amusing or ‘edgy’ at 21 will seem the same in the old folks’ home 60 years later. Or that they’ll still be as devoted to the rock group/lover/comicbook character adorning their torso. And there’s a further problem in that, unless they’re carefully maintained, old tattoos on old people have a habit of looking horrible. The stretchy, faded tramp stamp above a

rapidly spreading muffin top is not, I submit, a good look. If you’re looking for a trend, type “lower back tattoo removal” into Google. You’ll get 13.5 million results. Even Woody, who can be assumed to know which way the wind is blowing, has reportedly invested £60,000 in ink removal devices. Trouble is that while tattooing technology has come on in leaps and bounds, with better inks and more skilful practitioners, tattoo removal remains problematic. There was a great cartoon in Private Eye a while back. Two elderly, shirtless gents covered in tattoos are sitting in an old people’s home. One says to the other: “I see you were a twat in the noughties too.” As the fad passes and tattooing goes back underground, an entire generation will be eager to reverse its youthful folly. So there’s an opportunity here for those greedy would-be entrepreneurs who queue up to be humiliated on reality TV. Anyone who devises a quick, painless, 100% effective tattoo removal system stands to make a fortune.


8/24/2011 12:56:47 PM



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september 2011 // 11

8/24/2011 4:36:58 PM

September // OUR FAVOURITE

Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

TEN THINGS THIS MONTH...// Art Arnolfini 50th Anniversary Museum Show // In case you’ve not yet chanced upon The Museum of Soy Sauce Art, the Museum of Incest or the essential Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals, the Arnolfini offers a playful insight into all these, and 40 or so other lesser-known artist-curated ‘museums’.




Film Troll Hunter


A spate of bear attacks in the spooky Norwegian forest leads some foolhardy film students to venture forth and film the bloody-pawed killers. Except of course (there’s a clue in the title) they ain’t bears. TROLL HUNTER SCAMPERS INTO CINEMAS ON FRI 9 SEPT. SEE WWW. VENUE.CO.UK FOR MORE DETAILS.

12 // SEPTEMBER 2011

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Music Kill it Kid They’re so hot right now – hangin’ with Jack White, signing a deal with EMI, cutting malevolent, bluesy new album ‘Feet Fall Heavy’ with starascendant producer Leo Abrahams. Bath’s most promising band? Whatever, they’re back, dirtier, grittier and better than ever. KILL IT KID LOUISIANA, BRISTOL, MON 19 SEPT. SEE THELOUISIANA.NET FFI.


8/24/2011 9:56:44 AM

Theatre Love Letters


Remember letters? Actual, hand-written letters, in little paper envelopes? <Sigh> Well, the fragile, forgotten art of letter-writing shines on in this bittersweet, Pulitzer Prize-nominated comedy. LOVE LETTERS RONDO, BATH, THUR 15-FRI 16 SEPT. SEE WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK FOR MORE.

4. Film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy It’s cross and double cross as Colin Firth, Gary Oldman and a host of other upstanding British actors recreate John Le Carré’s tense MI6 mole-hunt thriller. That’s mole as in double agent, not burrowing Talpidae. Obviously. TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY INFILTRATES THE BRITISH CINEMA SYSTEM FROM FRI 16 SEPT. SEE WWW. VENUE.CO.UK FOR MORE DETAILS.

Event Bristol Cycle Festival

Secret ride-in cinemas, cycle speed dating, the high-speed thrills of bike polo … the big BCF returns with a freewheeling week of rides, races, performances workshops, tours and talks – plus the UK’s biggest pedal-powered carnival, Carnivelo. Ride on! BRISTOL CYCLE FESTIVAL VARIOUS VENUES AROUND BRISTOL, SAT 17SUN 25 SEPT. SEE BRISTOLCYCLEFESTIVAL.COM FFI.

Event Serge Gainsbourg Lemon Incest Party Film Fire in Babylon


It’s cricket, but not as you know it: a gripping documentary focusing on the turbulent era of South African apartheid, race riots in England and civil unrest in the Caribbean, as the fearless West Indian cricket team struck a defiant blow at the forces of white prejudice and became world champions. FIRE IN BABYLON CUBE, BRISTOL THUR 8 SEPT. SEE WWW. CUBECINEMA.COM FFI.


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The latest in Ausform’s series of deliciously skewed theme evenings is all about suave womaniser Serge. Dress for a sultry 60s cocktail soirée and ready yourself for a feast of unlikely live music and performance pieces inspired by Gainsbourgian classics like ‘Je t’aime... moi non plus’. Orgasmic sighing optional. SERGE GAINSBOURG LEMON INCEST PARTY CUBE, BRISTOL, SAT 10 SEPT. SEE AUSFORM.POSTEROUS.COM/PAGES/EVENTS FOR TICKETS AND WWW.CUBECINEMA. COM FFI.

Music Black Lips


Film Jane Eyre

Mystery, horror and romance collide in a stately home creaking with secrets – Mia Wasikowska (you know, Alice out of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’) takes the lead role, with Michael Fassbender as the brooding Rochester and Dame Judi Dench adding her usual imperious turn as the housekeeper Mrs Fairfax. JANE EYRE FLINGS HER BONNET INTO CINEMAS ON FRI 9 SEPT. SEE WWW.VENUE. CO.UK FOR MORE DETAILS.


As their Mark Ronson-produced sixth album ‘Arabia Mountain’ burns holes in the blogosphere, these messy Atlantan garage bandits return for a flailing, reckless blast of rock ’n’ roll. BLACK LIPS FLEECE, BRISTOL, FRI 23 SEPT. SEE WWW.THEFLEECE.CO.UK FFI.

SEPTEMBER 2011 // 13

8/24/2011 9:57:21 AM

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The Interview Mark Thomas Stonings, arrests and way too much hummus: Mike White talks to the firebrand comic who hiked the entire length of the Israeli Separation Barrier. Additional research: Anna Behrmann.

The crowd don’t laugh about children having stones thrown at them on their way to school. They laugh at the situations I find myself in. They laugh at how I’m a grumpy, sour-faced bastard in the morning, and how I’m shocked into reality by the woman who walks those children to school. With two

hours spent on the subject of Israel and Palestine, I think that people not only have a right to experience my emotions, but that my stories can evoke emotions in them. I’m not preaching to the converted, and I don’t think that the left-wing have a monopoly on insight. I’ve been invited to perform the show at the UN, as well as at a synagogue in North London, before holding a discussion. The British police helped fund the trip. I was making a speech at the 2007 rally against the arms trade, and a policeman insisted on searching me. He wrote that I was “over-confident” as the reason why I was stopped and searched. We took it to the independent police complaints and – shock, horror – they agreed with us, said it was an illegal stop and search, and gave us compensation. We were repeatedly arrested by the Israeli soldiers. On one occasion I lost my temper. The soldiers said that they wanted to search everything in the van. All that was in the back was this guy’s laundry, and bags of clothes that had been donated to charity shops. We had to stop because I was getting so angry. Afterwards I said to our friend, “I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have behaved like that.” And he said, “No, it’s good that they see that their behaviour makes people angry.”

“Injustice has the seeds of its own destruction.” mark thomas venuemagazine

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I believe there is hope when the Israeli and Palestinian grassroots groups reach out to one another, making the journey the two nations need to be making across an emotionallyfraught landscape. The journey challenges who they are, and

Mark Thomas: taking a walk on the wild side

their presumptions about themselves. A number of exsoldiers on the Israeli side are doing amazing things, and Palestinian groups are also willing. All structures are temporary. Tourists walk along Hadrian’s Wall, or the Great Wall of China; barriers that centuries ago caused men suffering and pain. And they normally have kinds of signposts, and you get badges at the end for completing them. By walking across the Israeli barrier, I was treating it in the manner of something obsolete, something that it is yet to become. I love doing things which other people would not touch with a barge pole. There is no better way to understand the land than to walk across it. And there was a time when people from England went abroad to

PIC: Idil Sukan

There’s something intrinsically subversive about rambling. Walking along the wall separating Israel and Palestine was a very intense time; I made friendships which I will never lose, and saw things that completely turned my head. In my comedy, I want to show people the weirdness of our journey. You want people to experience the brutality of it. There’s no point going on a walk like this without people coming away having learnt something from it.

foreign places to be critical, to enquire, but also as an act of solidarity. When we went to Israel, we didn’t tell anyone we were coming; it wasn’t a highprofile event. We worked with NGOs, with grass roots, with communities; we did a hell of a lot of work ourselves. The Occupation has to end; the wall has to come down. I don’t know whether there should be a one-state or twostate solution. I don’t know whether Israel will actually succumb and change. I believe that international solidarity and boycotting are important. Whether it will happen now, I don’t know; whether it will happen in five years, I can’t tell either. The situation has to change; injustice has the seeds of its own destruction, and so it will change. I’m not sure how, but change will come.

SEPTEMBER 2011 // 15

8/24/2011 10:46:55 AM

Former narrow boat dweller Jim Edmiston watches the world go by on the Kennet and Avon canal.


on’t get me wrong. I love narrowboats. I lived on one for a while. Skinny icons of the English landscape. Like Morris Minors of the waterway system. Drifting along at the pace of an old dog with a bad leg. Wakened by swans tapping their beaks on the hull. Kingfishers like iridescent bullets. Willing hands to help with the lock gates. These are the delights of time spent on the Kennet and Avon. It has its ups and downs, however. I rolled out of bed one night to find my boat hanging by its mooring ropes at a very jaunty angle. The River Avon had emptied when some hyperactive floodcontrol gate opened and sent Bath water gurgling its way to Bristol. So life can be eventful. I can’t say it was quiet. People would shout: “Canal boat, eh!” On summer evenings, the karaoke boat went by and returned a couple of hours later utterly trousered. What a treat that was! I sold my Summer Island to a young couple with a baby. And off they chugged to London. I wasn’t so adventurous. Sainsbury’s was just round the bend in the river. That was far enough for me. But I still have a connection with the canal. It runs right by my allotment, so I often witness weekenders doing the getting-away-from-it-all thing. Why shouldn’t they have their fantasy of peace and quiet? But there are so many holidaymakers here, the seagulls think it’s the seaside. I stop troweling to watch a pirate float by. Pirate hat, eye-patch and wearing a kilt, bare-chested on the prow, his good eye peeled for locks up ahead. The first mate staggers along the roof of the boat, spilling his drink. Someone on the bank shouts out: “Avast there, me hearties!” Her companion adds: “A vast arse, me hearties!” Whoops of laughter follow and seven or eight repetitions of the phrase. “That’s you, that is, Kenny!” yell the pirate’s scurvy mates at the back, swigging back

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their dog-watch alcohol ration and waving their skull and cross-bones flags. They’re followed by an older Yorkshire couple. Derek is on the towpath with his windlass and cigarette. Doreen at the tiller is unhappy about steering her way into the lock alongside the pirates. “Do you trust me?” “Of course, I trust you.” “Are you sure, Derek?” “Doreen, you’re a natural. Of course, I trust you.” “If you say so, Derek.” “Just go left a bit, luv. Left hand down a bit. More, Doreen! More! More! Focken ’ell, Doreen!” There is a loud bang like the gong at the beginning of those J. Arthur Rank films as Doreen tries to enter the lock gates sideways. “Focken ’ell. Doreen!” “You said you trusted me.” Cutting right across this blissful, domestic scene, the strident tones of an east-coast American woman are hurled at me. “Vichyssoise! Right?” I’m not prepared. No bat. No catcher’s mitt. I shrug like a green-fingered idiot, stare at the earthy leeks in my hand and nod stupidly. Her boat, the Surrey Wangler, has Captain Beefheart blasting out of every nautical orifice. She ties up and waits for the lock to empty. A local man explains the genius of the lock system to an unwilling group of Japanese students and two demented Jack Russells. “This is closed. They open this one. Close it behind them. It fills up, if they’ve remembered to close that one. They open that one and out they go – a miracle of Victorian engineering.” “Hey, mom!” shouts the American woman. “You made it! Richard, get up here! Look, she made it.” Mom is pushing 80 as well as a shopping trolley laden with luggage. How far has the old dear come? Perhaps they gave her a head start at the staircase of locks at Devizes just to see if she could keep up. But maybe not, for the old woman, breathless but smiling, shouts back: “Helsinki! My God!”

Some Canadian cyclists pull up. Thankfully nowhere near as loud as their shorts. The narrowboat they’re admiring, the Northolt Flea, has a mini-allotment on the roof, solar panels, a windmill and twisted tree stumps passing for art. “Hey, Richard!” shouts you-know-who. “Look at this ’erb selection! Isn’t that dandy!” The young woman with the baby in her arms and her bearded partner nod benignly – no sign of the irrational grumpiness I’m feeling. But, then, I’m not part of the action, am I? This internationalism. In the space of 15 minutes, local Bath people, Yorkshire holidaymakers, Canadians, Americans, Japanese and representatives of the canine world have all rubbed along. These narrowboats haven’t provided an escape from the noise and pace of life. And Richard is now reversing into some overhanging branches – something is snapping. But, nonetheless, the world has come to them. And all at four miles an hour – tops.


8/24/2011 9:19:26 AM


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september 2011 // 17

8/24/2011 4:21:32 PM

The peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s party

BrisFest: lures in all sorts

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8/24/2011 8:37:43 PM

Crashed bomber planes, sunken ships and an elephant on the loose: Mike White listens in as BrisFest 2011 takes shape.


hat’s happening with the elephant?” asks BrisFest organiser Poppy Stephenson. “It’s still in Coventry,” reports a volunteer. “We need a lorry to go and get it. It’s life size: 13ft long, 10ft high, and weighs over a tonne. But don’t worry, it’ll be there.” There’s more to BrisFest than you might think. Not just the huge harbourside festival site, the after-parties, the hundreds of bands and DJs, the circus and all the rest – but the tiny details; fencing panels and forklifts, poster teams and policing. Above all, there’s a vast community- and arts-championing remit. Venue’s sitting in on a BrisFest planning meeting to find out how such a disparate and ambitious sprawl of ideas becomes a coherent, fully functioning reality. In a neat, air-conditioned office behind the Arnolfini, a dozen or so friendly twentysomethings are sat in a semi-circle around Poppy, who gently chairs proceedings with encouraging nods and a big smile. Poppy’s the only paid member of the team – everyone else is working for free. To her right, volunteer manager Alice taps away at a laptop, adding to the ever-growing list of things Poppy will have to do once the meeting ends. As each section leader reports back on progress, the scale of the undertaking becomes apparent: arranging the infrastructure and performers for nine different stages and ten nightclubs, organising street teams and coordinating online marketing, sourcing suitably weird walkabout performers, keeping the cabaret acts happy, sorting the sponsorship for the VIP area, haggling with the headline bands’ managers to get the best price… the list goes on and on. Despite the complexity of it all, a sense of calm confidence pervades. It’s all very ordered – one person speaks at a time; everyone knows what they’re doing. Say what you like about the pitfalls of collective decisionmaking, but this is impressive. Back in 2007, the Bristol rain hammered down and turned Ashton Court estate into a mud bath. Damon Albarn – booked to headline with The Good, The Bad and The Queen – got back on his tour bus and went home, and Ashton Court festival went bellyup. Determined not to let that be the end of Bristol’s long tradition of community festivalling, the


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Bristol Festival Community group formed a few months later and set about creating a new event for the people of Bristol, a “not-forprofit event, offering high-profile exposure to local talent as well as an accessible, affordable festival for all”. In this, they succeeded – by summer 2008, the festival was in full swing, relocated to the mud-free harbourside, with a budget of £100,000 and 8,000 people swarming through the gates each day. It’s grown ever since – this year’s committee is 90-strong, and as party time approaches, their ranks are swollen by 300 extra volunteers and 2,000 artists. The budget’s nearly a quarter of a million.

“There’ll be some armwrestling amongst the stage managers about who actually gets to play.” Poppy Stephenson, BrisFest Next year, Bristol’s by-the-people, for-thepeople festival will return to Ashton Court. Poppy and her colleagues will be examining the site during this year’s Balloon Fiesta weekend. “Just a walkabout recce,” she says, “to see how the site operates with a major event underway.” The BrisFest team are in discussion with Balloon Fiesta organisers Richmond Event Management and things are “looking very promising”. BrisFest have already put tickets for the 2012 event on sale, and will announce headliners before Christmas. There are still several hoops to jump through, not least “getting North Somerset Council onside”, and working out policing numbers and costs. But the talk at BrisFest HQ about the return of a proper job festival at Ashton Court is very much ‘how and when’, not ‘if’. In the meantime, it’s all systems go for 2011. Indeed, things are so much in-progress that, as we go to press, none of the big-name headliners are yet confirmed. Last-minute negotiations are ongoing – at the planning meeting a handful of names are bandied around – by the time your correspondent has typed

proceedings up, everything’s changed. So you’ll just have to check the BrisFest website nearer the time for the latest. As ever, there’s a strong emphasis on locally-sourced and up-and-coming talent, with hundreds of bands vying to fill out the non-headline spots. “There’ll be some arm-wrestling amongst the stage managers about who actually gets to play,” says Poppy, “or maybe thumb-war this year, just for a change.” There’s discussion of using quadrophonic speaker systems for some outdoor stages, offering better sound for the crowd, but less noise pollution for everyone else. There will be plenty of pyrotechnics – a sponsor has been found to supply the gas for various flamebelching structures around the site. Excited discussion ensues as to what form these might take. A stack of freshly-printed promo posters lies on the floor. “Take as many as you need,” says Poppy. “Stick them in your front window, in your car. Put them on boards on lampposts. Don’t blu-tac them by cashpoints – they’ll get taken down, and we can get done for littering. Posters on boards by the road are best, because the street cleaners are not legally allowed to take them down because we’re a charity.” This, their charity status, is something BrisFest could make more of. Its success as a provider of life skills and career development is considerable. Young offenders, people with learning difficulties and those struggling to find employment are all welcomed to help volunteer, and all those involved can take part in training courses, earn professional qualifications and gain first-hand experience to give them an edge in the job market. Does it really make a difference? “Yes, too much difference,” Poppy laughs. “We keep losing great volunteers because their BrisFest experience has landed them proper paid jobs!” Making the festival happen is a year-round job, and at every stage in the process, Bristol benefits. There’s the influx of cash from the festival weekend, the boost provided to local venues by the dozens of fundraiser nights, the exposure given to artists and performers, the profile-raising for Bristol as a destination city. The benevolent momentum of a band of optimists sharing pipe-dreams around a pub table has snowballed into a fully-fledged festival, built on cooperation and a bucket load of elbow-grease. Team BrisFest, we salute you.

SEPTEMBER 2011 // 19

8/24/2011 8:38:30 PM

xxx xxx

Pictured below: Buggsy, a graffer gets to work, The Dub Pistols and the weekend's curveball booking, Mr Motivator

bring it on...


A whistle-stop tour of this year’s BrisFest fun

rashed WW2 bomber planes, sunken ships, tropical island bars – even that lifesize Indian elephant that's wandered in via Coventry… BrisFest 2011’s theme is 'Lost in the Bermuda Triangle'. Dress accordingly – and watch out for the flame throwers. “We thought we’d say goodbye to the dockside location with a bang!” says Poppy. As next year’s fest will be nuzzling the grassy bosom of Ashton Court, this is the last year on the waterside concrete. So what will the lucky ticket holders get for their measly £16? Plenty, it seems. Aim for the devil’s saucepan, jump through the hoop of fire or drop into the vortex black hole – these being some of the many puttable challenges offered by The World’s Best Portable Crazy Golf course, arriving at BrisFest after a national tour. Head out onto the waters on a beer-soaked boat party on the elegant 1920s river cruiser Tower Belle, or the Flower of Bristol with its panelled salon – though the hottest boaty ticket is surely Sunday’s sunset cruise on creaking timber replica ship The Matthew. Gawp at fire shows, circus stunts and titillating burlesque beauties in the cabaret tent, sup a rum in the sleek chrome Sailor Jerry Airstream bar. For those that like noise, the Gryphon tent will deliver a behemoth bill of heaviosity from the hardest hardcore to the pithiest punk – bands confirmed as we go to press include blastbeat monsters Honour Your Pain, post-hardcore masochists Hold To This and howling prog-thrashers Allure in Grace. If quiet is more your thing, guide your ears to the late-night Silent

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Rave, the runaway hit of last year’s fun. As our man on the scene reported at the time, “those in the know are queuing at an anonymous striplit kiosk, donning chunky headphones and gleefully bouncing into the crowd to rhythms unheard… There’s all the familiar fun to be had: removing your cans and listening to everyone else howling unselfconsciously along; flipping between channels and trying to guess what everyone else is dancing to. There’s dubstep and quickstep, psytrance and soul. It’s Busta/flip/Bee Gees/flip/Boney M.” Rave on Avon – the many-headed club monster that unites ten nightclubs – will return on the Saturday night (see Clubs from p.61 for more on that), with a launch party on Friday called Rave on Avon Underground, in a secret location from 10pm-4am – Venue’s had a headsup on where this’ll be, but we’re not telling you. Clues we are allowed to share are that it contains a bank vault, two stages and plenty of nooks and crannies for unexpected goingson. There’ll be a second Underground party on Saturday night too. The boys from Weapon of Choice gallery are programming a stage with a suitably beaty arsenal of acts, including (but far from limited to): Engine Earz Experiment (“Massive Attack for the dubstep generation”), Dub Pistols (“chewing up hip-hop, dub, techno, ska and punk and spitting them out in a renegade futuristic skank”), St Pauls’ aspiring rhymeslinger Buggsy and drum ’n’ bass pioneer DJ Die. The main stage is once again called the Mr Wolf's stage, curated as it is by the excellent noodle-peddling gig venue of the same name. Highlights confirmed as we go to press include live techno party

champs Million Way, big band breakbeat wonders Dub Mafia, frazzled psych dreamers Ouija Birds and even a work-out performance from Mr Motivator (can it be true?). There will be talks from music industry insiders and a chance for aspiring musicians to play their demos to professionals in the biz and get some professional feedback and advice. Make time for a session in the RFID (the Recursive Function Interactive Dome to its mum), a giant dance hemisphere with 360° projections swirling on all sides – stand dead centre and look straight up for best results. There will be interactive art installations dotted around the site, stalls and games, and a shade-dappled garden area replete with campfire for late-night singalongs. Though next year’s BrisFest’s will be in actual fields, in the meantime they’ll soften and greenify the amphitheatre’s unforgiving concrete expanses with a huge temporary lawn on which to laze. Please do walk on the grass. BRISFEST HARBOURSIDE, BRISTOL, FRI 23-SUN 25 SEPT. DAY TICKETS FRI/SAT/SUN £8.11, WEEKEND TICKETS (ENTRY ON ALL 3 DAYS) £16.22, RAVE ON AVON £12.17, WEEKEND+RAVE ON AVON, £22.31. GROUP & VIP DEALS ALSO AVAILABLE. FFI: WWW. BRISFEST CO.UK


8/24/2011 7:30:07 PM

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8/24/2011 9:22:17 AM

From the race tracks of small-town America to the mean streets of Bristol, roller derby has injected a hit of attitude into the city’s sports scene with, as Gina Dyer discovers, its own distinctive retro-punk style.


ruises” is, apparently, the key accessory for the derby girl look and after watching the game you can see why. Roller derby is a tough, all-female contact sport and not for your average wallflower: the girls skate around an elliptical track in packs trying to prevent the ‘jammer’ (wearing a star-marked helmet) from each team passing through. On the track the girls wear hotpants, kneehigh socks and rocker T-shirts, accessorised with brightly coloured hair and layers of bangles, tattoos and piercings (under the mandatory safety helmet and shin pads). The look is fun and fierce – they clearly mean business. Off the track, the dress code is somewhat girlier. A-line skirts and pretty floral dresses top the skater girl style parade. Attention to detail is key – flawlessly applied red lipstick and several ‘victory roll’ hairstyles. It’s not a lowmaintenance look by any standard. Many of the girls are inspired by 1950s pin-ups and rockabilly styles, but their way of wearing it is joyful, camp and kitsch. It’s Veronica Lake at G.A.Y, or Marilyn Monroe at Glastonbury: an odd combination but young and feminine at its heart.

Derby girls have an alter-ego that they use on the track – an excuse to dress up (and behave?) very differently to how they might in ‘real’ life. 1940s stylista Brooke Nolan becomes the sultry Brookiller de Ville on the track; Sarah transforms into rock chick CandyKazi; and Carly Robertson turns into the wicked Carmen Electro. “I’d describe the look as kick-ass feminist style,” grins Sarah, grabbing a cupcake during half time. That’s another important thing about derby – there’s always cakes. It’s not a place for skinny minnies. Curves are encouraged.

“I’d describe the look as kick-ass feminist style.” Sarah, aka CandyKazi “Derby girls are an eclectic bunch,” explains Brooke. “Some of the girls are sporty, others like more feminine 1950s styles, some have piercings, and some are more rockabilly. It doesn’t matter which direction you take it – the scene is very accepting and embraces all kinds of looks.” Roller derby is a visually exhilarating sport, not least for the range of creative looks on display. It makes you want to get your skates on and get involved. After all, you suspect Marilyn would have had a damn good time if she had been to Glastonbury. GINA DYER IS EDITOR OF THE FABULOUS MYSTREETCHIC.COM, A BRISTOL-BASED ONLINE FASHION COMMUNITY COVERING ALL THE LATEST STYLES FROM YOUR CITY.


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SEPTEMBER 2011 // 23

8/24/2011 9:23:00 AM

Open all to … and eco-homes and caves and stuff. Yep, it's that time of year again. The Day on which Doors Open. Eugene Byrne, our man who is himself a Grade II-listed monument, gets all excited, and does something silly with a map on the internet.


eptember 10 sees Bristol’s annual Doors Open Day taking place once more. That’s the day on which all manner of places in and around Bristol which aren’t normally open to the public throw open their portals to history buffs, architecture enthusiasts and those of us who are just plain curious. If you’ve done DoD before, you’ll already know that you need to set the day aside to visit some of the places you’ve not seen yet. If you’ve not done DoD before, take it from us that this is a great way of getting to know the old town and some of its secret corners. And it won’t cost you a bean. Over 60 places are taking part this year, ranging from big posh old houses like Kingsweston House through to a rather smaller eco-home. There are also churches, offices and the ever-popular remains of

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the Roman villa at Kings Weston. The place everyone wants to go, of course, is Redcliffe Caves. The other place everyone wants to see, the complex of tunnels in the bowels of Temple Meads Station, is by bookable guided tour only, and it’s all been booked up this year. Better luck in 2012, eh? There’s quite a good collection of new places open this year. There are tours behind the scenes at M Shed, likewise the Colston Hall and the new Brunel Institute at the ss Great Britain, where they have lots of Brunel’s papers. The new Bristol Heart Institute is also offering tours of its operating theatres (emergencies permitting!). It’s the 40th birthday of Don Cameron’s balloon factory this year, so they’re offering guided tours around their vast Bedminster site. Another birthday for 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the Julian House night shelter in St Pauls. DoD organiser Penny Mellor says: “They’re doing tours, so that this year it means Doors Open Day ranges


Venue’s Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Bristol Doors Open Day Just for funzies, and for the sake of doing something a little different, we thought we’d muck around on the internet a bit for Bristol Doors Open Day. We have made a special Google Map (, just for you, dear reader, showing you exactly where all the Doors Open Day places are. Now


8/24/2011 7:58:46 PM

towers Heritage Open Days 2011

Open opportunities: Bristol Heart Institute, Cameron Balloons in Bedminster, Bath’s Cleveland Pleasure Baths, Redcliffe Caves and John Wesley’s Chapel in Bristol

you can effortlessly plan your DoD itinerary using the internet. Better still, you can, like, consult it on your mobile device on the day, whether it be an iPad, you tragic poseur, or a smartphone. Venue’s Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide will tell you a wee bit about each of the locations, and will occasionally lapse into being a bit disrespectful. Oh, but it gets better though. With most of the city centre locations, we also point you to something else that’s interesting close by each place. So, for example, you visit a church, and Venue’s Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide will direct you towards something interesting nearby. It might be the alleged burial place of dozens of plague victims, or it might be the famous park bench with its own postcode, or it might be a tiny little brass plaque in the pavement commemorating … Well, it’s so small it’s quite difficult to read. We couldn’t do this with all of the place as the ones further out from the city centre


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don’t always have anything that interesting near them. Like Kings Weston Roman Villa frinstance. It’s inside a shed inside a wire fence in the middle of a housing estate. But with most of the other places we’ll direct you towards a few other items of historical, architectural, sexual interest. Obvs if you’re some sort of local history smart-Alec you’ll already know some of it, but otherwise we categorically guarantee that at some point when using this map you will exclaim: “Coo! That’s well-interesting! I never knew that!” If you do not find yourself uttering this exclamation, the management promise to refund the price you paid for this here magazine.

Go to...

// Just because you don’t live in Bristol is no reason to miss out on all the fun. Not only can you come to Bristol on 10 September, but you can also take advantage of Heritage Open Days in your own area. Heritage Open Days are what they have everywhere else in England apart from Bristol. They run from 8-11 September this year. It’s the same idea as Bristol; places that aren’t normally open to the public (or which usually charge admission) let people in for a nose round free of charge. Quite often they put on other things at the same time, such as guided tours, performances and tea and cake as well. Last year the event attracted around 1 million visitors across the country. There are quite a few places in and around Bath. So for instance you can get to go through the tunnels under the Roman Baths, or nose around No. 4, The Circus and see its restored Georgian garden. There’s also the Cleveland Baths, the Masonic Hall and quite a few more. If you’re in Keynsham, don’t miss the May Gurney recycling depot. Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive, English Heritage, which helps organise it all says: “This is a chance to explore not just country houses but the history and culture of everything from Buddhist temples and Masonic lodges to mines, farms, pubs and factories. “It is organised by local people who dedicate their spare time to opening properties and staging activities, and it is their knowledge and enthusiasm that makes Heritage Open Days happen.” For full details of what’s opening when and where see www.

SEPTEMBER 2011 // 25

8/24/2011 7:59:04 PM

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8/24/2011 4:22:55 PM

Comedian/actor Les Dennis is pitching up at the Tobacco Factory for the world premiere of ‘Jigsy’, a one-man show about a struggling Scouse entertainer. Steve Wright puts the questions.


epending on your age, you'll know Les Dennis either as the engaging host, for some 15 years (1987-2002), of ITV's 'Family Fortunes'; or as the resting actor/ presenter who had an emotional meltdown, after his split from actress Amanda Holden, on 2002's 'Celebrity Big Brother'. Dennis's ‘CBB’ appearance may have been a career nadir – but it was also the start of an upturn, as within a couple of years he found himself appearing, to widespread acclaim, as an emotionally imploding actor in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's 'Extras'. Before ‘Fortunes’, Dennis partnered the late, great impressionist Dustin Gee on ‘The Laughter Show’ in the mid 1980s. Over the past decade, meanwhile, he’s made dozens of forays into 'serious acting', including 'Chicago' and 'Me and My Girl' on the West End and Yasmina Reza's 'Art'. Brought up in Liverpool, Dennis started working the local comedy circuit while still at school. That experience should stand him in good stead for his latest role as a fading, frazzled Scouse comedian in 'Jigsy', by Bristol playwright Tony Staveacre. What made you want to take on the role of Jigsy? When Tony sent me the script, I found it funny, interesting – and about a world that I knew. I did the Liverpool working men's club circuit when I started out in the late 60s and early 70s. And as well as being a story of a journeyman comedian who never made it, 'Jigsy' is also about the social history of Liverpool at that time. Jigsy reminisces about working on the docks and becoming, against all the odds, a stand-up comic, about making his living from it and about fighting the bottle.


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Those working men's clubs must have been a tough initiation for you? You're fighting a room full of people who are there to see each other, and for the booze and the bingo, rather than listen to you. I was 17 when I started, so people gave me a chance – “aah, he's only a lad” – but once you've been round the circuit a few times they can change. I got a reputation for being good at staying on – they nicknamed me Bronco. My thinking was, “why would I just walk off and forfeit my fee?” I'd just stay there and look at the clock. You moved away from that world: Jigsy never did. What's the difference? I think it's wanting to explore, to go beyond that world – and to improve your set, to educate yourself by putting yourself up in front of different audiences. Some of the Liverpool comics of that time were up there with the best – Eddie Flanagan was a match for Tommy Cooper. But they never quite made it. Maybe they were content with their lives, not that curious about the wider world. Some of them did it for the beer money – the clubs were their own environment anyway, so getting up on stage and getting beer money was enough for them. You've discovered 'serious' acting of late. Are you drawn to certain characters? I enjoy playing the wounded little man – I'd love to have a crack at Willy Loman in 'Death of a Salesman', for example. One reviewer wrote that I had a world-weary, lived-in face, which I loved – because as a young comic, I seemed too freshfaced to talk with experience about the world. You’ve talked before about how ‘Extras’ changed your life… When ‘Family Fortunes’ ended, suddenly the

phone wasn’t ringing, and I made the decision to go into the ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ house, thinking it might regenerate my career. It was the biggest mistake I ever made in some ways – but then, two years later, Ricky Gervais knocked on my door and said, “Do you fancy playing a twisted, demented version of yourself?” It was just what I needed: for people to see me in a different way, to see that I had a sense of humour about my troubles, instead of just being labelled ‘Les Miserable’.

“I enjoy playing the wounded little man.” LES DENNIS You and Dustin Gee made a great double act on ‘The Laughter Show’... We were only together for three or four years, but I think we made a massive impression on the country. Dustin left me such a legacy – I became successful almost on his coat-tails, he was so brilliant. A waste of a great talent and of a lovely man. We were on telly together for the very show when Tommy Cooper died on live TV: we were the next act on, we didn’t think we’d be going on but the paramedics came, then there was a commercial break and then we were on. Dustin said afterwards, “Live on stage, that's the way I'd like to go.” A year later he had a heart attack on stage while we were in panto… be careful what you wish for. LES DENNIS IS ‘JIGSY’ AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM 20-21 SEPT. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM

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8/24/2011 4:24:51 PM

The Famous


A new group portrait of Bristolians who put the city on the map is being unveiled at Arnos Vale Cemetery. Eugene Byrne gets a sneak preview and reveals Venue’s own version of ‘Some Who Have Made Bristol Famous’.


ack in 1930, an enormous painting called ‘Some Who Have Made Bristol Famous’ was donated to the city by a mystery benefactor. The painter was Ernest Board, an accomplished artist with lots of Bristol connections. You may also be familiar with his slightly better-known painting of Cabot setting off on his voyage, which hung beside ‘Some Who Have Made Bristol Famous’ for years in the City Museum lobby. It’s interesting as a view of the sort of people who were thought to be important figures in Bristol’s history in 1930. Thomas Chatterton (tragic boy poet), John Cabot (explorer), WG Grace (beardy cricketer) and Edward Colston (utter bastard) are in it, along with a load of people that even local history enthusiasts have never heard of (Sir Ferdinando Gorges? Sir William Draper?). There are also four members of the Wills tobacco dynasty, one of whom (we’re

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just guessing here) was probably the mystery benefactor who paid for Board’s epic daub. To look at it nowadays is to play Spot the Glaring Omission. No Brunel. No trades unionists, socialists or suffragettes. We’re talking mostly nobility, merchants, soldiers, churchmen. Oldschool great and good. So a few years ago, Bristol Cultural Development Partnership thought it might be a nice idea to produce an update of the picture. Painted by artist Simon Gurr, the new version is due to be unveiled at Arnos Vale cemetery on 25 September. September 25 is the day Arnos Vale annually hosts a commemoration of Indian philosopher Raja Rammohun Roy (who’s buried there), and they thought this would be a good date to reveal the picture too, as he’s featured in it. Victorian social reformer Mary Carpenter, who’s also buried at Arnos Vale, features in both paintings. Juliette Randall, Arnos Vale chief executive, says: “It will be displayed in our fully restored non-conformist chapel known as the Speilman Centre. This location is ideal as it is our education

centre so children and young people visiting from all over Bristol and surrounding areas will be able to view the painting.” The new picture includes Bristol icons as well as people (and two animals). One of the major challenges, says Gurr, was “making a painting that would engage a 21st-century audience, as opposed to the people who would have seen Ernest Board’s original painting when it was unveiled in the 1930s. The approach I took was to find ways of introducing a sense of movement and animation to the painting, trying to avoid the classic stillness of a posed group portrait.” His favourite subjects? “Paul Dirac had a wonderful face, a gift to any artist. Johnny Morris was a childhood hero, so it was fun to paint him. But I probably got the most pleasure from putting Beryl Cook in the painting. I would love to have seen her version of this group.” FOR DETAILS ON THE PICTURE’S UNVEILING AND DISPLAY AT ARNOS VALE, SEE WWW.ARNOSVALE.ORG. UK; SIMON GURR’S BLOG ABOUT THE PAINTING IS AT BRISTOLFAMOUS.WORDPRESS.COM/


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Ernest Boar d's 1930 orig inal

version and, above, Simon Gurr's upda ted version


People who are not in the Board original

Not only does the new painting feature lots of famous folk with Bristol connections, but it also has lots of Bristol icons. So just for funzies, here is a list of people and things represented or hinted at in the picture. See how many of them you can identify. Hint: many (but not all) of the names next to one another in this list are next to one another in the picture … But to check your answers you’ll just have to go and visit the picture in situ at Arnos Vale on or after 25 Sept. Ain’t we stinkers?

Sir Allen Lane (1902-1970) Founder of Penguin Books. Dame Monica Wills (1861-1931) Bristol philanthropist. Sir George Oatley (1863-1950) Architect who built Bristol Uni’s Wills Building, and lots more local things. Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) Nobel-Prize-winning chemist and Bristol Uni chancellor. Paul Dirac (1902-1984) Bristol-born Nobel-Prizewinning physicist. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) World’s first woman doctor, born in Bristol. Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898) Bristol-born Liberal MP and campaigner for safety at sea. George Ferguson Bristol architect, former RIBA president, Tobacco Factory bloke, red trousers etc. Don Cameron Hot air balloon manufacturer. John Avery Chairman of Avery’s Wine Merchants. Tony Benn Former MP for Bristol South East. Paul Stephenson Campaigner who led the Bristol bus boycott in the early 1960s. Sir Tom Stoppard Playwright who started out as journalist in Bristol.

People who are also in Ernest Board’s original Thomas Chatterton, Joseph Fry, John Wesley, Edmund Burke, Hannah More, Edward Colston, John Cabot, WG Grace, Mary Carpenter. Artists and artistes Massive Attack, Roni Size, Tricky, Goldfrapp, Portishead, Banksy. Icons Wallace & Gromit, Concorde, Harvey’s Bristol Cream, Fry’s Five Boys, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol Fighter, Bristol Coat of Arms, ss Great Britain, Wills Woodbines, Bristol Cars, hot air balloons.


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John Grimshaw Founder and chief executive of Sustrans. Ernest Bevin (1881-1951) Trade unionist and politician. Alfred the Gorilla (?-1948) Popular local gorilla. Archibald E Russell (1904-1995) Aerospace engineer. Sir George White (1854-1916) Transport entrepreneur, founder of Bristol Aeroplane Company. Sir Stanley White (1882-1964) Managing director of Bristol Aeroplane Company. Frank Barnwell (1880-1938) Aeronautical engineer. Cary Grant (1904-1986) Bristol-born Hollywood legend. John Atyeo (1932-1993) Footballing hero who refused lucrative offers, preferring to stay with Bristol City. William Friese-Greene (1855-1921) Pioneer of cinematography. Johnny Morris (1916-1999) ‘Animal Magic’ TV presenter. Sir William Slim (1891-1970) Commander of 14th Army in Burma, WW2. Rajah Rammohun Roy (1772-1833) Indian political and religious thinker who died in Bristol. Emma Saunders (1841-1927) Known as The Railwaymen’s Friend for her charitable work. John James (1906-1996) Philanthropist voted Bristol Evening Post’s Bristolian of the (20th) Century in 1999. Beryl Cook (1926-2008) Popular artist.

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and now...the

venue version


few years ago, when the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership secured the sponsorship from some generous individuals to produce an updated version of the painting, they put out a big appeal for suggestions in the local media. There were over 500 nominations from Evening Post readers alone. Please don’t ask how many suggestions Venue readers made. It was from these that the final list for the new painting was made. Anyway, with the greatest possible respect to old and modern versions, we at Venue thought we’d have a go at making one of our own. We can’t afford any fancy artists, but we do have scissors and gum and a photograph of the 1930 version.

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From here, we commissioned a highpowered committee of expert historians and local commentators who deliberated for months as to who should be included. Ha-ha! Just kidding! The list was made by an overworked hack toiling alone in the office in August while everyone else was off having fun on their holidays. It was decided to exclude anyone who’s in either of the proper paintings. Also, we figured it would only be fair to bring in Bath as well, since in the coming decades Bath is fated to become a suburb of Bristol anyway, connected umbilically to the mother city by a seamless ribbon of tasteless housing and bendy buses. And so, Venue magazine proudly unveils its epic historic piece of art:


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SOME WHAT’S MADE BRISTOLANDBATH FAMOUS, INNIT 1. Ken Loach Leftie film-maker, Bath resident and Bath City FC’s most famous supporter. 2. William Herschel (1738-1822) Lived in Bath when he discovered Uranus. Not mine. Yours. 3. Fred Wedlock (1942-2010) Entertainer and professional Bristolian. ‘The Oldest Swinger in Town’ doesn’t sound like satire any more. 4. Bill Bailey Keynsham’s most famous ex-resident. He also speaks fluent Klingon. No, really. 5. Arnold Ridley Bath-born playwright, genuine WW1 war hero, achieved immortality as incontinent Private Godfrey in ‘Dad’s Army’. 6. Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare Novelist and former Tory Party vice-chair. Also perjurer, Bristol Rovers fan and murderer of the English language. There’s nothing in the rules about us having to be proud of everyone in our picture. 7. Darth Vader Actor Dave Prowse is from Bristol you know. 8. Gary Glitter From national treasure to celebrity nonce in the space of a single visit to the Cribbs Causeway branch of PC World. 9. Jacob Rees-Mogg Tory MP for North East Somerset. The Times once called him “David Cameron’s worst nightmare”. If you don’t know why, ask the internet. 10. Jane Couch Woman boxer, famously campaigned for the right to fight men. 11. Professor Jean Golding Started the Children of the Nineties project, collecting health statistics on thousands of kids for medical research that’s already saved countless lives. 12.Chris Chalkley Unofficial spokesman for Stokes Croft, the art, the cultural happenings etc. 13. Justin Lee Collins Funny bloke on the telly. 14. Nicolas Cage Lived in Bath for a while. See also Depp, Johnny. 15. Prof Colin Pillinger Failed to put us on Mars, but we don’t mind. Only famous science boffin to talk with Bristol accent. 16. Charlie from ‘Casualty’ Nuff said. 17. Steve Merchant Did we ever tell you that he used to work for Venue? 18. Vicky Pollard Comedian Matt Lucas went to Bristol University, where he presumably learned how to laugh at local people from his posho student mates. 19. Julie Burchill Gobby proletarian. 20. Angela Carter (1940-1992) Right important feminist/novelist, lived in Bristol for most of 1960s. 21. A Pavement Cyclist See 6 above. 22. Captain Picard Celebrity slaphead Patrick Stewart went to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. 23. Sir John Harington (1560-1612) Elizabethan courtier and poet. Invented and installed the world’s first proper toilet at his home at Kelston Manor, near Bath. 24. Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia Driven from his country by Mussolini, lived in exile in Bath 1936-41. 25. Peter Gabriel Rock legend, only with better personality than Van Morrison (36). 26. Harry Patch (1898-2009) Last surviving soldier to have fought in WW1 and major celebrity in later life, saying no war was worth it. 27. Keith Floyd (1943-2009) TV chef and celebrity drunk started his career in Bristol. 28. William Grey Walter (1910-1977) Americanborn neurologist, socialist and robotics pioneer. Laid the foundations for Bristol’s pre-eminence both in neurology and robots. 29. Damien Hirst Bristol-born pickled shark artist. 30. Cathy Barry Porn megastar and, since she was in


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‘Skins’, serious actress, too. 31. Chris Morris Elusive satirist, Bristol Uni and Radio Bristol alumnus. ‘The Day Today’, ‘Four Lions’, ‘Brass Eye’. Also here to represent Bristol and Bath’s large demographic of Nathan Barleys. 32. Professor Joe McGeehan Bristol Uni physicist who invented the mobile phone. Well, sort of. Thx Joe lol. 33. Walter Sickert (1860-1942) Dead famous and important painter who lived (and died) in Bath. Some people, notably American crime writer Patricia Cornwell, claim he was also Jack the Ripper. Most experts consider this to be bollocks. 34. The Venue Editor Because we can! 35. Jacqueline Wilson Bath-born children’s author, tackles difficult issues, tries to reply to every single fan letter. Thoroughly good egg. 36. Van Morrison Bath resident, rock legend. I wouldn’t pay a hundred quid to see him, mind. 37. Jane Austen (1775-1817) Lived in Bath. Hated Bath. 38. Ian Holloway Footballer and manager. Just ask the internet for some of his quotes to get the measure of his true Bristolian awesomeness. 39. Long John Silver He’s a fictional character, ye lubbers! Long John and his parrot Cap’n Flint are as bogus as a wooden doubloon, belike. But he’s why everyone knows that pirates talk with Bristol accents, yarr, avast (etc). 40. The Feral Chicken Legendary creature, like the unicorn or the phoenix, variously sighted at different times living wild on the streets of Southville, Totterdown and Knowle. There was probably more than one. THOSE WE DIDNT HAVE ROOM FOR... Richard Ameryke (14-something-or-other to 15something-or-other) Bristol merchant and customs collector in the late 1400s who paid Cabot an annual pension on behalf of King Henry VII for discovering a new continent. Which was named after Ameryke. Obviously. Billy Butlin (1899-1980) Spent his childhood in Bedminster, went on to invent holiday camps. Robinson Crusoe Modelled on Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned on a Pacific Island in the early 1700s where his main sources of food, clothing and indeed companionship were all goats. Rescued by Bristol sailors, he allegedly used to walk round Queen Square in his goat-skins. Amelia Edwards (1831-1892) Pioneering female travel writer and Egyptologist. Edith Garrud (1872-1971) Bath-born women’s rights campaigner and martial artist. She taught judo to suffragettes so’s they could defend meetings and escape arrest. How cool is that? Seriously, Bath people, you want to make a statue of her, you do. Francis Greenway (1777-1837) The only forger ever to be honoured by appearing on a banknote, Greenway was a Bristol architect sentenced to be transported to Australia for forging legal documents. In Australia he designed many of the earliest buildings in New South Wales and so his portrait was on the Australian $10 bill in the 1960s and 70s. William Herapath (1796-1868) Bristol chemist and medical man. He solved a murder mystery by having the victim exhumed and proving she’d been poisoned with arsenic, giving him a strong claim to have been the world’s first forensic scientist. Which is pretty cool, no? A £300-an-hour Consultant Where would Bristol City Council be without consultants? They help councillors kick difficult decisions into the long grass and council officers cover their arses. Consultants, we salute you!

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Newshound GoING UP

THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF LAST MONTH...(and some other stuff) //

Hoody, hoody, dumb, dumb


uch of the disturbances and looting across England in August were, it’s conventionally said, copycat affairs. This is certainly true in the case of what are almost certainly the dumbest would-be looters of all. A group of five youngsters, with their hoods up and armed with bricks, assembled outside the Tesco Express store in Calne, Wiltshire on the night of Tuesday 9 August, and proceeded to try and smash their way in. But as one newspaper report put it, they hadn’t really done their homework. They hadn’t quite grasped the fact that the hoodies they’d seen on telly smashing shop windows were doing so because the shops were closed. The Calne Tesco Express, on the other hand, was still very much open,


and as the five would-be looters were banging away at the plate glass, bemused Tesco shoppers were coming and going through the shop doors. The window cracked, but had not broken by the time the police were approaching and the miscreants legged it. In a triumph of modern intelligence-led detective work, the police reviewed the CCTV footage and


Cost of urgent repair works to the tower, since it was closed in November 2007.


Original cost of building whole tower in Victorian money. Enough to conquer a small African country and still have change for a fish supper.

-... .-. .. ... - --- .-.. 

That’s BRISTOL in Morse code, that is. Years ago, it used to be flashed from the tower by a beacon.


Letter carved on each side, adding up to 400 in Roman numerals, marking the fact it was built 400 years after Cabot’s voyage.

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then went onto Facebook to find out who’d been arranging to redistribute the wealth of the Calne Tesco. A police spokeswoman later said: “We can confirm that five people, all from Calne, were arrested in connection with public order offences. They were aged 17, 19, 19, 20 and 21. “They have now all been released on police bail, which they will have to answer to at the end of next month.”


Number of foots high it is.


Number of steps in its spiral staircase (we think).

Spitting contests

Can now be resumed by those at the top, while those below may now once more sing ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and perform the appropriate dance moves. All is well with the world once more.

Everyone’s favourite British mammal... Otters have been making a big comeback on Britain’s waterways in recent years, thanks partly to conservation efforts and pesticide bans, but mostly to the destruction of old mining and manufacturing industries. Now they’re even in Bristol’s Floating Harbour! They’ve been filmed by a hidden camera ( Council conservation officers plan to ensure they’re protected from development work and see the Harbour (which now supports healthy populations of roach, bream and perch) is kept nice and clean. Everyone’s favourite local Tory toff... North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (him again!) was last month reportedly looking into how he could close down a spoof Twitter account. The bogus Mogg apparently crossed the line when he claimed his labrador had killed a bird, thus attracting the idiot end of the press. The real Mogg doesn’t own a labrador, and told the Bath Chronicle he wouldn’t use Twitter even if you paid him. “I am quite capable of being silly without other people saying silly things for me,” said the MP with the 80-year-old mind and the 40-year-old body.



8/24/2011 7:53:34 PM

email web

Say what? //Round

“Good morning and welcome to Time to Get Your Arse Out of Bed, Bristol, broadcasting live from 15 Alderman Bung Crescent, Brislington. In a minute we’ll be talking about people cycling on pavements. Later the Great Debate – should we ask Banksy to re-decorate the Council Chamber? Text or email your views! But first, a short break. Don’t go away now!” I’m going to regret asking this, but why are you sitting on the sofa with a painful-looking rictus of a grin on your face, filming yourself with your phone?

oily Tory bloke, cut arts funding to buggery, Cockney rhyming slang name. Jeremy Hunt? That’s it. He’s a right Jeremy Hunt, nicking £40m of BBC licence fee money for this plan. So I thought, why not have a go? How are we meant to run a TV station from home?

We would be cutting corners, I admit. I’m sure none of the other local TV would ever dream of serving up warmed-over press releases as news ... ... OK, I think the ironic pause was long enough now. But surely you’re not serious?

I am. Remember all those local radio licences all over Britain in the 1980s and 90s? You only need an hour’s original news content each Local people get together, promise great music, real day. You and me can be on commitment to the local the sofa, and we can get area blah-blah, and then sell media studies interns to work for free as our roving out to media conglomerates reporters. I’ll put a webcam who fill the airwaves with I’m rehearsing for our bid. moronic phone-in shows and in my radio-controlled “Our bid” for what? bland chart music? model Spitfire to do the Ah, so we get the licence, then traffic reports and live The new local TV sell out to some big newspaper, aerial coverage of riots. channel for Bristol. The radio or TV corporation as soon For most of the news we’ll government wants people just re-write press releases as it’s decent? to run ultra-local channels from the city council, the all over the country. There universities and the police. In the future, we will be should be one for Bristol by What?! You can’t re-hash famous for 15 minutes. 2015 or sooner. Wossname public sector spin and pretend Hopefully less than 15 said so, Culture Secretary, minutes, actually. it’s news!


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these parts // You probably walk past it every day... No. 23 Clifton Suspension Bridge // Never mind the history. Let’s just talk about stunts. Before the bridge was completed, Brunel had put an iron bar across the Gorge for people and materials to be moved from one side to another in a basket suspended from the bar on pulleys. As the bridge remained incomplete for years this was a popular white-knuckle ride. A pair of Victorian newlyweds got stuck in the middle for several hours. The first proper modern bungee-jump in the world took place here on 1 April 1979, performed by members of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club (footage here: They were apparently inspired by Pacific Islanders jumping off trees with vines tied to their ankles. In 2004 a 22-year-old man ended up in hospital with serious burns after deliberately setting himself alight after bungee-jumping off the bridge. His plan had been to cut the rope and fall into the water to douse the flames, but apparently his knife broke. Jumping off the bridge is, like, totally illegal. So don’t do it. Several people have flown aeroplanes under it. This was safe enough in the days of stringbag biplanes which couldn’t go very fast. During the Second World War three Spitfires flew under it, one piloted by an American woman named Ann Wood. When the pilot of a de Havilland Vampire jet attempted it in 1957 he crashed into the side of the Gorge and died. Best bridge stunt ever? In 1896 a music-hall juggler named Zanetto stood beneath the bridge with a fork in his mouth while an assistant up above dropped turnips on him. He failed to catch the first four because the wind carried them off-course, but succeeded on the fifth attempt, to the great approval of the 5,000-strong crowd. A collection among the crowd raised a tidy sum for the Children’s Hospital.

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//The mists of time// Quick! Get in! I know how to hotwire this thing! Let’s joyride back in the Venue time machine to exactly 10 years ago, when we all had money, a bright future and better fashion sense. Here’s what was going down in Venue in September of 2001. // I SAW YOU at O’Neils being escorted out of the ladies’ loo for being caught shagging. I was the girl following you out. Same time next week? ... “DVD is now the fastest growing


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The News, Digested

Riots… Council cut-backs... Olympic torch… Goodbye ‘Casualty’… // ‘Casualty’, the world’s longestrunning TV hospital drama, ceased filming in Bristol last month after 25 years. Production will now be moved to Cardiff. Items of memorabilia from the show were auctioned in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital.

// As of late August, Avon and Somerset Police had made 53 arrests in connection with disturbances in Bristol, and 23 people had been charged with a range of offences. Riots and looting, mostly on the night of 8/9 August, took place in the St Pauls area and Cabot Circus. These were on a far smaller scale than many other English cities, and smaller than the Stokes Croft disturbances earlier in the year. The Evening Post building was also vandalised following the paper’s publication of CCTV pictures of some suspects. An individual or individuals claiming responsibility posted to the Bristol Indymedia website saying “The media... attempt to divert our attention away from the real everyday thugs and looters – the cops and capitalists, who routinely get away with large-scale theft and murder.”

into the council’s Communications & Marketing department. The positions of head of arts and culture, neighbourhood arts manager and marketing and sponsorship manager are among the casualties. It now remains to be seen how this will affect the council’s biggest annual event, the Harbour Festival, or its ability to help promote and assist other events.

// Bristol City Council’s Arts & Culture team is to be reduced by half as part of the council’s programme of cuts. Staff will be reduced from 20 to 10 and the team will be incorporated

// A council by-election will take place on 8 September in Bristol’s Southmead ward due to the resignation of Liberal Democrat Jacqueline Bowles due to ill-health.

// Political leaders in Bath & North East Somerset were arguing over the details of the scaled-down Bath Transportation Package as Venue went to press. Plans have to go to the Department of Transport by 9 Sept, but Conservative councillors are claiming that the Liberal Democrat administration’s figures are flawed. The cost has been cut from £54m to £32m through cutting Batheaston Park & Ride and investment in new buses.

home entertainment format in history, colonising homes far more rapidly than CD did.” (Venue’s Multimedia section) ... Big movies: ‘Moulin Rouge’ – “Acquired the tag as one of those films you either love or hate. So it’s only fair to state at the outset that this hack loathed it.” ... Remember well-paid full-time jobs? We did a big article about the best and worst places to work: “A few weeks ago, the Evening Post said that there were 15,000 vacancies in Bristol alone that employers couldn’t fill.” But there were still callcentres. A TUC spokesman told Venue: “A lot of these places seem to have an obsession with people going to the toilet. There was one place we heard about where an employee was forced to wear a

nappy. Another had a chart on the wall showing how much time everyone had spent in the toilet each week.” ... Bank Holiday on the Bristol-Bath Cycle Path, according to a reader’s letter: “If you insist on calling your children Nikita and Kayleigh (I wish I was making this up) and then proceed to yell at them for not being in the right gear (as in cog) then, yes, I’m afraid it does give others the right to openly snigger.” ... News: “Councillor Richard Eddy has resigned as Deputy Leader of Bristol City Council’s Conservatives following a major row after he claimed that he had adopted a golliwog as the Tory group’s official mascot.” This was some sort of stand against political correctness. A leader column in the Evening Post

called it ‘political mischiefmaking of a kind that only a party doomed never to take power again in the city would dare to undertake’.” … The local papers reported the tale of Scrumpy Jack, an African Grey parrot who had escaped from the Gloucestershire home of his owner, Beverley Williams, who watched a lot of telly. The bird’s last words before flying away were: “You are the weakest link. Goodbye.”

// An online campaign to nominate wellknown Big Issue seller Jeff Knight (pictured right) to carry the Olympic torch on part of its Bristol run next year has attracted over 12,000 signatures. Mr Knight is a well-known sight, selling the magazine on Queens Road. The Facebook campaign is at

// Avon & Somerset Police are warning residents of a recent rise in thefts of jewellery and cash from homes. While burglary figures for the area are down overall, thieves are thought to be targeting gold due to the huge rise in international prices in recent months.

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Living troll An ingenious and witty modern twist on a Nordic myth, Andrew Ovredal’s ‘Troll Hunter’ imagines the beasts of legend to be very real and in need of a damn good culling. Robin Askew is impressed.


h wow!” exclaims Andre Ovredal after laughing long and hard. “That’s taking it a bit far.” I’ve just run through my tongue-in-cheek theory that the Norwegian director’s clever and funny feature debut, ‘Troll Hunter’, could be interpreted in a sinister light by right-wing conspiracy theorist nutjobs back home. This is, after all, a film in which the government

“They are definitely stupid. I just wanted them to be depicted like animals in fear. I wanted you to sense the human quality, but if they became too human we couldn’t dare kill them” Director Andre Ovredal defines a troll venuemagazine

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seeks to cover up murders committed by a Christian-hating enemy within. “You’re the first one to have made that connection. To me, it’s completely unrelated, obviously. I’m just toying with stuff…” He’s right, of course, even though his film also has an uncanny link to another big Norwegian news story of recent months: as part of the conspiracy, troll attacks are blamed on unfortunate bears. What ‘Troll Hunter’ does very effectively is play around with Norwegian mythology, embellishing ancient yarns with semi-plausible science to establish its premise that rampaging giant trolls need to be culled in secret by a government-appointed pest control officer. “I’ve been fascinated by trolls all my life,” chuckles Ovredal. “Ours is a small country and we have our own mythology. But it’s been really under-used and never put on screen.” His script makes use of familiar troll traits (hiding under bridges, being able to smell the blood of Christians, and so on) garnished with invented troll biology, his only rule being: “No magical stuff. Trolls are animals and they exist. But that’s it.” It’s also refreshing that he never seeks to sentimentalise them, as Hollywood might have done. His trolls are pleasingly lumbering and stupid. “Yeah, they are definitely stupid. I just wanted them to be depicted like animals in fear. I wanted you to sense the human quality, but if they became too human we couldn’t dare kill them. Suddenly the film would have a different tone.” Ovredal dismisses the suggestion that the ‘found footage’ mockumentary format is getting

a little tired “As with a thriller or a horror film, it’s just a sub-genre. I thought it was a perfect tool to tell the story - mostly because it puts you right in the middle of whatever is going on and also because it helps the sense of humour in the film.” He also counts himself lucky that effects technology developed so rapidly while ‘Troll Hunter’ was in production. Certainly, no one will have cause to complain about the lack of marauding troll action. It turns out he has little time for the school of thought that insists monsters should be hidden from the audience for as long as possible. “I think it depends on what kind of movie you’re making. Everybody talks about ‘Alien’ or ‘Jaws’, but I don’t think you can really follow rules like that. I was personally a bit disappointed seeing ‘Super 8’ that they kept hiding it. Because it was actually a fun-looking monster. It might as well have been shown earlier. It wouldn’t have changed anything, in my opinion.” Norway’s prime minister Jens Stoltenberg even pops up in ‘Troll Hunter’ in what appears to be a knowing cameo, inadvertently giving the game away about the troll menace at a press conference. In fact, this is news footage that Ovredal found so irresistible that he changed his film’s ending to incorporate it. What Stoltenberg was actually referring to is a natural gas field in the North Sea called Troll. “The government had suggested putting up these pylons to provide better power supplies to the western side of Norway,” Ovredal explains. “They were going to be put up all over the beautiful fjords, ruining them basically. That became such a political hot potato. We had all this footage of pylons as part of our plot, so we had to utilise


that political atmosphere.” Fans of Norwegian metal will recognise the closing credits song ‘Mjod’ by Kvelertak - one of an increasing number of bands who draw on Norse mythology for their lyrics. Could this renewed interest in the country’s culture and history help explain the film’s success in Norway? “I don’t know exactly what’s going on out there,” he laughs, “but it seems to me that it does impact on youth a lot - and I’m so happy about that, obviously. I think their music’s amazing. And I was so happy that they allowed us to use the song. It was just a perfect ending for the movie.” Inevitably, the US remake is already in the works. Far from opposing the idea, Ovredal has given it his blessing and has been actively involved in helping ‘Harry Potter’ director Chris Columbus to secure the rights. “I’ve been a fan of his since before I started making films. They wanted me to write and direct it, but I kind of felt I would end up competing with myself. At the same time, I have other ideas I want to explore.” Undeterred by the occasionally miserable experiences of other Europeans, he has no qualms about heading straight to Tinseltown. “Absolutely. I already have one foot there. I really hope to make a film in Hollywood, because that’s a lifelong dream.” ‘Troll Hunter’ opens on Sept 9. See review on page 42 and for screening details. "Heeeere, Trolly, Trolly, Trolly...."

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//THE MONTH AHEAD// Fright Night (15) // (Dir: Craig Gillespie, 106 mins) Yes, it’s a 3D remake of the 1985 comedy-horror, which we’re now encouraged to believe ranks as a “cult classic”. But the cast is certainly intriguing. Colin Farrell plays Jerry the suburban American vampire, while former Doctor Who David Tennant (pictured) gets to wear some extraordinary gothic garb as troubled vampire-slayer Peter Vincent, who’s battling with the bottle and losing faith in the whole supernatural racket. FRIGHT NIGHT IS OUT ON SEPT 2

Kill List (18) // (Dir: Ben Wheatley, 95 mins) Brit director Ben Wheatley follows his award-winning 2009 feature debut, ‘Down Terrace’, with an intense horror flick starring Neil (‘The Football Factory’) Maskell as a hitman whose latest mysterious client insists on a blood pact to seal the deal. More alarming still, his targets seem to be expecting him. KILL LIST IS OUT ON SEPT 2

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TBA) // (Dir Tomas Alfredson, 120 mins) Prestige projects don’t get any more prestigious than this new adaptation of John le Carre’s novel, which is already being tipped for awards season glory. Gary Oldman gets the role of Cold Warera MI6 agent George Smiley, who’s brought back from retirement to find out which of his former chums is a doubleagent for the dastardly Russkies. Tomas (‘Let the Right One In’) Alfredson directs, and the cast includes Oscar-winner Colin Firth alongside Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt and Ciarán Hinds. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY IS OUT ON SEPT 16

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Drive (18) // (Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn, 100 mins) The Danish director of the hugely impressive ‘Pusher’, ‘Bronson’ and ‘Valhalla Rising’ goes Hollywood with this stylish, violent action flick. Ryan Gosling, star of such weedy indie dramas as ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ and ‘Blue Valentine’, mans up to play a nameless, taciturn stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. Brit Carey (‘An Education’, ‘Never Let Me Go’) Mulligan has the unlikely love interest role. DRIVE IS OUT ON SEPT 23


8/24/2011 10:36:34 AM

Fancy a film this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

The beefcake's back: 'Conan the Barbarian'


// Villain (15) See review on page 43. // The Taqwacores (15) See review on page 44. // Final Destination 5 (15) (Dir: Steven Quale, 92 mins) See review on page 46. // Conan the Barbarian (15) (Dir: Marcus Nispel, 112 mins) Move over, Arnie - there’s a new hunk of beefcake in town. This one’s Jason Momoa from ‘Game of Thrones’ - or ‘Baywatch’, if you’ve got a long memory - who gets to wave his big sword around in this 3D version of Robert Howard’s 1930s pulp hero. It’s directed by Marcus Nispel, who gave us the underappreciated ‘Pathfinder’. // One Day (12A) (Dir: Lone Scherfig, 108 mins) Lone Scherfig follows ‘An Education’ with an upmarket love story adapted from Bristol University graduate David (‘Starter For 10’) Nicholls’ bestseller. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess star as a pair of not-quite-lovers who we revisit every year on the anniversary of their graduation as their lives change and develop. // The Skin I Live In (15) (Dir: Pedro Almodovar, 102 mins) See review on page 46.


// Apollo 18 (TBA) (Dir: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego) Decades after the Apollo 18 mission was abandoned, secret footage reveals - ulp! - the real reason why the US never returned to the moon in this low-budget science fiction thriller. // The Art of Getting By (12A) (Dir: Gavin Wiesen, 83 mins) Freddie Highmore - you remember: Charlie from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate


SHOWING // // Captain America (12A) (Dir: Joe Johnston, 124 mins) Marvel origin story in which Chris Evans comes over all superheroic to whup Nazi ass. // Cowboys and Aliens (12A) See review on page 43. // The Guard (15) See review on page 43. // Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (12A) (Dir: David Yates, 130 mins) The


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Factory’ - is now grown up enough to get his own identikit fake indieflick as a cynical, trenchcoat-wearing teen who miraculously cops off with popular hottie Emma Roberts while a dismal hipster soundtrack drones in the background. // Weekender (15) (Dir: Karl Golden, 90 mins) Nostalgic for the raveydavey early ‘90s? Let this Britflick whisk you back to 1990, where a pair of twentysomething Scallies plan to make a quick buck by organising raves. Alas, this soon lands them in trouble with the hardcore criminals who run the scene. // Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (TBA) (Dir: Jessica Oreck, 90 mins) Fascinating documentary exploring the historical and cultural reasons for the Japanese fascination with insects. // The Hedgehog (12A) (Dir: Mona Achache, 100 mins) A solemn and pessimistic 11-year-old girl resolves to kill herself on her twelfth birthday in this suitably quirky adaptation of philosopher Muriel Barbery’s bestselling novel. // Self Made (15) (Dir: Gillian Wearing, 88 mins) Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing’s feature debut, which she cast by placing ads which read: “Would you like to be in a film? You can play yourself or a fictional character.”

// Jane Eyre (PG) See review on page 42. // A Lonely Place to Die (15) (Dir: Julian Gilbey, 99 mins) New Britthriller from the director of ‘Rise of the Footsoldier’ in which a bunch of mountaineers clambering across Scotland’s peaks come across a little girl buried in an underground chamber. Bad guys promptly appear to hunt them all down. // Post Mortem (15) See review on page 44. // Troll Hunter (15) See feature on page 39 and review on page 42.


// Columbiana (TBC) (Dir: Olivier Megaton) Splendidly named Olivier Megaton directs a Luc Besson script about a deadly-yet-sexy female assassin. Yes, another one. Zoe Saldana gets to shoot people while wearing as few clothes as possible. // Friends with Benefits (15) See review on page 45.

// The Change-Up (15) (Dir: David Dobkin, 112 mins) (pictured, right) Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman star in yet another body-swap comedy. This one’s a raunchier-thanusual take on the genre from the writers of ‘The Hangover’. // I Don’t Know How She Does It (TBA) (Dir: Douglas McGrath) Sarah Jessica Parker plays an ordinary working mum (no, really) who juggles marriage, children and a stressful job, and even finds time to be tempted by work colleague Pierce Brosnan. Adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna (‘The Devil Wears Prada’) from the bestseller by Daily Mail hackette Allison Pearson - you know: the one who famously wound up Sarah Ferguson by suggesting that her daughter, Princess Beatrice, had become a bit of a porker. // Tomboy (U) See review on page 45. // You Instead (15) (Dir: David Mackenzie, 80 mins) The feisty frontwoman for a British Riot Grrrl band (remember them?) finds herself handcuffed to the lead singer of a US electro-pop duo at Scotland’s T

biggest hit of the year, by a very wide margin. HHHHH // Horrible Bosses (15) (Dir: Seth Gordon, 98 mins) Worth seeing for Jennifer Aniston’s revelatory turn as a sexually aggressive dentist. HHHHH // Horrid Henry (U) (Dir: Nick Moore, 93 mins) 3D bratflick with an impressive cast that includes Richard E. Grant, Jo Brand and Anjelica Huston. // In a Better World (15) See review on page 44. // The Inbetweeners Movie (15) (Dir: Ben Palmer, 97 mins) TV cast goes on holiday. Now there’s a strikingly original idea.

// Mr Poppers Penguins (PG) (Dir: Mark Waters, 94 mins) Jim Carrey inherits a bunch of poopy, bitey penguins in a dismal, disingenuous ‘family film’. HHHHH // Rise of the Planet of the Apes (12A) See review on page 45. // The Smurfs (U) (Dir: Raja Gosnell, 103 mins) Annoying little blue critters return to torment a new generation in 3D. // Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (PG) (Dir: Robert Rodriguez, 89 mins) Jessica Alba stars in the fourquel nobody asked for.


in the Park Festival, with “hilarious consequences”.


// Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (PG) (Dir: John Schultz, 92 mins) Whiny, shrill, frantic ADD kidflick adapted from Megan McDonald’s books. Guaranteed to give over-eights a migraine. // Killer Elite (TBA) (Dir: Gary McKendry) Together at last: Jason Statham, Clive Owen and, erm, Robert De Niro! Statham’s the SAS man who’s dispatched to rescue his captured mentor De Niro from evil rotter Owen. It’s an adaptation of hapless adventurer Ranulph Fiennes’ novel ‘The Feather Men’, which he controversially alleged was based on a true story. // Tucker & Dale vs Evil (TBA) (Dir: Eli Craig) Promising comedyhorror that inverts the familiar ‘cabin in the woods’ format. Tucker and Dale are a pair of harmless rednecks who inadvertently scare the wits out of a bunch of city kids on vacation. Through a series of misunderstandings, the latter then manage to kill themselves in a variety of gruesome ways. Watch out for the death by woodchipper. // Warrior (TBA) (Dir: Gavin O’Connor) Mixed martial arts grunt’n’grapplefest starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as estranged brothers competing in the same big money, winner-takes-all contest. Grizzled Nick Nolte plays their pa. // Crazy Stupid Love (TBA) See review on page 46.

// Super 8 (12A) (Dir: JJ Abrams, 111 mins) Enjoyably Spielbergian, 70s-set space monster invasion flick from the successful rebooter of ‘Star Trek’ HHHHH The Smurfs: annoying

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As if she hadn’t suffered enough, Jane trod in a large, steaming cowpat

Review Jane Eyre (PG) UK/USA 2011 121 mins Dir: Cary Fukanaga Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell, Michael Fassbender, Sally Hawkins, Judi Dench // It’s easy to be cynical about the 5-10-year remake cycle for 19th century bonnet literature, in which TV mini-series alternate with lavish Hollywood productions. All too often, the latter feel like vehicles for the starlet of the moment to demonstrate some Proper Acting - i.e. poncing about in a National Trust property wearing a corset. Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ is right up there with the most bankable Austens, having been milked for two telly series (ITV and BBC) and one film (Franco Zeffirelli)

in the last 15 years. So it’s a relief to report that this latest version of the venerable gothic romance is one of the best, and certainly the most visually impressive, despite taking purist-enraging liberties with the narrative. The fresh approach of ‘Sin Nombre’ director Cary Fukanaga plunges us into the story as adult Jane (Wasikowska - Alice in Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’) flees across the foggy, windswept moors, filmed from above as she reaches a symbolic crossroads. Eventually, she arrives exhausted on the doorstep of clergyman St. John Rivers (a solemn, mutton-chopped Jamie Bell). In a series of lengthening flashbacks that underline how she’s haunted by her past, we learn

of her unfortunate upbringing. Starved of love by uncaring aunt Sarah Reed (an unrecognisable Sally Hawkins) and dumped in the Dickensian Lowood School for Girls, she finally winds up as governess at the suitably gloomy and foreboding Thornfield Hall under kindly Mrs Fairfax (Dench, below stairs for a change). Enter tormented, Byronic master of the house Edward Rochester (Fassbender)… Moira Buffini’s script not only kicks off three-quarters of the way through the novel but also pares back the early years that are usually presented chronologically and clips the ending, so the bulk of the drama unfolds at Thornfield (actually Haddon Hall in Derbyshire). Aided by excellent

cinematography and set design, Fukanaga emphasises the gothic, depicting the place as a classic Old Dark House that might, and (spoiler alert!) indeed does, conceal dark secrets within its walls. Sans make-up, hair pulled back severely, and looking much younger than her 21 years, slight Australian Mia Wasikowska appears suitably vulnerable as the “poor, obscure and plain” Jane next to Michael Fassbender’s forceful, mercurial Rochester, while also investing her character with the tenacity and moral courage the role demands. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website jane_eyre Opens: September 9

Review Troll Hunter (15) Norway 2010 103 mins Subtitles Dir: Andre Ovredal Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Morck, Hans Morten Hansen // Something of a companion piece to last year’s splendid Finnish Santa movie ‘Rare Exports’, this hugely entertaining mockumentary sees the Norwegians take a stab at reclaiming their folk mythology from creeping Disneyfication. It’s also acquired a rather unwanted topicality, being a film in which a massive

government conspiracy prevents ordinary folks from knowing about the Christian-hating monsters in their midst. There’s even a cameo by Norway’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, whose face few of us would have recognised until recently. But - hey - let’s not get too carried away here: this is a film about a state-employed troll slayer. Student film-makers Thomas (Tosterud), Johanna (Morck) and Kalle (Larsen) don’t know that gruff and taciturn Hans (Jespersen) is a troll hunter when they start to follow him round the remote

“’scuse me mate: I don’t suppose you know where I can find some very, very large thermal underwear?”

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fjords. They suspect he’s just a rather shifty bear poacher. But a face-to-face encounter with a giant Tosserlad - which sounds like the kind of horror one might encounter in Bristol City Centre of a Saturday night, but is actually a giant three-headed troll species convinces them that they’re onto something special. Weary Hans eventually agrees to help them, much to the displeasure of Finn Haugen (Hansen), sinister head of the government Troll Security Service, who conceals troll atrocities by stitching up innocent members of the bear community. But Hans has had enough. Fed up with the anti-social hours, lack of overtime pay and endless bureaucracy, he wants to come clean about the troll cover-up. There would be no complaints if we never saw another ‘Blair Witch’-style ‘found footage’ flick, but at least ‘Troll Hunter’ spares us much of the shakeycam

running-about-in-the-woods approach so we can savour the lovely scenery and impressively rendered low-budget trolls. The deadpan comedy script works through its premise satisfyingly too, incorporating familiar elements of Scandinavian troll mythology and offering some amusing pseudoscience to explain why some explode and others are turned to stone under a flashlight assault. Nerds will enjoy the film references (‘Jurassic Park’, etc), but it’s comedian Otto Jespersen’s portrayal of Hans as a grumbling, worn-out state employee that makes ‘Troll Hunter’ such fun. Pleasingly, there’s also no attempt to humanise his nasty, stupid, flatulent foes. “How clever do you have to be to live off rocks?” reasons Hans. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: September 9


8/24/2011 8:00:51 PM

Review Cowboys and Aliens (12A) USA 2011 118 mins Dir: Jon Favreau Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano, Olivia Wilde // If ‘Snakes on a Plane’ taught us to beware of Ronseal movie-making, at least this all-in-the-title genre mash-up delivers plenty of the promised popcorn action as James Bond and Indiana Jones team up to take on a bunch of allpurpose CGI Alien/Predators in the Old West. On the other hand, Jon Favreau’s film doesn’t really attempt to do anything interesting with the concept other than slap it on screen and slather it with the kind of emotional melted

cheese that is executive producer Steven Spielberg’s stock in trade. Yup, this is a film in which cowboys, outlaws and injuns set aside their petty differences (y’know - genocide, and so on) and become bestest friends to take on their common enemy. Daniel Craig plays an amnesiac Old West outlaw who awakes with a curious wound and a mysterious, futuristic bracelet strapped to his wrist. Pitching up in the trembling town of Absolution, he tussles with Paul Dano, no-good son of evil cattleman Harrison Ford. But before Harrison can whup his ass, alien spaceships swoop from the sky lassoing townsfolk

Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

and varmints alike for purposes presumed dastardly. The key to defeating them is locked in Dan’s malfunctioning noggin. Conspicuously ethereal, willowy Olivia Wilde, who looks as though she’s on a day pass from ‘Firefly’, could also be harbouring a handy secret or two. There’s an ‘Is that it?’ revelation about the aliens’ mission and some ghastly father/(surrogate) son bonding guff to endure on the way to the big generic smackdown. On the plus side, the scenes where our sh*t-kicking heroes engage in unequal horseback battle with Bad ET’s zippy craft on the wide-open plains are pretty cool. But nothing

“Where’s John Bloody Wayne when you need him?”

raises this above the level of Adequate Entertainment Product. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www. Now Showing

Review Villain (15) She couldn’t help but wonder why he’d bought the large box of extra-sharp kitchen knives

Japan 2010 140 mins Subtitles Dir: Sang-Il Lee Starring: Eri Fukatsu, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Misaki Okada, Kirin Kiki, Akira Emoto

// Adapted from a popular state-ofthe-nation novel by Suichi Yoshida, Sang-Il Lee’s epic drama touches on plenty of Important Themes and incorporates a variety of genres, but proves rather too sprawling for its own good. Shorn of 30 minutes and a couple of ill-developed sub-plots (the one about an old biddy being bullied out of her life savings for ‘Chinese medicine’ being a prime example), its strengths would have been brought into sharper focus. The opening is pure whodunit. Young Yoshino (Mitsushima) is still finding her feet outside the family nest as an insurance saleswoman, helped by her doting barber dad

(Emoto). She boasts to her friends that she’s going out with rich college student Masuo (Okada), but is actually in a long-distance relationship with surly, withdrawn loner Yuichi (Tsumabuki), whom she met on a dating website. When her strangled body is found on a remote road, devastating her parents, suspicion naturally falls on Masuo, who goes into hiding. Yuichi, meanwhile, moves on to desperately lonely shopgirl Mitusyo (Fukatsu), callously using her for sex and attempting to dump her until he learns that the cops are after him too. The question of who murdered Yoshino is resolved fairly early on

and the film mutates into a loverson-the-lam/doomed romance flick, while revealing more about the principal characters in flashback. This serves to muddy the waters further, since no one is quite as they first appear and responsibility for Yoshino’s death proves more complex than the question of who choked the life out of her. Despite being a latecomer to the story, Eri Fukatsu steals it with a truly heartbreaking performance. Shame, then, that the digressions dissipate its impact. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

a ruthless gang of international cocaine smugglers. The film takes flight when Boyle and Everett are sparring, the former needling the Yank interloper with casual racism and responding with a wounded “I’m Irish, sir - it’s part of my culture” when challenged. Much of the fun hinges on Boyle being smarter - and more honourable - than he chooses to let on, or as Everett puts it: “I can’t tell whether you’re a dumb motherf*cker or a clever motherf*cker.” Trouble is that McDonagh’s predictable plot is little more than a grab-bag of worn-out cliches and is frequently

guilty of Trying Too Hard, notably with its gang of sub-Guy Ritchie philosophising smugglers and a little gobsh*te who’s landed with mouthfuls of implausibly articulate dialogue. It even makes the mistake of coming over all smugly selfreferential towards the end. See it for the splendid Gleeson/Cheadle double-act but don’t go expecting another ‘In Bruges’ and you’re unlikely to be disappointed. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

Website Opens: August 26

Review The Guard (15) Ireland 2011 96 mins Dir: John Michael McDonagh Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan // Already a huge hit in Ireland, where it took £3m in six weeks, John Michael McDonagh’s fish-out-of-water cop-buddy comedy has drawn much favourable comparison with his brother Martin’s Oscar-nominated ‘In Bruges’. The main connection is that both films showcase the talents of lovably crumpled, portly Brendan Gleeson. Here, his Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a Bad Garda in the Harvey


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Keitel/Nic Cage mould, but without all the tiresome Catholic guilt and self-loathing. He gulps down confiscated drugs, drinks on duty, and ships in a brace of whores from Dublin for nights of kinky sex. Little wonder he’s treated with barely concealed contempt by uptight, bythe-book FBI agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle), who’s been dispatched to County Galway on the trail of “Hang on - I’m the one who’s supposed to be doing the strip searching!”

Website theguard Now Showing

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8/24/2011 8:01:37 PM



Review In a Better World (15) Denmark 2010 118 mins Subtitles Dir: Susanne Bier Starring: Mikael Persbrandt, Markus Rygaard, William Johnk Nielson // The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film is always a bit of a lottery. Sometimes those notoriously doddery Academy votes get it right; often they get it hopelessly wrong, as in 2004 when lachrymose disability flick ‘The Sea Inside’ beat the brilliant ‘Downfall’. This year, the outstanding ‘Incendies’ and agreeably disturbing ‘Dogtooth’ were runners-up to Susanne Bier’s worthy ‘In a Better World’, which successfully pushes all the appropriate buttons, being a platitudinous morality tale that purports

to address big questions but dodges drawing any kind of political conclusion in favour of serving up warm fuzzies. It probably helped that this is a ‘foreign-language’ film in which a substantial proportion of the dialogue is in English. It’s a film with two intertwining stories, whose parallels are presumably intended to provoke chinstroking contemplation. In Africa, noble Scandinavian medic Anton (Persbrandt) patches up the victims of a vile warlord known as Big Man, whose hobby is predicting the gender of the offspring of pregnant women and then carving them open to see if he’s right. In Denmark, Anton’s eldest son Elias (Rygaard) is


Their superglue horseplay had unintended consequences

the victim of school bullies. He then falls under the malign influence of troubled new kid Christian (Nielson), who stabs and beats the crap out of the ringleader. On a visit home, Anton delivers a lesson in turning the other cheek to break cycles of violence, but finds himself dismissed as ‘weak’ by Christian. Back in Africa, his liberalism is further challenged when injured Big Man turns up at his field

hospital demanding treatment. There’s nothing wrong with the performances, but the film’s smug self-importance proves its undoing, along with its soggy stab at moral equivalence and manipulative last-reel submission to redemptive uplift. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

by her socialist father, so she happily accepts Mario’s invitation to come over and they wind up having a good long cry and a shag. Back at the morgue, work is piling up - literally. Mountains of bullet-ridden corpses are cluttering corridors and some of them aren’t even properly dead yet. Amid the chaos, Mario finds himself co-opted by the military and dispatched with his team to perform President Allende’s autopsy. From the striking opening groundlevel shot of a tank trundling along a city street, director Pablo Larrain keeps the brutal coup very much in the foreground, underlining its cor-

rupting effect on apolitical, already numbed Mario. This is slower and less involving than the more blackly comic ‘Tony Manero’. Larrain’s penchant for very long static shots is also likely to divide audiences. Sometimes this is highly effective, notably when he keeps the camera trained on oblivious Mario while Nancy’s home is being raided. But the bleak eight-minute closing scene is unlikely to send anybody home whistling a happy tune. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

mohicaned Jehangir (Rains) doesn’t simply have done with Islam altogether, given his enthusiasm for blasphemy. Similarly, we never get an explanation as to why Rabeya (Dewulf) chooses to wear a full burqa while crossing out bits of the Koran that offend her feminist principles,

such as the verse advising husbands to beat their wives (director Eyad Zahra doesn’t actually show her doing this, suggesting he knows just how far he can push it without getting a fatwa on his ass). Still, Noureen DeWulf deserves some kind of commendation for acting inside a sack for the duration. It all climaxes with a gig whose English punk equivalent would be a show featuring Crass and Skrewdriver on the same bill - with predictable consequences. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

Website inabetterworld/ Now Showing

Review Post Mortem (15) The work was just piling up

Chile/Germany/Mexico 2010 98 mins Subtitles Dir: Pablo Larrain Starring: Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers // From the team who brought us ‘Tony Manero’ - you remember: the film about the disco-dancing ‘70s

Chilean serial killer - comes a drama that might as well be a companion piece. Once again, it’s set in the ‘70s, shot on grainy 16mm, and stars Alfredo Castro as a blank protagonist who adheres to no ideology. But whereas ‘Tony Manero’ was set in the Pinochet era, the backdrop of ‘Post Mortem’ is the 1973 military coup that swept him to power. Mario (Castro) is a lonely, lank-haired morgue functionary whose task is to take notes during autopsies. He falls for Nancy (Zegers), the emaciated, washed-up showgirl who lives over the road. Her house is full of political activists organised

Website www. Opens: September 9

Review The Taqwacores (15) USA 2010 83 mins Dir: Eyad Zahra Starring: Bobby Naderi, Noureen DeWulf, Dominic Rains // Crudely filmed, clumsily plotted and tiresomely iconoclastic, this Sundance-oriented indieflick does at least have originality on its side, being set in the fictitious US Islamic punk rock scene. It’s divided into seasonal chapters, punctuated by monochrome montages and rants from right-wing talk radio, and follows conservative, virginal young Pakistani engineering student Yusef (Naderi) as he moves into a riotous, run-down shared house in Buffalo, New York. Here he encounters

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pot smoking and beer drinking Muslims, a camp gay Muslim, a feminist Muslim, and so on. Each has a pick’n’mix approach to their faith, but all worship at the altar of the Taqwacores: the Californian Muslim punk scene, which boasts bands with such splendid names as Osama’s Tunnel Diggers. The characters get to express their youthful rebellion with much stilted speechifying and dollops of indigestible dialogue (“I’m too wrapped up in my mix-matching of disenfranchised subcultures, man!”). If they all seem rather confused, that’s presumably the point. But one does wonder why colourfully

The swimsuit round in Miss Burqa 2011 was going to be a tricky one to judge

Website Opens: August 26


8/24/2011 8:02:09 PM


Review Friends with Benefits (15) USA 2011 109 mins Dir: Will Gluck Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins // If for some unaccountable reason, you contrived to miss ‘No Strings Attached’ a few months ago, here it is again with a different glossy cast. Two f*ckbuddy flicks in one year? They really do spoil us. Older cinemagoers will observe that underneath the modish raunch is a modern-day tweak of the ‘When Harry Met Sally’ formula: is it possible for two friends to have sex without love getting in the way? Since there’s no danger of

Hollywood ever answering that question in the affirmative, what we’re left with is a physically attractive if otherwise shallow and thoroughly unappealing couple betraying their few principles. The other increasingly bizarre feature of these films is that while they’re engaged in an arms race to come up with the most explicit discussions of sexual activity, full frontal nudity is still forbidden. So it’s all talk and no action until Lars Von Trier makes a welcome foray into the genre. Slumming it after ‘Black Swan’, Mila Kunis plays a New York headhunter who seduces hotshot editor Justin Timberlake away

Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

from LA to take charge of GQ, even though he doesn’t know what a flash mob is. Bonding over a shared hatred of the “bullshit Hollywood cliché of true love,” they agree to enjoy lots of commitment-free sex. Each has the mandatory comedy sidekick, though he gets the gay best mate (Woody Harrelson) for a change, while she has a promiscuous mother (Patricia Clarkson). Inevitably, the meagre laughs dry up the moment things turn serious and an Alzheimer’sstricken Richard Jenkins pitches up to deliver the big moral (no, really). And having taken the piss out of crappy music on romcom

“I know: let’s not have sex for a change!”

soundtracks, it ends with a dreary Semisonic song. Shameful. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: September 9

Review Rise of the Planet of the Apes (12A) USA 2011 105 mins Dir: Rupert Wyatt Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freda Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox // Consider the unexpected similarities between this ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel and ‘Project Nim’. Both have a baby chimp taken from his mother, isolated from other members of his species, raised in a family home, taught to use sign language and then dumped in a grim primate shelter overseen by cruel guards wielding electric prods after he turns out - surprise! - not to be a little hairy human after all. Uncanny, huh? The apes were the worst thing

about the original 1968 ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, being actors in unconvincing rubber masks; here, it’s the humans who are twodimensional and the extraordinary apes who dominate, thanks to advances in digital technology and another brilliant ‘performance capture’ turn by Andy Serkis. Taking its cue from 1972’s ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (don’t bother - it’s rubbish), this origin story adapts the mad scientist template to have boffin James Franco developing an Alzheimer’s cure for an Evil Corporation, which he tests on little Caesar (Serkis) and tries out illegally on his dear old befuddled

“Whaddaya mean, ‘Didn’t you used to be in the Stone Roses?’”

dad, John Lithgow. Freda (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) Pinto gets the thankless hottie girlfriend role. Despite appeasing the nerds with a couple of references to the first film, Brit director Rupert

Wyatt clearly understands that the boring humans aren’t the real story here, concentrating instead on the impressive apes. Serkis’s expressive performance quite brilliantly evinces Caesar’s developing intelligence, his sense of betrayal, and his cunning in uniting fellow imprisoned apes for the big rebellion, without compromising the chimp’s simian nature. If this sounds rather cerebral, be reassured that the climax atop a fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge is the best action sequence of the summer. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website Now Showing

Review Tomboy (U) France 2011 82 mins Subtitles Dir: Celine Sciamma Starring: Zoe Heran, Jeanne Disson, Malonn Levana, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy // French director Celine Sciamma’s first feature, ‘Water Lillies’, was the kind of film that could never be made in this country without attracting paedo-hysteria. Four years on, her smaller-scale follow-up operates in similar coming-of-age It suddenly dawned on her that plasticine might be water soluble


Film Reviews 972.indd 45

territory, although the participants are a few years younger. Once again, there’s no shortage of wholly innocent nudity in this beautifully photographed, superbly acted and sensitively directed gender confusion drama. Having moved with her parents (Cattani, Demy) and younger sister Jeanne (Levana) to the lush countryside on the outskirts of Paris, androgynous, wilful, crop-haired 10-year-old Laure (Heran) takes the opportunity to reinvent herself during the long summer before her first term at school. Unbeknown to the rest of the family, she decides to pass herself off as a boy named

Mikael when she befriends Lisa (Disson), who quickly becomes besotted. Like a pre-pubescent Teena Brandon, resourceful Laure even finds a use for plasticine that would make Nick Park blush, fashioning herself a brightly coloured penis and stuffing it down the front of her cut-off bathing costume for some rough’n’tumble with the local boys. Clearly, this is not a deception that can be sustained for long. One of the strengths of young Zoe Heran’s excellent performance is the way she portrays Laure’s awareness of her changing body, examining her wiry frame critically in the mirror as she looks for

any sign that might betray her gender. Once again, Sciamma demonstrates an extraordinary ability to get truthful, unselfconscious performances from her child actors, who are often shot in intimate close-up. Refreshingly, the tension at the film’s heart is never allowed to overwhelm its empathetic tone. Lesbian audiences will also have fun debating just how much pouty Lisa intuits about her ‘boyfriend’ without letting on. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www. Now Showing

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Review Crazy Stupid Love (TBC) “No, really: the flasher look suits you”

USA 2011 118 mins Dir: Glenn Ficara & John Requa Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon // After a string of duds (‘Date Night’, ‘Dinner for Schmucks’, etc),

Steve Carell returns to ‘40 Year Old Virgin’ territory for this comedy from the ‘Bad Santa’/’I Love You Phillip Morris’ guys, which one suspects was rather more bitter than sweet in its original conception. Carell plays Cal, a fortysomething family man who has only ever had sex with one woman: his wife, Emily (Moore). Alas, the same boast isn’t available to mid-life-crisisafflicted Emily, as she’s been boffing co-worker David Lindhagen (Bacon) on the sly. When she asks nice but boring Cal for a divorce, his world collapses and he winds up downing vodka cranberries in the corner of a smart bar and opining to anyone

who’ll listen: “My wife is having intercourse with someone who is not me!” Eventually, suave player Jacob (Gosling) takes pity on him. “I want to help you rediscover your manhood,” he announces. “Do you have any idea where you lost it?” The mentoring scenes include an amusing variation on the venerable ‘Pretty Woman’ shopping montage. Carell also teeters on the edge of unpleasantness skilfully enough. But there’s something off about the film’s ‘The Knack’-style sexual politics, which requires women to be shallow and gullible. A surfeit of characters pad out the excessive running length, though Marisa

Tomei steals it as an embittered one-night-stand. But would it surprise you to learn that Jacob is secretly unhappy and needs The One to come along and lead him away from relentless promiscuity, or that the sanctity of the family will wind up being reasserted during one of those only-in-themovies, barf-out-loud climactic sequences where the characters hijack a public event for their selfindulgent declarations? (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.crazystupidlove. Opens: September 23

Review The Skin I Live In (15) Spain 2011 120 mins Dir: Pedro Almodovar Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Blanca Suarez, Marisa Paredes // A deliciously dark melodrama with a twist of Cronenberg-esque body horror and a nod in the direction of ‘Frankenstein’ (or, if you want to be arty-farty about it, Franju’s ‘Eyes Without a Face’), Almodovar’s twisted revenge yarn is one of those films you’ll enjoy more the less you know about the plot. Jaw-dropping revelations kick in after about 20 minutes and don’t let up, with extended flashback sequences to fill in the gaps. Suffice

it to say that the gender identity themes he’s explored in his earlier work get a much more macabre treatment here. Appearing in his first Almodovar film in 21 years, Antonio Banderas gives an intense performance as suave, controlling, wealthy plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard, who has become obsessed with creating a new form of toughened skin using unethical transgenic techniques. He lives with loyal housekeeper Marilia (Marisa Paredes, another regular collaborator) in a fabulous isolated mansion with its own well-appointed research laboratory and operating theatre. Oh, and an

attractive young woman named Vera (Anaya) is kept prisoner and forced to wear a flesh-coloured body-stocking in a sealed apartment upstairs. It’s safe to say that medical authenticity isn’t a priority for Almodovar, so don’t expect any of the surgery to be especially convincing. But as so often with his films, he succeeds in pulling off in style the kind of convoluted, occasionally ungainly plotting and wild tonal variation that would turn to laughable B-movie crud in lesser hands. The dénouement is a tad underwhelming, but this is another strikingly beautiful film, benefiting

from handsome production design and a ravishing colour palette. It’s also rich in the kind of allusion that’s certain to set beards a-quiver. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Now Showing Antonio carried out tests to ensure the naked lady he'd made was suitably red-blooded

Review Final Destination 5 (15) USA 2011 92 mins Dir: Steven Quale Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher //The previous one dispensed with numbers altogether and pronounced itself ‘The Final Destination’. But finality is always negotiable when She thought it might be wise to keep a close eye on Death

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a film enjoys a franchise recordbreaking global haul of $186 million. That’s good news for those of us who never tire of watching American teenagers die horribly. The great strength of the Final Destination movies is that rather than boring us with an increasingly convoluted overarching storyline, like the ‘Saw’ flicks, each one simply recapitulates the same plot with a glossy new cast of victims and a series of imaginatively staged slice’n’dice, crush’n’mush set-pieces. A massive opening disaster in which everyone dies is revealed to be a premonition experienced by Sensitive Kid. He then freaks

out and persuades his chums to leave the scene before they perish. Up pops the world’s most sinister coroner, Tony Todd, to inform the survivors that Death doesn’t like to be cheated. Luckily for us, Death also likes to have a bit of fun rather than claiming his doom-dodging victims in their sleep, picking them off oneby-one with maximum grue in the order that they would otherwise have died. Generally, this means the Bee-yatch, Arrogant Asshole and Token Brother don’t stick around for long. This time, a terrific suspension bridge collapse kicks it all off and a bus full of young co-workers on

their way to a company retreat apparently meet their ends by being carved up by high-tension cables, impaled on the masts of passing yachts, and so on. Death’s grisly revenge will make you think twice about undergoing acupuncture and laser eye surgery or listening to ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas. And just for once, there’s a novel twist at the end for those who’ve been paying attention since the first film. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website www.finaldestinationmovie. Now Showing


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For film listings and more reviews visit


Peppers & Pearl Jam on screen … Alfresco Keaton & Encounters … Kermode at the Little … Cube returns

// DVDs //

an the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pictured) save the ailing music industry? We’ll find out when the mega-selling American rockers release their first album in five years, ‘I’m With You’, on Aug 30. On the same day, they’ll be playing it in its entirety in a gig broadcast to multiplexes around the world. There’s more cinema rock on Sept 20, with the release of Cameron Crowe’s selfexplanatory documentary Pearl Jam 20 … Those with posher tastes might prefer the National Theatre live broadcast of One Man, Two Guvnors (Sept 15) or Henry VIII from Shakespeare’s Globe on the same day … It’s still

// After the death of their mother Nawal, twins Simon and Jeanne embark on a journey to her unnamed Middle Eastern country of origin (clearly Lebanon), where an over-stuffed closet is waiting to disgorge its many skeletons. Meanwhile, we discover her hidden history in flashback. Both a compelling mystery and a topical, searing indictment of religious conflict, this Oscar-nominated film benefits from a magnificent, empathetic central performance by Belgian actress Lubna Azabal as Nawal. Out: Sept 12. HHHHH


technically summer, which means more optimistic outdoor screenings. Bath Film Festival presents two Buster Keaton classics with live music in the Parade Gardens on Aug 29 from 8pm. Admission is free, but a collection will be taken. Over in Bristol, the Encounters Festival has another trio of free solar-powered screenings of family-friendly shorts (with indoor alternative venues in case of rain). Catch them at St Georges Park (or St George Labour Club) on Sept 2; Albany Green, Montpelier (or Malcolm X Centre) on Sept 9; and Victoria Park, Totterdown (or Windmill Hill Community Centre) on Sept 30. They all start at 8pm …




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Takings for the weekend of August 19-21



The Inbetweeners Movie

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

£13,216,736 (new release)

£703,078 (new release)



Rise of the Planet of the Apes £2,425,887 (£11,659,517, 2 weeks)


Cowboys and Aliens

£1,777,320 (new release)

Chart copyright Screen International

// That’s a hell of a result for homegrown hit The Inbetweeners Movie, which completely trounced Hollywood blockbuster Cowboys and Aliens (pictured) and knocked Rise of the Planet of the Apes into second place. Despite boasting a standard issue TV sitcom spin-off plot that goes all the way back to ‘Holiday on the Buses’, the cult C4 show’s big-screen debut is proving to be a massive success with its target audience. This took multiplexes so much by surprise that we hear they were scrabbling to swap the film into bigger screens last week. By contrast, Glee 3D underperformed here as it did in the US, so not all TV transfers are guaranteed hits. Elsewhere, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 took less than £1m last weekend for the first time in its six-week run. But it’s now the most successful film in the series and should soon overtake both ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Titanic’ to claim third place in the all-time UK top ten.

Mark Kermode comes to Bath’s Little Theatre (Sept 12) on his book tour to plug ‘The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex’ … The Cube awakens from its summer slumber with a typically eclectic September programme ranging from hard-hitting female genital mutilation doc Africa Rising (Sept 5) to cult 80s comedy-horror Street Trash (Sept 16) … Down at the Watershed, Chilean director Pablo Larrain presents a preview of his new film Post Mortem (see review on page 44) on Sept 8. This month’s Sunday brunch season celebrates recent reissues, from Eyes with a Face to Cutter’s Way. Terence Malik’s Days of Heaven is also back from Sept 1.


The Smurfs

£1,445,619 (£7,697,835, 2 weeks)


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 £959,001

Super 8

£441,675 (£6,455,278, 3 weeks)


Mr. Popper’s Penguins


Glee: the 3D Concert Movie

£421,312 (£5,601,814, 3 weeks)

£356,271 (new release)


The Guard

£320,842 (£3,503,767, 7 weeks)

Incendies (15)

ALSO RELEASED // Farewell (15) HHHHH Structured like the most gripping John le Carre novel, Christian Carion’s extraordinary thriller centres on the espionage case that effectively ended the Cold War. Out: Aug 29 … 13 Assassins (15) HHHHH Heads literally roll for a full 45 minutes in the climactic battle sequence of prolific Takashi Miike’s lovingly staged 19th century samurai drama. Out: Sept 5 … Hanna (12) HHHHH Saoirse Ronan shines in Joe (‘Atonement’) Wright’s teenage assassin thriller, Out: Aug 29 … Julia’s Eyes (15) HHHHH Genuinely spooky Spanish drama about a woman investigating the death of her twin sister. Out: Sept 12 … Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (12) HHHHH Still the second biggest film of the year, and not quite as bad as it could have been - thanks largely to Penelope Cruz taking the place of Keira Knightley. Out: Sept 12 … Insidious (15) HHHHH Effective, often unintentionally funny haunted house/spooky child flick from the creators of ‘Saw’. Out: Sept 12 … Pina (U) HHHHH Wim Wenders’ visually striking if uninformative celebration of choreographer Pina Bausch. Out: Sept 12 … Attack the Block (15) HHHHHSpace aliens invade a Sarf London council block in Joe Cornish’s enjoyably rough-around-the-edges directorial debut. Out: Sept 19 … Hop (U) HHHHH Russell Brand is the Easter Bunny. Do your own joke. Out: Aug 29.

(£68,946,098, 6 weeks)

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// Remix/New

Youth and consequence Time was it was pretty tricky to get a gig if you weren’t old enough to vote. Not any more. Julian Owen joins The Next Generation.

"A band want to see people standing and moving, not sitting down because of health and safety.” kate rossiter, tng 48 // september 2011

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Within Reason: taking a step up the ladder at the next Next Generation night at the Fleece.

PIC: gathering voices


ducation Maintenance Allowance cut, university fees raised exponentially, Future Jobs Fund shelved. Yep, if you’re a school pupil surveying your post-exams prospects, you might well be asking what in heaven’s name you did to deserve so many key lower rungs on life’s ladder to be unceremoniously removed as you’re about to stretch for them. Truly, you have our sympathy. But... you also have our envy. Because if you’re a local musician, the ladder has never been more robust, nor filled with so many easily reachable steps. There’s Remix and New Generation Takeover at the Colston Hall (see panel), Youth 4 Youth in Kingswood (see the Month Ahead on p.50), and many others besides. Including The Next Generation, whose debut night at the Fleece attracted a crowd of 350 to watch school-age bands sing out from its hallowed boards. If it’s long been a grievance of underage acts that

Generation Takeover //

// Just back from Green Man? Or Shambala? Chances are you might have seen young From Round These Parts performers thanks to a stage organised by the Colston Hall’s Remix and New Generation Takeover schemes. Remix offers free music-making workshops (in band skills, singing, MC-ing, DJ, music production etc) to u-19s (particularly those who’ve previously had limited access to such resources), and has just scooped £240k funding to develop a modern youth ensemble for Bristol. NGT, meanwhile, is aimed at 13-19-year-olds across the fields of dance, art/graffiti, music making, music business and events promotion. Their next big date in the calendar comes later this month, when the teens programme 24hrs of Hall-staged performances and workshops, culminating in special headline performances from Hadouken and The Qemists. NGT’S HADOUKEN WITH THE QEMISTS TAKES PLACE ON SAT 17 SEPT. FFI: WWW.COLSTONHALL.ORG/ WHATSON/EVENT2633

venues are less than forthcoming in offering places to play, you’d imagine that midweek figures like that might help change a few minds. The Fleece were certainly impressed, with Terry Moore and Kate Rossiter’s not-forprofit brainchild now firmly booked as a monthly fixture. The former is the irrepressibly enthusiastic drummer with COI, the latter a music teacher who first hired the “big hit with the kids” as a drum tutor for her school three years ago. “I’m quite good at the front stuff,” says Terry. “Designing posters and flyers, talking to promoters on the night itself, but I don’t have contacts in the school itself.” Classically trained (flute and piano) Kate, meanwhile, “wouldn’t have had a clue” how to set up a gig, but knows “a lot of music teachers. They’re busy and might not pay attention to a mail-shot, but I speak to them personally. I’m good on the admin side, too.” A marked shift in school ecology has helped, says Kate. “A lot of schools do BTEC courses now – performing arts and music – so, depending on the modules pupils take, they’re required to be in bands.” “When I was in school,” says 24-year-

old Terry, “I didn’t even get to do GCSE music because only three of us wanted to do it. If someone had tried this concept then, I don’t think it would have worked.” Changed times. Access To Music – the college Terry himself attended – now run courses in schools, and also attend TNG nights. In return, they help supply the acts with equipment. As Kate says, “it really makes sense to link it up – everyone has the same aim. We want to give young people somewhere to go, to come along and watch and have a good time.” “Rather than drinking on the corner of a park, listening to music on their iPod when they could be listening to real music in a real venue,” adds Terry. That ‘real venue’ is very much the point. Schools might have battle of the bands nights or end-of-term concerts but, says Kate, “a band want to see people standing and moving, not sitting down because of health and safety”. They don’t come much more ‘real’ than the Fleece. The bands are “standing on a stage where their idols have stood,” says Terry. “You see them walk in and they look at all the posters above

the bar: Radiohead, Coldplay. That’s a massive deal for them.” And for the parents: he tells Venue of the dad looking on in rapt disbelief as his daughter played the same stage graced by the heroes of his youth. Come curtain down, the acts playing the Fleece will have learnt how to promote (flyering, Facebooking etc), soundcheck and, of course, perform from a ‘proper’ stage. The potential for moving on from there is clear. “Some of the bands that have played have gone on to play The Cooler, The Croft, the Louie,” reveals Terry. “We put them in the loop.” Fancy a go yourself? Dead straightforward, he avows. “Everyone can record themselves on phones, so we’ll ask for a YouTube clip to get a general idea. It doesn’t matter what style they play.” Little wonder that the knockon effect in schools is already striking, as Kate reveals. “I’ve had kid after kid coming to see me asking ‘Oh, miss, can we practise at lunchtime?’” THE NEXT GENERATION’S NEXT FLEECE NIGHT IS ON TUE 6 SEPT. FFI: WWW.TNGMUSIC.CO.UK


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Music // THE MONTH AHEAD // ROCK Jimmy Goodrich



JAZZ Marius Neset // A protégé of Django Bates since his teens, this young Norwegian saxophonist’s 2011 debut CD ‘Golden Xplosion’ blew the critics away right across Europe. No wonder – the album bursts with fresh ideas and sheer virtuosity in a way that recalls the early Courtney Pine or Neset’s compatriot Jan Garbarek. No jazz lover should miss this terrifyingly brilliant musician.

// Welcome return of the Bristolbased Canuck as he launches the ‘Goneland’ long player, a sumptuously produced affair switching between rock and roots, heavy on dobro-accented, lusciously-woven arrangements. And, of course, that soaring Buckley-recalling voice. JIMMY GOODRICH PLAYS THE FOLK HOUSE, BRISTOL ON FRI 9 SEPT.

ROOTS Sam Baker & KC McKanzie


ROCK Youth 4 Youth Festival

// Fifth birthday for the brilliant Main Event, run by young people for young people, and showcasing local talent across metal, indie, hip-hop and beyond. Following in the stage steps of the likes of Fightstar and Lil’ Chris, there’s a particularly welltimed booking for the out-of-town headliners, too: politically agitating London punkers The King Blues (pictured). YOUTH 4 YOUTH FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE AT THE KINGSWOOD FOUNDATION, BRISTOL ON SAT 3 SEPT.

50 // SEPTEMBER 2011

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// Fine-looking double bill, this. Austin-hailing Baker sings diamonds-in-the-dirt country-folk with exactly the kind of delivered yesterday/ arrived this morning drawl you’d hope for in a Texan. McKanzie (pictured), meanwhile, is a banjo-totin’ German plier of dust-dry Americana, and a miss-at-your-peril act in her own right. SAM BAKER AND KC MCKANZIE PLAY ST BONAVENTURE’S, BRISTOL ON MON 12 SEPT.

ROCK Redfest


// So good it’s brewing a special celebratory ale, the fest is set to bring forth over 50 free acts and activities (acrobatics, photography, burlesque, graffing, kids’ events etc), with music including properly extraordinary beatboxer Vid Warren, electro-indie troupe Neotropics, ace singer-songwriter The Lonely Tourist and blues/bluebeat blenders Smokestack Shakers. Visit for full details. REDFEST TAKES PLACE AT VARIOUS VENUES AROUND CHURCH RD, REDFIELD, BRISTOL FROM MON 5-SUN 11 SEPT.


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WORLD Joe Driscoll & Seckou Keita



// Combining real instruments with vocal percussion and those indispensable loopy gizmos, Joe Driscoll is a one-man band par excellence, making big-sounding rock/blues/reggae mishmashery. He can’t do everything, however, and the beautiful intricacies of Seckou Keita’s kora add their distinctive West African flavour to this must-see duo. JOE DRISCOLL & SECKOU KEITA WILL BE APPEARING AT THE BELL, BATH ON WED 7 SEPT.

ROCK KT Tunstall



CLASSICAL Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

// It’s been a fair old while since KT was a remote cottagedwelling member of Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson’s Fence Collective. A few million album sales ago, in fact, with the pop hook-ladling singersongwriter’s debut album ‘Eye To The Telescope’ (‘Other Side Of The World’, ‘Suddenly I See’ etc) thrusting her into global focus. This month she returns to tour third long player ‘proper’, ‘Tiger Suit’.

// The BSO opens the Bristol orchestral season next month, but it’s taking an early Bath first – weaving Grieg and Promsendorsed Frank Bridge through a Mozartian threesome of overture (La finta giardiniera), concerto (the debonair 4th Horn Concerto) and symphony (the sun-drenched No 29 in A). Rui Pinheiro conducts.


ROOTS Ralph McTell



// A brilliantly enduring talent, wherein ragtime blues guitar meets Woody Guthrie-inspired folksiness, Ralph McTell has been plying his storytelling trade for over 50 years. This month he arrives to promote current studio album, ‘Somewhere Down This Road’, and the first of six collections of live tracks, ‘Songs For Six Strings, Volume One’. RALPH MCTELL PLAYS ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL ON THUR 29 SEPT.

CLASSICAL Presteigne Festival Soloists


// Glazunov-bound Nicola Benedetti (3 Sept), and Schubert-saluting Paul Lewis (30 Sept) might be St George’s September stars, but snugly framed ‘a la Russe’ between Shostakovich and Stravinsky’s ‘Soldier’s Tale’, The Presteigne Festival Soloists bring a taste of this summer’s festival with new and newish music by Joseph Phibbs, John Hawkins and Zita Bruzaite. PRESTEIGNE FESTIVAL PLAYERS ARE AT ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL ON THUR 29 SEPT.


Music Month Ahead 972.indd 51

// News welter ahoy! Firstly, our 2010 top musical banana, fado ace Claudia Aurora, is having a heck of a 2011. Following on from her Radio 3-broadcast show from London’s Southbank, her ‘Silencio’ album has been licensed for global distribution by World Village-Harmonia Mundi. Not only that, but it’s been rerecorded with a top line producer/ guest players at Riverside Studios and mastered at Metropolis London. Released at the end of October, she’ll be playing Bristol on Fri 25 Nov. This month sees the release of a new Bronnt Industries Kapital soundtrack: ‘Turksib’, a suitably machinecentric 1929 Soviet film documenting the building of a railroad through central Asia. Guy Bronnt was also Southbank-bound last month, performing a live accompaniment to a screening at the BFI, with the DVD slated for release on Mon 19 Sept. Clifton’s Cori Tap has been awarded Best Live Music Pub in the West Country at the Great British Pub Awards 2011! Later this month they’ll be attending a ceremony at The London Hilton in a bid for overall triumph. Richly deserved it would be an’ all. www. Westonbased rocking keyboardist Mark Green contacted Rock Desk to a) thank the medical staff who helped him overcome cancer, because it means b) he’s been able to release his debut album, the “unashamedly” progging ‘Fantasy Bridge’. Top work, sir. BCFM’s Jelli Records Bristol Music Show has switched days and now goes out live from 8-10pm every Monday. Ace ragga-hopsters First Degree Burns are in fine fettle and have released their first music video, ‘Who Dem Guys (ft. B’Tol)’: http://youtu. be/9qftO07cU3Y... Finally, a shout out to local music hero Mr Scott. A DJ on newly-launched Melksham Community Radio, the latest show features Invada aces Thought Forms, Hell Death Fury and the Subhumans, “as well as lots of stuff that isn’t from Melksham”. Local bands are invited to get in touch. http://

SEPTEMBER 2011 // 51

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52 // september 2011

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8/24/2011 4:27:14 PM


For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

Top Josh Tony Benjamin meets the SW’s hottest sax star.


here’s a great story about the young Alfred Ellis in the late 50s catching the train from his Washington home to New York City and bumping into jazz legend Sonny Rollins in the street. The young beginner cheekily asked the saxophone colossus if he would give him lessons and the great man agreed, thus giving the first boost to a career that would take ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis round the world as musical director for James Brown and Van Morrison. Cut forward some 40 years to Frome in Somerset and a woman catches sight of a sax player practising in the local graveyard. Her 13-year-old son has just been given an alto for his birthday so she goes over and asks the man if he would give the boy some lessons. Pee Wee (for it is he) agrees and thus begins the apprenticeship of Josh Arcoleo, one of the most promising young jazz talents to have come out of the South West for a generation. “We had no idea who he was,” Josh recalls. “When we found out it was like ‘Wow!’” Five years ago the Bristol and Bath jazz scene was buzzing about young Josh Arcoleo. Just 17 years old, he was popping up at sessions and gigs all over

“Performing just seemed like the thing I should be doing.” Josh Arcoleo venuemagazine

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the place, leaving a roomful of dropped jaws behind him. Josh remembers it well: “That year was amazing. I did so many gigs, made so many friends with people of all different generations – that’s the great thing about music. And I got to play so many different types of music, which there are in Bristol. I’m not the kind of player who only does one thing, and the Bristol scene was a massive part of encouraging that. It was great – I get more and more proud of being from round here, you know.” After a busy 18 months he was accepted onto the jazz course at the Royal Academy in London – one of the most prestigious musical training grounds in the country. Academia was new to the young musician: “The crazy thing is I have no GCSEs or anything – though I did get a BTech in popular music from Bath College – but I was home educated from the age of seven, mostly by my mum. So once I started learning the sax it was pretty much music all the way, listening to jazz, practising and getting lessons from Pee Wee. The most valuable thing Pee Wee gave me was getting me to play with him. My first gig was in his band at the Blue Note in Milan when I was 16. After that there were so many gigs, and I was always playing with amazing musicians, but they just seemed to accept me so I didn’t really think anything of it at the time.” So, at 18 years old and with an impressive musical CV already behind him, Josh arrived in London for his first experience of ‘proper’ education. “It was good to finally be with really great players of my own age as I’d always played with older people. And I’d never really questioned myself about music,

Local boy done good Josh Arcoleo

I’d just done it because I loved doing it. The course made me look at that, question myself and then move on.” If Josh questioned himself, then the answer must surely have been ‘Yes!’ because this July he passed out of the Academy with not only a first class degree but also a handful of special awards, including the Principal’s Prize for exceptional studentship, the Yamaha Parliamentary Jazz Scholarship and the Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize. That latter one, named after the contemporary jazz trumpet legend, entitles him to a recording contract with Edition Records, the Cardiffbased label that’s fast emerging as the UK’s benchmark for top-quality jazz. It might be a daunting prospect but, happily, Josh left the Academy with a full set of his own tunes and a quartet made up of some of the hottest young names on the UK scene: Ivo Neame (piano), Calum Gourlay (bass) and James

Maddren (drums) are a force to be reckoned with and Josh appreciates that: “I can’t believe I’m recording my own album with them and I’m still only 22!” But the fact is he’s proved his own worth and it’s no more than his due. Asked what else he’s doing, he mentions four separate gigs at this year’s London Jazz Festival and a possible trip to New York before the inevitable tour to promote that album in the spring. It’s an enviable workload and a daunting step up in his career, but this unassuming young starin-the-making is not really fazed: “I’ve never really been bothered by performing, it just seemed like the thing I should be doing. I did it because people asked me. Being a bandleader does feel like another proposition but, when I think about it, I feel good, actually. I think it’s going to be fun.” And somehow you know it really will be just that. FFI: WWW.JOSHARCOLEO.COM/

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Sound : Lighting : Staging Hire : Sales : Installations : Repairs Parties • Festivals • Weddings • Corporate tel 0845 224 5967 || 07812 111 646 web email

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Got a gig to list? Upload it to us at submit-a-listing

// don't miss //


The Unthanks

// ROOTS None more old school industrial folk: bringers of the most hauntingly beauteous harmony, Tyneside hailers The Unthanks open the songbook of the coal-mining industry with backing from the 130th anniversary-celebrating Brighouse & Rastrick brass band. Expect new arrangements of tracks from all four Unthanks albums, as well as new material. THE UNTHANKS SAT 17 SEPT, ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL


// ROCK Surrey: so little to answer for. There’s Hard-Fi, mind. The big chorusing indie anthemists (think Embrace with a light dusting of The Clash) are touring brass-toting new single ‘Good For Nothing’, taken from newly released third album ‘Killer Sounds’.

the big gig

Kill it Kid


Success, sxsw and arson: Mike White talks to Bath’s hottest blues-rockers.


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one of the vice presidents of Warner’s – a big guy. When we got to SXSW and he was sitting in the audience, a lot of other people got very, very excited very quickly.” Before long they’d been flown to New York to play for the major labels, and are now “looking at the finer points of an American release, and a publishing deal with EMI”. The energy of youth mixed with the power of electric blues has won them some famous fans. The Kills swung by to see them in Texas, as did Jack White. ‘Feet Fall Heavy’ is a ‘spirit of the times’ album. But Chris describes it more as a meeting of “the passion and the honesty” of the pre-war bluesmen with the turbulence of modern times. “A lot of it came from listening to these Lomax samples – the unbelievable passion and honesty – whilst living above a cheap, nasty nightclub in Bath, seeing the same screaming arguments, the same people breaking each other’s heads open at four in the morning, night after night.” ‘Feet Fall Heavy’ was due for release on 19 Sept, making their Bristol gig a launch party of sorts, but the release date’s been put back: last month, the warehouse where all copies of the record were stored was destroyed by pyromaniac rioters. Spirit of the times indeed. KILL IT KID PLAY THE LOUISIANA, BRISTOL ON MON 19 SEPT. SEE WWW.THELOUISIANA.NET FOR DETAILS. FFI: MYSPACE.COM/KILLITKID

// CLASSICAL Honouring the 400th anniversary of the death of Victoria, The Sixteen devote this year’s ‘Choral Pilgrimage’ to a sumptuous survey of the Spaniard’s most seductive sacred polyphony. Heaven! THE SIXTEEN THUR 15 SEPT, WELLS CATHEDRAL


// Kill it Kid always were destined for greatness. Back in 2008, PJ Harvey’s righthand man John Parish was invited to Bath Spa Uni to demonstrate his recording prowess with a guinea-pig band. The guinea pigs were a new-formed KIK, and soon they’d cut an EP which won them a contract with One Little Indian (home of Björk, amongst others). Their eponymous debut was “an outstanding British record, 9/10,” said Clash Magazine; “A hook-laden riot.... impressive stuff, 8/10,” said NME. After a whirl of touring, they holed up in the studio again. The result was the grittier blues howl of forthcoming album ‘Feet Fall Heavy’. Taking the adjectives from its song titles together gives a pretty good description: ‘wild’, ‘wasted’, ‘dark-hearted’, ‘sweet’ and ‘heavy’. Tracks are interspersed with the raw, primitive urgency of Alan Lomax field recordings, giving a potent collision of prewar blues and supercharged electric riffing, above which soar the voices of co-vocalists Chris Turpin and Stephanie Ward; his a cavernous, otherworldly roar, hers all satiny power. They’re now bona fide superstars in waiting. Says Chris; “Before we went out to SXSW [huge music festival in Texas] we did an acoustic showcase at MIDEM, and a chap called Seymour Stein got quite excited about us. He’s

The Sixteen

The Pushy Doctors

// JAZZ International acclaim and his ECM recording deal aside, the great Andy Sheppard’s brilliant side project with Dan ‘Porkchop’ Moore and Tony Birdman Orrell is a top-quality jazz experience laced with fun (and even a whiff of cheese). THE PUSHY DOCTORS FRI 30 SEPT, THE GREENBANK, BRISTOL


// ROCK Return of the Bristol supergroup: Tammy ‘Jukes’ Payne, Jim ‘Get The Blessing’ Barr, Neil ‘Smith & Willox’ Smith (Liftmen), Dan ‘Pee Wee Ellis’ Moore and Matt ‘Zun Zun Egui’ Jones. If we loved the sumptuous soul of debut covers album ‘Don’t Think Twice’, we can’t wait for this showcasing of their own material. TAMCO FRI 23 SEPT, THE CUBE, BRISTOL

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Saturday 27 August GREG HUMPHREYS £10.00 / £12.00

// ALBUMS, SINGLES, EPs, downloads// BAOBINGA & CO.

‘Joint Ventures’ (LP, Build Recordings)



‘Attic Tapes/Live At The Thunderbolt 09’ (Double EP, selfreleased)

‘Hymns of the Black Flag’ (LP, self-released)

// DJ, producer and blogger Sam ‘Baobinga’ Simpson coined the term ‘bass music’ to describe his big picture approach. ‘Joint Ventures’ – artfully blends techno, jungle, grime and dubstep into a colour riot of virtuoso beats and upfront synth hooks. The bulk is drawn from collaborative work – from sleazy, sweaty bangers like ‘N.S.G’ (with Mensah) to the atmospheric drum & bass of Gemmy pairing ‘Rockfall’. Best of all are the achingly melodic ‘Bumba’ (with Guido), and the Hyetal-assisted ‘Anything For You’, whose relentless melodic pressure, hard jacking groove and nuclear subs are about as Bristol – and as brilliant – as it gets right now. (Adam Burrows) HHHHH

// Classically trained Bristolian pianist-singer Rossanne Hamilton here offers a beautifully packaged showcase of her talents. It’s ambitious and higher-educated fare full of words like “reticence” and “innocuous”, Hamilton’s light and acrobatic voice given to many an expressive twist and turn. The remorseless girliness of everything is mercifully zhuzhed up by bursts of Regina Spektor-ish eccentricity, while the live half of this double EP package suggests a live setting affects Hamilton like a shot of the purest endorphins – she is sweeter, sharper, more finely modulated, more alive, and must snatch the audience’s breath clean away. A charmer. (Anna Britten) HHHHH

// Echo Park Orchestra mainman Peter Ridsdale’s iPodThursday must 13th October holdIAN lots MCFERON of early Genesis. FOLK/ AMERICANA His latest album once again £8.00/£10.00 cloaks a fiercely anti-religious anarchist Fridayphilosophy 14 October in classic BECKY GREEN prog-style musical elaborations / £8.00 poetic lyrics. and £6.00 portentously Steve Hogg’s Gabrielesque vocals perfectly characterise tracks like ‘The Human Bomb’ and ‘Rally Round The Black Flag’, while a well-chosen galaxy of local jazz stars make much of the tightly scored music. A deliciously original album, sparkling with bright musical insouciance. (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH www.



‘Love, My Evil’/’Let Law Be Upheld’ (Single, self-released)

‘Keep Your Colours’ (7-track EP, self-released)

// There’s much to admire in this youthful two girl/three boy’s punklaced six-track debut. Annie Kelleher has a fine way with a livewire riff, the band gel tightly and eschew the common pitfall of the would-be-thoughtful/actuallyplodding mid-song breakdown in favour of sprinting to the finish. And writing of what you know is always smart (see ode to band life, 'Breadline', and "there's money in this... somewhere"). Jen Ollerenshaw’s classically trained voice is admirably controlled but, maybe, a little in its comfort zone. Promise aplenty. (Julian Owen) HHHHH Curseyoudamnkids

// Despite being a downloadonly affair, this is, we’re told, a double A-side. Do downloads have sides? Let’s assume they do. There’s ‘Let Law Be Upheld’, which sounds very much like a B-side: a sweet, unhurried surf instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on the ‘Pulp Fiction’ soundtrack. But flip the twin-facetted file over and surely here’s the real Side A, staccato-surf wonder ‘Love, My Evil’ – a chopsy, jealous affair, all clipped diction, arched lyrics and 50s guitars. It’s superbly brief (<90 seconds), and yet manages to ooze with melodrama, one eyebrow raised and quivering. (Mike White) HHHHH

// Chunky melodic rock, paint-stripping vocals and an MXR flanger for the guitar solos. Yep, Gouranga like their Nirvana. ‘Bile’ is a big comforting cardigan of loud/quiet guitars and soggy cardboard drums. ‘Rose And Time’ seems to have fallen off the ‘Bleach’ album, in a good way. ‘Rife Machine’ is an intriguing change of pace, spoken word building to a towering climax of howling guitars. The inclusion of three live recordings is the real surprise, as they sound terrific, actually eclipsing the studio material for sweaty excitement. Proper job. (Kid Pensioner) HHHHH gourangamusic

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Friday 16 September 20TH CENTURY FOXES £13.50 / £15.00 Wednesday 21st September COLE STACEY & ODI £10.00/£12.00 Saturday 24 September CLAIRE MARTIN & RICHARD BENNETT SING IRVING BERLIN £19.00 / £20.00 / £22.50 Friday 30th September CALIMA-FLAMENCO TRIO & LA AMBAR (dancer) £10.00/£12.00 Saturday 1 October THREE PIECE SUITE CONCERT FOR CRUSE £8.00 / £10.00 Sunday 2nd October HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER & WILLIAM TYLER £10.00/£12.00 Thursday 6 October FINI BEARMAN (Contemporary Jazz Vocalist) £8.00 / £10.00 Friday 7 October KIKI DEE AND CARMELO LUGGERI £18.50 / £20.00 Sunday 9th October ASHLEY FAYTH FOLK £8.00/£10.00 Chapel Arts Centre Lower Borough Walls, Bath BA1 1QR Box Office: 01225 463362 01225 461700 Arts Cafe - Mon - Sat 9.30 - 5.30


‘Sorta Like An Epiphany’ (EP, Screamlite Records)


Friday 2 September THE BUSH TECHNOLOGISTS £10.00 / £12.00

EVERY MONDAY Groundswell open mic night EVERY THURSDAY Pepper your Leopard EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY Top live DJ’s playing the best sounds around. Open until 3am. EVERY SUNDAY Comedy Cavern (see comedy listings for details). HAPPY HOUR 8-10pm HOUSE DOUBLES £4 FREE WI-FI . SKY SPORTS ON HD SCREEN POOL TABLES IN THE CELLAR BAR Food served daily from 11am-9pm. Serving Vegetarian/Vegan foods. 20% discounts on food to students with NUS card. Under new management. 15 George Street, Bath, BA1 2QS 01225 424 104 //

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For more reviews and extra pics, see The people take to the streets - and not a riot in sight

Live review See No Evil


Nelson St, Bristol (Sat 20 Aug) // “Welcome to Bristol” reads Tats Cru’s convivial doodle above Café Central. The setting is an urban dream. Formerly drab apartment blocks show off their bizarre new depictions and the streets are festooned with deck chairs and fake grass. A whiff of sausage wafts down Nelson Street. Debenhams is only a few minutes away but all this is the perfect antithesis to last week’s riot. A sense of unity and community is prevalent. The jubilation is almost overwhelming. Whilst DJ Die and Gus Pirelli bring their lively house-viafunky to the main stage, towering over a multitude of early dancers, Nick Walker’s gargantuan bowlerhatted figure empties a tin of paint on top of us. It’s a rather distracting backdrop. Meanwhile, wander past Niels Meulman’s bewildering calligraffiti labyrinth and you discover MC Lil Rhys rapping with YouTube sensation Mr Woodnote outside The Galleries. Together they loop and intertwine beatboxing,

58 // august 2011

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suave sax, bleepy electronics and slick whiteboy wordplay with a strangely engrossing outcome. A mix of UK funky and Beyoncé blares out of the Red Bull vehicle outside the Lanes whilst Shambarber plays electronica and does fine beverage vending business. Arguably the most striking of the installations, Aryz’s plump wolf clad in lumberjack shirt and braces looms high. The crowd now scopes the whole stretch, and pioneering electro-funk maestro Greg Wilson storms an early headline set. His samples span everything old skool, from a throbbing ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ to an anthemic ‘Getting Away With It’. Bolstered with hypnotic bass loops, undulating piano slithers, ringing cowbells and thudding bass drums, they incite singalongs and put-your-handsup moments aplenty. DJ Milo later rocks it. After-parties ensue. Welcome to Bristol, indeed. (Huw Oliver)


8/24/2011 12:59:29 PM


LIVE REVIEW Foot Village/Fairhorns/Winston Egbert The Croft, Bristol (Fri 5 Aug)

LIVE REVIEW Oxjam: Silhouette Showgirls/Bite The Buffalo/Dirty Kiss

// A boy, a girl, flailing merry hell out of guitar and drums, respectively. Their tonsils take a similar hammering. With a loudness in inverse proportion to the weight of song subject matter – one is about Noah’s Ark Zoo (and its “bad snakes”) – Winston Egbert’s stall is set out as a next generation Hacksaw. “Police are keeping an open mind, but it sure looks like Suicide to me,” quips Rock Desk’s companion, Tony Benjamin, of Matt ‘Formerly Team Brick’ Williams’s new solo project, Fairhorns. Stood among a welter of wires and keys, pumping out motorifik synth beats beneath droneas-feedback notes of ion, he’s well worthy of the comparison. In a nonstep set, a dub sensibility imparts itself for a couple of minutes before the static returns, fractured; think Death in Vegas fighting their way out of an overloaded substation. Near the conclusion, into the swirl drop powerfully-voiced incantations redolent of those soaring across

// It’s a testament to Oxjam’s principles that they lean towards the local music scene, and a shame punters don’t seem to have the same dedication. Still, the intimate venue and sporadic crowd lend an atmosphere akin to having walked in on a jam session. Not a bad jam session, mind – the heavy and serious Dirty Kiss smash through a decent enough set of classic, soaring rock, each track building to a lovely mesh of noise. Seemingly influenced by Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, Kings of Leon and Lenny Kravitz all at once, it works. Sort of. By the sixth track everything starts to feel a little formulaic and interest wanes. Really, there’s little not to like about them but, then, that’s almost the problem. Bite the Buffalo are a different proposition – a Zambian two-piece specialising in a brand of stomp rock which is almost screaming out for White Stripes comparisons. Frontman Stos is the main draw, excitedly delivering everyman lyrics, cranking out bluesy riffs and cock-walking the stage like he owns it. Each track is short, sharp and to the point, the perfect antidote to

rooftops in the Middle East, and a Tibetan drone pipe (looking like the leg of a bagpipe torn asunder). It’s a thrillingly rollercoaster sound, in which it’s key to note the delicate beauty at its centre. “Would everyone please take one step forward,” request LA’s Foot Village (pictured). Thus we encircle a pile of drums gathered in the middle of The Croft’s floor, and three men and one woman about to send their instruments to meet their maker. Or, at the very least, repairer. What follows is like Malcolm McLaren’s early 80s tribal drum fixation – think Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow – grown to monsterish proportion, gone feral, and is utterly entrancing. Vocalists take turn to wheel around the circle, screaming as if in roleguaranteeing audition for the lead of a possessed-by-the-devil evangelical Christian propaganda film. Happily for us, neither find redemption and rail all night. Scan the crowd’s faces and they are, almost to a person, a study in grinning disbelief. Besides this gig, the band is in the city to record with Williams and make “the best album we’ve not released yet”. Can’t wait. (Julian Owen)

The Croft, Bristol (Thur 11 Aug)

LIVE REVIEW Early Opera Company: Rodelinda


// Crammed with juicy arias, dramatically a gripping page-turner of a thriller driven by vicious power struggles and the entanglements of love, why is Handel’s ‘Rodelinda’ not core repertoire for every opera company? It’s a piece firing on all cylinders. And with Christian Curnyn and his Early Opera Company back at Iford after last year’s absence, there was enough electricity going spare for the National Grid to come a-knocking. Spurred on by Curnyn’s customary poise, energy and verve, the band has never sounded better – and with a persuasive cast, musically the piece was straight out of the top drawer from first note to last. Martin Constantine’s battle-shipgrey-dominated production put a dampener on the flames, however, by trying too hard. It all looked a bit 1970s East German ‘Regietheater’, what with masked heavies (punching paper screens) sporting overcoats

// It’s been a scorcher of an afternoon and the streets of Clifton are mighty quiet by sunset. The Cori’s small (but enthusiastic) crowd includes a disproportionate number of bass players checking out Will Harris’s less usual electric rig. There’s a lot of gear: as well as Andy Tween’s drumkit and Harris’s mass of gizmos, Andy Nowak is almost hidden behind his three keyboard rig. It’s appropriately excessive, though, to recreate the synth-driven electrojazz of the 80s. In a provocative start Nowak riffs over white noise bursts suggesting system failure, with Tween’s drums scratching and hinting before Harris slams a proper full-on FX bass sound and things drive along. It’s the first of many Wayne Shorter tunes with

Iford (Tue 2 Aug)


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that might have run the gauntlet of a colony of severely incontinent seagulls. And while the anonymity of Martin Friend’s paper-obsessed design provided a sharp counterpoint to the unfolding turmoils, the staging often distracted – the final gesture of the boy-prince raining on the parade of the finale’s rejoicing by brandishing a knife too clunky for words. The implication was clear, but didn’t need to be underlined in marker pen. Especially when some of the singers were so adept as actors. Gillian Ramm’s Rodelinda could encapsulate a world in a glance and vocally she was a natural Handelian, effortlessly floating the pathos of the Queen, and ravishing in the duet which reunited her with James Laing’s affecting Bertarido. Nathan Vale’s Grimoaldo was no mere black-and-white baddie and Doreen Curran’s Eduige exuded richly upholstered colours. Production excesses aside, vintage Iford! (Paul Riley)

what went before and mesmerising to watch. Good noise. First impressions of Silhouette Showgirls? (Pictured) Well, they look like a band who might write a few songs in the morning, get their chests waxed together before lunch then hit the gym in the afternoon. They just look too pretty to be rock and roll. But within 30 seconds of the opening track, all is forgiven. They’re good. In fact, it’s bands like SS who make reviewing the local scene worthwhile. Melodic without being trite, heavy without swamping a track they have a perfect sense of how to build a track properly, when to rough things up and when to hold back, holding the attention of the criminally small crowd for the whole set. The influences are there but this band has a sound of their own. They’re the real deal, ‘When In Rome’ deserves to be an anthem and if there’s any justice (which there isn’t), these Chippenham boys should be destined for bigger things. (Stuart Roberts)

Coronation Tap, Bristol (Sun 21 Aug) typically tightly drawn rhythms, urgent evolutionary bass and wafting synthetic keyboards. Though Nowak has fine style and uses his keyboard palette well, the sound lacks, inevitably, the cut of a soprano sax and at times that feels an oversight. At other times, however, their open three-handed economy is exactly right: the fiercely complex rhythms of centric Bill Bruford’s ‘Hell’s Bells’ coupled with impassioned wah-wah bass (oh yes!) and locked-tight keys is right on the button and the briskly no-nonsense reading of Shorter’s ‘Over Shadow Hill Way’ that closes is triumphant. On this showing Prototrio is a great addition to the local jazz menu, lacking only a few capes, perhaps, some dry ice… and maybe the occasional guest reed player? (Tony Benjamin)

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Breakfast of Champions

For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

Adam Burrows meets Champion soundboy Danny Heffer.


n the beginning was the bassline. When Jamaican soundsystem culture tore through the UK underground in the early 90s, so did its lexicon of ‘drops’, ‘rewinds’, ‘burials’, and worship of bass as a violent, yet comforting physical force. This was the junglist explosion, and we’ve been feeling the aftershocks ever since. Champion Sound’s parties recall the moment that dancehall met hardcore, with a range of bass-heavy styles from dub to drum & bass and UK hip-hop. “The general rule is to keep it reggae based,” says promoter Danny Heffer. “We have classic jungle in the main room, but from there anything can happen. We’ve had jungle legends working with reggae legends – people who may not have worked together before, so the sets are a bit special. It gets some great results.” Their main venue is Lakota, and it means a lot to Danny: “It had to be Lakota. The history there, with the old Ruffneck Ting, Full Cycle and Metalheadz nights, means it’s a place that will always be in our hearts. Marti – the original manager from

the club’s 90s heyday – has returned to the helm, and it looks like she’ll be bringing back more of that magic in the coming months.” ‘Champion Sound’ was a 1993 anthem by Q-Project, and Danny picked up on jungle from the off. “Growing up in Bristol, jungle was unmissable, and its biggest export for quite some time,” he says. “There’s still a lot of love for d&b here, and with the equipment producers use nowadays, there are loads of possibilities being explored that capture that original feeling. Our aim is to offer people that missed out first time around some of that original sparkle.” This means keeping up with a scene that’s grown a long way from its geographical roots. “Since the internet developed it’s been embraced as a global sound – something that is played and made the world over.” He identifies the UK’s Aries and the USA’s Dirty Dubsters and Liondub as “great people coming through”, adding that “the MIR crew from Sweden really smashed it when they came”. He cites Don Letts, Doctor P and Nicky Blackmarket as Champion Sound highlights, as well as legendary vocalist Peter Bouncer

who reprised his soulful turns on Shut Up & Dance’s ‘Raving I’m Raving’ and – after a little persuasion – Congo Natty’s ‘Junglist’. “Whether it's an old classic production team that we tracked down, or the scene's best vocalists working back to back, there are always a few hours of recorded gold to take home and listen to until the next one.” September’s chapter should be a classic – with live reggae from Manchester eight-piece Nucleus Roots and top-class turntablists The Nextmen. Then there’s UK rap pioneer Blak Twang, Ed Solo with dubwise toaster Darrison, and a supporting cast of top drum & bassers including Bryan G, Remarc, Moving Fusion and Aries. Danny’s looking forward to it: “The nights have a great atmosphere with people who love the music travelling from around the UK to sample the famous Bristol vibe. We've had people from Germany, Japan and Malaysia coming over, so if you're in town anyway you'd be silly not to give it a go.” CHAMPION SOUND RETURNS TO LAKOTA ON FRI 30 SEPT. FFI: WWW. CHAMPIONSOUND.Tv

Manc dubsters Nucleus Roots come to Champion Sound

“It had to be Lakota. The history there… means it’s a place that will always be in our hearts.” danny heffer, champion sound venuemagazine

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// NEWS // People, get ready //Last year’s inaugural In:Motion was the biggest thing to happen to Bristol’s clubland in aeons. As well as dominating many local ravers’ memories of last autumn, its three-month season of expertly programmed underground parties was cited by Mixmag as a highlight of the year. It seems only fair to get a little excited, then, because In:Motion 2011 is due to kick off next month, and it looks like being even bigger than last year. As before the venue is Motion, the 2,000-capacity skate park-cumrave warehouse in St Philips, and as before it will host some of the hottest names from the UK underground alongside an enviable array of supporting talent from Bristol and beyond. You’ll find the full line-ups on the In:Motion website, but – call it force of habit – Venue loves a good list, and we think you’ll agree this is a good one. Headliners include Jamie Woon, Calvin Harris, Caspa, Cocoon, Jamie Jones, Ms Dynamite, Fake Blood, Rusko, EZ, Soul Clap and Jamie XX, while the list of locals covers pretty much the entire electronic spectrum, with (deep breath) Julio Bashmore, Eats Everything, Joker, Redlight, Waifs & Strays, Peverelist, Baobinga, Bowski, Interface, Mensah, Idle Hands, Die, Christophe, Futureboogie, Lukas and Deepgroove all booked to keep you moving through the last three months of the year. We can’t wait. IN: MOTION 2011 FOR MORE INFORMATION, INCLUDING FULL LINEUPS, DATES AND TICKETS, SEE WWW. BRISTOLINMOTION.COM

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Clubs // THE MONTH AHEAD // 51º27’ Kingdom



// New York’s Ezra Rubin – aka Kingdom – blends the cyber-sexy futurism of turn-of-the-millennium R&B (he cites Aliyaah as an inspiration) with the latest electronic sounds from both sides of the Atlantic. The result is accessible yet imaginative fare that deftly walks a line between unashamed party vibes and bass-heavy claustrophobia. Releases for London’s Night Slugs and Brooklyn’s Fool’s Gold – not to mention an excellent new podcast for online magazine XLR8R – suggest this could be a bit special.


// Jay Weed comes from the French city of Lyon. Working at house tempo, but sonically indebted to the bass, space and dread atmospherics of early dubstep, his ‘Prism’ 12” came out on Oneman’s 502 Recordings at the end of last year and has been wrecking systems ever since. 2011 has seen him develop his style further with the exotically percussive ‘On The Nile’ EP and a deeply dubby remix for Crystal Fighters. His Bristol debut comes with strong local support from EFA, The Kelly Twins and Diss Miss.



UNITED SOUNDS Roni Size, Grooverider and more

3. DRAMA Leeks // Manchester-based Leeks is an up-andcoming producer with releases already under his belt for big-hitting Cologne labels Traum and Trapez, as well as London imprint Piso. Last year’s ‘Qwerty’ EP showed a flair for dark minimalist funk that locates him somewhere on the tech-ier side of tech-house. Supports include Rich Dolby – who reportedly once held the record for the longest ever non-stop DJ set (48 hours, apparently) – as well as Drama residents Deep Thought, Greg Shaw, and Dave Kirik.

// A genuinely huge line-up that takes in the full spectrum (or should that be cycle?) of drum & bass. Bristol number one Roni Size joins fellow veterans Grooverider, Dillinja and Mickey Finn, plus there’s back-to-back action from Nicky Blackmarket and Jumping Jack Frost, Ed Rush and Optical, Bryan G and Randall, and Sly and Majistrate. All in all, you’re looking at 60 artists across five rooms in one night. Junglists, are you ready?




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// Slam Poetry //


QU JUNKTIONS Factory Floor, Anika & Hype Williams

// It may not be a club night as such, but this 50th anniversary show for Arnolfini looks like being a contender for strangest party of the month. Hype Williams (pictured) justify the door tax alone – the duo’s surreal, bassy, hip-hop-informed electronica is among the most truly original music to come out of London in recent years. Also on the menu are beaty industrialists Factory Floor and ace dub-punk anti-diva Anika, while the decks will be manned by the sensational JD Twitch of Glasgow’s legendary post-everything club Optimo. QU JUNKTIONS ARNOLFINI, BRISTOL, SAT 24 SEPT. FFI: HTTP:// QUJUNKTIONS.COM/

7. BRISFEST Rave on Avon

6. JUST JACK Hypercolour // Proving that you don’t have to go to Germany or the US to find forward-thinking 4/4 beats, Hypercolour has been mining an all killer, no filler seam since 2006 with releases from the likes of Glimpse, Peace Division and Mark Henning. Tonight’s headliner is Tom Demac, who’s released two impressive EPs of deep techno for the imprint, while support comes from the hypnotic house grooves of Cedric Maison (aka label co-runner Jamie Russell), plus local lads Tom Rio and Fred Prest. JUST JACK DOJO, BRISTOL, SAT 24 SEPT. FFI: WWW.HYPERCOLOUR.CO.UK



// This year’s Brisfest is featured elsewhere in these pages, but the music continues through the night, taking in most of Bristol’s clubs and a secret location to be announced on the day. Details were sketchy at time of going to press, but with quality promoters like Intrigue, Pollen, Crazylegs, Neverlution, Assembly, SmokeLife, Lost and Switch involved in the weekend’s action, there’s sure to be something for every tribe. RAVE ON AVON VARIOUS LOCATIONS, BRISTOL, FRI 23-SUN 25 SEPT. FFI: WWW. BRISFEST.CO.UK

// As resident at Berlin’s legendary Panorama Bar, for whom he recently released a frankly stunning mix CD, Achim Brandenburg’s sets combine Chicago, Detroit and NYC classics with the best of contemporary house and techno. Those who’ve been lucky enough to catch him in action speak about the DJ in hushed tones, and rightly so – he’s a true master of his trade, whose broad-minded, wholehearted love of great dance music shines through in every mix. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the word ‘prosumer’ means someone who is both producer and consumer. It’s a reference to Alvin Toffler’s techno-inspiring futurist bible ‘The Third Wave’.

// Who are the heroes of British techno? 808 State? Dave Clarke? Surgeon? Scroll down any list of innovators and you’ll find Slam (pictured) somewhere near the top. Taking their name from an acid house monster by Chicago pioneers Phuture, Glasgow boys Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle started putting on parties in 1988. A year later they staged the city’s first all-night rave, before founding Soma Quality Recordings in 1991. Initially a vehicle for their own productions, including Slam classics like ‘Positive Education’ and ‘Eterna’, Soma went on to become one of the world’s most respected techno and house imprints, helping to launch the career of Daft Punk and working with everyone from David Holmes and The Black Dog to Alex Smoke and Funk D’Void. Glasgow is a techno city, and Slam’s hometown status is legendary. Their Pressure night at The Arches pulls in 2,500 punters every month; they’ve curated a tent at T in the Park festival for more than a decade; and they hold a residency at Return To Mono – where they’re known for expansive sets lasting up to four or five hours. They’re also former Fabric residents – ‘Fabric 09: Slam’ remains one of the finest releases in the London club’s prestigious mix series – as well as globetrotting techno missionaries, loved by the 4/4 faithful at clubs like Tokyo’s Womb, Paris’s Rex and Berlin’s Berghain. Meanwhile, they’re still going strong as producers with excellent recent EPs for Adam Beyer’s Drumcode and Soma’s sister label Paragraph. With all of that in mind, Slam’s appearance for Morph this month is a must for technoheads and techcurious alike. If you fancy warming up for it, get yourself aboard The Tower Belle at 7.45pm for a Brisfest boat party with Das Ist resident Marco Bernardi. SLAM PLAY MORPH AT TIMBUK2, BRISTOL ON FRI 23 SEPT. FFI AND TICKETS SEE WWW.TB2.CO.UK; FFI ABOUT THE BRISFEST BOAT PARTY SEE WWW.BRISFEST.CO.UK



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Outside in A brand new, homegrown Bristol play adapts Albert Camus’s classic ‘L’Etranger’ for our troubled times. “Standing on a beach with a gun in my haaand,” hums Steve Wright.


ut it this way: you're not in for a night of Jean-Paul Sartre-esque ‘Why are we all here?’. What we don't want is people earnestly stroking their beards whilst sipping coffee and talking about the meaning of life. You can expect, though, a very human, beautiful and often whimsical look at one person’s life – and an opportunity to reflect on how that journey matches or clashes with your own.” Bristol writer Simon HarveyWilliams is, along with fellow scribe Phil John, the creator of ‘Outside’, a liberal adaptation of Albert Camus’s great Existentialist set text ‘L’Etranger’, which plays at The Brewery next month. And, as he’s explaining, the adaptation retains much of the original’s enquiring spirit – but also makes for a cohesive piece of theatre that reflects the somewhat different demands and moral quandaries of 21stcentury life. Published in 1942 and variously translated as ‘The Stranger’ or ‘The Outsider’,

“We have to get the tone exactly right or risk the wrath of Camus lovers everywhere.” Simon HarveyWilliams venuemagazine

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Camus’s novel is seen by many (though not, significantly, its own author) as a kind of Existentialist manifesto. Its title character, Meursault, is a young French-Algerian whose striking imperviousness to events, sensations and emotions gives the novel its narrative and atmospheric thrust. Numbly indifferent to the death of his mother, Meursault later irrationally kills an Arab man on a beach, apparently maddened by the sun and the glint on the latter’s knife (sound familiar? Yes, folks, it’s The Cure’s ‘Killing an Arab’). He then seems equally indifferent to his own punishment and death sentence, and all through the novel appears aloof from all emotional contact. Simon and Phil are part of Darkstuff Productions, creators of the eccentric but beguiling ‘Eddie King’ playlet series at the Tobacco Factory. For this adaptation, they’ve joined forces with fellow Bristolians RoughHouse Theatre who, like Darkstuff, are dedicated to seeking out and giving oxygen to local writing, directing and performing talent. “There is often an inevitability about the pilgrimage to London, but we’re trying to springboard as many projects as possible to keep that talent here,” explains RoughHouse’s director Shane Morgan. The play also came about via a new Graduate Director slot provided by the Tobacco Factory, in which, each year, one graduate director from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School will get to direct a show at the TF or sister theatre The Brewery. When Shane was approached by Simon and BOVTS graduate Emel Yilmaz and asked to help

produce, he didn’t hesitate. “Having previously directed a piece of Simon’s for the Ustinov’s 24 Hour Play project, being a fan of the original novel and being given the opportunity to produce for the Tobacco Factory, it all seemed an opportunity too good to miss.” So what’s the secret to the book’s enduring appeal, not just for doomed youth and sensitive sixth-formers everywhere? “Its appeal is cross-generational,” says Shane. “It speaks to the lonely, the lost, the aspirational, the creative, the ambitious, those who have succeeded but also those who have failed. “Since 1942, however, our goalposts and our experiences and expectations have changed significantly, and Simon and Phil have incorporated those changes into the script. For example, 24-hour rolling news has desensitised us as a society, and the events of 9/11 are central to the new adaptation, which is set that same year. After a while, the repeated showing of the planes flying into the buildings made them look like just another crass Hollywood film rather than the tragedy that it was – inviting a kind of emotional numbness similar to Meursault’s… Simon

and Phil have done a wonderful job of balancing the poetry and arc of the original whilst taking into account our new social expectations.” Simon: “The play deals, in a very simple way, with some very big questions (life, death and how we give meaning to our existence) within the context of a fairly simple but engaging story with two very distinct characters. We've taken a bit of a risk and decided to set it in Bristol in 2001. We’ve also made changes because some of the themes in the book – religion, pre-marital sex, the death penalty – just aren't as relevant or significant to our culture/ society any more. But we have to get the tone exactly right or risk the wrath of Camus lovers everywhere.” A liberal adaptation, then? “We have kept the same chain of events and Meursault’s very distinctive character, and its effect on the people around him. When I first read the book I initially found Meursault slightly infuriating with his apparent indifference to everything, but by the end of the book I began to understand (and slightly sympathize) with his worldview. I’m hoping we can take the audience on a similar journey.” ‘OUTSIDE’ IS AT THE BREWERY, BRISTOL FROM 6-17 SEPT. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM

Uncomfortably numb: the cast of 'Outside' go to the beach

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THEATRE One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show // “‘The Cosby Show’ meets restoration comedy” as Eclipse Theatre and Sheffield Theatres tour this 1980 play by African-American playwright Don Evans. The Harrisons are the most respectable middle-class black family in Philadelphia, but the arrival, from the rural South, of their forward-thinking young niece turns their polite, Christian, suburban life on its head. "I see myself writing in the tradition of Shaw and Moliere,” said Evans of his work. “I'm very much aware that I come from a street tradition, but my work came about because of writers I love.” ONE MONKEY DON’T STOP NO SHOW IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM FRI 30 SEPT-SAT 1 OCT. FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM


PERFORMANCE The Invisible Journey


// After ������������������������������������������� a sell-out run at Mayfest, Doug Francisco – ringmaster of the brilliant, roving performance troupe The Invisible Circus – re-awakens his cabaret-style rolling tableau of characters from his adventures performing around the globe, from Portuguese prisons to the Moroccan mountains. THE INVISIBLE JOURNEY IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM THUR 22-SAT 24 SEPT. FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM



MUSICAL Dirty Dancing

// Eleanor Bergstein’s stage adaptation of the 1987 Swayze-starring weepie managed advanced ticket sales of £15 million before its 2006 opening, making it the fastest-selling show in West End history. Now its first-ever national tour opens at the Bristol Hippodrome, starring PaulMichael Jones (Eddie in the stage version of ‘Mamma Mia!’) as rough diamond Johnny Castle and Emily Holt as naïve, idealistic Baby Houseman. DIRTY DANCING IS AT BRISTOL HIPPODROME FROM THUR 1 SEPT-SAT 8 OCT. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLHIPPODROME.ORG.UK

THEATRE Dylan Thomas: Return Journey // Bob Kingdom recreates the great poet’s last tour across America, performing his works in front of sell-out audiences before his return to New York’s White Horse Tavern and one whiskey too many. Mixing stories from Thomas’s life with his lyrical poetry and comments on theatre, audiences and America, Kingdom, weaves a mellifluous vocal spell fully equal to Thomas's verbal one, and creates an actor/ author partnership to match the very greatest.

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// The new show from Salford-based performance troupe Quarantine peers behind the curtain and inside the making of theatre. ‘Entitled’’s three performers – a dancer, guitarist and writer – step aside from their rehearsal to tell us what’s really going on in their lives. Says artistic director Richard Gregory: “It’s about hope and disappointment – and trying to make your life complete". ENTITLED IS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BATH ICIA ON WED 21 SEPT. FFI: WWW.BATH.AC.UK/ICIA


THEATRE Alice’s Adventures in the New World

// All-female troupe Fluff Productions present this new, music hall-inspired comedy, exploring myths about women, sexuality and gender relations in the Victorian era. It’s 1882, and our 17year-old heroine sets off to America to track down her supposedly deceased mother. On her way she will meet an artist with an opium addiction, a depressed socialist preaching free love and Oscar Wilde, to name but three. Praised The Times: “The cast, dressed in bloomers and corsets, role-swap with alacrity and clever use of minimal props… terrific fun.” ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN THE NEW WORLD IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH FROM THUR 22-FRI 23 SEPT. FFI: WWW.RONDO.CO.UK


8/24/2011 11:02:28 AM

Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings


THEATRE A Picture of Home // New dark comedy by Phil Booth, best known round here for directing Publick Transport’s various madcap comedies – ‘Very Hard Times’ (pictured), ‘The Department of Smelling Pistakes’ et al. Booth’s play centres on Dinah, who’s left her husband and kids and taken refuge in her uncle’s old apartment. With the money running out, Dinah’s lucky enough to find a young, handsome and house-trained lodger. But is he too good to be true? You know the answer… A PICTURE OF HOME IS AT THE ALMA TAVERN, BRISTOL FROM TUE 6-SAT 10 SEPT. FFI: WWW.ALMATAVERNTHEATRE.CO.UK




// An ever-welcome return for Bristol Old Vic’s dynamic, prolific Young Company – this time with James Graham’s play, written for the National Theatre’s annual Connections yoof-writing jamboree. It’s citizenship class at Wootton Bassett School, but the supply teacher has done a runner and locked the pupils in. Outside, only yards from their confinement, a repatriation of fallen British soldiers is happening along the high street, as it has over a hundred times before through this quiet Wiltshire town. But this one is more personal than most… BASSETT IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO FROM WED 7-SUN 11 SEPT. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK

THEATRE Love Letters

// Bath outfit Butterfly Psyche make a quick return (after Gill Kirk’s tense, explosive dysfunctional family drama ‘Water’s Not So Thick’) with a revival of AR Gurney’s bittersweet, Pulitzernominated comedy about the delicate art of letter-writing. LOVE LETTERS IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH FROM THUR 15-FRI 16 SEPT. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK


THEATRE Three Days in May // Warren Clarke is the cigar-toting titan of 20th-century British politics in Ben Brown’s political thriller. We’re at Number Ten in May 1940 as, for a few short days, giving in to Hitler is being considered (by some) as a ‘viable option’. Having urgently assembled the British war cabinet, Churchill is suddenly confronted with an intense game of political chess as he tries to persuade peace treaty supporters that Britain must not give in. Divided on whether to negotiate terms through Mussolini or escalate the battle against fascism alone, one man has to make a monumental decision, which will shape the future of the free world. THREE DAYS IN MAY IS AT THE THEATRE ROYAL BATH FROM MON 12-SAT 17 SEPT. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK


THEATRE The Seagull Effect // Total Theatre Award nominees Idle Motion make their Bristol debut with this visual kaleidoscope of images and stories. As a couple’s relationship crumbles and they’re confronted by its debris, Britain is hit by the unexpected 1987 storm. Using a mix of leftfield staging, multimedia and memories, Idle Motion pick their way through the chaos (both personal and national) left behind during those remarkable six hours. THE SEAGULL EFFECT IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM TUE 27-WED 28 SEPT. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM


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THEATRE You’re Not Doing It Right // We’ve liked everything we’ve seen thus far from SW company Idiot Child, whose bleakly comic plays draw on autobiography, memory and the human tendency for heroic failure. So hopes are high for their latest, a “tale of loneliness, love, isolation, and loss” in which two twins energetically prepare for the lives they may never live. IDIOT CHILD PERFORM YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT AT THE BREWERY, BRISTOL FROM TUE 20 SEPT-SAT 1 OCT. FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM

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Performance preview

Ustinov autumn season THEATRE // We’ve had the fanfare: now comes judgment day. The Ustinov’s new director Laurence Boswell took up his post earlier this year, trailing an impressive CV including stints as artistic director of London’s Gate Theatre and associate at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Boswell’s Spanish Golden Age Season at the RSC won him widespread praise, and a similarly themed body of work at The Gate won him a Laurence Olivier Award. Which brings us back to here, and now: the start of Boswell’s first Ustinov season. Over the next three years, the theatre will present six annual in-house


The Syndicate THEATRE // Ian McKellen, Michael Pennington and Cherie Lunghi lead the cast in this UK premiere of Eduardo De Filippo’s dark comedy about the 1960s Naples underworld. Don Antonio Barracano rules the

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productions, in two seasons of three productions each. Each season will install a company of actors to perform in all three plays: all works will be UK premieres. This autumn brings together three European plays, viewed as classics in their home countries but very rarely seen over here. We begin with ‘The Phoenix of Madrid’ (14 Sept-23 Dec), a spry 1635, Madrid-set comedy by Spanish Golden Age dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Central protagonist Beatriz is, says Laurence, a forerunner of Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan’s Bath-set ‘The Rivals’. “She’s so anxious to be correct, fashionable, to get the right boyfriend and live up to the cultural ideal – an issue then as much as now. Beatriz follows all the fashions of her day, but wears them all at once; she reads books but reads too many, and speaks in

city’s underbelly with a rod of iron, providing a form of rough justice for Naples’s criminals, who have no other access to the law. When a poor but respectable young man decides to murder his father, he visits Don Antonio for advice. Whereupon the Neapolitan ‘Godfather’ emerges from the shadows to make the young man’s father an offer he can’t refuse. De Filippo, an actor and playwright from Naples, wrote some 40 plays between 1920 and 1973, and also ran a theatre company in the city. Few of his plays have been performed here – this, for example, is ‘The Syndicate’s’ UK debut. “The plot is gripping, and De Filippo is always one step ahead of his audience,” says McKellen, who plays Don Antonio. “Barracano might not seem the sort of man you’d want to meet down a dark alley in Naples, yet he has a conscience, seems

THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART a ludicrous style. It’s a very, very funny play, one of Calderon’s best comedies.” Kicking off a week later is ‘Iphigenia’ (21 Sept-20 Dec), the 1787 play by German poet/ playwright/polymath/cultural behemoth Johann Goethe that follows the young adulthood of Iphigenia, scion of an infamously troubled Greek family. Iphigenia’s mother Clytemnestra killed her father Agamemnon after his return from the Trojan War, having shacked up with his cousin Aegisthus; her brother Orestes then killed their mother to avenge their father. Iphigenia herself, meanwhile, had been sacrificed to the gods to grant the Greeks a good sailing wind to Troy, but was subsequently rescued by the goddess Artemis and taken to live at her temple at Tauris. Goethe’s play imagines her confused return from Tauris. “It’s about how to survive a dysfunctional family. It’s beautiful and profound – Goethe is a genius, relatively little known in this country. The Greek setting appears to look backwards, but it’s such a rich psychological study that it’s a forerunner of Ibsen and Arthur Miller.” THE USTINOV SEASON BEGINS ON 14 SEPT WITH THE PHOENIX OF MADRID. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL. ORG.UK

to be trying to make the world a better place. It’s a very easy play to sit back and enjoy. But it’ll give the audience a few shocks en route to the climax.” The play starts, curiously enough, with an operation on stage, in what appears to be a domestic setting. “A chap comes in with a bullet in his leg and gets operated on in an ad hoc way,” explains director Sean Mathias. “It’s a very strange play: every single thing that happens draws you in further and further. You’re always slightly confounded by it. It’s very much about Naples in the 60s – the gangs, the hardships, the beauty, the sensuality and the wonder – but it’s also got a universality because it’s about bigger issues: justice, life and death, what is our right to live and how do we live?” THE SYNDICATE IS AT THEATRE ROYAL BATH FROM MON 5-SAT 10 SEPT.

preview Coasting

THEATRE // Natalie McGrath’s play is the latest to bubble to the surface via Bristol Old Vic’s fruitful artist development programme, Bristol Ferment. Featuring a mix of 1980s pop culture language and the 1940s/50s gay slang Polari, and first seen as a rehearsed reading early last year, ‘Coasting’ is set in a desolate, faded seaside town and follows best friends Pearl and Ocean as they precariously cling together, making small change from slot machines and escaping reality by whatever means possible. McGrath’s short play ‘Spey’ was developed at the National Theatre and presented at Soho Theatre in January: her first play ‘Metal Remains’ was staged by Theatre West as part of their autumn season at the Alma Tavern, and shortlisted for the 2009 Meyer Whitworth Award. The cast includes Bristol writer/performer Tom Wainwright and BOV Theatre School graduate/Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory regular Nadia Giscir. COASTING IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC STUDIO FROM THUR 22 SEPT-SAT 15 OCT. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLODVIC.ORG.UK


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Performance preview

Earthquakes in London THEATRE // “Yes, there’s plenty to chew on – but there’s also three hours of sensory overload. I hope people have a really good night out – there’s a kind of cabaret at the end


Life and Soul THEATRE // The latest from the pen of Ian McGlynn – playwright and


The Importance of Being Earnest THEATRE // So far in their short life, Bristol company Floor to Ceiling have taken us inside the cell of three British hostages in Lebanon, and along the windy expanses of Clevedon pier. Their next destination is the elegant and mannered drawing rooms of 1890s Chelsea, as they


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of the world feel – but part of the spirit of cabaret has always been to think about troubling things, things you don’t know the answers to.” Mike Bartlett, feted playwright of ‘Cock’, ‘Love Love Love’ and other unflinching portraits of modern emotional life, is talking about his extraordinary play ‘Earthquakes in London’. ‘Earthquakes…’ spans from the late 60s to 2525, examining family relationships, our all-pervasive fear of the future and the guilty pleasure in the excesses of the present as it goes. There’s singing, dancing, cabaret and video, all set against a sense of apocalypse. The plot, for what it’s worth, centres on three sisters who attempt to navigate their dislocated lives and loves, while their estranged father, a brilliant scientist, predicts global catastrophe. Sarah is an environment minister in the newly formed coalition government; Freya

Rondo artistic director – and his company Provocation centres on the demon drink. Katie is young, funny, full of beans. And she loves to drink: it makes her funnier, livelier, and it makes her forget about everything except the here and now. She is, in short, the life and soul of

stage Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy of errors, manners, mating rituals and mistaken identities. It’s aphorisms and bons mots galore as we follow the tale of Jack and Algernon, London socialites who lead an ingenious double life away from the bustling city. FtC’s cast includes Oliver Millingham (a former Venue Best Actor also appearing in ‘Outside’, see feature on p.65 – a busy coupla months for him, then) and recent Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduates Alasdair Buchan and Alex Gilbert. “‘Earnest’ is fast, furious and ridiculous,” says director Hannah

THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART is a teaching assistant expecting her first baby; Jasmine has just been kicked out of university. The production’s a collaboration between the National Theatre and London’s adventurous Headlong, with direction from the flamboyant Rupert Goold. This combination was last seen with that colourful musical account of US corporate greed, ‘ENRON’, and ‘Earthquakes…’ follows the same big messages, big production values format (“Goold has come up with a gorgeously carnivalesque production that is more than a match for ‘ENRON’,” opined The Guardian). “I hope there are questions in the play which we can have a think about but also have a really good time,” Bartlett continues. “I don’t have a point to make – if I did, I’d write an essay. It’s about airing issues like climate change and personal responsibility in an entertaining and, I hope, a moving

away. You come to the theatre because you care about people – and these characters don’t represent any particular worldview, they are fully formed people with issues like anyone. Yes, climate change is in the background: but really it’s a family play and about a woman who doesn’t know whether she wants a baby or not.” There’s room, too, for plenty of humour. “I never write jokes, but I think if you write people honestly and put them in the right situations, they’re quite funny. It’s actually quite rare that people feel depressed or powerless about the wider global situation: we tend to fight that, to say, ‘yes, the world is difficult, but how am I going to have fun tonight?’”

the party – except the party’s over. Provocation’s raison d’être is to produce “vivid and witty new writing which tackles social and political issues with a humour and a barely controlled rage.” We’ve loved their previous sorties – including ‘An Act of Twisting’, a satire on torture, and a clear-eyed look at homelessness, ‘Shelter’. “‘Life & Soul’ tackles the subject of alcohol consumption in young women,” McGlynn explains. “Britain is among the worst European nations for chronic teenage alcohol abuse, with girls binge-drinking more than boys. Increasing numbers of young people are

suffering serious mental and physical health problems as a result of alcohol abuse. “But the play isn’t a dry academic treatise on alcohol abuse. It’s a fastmoving, funny and provocative play, following three young women as they try to negotiate careers, lives and relationships – all of which they see through the bottom of a glass. The play shows the vitality, optimism and vigour of youth – and how fragile those qualities can be.” LIFE & SOUL IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH FROM WED 28 SEPTSAT 1 OCT. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE. CO.UK

Drake, who also directed FtC’s superb version of ‘Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me’, inspired by the plight of Lebanon hostages Brian Keenan and John McCarthy. “I am continually surprised by its humanity and humour. We live in a country that remains divided by class and snobbery, of increasingly complicated levels, both financial and social, and the characters in the play are definitely recognisable. ‘TIOBE’ is very much the ‘Made in Chelsea’ [TV soap featuring the gilded youth of SW3] of its day. It’s in big contrast to our previous work in style, tone and scale, and it’s exciting to be treading new ground for the company.”



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Comedy // THE MONTH AHEAD // KOMEDIA Rob Deering/Kent Valentine


// The pick of this month’s typically impressive weekend line-ups at Komedia is this mid-month offering. Rob Deering is a comic we will never tire of recommending every time he comes around: one of the finest (and most bewilderingly underrated) comic minds on the circuit, with a repertoire of awesomely accomplished and hugely endearing musical comedy improvisation. He’s joined at Komedia by Kent Valentine, a sharp and likeable Oz comic of whom we opined last year: “His set is based not on isolated gags but on brazenly long shaggy dog stories". These two gentlemen at the top of their profession are joined by Prince Abdi (Fri)/Al Barrie (Sat) and compere Tiffany Stevenson. KRATER COMEDY CLUB FEATURING ROB DEERING, KENT VALENTINE AND OTHERS, KOMEDIA, BATH, FRI 16-SAT 17 SEPT. FFI: WW.KOMEDIA.CO.UK


THE BREWERY The Suggestibles

// Improv comedy is big business at the mo – hat-tip to Pappy’s, The Noise Next Door, the Showstopper! crew, the evergreen Instant Wit and others. And few do it better than The Suggestibles, a North-East troupe whose madcap forays into audience-generated comedy have won them three Royal Television Society Awards. They’ve already gone down a hoot at two Bristol Jams: their two-hour show promises storytelling, adrenalinefuelled games and that comedy staple, the improvised musical. THE SUGGESTIBLES ARE AT THE BREWERY, BRISTOL ON SUN 25 SEPT. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM AND WWW. THESUGGESTIBLES.CO.UK



// Veteran comic, political activist and reporter tours his new show, which tells the story of his recent Middle East ramblings. Clearly not a man to duck a challenge, Thomas walked the entire length of the Israeli Separation Barrier, crossing between the Israeli and the Palestinian side as he went. “This is the story of 300,000 settlers; a 750 km wall; six arrests, one stoning; too much hummus and a simple question: can you ever get away from it all with a good walk?” MARK THOMAS PERFORMS EXTREME RAMBLING AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM MON 5-SAT 10 SEPT. FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM SEE INTERVIEW ON P.15.

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// Freewheeling Irish comic, and a relatively rare sight out on the circuit, looks in on Bedminster as part of a national tour. Expect inspired, intelligent lunacy, on themes ranging from childhood eccentricity to holiday disasters. “Stand-up so joyous the clinically depressed should get it on prescription,” enthused our colleagues at Metro. JASON BYRNE IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL ON SUN 18 SEPT. FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM




// “His strangely reticent delivery style strikes an odd note, but he soon draws us in to his paranoid worldview and semi-hallucinogenic imagery, making us laugh at the same time as worrying about the state of his mental health.” STUART BLACK PLAYS THE COMEDY CAVERN, BATH (ALONGSIDE PIERRE HOLLINS) ON SUN 11 SEPT. FFI: WWW.COMEDYCAVERN.CO.UK

COLSTON HALL Ed Byrne // A tale of two Byrnes this month, as Bristol welcomes not only Jason but Ed, the shaggy-maned surrealist oft to be seen delivering his confused aperçus on life on ‘Mock the Week’ and elsewhere. E Byrne’s stock-in-trade is wry selfdeprecation – endearing, sharp and always felicitously surreal in its choice of language. The English class system with its countless nuances of speech and dress; getting married, and the hordes of money-grubbing lowlifes that swarm around you from proposal to pulpit: Byrne’s not angry about any of this, just befuddled. He does befuddlement like almost no one else, and to spend a couple of hours in co-befuddlement with him is a delight. ED BYRNE PLAYS THE COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL ON FRI 23 SEPT. FFI: WWW. venuemagazine COLSTONHALL.ORG

8/24/2011 11:00:19 AM


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And so to Ed

Steve Wright meets shambolic stand-up Ed Aczel.


d Aczel’s one of the more unusual properties on the comedy circuit: a 42-year-old project manager for a business marketing company who took up comedy in his spare time after doing a beginners’ stand-up course. Aczel’s low-key, shambolic sets tend to feature him deconstructing his own performance with the help of graphs, PowerPoint presentations and the like, and floundering apologetically as he goes. It’s a deconstructed, warts-and-all style that most audiences seem to love ("turns unprofessionalism into an artform… scintillatingly shambolic," praised The Times), although there are a few detractors – one reviewer noted that the show seems to be “One joke: isn’t it funny how unprepared and unscripted I can be and get away with it?” Ed brings his new show ‘Edward Aczel Doesn’t Exist’ to the Rondo Theatre this month, fresh from an Edinburgh Fringe run. Well, Ed, tell us about the new show… It’s designed loosely on the idea of me trying to sell my services to the comedy industry. It’s a kind of selling show, where I encourage people to buy me as a product. Lots of comedians come up here to put themselves in the shop window – I just happen to be doing a show about putting myself in the shop window. Ultimately, it’s me doing what I do best, which is… messing around. Your shows have a shambolic, on-the-hoof quality. Is that a comic contrivance, or is that truly how you are? I’d like to tell you I wasn’t


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shambolic in real life, but in some ways I am – I think we all are ultimately. I’m good at naturally portraying a shambolic air, and I have developed that as my act. When you first start out in comedy, you look at other comics and realise that they are all portraying themselves in one form or another. I looked at a lot of the very slick comics – Russell Kane, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, and I thought, “I could never attempt to do that”. So I’ve gone down the route of it being a shambles, because that’s something I can do.

who love it. I think part of the charm is: here’s an individual standing on stage for an hour, and somehow he’s gotta get away with it. The humour largely comes from the idea that my back’s against the wall, but somehow I will come out fighting. Some people don’t see that – some just like the sheen, they don’t want to see how it’s all working. But I think a lot of people sympathise with the struggling, the underdog… there’s a sort of loser mentality in comedy which I tend to encourage.

Does that mean your sets take less preparation than those well-crafted shows? Are you in fact winging it a lot of the time? I’m sad to say that the show is deceptively organised, in terms of the length of time it takes to write a show and of coming up with different ideas. Unlike other comics who come up with jokes or routines in the traditional sense, I tend to come up with sections and themes – a presentation section, a graph section, a true-or-false section – and then work the material into those sections.

How does this all work with the day job? Do you become a different person as you go from one to the other? Before I started comedy, I would do presentations and meetings

where everyone would spend the entire time laughing. Which was great, but the difficulty there is that you don’t achieve anything. I’m doing a day job which is ultimately serious, and I’m doing the comedy for pleasure. One of the reasons I’ve kept the day job is that I don’t ever want the comedy to be dependent on money. When you start to get gigs at the bigger clubs like Jongleurs and Highlight, you have to change your act, do something you didn’t sign up for – you have to appeal to the masses, not take any risks. I don’t really want to answer to anyone in comedy, I want it to be pure art. EDWARD ACZEL DOESN’T EXIST IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH ON SAT 24 SEPT. FFI: WWW.

Ed Aczel: loser mentality

Your shows are a kind of deconstruction – we get to see the workings of comedy. I like to give people the bare bones, and to see whether those bare bones work. I think that, if you see the inner workings, it’s easier to see the outer shell without some of the sheen and airbrushing that can go into comedy. Audiences and reviewers have had some widely differing verdicts on you… I split rooms. There have always been a good chunk of people saying “I don’t get it”, and a greater number, thankfully,

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Only collect Arnolfini’s 50th year celebrations come to a head this month with an extraordinary exhibition documenting the weird and wonderful collections and obsessions of a raft of global modern artists. Steve Wright's our museums man.


isitors to Arnolfini should always be prepared for the unusual, the indefinable – art to intrigue, amuse and at times bemuse. That’ll never be truer than over the next few months, though, as the ’fini continues the celebrations of its first half-century (it was founded in March 1961 above a bookshop in The Triangle) with a pair of rather unique shows. ‘Museum Show: Part One’ (24 Sept-19 Nov) and, indeed, ‘Museum Show: Part Two’ (9 Dec-5 Feb) will shine a light on one of the most curious and fascinating tendencies in modern and contemporary art: the artist-created museum. The two-part ‘museum of museums’ will be a selection of

Plastic Fantastic : the Museo Aero Solar

idiosyncratic personal collections by some of the world’s more leftfield and explorative artists since the Second World War. Some of the, shall we say, niche artists’ museums of which you’ll find excerpts include the Museum of Soy Sauce Art, based in Kagawa, Japan: a repository of artwork created in this unusual medium, whose first examples appeared, we learn, in 16th-century Japan. You also won’t want to miss the Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals by Canadian artist Bill Burns, whose centrepiece is 19 pieces of scale-model safety and rescue gear for reptiles, birds, mammals, insects, and fish – and whose agenda, though it may seem frivolous, is in fact at least partly serious (“we offer equal opportunities for all species”). The Voting Booth Museum does what it says on the tin: the Museum of Incest (Simon Fujiwara’s fictional

architectural complex, pieced together almost entirely from structures built by his architect father, and billed as “a wildly personal portrait of a father-son relationship”), thankfully, doesn’t. Closer to home, Peter Blake’s Museum for Myself, recently exhibited at Bath’s Holburne Museum, makes an appearance. A tour around the sprawlingly eclectic personal collection of the renowned pop artist (and fanatical collector), it’s an illuminating insight into the collector’s mentality, the butterfly mind of the artist as social recorder, and the bewildering array of cultural highways and byways of the last 50 years. Elsewhere, you’ll travel from the abject, courtesy of Stuart Brisley’s Museum of Ordure, to the sublime –Tomas Saraceno’s Museo Aero Solar, a floating museum made of thousands of recycled carrier bags. “It’s the first exhibition to chart this particular tendency in contemporary art,” explains Arnolfini’s exhibitions curator Nav Haq. “Since the mid-20th century, artists have continued to invent their own institutions. The reasons for working in this way have varied greatly between artists – from critiques directed specifically towards institutions of art to more contemporary examples that focus their attention towards wider social and political realms of cultural hegemony.” Quite so. See you by the soy sauce paintings…

// Changing landscapes // // Dynamic modern-art gallery Bath Fine Art changes its name to Bath Contemporary this month. And the first exhibition under the new regime is suitably eye-catching: it’s a solo show by Neil Pinkett, featuring 35 paintings by this Cornish artist, a master of the play of light and textures on land and sea. The new collection sees Pinkett – whose influences and obsessions include solitude, Romanticism and the art of that other great landscape painter, JMW Turner – journeying to little-frequented corners of the British Isles including Snowdonia, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and Scotland. “This is a man who thinks nothing of traversing mountains, hanging out of helicopters and pushing his body to its limit via monumental cycling and canoeing trips, all in the name of art,” comments reviewer Alex Wade. “But while Pinkett is undoubtedly one of the more physical of British artists, he is also one of the most sensitive.” Looking at the play of light and shadow, and the varied textures and thicknesses of the air, in ‘The Old Severn Bridge’ (pictured), we’d have to agree. NEIL PINKETT: TO THE EDGE IS AT BATH CONTEMPORARY FROM 10-30 SEPT. FFI: WWW. BATHCONTEMPORARY.COM



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// Bristol’s hugely inspiring creative duo Light Box showcase a vibrant collection of work harvested from common-or-garden Bristolians who’ve dropped into their excellent Happiness Workshops in Broadmead over the past year. 2D and 3D works explore aspects of happiness and wellbeing. IN A NUTSHELL IS AT CENTRESPACE, BRISTOL FROM 3-7 SEPT. FFI: WWW.WEARELIGHTBOX.CO.UK

3. TRAVELLING SHOW Kapos Art // Bath Artists’ Studios welcomes a delegation from the Kapos Art Association from Kaposvár (Hungary), one of the first art groups formed in that country after the downfall of the Communist government in 1989. Founded the following year by 13 newly liberated Hungarians, the group now includes some 40 members from Hungary and abroad. In collaboration with BAS, Kapos now present the works of six members (Csejtei Kinga Holló, pictured). KAPOS ART IS AT BATH ARTISTS’ STUDIOS FROM 6-11 SEPT. FFI: WWW. BATHARTISTSSTUDIOS.CO.UK

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4. LAST CHANCE TO SEE… Mark Angus/ Jilly Sutton // Last chance to catch this double-header featuring MA, one of Europe’s very best stainedglass artists. Angus’s stunning work for churches and cathedrals in England and Germany is well known, but his freestanding glass figures go on public view here for the first time in the city of his origins. Glowingly coloured diving and backlit figures explore the theme of eternal youth. Jilly Sutton, meanwhile, carves large wooden heads and figures from felled trees and driftwood. MARK ANGUS AND JILLY SUTTON EXHIBIT AT VICTORIA ART GALLERY, BATH UNTIL 2 OCT. FFI: WWW. VICTORIAGAL.ORG.UK

SOLO SHOWS Simon Hopkinson


// Paintings by this excellent local artist with an abiding fascination for British urban scenery, on show at a pair of Bristol’s finest galleries. “I view areas of sprawl and decay not as eyesores but as subject matter to be explored,” Hopkinson tells us. “An accidental beauty occurs when the modern is adjoined by a crumbling past – a result of the ongoing process of manmade change and natural decline, with nature in control. To my eyes, everything – weeds, litter, brutalist architecture – can appear beautiful. You can experience something eternal and mysterious by simply taking a stroll around the city.” SIMON HOPKINSON EXHIBITS AT THE FOLK HOUSE (2-29 SEPT) AND TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL (TO 1 OCT). FFI: WWW. SIMONHOPKINSONART.CO.UK/


ART TRAILS St Werbs and Windmill Hill art trails // Straddling the gap between summer’s big art trails (Southbank, Easton) and autumn’s (Totterdown, North Bristol) come this beguiling duo of smaller but steadily growing art trails. You know the drill: oodles of interesting, inspiring, intriguing artworks by each suburb’s most creative denizens, plastered all over walls in private homes and public spaces, plus a fine programme of music, performance, kids’ stuff and more. ST WERBURGHS ART TRAIL (SAT 24-SUN 25 SEPT); ART ON THE HILL (WINDMILL HILL, SAT 1-SUN 2 OCT). FFI: WWW.STWERBURGHSARTS. venuemagazine ORG.UK AND WWW.ARTONTHEHILL.ORG.UK

8/24/2011 10:00:41 AM

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SOLO SHOW Philip Buckingham

// Paintings and sketches of Bath in oils, watercolour and ink by PB, who’s spent the last three years studying the city’s rather pleasant architecture. Works explore the relationship of light and volume within buildings – and all of them, from ink sketch to fullblooded oil painting, have a fluidity and limpid calm that greatly pleases the Art Desk. PHILIP BUCKINGHAM EXHIBITS AT MILSOM PLACE, BATH FROM 26 SEPT-1 OCT. FFI: WWW.ARTBYPHILIPBUCKINGHAM. CO.UK




// Rolling series of weekly exhibitions at this everadventurous gallery sited within Bedminster’s burgeoning BV Studios artists’ complex. Eight shows, a week each (there’s a week off for BV’s Open Studios event in Oct), primarily featuring Bristol artists but also featuring a few from further afield: “They may (or may not) seek to engage the space in atypical ways, using nontraditional or unconventional forms, to push against the boundaries or test the limits of art, to reveal concealed ideologies, encourage active consciousness, challenge cultural homogeneity or none of the above. Anything goes.” Set the expectometer to ‘intrigued’. INCUBE8 RUNS FROM 5 SEPT-6 NOV AT MOTORCADE/FLASHPARADE, BRISTOL. FFI: WWW. MOTORCADEFLASHPARADE.COM/P/INCUBE8.HTML

INSTALLATION Clare Thornton // We like the look of this a lot. Artist Clare Thornton will be transforming the beautiful, oak-panelled bedchamber inside Bristol’s Tudor Red Lodge with a premiere of her site-specific piece ‘Unfurl’, which will last three hours (come and go as you please, fear not) and involve over a kilometre of red satin ribbon. The vast length of ribbon will unravel gradually, obscuring the performer and model who sits waiting for his painter. An exhibition at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, meanwhile, will develop the themes, er, unravelled herein from 26 Sept-11 Nov. CLARE THORNTON PERFORMS UNFURL AT THE RED LODGE, BRISTOL ON 3 SEPT, 1-4PM. FFI: CLARE-THORNTON.BLOGSPOT.COM

EXHIBITION Gainsborough’s Landscapes

MORE BIG NAMES RWA Autumn exhibitions


// After a summer featuring messrs Hirst, Frink, Vettriano et al, the Royal West of England Academy continues to up the ante with another roster of big-name autumn exhibits and shows. The late, great Louise Bourgeois and YBA wild child Tracey Emin together explore themes of identity and fear of loss in ‘Do Not Abandon Me’ (Bourgeois’s last work before her death last year), and there’s also work by the inimitable Op-Art pioneer Bridget Riley. We’re most beguiled, though, by ‘The Making of Aeolus’, a window into the fascinating world – where sound, science and art collide – of Bristol’s world-conquering artist Luke Jerram. THE AUTUMN EXHIBITIONS OPEN AT THE ROYAL WEST OF ENGLAND ACADEMY ON 7 SEPT (LOUISE BOURGEOIS/TRACEY EMIN 2 SEPT). FFI: WWW.RWA.ORG.UK


// After a high-profile Peter Blake opener, the renascent Holburne Museum continues its heavyweight programme with an extensive exhibition devoted to the great 18th-century portrait and landscape painter (and long-time Bath resident during the city’s Georgian heyday). The Holburne’s show will focus exclusively on Gainsborough’s wonderful landscape painting, and will bring together dozens of works from public and private collections, many of them little known and some not previously exhibited. GAINSBOROUGH’S LANDSCAPES: THEMES AND VARIATIONS IS AT THE HOLBURNE MUSEUM OF ART, BATH FROM 24 SEPT-22 JAN. FFI: WWW.HOLBURNE.ORG


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Books Review Joe Berger and Pascal Wyse: ‘Berger and Wyse, Cartoons From the Guardian’


Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings

(Absolute Press, £9.99 hardback)

ath-based Absolute Press have been publishing cookery and food titles for more than 30 years. Founded by Jon Croft in 1979, they remain independent and singular but, above all, maintain massive enthusiasm for their subject, and that really comes across in everything they produce. Famous for the megaselling cookbooks of Keith Floyd and, more recently, monster hits that have included ‘The Little Book of Aga Tips’ and ‘The Marmite Cookbook’, Absolute Press continue to break new ground in satisfying the appetites of food book-loving readers. So it’s no surprise to see that they are bringing out a collection of Berger & Wyse food cartoons from the cartoonists’ weekly slot in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine. Joe Berger (Bristol born and bred) and Pascal Wyse have been publishing their food-themed wonders in the Guardian for the past four years. As well as their weekly food cartoons, they have collaborated on numerous projects since meeting more than a decade ago. They have created and produced cartoon strips and animations for a host of outlets including Channel 4 and the BBC. Their animated title sequence for the inaugural series of the BBC’s drama series ‘Hustle’ was nominated for Bafta, Emmy and Royal Television Society awards. They have also had their own books published: Berger has written and illustrated two very successful children’s picture books, ‘Bridget Fidget’ and ‘Bridget Fidget Hold on Tight’, both published by


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Puffin, and Wyse’s publications include ‘Wyse Words: A Dictionary for the Bewildered’ published by Chambers. Their style can’t be pinned down, which is a major part of their success. There are little hints every now and again of Gary Larson and Robert Crum influences, but Berger and Wyse are very much their own cartoonists and create a very distinct cocktail. In parts surreal, wry, witty, playful, whimsical with plenty of ennui and bucketloads of puns, they are often at their best when poking fun at the easy and not-so-easy targets of the changing trends of the culinary world. There is also a great warmth to lots of the humour. And that’s not to say that it’s all cuddly and fluffy – far from it; there’s plenty of edge on offer, too. Highlights include the return of the mouse scouting party from the moon with “not exactly great news”; a “support group for foods used as a metaphor for mental illness” attended by a banana, some crackers etc; the gastropub (a particularly strong and popular setting) fruit machine with unwaxed Sicilian lemons; a couple of disappointed dolphins running in to the dolphin-friendly tuna, again. Picking out favourites does the book a disservice, however – there’s not a duff page in it and that’s largely down to the fact that the wit and impact of the writing matches that of the illustrations: a rare double triumph and, in the end, downright delicious. (Joe Melia) ‘BERGER AND WYSE, CARTOONS FROM THE GUARDIAN’ IS OUT NOW FROM ABSOLUTE PRESS. SEE WWW. ABSOLUTEPRESS.CO.UK FFI.

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//top ten // Skywriting

Let your imagination soar with this squadron of high flyers, chosen by the bibliophiles of Bristol booksellers Foyles to mark Bristol International Festival of Kites and Air Creations (3-4 Sept). Flying High – Monica Connell (Tangent Books, £14.99) PHOTOGRAPHY Featuring all manner of trapeze artists, wirewalking acrobats and assorted other high flyers, ‘Flying High’ offers an intriguing introduction to the many and varied performers who make up Bristol’s New Circus scene. The Kites are Flying! – Michael Morpurgo (Walker Books, £7.99) KIDS (7+) Set in the West Bank, this is a story with a big heart that’s told in two voices – those of a Western journalist and 8-year-old Said, who makes colourful kites by hand while sitting on a hillside. Said used to fly kites with his brother, but now he releases them so they fly across the separation wall as a message of peace and friendship. Sensitively illustrated in ink and pencil.

Planes and Rockets and Things That Fly – Richard Scarry (Harper Collins, £5.99) KIDS An absolute classic! First published in the early 70s, Scarry’s wildly inventive tales are just as odd and wonderful as you remember. Featuring a baffling array of flying machines and bizarre characters, it’s as appealing to kids today as it ever was. The Cloudspotter’s Guide – Gavin Pretor-Pinney (Sceptre, £8.99) NATURAL HISTORY A fascinatingly diverse exploration of the world of clouds above us, amusingly written and full of memorable facts and curious stories, such as a type of cloud that glider pilots actually surf. Brought to you by the Cloud Appreciation Society. Chagall – Jacob Baal-Teshuva (Taschen, £8.99) ART Light and air infuse the canvases of this 20th-century master. The spaces Chagall creates in his art defy the common sense norms of reality, yet at the same time these spaces are

utterly convincing and speak of other realms within and beyond our own. The Way Back Home – Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins, £5.99) KIDS One day a boy finds an aeroplane in his cupboard and decides to fly to the moon! Fans of Oliver Jeffers will know to expect a charming, fanciful tale with wonderfully quirky illustrations. Delightful! The Running Sky – Tim Dee (Vintage, £8.99) NATURAL HISTORY From an attic in south Bristol, and distraught with life, Tim Dee started writing this book reflecting on a lifetime of birdwatching – which he’d begun as a child in Bristol. The result is stunning: a personal, poetic evocation of his experiences across the world of looking up at the “thin high sky” to ponder the wonder of birds. Hiroshige, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo – Melanie Trede & Lorenz Bichler (Taschen, £27.99) ART A beautiful book printed on a surface which gives an accurate facsimile of the original prints, really bringing the images to life. In his woodblock prints Hiroshige

parallels an elegant sense of line with pure saturated blocks of colour and through these apparent simple means he somehow conveys a profound sense of atmosphere and radiance. Moon Man – Tomi Ungerer (Phaidon, £9.95) KIDS First published in German in 1966, this is a superbly illustrated fable about Moon Man, who is desperate to escape his home in outer space. But after a bit of merry-making on planet Earth, and a bit too much trouble with the police, he decides to return to his “shimmering seat in space”. Thank goodness he meets a scientist whose rocket he can fly home in! The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson (Walker Books, £6.99) YOUNG ADULT FICTION (14+) A 17year-old girl Lennie is grieving for her sister and falling in love at the same time. You will find yourself flying through all of the emotions, feeling that you know these vibrant characters though you never will.


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family fun and trips away

Chasing their tales As Bath Festival of Children’s Literature embarks upon its fourth outing, Anna Britten talks to participant and local teen fiction queen Joanna Nadin.


he great thing about the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature – which begins Fri 23 Sept and runs for 10 days – is that it’s nothing like as formidably highbrow as it sounds. This annual gathering of stars in the ever-expanding universe of children’s and young adult fiction, you see, is not just about getting today’s youth to read the sort of wholesome or ‘improving’ fiction their parents want them to (although that’s obviously an obsession round these parts). It’s also about building Lego models, meeting the Moshi

venuemagazine venuemagazine

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Monsters and dressing up as a zombie. In short, there’s something for every type of non-adult reader – from gobby geezerlings and girly girls to their tiny siblings. No bookworm? No problem. This year’s event is the biggest and most exciting yet, with tickets for many events long since sold out. Bath-based author Joanna Nadin is one of many top names on the bill but she also worked as a volunteer during the festival’s inception in 2008. She is impressed by this year’s line-up, which includes Roddy Doyle, Andy Stanton, Francesca Simon, Eoin Colfer, Axel Scheffler, Melvin Burgess, Meg Rosoff, Darren Shan, Charlie Higson, Robert Muchamore, Jacqueline Wilson, Judith Kerr and ‘The Office’ star-turnedchildren’s author Mackenzie Crook. “When the idea was first mooted of a Bath Kids’ Lit Fest I don’t think any of us imagined anything quite as star-studded as this year’s programme,” she says. “It’s just got bigger, and better, but at its heart is the same mission: to get more kids reading, more often.” The teen fiction world in particular has seen a massive boom in the past decade, with teen and young adult sections in every bookshop,

and hundreds of new titles out every month. As many parents will recall, it wasn’t always that way. “With the exception of ‘Sweet Valley High’, I don’t remember there being much ‘teen fiction’ as such,” says Joanna. “Most of us jumped straight from reading ‘Five on Kirrin Island’ under the duvet to Shirley Conran’s ‘Lace’ behind the bike sheds. It wasn’t until a Canadian girl came to my class in 1983 with a bookcase full of Judy Blume that I knew the genre existed. “ As the author of the popular ‘Rachel Riley’ series for teenage girls and a new creation, ‘Buttercup Mash’, as well as many titles for younger children, Joanna uses box sets of ‘Freaks and Geeks’, ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and ‘My SoCalled Life’ “and my diaries from 1985” to tap into her inner teenager. “The music references and clothes change but the emotions and embarrassment don’t.” “Buttercup is sort of the anti-me. I spent most of my teen years (in small-town Essex) desperately wishing my life were less normal, with flaky, bohemian or, better,

Joanna Nadin is one of a number of big-hitting authors at this year's children's lit fest alongside Roddy Doyle (below)

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// Family News // // Bath’s not the only place brimming with kidlit talent. Bristol-based children’s author (and sometime Watershed ticket office lady) Elen Caldecott (pictured) is establishing herself as a major player in the genre,

// North Somerset's performancebased theatre company AliCaT is recruiting members for its new season of drama classes, starting this month. Running in term time, there are sessions for everyone from pre-school to Year 11, focusing on acting, voice, movement and dance but also on confidence and social skills and involving a variety of games and projects working towards an annual performance for friends and family at Backwell Playhouse. Ffi:

Prize-winning author of 'How I Live Now' Meg Rosoff is coming to Bath

divorced parents and some kind of tragic terminal disease. Buttercup spends her days (in Bath) desperately wishing her mum wasn’t an art-school hippy drop-out and hoping her dad doesn’t turn out to be a homeless man called Fergal O’Shaughnessy.” Having volunteered and appeared at it, Joanna also can’t wait to be in the audience at this year’s festival. “I’m looking forward to ‘Writing for Children and Teenagers’, a must for teen authors old and new. And Bath author Moira

Young, whose dystopian debut ‘Blood Red Road’ was already a phenomenon before it was published. And Andy Stanton on the first Saturday. Both my daughter and I are mildly obsessed with his beard. Plus he made my friend’s son laugh so hard last year he was sick.” JOANNA NADIN APPEARS WITH CATHY CASSIDY, SAMANTHA MACINTOSH AND KAREN MCCOMBIE IN ‘QUEENS OF TEEN’ AT BATH FESTIVAL OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE ON MON 26 SEPT. FFI: WWW.BATHKIDSLITFEST.ORG.UK

Right YA Joanna Nadin’s tips for would-be YA (young adult) authors. // Know where you’re going, even if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to get there. I plot the outcome of every scene so that when I come to actually set off into the unknown, I feel I have a satnav, or at least a map and compass, and it doesn’t seem half as scary.

business and being in your own head for that long isn’t healthy. You need small talk. Plus if I need an idea for a name I can get hundreds of replies in seconds.

references (including Obama and YouTube). “These games keep them entertained for hours!” insists Liz of the sets, which have been tested on all ages from primary up to A-level.

with her novels ‘How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant’ and ‘How Ali Ferguson Saved Houdini’ being nominated for all manner of children’s book awards. Out now, her third book ‘Operation Eiffel Tower’ draws on her own experiences of life in an unconventional family set-up and sees four children attempting to raise enough money to send their warring parents to Paris for a romantic weekend. Ffi: www.elencaldecott. com // Kids more interested in Facebook than learning how to reed and rite propally? Bristol-based English and special needs teacher Liz Dando has hit upon what we reckon sounds a promising solution. Her new educational resources company, Magneticks (www., aims to make learning grammar “just a little less painful” with a clever set of fridge magnets including all sorts of witty and up-to-date

// Children’s charity Children Today are looking for “crazy” volunteers to take part in an It’s a Knockout (pictured) competition on Sun 25 Sept. Teams of 7-10 people are invited to The Redwood Hotel and Country Club in Failand to tackle an inflatable obstacle course and raise funds for local disabled children. Registration costs £50 and you must raise a minimum sponsorship of £500 per team. Regional Fundraising Manager Emma Fawcett commented: “All you need to take part is have a great sense of humour and not mind being silly for a few hours!” Relying entirely on voluntary donations, Children Today provides grants to buy specialised equipment such as individually adapted electric wheelchairs, walking aids, trikes, specially designed educational toys, adapted car seats, a wide range of communication aids, lifting and posturepaedic sleep equipment. Ffi: 01244 335622 or

// Write, even if you don’t like the words that come out. You can always go back and change them later. // And I should say “turn off Facebook and Twitter”, but they’re lifelines to the outside world. Writing is a lonely


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Water Surprise Anna Britten discovers a good swim is about much more than racking up lengths.


n a private, Romanesque indoor swimming pool in Bath’s leafy Combe Down, I’m contemplating how the things we learn as kids become personal gospel forever – even if those things are cobblers. When I was a nipper, I learnt the following about swimming: 1) it doesn’t really matter how you do the strokes as long as you can peg up and down Yate swimming pool 64 times and make a swimming float out of your pyjama bottoms; 2) you should keep your fingers clamped together at all times

“Keeping fit will stop being a chore, because you’ll long to be in the water.”

Float on: Trisha Harboard passes on her passion for the water

to go faster; 3) going fast is really important. Within a few minutes in the water with instructor Trisha Harbord of Swim & Smile I have, slightly regretfully, relinquished all these beliefs. Trisha teaches adults of all abilities – from terrified beginners to competitive swimmers, and lots of people like me, who are reasonably confident but feel their style is deeply flawed and not conducive to regular exercise. “Adults who can swim were often poorly taught as children, or have taught themselves and done the best they could. This often leaves room for improvement. Even those who have had some tuition in the past are likely to find that they benefit from a fresh perspective on their swimming.” An academic turned Alexander Technique teacher, Trisha uses the Shaw Technique – a swimming style

which applies the principles of AT to the water and was developed by Steven Shaw, a former competitive swimmer who now teaches around the world. “By the late 1990s, Steven was based in London and had set up teacher training in the Shaw Method,” says Trisha. “I trained with him in 2001 and set up Swim & Smile because I wanted to share with others my passion for moving through the water. The Shaw Method aims to help people swim with style, power and grace, but never at the expense of ease.” The main problem for many adult swimmers – and certainly for me – is breathing. More than three strokes of ‘proper’ front crawl (i.e. face in the water), and I’m helplessly chugging chlorine. I demonstrate this, and Trisha leads me into a series of floating-and-breathing exercises that make me rethink my whole rush-and-

gasp approach. “Anxiety or poor breath control may lead us to overbreathe, causing shortness of breath. Getting our mouths out of the water to breathe may lead us to scrunch up our necks and backs, impeding our forward progress. Even apparently competent swimmers may retain a level of unease about the water which they push themselves to overcome.” I’ve always been quite pleased with my backstroke – which saw me own two consecutive Gloucestershire Primary Schools Swimming Galas, I might add – and Trisha admits there “are some nice things about it”. But she also convinces me that by bending my arm on the ‘push’ and spreading my fingers slightly, it’ll be better. “You’re covering more distance now,” she says, when I try it. “The people who win races are those who take the fewest strokes.

Trisha harbord, swim & smile venuemagazine

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The Bath School of Shiatsu & Yoga One day workshop

Sunday 18th September

3 weekend foundation starting 1st & 2nd October

First year starting

26th & 27th November For More information 01225 859209

New practi for ti Profess oners training ional Head Min Indian a Starti ssage Octobng er

University of Bristol Free public events

15 September 2011, 6 pm – 7 pm

Talk The Rhythm of Time – a history of heart disease in images Dr Jason Johnson, University of Bristol Venue: Grant Bradley Gallery, Number 1 St Peter’s Court, Bedminster Parade, BS3 4AQ Admission free - to book please email: or tel: 0117 3318313

25 September 2011, 2 pm – 5 pm

Tours and a talk Seeds of Change See and hear about the Ballast Seed Garden, an art project which depicts a living history of Bristol’s maritime trade routes. Join us for tea and cake and a discussion about the project. Venue: University of Bristol Botanic Garden, The Holmes, Stoke Park Road, BS9 1JG Admission free - to book please email:, tel: 0117 9172300

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pic: Dane Comerford


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Trisha’s 10 top tips for swimmers

Why not test out your skills at your nearest lido while it’s still warm enough?

1 Never hold your breath. 2 Put your face in the water on the out-breath – holding your head out can cause strain in your neck and back, and make your hips and legs sink, so you’re less streamlined. 3 Breathe out gently on the out-breath – the water should simmer, not boil. 4 Breathe in and out through your mouth, not your nose. 5 Wear well-fitting goggles to improve vision, prevent disorientation and protect your eyes. 6 Don’t rush. Constant frantic movement will not make you swim faster. Aim to make each stroke longer rather than more hurried. 7 To avoid strain on the neck and back in breast stroke, don’t kick with your head out of the water. 8 In front and back crawl, you can make yourself more streamlined by rotating as you swim (side – flat – side). 9 To breathe in front crawl, roll from the hip and turn your head. Never lift it, as this strains your neck and makes your hips and legs sink. 10 Focus on how you perform each movement while you swim. You’ll improve your technique, and increase your enjoyment of swimming. You’ll never be bored in the pool again.


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“Most swimmers can reduce the effort they’re making to swim, without reducing their speed. The key is to work with the water, rather than against it, and once you have it on your side, swimming will become a more pleasurable and playful activity.” Our hour is quickly up. Trisha estimates it’d take me around 10 lessons to develop a front crawl style I was really proud of. It’s something I’ll certainly consider. As Trisha says: “Swimming promotes suppleness, strength and stamina. No other activity provides such high levels of all three of these key components of fitness. Because the body is free from gravity in the water, there’s also less strain on the joints than in weight-bearing forms of exercise. Swimming is excellent, too, for people with most lung conditions, as breathing out gently against

Clifton Lido

the resistance of the water is very good for your lungs. “But to get the full health benefits of swimming, it’s important to do it well. Faulty stroke patterns may cause strain or injury. Difficulties with breathing can reduce swimmers’ ability to continue for as long they would like to. Those who hold their heads constantly out of the water are putting stress on their necks, shoulders and backs. “Most importantly, though, the water can be a wonderful place to be; but if you feel you’re struggling with it, that reduces your incentive to swim. The less you need to fight it, the more you’ll enjoy it. Keeping fit will stop being a chore, because you’ll long to be in the water.”


GREENBANK POOL The Clark family firm of shoemakers bequeathed this pool to the town of Street in the 1930s, and nowadays it’s appropriately situated next to the Clarks Village factory outlet bargain mecca. There’s a 30-metre by 12-metre heated outdoor main pool plus an adjoining children’s pool and a separate ‘wet play’ area which features fountains and water jets. Attractive lawned setting. LIDO BRISTOL Gorgeous 1849-built lido, restaurant and spa which re-opened in November 2008, and offers a very posh splash indeed. Do check admission system before setting off – there are restrictions on nonmembers and kids. PORTISHEAD OPEN AIR POOL As featured in the last series of ‘Skins’! A fine example of 1960s modernist architecture built into the cliffside, with far-reaching views over the Severn estuary, this complex boasts a wellmaintained 33-metre heated main pool, a toddlers’ paddling pool, tiered leisure/ sunbathing area and a café. SANDFORD PARKS LIDO Lido in classic 1930s style right in the heart of Regency ’Nam. Kiddies’ paradise, with slides, a children’s pool, paddling pool, two play areas with table tennis and basketball alongside the whopping 50-metre main pool (slightly heated). Lovely landscaped gardens for sunbathing/picnicking, heated changing rooms, disabled access throughout. Fab café, too. WOTTON-UNDER-EDGE OPEN AIR POOL Small but perfectly formed, with great views of surrounding countryside.

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earthfare Cook/chef Earthfare, the renowned organic & natural food store in Glastonbury, is looking for an experienced cook/chef with the ability to create simple, mouth-watering vegetarian dishes on a consistent basis. An interest/experience in raw food & leading edge vegetarian fare would be a strong advantage. Good pay in line with experience, and excellent working conditions in a very friendly environment. Please send CV, or email for further info, to

Does one really know oneself, know the meaning and point of life? Theory is fine, but is there the necessary inner wisdom yet, inner stillness and bliss to see the world straight, to live life to the full? This introductory ten week course is designed to engender fresh perception and cheerful discussion with those interested in seeing past life’s troubled surfaces, past opinions and bias, to what is reliable, lasting and true.

‘Without vision the people perish’.

Wildfire Comms is looking for an experienced, enthusiastic editor to join its team. The role of editor is a great opportunity to work for this rapidly growing company. Please send CV’s to:


Clear the decks - come to the point of life; from accessing profound stillness, enjoy the ability to act competently; find Self awareness.

‘He tastes nothing who does not taste for himself.’


10 weeks £69. Concessions. Full time students £20. If unable to attend one week, you may switch to the

other city. Parking: Bath – Cattle Market park, off Broad St. Bristol – in the grounds. Ring, or email for a map, information, or to enroll. Most enroll on arrival. The Bath and Bristol School of Philosophy; branch of the Fellowship of the School of Economic Science. Registered Educational Charity No. 313115 88 // september 2011

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For a brochure and details of forthcoming courses please telephone The Clifton Practice 0117 317 9278 or simple visit our comprehensive website


8/24/2011 4:43:19 PM



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Assessing and treating a wide range of mental health problems. For example: • depression • anxiety • trauma • OCD Clinics in various locations around Bristol. Daytime and evening appointments available. For more information contact Dr Matthew Simmonite (Clinical Psychologist) on 07801993966 or send enquiries to


8/24/2011 8:41:50 PM

Tell us a story

A project researching LGBT history in the South West needs your help, Darryl W Bullock passes it on.


hen, in 2008, a group of local people came together to try and collate a history of the local LGBT community they had no idea just how much information they would unearth. “The group was started at the suggestion of Charlie Beaton, Jo McDonald and others in the city council’s Rainbow Group,” local historian Andy Foyle tells me. “I went along to one of the early meetings and have been involved ever since.” The group, OutStories Bristol (formerly known as the LGBT History of Bristol), meets on a regular basis and has become actively involved with events such as the annual LGBT History Month; on 3 September they will be hosting a stall and display as part of Colston Hall’s Celebrating Age day. “The core group is usually about six to eight people,” Andy – who also runs regular gay history walks around Bristol – admits. “We desperately need more people to become actively involved in organising and taking on research or publicity and fundraising activities.” “Since the Facebook group was started the flow of discussion has been non-stop. It’s a great way for people to follow what we do.” Launched earlier this year as a stop-gap solution while OutStories Bristol worked on their website (due to launch in the next few months), that page now has over 130 active members and has yielded some fascinating stories, reminiscences, photographs and press cuttings covering Bristol, Bath and the whole region, and stretching back centuries. Robert Howes, a member of the OutStories team, has written a book covering the development and history of LGBT community groups in the


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Bristol and Bath area from the 1970s, which will launch this autumn. “Our key historical interest is in finding and talking to people to record their memories of LGBT life in the area. We are open to people of any age, but of course the real driver is older people and the fact that already those who can remember life before the partial legalisations of 1967 are getting fewer. Their memories need to be recorded soon.” The group has already started their audio archive: Peggy Hancock, now 88, has recorded her memories of the Radnor Hotel in St Nicholas Street, where she was a barmaid for 20 years. The Radnor was in use as a gay pub before the Second World War. “We hope to have Lottery funding in place by early 2012 to train and equip a group of volunteers to carry out the recordings, and we are in discussion with Bristol Record Office about them permanently archiving our material. We also plan to stage a month-long exhibition of LGBT life in the Bristol region from about 1970 to coincide with LGBT history month in February 2013.” But none of this can happen without your help. OutStories Bristol needs more LGBT people to get actively involved. “Funding this is looking positive, but the key dependency will be getting people involved in preparing it,” Andy adds. FFI: FACEBOOK: OUTSTORIES BRISTOL OR EMAIL: LGBT-HISTORYOFBRISTOL@LIVE. CO.UK

EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN SEPTEMBER Sept 3 // Rewind Flamingos Arena 2, 25 West St, Bristol, BS2 0DF, 11pm-4am, £8 (£5 before 11.30pm). Ffi: www. • Flamingos’ retro disco. Dress to impress from your favourite decade for halfprice entry. Sept 3 // OutStories Bristol Celebrating Age, Colston Hall, Colston St, Bristol, BS1 5AR, free. Ffi: Facebook: OutStories Bristol • OutStories Bristol, the city’s LGBT history project, are hosting a stall and display at this year’s Celebrating Age Festival. See feature. Sept 3 // Wonky Basement 45, Frogmore St, Bristol, BS1 5NA, 11pm-4am, £5 before 12.30/£6 after/NUS £5. Ffi: www. • Bristol’s long-running club night for homos who hate hard house.

Sept 8 // Halcyon Network/ Stephen Williams MP Watershed, 1 Canon’s Rd, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX, 6.30pm, £20. Ffi: www. • Enjoy a complimentary drink and canapés whilst networking with LGBT business leaders and senior professionals from around Bristol and the South West, before Stephen Williams MP (pictured) provides a topical update and answers questions from the floor in a ‘Question Time’style discussion. Sept 15 // Indigo The Library, Goldbrick House, Park St, Bristol, BS1 5PB, 8pm, £5 inc glass of prosecco. Facebook: Indigo Bristol • Run by an allwomen team, Indigo offers lesbian/bi/queer women the chance to connect in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Sept 18 // Gay Outdoor Club: Wiltshire, Gloucestershire & North Somerset Ffi: Nigel 01793 770099, Martin & John 0117 951 2386 or www.goc. • Walk of approximately eight miles at the upper end of the Bristol Avon valley, up to the end of RAF Lyneham and on past Bradenstoke Priory to Bradenstoke Cum Clack for drinks at the Cross Keys, a visit to the parish church before the return walk past the old Wilts & Berks canal to Christian Malford and Foxham for a tea break. Sept 17 // Bristol Posse The Ship, Lower Park Row, Bristol, BS1 5BJ, from 3pm. Ffi: 0789 195 0550 or info@bristolposse. • Casual monthly gettogether for members of the LGB community. Sept 17-18 // Lesbian and Children Network Ffi: rachely@ or 0781 375 4291 • Bristol’s // casual social group for lesbians and their children is off on their annual camping weekend. Contact Rachel for more details. Sept 24 // Liberty Toto’s Bar, 125 Redcliffe St, Bristol, BS1 6HU, 9pm-2am, £6 otd or from Ffi: • Bristol’s only regular women-only club night, with all-female bar staff, performers and promoter, moves to the last Saturday of the month. DJ Curtis is behind the decks. Sept 28 // CycleOut Bristol Meet by King William Statue, Queen Sq, Bristol, 6pm. Ffi: http:// • CycleOut Bristol’s programme of short urban rides providing a gentle sociable introduction to cycling concludes.

AUGUST 2011 // 91

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Flip the page for Venue & Folio’s food & drink mini-mag, Eating Out West



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Venue Magazine 972  

Septembers issue of Venue magazine