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Contact @venueeditor

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

p.16 2012: Let’s get it on…

p.2 The to u exp

p.24 Iain Canning The renowned film producer (and Bedminster’s only Academy Award winner) talks to us about his biggest hit, ‘The King’s Speech’, and Steve McQueen’s forthcoming exploration of sex addiction with Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender, ‘Shame’.

Free inside Resolutions

p.10 Tom Phillips takes up electronic fags in a bid to quit smoking. Here’s how he got on… p.13 Theatre ace Andy Burden on his frankly marvellous ‘Henry VIII and the Royal Wedding Planner’ p.14 Slapstick! Bristol’s Griff Rhys Jones-fronted festival of silent film (and live, music, talks, events) returns

// inbox // p.4 Letters, opinion, oddness…

// i saw you // p.7 But did you see me? Did you? Huh?

p.32 Bond, Radcliffe, the Hobbit, The Dark Knight and Aardman all return in 2012

p.63 Who’ll be making you laugh in 2012?

// ART //

NE p.2

FILM p.3 201

p.42 The beats, the words, the rhythms, the rhymes of the year we’re calling 2012

p.65 The lighter side of life: take a peek at the spectacular Illuminate Bath

// Clubs //

// BOOKS //

CLU p.5

p.53 Bristol’s dancefloor overlords Futureboogie

p.71 Soul-nourishing books to see you through a barren winter

PE p.5

// Days Out //

COM p.6


// Performance //

p.28 The most fetid of pickings from the rotting carcass of local news

p.57 All the world’s a stage: theatreland highlights for the year ahead

to your door for just £2.99/month direct debit or £37.50/year Phone 0117 934 3741 or email to set it up.

Contents 976.indd 3

p.1 ho p.1 the p.1 liv

IS p.7

// Comedy //

Get every issue of venue delivered early



IN p.4

// Film //

// Music //

Fre Bor join or b ide


Bored of the wheezing, dunderheaded flabby old you? Whether you want to get fit, join a club, learn a new language, take up a hobby, make new friends, perform, paint or beautify your handsome self, our 48-page free guide has hundreds of inspirational ideas to get your new year off to a flier.


[ba 201 PR

p.1 You it. R So be

You may still be picking through the hazy, bottle-strewn wasteland that was 2011, but stop it. Right now. Because it’s time to look forward, damn it, FORWARD. The future calls. So rise up and meet 2012 head-on with our prophetic guide to the year ahead: what’ll be hot, where we’ll be going and how we’ll all be getting there. Let’s get excited...


Co edi @v

p.72 Cosmic! Venue goes star-gazing

// gay // p.75 Local LGBT events and news

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MU p.4

AR p.6

BOO p.7

DA p.7

GA p.7

[bo GE MO


Letter of the month

Thorne on your side // Great Severn Bore last issue (Severn Bore, issue 975). Couldn’t agree more with Mr. (Mrs?) Bore when he/she says that Occupy Bristol “ultimately represents all of us, aside from a minority of free-market lunatics and embittered Nazis”. The only bit of Bore I don’t agree with, sad to say, is the bit where s/he says “We’re all still mad as hell” (‘mad’ meaning ‘angry’, I presume). Because we’re not really, are we? I mean sure, if I stop to think about what the rich minority are doing to the planet and to the poor (murdering both, basically, and then laughing about it), then I am a bit peeved by it. I even recognise that globally speaking I am part of that minority – we pretty much all are, living in the UK. But then all too soon I forget, or become distracted by needing

to pay the rent and by trying not to irritate my girlfriend too much and by all the things I’d like to do in life… and before I know it, I’m all wrapped up in me again, and that anger gets lost. Which, I suppose, is why it’s so important that those disparate Occupiers are still shivering in their tents on College Green, and reminding us of what a monumental clusterf*ck the current economic system is. Colin Thorne, Westbury Park Hear, hear, Colin. Wonder if they’ll still be under canvas as this mag hits the shelves? If they are, you could donate this here £10 Waterstone’s voucher to them in solidarity. Then they could buy a guide to winter camping survival tips, or something. Or just a nice thick book to put on the campfire.

A new coalition?

Auld Lang’s Whine // New Year’s Eve, eh? Well done for not foaming about it too much in your last issue (Clubs section notwithstanding). It’s all such a massive anticlimax, isn’t it? Wait. By the time this is published (if it’s published, which I doubt), NYE will have already passed. How did you spend yours? Some meaningless alcohol poisoning,

Issue 976 2012 preview

4 // JANUARY 2012

Letters 976.indd 4

followed by a daft countdown to a new day and that pang of sadness at all the things that haven’t happened? Plus maybe an embarrassing snog/lack of snog. Me? I’ll be in the middle of nowhere, with people I love, resolutely ignoring the whole sorry date-change farrago. And Jools Holland can go blow a goat. Sal, by email

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

// In a magazine so usually full of good cheer, I regret to announce that your article highlighting the South West’s housing crisis sucked all the red blood cells from my body (Gimme Shelter, issue 974). It presented a frankly distressing vision of a housing market on the brink of collapse. Aside from a brief intercontinental gallop after my degree, I’ve lived in Bristol for all my 24 years, from birthto-beer in Filton through to the heady student times of Clifton Village and a cosy, lady-strewn spell in Bedminster. I’m back at the family home for now, where it’s me, Mum and a whole load of memories. Suburbia has proven tough to return to, especially somewhere as monumentally drab as Filton. I should quit whining of course – at least I have a roof of any 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

kind to retreat under. Through her NHS job, my sister had the good fortune to decamp to a rented flat in Chelsea, where she should be the envy of all and sundry. She’s not though – unhappy in The Big Smoke and longing for a quiet pad to retreat to. The NHS, like many institutions, is a barren land vocationally. So with no national transfers vacant to her position, she’s stuck. The rental game seems a dodgy see-saw to both of us – you’re either trapped in it wasting money and minutes, or you’re cast out on the touchlines, wondering if you should get subbed back in. Gah, what to do!? The housing crisis in Bristol seems born of a simple, ancient dilemma: migration and all the politics, ill-will and violent guff that comes with it. Put simply, Bristol suffers from being a hugely popular city (hence a

Wright, Bex Baddiley Bath Advertising Ellie Pipe, Nejla Unal Distribution and Subscriptions Simon Butler Publication Co-ordinators Sam Ulewicz 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 Leah Pritchard Roots Leah Pritchard Skills Anna Britten Sport Simon Fry Theatre Steve Wright


12/21/2011 11:49:01 AM Each Letter of the Month receives a £10 voucher to spend in any Waterstone’s store nationwide.

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

large student and international immigrant population) but also a place that most would rather not see expand beyond its current boundaries. I lack the refined education or positive motivation to personally resolve this issue (perhaps those involved in the summer riots felt this same young malaise), but then I don’t really trust the local council or government to find a way either. Maybe a real coalition of people is needed – for all issues, not just accommodation. Local and foreign, young and old, rich and poor – we’re all in it together, after all. Let’s find some solutions, a clear directive to challenge the notions of our muddled ‘leaders’; and finally achieve a proud unity that can last. Bristol Beyond Boundaries, perhaps? Peter Jaines, Bedminster


Letters 976.indd 5

Space invaders // Here is a picture (above) I found on the internet. Please print it in full, assuming you’re allowed. I thenk yew. Dave, Easton

A festival of arsecheeks // Harbour Festival, Bristol Festival, Kite Festival… How many more of these bloody festivals are there? It gets sillier every year. One week it’s the Balloon Festival, then the Harbour Festival, a dozen others I’VE never heard of... It’s just the same old sh*t with a different name. What next – a candlemakers’ festival? A festival of arsecheeks? I’ve got a festival idea for next year, I wonder if it will get commissioned. I’m calling it the ‘Stay-in-and-don’t-paintyour-face-and-act-like-a-tit-ina-massive-crowd weekender’. Miserable Bastard, by email

Saw/sore // Is it just me, or has the quality of your I Saw You page gone down the cackpipe lately? Witness: “I Saw You at clifton down station on sat 29th all dressed up wearing a red skirt I was sat opposite on the train be great to hear from you”. Aside from all the stupid grammatical errors, this poor simpleton makes no attempt to describe themselves at all. How will Mrs Red Skirt have any idea if she wants to see you again or not, you witless mungbrain? Another: “I Saw You charging ridiculous money for a ham and coleslaw baguette”. Well, f*ck me, that’s really going to hurt some sandwich shop, isn’t it? Except that you didn’t even hint at which one it was! Pillock! Etc. It’s such a shame the I’m Sore at You Page has disappeared – I could have some fun with that… Patty O’Dors, by email

// 1 Quit smoking. // 2 Lose a bit of weight. // 3 Get fit. // 4 Be nicer to Mum. // 5 Learn to play the guitar properly. // 6 Quit smoking again in February after just having the one because, like, I can have the occasional one when I’m out having fun, and end up smoking again the following day. // 7 Save money by turning the heating down. Look for thermal underwear bargains. // 8 Suck up to the boss in case I get made redundant. // 9 Write my CV in case I get made redundant. // 10 Stop believing whatever rubbish I read in most newspapers, or the bland, emasculated BBC news service with its patently failed notion of “balance”. The world is not being screwed up by dole-scroungers, asylum seekers, the ‘X Factor’ judges or footballers or their wives. // 11 Start hoarding tinned and dried foods and bottled water for the strikes, power cuts, riots or whatever other infrastructure failure causes the shortages. // 12 Also candles, matches, firewood, some bags of coal and a bicycle. // 13 Plus batteries, wind-up torch, wind-up radio, wind-up sexual companion. // 14 Because really, we’ve never been anywhere like this before. I need to quit smoking because it’s expensive, I need to lose weight and get fitter so’s I can run away from whatever's chasing me on the streets, and I need to be nicer to Mum as I might have to move back in with her. The guitar lessons will come in useful for busking for food. // 15 Keep calm and carry on?

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To submit an I Saw You email web

// Reach out to someone // I Saw You out of the toilet in La Rocca with someone else’s beer! You’re the original party girl and we love you for it!!! xxx I Saw You Santa, climbing up my chimney and beyond, you took me to a higher level of sexual ecstasy that I have ever been before! LBS xxx I Saw You in Castle Park on a wet and windy December day. You smiled at me as I battled through the rain with my huge umbrella. I wish I’d asked you to share it… I Saw You J L wEave - even though you did you steal my socks, wake up with a super hero and have a cheese induced coma you are by far one of my highlights of 2011 <3 I Saw You eating another Krispy Kreme, by god you’re gonna be the size of a house by Christmas!! I Saw You Betty, Front of House and Muscle going wild to the sounds of Spud at our Christmas party. Same time, same tunes next year yeah? Much love I.T. x I Saw You snogging a colleague at the christmas party, naughty, naughty!! I Saw You all accepting me into quite possible the most elite posse in the whole of Bristol... Its alot to say even though you were his friends first your all my friends now, lovelovelove x I Saw You I smelt you before I saw you, take a bath! I Saw You chook working hard on your tree hugging


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all year. You’re amazing and here’s to our Keralan adventure! Love you. x

threads and iphone screen shots... you are my new favourite f r i e n d x

I Saw You wearing a key necklace at STB... what door does that key open???

I Saw You Red Ranger actually I havent seen you in Iceland for a while.

I Saw You making me the best (and only) lasagna I have ever tasted!

I Saw You hogging all the baby cuddles, share the lovely little lady around you greedy mare!

I Saw You not seeing me, message me please I Saw You Perez winking at me from my living room floor. I’ve never been with such a big girl before but after burying my face in your soft, plump pillows it’s a struggle to tear myself away. You may be expensive but then girls like you always are. I can only apologise that StanFonsRoley tried all that scat stuff with you, he has strange peccadillos. I’ll keep paying and treat you well my sweet til you’re too old for lovin, your warranty expires and your cushions sag. Can’t wait to get home to your warm embrace. All my love, Chris. x I Saw You quite alot this year... gracing my presents with your endless new shuz,

I saw you

shaggy salt and pepper pussies and I long to taste your goodness. Where are your condiments my pretties?

I Saw You telling me you wrote the lyrics to 'Fellings' I now fear this may be a lie? :( I Saw You ram raiding my advent calendar, proper robbed I Saw You falling over a palm tree while playing jungle golf, what a pissed up tart! I Saw You - I didn’t see you at the gym. Bet you feel guilty now! I Saw You in the cupboard - laughing. Arn't thoes trousers a bit tight to be chinos?

I Saw You I saw you Mr Hollington getting dragged away to The Pink Flamingo by a big gay dogger and followed the long and aimless brown trail you left all the way to your door. Please try to remember that after the thunder comes the rain my friend but if I hear a rumble I’ll come running with a wet wipe in hand to clean your tiny legs. Debs I Saw You stuffing chocolate in the office, nom nom nom I Saw You I AM still ‘totally in love with you’ but you’re

very sadly mistaken about everything else. I didn’t write the message you replied to, maybe YOU did? It wouldn’t be the first time you wrote one pretending to be me is it?;)I’m not as deluded as you think I am. :) x I Saw You I Saw You - I didn’t see you from my car unfortunately.. I wish you had been with me too. I miss touching you. I Saw You and wish so much I was in a position to be your number 1.if only magic wands were available on eBay! Xxx I Saw You in your house, which decided to leave... you looked beyond unhappy. I’m so sorry we destroyed what we had... maybe one day we will manage to clear our heads from all the bad things and simply enjoy being together. My feelings will never change. I Saw You wonderful, funny, amazing. I miss your emails but slowly understanding why you wanted to stop. I love to spend time with you, there is no-one else to match you. Ever. x I Saw You - what have you done to me? I'm now a ralphy wearing, squid eating, passive smoking, Curren$y listening, Jamie Oliver watching, 140 BMP lovin' foodie... xxx

For more i saw you – plus I’m Sore At You – see: january 2012 // 7

1/3/2012 2:24:03 PM

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Bristol & Bath in pictures

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.

this mont winner!h's

‘Samuel the Agile Gibbon’ – Anna Francis (above)

‘Shadow of Autumn’ – Ewelina Karbowiak (top)

Bristol From the Lab’ – Rob Nunan (right)

Graphic designer, Anna Francis, of Bristol Zoo: “[This picture is] part of a larger series of black and white photos I’ve been working on for the last year, entitled ‘Behind the Scenes at Bristol Zoo’. They are created using my old 35mm film camera. I love using black and white film, it’s always more atmospheric, and the analogue photographic process has always fascinated me.”

“I went for walk to catch a few photos of the last beautiful days of the autumn at Ashton Court in Bristol. I was lucky enough to catch a few balloons and some moments of romance shared between various people and couples.” Ffi: www.

“This is a picture which I took from my lab window last month. It also came runner-up in the Art of Science competition that ran in the medical sciences building of Bristol university.” For more on the competition, see: www.bristol.


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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:

january 2012 // 9

12/20/2011 5:58:47 PM


And another thing... Tom Phillips has a touch of the vapours.


he threat of a health drive has loomed over me like a cold front advancing across the Atlantic for 20-odd years. I’ve known that it would eventually lurch over the horizon ever since my dad took me to the pub for a pint on my fourteenth birthday and my mate Paul broke out the stolen Rothmans on the canal tow path in 1979. Since then I’ve pretty much ignored NHS propaganda about physical fitness and holistic crap about getting ‘high on life’ – if I really wanted to get philosophical about it, I’d probably have to say life has always seemed to be an irritating distraction between comforting millennia of oblivion. The only reasons ‘they’ want you to be healthy, after all, are to a) cut down on health service bills and b) make sure there are enough drones fit enough to stack supermarket shelves and staff call centres. Not that I’m ready to shuffle off this mortal coil quite yet, you understand – and so when Venue Towers pings round an email asking for someone to test-drive an electronic fag that’ll get me off the evil weed, I’m in there. This time, for real... And so – the electronic fag arrives from www.vapourlites. com: it’s like a metallic Benson

“I become adept at catching blankets of snot in toilet roll.” 10 // january 2012

Another Thing 976.indd 10

& Hedges, the white bit a rechargeable battery, the filter bit some kind of gizmo that generates vapour when I drag on it and makes me think I’m smoking. Clever, huh? But surely nothing like the real thing? For a while I just look at it and scan ludicrously partisan websites about the pros and cons, before deciding that it can’t possibly be worse for me than filter-less rollups, popping it in my gob and giving it a go. Astonishingly, it’s quite close to lighting up. The ‘smoke’ hits the back of my throat and I even cough a bit (largely because I’ve just toked on it as if it’s the size of a Camberwell Carrot). Within seconds, in fact, I’m blowing vapour rings and my little nicotine receptors are having a party. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? The nicotine’s real but there’s no tar and no cancerous gubbins. Sod patches, gum, boiled sweets, those curious inhalator thingies... True, I feel vaguely selfconscious about ‘smoking’ a metal tube with a glowing blue tip in public and catch myself hiding behind trees like a guilty schoolboy if I’m indulging outdoors, but that’s as nothing to the tectonic shifts that are going on in my sinuses. Those battered tubes haven’t had this kind of relief since Steve Cook and Paul Jones flew down to Rio to record ‘No One Is Innocent’ with Ronnie Biggs. For the first time in 20 years, I actually hear something in my left ear – and I realise Biggs can’t sing. I become adept at catching blankets of snot in toilet roll. Then, even weirder things start happening: I wake up ever earlier in the morning

Fags: not good for you

and the prospect of walking the dog around the docks for an hour at dawn suddenly seems entirely attractive. This, though, may well have more to do with simultaneously going tee-total and not staying up half the night trying to write a bestseller. Inevitably, just as I’m starting to worry that I’m getting ‘high on life’, I have a lapse. Of course, I do. There is, in fact, a weekend of tobaccoswathed self-indulgence, during which I con myself into thinking the only way I can fulfil my destiny as the world’s greatest writer is by going back to my old mistresses, Golden Virginia and Stella Artois. At 4am, I drunkenly stumble into bed, coughing heroically, all those putatively brilliant lines unwritten. Fortunately, come Monday, I remember the e-fag, chuck

away what’s left of Virginia and Stella, start blowing innocent vapour into the atmosphere again and conclude that, while I’m still hooked on nicotine (life, after all, requires some kind of anaesthesia), I am at least now feeding my habit without risking pulmonary catastrophe, threatening to bankrupt the NHS or putting money in the coffers of evil corporate death merchants. Hoorah! To celebrate, I skip down to the Tobacco Factory (oh, the irony) and blow the money I’ve saved on fags on a Romanesco cauliflower (to stave off the hunger pangs) and a secondhand copy of Derrida’s ‘On Grammatology’ (to cure my rampaging insomnia). Then I cough up another volcanic eruption of ex-smoker’s mucus – because, hey, you can’t have everything.


12/21/2011 9:36:39 AM

Fri 6 & Sat 7 Jan SEAN HUGHES

Fri 13 & Sat 14 Jan STUART GOLDSMITH

Fri 20 & Sat 21 Jan JOHN LYNN

Fri 27 & Sat 28 Jan CHRIS MARTIN

Fri 3 & Sat 4 Feb ELIS JAMES Bristol Winter Cider Festival Friday

27th January, 2012 - 7.30pm - 11pm

Bristol Winter Cider Festival Daytime Session

28th January, 2012 - 11am - 4pm

Evening Session

28th January, 2012 - 7.30pm - 11pm Venue: Brunels Passenger Shed, Temple Meads, Bristol BS1 6QH Tickets £7.00in advance; £8.00 on the door. Any unsold tickets will be made available on the door - but buying your tickets in advance is highly recommended as this sold out last year. Tickets on sale now.

Bath Cider Festival

10th February, 2012 - 7.30PM - 11pm

Bath Cider Festival Saturday

11th February, 2012 - 7.30pm - 11pm

Saturday Daytime Session

11th February, 2012, 11am - 4pm Venue Bath Pavilion, North Parade, Bath BA2 4EU Tickets £7.00 in advance £8.00 on the door. Any unsold tickets will be made available on the door - but buying your tickets in advance is highly recommended as this sold out last year. Tickets on sale now.

Wine Tasting at Bath Pavillion

17th March, 2012 - 7.30PM - 11PM A humorous and informative talk by Stephen Barrett from the Channel 4 programme Wine Hunt. It’s your chance to taste a selection of red, white, rose and sparkling wines from across France, whilst enjoying a buffet of anti pasti. Price: £15, Book in advance to avoid disappointment! Sponsored by

For tickets: or 01225 330 304 venuemagazine

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nO.974 // nOvEmbER

iNe BristOL & Bath's maGaZ

2011 // fREE




iNe BristOL & Bath's maGaZ

nO.973 // OcTObER 2011

// fREE

perfection // Pub theatre // THEATRE WEST (and worst) ISE? // The best // A NOVEL PREMadaptations y big screen literar o’clock R // Shock-rock‘ // ALICE COOPE page to stage From URGO // // MICHAEL MORPible journey of ‘War Horse’ incred to screen: the


iNe BristOL & Bath's maGaZ

nO.972 // sEPTEmbER

2011 // fREE


iNe BristOL & Bath's maGaZ


nO.971 // AugusT 2011

// fREE

up for summer LOOKIN’ // Tog // HEY, GOOD The world’s THE TOWN // // PAINTING hits Bristol r art exhibition biggest outdoo // 2011’s PRIZE T STORY // BRISTOL SHOR in full ted winner, re-prin 32-page LIFE OUT // Free // SORT YOUR guide g courses & trainin

iNe BristOL & Bath's maGaZ

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de Xmas Gift Gui

lTuRE eatre ART BOOKs cu film music clubs th 10/31/2011

11:54:31 AM

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nO.970 // July 2011 //





Bath Film Fest AArdmAn’s ChristmAs bloCkbuster encounters Film Fest Plus 14 new s film review


lad! Bristol Old ISLAND // Jim s high seas // TREASURE Louis Stevenson’ Vic bring Robert spectacular home hell happened? RY // What the // GLASTONBU gets a double VALS // Bristol // COMEDY FESTI y therap er dose of laught man at the // Meet the new // JULIAN DAVIS Carnival helm of St Pauls

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5:14:21 PM


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Psst! Wanna job? How about...


Venue, Bristol and Bath's long-serving what's on, arts and culture magazine, is looking for a new Editor.

An incredible opportunity for anyone with a passion for journalism and one of the most vibrant, exciting arts scenes on the planet, the successful candidate will have a proven editorial track record as well as plenty of marketing, people management, and creative skills. You'll be overflowing with ideas, itching to write and a voracious consumer of art, music, theatre, dance, film, comedy and more. If you think this is the job for you, send a CV and covering letter to us, along with three examples of potential cover features for Venue stating what the feature would be, why Venue should be doing it, and how it would look on the cover. Feel free to enclose any other suggestions about improving the magazine and its online/social media content too. This is a freelance, part-time position. You will be expected to work approx. 2.5 days per week. For a full job description, go to: Start date: asap Location: Bristol Pay: approx. £1,000 per month (but with potential to earn significantly more) Deadline for applications: Sun 15 Jan Apply by email to Group Editor Dave Higgitt:

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12/21/2011 2:51:14 PM


The Interview Andy Burden Ahead of his new one-woman show ‘Henry VIII and The Royal Wedding Planner’, the top director talks local talent, the West Country and theatrical politics with Lucy Meek. 2011 started as a difficult year actually, I have to say. With all the economic news, I thought ‘Oh no, there’s going to be nothing out there’, but I kept chipping away, writing to people and trying to create new relationships. At the beginning of the year I was thinking, like a lot of people in our industry, ‘Am I gonna feed the kids?’ So it’s a real relief. I feel very lucky. We started by looking at Charles II. But when we got to the end of that, it didn’t quite work, so Julia [Gwynne, actress] said: ‘Well, we could always do Henry VIII’. Then we came across this lady-in-waiting called Jane Parker, and we’d also read about this other lady-in-waiting called Jane Boleyn. So there was this magic moment when we found out it was the same person. She’d

got married to Anne Boleyn’s brother, so we’ve got a lady-inwaiting who was there for five of Henry VIII’s brides, and we go ‘Well, there’s the story’. People are terrified of the one-person show. If it’s not very good you can’t get out, and there’s nothing to relieve the boredom. But I think that because I try to keep things moving, it really, really helps to make it a good night out rather than just a self-indulgent lecture. And it’s the obvious way to create something of really high quality that is affordable to everybody, so that we can keep the ticket prices down. People say ‘Oh, theatre tickets are really expensive’, but I know the secret – I know you can get cheap tickets for 10 quid just by going to a smaller theatre. And the quality? Yeah, you’ll kiss a few frogs, but I think that’s fun. It’s great going to a small theatre and not knowing what you’re going to get. Everything Henry VIII does in the play is going on in another room – we just feel the ramifications of it. That came from a theme of people in power at the moment being a bit disconnected. And I mean that not just as political power, not just people in other industries, but in my industry – people who run big theatres being a bit disconnected.

“It’s great going to a small theatre and not knowing what you’re going to get.” andy burden venuemagazine

The Interview 976.indd 13

Director Andy Burden, whose excellent 'Henry VIII and the Royal Wedding Planner' makes a welcome return to theatreland this month

I think doors have to open a bit more easily than they currently do to get theatre into big spaces. That’s what I would like to see as the next step. There are enough good actors, good writers, good designers and good directors in Bristol and Bath that they will create their own

following. I’ve had doors opened to me – and it’s not sour grapes – but I know other people should be having doors opened to them but maybe they’re not. I’ve had to bash some doors down, mind. The first large-scale show I directed I had to go to Germany to do it and I don’t speak any German! I don’t think there’s any malice from the people of Bristol towards theatres but I think there might be a frustration. It’s happening around the country: there’s a problem with large theatres at the moment, that they are cutting themselves off. I’ve never known it in the industry: it’s kind of an art tsar feeling. There’s sort of little clubs and you have to wait for them

to make a decision. In my own career, I decided that I’m not going to be party to that; that I’m not going to wait for that. I’ll do things my way instead. When I was a kid a friend of mine – this is actually true – bought one of the first issues of Venue that had come out, in the early 80s, I think. And I’ll never forget, he was in the pub with me and he chucked it on the table and said ‘Right, if you’re going to be anyone I expect you to be in this magazine’! CATCH HENRY VIII AND THE ROYAL WEDDING PLANNER AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL, TUE 10-SAT 21 JAN OR AT THE RONDO, BATH, FRI 17 FEB. FFI: WWW. ANDYBURDEN.COM

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12/20/2011 5:50:28 PM

Robin Askew gets tied to a railway track just as this year’s Slapstick silent comedy festival comes thundering round the corner.


t’s a measure of the success of any festival that people keep coming back for more. In the middle of a recession, ticket sales for the big Colston Hall gala event at Bristol’s eighth annual Slapstick silent comedy festival are already up on last year. And it’s not just the punters who keep returning. Many of the 2012 fest’s 19 guests have been here before, either at Slapstick itself or at fundraising events: Terry Jones, Neil Innes, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ian Lavender, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor… New to Slapstick this year is Griff Rhys Jones, who’ll be hosting the centrepiece Silent Comedy Spectacular. Festival director Chris Daniels is in no doubt as to why the celebs can’t keep away. “It’s simply a festival they want to come to. Then they’ll say, ‘Give us a job while I’m there. I’ll introduce something.’ So Barry Cryer was talking to me about Harold Lloyd because he’s a huge fan. He suggested some films, so we put a double bill on at the Arnolfini for him to introduce.” Similarly, Terry Jones will be present for a special screening of the Monty Python classic ‘Life of Brian’ followed by a discussion with Sanjeev Baskar. But he’s not just coming for his event. He’ll be turning up a day early and staying over to catch all the Buster Keaton programmes. This year, Slapstick’s presence at the Colston Hall has expanded to take in three nights. In addition to the Silent Comedy Spectacular and ‘Life of Brian’ event, Ian Lavender is returning for a show celebrating the evergreen ‘Dad’s Army’ and his role as Private Pike. Remarkably, although he’s contributed to

TV programmes, he’s never done a stage show on the subject until now. Although these big, eye-catching shows operate at the margins of Slapstick’s visual comedy remit, they’re much-needed revenueboosters. The festival was turned down for Key Arts Provider funding by Bristol City Council this year, and survives thanks to sponsorship from Aardman and Creative England, plus the unstinting support of the Colston Hall. But the big shows also have another function: to draw the curious into the world of silent comedy. “People may come to see Ian Lavender talk about Private Pike and then stay for the weekend,” says Chris. “The thing that’s most amazing is the gala. It absolutely delights me that eight years on there are still over a thousand people coming to watch silent movies at the Colston Hall.” Naturally, there’s a hit list of big names he’s eager to lure for future festivals. “We’ve approached some people in the past – obviously I can’t mention any names – and have heard they’d either want a huge fee or wouldn’t be interested.”

But it’s no secret that as one of only two surviving Pythons not to have come to Slapstick, Bath resident John Cleese is pretty high on the list. Word is he’s receptive to the idea. Then there’s Johnny Depp, who’s reportedly a huge Chaplin fan. If you’re reading this, Johnny, get in touch with Slapstick pronto. They’d love to have you. It’s pure coincidence, of course, that the brilliant, Oscar-bound ‘The Artist’ is due for cinema release just before the festival begins. But this is certain to spark renewed public interest in silent movies and great physical comedians such as Pierre Etaix. He’ll be present to receive this year’s Visual Comedy Award, presented by Terry Jones. Who the hell’s Pierre Etaix, then? Don’t worry – even Chris Daniels hadn’t heard of him until he stumbled across one of the French comedian’s short films and decided to investigate further. “Then Terry Jones emailed me and said, ‘Ah yes, Etaix – I remember seeing his films in the 60s. We all thought he would be the next Jacques Tati, but there were some rights issues.’ I spoke to Peter Lord at Aardman, who turned out to be a huge fan too. We discovered that Etaix is still alive and decided to invite him. He sent a delightful email of acceptance. He’s one of those great people whose work really does speak to you. He’s not exactly Buster Keaton but he’s pretty damn close. You get a lot of physical comedy today, but the eloquence of someone like Chaplin or Keaton you rarely see anywhere else. Etaix genuinely has that.”

Comedy, magic, dance, drama and The Hoff: here’s what we’ll be watching in wonder this Christmas. Research: Fiona Morrison.

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“You get a lot of physical comedy today, but the eloquence of someone like Chaplin or Keaton you rarely see anywhere else.” Chris daniels, slapstick



12/20/2011 5:41:41 PM

Slap happy (from top): Buster Keaton, Charley Chase, Pierre Etaix, 'The General', 'Dad's Army'

Buster Keaton: Brownlow and Garden

He’s Not the Messiah, He’s… Terry Jones

Thur 26, Watershed Old Stone Face, aka Buster Keaton, is the subject of several programmes at this year’s Slapstick. Here, Oscar-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow sets the scene in conversation with fellow enthusiast Graeme Garden.

Sat 28, Colston Hall Forever slugging it out with ‘Spinal Tap’ for the accolade of Best Comedy Ever, Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ has never been more topical, thanks to the rise of religious fundamentalism. This is an opportunity to watch the film in the company of its director, who will join Sanjeev Bhaskar for a discussion after the screening.

“Stupid Boy!” – Celebrating ‘Dad’s Army’ with Ian Lavender Thur 26, Colston Hall Private Pike himself in conversation with Matthew Sweet. Plus clips, a full episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ and an audience Q&A. Note that if you’re planning to go to all three Colston Hall events, you can get a combined ticket for a bargain £40.

The Clown Princes Fri 27, Arnolfini It ain’t all about Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, y’know. David Wyatt celebrates some of the finest forgotten comedians of the silent era, including Charley Chase, Lloyd Hamilton, Max Davidson and Larry Semon.

Griff Rhys Jones: Silent Comedy Spectacular Fri 27, Colston Hall Slapstick newcomer Griff Rhys Jones hosts this year’s gala, which includes the world premiere of a new score for the Buster Keaton classic ‘The General’, performed by the European Silent Screen Virtuosi and Bristol Ensemble. There are also Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy shorts – plus music from the Matinee Idles, featuring Paul McGann.

My Chaplin with Sanjeev Bhaskar Sun 29, Arnolfini The star of ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and ‘The Kumars at No. 42’ presents his favourite Chaplin shorts and shares his enthusiasm with Chaplin historian David Robinson.

Buster Keaton: Young Keaton Sun 29, Arnolfini Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer, Ian Lavender and Bill Oddie queue up to celebrate Keaton’s 22 early comedy shorts, made between 1919 and 1922.

Pierre Etaix: The Laughter Returns Sun 29, Watershed Etaix is Slapstick’s big discovery for 2012, and this is a chance to find out what the fuss is about. Presented in collaboration with the Festival of Ideas, the event has Sir Christopher Frayling in conversation with clown, magician, illustrator, cabaret artist and Jacques Tati collaborator Etaix, and includes a complete screening of his first short film, ‘Rupture’. In a separate programme later in the day, the festival concludes with a screening of Etaix’s most accomplished feature, ‘La Grande Amour’.

Harold Lloyd Double Bill Sat 28, Arnolfini Barry Cryer presents two of his favourite Harold Lloyd films: ‘An Eastern Westerner’ and ‘Grandma’s Boy’.

Bill Oddie’s Top Comedy Moments Sat 28, Watershed The former Goodie and Britain’s rudest twitcher joins Chris Serle for a wideranging conversation about working with the likes of John Cleese and Jonathan Miller, plus a selection of his favourite comedy moments from the last century.


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12/20/2011 5:45:56 PM

Crappy new year? Want to know what you’ll be talking about in the pub this year? Eugene Byrne lines up the big issues for Bristol in 2012. Plus we get a few local folk to make their own predictions.

Here is your local news for Bristol in 2012:

AAARGH! AAARGH!! WE’RE ALL DOOMED! Thank you. That is all. What? Really? Fill three or four pages? How about we print some prayers?... No? Well, if you insist.

THE LOCAL ECONOMY It could be worse. You might be living in Doncaster or, well, anywhere else. In a global financial and economic meltf*ck scenario, this is one of the UK’s least bad places to be. While unemployment is rising everywhere, Bristol at least also has the highest rate of employment in the UK outside of London. Currently around 74% of the working-age population of Bristol is in a job. It might not sound too impressive when you consider that means that 26% are not working, but not all of that 26% is actively seeking work, and it’s better than everywhere else. Bristol has a comparatively small public sector, which of course is where jobs are being, and will continue to be, shed most quickly and in the largest numbers in the coming years. What Bristol does have is a comparatively big private sector working in growth areas like “advanced manufacturing” (high techy stuff), the “creative industries” (old media, PR, communications, the arts, new media, and those places where some or all of the above meet up) and green industries. Of all these, the advanced manufacturing will remain the most economically important, particularly aerospace. Airbus, which employs 4,000 people on its own at Filton (never mind all its other local suppliers, and other local aerospace firms, especially across the road at Rolls Royce), has a full order book, with every chance of more work to come. If you want a mark of how well aerospace is doing, the Office for National Statistics late last year came up with figures for the average salary of males in full-time employment by parliamentary constituency. The average pay in

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Filton & Bradley Stoke in 2010/11 was £23,774, a rise of 2.1% on the previous year; in Bristol South it was £19,962, a drop of a whacking great 6.4%. Expect the 2011/12 numbers to show an even wider gap. There’s a couple of things to watch here. First the satanic plan by BAe Systems to sell the airfield for houses, which now has all of Bristol up in arms. Whether or not they succeed it’s likely to mean all of Bristol (even the non-Bristolian humanities graduates who occupy almost all the managerial positions at the council) will love aerospace in a way that’s not happened since the days of Concorde. The other thing is that aerospace is likely to increasingly be seen as a generator of advanced new green technologies in everything from biofuels (grown from green slime in the sea, not the nasty old-school biofuels that eat up farmland) to radical new materials technologies. Bristol is a world leader in the latter. The creative industries aren’t as important economically to Bristol as engineering, however much perky PR people and digital media spods would like you to think so, but they do matter, and they’re a growing sector locally. The thing to look out for here is whether or not the Local Enterprise Zone succeeds in getting and progressing with its proposed “media hub”. Key to this is whether or not the BBC buy into the idea. If they commit to the proposed hub around Temple Meads station, that will be very good news. So, not all gloom and doom then, but nonetheless, 15,000 or so people will be claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Bristol alone by the time you read this – a rise of over 3,000 on this time last year. A combination of spending cuts and general economic climate is going to make things worse, especially as the cuts will start to erode the support services and agencies which are there to help the unemployed, especially youngsters. A lot of shops, restaurants, pubs and bars are going to go bust, while the rest will work even harder to attract customers. There will be some building work going, and the government recently stumped up £100m for new bendy bus routes and the completion of the

Avon Ring Road from Hartcliffe to Long Ashton. A lot of locals and green campaigners are dead against this, but it’s widely felt that improved transport around here will have major economic benefits for the whole of south Bristol. Work may not start until later in the year, though. One thing that’s a dead cert about this year’s news: every single development will be presented to planning committees and via the media in terms of how many jobs it will create. Everything that business proposes, good or bad, will be couched in those terms. You have to wonder, for instance, if the Ashton Vale Stadium and associated supermarket and housing developments were being proposed in 2012 instead of a few years back, whether they’d have had a much easier ride.

DEMOGRAPHICS The downside to Bristol’s prosperity relative to the rest of the country is the growing pressures on housing and the infrastructure because of the city’s booming population. This year, the results of the 2011 census will start to emerge, and the numbers could be quite startling. In the decades after the 1950s, Bristol’s population bumped along at around 400,000 as natural increases were absorbed by people moving to suburbs and towns outside the city boundaries. This is now changing dramatically because of immigration (from overseas and the rest of the UK) and a growing birth rate. The estimate is that it’ll hit 550,000 sometime in the 2020s – remember this is just within the city’s boundaries alone. It doesn’t include places like Kingswood or Bradley Stoke. There may well be a row about how accurate the census numbers are. It’s notoriously difficult to get an exact handle on the populations of city areas with large transient and immigrant populations, but in census terms it matters because the amount of money which central government allocates for local council spending depends on a reliable measure of the population. So expect Bristol to claim that the census has underestimated its population.


12/21/2011 5:59:53 PM


Q&A Ian McGlynn Director, Rondo Theatre, Bath What does the new year hold in store for the Rondo? Now that the Arts Council grants issue has settled down, there’s a real upsurge in touring theatre, so The Rondo will be welcoming some brilliant companies, such as Rogue with their brilliant multimedia musical-infused theatre and Angel Exit, with their stunning hybrid of movement and storytelling. Autumn was very busy – we’re expecting spring to be manic! Away from the Rondo, what else will you go and see/do? Looking forward to the American season at the Ustinov – ‘The Surprise Of Love’ was cracking: very much looking forward to what Mr Boswell does with the invention of the vibrator! Any wider predictions for 2012? Despite difficult times, theatre audiences will get stronger, as live performance becomes one of the best media for conducting the national debate. More riots. And Reading to get promoted back to the Prem.


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The public-facing bits of Bristol City Council like to put a positive face on things. It was also the case that the Lib Dems, running the council as a minority administration, were until quite recently in a state of denial about the sheer scale of the cuts they have to make. In late November, the council unveiled a massive package of cuts, and rises in charges for services. These economies amounted to around £21m (and around 350 job losses) and they are still not enough to meet its cost savings targets. The council tax won’t be going up this year, but for instance, you’ll have to pay £10 for a disabled blue parking badge and they’re hoping to raise £500,000 from tougher enforcement of bus lanes. Council staff will also be invited to take unpaid leave. It is also quite possible that the council’s care homes will be closed or privatised. Your new rubbish bin will be arriving soon, if you’ve not had it already. It’s smaller than the last one. Part of the council’s deal with a new private contractor, May Gurney. Throw out less, recycle more. But then we’ll all have less to throw out anyway. Obviously it’s great that we’re putting less trash into landfill, and in the long run it does mean that council and communities alike are going to come up with some clever and economical new ways of doing things. There’s going to be a lot of creative and radical new thinking about public services. But in the meantime we’re all going to have to cope with increased inconvenience, poorer services and more expense. Many services will be privatised, though it’ll be a brave politician who can keep on saying that privatised services are more efficient with a straight face. We all know now that what privatised services are is cheaper, because they pay their staff less and don’t usually recognise trade unions.

Chris Sharp Owner, The Fleece, Bristol What does the new year hold in store for The Fleece? The Fleece will continue its relentless challenge of opening seven nights per week, providing quality live bands – a feat we have managed since August 2011 with the exception of Christmas Day! We will also be launching The Monthly Tribute in Jan: after a completely tribute band-free 2011, we had a deluge of emails so we decided to compromise a bit and put aside one night per month to bringing back the cream of the crop. Upcoming highlights for 2012 include King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, James Vincent McMorrow, Misfits, Helmet, Lambchop and the return of The Wurzels to what many people consider to be their home venue. Away from The Fleece, what else will you go and see/do? The one thing we really want to see is the return of a summer music festival at Ashton Court so we’re really hoping BrisFest manage to pull it off this year. Other obvious things not to be missed are the Harbourside Festival, Dot To Dot, and the annual Zombie Walk is starting to become an unmissable highlight too. Any wider predictions for 2012? It would be fantastic to see some of the hundreds of local bands who have played The Fleece in 2011 break through into the national scene in 2012. Believe it or not, we have acquired a list of 600-odd bands mainly from within 30 miles of Bristol over the last 18 months. A survey last year found Bristol had the highest percentage of musicians/bands in the UK and from what we’ve seen this year we can’t really argue. Watching four locals on a Monday night is a very cheap night out, and with budgets set to be stretched in 2012, it would be great to see people getting out to support local bands.

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12/21/2011 6:04:37 PM

Bristol - one of the "least bad places to be" jobs-wise. Hooray!



Emma Stenning Executive director, Bristol Old Vic

Clare Reddington Director, iShed and The Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed

What does 2012 hold in store for Bristol Old Vic? I’m looking forward to the Pinter/Beckett double-bill of ‘A Kind of Alaska’ and ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’. These will be directed by our returning prodigal son Simon Godwin, who joins us from his new position at the Royal Court to direct these two incredible works from two titans of British theatre. And Bristol’s very own Tristan Sturrock brings a re-working of his popular one-man show ‘Mayday Mayday’. The only thing that could overshadow the work we’re generating is our amazing jewel of a theatre, currently mid-way through its major refurbishment. In the second half of 2012 we’ll be inviting all of Bristol to a very special celebration. Watch this space for that one. What else will you be seeing/doing? I’ll be taking a bit of time to finally see Damien Hirst’s work at RWA and the Bristol Museum exhibition of Da Vinci’s drawings on loan from the Royal Collection. There’s also an exhibition of vintage fashion photography by Norman Parkinson at M Shed and I am a huge photography fan. St George’s have the Cecil Sharp Project and the fantastic Joan Baez is at Colston Hall. And I can’t leave out the wonderful Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory. I’m keen to see their next Chekhov, ‘The Cherry Orchard’. I have fond memories of ‘Uncle Vanya’, which was a Bristol Old Vic/ SATTF co-production and looked stunning in the theatre. And wider predictions for 2012? One thing close to my heart is next year’s Mayfest which is also the kick-off project for a new independent company called MAYK. MAYK is made up of Matthew Austin and our Bristol Ferment producer (and Venue awardwinner) Kate Yedigaroff. Expect to see big things from them. It will be interesting to see what challenges the ongoing economic freefall turns up over the next 12 months, how we all as cultural institutions through the region address the things that really matter, pick our battles and still find a way to resonate with our audiences. During times like these, creativity can be at its highest. I think this could generate some of our finest moments.

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POLITICS No elections this year; this is the one in the four-year cycle when we don’t elect a third of the council. Course there might be a byelection or two. If this happens, bet on a Labour win and the Lib Dems being stuffed. The Lib Dems are currently running the town as a minority, and they’ll probably still be doing so by the end of the year. This presupposes that the Lib Dems’ different factions manage to hold together. This time last year your correspondent rashly predicted Lib Dem defections to the Greens; this didn’t quite happen, although a number of disenchanted Lib Dem activists helped the Green candidate who stood against Barbara Janke in her Clifton ward in 2011. This time round allow me to suggest a possible defection of a councillor from the Lib Dems to Labour. Just a rumour, I heard, like. May be nothing to it... Labour and the Tories will be content to let the Lib Dems run the show, and criticise them at every turn, hoping to reap the electoral rewards when, or preferably just before, the good times return. The Labour group pulled off a brilliant stroke when they called on the council to donate the wages it hadn’t had to pay the 30 November public sector strikers to charity. This elicited such a furious response from Lib Dem leader Barbara Janke’s office that it plainly hit home. There’ll be more of this. In February, look out for the annual meeting at which the full council votes on the budget. This promises to be one of the most fractious and farcical ever, as Lib Dems and Labour trade insults and cheap jibes over who’s cutting what and spending on what, while the Tories will find something politically correct to moan about. The row will, as always, only be about a tiny fraction of the £360m budget. Of course, it might be that they seriously discuss something big, but if, say, the Lib Dems are closing care homes, they’ll do everything in their power to bury it on a busy news day.

What does the new year hold in store for you? We have just moved and expanded The Pervasive Media Studio from Leadworks into Watershed and signed a new collaboration with the two Bristol Universities so are looking forward to welcoming in lots of new residents and making work that is more visible to our audiences in the café-bar. We are also running a lab in Feb with the British Council – bringing five of Japan’s leading digital artists to Bristol for a week on the theme of the “playable city” – watch this space for some spectacular and unusual interventions. Later on in the year, we are very excited about Watershed’s 30th birthday party in June. Away from Watershed, what else will you go and see/do? The Bristol theatre scene is hugely exciting at the moment so I’m looking forward to Mayfest and the re-opening of Bristol Old Vic. I am hoping to go to Moscow in the summer to speak at their creative entrepreneurs’ summer school and I try to never miss Port Eliot Festival – a cross-artform extravaganza in Cornwall with amazing camping and food. Any wider predictions for 2012? This will be the year that Bristol takes the tech hub mantra from Shoreditch and shows the world what it’s made of. And it will be the year of the 3D printer – with more and more people able to make their own printed objects. If anyone wants to donate one to the Pervasive Media Studio, we promise to make lovely things...

The other burning issue will be whether or not we want an elected mayor. See separate news story on p.31 for that one. Later on in the year we’ll also be electing a police commissioner for Avon and Somerset. The Tories think this is a good idea; you know, voting for someone with whom the buck stops for local policing. So basically we’ll get a bunch of candidates appealing to the moron vote by promising to hang them, flog them, throw away the key, cut their goolies off etc.


12/21/2011 6:05:18 PM

See No Evil (left) looks good (we hope) for a return this year; and (below) the crowds at BrisFest 2011 - bound for a comfier homeground at last


Q&A Marco Bernardi and Jamie Harvey (pictured) Promotions managers, Timbuk2, Bristol What does the new year hold in store for you/TB2? We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline for 2012 including an upgrade to the room two (the bar room) soundsystem and changes to the lighting and decor of both the main and bar rooms within the next few months. We’re starting the year as we plan to go with Ist Das: as a sneak preview we are proud to announce none other than Matthew Herbert and Ben Klock in January and February at TB2. These bookings have been under wraps for a while now and we can exclusively reveal them in Venue that Herbert will be on 28 Jan and Klock 17 Feb. Expect to see a lot of other quality artists announced soon including a personal highlight in February with Headrush bringing Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir to the club on Sat 11 Feb. Away from TB2, what else will you go and see/do? We’re looking forward to working with some new people and being involved with some new and very interesting projects in 2012 especially during the summer months. As well as enjoying fantastic events this great city has to offer.


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There will still be fun. BrisFest looks good for an Ashton Court return and there was a bit of a question mark over whether or not the council would continue to support the Harbour Festival, but it now looks likely to go ahead, perhaps in slightly different form, and possibly not run by the council. You might argue here that this sort of thing is better done by independent promoters anyway, though the Harbour Fest was one of the few things that Bristol City Council did really well in recent years. And See No Evil might ride again. The big beano down Nelson Street which attracted some of the world’s leading graff artists in 2011 might well be making a comeback. Not to Nelson Street this time, but some other location. One possible place that’s being talked about is the dilapidated old Post Office building near Temple Meads. Watch this space... There are tentative plans afoot between council, tourism folks, business and arts people to create an(other?) annual summer ‘Bristol Festival’, partly as a sort of branding exercise – as in Edinburgh has a festival which loads of people go to, so why can’t we do that as well? It won’t be like Edinburgh at all. In the early stages, it’ll draw a lot of existing summer events together, and add a bit more fun. But it might get bigger in the years to come. The Bristol Festival of Ideas will carry on trying to make us more brainy, and this year will have a load of events celebrating writers in Bristol. The Kite Festival is resting this year, but we’re promised a couple of major outdoor events at Ashton Court. It’s also possible that there might be one or two big things at Stoke Park, the huge site alongside the M32 that the council bought a few years ago but has never really known what to do with (a few years back they were even talking about having a council farm to grow livestock for use in school dinners). This is a fantastic space, and could one day be a major

Q&A Rag Satguru Booker/promoter, In:Motion, Bristol What does the new year hold in store for In:Motion? After many years of promoting clubs in Bristol I will be taking a change of tack with a few new projects. One being an artist manager for Eats Everything who recently recorded Pete Tong’s essential mix ‘Live from In:Motion’, the other being an outdoor project that will come to light soon which is called ‘Love Saves the Day’. Highlight from this year? A relentless run of autumn shows at a club that I love a great deal – five years on and Motion is one of the most special places in the country. Away from Motion, what else will you go and see/do? I sleep in my office and I eat in Slix. Work, work, work; house, house, house... Any wider predictions for 2012? In:Motion will be back with a bang with more acts than ever and many more sell-out shows; Just Jack will step the pace up house musicwise and bring through more Bristol-based house music acts, including Tom Rio and Freddie Prest; Bristol will continue its growth as a house music city; Eats Everything will put out at least three unbelievable records! outdoor venue if they can sort the traffic and parking issues. Oh, and over in London they’ll be having the Olympics. Some people will run through Bristol with the torch, there’ll be some other bits and pieces locally under the aegis of the “Cultural Olympiad” and lots of kids will be encouraged to do more sport. Shortly before the remaining sports fields are sold off for houses and Tesco convenience stores because, hey, think how many “jobs” they will “create”.

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12/21/2011 6:06:31 PM

(From l-r): Mr Oliver - another name in the "big branding" of Bath; rugby at the Rec - what will become of Bath FC's HQ in 2012?; and Big Vince visits the city in Jan

MEANWHILE, IN BATH... Looks like 2012 could be a bumpy ride for the old place, says Anna Britten. This year, more than ever, Bath will feel like a city of two tribes: the transient, smiley one and the permanent, frowny one. The former will whistle through for a day or two, spending their readies on tourist attractions and a retail scene increasingly focused on the big brand (from Southgate to Jamie’s) and the totally frivolous (this city suffers from a serious tea-light holder and nostalgic cushion overload). Meanwhile the residents will see their city become more and more resident-unfriendly, whilst struggling with the ongoing effects of recession: in the 2012/13 financial year, there will be a further £3.6 million cut to B&NES public services, amounting to an 8.3% reduction. Mobile library services and some park maintenance both face the chop, and the introduction of charges for disabled drivers badges and certain refuse collection services have been recommended. New construction projects offer signs of hope. In early January, City of Bath College will host Secretary of State Vince Cable at the opening ceremony of its substantial new Roper Building. Jobs – a predicted 200 over two years – will come up for grabs this spring, when work commences on the multi-million-pound, fivestar Gainsborough Hotel. And the newly-minted Bath Riverside will finally become a real ’hood as the first residents unpack their teacups on the 44-acre site that lay derelict for 25 years. Mooted knock-on effects include redevelopment at a string of sites along the River Avon, bringing up to 2,000 new private sector jobs and 3,500 new homes (subject to flood prevention and other works). The grit in this oyster is, to most Bath residents, the potential involvement of Tesco, whose controversial campaign to take over the old Bath Press site (for a superstore, office and homes) oozes on. This year B&NES Planning Inspectorate will appoint an inspector to take charge of a public inquiry. City MP Don Foster, a member of the Olympic Board, won’t be the only one feeling personally

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engaged with the world’s biggest sporting event next summer. The Olympics torch will pass through the city next summer, as will the British Paralympic Association, the Malaysian Olympic squad and possibly the Russian swimming squad – all based at The University of Bath, along with a string of athletes hoping to win a medal and an open-top victory bus tour. Fingers crossed and eyes peeled for competitors in the modern pentathlon, badminton, canoeing, judo and other events. Now, whilst the at-first-sight merely bureaucratic Rec/Bath Rugby saga might seem an almighty drag to outsiders, to residents the debate is hotting up. To recap: the rugby club wants the land, but it’s a charitable trust bequeathed to the people of Bath. 2011’s public consultation – slammed by many for its obtuse wording and distribution beyond the city limits – found in the club’s favour and may have given it cause to celebrate. But the battle for non-rugger types’ hearts is far from over. Judging by letters to the Chronicle many Bath residents are waking up to the fact Recreation Ground trustees are “letting them down” – and further challenges are inevitable. In other sports news, Bath City FC will decide in the coming year whether to build a new ground or redevelop their existing one at Twerton Park. And a new festival of cycling – Bike Bath 2012 – is to take place in Bath over the weekend of Fri 22-Sun 24 June, offering organised rides of up to 100 miles, fun activities and top-level racing in Royal Victoria Park. And finally, a couple of brand new and piping hot topics to give the bloggers and letter writers something to get their typing fingers into during 2012. Gypsy and traveller sites: should there be more, fewer, and where? A public consultation closes this month. Further hysteria should be fuelled by the plans of two energy firms, UK Methane and Eden Energy, to start ‘fracking’ (a tremor-causing drilling technique used to extract gas) under the Mendips. B&NES council fear this could damage or divert the city’s legendary thermal waters. Whatever happens, we shall doubtless all enjoy using the words “fracking nightmare”.

Q&A Martin Jennings-Wright Manager, Little Theatre Cinema, Bath What does the new year hold in store for the Little Theatre? ‘War Horse’ is terrific and will appeal to both fans of Morpurgo and Spielberg. We’re showing it from 20 Jan. Also in January is the quite extraordinary ‘The Artist’, a sublime piece of film-making about the end of silent cinema. The film is itself silent, with a rip-roaring, mainly 1920s score. Unforgettable, and a big Oscar contender. Finally, we’re trying something new (or old, depending on how you look at it) every Monday for a month from 16 Jan. Called Vintage Mondays, we’ll be dressing in trad cinema uniforms and selling from ice-cream trays, there’ll be intermissions and all sorts of other things you haven’t seen in a cinema for years. Brand new films though. Away from the Little Theatre, what else will you go and see/do? Our eight-year-old is a big fan of theatre and the egg stages some terrific work. I’m a big fan of food and The Porter is a mecca for lovers of cheap, tasty nosh. Any wider predictions for 2012? The penny will finally drop that big cars and a small city (come to that, a small planet) don’t mix. You may say I’m a dreamer, but give it a dose of peak oil and I won’t be the only one.


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12/21/2011 12:18:46 PM


Phil Walnuts on how to have a not unbearable January for not very much money at all.


aybe it’s a good thing the economy’s f*cked. Because, as we shall see, the thriftiest things are often good for the planet, or good for you, or both. So as the great profit machine slides inexorably into the shiznit, your health, your social life and the environment benefit. Every cloud, eh?

Fun for free Bristol and Bath are bursting at the seams with fun stuff you can do without spending money. There’s the new(ish), free-to-enter M Shed: have you found your house on its giant Bristol map yet? Or hidden inside the phallic fire-bomb shelter? They’ve got a special exhibition of work by the legendary fashion photographer Norman Parkinson coming up (21 Jan-15 Apr), alongside original 50s and 60s clothing from the museum’s collection. It’s normally a fiver to get in, but get there on the last Wednesday of the month (25 Jan, 29 Feb, 28 March) and it’s free. Just over the swing-bridge is the ever inventive Arnolfini – always free to explore, this month they’re offering a chance to become part of the Full Moon Orchestra, a mysterious spontaneous ensemble that meets for a public rehearsal/ performance every full moon, and is made up by all and anyone interested – including you, if you like. Also at Arnolfini, also for nothing, you can sign up to be part of a unique performance led by artist Monica Ross, in which you’ll become part of a moving collective recitation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the City of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, meanwhile, you can admire the amazing Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (pictured, running until 11 March), or join in the Chinese New Year Celebrations (28-29 Jan), a

22 // january 2012

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fun-packed weekender to see in the Year of the Dragon. Glorying in the views from the top of Brandon Hill is the newly-restored Cabot Tower – stomp up the 109 steps and marvel at the panoramic vista. Take a paper aeroplane and see how far you can fly it off the top. Best on crisp, clear winter days. To get a bit of a leg stretch and learn something about our fair city, try Bristol City Council’s excellent Harbour Heritage Trails (freely downloadable guided walks you can get at, or City Heritage Walks ( walking-bristol-central). If you need to get out of town, they’ve devised a range of country walks you can do, even if you don’t own (or don’t want to use) a car: Head over to Bath before 8 January to catch the last few days of Bruce Munro’s spectacular Field of Light at the Holburne Museum – a twinkling sea of fibre optic lights arranged like wildflowers that pulse and dance in the gloaming. Then duck into the Victoria Art Gallery for Peter Burke’s Earthworks (until 5 Feb) – an unusual exhibition of sculpture made from soils found within a 20 mile radius of Bath, which “explore the relationship between people, place and the earth, using for subjects people who are connected with the area”. Peter Burke himself will be giving a free exhibition tour on Sat 7 Jan. Also in Bath (and also free) this month is Illuminate Bath, a festival of light transforming the city’s streets into glowing works of art with projections and installations, every evening from 25-28 Jan. Other good places for free fun include Ashton Court Estate – most of us have toddled round the mansion, had a bun in the café – but have you really explored it? Even in darkest January, the giant sequoia along Redwood Avenue retain all their towering majesty. Have you sat under the ancient Domesday Oak, or found the funny

underground Ice House? The sustainability-championing Create Centre on Smeaton Road is always an inspiring place, and from 7 Jan to the end of March, they’re exhibiting a life-sized cross section of a Victorian home that “demonstrates how a property of this age can be made more energy efficient and future proof” – it’s free to look at, and could give you ideas that save you money in the long run. Blaise Castle House Museum is another overlooked gem, sat amid 650 acres of parkland including a dramatic wooded limestone gorge and ancient monuments steeped in folklore. The parkland’s open all year round, and the museum – even in January – is open every Saturday and Sunday, and houses hundreds of weird and wonderful objects from homes through history, treasured toys, including the enduringly popular model train collection, and a display of beautiful period costumes. And yup, it’s all free.

Ways to save money: Grow your own! Get on the list for a council allotment – they’re free, provide exercise with a useful result (unlike endless treadmill miles at the gym), offer a great way for kids to learn about food production, and (of course) provide you with more veg than you can eat. As food prices escalate in the shops, this ought to be incentive enough. Details here: Other local ways to get involved in growing your own include Bristol Community Farm (www., Eastside Roots (www. and Bristol Friends of the Earth’s local food guide, www.bristollocalfood., which is full of useful advice and contacts to find out more.

Take up cycling Could you do with more money? Course you could. Aside from the fact that riding a bike literally makes you fitter and more toned every time you do it and is about three times


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The best things in life... the M Shed (and clockwise), glorious wildlife photography, cycling and root veg! All free, fabulous and fulla fun

faster than a car1, it also gives you more spare cash. The annual cost of running a daily-use bike need not be more than £50, whereas the average cost of a daily-use car is estimated at well over £6,0002. Whatever your salary bracket, as a non-car driving cyclist you’ll definitely be richer. Ffi:, www.sustrans.,, www., http:// 1 According to several pieces of research. The most recent was conducted by UWE and found that a commuter travelling across central Bristol by car averaged just 4.68mph, compared with 12.39mph for a commuter on a bicycle. 2 Based on AA Motoring Costs, 2009. Figure refers to an average-priced car (£12-14k), based on 10,000 miles a year.

Have a swish As you doubtless already know, ‘swishing’ is a made-up word that means swapping your clothes with other people. Not in a furtive, hiding-in-a-toilet-cubicle way, but at a big organised party, where you bring along wearable but unwanted clobber and swap it for other people’s clothes that you want. Thus everyone gets ‘new’ clothes without spending any money. Can’t find a swishing party going on near you? Throw your own! Whilst we’re on the subject of budget fashion, Oxfam’s opened a cute boutique charity shop on Bristol’s Park Street, offering a pre-selected range of vintage and fashionable retro stuff. Ffi:,

Be a part-time veggie Time for a change? The health benefits of eating less meat are well documented. It’s also a barrowload cheaper than being a meatatarian, as well as being better for the planet and for the little fluffy animals, of


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course. If you can’t face totally giving up on bacon sarnies, you could try being a parttime veggie (or ‘flexitarian’) and just, say, not eat meat on weekdays. You’re healthier, the planet’s healthier and you save money. Ffi:

Throw a dinner party Believe it or not, these can save you money too – as long as your friends return the favour (or share the cost). Cooking for others allows you to buy in bulk, to use one cooker to feed lots of people, to share heating… and it gives everyone involved a better social life, assuming your friends aren’t a bunch of boring arseholes.

Go to the library So much more than books – although these, of course, can offer a lifetime of free fun. Yer local library (assuming it hasn’t been closed down) also has DVDs, free internet and free newspapers. And it’s nice and warm. Ffi: or http://

Volunteering Giving something back can be fun. Immerse yourself in the boho arts hub that is the Cube cinema and try your hand at projecting films or putting on live music, cabaret, children’s events, experimental performance, comedy and all the other unlikely stuff they do that doesn’t have a name yet. Or get out into the woods with Avon Wildlife Trust: from felling trees to dry-stone walling, they offer a huge range of friendly outdoor fun. You get exercise with beautiful scenery, learn some new skills and do valuable conservation work all at once. All for free. Ffi:, www.

More top tips for tightwads • Hunt squirrels and eat them. And pigeons. Sustainable, locally sourced, ecofriendly meat. Delicious roasted on a stick. Useful instructions here: squirrelmunch • If it snows, turn the fridge off and put its contents in the garden. • Road kill. Yup, more free meat. How do you like your badger? The letters page is thattaway… • Offer to do work experience at a baker’s. Warmth and free buns. • StealBorrow from work – toilet paper, tea & coffee, stationery. It’s all there for you to use anyway. • Get admitted to hospital/prison. Nice and warm and you get free food. • Buy ‘Booze for Free’ by local author Andy Hamilton. Read it. Make own booze. (Eugene Byrne)

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12/20/2011 5:53:02 PM

Shame academy Having scooped a shedload of gongs for ‘The King’s Speech’, Bristol-born producer Iain Canning’s next film’s all about the noticeably less regal world of sex addiction. Robin Askew is our man in the dirty raincoat. 24 // january 2012

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12/20/2011 6:00:20 PM


o you’ve decided to make what’s billed as the first serious film to tackle the controversial subject of ‘sex addiction’. How do you get started? For director Steve McQueen, writer Abi Morgan and producer Iain Canning, the first stop was New York, where their film was to be set, to spend a week meeting a bunch of self-proclaimed sex addicts. Canning admits he was sceptical. “We went into it asking ‘Is it real?’ like a lot of people do. How much can sex dominate someone’s life? We thought we’d be meeting the sleazy person in the big overcoat. But we ended up hearing the most depressing stories that we’d ever heard, about people using sex to basically destroy the rest of their lives. The alcoholic can be incredibly fun at the Christmas party when you’re there for an hour, but it’s not so nice when they get up in the morning and drink two bottles of vodka. It’s the same with these stories. We found men – and women as well – who were totally afraid of intimacy and would end up becoming more and more disconnected from the world. So we came back thinking this is an area of modern life – partly, I think, because of the internet and access to porn – that hadn’t been seen on film.” Bedminster’s only Academy Award winner, Bristolian Iain Canning attended Bedminster Down school before departing for a Media Studies course at Cardiff University (“I got pretty much all my film education from the Arnolfini, Watershed and Chapter Arts in Cardiff”). Worming his way into the film industry as a runner, he wound up executive producing ‘Control’ and Steve McQueen’s ‘Hunger’ before co-founding his own production company, SeeSaw Films, back in 2008. See-Saw got off to a flying start with ‘The King’s Speech’, whose commercial and critical success

The magnetic Carey Mulligan croons her way through the Iain Canning (pictured far left) produced 'Shame', out later this month


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was capped with a mountain of awards. In March 2011, he stepped up with his co-producers to receive the Best Picture Oscar from Steven Spielberg, exciting the media by thanking his boyfriend as well as the starry cast. It’s safe to say that ‘Shame’, which reunites him with McQueen, is going to be a much tougher sell to notoriously conservative Academy voters. Written by busy Abi Morgan, who’s also responsible for this month’s ‘The Iron Lady’, the film stars Michael Fassbender as predatory sex addict Brandon and Carey Mulligan as his needy sibling Sissy. ‘Shame’ isn’t explicit in the taboobusting sense of depicting actual penetration, but there’s no shortage of full-frontal nudity. “It’s a film which has already surpassed our expectations in terms of audience reaction and critics’ reactions,” Canning insists. “So it’s been a great ride so far. But in terms of what the link between those two films is, I think that both [‘The King’s Speech’ director] Tom Hooper and Steve McQueen are incredibly exciting film-makers. As a producer, I like the way that you can go up and down in budget and you can go left to right in

“People do wonder how much sympathy we should have for someone who has an overactive sex life.” Iain Canning, producer, ‘Shame’ terms of subject matter if you really believe the film-maker is talented.” That belief has led to him touring ‘Shame’ round the country, with Q&A sessions after each screening. Meeting the audience immediately after they’ve seen your film must be an instructive and, perhaps, sobering experience for any film-maker. All the more so with a film like ‘Shame’. “It’s been a very interesting set of Q&As because people have had very visceral reactions to the film,” he laughs, adding that he’s been thoroughly enjoying the experience. So what has been the most frequent topic of debate? “I think it’s fair to say that, given the tabloidisation – if that’s a word – of the idea of sex addiction, people do wonder how much sympathy we should have for someone who has an overactive sex life. For us, the film is more about the spectrum of need and wanting to take yourself out of your own life, or out of the present – whether that be through alcohol or overeating or over-exercising. It just happened that in this story it’s people who did that through sex.” What about the fact that we’re told virtually nothing about the protagonists’ backgrounds? Was there any suggestion at the

script stage that more should be revealed about Brandon and Sissy’s past? “There was. And that’s the main debate circling round this film. There was a worry that this was the first film to really focus in on somebody whose life is controlled by sex. I think there can be an oversimplification of people who have problems in their lives. We’d heard so many different stories in our research phase that we didn’t want to point the finger at one particular thing. Some people had no trigger in their childhood. They just really enjoyed pornography and it overtook everything. Secondly, we wanted the audience to come to the film in an open way, almost like joining a dinner party conversation or meeting up with friends where you don’t know somebody.” One possible interpretation of ‘Shame’ is that it’s a rather moralising film; one that even the Daily Mail might endorse, were it not for all the sex and nudity. The deleterious emotional effects of pornography and casual sex are depicted clearly. And when Brandon tries to make a human connection during a disastrous date, it seems that we are even being invited to pity him for seeing no point in marriage. Canning laughs when I suggest this and offers a spirited rebuttal. “If the film does have a moralistic tone, then I think the key one is that spending time with people that you love and care for is a really rewarding thing. I don’t think it has a judgemental point of view on Brandon. There’s a part of him that craved intimacy, but he just couldn’t get there. I think that’s the story we’re telling.” The film boasts plenty of McQueen’s favoured lengthy takes and tracking shots, the difference being that this time many of them are shot on the streets of Manhattan. With no budget to close these down, the crew had to shoot at 3am when there were fewer people about and ask them politely to keep out of the way. Most striking is the scene where Brandon goes for a lengthy latenight jog. “What I love about those shots is that it’s almost like you’re walking on a tightrope. There’s that thrill of thinking when he was running, ‘Great, we’ve got the eighth block!’ It makes it more interesting. It was the third take, luckily. I was very happy when we got it.” And what of our old friend the censor? There was a big kerfuffle when ‘The King’s Speech’ was landed with a 15 certificate for ‘language’, leading to it being downgraded to a 12A. “Yeah, I seem to end up at each end of the spectrum having problems with ratings,” laughs Canning. “’Shame’ was always going to be an 18 in the UK. The irony is that we ended up with a bidding war for the American rights when we thought we wouldn’t even get a US distributor. The one thing I will say about the rating is that we live in a society where teenagers can quite easily access and look at pornography, and yet a drama based in research has a harder time getting to a similar audience – 16-18-year-olds – than that pornography does. I think the BBFC do a great job and an important job in giving certificates to films. However, there is a strange disconnect between the world at large and the world of cinema.” ‘SHAME’ OPENS ON FRI 13 JAN. SEE FILM SECTION FOR REVIEW.

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12/20/2011 6:04:16 PM


High-speed thrills and handlebar nosedives: Mike White tries bike polo.


he Hartcliffe end of Bedminster can be a forbidding place after dark. I pause to check my A-Z and a group of foul-mouthed tweenagers begins abusing me from a nearby bus stop. A can is thrown. I scarper, cycling on through the estate – pebble-dash semis, cars on bricks – and swerve up a one-way street into a dark dead-end surrounded by razor wire. This is tonight’s practice venue? Just as I’m thinking about bottling it, a saviour rolls up – polo mallets strapped to his crossbar, his cycling cap signifying ‘friend’. Asbo-yoof don’t wear cycling caps. This is Rich Miller, a lynchpin of the Bristol bike polo scene. We are in the right place. Through a locked gate, past a spiked fence and round a corner to the looming bulk of an old sports hall. Half a dozen bikes lean against the walls inside, the wooden floor skid-marked by battles gone by. The windows are all boarded up; the heating’s off. It’s all a bit ‘Fight Club’, except this is one of the friendliest little gangs I’ve had the pleasure to meet. There’s Eli, 11, a bright-eyed chatterbox who explains the rules in a breathless flurry. I think I catch the basics. Play takes place on a hard rectangular court with a small goal at each end. You ride a bicycle and use a mallet to hit a ball into said goal. Games last 10 minutes. Three players per team, first team to score five goals wins. If you put a foot down, you have to go to the middle of the pitch and ‘tap out’ (knock your mallet on the floor). That’s about it. At the other end of the age range from Eli is Reg, 63: “I’m from the old folks’ home across the road,” he laughs. I’m not sure if he’s joking or not. I soon discover he can ride rings around me on the court (as can Eli). Age really is just a number in bike polo. In between are self-assured Alfie (12) and his older brother Robbie; Leah, just into her teens; ‘Cab’ who reminds me of a young Billy Connolly; Juan, a mental health worker in his thirties (“I’ve never enjoyed

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anything so much that I’ve been so sh*t at”); and another thirtysomething called James, who’s founder of the Bristol Bike Project. I’m borrowing his bike, a lean black machine with a big yellow disc covering the front wheel. If you’ve heard anything about bike polo at all, you’ll probably have a mental image of hipsters poncing about on fixies, and an unbearable ache of trendiness. Wrong on all counts: this is a friendly, inclusive bunch, and it’s all about fun, not fashion. Although enjoying a global resurgence at the moment, bike polo has a long and glorious tradition – it was probably invented in the late 1800s and even featured at the 1908 London Olympic Games as a demonstration sport. Originally the game was played on grass; its modern, urban descendant is Hardcourt Bike Polo, which makes use of basketball courts, skateparks and places like tonight’s humble sports hall. For a full and fascinating insight into the game, check the current issue (number 7) of the Bristol-made magazine

“I turn, swing the mallet up, touch the brakes… and go flying over the handlebars.” Boneshaker ( And so to battle. Rear wheels against the goal-end wall, we wait. Someone shouts “polo!” and both teams charge for the ball, which waits on the centre spot. I get there first, squeeze the brakes and fly straight over the handlebars. This particular bike, you see, has both front and back brake levers on the same side, so you can brake and still keep one hand free to hold the mallet. Evidently I squeezed the wrong lever. As I type this, my wrists still ache from that handlebar-dive; my knees are a greenish blue-black. Beginner’s bruises, I’m reassured – accidents tend to be low speed (comically so, in my case) and it’s rare for anyone to get seriously hurt.

Watching the expert Rich in action – looping gracefully around the court, the ball tapped and cupped in close by the mallethead so that it’s always within inches of him – it’s easy to see the artistry in bike polo. But whilst anyone can join in and have fun, getting good takes dedication. You have to keep your eye on at least five things at once: the ball, your mallet, the goal, where your bike’s heading and where everyone else is. Focus too much on watching ball and mallet, and you’re likely to crash, I soon discover, swerving around Juan’s front wheel and falling off again. Over a couple of hours of casual ‘throw-in’ games, I gradually improve, even smacking in a couple of goals. I learn not to ride straight into the corners, that positioning the bike is all-important, that successful passing is nowhere near as easy as it looks. In the closing seconds of my final game, I’m racing down the court, open goal before me, ball within striking distance. I turn in behind it as it rolls, swing the mallet up, touch the brakes… and go flying over the handlebars again. A round of applause erupts as I pick myself up. It was so nearly a triumphant finish… It’s fast, friendly and fun – polo with horses may be the sport of kings; polo with bikes is the sport of everyman (or woman). One thing I should make clear at this point: I’m not a ‘sport’ type of person. The merest mention of football gets me yawning. I’m not remotely competitive. I wasn’t in any teams at school (unless you count cross-country running, which I only did because I like the countryside and being on my own). But bike polo, even after only a couple of hours, has got a hold on me. See you in court? BRISTOL BIKE POLO HAPPENS EVERY TUESDAY AT CAMPUS SKATEPARK, BEDMINSTER AND EVERY THURSDAY AT DAME EMILY PARK FIVE-A-SIDE COURTS. OTHER MEETS ARE ARRANGED VIA THE FACEBOOK GROUP. TO GET INVOLVED, SEE TINYURL.COM/BRISBIKEPOLO OR WWW.CAMPUSSKATEPARK.CO.UK. FOR BATH BIKE POLO, CHECK TINYURL.COM/BATHBIKEPOLO FFI: HTTP://VIMEO.COM/29327306


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Want to get some polo in your life? Here’s how to start:

Anything that you can steer with one hand while whacking a ball with the other. Low gear helps, as does a decent back brake. Narrow flat bars are good for weaving through gaps. Single speed (i.e. no gears) reduces mechanical hassles and means there’s less to break. Strong wheels are important as these bear the brunt in collisions, accidental mallet whacks and so on. You can make wheel covers out of an old estate agent’s sign – just cut to the same diameter as your wheel, cut out a hole for the hub and a slot so it fits snugly, then zip-tie it on. Full instructions here:

Bike polo: fast, friendly, egalitarian

Easier than it sounds. Get a secondhand ski-pole (try charity shops or eBay) and bolt its thin end through a sawn-off piece of plastic pipe. Full instructions here: and here: tinyurl. com/malletmake2

Like helmets, gloves and knee pads are optional at beginner level. Some wear ‘em, some don’t. Give it a try first; pad up later if you feel the need.


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january 2012 // 15

12/20/2011 5:56:35 PM


stories you may ws ne al loc nt rta po im st lea e th of e A round-up of som ar. have missed back at the end of last ye // With the Leveson inquiry in full swing, each day revealing more and more horror stories about the behaviour of the press, it’s heartwarming to see that some local papers are still covering the stories that matter. The Swindon Advertiser, for instance, ran a story in November about a disabled woman who couldn’t get out of her house because a mattress had been dumped outside. Marjory Ashwell, 68, had complained to the local council that it was blocking the exit for her and her mobility scooter, but they were no help. For two weeks she awaited the offending bedding’s removal – which she’d been promised would happen in two days. Then, when she rang to complain again, the wretched jobsworths said they could do nothing as it was on private land. Awful business, but as several punters commented on the story, is it really that important and couldn’t she have asked a neighbour to either take the mattress to the dump, or simply move it out of the way? More to the point, why on earth couldn’t the reporter and photographer the paper sent to her home move the bloody thing? Or as another punter commented: “What we really need here is for someone to fly-tip a ramp in the alley, so she can stunt jump over it. At least the landing will be soft if she does come off.” Now that’s just getting silly.

// “I am just so relieved it is all over. I can’t believe the judge let it go so far over a dog. It is such a waste of money,” Ingrid Hamlet told reporters after the case in which she retained custody of a springer spaniel cross called Flash. Ms Hamlet, 53, had been summoned to two hearings at Bath County Court when her expartner Paul Young sued for possession of the mutt. Former detective Mr Young, 57, and teacher Ms Hamlet had met online in 2006 and moved into her home in Frome the following year. Mr Young claimed he had paid £200 for Flash two years later, but Judge Richard Howell said that he had not been satisfied beyond reasonable probability that this was the case. Mr Young’s case was also that they had bought Flash’s half-brother Archie in 2010 and that their friends knew that Flash was his dog and Archie Ms Hamlet’s. Mr Young sued after the relationship broke up. He also sued for the return of a Wii games console and the garden shed. In the end he agreed to let her keep the Wii, but was awarded custody of the shed. // And now for some fearless investigative reporting by us. Well, we looked at the Avon & Somerset Police website’s Freedom of Information requests section. Someone asked them which publications the force subscribes to.

Apparently the answer is “lots”. They have four copies of the Evening Post every day, and two each of the Mail, Telegraph and Guardian, but only one of the Star, Sun, Mirror and the Express. They get various other local papers, and five copies weekly of Jane’s Police Review, and a quarterly magazine called Fingerprint Whorld (sic), the official journal of the Fingerprint Society. But why do they get five copies a week of the TV Times? I think we should be told. // “I was desperate to win,” said Sarah Burgoyne. “There aren’t many Justin Bieber fans as dedicated as me and this tattoo goes to prove it.” The 24-year-old Bristolian was quoted in the Daily Mail after having a verse from a Justin Bieber song tattooed onto her leg in an attempt to win tickets to the MTV EMA 2011 awards, where Bieber was to perform. MTV arranged for a Bieber lookalike to be at the tattooist’s session in which the first verse of ‘Baby’ was inscribed into her thigh for ever. According to Ms Burgoyne’s leg, the first line of this lyrical tour de force goes: “Oh woooooah, oh woooooah, oh woooooah.” Alas she failed to win the contest, the tickets going instead to a Lady GaGa fan who walked around London wearing a dress made from four kilos of meat.

Call that NEWS? Bureaucratic folly and disability discrimination; police magazine subscriptions; canine custody battles; Justin Bieber superfans; more rights for smokers; and dubious council waste disposal - all worthy of column inches, apparently

28 // january 2012

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12/21/2011 9:39:55 AM

// BURGLARS ARE AFRAID OF THE DARK ran the Evening Post headline (25 Nov), with the news that crime has not increased, and in some places has decreased, when street lights are turned off at night. Some councils to the north of Bristol are turning off street lights to save money and be, you know, a bit more green. Crime in Oldland, where the parish council voted for a switch-off earlier this year, has not increased. According to police figures, night-time crime is down in Frampton Cottrell by 50% compared with a year ago, while in Thornbury it’s fallen by 28% in the same period. Avon & Somerset Police say that their findings reflect results elsewhere in the country. It’s thought that burglars like street lights as they enable them to see their escape route and take a good look at premises before breaking in. Using a torch in the dark would make them a little too conspicuous. Our theory is that criminals are badly brought up young men who don’t get enough fresh carrots, but instead live on junk food, cheap alcohol and drugs. Their eyesight would be a lot better if they got more exercise and ate properly. // Imperial Tobacco has launched a campaign for “smokers’ rights”. The Bristol-based fag conglomerate has launched a campaign called Smoking Allowed to support the country’s 12 million smokers. One of its key initiatives will be building high-quality luxury smoking pavilions around the country. The first of these has already opened at Bristol Airport, and is heated, well-lit and ventilated, and users can even avail themselves of hand gel. Perhaps the criminal underworld could consider doing something similar for Class A addicts.


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// Bristol’s new waste contractors are collecting leaves, putting them into non-biodegradable bags and sending them to landfill. The Evening Post spotted this one after some livid readers got in touch to suggest this was somewhat at variance with the city’s commitment to recycling. Leaves should be going to the new New Earth Solutions waste centre at Avonmouth for composting. A spokesman for May Gurney, who won the city’s waste contract last year, said that leaves collected from the streets can’t always be composted as they might be contaminated by litter and cigarette ends. // A family of worms who originally came from a rubbish tip in Bristol, safely returned from a space mission, proving that worms can survive in space. God, science is brilliant, isn’t it? Scientists from Nottingham Uni, who published their paper in November, have sent the Caenorhabditis elegans worms up on the Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. The worms not only survived in their special space wormery, but reproduced. Twelve generations’ worth. The point of all this is to study the effect of space travel, radiation and lack of gravity on them. C. elegans was the first multi-cellular organism to have its genetic structure completely mapped and lots of them are similar to humans. Mars here we come.

concluded that students sitting exams in evennumbered years (which have big summer football events) put in less effort and don’t do as well as those sitting exams in years without major footy action. The average effect on specific exams taken during the contest is about a quarter of a grade per subject. Both male and female students from all social classes are affected, but the results of boys from more disadvantaged families do worst. Basically because everyone’s watching and talking about football when they should be revising. One of the authors of the research paper, Professor Simon Burgess, said that with Euro 2012 coming up, schools and families should do more to help kids concentrate on their exams. “We need to recognise the importance of effort in driving educational achievement. There’s lots of discussion of school resources, class size and family background, but effort is rarely mentioned in policy debates.” // Hitler’s bedding was sold for £2,000 at auction in Bristol in November. Namely, a monogrammed sheet and a pillowcase, believed to have been taken from the Fuehrer’s Munich flat by his housekeeper in 1945. The items, embroidered with an eagle and swastika and the initials ‘AH’ went to an unnamed online bidder.

// GCSE results are worse among pupils who sit their exams during a major international football tournament, according to researchers at Bristol Uni’s Department of the Patently Bloody Obvious, sorry, Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO). A joint study by Bristol and Oxford unis analysed the GCSE records of 3.5 million school students over seven years and

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Assistant at Bristol auction house Drewatt’s Stella Lyons said: “It’s aged a bit – there are watermarks on the pillow case. They look pretty old.” // “Whilst we recognise the need for a great deal more research in this area, we are very excited by the potential of this work. This is the first paper to outline not just the use of urine as a potential fuel for MFCs, but also the fact that urine could be an abundant source for electricity generation,” said Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos of the Bristol Robotics Lab at UWE on the publication of a paper about using human and/or animal urine to generate electricity. Dr Ieropoulos and two of his colleagues have been looking into using wee to run microbial fuel cells, which use bacteria and chemicals to generate power. Anyway, apparently it’s a goer, but they need to do more work. Apparently each human produces approximately 2.5 litres of urine a day, amounting to around 6.4 trillion litres globally each year. Imagine if your tinkle was one day as valuable as petrol?! If the technology can be made to work on a large scale, the process would also ‘clean’ the urine, reducing the strain on sewage systems. See bu5jg6p for the full paper. Meanwhile, in other science news, Bath academic Dr John Troyer has been working with Haycombe cemetery in Bath looking at ways of capturing heat from cremations to generate electricity to sell back to the National Grid. No, really. And why not?


every likelihood that we’ll be having a referendum on this question in May 2012. Those who came to the Watershed, a reasonable cross section of race, age and class, were, on a show of hands, overwhelmingly in favour of it. Whether or not the Bristolian public wants it is another matter, though most of the local media will probably back it if only because it’ll make local politics more interesting. The main arguments in favour of an elected mayor seem to be basically that:

2. It excludes capable individuals who aren’t any good at people. The present system allows talent to rise without having to please the public. Though it has to be said the present system also allows mediocrity to rise as well. 3. It’s easier for everyone from Westminster to the local crime boss to bully, bribe, blackmail and cajole one person than a bunch of bloody-minded ward councillors. 4. What do your local councillors do then, with no actual power over anything?

1. S/he will be a recognisable face of Bristol on the national and local scene. 2. S/he will be able to kick ass and get things done down the council house in a way that the existing system, hamstrung by committees, scheming council officers and almost-annual elections can’t. 3. Electing a mayor is the start of a long slow process of clawing back some of the local powers that successive generations of London politicians, Whitehall civil servants AND unelected local council officers have stolen from us.

The star of the Watershed event was Red Ken, who expressed a sort of detached scepticism about the whole idea of elected mayors. But then again he had been head of the Greater London Council until Mrs Thatcher abolished it in an attempt to abolish, well, Ken Livingstone. Then along came the new office of mayor of London: “With all that concentration of power and the potential there was for abuse of it, I decided the mayor had better be me,” said Ken. Livingstone made the point that as the city’s elected mayor he managed to squeeze billions out of central government that would never have been forthcoming. The big changes in London’s transport – the congestion charge, the Oyster card, Crossrail – could never have been implemented by a council with all its committees and the political pressures on individual members. But, he says, “If all you get is a mayor with the same powers as the existing council, all you have is the risk that you’ll get a mad one.” There is a danger that we end up with an idiot, a lunatic or a crook, but it’s not very likely, is it? Bristol is a great city, which scores very highly for its economy, quality of life and its potential. If we vote yes in the referendum, then the roster of mayoral candidates will be of a pretty high quality. But then, we’d be better off right away with one council election every four years and more realistic boundaries. That’s not on the cards, though. We opt for Mr Pickles’s elected mayor or nowt.

As Professor Robin Hambleton of UWE put it: “We live in the most centralised state in western world... Too many powerful people are making decisions about places that they don’t live in and don’t care about.” The expression everyone kept using was “soft power”. A mayor, even with limited powers on paper, has a lot of authority. You can represent the city on the national and international stage, with a job title and role that is recognised the world over. Another invited speaker, Sir Steve Bullock, mayor of Lewisham, said that people take his calls and come to meetings with him in a way they never did when he was merely leader of Lewisham council. The Watershed event saw very little rehearsal of some of the arguments against it. These, in no particular order, have to include:

(* Other city leadership models are available.) Back at the beginning of December, Bristol Festival of Ideas hosted a big pow-wow down the Watershed on the subject of whether or not Bristol should have an elected mayor with executive 1. It becomes a beauty contest which the most powers. A local equivalent of the mayor of London, charismatic and media savvy individual wins. or “Bristol’s Boris” as the Evening Post would have it. The government is keen for 12 of Britain’s “core cities”, of which Worms, football, Hitler's bedsheets and a novel Bristol is one, to look into the use for urine - headline ma terial if ever we've seen it possibility, and there’s


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You will be watching... Robin Askew polishes his overused 3D glasses, grabs a huge sack of popcorn and settles down for another year at the movies. D makeovers of ‘Titanic’ and ‘Star Wars’, the return of The Muppets and ‘Men in Black’, unwanted sequels to ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘G.I. Joe’, plenty of fairytale fun including two rival Snow Whites, a new James Bond, Aardman’s first plasticine feature since the Wallace and Gromit movie, Keira Knightley getting costumed-up in ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘A Dangerous Method’, ‘The Sweeney’ on the big screen, and little hairy fellas in ‘The Hobbit’. That’s 2012 in a nutshell, as the cinema industry anticipates a tough year thanks to such minor distractions as the Olympics. But I’m contractually obliged to deliver a further 1200 words. So here’s a monthby-month breakdown with the usual caveat: all release dates are subject to change.

January/February We’re still knee-deep in awards bait during late January and early February. Three films stand out. Seven years on from ‘Sideways’, Alexander Payne returns with the excellent The Descendants (Jan 27), starring George Clooney as a Hawaiian land baron struggling to reconnect with his daughters and come to terms with his late wife’s infidelity. Roman Polanski’s agreeably nasty Carnage (Feb 3) explores the unpleasantness lurking beneath the surface of polite middleclass life as two sets of parents (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) meet up to sort out a case of playground bullying, whereupon things turn very ugly indeed. And how can you go wrong with David Cronenberg directing a Christopher Hampton script about the

birth of psychoanalysis, with Michael Fassbender as Jung and Viggo Mortensen as Freud? A Dangerous Method (Feb 10) also offers Keira Knightley the opportunity to do some serious howling as Jung’s sexually repressed Russian patient/ conquest. Speaking of sex, there’s no shortage of that - and copious nudity - in House of Tolerance (Jan 27), which focuses on life in a late 19th century Paris brothel. According to whoever wrote the Toronto Film Festival’s over-excited preview, the film “immerses us in this longabandoned world, awash with opium, champagne and the inevitable rush of semen.” Mmm… rushing semen. An entirely different view of Paris is offered in A Monster in Paris (Jan 27) - an animation about, um, a giant musical flea. Literary adaptations? Stephen (‘Billy Elliot’) Daldry directs Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in


post-9/11 drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Feb 3). The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Feb 24) might as well book in a six-week residency at the Orpheus and Little Theatre cinemas right now, being an adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s novel about a bunch of retirees (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, etc) enjoying a twilight years adventure in a rundown Indian hotel. Pawel Pawlikowski does Douglas Kennedy’s Parisset novel The Woman in the Fifth (Feb 17), in which a fleeing college lecturer (Ethan Hawke) encounters a mysterious widow (Kristin Scott Thomas) who may or may not be a murderer. This is not to be confused with the new version of ghostie story The Woman in Black (Feb 10), boasting Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter role. Star Wars Episode 1 gets that 3D makeover on Feb 9, while The Muppets reunite on Feb 10. Least eagerly anticipated film of the month? Jack and Jill (Feb 3), with mirthless Adam Sandler in two roles - a bloke and his twin sister. Will the laughter never start?

March Two biggies this month. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (March 28) is the new stop-motion animation from Aardman. Peter Lord directs and the starry voice cast is headed by that scourge of the tabloids himself, Hugh Grant.

Andrew Garfield's Spidey gets his first run-out (left) alongside (clockwise) 'Ice Age 4', 'A Dangerous Method', 'The Avengers 3D', 'The Muppets' and no less than TWO Snow Whites

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For film listings and more reviews visit

The 15 minutes we’ve seen are hilarious. Snow White (March 16) is the first of this year’s rival bashes at the Grimm brothers’ fairytale and is the more kidfriendly version. Julia Roberts plays the evil queen and camps it up a storm in the trailer. Being directed by Tarsem Singh, it’s bound to look fabulous too. More adult-oriented is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (March 2), with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the now-adult siblings who’ve overcome their Gingerbread House trauma by becoming freelance witch slayers. Still with fantasy, ‘WALL•E’ director Andrew Stanton’s live-action debut, the long-gestating John Carter 3D, finally pitches up on March 9. The amusingly named Taylor Kitsch stars as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ rufty-tufty hero, who arrives on Mars to find it populated by giant warring barbarians. There’s more Edgar in The Raven (March 9), though as the title suggests, this one’s Poe. It’s a fictionalised account of his last days, with John Cusack in the lead role. Together at last: Robert Pattinson and Christina Ricci in an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s novel Bel Ami (March 2). If that doesn’t excite you, how about a film version of 80s TV show 21 Jump Street (March 16)? Or a sequel to ‘Clash of the Titans’ - Wrath of the Titans 3D (March 30)? We’ll move on…

April It’s the Return of the Ageing Lunks! Take your pick from Sly Stallone in Bullet to the Head or Bruce Willis in The Cold Light of Day. Both creak into cinemas on April 13. James Cameron’s Titanic gets retrofitted in 3D on April 6, while your 3D Marvel comicbook adaptation needs are met by The Avengers 3D (April 27), promisingly directed by Joss Whedon. (Note for the confused and/or uninitiated: this is nothing to do with the 1998 Ralph Fiennes flopbuster of the same title.)


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Desperate sequel of the month: American Pie: Reunion (April 6)

May Blockbuster season gets into gear with Tim Burton’s adaptation of the cult US TV series Dark Shadows (May 11). Who could resist a film about a vampire played by Johnny Depp, with a cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper and - no, really - Helena Bonham Carter? Sacha Baron Cohen returns in The Dictator (May 18). Larry (‘Bruno’) Charles directs him as a heroic despot. Who writes such stuff? Well, it’s loosely based on the novel ‘Zabibah and the King’ by the late Saddam Hussein. John Hillcoat and Nick Cave team up again for Wettest County (May 4) - a Depression-era bootlegging drama with Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. Desperate sequel of the month (though let’s not pre-judge it, eh?): Men in Black 3 3D (May 25).

June Ridley Scott’s eagerly anticipated return to science fiction, Prometheus 3D (June 1), has a cast that includes Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender, and concerns itself with nothing less than a battle at the edge of the universe to save the human race. On the same day, Snow White and the Huntsman casts Twilight sulker Kristen Stewart as Snowy, who, in this version, is protected by the huntsman sent to kill her. Bryan Singer reworks another fairytale in Jack the Giant Killer 3D (June 15) - a modern-day version in which the fragile peace between men and giants is broken when Jack (Nicholas Hoult) ventures into the giants’ kingdom to rescue a kidnapped princess. Least eagerly anticipated sequel of the month: G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation (June 22).

Spider-Man 3D (July 4) is yet another ‘reboot’, this time with Andrew Garfield as the dweeby Peter Parker. More promisingly, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale reunite for The Dark Knight Rises (July 20), with Tom Hardy in the baddie role as the terrorist Bane. For kiddies, Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 6) keeps the Scrat and chums franchise ticking over, while Zac Efron and Taylor Swift provide the voices for Dr Seuss’ The Lorax 3D (July 27), from the guys who gave us ‘Despicable Me’.

August Keira Knightley gets corseted up for the latest Anna Karenina (Aug 7), which reunites her with ‘Atonement’ director Joe Wright. Tom Stoppard assumes scripting duties. Set in a mythical Scotland, Brave 3D (Aug 17) sees Pixar attempting to recover its animation crown after the mediocre ‘Cars 2’. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov helms the self-explanatory mash-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Aug 2). Jason Bourne is gone but his name lives on in The Bourne Legacy (Aug 17) as Matt Damon passes the baton to Jeremy Renner for the start of a new series of films set in Robert Ludlum’s CIAland. Unwanted remake of the month: Total Recall (Aug 22), with Colin Farrell in the Arnie role.

(Sept 21), with Ray Winstone as Jack Regan. Mercifully, there’s no sign of Danny Dyer in this one. Oliver Stone lightens up with pot-growing comedy Savages (Sept 28). In his second film of the year, Tim Burton remakes his own animated spooky short Frankenweenie 3D (Oct 5), with a voice cast that includes Winona Ryder. The big Bond flick, now titled Skyfall, arrives on Oct 26 and should dominate the box office until Nov 16, when inconsolable 14-year-old girls flock to cinemas to witness the last drops being milked from the Twilight franchise in Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. And what will you be watching next Christmas? Why Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D (Dec 14), of course.

September-December Gorblimey! Nick (‘The Football Factory’) Love does The Sweeney

July If you can still work up any excitement about Batman and Spider-Man, they’re both pitching up this month. The Amazing

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (18) // (Dir: David Fincher, 158 mins) The most promising of the two rival flicks catering for those desperate to flee the bosoms of their families on Boxing Day. On the plus side, David Fincher is in the director’s chair for this English-language remake you didn’t know you needed. On the other hand, Rooney Mara (she had a small role dumping Mark Zuckerberg at the start of Fincher’s ‘The Social Network’) has the mammoth task of filling Noomi Rapace’s big bisexual biker boots as Lisbeth Salander. Daniel Craig gets the role of campaigning journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Although we don’t have to read subtitles this time, Fincher decided not to change the Swedish locations.










Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (12A) // (Dir: Brad Bird, 133 mins) For those who prefer to watch Tom Cruise run about a lot and scale tall buildings with his bare hands, Tinseltown’s most vigorously heterosexual Scientologist is back for a fourth bout of impossible missioning. This time, the Impossible Mission Force (that’s IMF, amusingly enough) find themselves implicated in a terrorist bombing of the Kremlin and have to go ‘off-grid’ to clear their names. Simon Pegg pops up as comic relief again and Ving Rhames returns as our Tom’s sidekick. The only surprise is the choice of director. This is Pixar animator Brad (‘The Incredibles’, ‘Ratatouille’) Bird’s live action debut. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL IS OUT ON DECEMBER 26

W.E. (15)

The Lady (TBA) // (Dir: Luc Besson) On no account to be confused with ‘The Iron Lady’, this pushes every Chattering Class button at a time when biopics seem to be concerned primarily with liberal hate figures (Thatch, J. Edgar Hoover). Michelle Yeoh stars as Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, while David Thewlis plays her Oxford University professor hubby. Actionmeister Luc Besson might seem an odd choice of director, but he was apparently selected because of his track record of making films about strong women - notwithstanding the fact that many of these exhibit their strength in skimpy, tight-fitting outfits. THE LADY IS OUT ON DECEMBER 30

// (Dir: Madonna, 119 mins) Your best bet for an unintentional larf this month is Madge’s reverential and erm, ambitious drama intertwining the affair between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII (the greatest love story of the 20th century, apparently) with the trials and tribulations of a late 90s trophy wife who’s some kind of spiritual twin of Wallis’s. The film was slaughtered by critics at Cannes (“a primped and simpering folly, preening and fatally mishandled,” reckoned The Guardian), but it does offer your only opportunity to see Wallis Simpson dancing to the Sex Pistols. Radical, daring and, ahem, punk rock, or simply ridiculous? You decide. W.E. IS OUT ON JANUARY 20

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

'The Darkest Hour': Don't you just love those Chinese lantern thingummies? No?

December 30 // Dreams of a Life (12A) See review on page 37.

January 6 // The Artist (PG) See review on page 36. // Goon (15) (Dir: Michael Dowse, 92 mins) No Milligan, Secombe, Bentine or Sellers here; it’s yet another ‘triumph of the underdog’ sports comedy. Michael Dowse, who gave a grateful world ‘It’s All Gone Pete Tong’, directs Seann William Scott - he of the shit-eating grin in the American Pie flicks - as a nightclub bouncer and all-round loser who leads the usual bunch of dorky misfits to ice hockey glory. This he achieves by teaching them to beat the crap out of their opponents. // The Iron Lady (12A) See review on page 37. // The Last Waltz (U) (Dir: Martin Scorsese, 117 mins) A welcome reissue of the labour of love in which fanboy Martin



// Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (U) (Dir: Mike Mitchell, 87 mins) Squeaky voiced singing vermin milk franchise with 3D outing. // Arthur Christmas (U) (Dir: Sarah Smith, 97 mins) Aardman’s delightful CGI animation centring on the logistical problems facing the dysfunctional Santa family. Bill Nighy steals it as Grandsanta. HHHHH // Happy Feet 2 3D (U) (Dir: George Miller, 103 mins) Terpsichorean flightless birds do the same old shit all over again for the benefit of children and the easily entertained. // Hugo 3D (U) (Dir: Martin Scorsese, 126 mins) Scorsese directs a 3D fantasy adventure set at the dawn of cinema, which is proving to be more of a hit with critics than punters. // In Time (12A) (Dir: Andrew Niccol, 109 mins) Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried star in a


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// Margin Call (15) See review on page 39. // Shame (18) See feature on pages 24-25 and review on page 36. // Tatsumi (15) See review on page 39. // War Horse (12A) See review on page 38.

// The Darkest Hour 3D (12A) (Dir: Chris Gorak, 89 mins) Amid all the serious January Oscar-bait, here’s an action flick for neglected popcornheads still mesmerised by the 3D fad. It’s yet another alien invasion flick in the ‘Skyline’ and ‘Battle Los Angeles’ mould, the twist being that this time it’s Russia that’s being invaded rather than Yankland. That said, the teen heroes are still conspicuously American. Chris Gorak of ‘Right At Your Door’ fame directs, with Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov handling the effects.

// Coriolanus (15) See review on page 39. // Haywire (15) See review on page 38. // J. Edgar (15) See review on page 38. // The Sitter (15) (pictured) (Dir: David Gordon Green, 81 mins) Jonah Hill - you know: Seth Rogan’s fat, slobby understudy - plays, you guessed it, a fat slob who agrees to babysit his hot neighbour’s Kids from Hell. An invitation to have real, actual sex with a girl across town then leads him to pack the brats into his car and race across New York in the hope that she hasn’t changed her mind. The

director is David Gordon Green, whose peculiar career trajectory has taken him from sensitive Sundance indie flicks ‘George Washington’ and ‘All the Read Girls’ to Judd Apatow stoner comedy ‘Pineapple Express’ and the woeful ‘Your Highness’. // Underworld: Awakening 3D (TBA) (Dir: Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein) Kate Beckinsale straps on her tight-fitting rubber outfit and picks up the guns again for another instalment in the ‘vampires vs werewolves’ franchise that’s the horny teenage boy equivalent of the girl-oriented ‘Twilight’. Stephen Rea and Charles Dance join in this time, while incoming Swedish directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein were responsible for the daft Julianne Moore multiple personality flick ‘Shelter’. Should this not be excitement enough for you, it’s also the first Underworld movie in 3D.

variation on the ‘Logan’s Run’ format: in the future, you cark it at 25 unless you can pay for more time. // My Week with Marilyn (15) (Dir: Simon Curtis, 99 mins) The big upmarket mainstream hit of the moment, with an impressive £2.5m in the kitty. It’s the allegedly true story of the week young Englishman Colin Clark spent with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) while she was over here filming ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’. // New Year’s Eve (12A) (Dir: Garry Marshall, 118 mins) Dreary, cynical, multi-character seasonal drama from the people who gave us ‘Valentine’s Day’. Still, at least they can’t do ‘Mother’s Day’ next. That’s already a horror film. // Puss in Boots 3D (U) (Dir: Chris Miller, 90 mins) Enjoyable box office chart-topping origin tale from the ‘Shrek’ franchise, tracing the fairytale past of Antonio Banderas’s seductive swordsfeline. HHHHH // Romantics Anonymous (12A) Chocolate-themed French romcom in which a mousy spinster who’s

terrified of everything falls for a chocolate factory owner who has a fear of intimacy. There’s much social anxiety in the ensuing sugar rush, but at least the timid twosome aren’t repellently cute. HHHHH // The Rum Diary (15) (Dir: Bruce Robinson, 120 mins) Johnny Depp stars in Bruce Robinson’s troubled adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s first novel. // Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (12A) See review on page 37. // Snowtown (18) (Dir: Justin Kurzel, 115 mins) Impressive yet grisly drama based on the career of Australia’s most notorious serial killer, with an outstanding performance by Daniel Henshall as the bigoted, manipulative, occasionally charming psycho. HHHHH // Tabloid (15) (Dir: Errol Morris, 87 mins) Veteran documentarian Errol Morris lightens up with the amazing true story of a former US beauty queen who travelled to the UK to kidnap a young Mormon, handcuff him to the bed of a Devon cottage and force him to become

her sex slave for three days. HHHHH // The Thing (15) (Dir: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., 103 mins) Feeble, pointless prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter horror classic. HHHHH // Tower Heist (12A) (Dir: Brett Ratner, 104 mins) Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller decide to get their own back on tycoon swindler Alan Alda, who made off with their pensions. It’s amusing enough, but not as funny as the furore engulfing director Brett Ratner following some ill-judged interview comments. // The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (12A) (Dir: Bill Condon, 117 mins) Sulky Bella marries wooden Edward and conceives a mutant sprog, causing hunky Jacob to tear his shirt off. Again. HHHHH // A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (18) (Dir: Todd Strauss-Schulson, 90 mins) The ethnic stoner duo treat the religious holiday with the respect it deserves by killing off Santa and smoking enormous quantities of weed.

Scorsese captures all the fabulous music (but not, alas, the reported backstage misbehaviour) from The Band’s 1976 farewell concert at the San Francisco Winterland Arena. Guests include Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. If Marty’s somewhat, erm, fawning interview style seems familiar, that’s because Rob Reiner’s character Marty DiBergi in ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ is a cruel parody.

January 13

January 20

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It dawned on him that “D’ya fancy a quickie under the table?” was not the greatest chat-up line

Review Shame(18) UK 2011 101 mins Dir: Steve McQueen Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale // The familiar lengthy tracking shots are present and correct, and there’s another extraordinary performance from Michael Fassbender, but artist-turned-director Steve McQueen’s follow-up to ‘Hunger’ is a less rigidly formal affair. Much of the film’s advance publicity has hinged on the headline-grabbing sex addiction theme and fullfrontal nudity. But while those with an interest in such matters will be delighted to learn that Mr Fassbender has nothing to be, um, ashamed of in the trouser region, this is not another of those sexually explicit cause celebres that keep the Daily Mail in foaming material. “My god, boss: I think we’ve just invented pornography!”

France 2011 100 mins Dir: Michel Hazanavicius Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell

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There’s more than a hint of American Psycho’s Partick Bateman about cold-eyed, emotionally disengaged, elegantly groomed Brandon (Fassbender), who lives in a minimalist Manhattan apartment and is apparently pretty good at doing something corporate in an anonymous New York office block. Like Bateman, Brandon is a predator. But that’s where the similarity ends. Brandon’s no fantasy psychopath but a compulsive shagger. When he’s not eyeing up women wolfishly on the subway, he’s paying for hookers. If living, breathing sexual partners aren’t available, he idly soaks up internet porn and even nips into an office toilet cubicle for a crafty wank. He’s also devastatingly

skilled at seduction. When his sleazy, married boss David (Dale) makes a clumsy attempt to pick up a woman in a bar, Brandon bides his time, discreetly closing the deal with an alfresco legover. Enter his needy, estranged, self-harming nightclub singer sister Sissy (Mulligan), who’s as desperate for love as he is for sex and disrupts his carefully compartmentalised life with an unwelcome visit. Beyond the broadest of hints (“We’re not bad people,” wails Sissy, “We just come from a bad place.”) McQueen and screenwriter Abi Morgan opt not to disclose anything about the siblings’ background, leaving us guessing as to what might have led them to become so damaged. But Sissy’s

arrival succeeds in igniting mutual crises as she takes up with sleazy David, while Brandon fails spectacularly at the conventional dating thing, eventually seeking some kind of sexual obliteration in a threesome. These are difficult people to love, or even to like, though the performances are terrific. Fassbender’s grabbing all the attention, but Mulligan enjoys another of her signature crying jags and croons the saddest ever version of ‘New York New York’, almost moving her brother to something in the vicinity of emotion. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website shame/ Opens: January 13

Review The Artist (PG) // It is perhaps telling that at a time when modern Hollywood believes the best way to lure audiences is to chuck things at them in 3D and make seats wobble with low-frequency rumbles, the finest, most enjoyable film of the month - and quite possibly the year - should turn out to be a silent, black and white celebration of old Hollywood. Even the aspect ratio of ‘The Artist’ is the obsolete 1.33:1, leaving it to sit rather uncomfortably in the middle of those wide multiplex screens. Brilliantly constructed and beautifully performed, this French love letter to the silent era is certain to charm its way into all but the coldest of hearts. Beginning in 1927 and borrowing liberally from ‘A Star is Born’, the story has suave, shinyhaired, pencil-moustached, selfregarding silent movie star George Valentin (Dujardin) - so named,

perhaps, in honour of Rudolph Valentino - at the peak of his fame, preferring to share the spotlight with his adorable Jack Russell rather than long-suffering wife and co-star Doris (Miller). A meetcute with aspiring actress Peppy Miller (Bejo) leads to infatuation and divergent career paths as she cashes in on her association with him, while he hubristically dismisses the cigar-chomping studio boss’s (Goodman) warning about the coming age of talkies, sinking his fortune into a ruinously expensive silent vanity project that sees him sink literally into quicksand. Little known outside France, where he’s the star of the ‘OSS 117’ spy spoof series, Dujardin will need to invest in a large trophy cabinet after this wonderful performance, which embraces perfectly timed physical comedy and heartbreaking emotion.

Berenice Bejo’s radiant ingénue is equally impressive and likely to inspire ‘The New Audrey Tautou?’ headlines before long. Hell, even the dog deserves a gong. But while Michel Hazanavicius’s film is warm, affectionate and inventive, with plenty of homages for cineastes to spot, it’s no simple pastiche. A number of brilliantly imaginative set-pieces tinker playfully with the coming of sound and George’s lack of a voice. Equally stunning is the film’s most emotional scene, played out in complete silence as the orchestral score is abruptly muted. If you’re looking for a film to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step during a cold, bleak January, you really won’t find anything better than this. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website Opens: January 6


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Review Dreams of a Life (12A) UK 2011 98 mins Dir: Terence Davies Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale // It takes 15 minutes until we see what Joyce Vincent looked like. Later, we hear her voice and even catch a glimpse of her on film. That’s rather more than journalists unearthed when the 38-year-old’s decomposed body was found in her flat above a busy North London shopping centre three years after she died in 2003. The TV and heating were still on and her remains were surrounded by partially wrapped Christmas presents. How did she die? Nobody knows. By then, she’d melted into

the carpet. Fascinated by this grisly story, documentary film-maker Carol Morley embarked on a mission to learn all she could about Joyce, tracking down former partners and work colleagues to find out how someone could perish alone and forgotten in the middle of a bustling metropolis. Her haunting drama-documentary overturns preconceptions from the outset. A vivacious, strikingly attractive woman of mixed Indian/West Indian parentage, Joyce had four sisters and plenty of friends. Naturally, everyone who agreed to speak on camera expresses bafflement at how she met her

Going out this month? see - the new home of Venue’s what’s on listings end. Early boyfriend Martin, a nice if rather spoddy white bloke whose mates couldn’t believe his luck, was clearly in love with her. Alistair, who introduced her to the black music scene, appears somewhat less enamoured. Joyce seems to have been something of a chameleon, her family refused to speak to Morley, and there are suggestions of domestic abuse in later relationships. Some of the ‘re-imagined’ dramatic inserts overstep the mark in speculating on Joyce’s state of mind. But no easy answers to the mystery are forthcoming and Morley doesn’t offer any narration or opinion on the often contradictory testimonies,

Either the resident had been dead for years or the flat was occupied by teenage boys

allowing viewers to bring their own interpretations to her subject’s achingly sad demise. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website Opens: December 30

Review Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (12A) USA 2011 129 mins Dir: Guy Ritchie Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Kelly Reilly // We’re a very long way from Arthur Conan Doyle here. But if that doesn’t bother you, the good news is that this sequel turns out to be Guy Ritchie’s most enjoyable film in years, refining the approach of his first bash at Holmes to deliver a lovingly staged period combination of the homoerotic buddy movie and the globetrotting Bond flick - complete with a villain who never quite manages to polish off his foe

when given ample opportunity to do so. Said villain is, of course, the dastardly Moriarty, played with icy determination by Jared Harris. In Ritchie’s steampunk 19th century, Moriarty is behind a series of anarchist bombings that only the wired and increasingly dishevelled Holmes (Downey Jr) is able to connect. But first, he has to distract Watson (Law) from his wedding. When that fails, he hurls the poor chap’s unfortunate new bride (Reilly) from a speeding train and - just in case you don’t geddit - turns up in Watson’s carriage in drag. Noomi Rapace assumes thankless female

Review The Iron Lady “Who are we supposed to be again?”

UK 2011 105 mins Dir: Phyllida Lloyd Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Richard E. Grant, Olivia Colman, Roger Allom, Iain Glen


Film Reviews 976.indd 37


// Thatcherites are already up in arms over a prosthetically augmented Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher’s dementia. Those who despised Thatch and everything she stood for are unlikely to be able to summon up the sympathy required for director Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan’s account of the young Margaret Roberts’ determined struggle against ingrained Tory sexism during her rise to become PM and trounce the miners, Argies, IRA hunger strikers, and so on. So who, exactly, is going to pay to see ‘The Iron Lady’, even after Streep

lead duties as a Romany fortune teller, in order to facilitate a bunch of the director’s familiar gypsy gags (My Big Fat Gypsy Blockbuster, anyone?). Ritchie’s usual arsenal of flashbacks, slo-mo sequences and fast rewinds are put to good use here, often illustrating Holmes’s thought processes as he anticipates several moves ahead (cue: laboured chess metaphor). Stephen Fry camps things up a bit as the great freelance detective’s politically-connected brother Mycroft, who amusingly persists in referring to Holmes as ‘Shirley’. Be warned that the increasingly rotund Fry also gets a

nude scene, with only a handful of Austin Powers-style props protecting us from the full monty. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

bags those inevitable awards for her impressive if rather showy impersonation? Opening with aged Thatch slipping her minders and nipping down the shop to buy some milk, the film is constructed as a series of flashbacks. Still having conversations with deceased Denis (Broadbent), the befuddled old bird revisits key episodes in her life, beginning with grocer dad Alfred (Glen) displaying inspirational Blitz Spirit. It’s hard to suppress a snigger when Roger (‘The Thick of It’) Allom pops up as Gordon Reece for the ‘King’s Speech’-style voicelowering episode. Indeed, the film is probably best enjoyed as parody. I was continually reminded of the Comic Strip’s ‘The Strike’ - in which,

you’ll recall, Jennifer Saunders played Meryl Streep playing Arthur Scargill’s wife. What’s more, Olivia Colman openly milks Carol Thatcher for laughs, while Jim Broadbent channels John Wells’s ‘Anyone for Denis’ caricature of Denis Thatcher. Before they’re introduced by name, there’s also some fun to be had in trying to figure out who the unfortunate supporting cast are supposed to be playing in Thatcher’s underwritten cabinet. Only Richard E. Grant’s Heseltine makes much of an impression, and he lets the wig do all the heavy acting work. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

website sherlockholmes2.warnerbros. com/ Now Showing “It’s Benedict Cumberpatch! Quick - get him!”

website www.theironladymovie. Opens: January 6

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12/20/2011 5:36:46 PM




Review War Horse (12A) “So tell me, sexy - have you ever seen that movie ‘Equus’?”

USA 2011 146 mins Dir: Steven Spielberg Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Benedict Cumberpatch, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Niels Arestrup, Eddie Marsan

// Opening in a Devon bathed in such a warm sunshiney glow that those who grew up there will struggle to recognise it, Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s popular children’s novel delivers pretty much what you might expect: a stirring adventure on an epic scale, with moments of cloying sentimentality and battle scenes which, while not exactly of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ intensity, push at the boundaries of the 12A certificate. When drunken yokel farmer Ted Narracott (Mullan, doing grizzled and resentful again, albeit with the swearing turned down) buys a thoroughbred horse for a ridiculous sum at market on a whim, his

Review Haywire (15) USA 2011 93 mins Dir: Steven Soderbergh Starring: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas // There are two Steven Soderberghs. One makes high-minded arthouse films. The other delivers multiplex adrenaline rushes of pure enjoyment. Hard on the heels of ‘Contagion’, ‘Haywire’ is clearly another entry in the latter category. A taut assassin flick boasting a convoluted, globetrotting plotline that nonetheless feels a tad familiar, its trump card is the casting of newcomer Gina Carano in the lead role. Who she? Well, the

internet tells us that Ms. Carano comes from the world of mixed martial arts (i.e. cage fighting). On screen, she not only whups ass with an agility and conviction that eludes the likes of Angelina Jolie, but also manages to pull off some light acting work convincingly. Carano gets to demonstrate her chops literally in an opening diner scene where she knocks seven shades of crap out of Channing Tatum. A series of flashbacks then explain what’s been going on up to this point. It seems she works for some kind of shadowy security contractor, her main point of contact being shifty Ewan McGregor. After freeing a

missus Rose (Watson in another of her long-suffering wifey roles) despairs, but son Albert (bland newcomer Irvine) adopts and resolves to train the nag, which he names Joey. Nasty landlord Lyons (Thewlis), who’s owed a shitload of rent by bibulous old Ted, wagers that the beast cannot plough the idyllic farm’s stoniest field. Since nobody in the film seems to know the first thing about ploughing, this becomes a drawn-out dramatic episode. But at the outbreak of WWI, Ted flogs the steed to the British cavalry and the film finally kicks into gear as Joey embarks on an odyssey that sees him pass through the hands of British character actors

(Hiddleston, Cumberpatch, etc), sundry German-accented Englishspeaking Boche soldiers, and a French farmer (Arestrup) and his granddaughter. Spielberg’s WWI seems rather sanitised until we get to the Somme and he serves up a bravura scene of Joey racing across a hellish No Man’s Land, which will have equine enthusiasts watching through their fingers. Fans of the big horsey adventure genre should be reassured, however, that the happy ending is never in doubt. (Robin Askew) HHHHH Website Opens: January 13

She might have been a lousy shot, but she could light a barbecue very quickly indeed

kidnapped Chinese journalist in Barcelona, she was sent to Dublin on a mission with Michael Fassbender, but quickly realised she was being set up. Soderbergh delivers rather too many of his hip Oceans-style montages cut to David Holmes’ jazzy score, but Lem Dobbs’s screenplay is agreeably playful, killing off a big name when you least expect it. A strong supporting cast includes

Michael Douglas in another of his Evil Suit roles and a beardy Antonio Banderas. But the whole thing belongs to comely bone-cruncher Carano, who has a touch of the Noomi Rapaces about her and clearly does all her own stunt work - including a terrific chase across Dublin rooftops. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

cantankerous old Hoover (DiCaprio, in an extended Oscar pitch) dictating his self-serving memoirs to a succession of hunky young men, ‘J. Edgar’ is not, as one might expect of the Republican Eastwood, a hatchet job. But nor does it exhibit much warmth towards its relentlessly commie-hating subject, revealing his hypocrisy, racism, empire-building, vanity and paranoia as its runs through his ‘greatest hits’ as all-powerful FBI chief (the anti-racketeer years, the Lindbergh baby case, stitching up Martin Luther King and JFK, etc). Plenty of screen time is also given to the three Significant Others in Hoover’s life: his smothering, homophobic

mother Annie (Dench); loyal secretary and abortive beard Helen Gandy (Watts); and, most significantly, Clyde Tolson (Hammer) - the unqualified yet handsome fellow who became Hoover’s deputy and longtime companion. Eastwood avoids prurient speculation, suggesting that the relationship, while real, was chaste. But whereas DiCaprio carries himself convincingly as an old man, Armie Hammer is lumbered with terrible ageing make-up that makes him look more like a young burns victim. (Robin Askew) HHHHH

website Opens: January 20

Review J. Edgar (15) USA 2011 137 mins Dir: Clint Eastwood Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench // Given this J. Edgar Hoover biopic’s unenthusiastic US reviews and mediocre box office performance, which have reportedly scuppered Her typing skills were poor, but that sure was a slinky little number she was wearing

38 // january 2012

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Clint Eastwood’s Oscar hopes, it’s a moderate pleasure to report that the film gets the job done adequately enough. Sure, it’s a lengthy meat’n’potatoes drama with some decidedly dodgy prosthetics. But for Eastwood, coming off the back of two of the worst films of his career (‘Invictus’, ‘Hereafter’), this is a move in the right direction. After much speculation, it also turns out that ‘Milk’ writer Dustin Lance Black’s script does indeed address Hoover’s homosexuality and penchant for cross-dressing, albeit in a rather understated way. Spanning half a century and framed by the device of a

website Opens: January 20


12/20/2011 5:38:08 PM


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

Review Tatsumi (15)

Review Margin Call (15)

Rising sea levels were proving disastrous for inattentive artists

USA 2011 107 mins Dir: J.C. Chandor Starring: Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons

Singapore 2011 96 mins Subtitles Dir: Eric Khoo Starring (voices): Tetsuya Bessho, Motoko Gollent, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Mike Wiluan // A Singaporean animated adaptation of a Japanese manga artist’s autobiography is unlikely to have much appeal beyond the fanboy constituency. Mercifully, Eric Khoo’s film intersperses Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s story with five of his dark and perverse yarns in the ‘gekiga’ style that he pioneered way back in 1957. Be warned that these are no kiddie comics; indeed, it emerges that one of the battles fought by Tatsumi was for recognition of their adult nature so as to avoid censorship by those who wanted to protect children. Director Eric Khoo uses contrasting styles to present the Chafed nipples was a condition that could lay low the most fearsome warrior

UK 2011 123 mins Dir: Ralph Fiennes Starring: Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, James Nesbitt // Anyone remember Richard Loncraine’s ‘Richard III’ with Ian McKellen? Ralph Fiennes’ directorial


Film Reviews 976.indd 39

material. The autobiographical vignettes are in full colour while all but one of the stories are monochrome, aping the Tatsumi’s own panel drawings. We don’t actually learn a great deal about him, beyond his worship of mentor Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy, apparently), difficult early home life in the aftermath of WWII, and later struggles for recognition. But the stories are striking, in a twisted, bleak and frequently meanspirited way. The opener, aptly titled ‘Hell’, tells of a photographer who makes his name with a snap of two shadows burned onto a wall in Hiroshima. But his interpretation of this touching tableau proves to be wide of the mark. A lonely worker’s pet ape meets a sticky end in ‘Beloved Monkey’; pornographic toilet wall graffiti comes to life in ‘Occupied’; and in ‘Just a Man’, a sour old geezer on the verge of retirement sets out to have an affair so he can bear to spend the rest of his life with his ‘bitch’ of a wife and grasping daughter. Yup: murder, mutilation, incest, misogyny, sexual dysfunction, and, er, monkey misfortune - all human (and simian) misery is here! (Robin Askew) HHHHH

// Initially, first-time writer/ director J.C. Chandor’s ‘Margin Call’ seems like just another entry in the burgeoning recession genre. As teams of power-dressed downsizing zombies, all apparently modelled on Anna Kendrick’s character in ‘Up in the Air’, sweep through an anonymous office building, Stanley Tucci is summoned to a meeting room, briskly fired and hustled out of his workplace of 19 years. But Tucci and his colleagues aren’t blameless ordinary working stiffs. They’re the bastards who caused all the mess in the first place. And ‘Margin Call’ seems to be asking us to feel sympathy for some of them. To “According to my figures, we’ve completely f*cked everything up for everyone.”

website Opens: January 13

use that most odious of neologisms: that’s a big ask. It’s 2008 and this is a New York investment firm where Mr. Spock himself (Zachary Quinto, for it is he) has spotted the lack of logic underpinning complex financial deals. His immediate superior Paul Bettany then summons Horrible Boss Kevin Spacey, who in turn summons even more horrible boss Simon Baker and finally steely CEO Jeremy Irons. Frantic meetings continue through the night as the suits try to figure out a way of saving their skins by offloading the toxic debt. Chandor has certainly assembled a high-powered cast to deliver self-serving monologues and hurl financial jargon at one another in this claustrophobic chamber piece. (Irons speaks for us all when he seeks clarity by telling Quinto: “Talk as you might to a young child or a golden retriever.”) But while Spacey is posited unconvincingly as the movie’s rudimentary conscience largely because - aww! - he loves his dying dog, Bettany’s arrogant, cynical, overpaid asshole is far more believable. Asked whether he’s concerned about the impending meltdown’s impact on normal people, he sneers: “F*ck normal people.” (Robin Askew) HHHHH website Opens: January 13

Review Coriolanus (15) debut is rather less daring, but both films transpose the Bard effectively to modern civil war settings. In ‘Richard III’, it was a strife-torn alternate world 1930s Albion awash with the sinister trappings of fascism. Fiennes relocates ‘Coriolanus’ to ‘a place calling itself Rome’ that resembles a 90s Balkan war zone. Indeed, the film was shot mostly in Serbia. As one might expect, the result is a feast of proper-job acting from some of our Top Thesps (plus the Phantom of the Opera himself, Gerard Butler), with multi-tasking, Voldemortesquely shaven-headed, frequently bloodstained Fiennes at his swaggering, glowering, venom-spitting best as

Caius Martius - the war hero out of his depth in the world of politicking. Having led his troops to a great victory over the formidable enemy whose nobility he so admires, Volsces leader Tullus Aufidius (Butler), Caius Martius is persuaded - largely by his pushy, equally bellicose mother Volumnia (Redgrave) - that he deserves the reward of high political office. But overweening pride and open contempt for the proles prove to be his undoing, along with the wily, scheming likes of Tribune Sicinius (Nesbitt). Fiennes doesn’t stint on the battlefield brutality, while ‘Hurt Locker’ cinematographer Barry

Ackroyd’s hand-held camera style gives this classic tragedy the feel of a modern action film. The obvious contemporary resonances are never laboured, though Fiennes has crowds recording Caius Martius on their mobile phones and TV chatshow guests debating his prospects. John Logan’s skilful script also respects the rhythm and power of Shakespeare’s words. You may never get another chance to see Jon Snow reading a version of Channel 4 news in iambic pentameter. (Robin Askew) HHHHH website coriolanus/ Opens: January 20

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For film listings and more reviews visit


Local indie flick hits Cube… Orchestral movie magic at Bristol Cathedral… Werner Herzog… Anna Paquin film finally sees daylight


ou may recall us dribbling on about Black Pond (pictured) – an ultra-low-budget British indieflick with plenty of local connections, which picked up excellent reviews (“a deeply eccentric, haunting marvel,” reckoned The Guardian). But until now there’s only been one screening in Venueland, at the Bath Film Festival. The good news is that ‘Black Pond’ now plays at the Cube from Mon 30 Jan. On the opening night, both directors and star Chris Langham – who was considered too controversial to be invited to attend the BFF screening – will be present for a Q&A…Bristol Cathedral is the unlikely setting for a film premiere

this month. New local company Redcliffe Films will be unveiling their first production, Severn and Somme, on Sat 21 Jan. It’s a drama-doc about Gloucesterborn WWI poet and composer Ivor Gurney. A selection of Gurney’s orchestral work will also be performed at the premiere. See www.redcliffefilms. for more… The Watershed’s January Sunday Brunch season is devoted to the great Werner Herzog, with the accent on his bonkers Klaus Kinski period. Included in the line-up is the greatest movie ever made (form an orderly queue for an argument), Aguirre, Wrath of God (Sun 22). You can also catch




Film Box Office DVDs Cinecism 976.indd 41

Takings for the weekend of December 16-18


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows



£387,208 (£3,191,545, 3 weeks)

£3,827,697 (new release)


Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked


Happy Feet 2

£343,563 (£3,561,834, 3 weeks)

£2,361,867 (new release))


Arthur Christmas

£1,345,238 (£15,244,303, 6 weeks)

Chart copyright Screen International

// No surprises as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (pictured) tops the chart in what is traditionally a pretty quiet week as punters are distracted by an orgy of consumerism. With five kiddie films in the top ten, the clear seasonal winner is Aardman’s Arthur Christmas. This is holding steady in third place after six weeks on release, while rivals open big and then take tumbles. By the end of its run, the film will have more cash in the kitty than Spielberg’s Tintin. The kiddie loser is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, whose critical acclaim has not translated into ticket sales. New Year’s Eve is fading fast and it’s not even New Year’s Eve yet, but My Week with Marilyn has now clocked up an impressive four weeks on the chart. Stats watchers may wish to note that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 has now overtaken ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ to claim fifth place in the overall 2011 box office chart, some way behind ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’.

Kinski in Nosferatu (Sun 15) and Fitzcarraldo (Sun 29), as well as Nic Cage in Herzog’s remake of Bad Lieutenant (Sun 8)…Hang on a minute: isn’t Anna Paquin pushing 30? Doesn’t that make her a tad long-in-the-tooth to play a 17-year-old in Margaret? Yes indeedy, except that Kenneth Lonergan’s follow-up to ‘You Can Count On Me’ was shot way back in 2005 and is only now emerging from production hell to reach cinemas – which must set some kind of record. A campaign by ecstatic critics has now resulted in a release outside London. See what all the fuss is about at the Watershed from Jan 6.


Puss in Boots

£1,297,998 (£4,080,241, 2 weeks)


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

£327,253 (£29,512,091, 5 weeks)


A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

£109,063 (£437,811, 2 weeks)


New Year’s Eve

£846,761 (£2,994,096, 2 weeks)


My Week with Marilyn £89,207 (£2,742,329, 4 weeks)

// DVDs // Troll Hunter (15) // Norwegian director Andre Ovredal breathes new life into the mockumentary format with this highly entertaining deadpan comedy in which a trio of student filmmakers unwittingly trail a grumbling government-employed troll hunter as he goes about slaying his lumbering, stupid foes. The premise is worked through satisfyingly, incorporating folklore and plausible pseudoscience. Out: Jan 9. HHHHH

ALSO RELEASED // Kill List (18) HHHHH One of the most pleasingly nasty horror movies of 2011. Neil Maskell stars 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. Out: Dec 26 … The Skin I Live In (15) HHHHH Pedro Almodovar is on top form directing Antonio Banderas in a deliciously dark and twisted revenge melodrama. Out: Dec 26 … Project Nim (12) HHHHH Brit documentarian James Marsh follows ‘Man on Wire’ with the heartbreaking true story of a chimp raised by hippies as a human child. Out: Jan 9 … Arrietty (U) HHHHH Japan’s renowned Studio Ghibli does Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’ in typically beautiful pastel-coloured style, with none of the frantic pacing of most modern animations. Out: Jan 9 … The Big Picture (15) HHHHH Romain Duris stars in a cracking, character-driven French thriller about a man who accidentally kills his wife’s lover and then assumes the man’s identity after faking his own death. Out: Jan 9 … The Guard (15) HHHHH Brendan Gleeson steals this fishout-of-water cop-buddy comedy as a crumpled Bad Garda in the Harvey Keitel/Nic Cage mould, but without all the tiresome Catholic guilt and selfloathing. Out: Jan 16 … Cell 211 (18) HHHHH Rather overlooked, multiple award-winning Spanish film telling the story of an eager young prison warder who finds that he must pose as a new inmate to survive after a riot occurs during his first day on the job. Out: Jan 9.

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Music Tune in, rock out Drone pioneers, country giants, Sephardic divas, heaps of Holst: welcome to 2012’s genre-straddling musical buffet.


ttempting to summarise a year in music before it starts is a little like running into your favourite record shop, closing your eyes, swinging your arms around and running out with whatever falls on the floor. Whilst reasonably confident we can rely on this current booty to keep us entertained – for at least the first few months of 2012 – it’s going to take more than one over-excited smash and grab before we switch our diary pencil for a pen.

ROCK Bristol bands Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains and Phantom Limb both have albums out in the first couple of months, and play The

Motorcycle Showroom (27 Jan) and The Fleece (16 Feb) respectively. This does bring about arguably the most distressing clash of the year so far, with Portland/Washington’s Wild Flag also taking to the stage on 27 Jan at The Thekla (if their recent London/ATP performances are anything to go by, the Venue rock desk’s money is on this being one of the shows of the year). The talented (and expanding) team behind BrisFest's campaign to return (of sorts…) to Ashton Court is, at time of print, looking rather good – with any luck, we’ll be experiencing its fully expanded version in midSeptember. Continuing on the festival circuit, we’ve also got Dot to Dot on 26 May (Hurts/ We Are Scientists headlined in 2011), the Harbour Festival in the late summer and we’re also looking forward to/hoping for the return of

Simple Things in May, last year graced by Jamie XX, Clark and Bibio. For killer line-ups, you hardly have to turn to festivals though, with Arnolfini hosting drone pioneers Earth alongside Mount Eerie on 3 Mar. Other shows of note? At the O2 Academy, Bristol, there’s Brand New on 8 Feb, the NME Awards Tour featuring Justice (9 Feb) and Spiritualized (21 Mar). The Thekla have Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (4 Feb), First Aid Kit (29 Feb) and The War on Drugs (1 Mar). Summer Camp play The Louisiana on 12 Mar, The Misfits celebrate their 35th anniversary at The Fleece on 6 Feb, Fink plays Bath’s Komedia on 15 Feb and Black Flag’s Henry Rollins brings his spoken word performance ‘The Long Count’ to St George’s Bristol on 17 Jan. See what we mean about the pencil? (Leah Pritchard)

East Coast indie aces Clap You Hands Say Yeah come to Thekla in Feb whilst elsewhere (clockwise) Tord Gustavsen, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and The Gabrieli Consort lure the 2012 crowds

ROOTS On the roots side of things, Bristol Folk Festival will occupy Colston Hall from 5-7 May, with acts such as Show of Hands, Miranda Sykes and Cara Dillon already confirmed. Spend an evening with Kurt Wagner’s country giants Lambchop at The Fleece on 7 Mar – Tennessee’s Cortney Tidwell in tow – or Joan Baez at Colston Hall on 8 Mar. Jelli Records’ Acoustic Festival takes to St George’s Bristol on 13-15 Jan (see Big Gig on p.49) and Americana legend Tom Russell plays The Thunderbolt on 12 Jan. St Bonaventure’s, as always, has an impressive array of country musicians already booked in for the coming months, with Lindi Ortega (24 Jan), Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers (Jan 31) and Sarah Jarosz (29 May). On the Bath side of things, Bristol’s acoustic troubadour The Lonely Tourist plays The Curfew (13 Jan), singer/ songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich plays Komedia (21 Feb) and emotional folkster Kirsty McGee plays Chapel Arts Centre (8 Mar). (Leah Pritchard)

JAZZ/WORLD If 2012 lives up to the promise of the first few months, then it’ll be a very good jazz year indeed. After the mischievous Guillemots side-project Gannets (3 Feb), St George’s, Bristol has a splendid international jazz season, including piano stars Tord Gustavsen (22 Mar),

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For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

Neil Cowley (appearing with a string section, 26 Apr) and Dave Stapleton’s exciting project with saxman Marius Neset and the Brodowski Quartet (3 May). Andy Sheppard will bring Trio Libero, his latest ECM recording band (23 Mar), and Norwegian avanttrumpeter Arve Henriksen’s collaboration with astounding early music singers Trio Mediaeval (24 May) is also expected to be a treat. Top local jazz outfits will be playing free after-show gigs for many of the dates. Not to be outdone, Colston Hall’s collaboration with promoter Ian Storror will bring Damon Brown’s international Ugetsu (featuring pianist Yutaka Shinna, 6 Mar) and the deceptively blandly-named New York Standards Quartet (10 Apr), but the clear-yourdiaries date has to be the 27 Mar double bill of US trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s group and Robert Mitchell’s 3io. Akinmusire is one of the hottest names in the US jazz world right now. Mr Storror’s also planning to start regular jazz nights at the Hen & Chicken in Southville. Over in Bath there’s a string of vocal talents at Chapel Arts, with Kate Dimbleby’s Dory Previn tribute (24 Feb), Janet Siedel’s Doris Day show (13 Apr) and mighty jazz-blues powerhouse Liane Carroll (23 Mar) among the highlights. There’s a World Music treat at the same venue when Sephardic diva Mor Kabasi brings her tempestuous Ladino songs (24 Mar), with


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more Jewish-rooted folk-jazz fun from Moishe’s Bagel at Colston Hall (16 Feb). The hall is also showcasing Javanese stars of contemporary gamelan Sambasunda (9 Feb) and Iraqi oud virtuoso Khyam Allami (13 Apr). St George’s global favourites include Malian rocker Vieux Farke Toure (11 Feb), Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca (30 Mar) and cool new Brazilian singing sensation Ceu (18 Apr). And, finally, those lovely WOMAD people will be celebrating their 30th birthday with a bumper festival at Charlton Park (27-29 July) and another of their highly successful ‘Wild Nights’ at Bristol Zoo (30 June). (Tony Benjamin)

CLASSICAL Anyone looking to musical theatre for the soundtrack to 2012 might flirt with ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ – or, if worst-case-scenario-inclined, the apocalypse now of ‘Gotterdammerung’. But opera seasons take years of planning, so sackcloth and ashes retreat before Elijah Moshinsky’s glowing production of ‘Beatrice and Benedict’ (partnered by ‘Figaro’ and ‘Traviata’) when WNO comes calling (10-14 Apr) – and Figaro’s prequel, ‘The Barber of Seville’ (Opera Project, 15 June), is one of two operas at St George’s, the boy Mozart’s ‘Apollo’ gilding May. Iford (16 June-8 Aug) also braves the Bard with Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’ at the heart of a programme full of Eastern promise (Mozart’s ‘Seraglio’) and oratorio reimagined as

opera (Handel’s ‘Susanna’). Orchestrally, the BSO is in heroic mode when Karabits tackles Strauss’s ‘Heldenleben’ (1 Mar), while Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia complement WNO’s ‘Beatrice’ with the ‘Symphonie fantastique’ (29 May), and the BSO teams up with a supersized Bristol Choral Society for the epic Te Deum (31 Mar). Elektrostatic, Bristol Ensemble’s dalliance with the new, relishes Reich’s New York Counterpoint and decamps for monthly meets at Arnolfini ahead of another Colston Hall festival in May. And up the hill at St George’s, Beethoven rolls over as the Goulds complete a piano trio cycle ahead of the Elias’s eagerly awaited quartet series. Paul Lewis’s Schubert odyssey continues apace (Winterreise with Mark Padmore on 13 Feb), the Aurora Orchestra

returns with Strauss’s elegiac Metamorphosen (4 Mar), and a starry threesome including Steven Isserlis propose Beethoven’s lofty ‘Triple Concerto’ with the OAE (4 May). Towards year’s end, keep a weather eye out for Carolyn Sampson and The English Concert (2 Oct) and rare Britten from The Gabrieli Consort (12 Dec). To Bath’s deluxe Nov Mozartfest a small but perfectly formed sibling Bachfest is added in Feb, while the flagship Music Festival (30 May-10 Jun) bids farewell to Joanna MacGregor with ‘The Magic Flute’, Vivaldi’s ‘L’Olimpiade’ and an 80th birthday focus on Hugh Wood. Cheltenham Festival (4-15 July) also has ‘Olympian’ aspirations, a Debussian digression, and heaps of Holst. Who says 2012 beggars can’t be choosers – and spoilt for choice at that! (Paul Riley)

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Music Good Evans Leah Pritchard goes on a journey with the peripatetic Leonie Evans.


omehow, when you begin to learn the residential history, the singing voice follows. Leonie Evans currently lives on a boat, following a summer spent in a tent and a Spanish cave, and having previously dwelt in caravan, cottage and van. In short, a style that’s as impulsive as it is intuitive. Like Raymond Briggs’s Snowman, the voice leads you by the ear to soar and dive across fantastical scapes of a singular imagination. There’s Baez-like rich precision (the singers’ equivalent of RP) and sense of Bjorkish playfulness (check those mute trumpet approximations), both imbued with the growl-punctuated, self-confident sass of her beloved early blues-leaning singers like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. If you’re smart enough to let it, it’s a musical world that can swallow you whole. “So many people get wrapped up in their own ego, being technically perfect, rather than just trying to express themselves,” she says. “It’s nice when you’ve got the two, but I’d rather watch

someone slightly out of tune putting everything they’ve got into it.” She was raised well. First there was Dad, a band man himself, with “guitars all over the walls. We used to have The Chair, where he’d make me sit and close my eyes, put on some 20-minute Ozric Tentacles, The Orb or something like that, and go ‘Right, we’re gonna go on a little journey...’ and swivel the chair round.” Soon he was proffering a “sh*tty guitar” (“if I buy you a fancy one you won’t appreciate it”), upgraded once she’d locked herself upstairs and finished her first song, and now augmented by a renovated beauty discovered in a skip. “The neck’s snapped off three times and it still needs a little love, but I always wanted BB King’s guitar and so this is Lucille Jr.” Meantime, bands: becoming bassist in a death metal group - the first of “10 or 15” ensembles – aged 11. Next, a musical theatre course led to a workshop with Palestinian activist/folk-jazz singer Reem Kalani. “She started singing screaming – well, singing powerfully – in my face and I didn’t know what to do,” recalls Leonie. “But by the end of the play I was dancing around screaming my lungs off. We’ve

been in close contact since. She changed everything for me, that lady.” The experience was echoed in that Spanish cave, jamming with Rajasthani Gypsies. First, shyness brought on by incomprehension, then the penny-dropping surge of confidence. “It’s another discipline compared to Western music, being able to control all the notes in between the notes – that’s what I’d like to get to.” She was there as part of a degree-fulfilling proposal to research music that only happens in a specific location. Thus, flamenco in Andalucía. “I did lots of web searching [for somewhere suitable] but they all looked a bit too shiny. Then I found this lady with her own cave studio, and she said ‘You can stay in the cave below mine’. It was loads cheaper. She got me some gigs over there, took me to some jam nights with Senegalese musicians playing flamenco/ Senegalese fusion – she just mothered me, really.” It also built on sounds and visions experienced touring Europe as part of gypsy swingers The Mandibles: “We’ve been to Switzerland, Italy, France and more, meeting amazing bands and street performers.” The key to the future,

meanwhile, lies in Leonie’s native Kent, and the Canterbury prog sceneinspired Dawn Chorus collective. Founded by psychedelic rockers Syd Arthur, and also including Rae (Leonie’s jazz-leaning folkblues troupe), The Boot Lagoon and Liam Magill, it centres on a splendidly old school analogue studio with equally old school echoes of the spontaneous creativity engendered by EMI’s Abbey Road or Island’s SARM West: bands milling around, guesting on each other’s tracks. “Between the four bands there’s so many instruments, stuff we’d never be able to do otherwise. We have this continuous usage of the studio: when one band’s recording, another’s writing, and can then come in and record when the first has gone off for mastering.” It’s where Rae recorded the ‘Era’ album (“imagine Amélie scatting with Ornette Coleman,” said our own Steve Wright), and from whence later this year Leonie’s solo album will emerge. LEONIE EVANS PLAYS EVERY FIRST THURSDAY OF THE MONTH AT LEFTBANK, AND PLENTY ELSEWHERE BESIDES. FFI: FACEBOOK (TINYURL. COM/CZNLFQT) AND WWW. DAWNCHORUSRECORDCO.COM

Wandering star: Leonie Evans (far right) and below, with bandmates

“Being able to control all the notes in between the notes – that’s what I’d like to get to.” Leonie Evans 44 // january 2012

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CLASSICAL Sophie Yates

1. JAZZ The Magnificent Seven // Blame lift muzak laziness or those ruffle-shirted maracateers, but we don’t always give real Latin music the respect it deserves. So all hail this splendid septet of top-notch Bristol jazzers for elevating the sinuous percussion and glittering brass of proper Brazilian dance music back into the limelight where it belongs. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN CANTEEN, BRISTOL, FRI 13 JAN.


2. ROCK The Horrors // Rough edges have been smoothed off in favour of a Spector-esque wash atop the Essex band’s gothic- (and now significantly glam-) tinged rock.

// Harpsichordist Sophie Yates is keeping things ‘in the family’ when she returns to St George’s. The Bach family, that is. Last year Chandos brought out her disc of music from Balbastre’s 1759 ‘Pieces de clavecin’ – recorded at St George’s, incidentally – and a selection supplies the filling for a Bach sandwich opening with JS’s feisty D minor ‘English Suite’ and concluding with son Johann Christoph’s Sonata in A. Plucking perfect! SOPHIE YATES ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL, FRI 27 JAN.


ROCK Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains


// Periodically Bristolbased, Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains are the first French band signed to the prestigious London-based Domino label, with whom they release their fourth full-lengther, ‘E Volo Love’, on 23 Jan. They play alongside Barbarossa and The Liftmen, with DJ Amber Nectar and Qu DJs to finish. FRÀNÇOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS THE MOTORCYCLE SHOWROOM, BRISTOL, FRI 27 JAN.


WORLD The Magic Tombolinos // If you wanted to recruit a Balkan wedding band, you’d probably not look to Argentina, Costa Rica, Portugal or Italy. Wild-eyed accordionist Alejandro Toledo did just that, however, and the result was The Magic Tombolinos, a strangely perfect gang of global Eurogypsies whose brand of dance-fuelled happiness will rock the boats in Bristol docks. THE MAGIC TOMBOLINOS THEKLA, BRISTOL SAT 28 JAN.


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mark simmons photography

mUsiC || doCUmentary || natUraL WeddinGs t: 07778 063 699 w:

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12/21/2011 12:28:23 PM

Reviews // ALBUMS, SINGLES, EPs, downloads// MOUSE DEER

‘The Mouse Deer EP’ (Self-released) // Girl-group harmonies forged from a single vocal melody and a bounding guitar line. The elegance of a Joni Mitchell ballad veering towards a Disneyesque union of romance and malevolence, as loose handclaps and gutsy bass creep into the mix. Holly McIntosh knows her way around a melody, but has the sense, with a voice both delicate and clean cut, to not let the songs get too pretty – to let the guitars fuzz, to let the cymbals erupt in contained explosions. And when it’s not achieved through dirtiness, it’s a ‘Skylarking’-era XTC kind of weird. Catchy and poppy and instantly likable, yet spiritedly unpredictable. The moment you think you’ve caught the tune or the structure, it slips away like a wet bar of soap. (Leah Pritchard) HHHHH mousedeersound



‘The Balkan Courtesan’ (LP, Get Real Records) // Who knew John Zorn was composing 13-time Balkan/Arabic tunes? Balkan-jazz quintet Radio Banska, evidently, and there’s a cracking arrangement of Zorn’s ‘Ravayan’ on this album. For all the rootsiness of the tunes, they’re all modern, with guitarist Dave Spencer contributing half and violinist Nina Trott’s briskly Manouche ‘Emo Latino’ a lively little number. Tosh Witejunge’s bass and Mark Whitlam’s drums cast a convincing reggae spell over Richard Galliano’s ‘Chat Pitre’, moodily rendered as a loose ballad, and guitarist Tony Barby flavours Spencer’s ‘We’re Not in Kansas Now’ with a Moorish flamenco underpinning. It’s tightly arranged, straddling the roots/jazz divide without overstretching either way. (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH www.


‘Migratory Patterns EP’ (EP, selfreleased)

‘The Long, Slow Death of Big Joan’ (LP, Blood Red Sounds)

// Class war and consumerist angst fuel the belly-fire of this spleen-venting foursome. As with most good punk, flaws become strengths: the enthusiastic cod politicking, angry adenoidal whine, lyrics that bluntly refuse scansion. They barrel breathlessly in with an opaque tirade at social decay (‘Latin Square’), savage marketing’s insidious pull (‘Scar Song’), then rail against inequality with ska-shod lurcher ‘Back To Your Class’. The only incongruity is how impressively professional the packaging is, suggesting a slickness the music happily eschews. (Mike White) HHHHH onestatemusic

// Well, the title’s a misnomer for a start. Big Joan isn’t dying, but throatpunchingly, neuronf*ckingly alive. A distinctly ‘Bristol’ album with bass/drums groove crucial to the mix, ‘Long, Slow...’ echoes not later comers but the source, the spitting fury of The Pop Group. A mighty platform from which Annette Berlin screams Patti Sioux-like warnings from apocalypse’s door, synths whip hot hurricane winds, and Adam Burrows paints scarlet flashes on a guitar loaned from Joey Santiago’s wasp nest. ‘Distilling A Decade’s Learning Into 38 Mountainous Minutes Of Big Joan’ might not be as catchy a title, but it’s 100% more accurate. (Julian Owen) HHHHH


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‘In A Mood’ (LP, Independent) // Just ‘a’ mood? There’s a range on offer in Sarah Menage’s new album, mostly ambivalent. Making no attempt to sidestep life’s paradoxes with false certainty, she chuckles wryly into her glass before catching the nonsense of it in deft words and smart music. Thus the apparently sincere “Love You Forever’ is followed by the ultracheeky ‘Let’s Get Spiritual’ (“When your good looks fade, when you can’t get laid, get spiritual”). There’s even a poppy Shirelles-outtake (‘That’s My Boy’), before the album closes with cocktails and ‘Let Me Sleep’, a haunted trio with Mike Willox’s tinkling jazz piano and Pete Brandt’s rounded bass. It’s a cool classic jazz sound to round off a collection as poignant as it’s witty. (Tony Benjamin) HHHHH


‘The Short Life of Gracie’ (EP, selfreleased) // There’s a moment on opener ‘How to Kill Some Time’ where the vocals hint at Tim Kasher’s guttural holler: “I don’t have any more time I could kill! I could KILL! I could kill!” Yet, even at its peak, it barely cuts through. It’s over five minutes into the six-minute track and hardly a pay-off. If The Short Life of Gracie are going for mellow or easy, they slip into their roles with confidence and conviction. You can’t fault them for it; they’ve got pretty Americana nailed. Maybe the EP’s lack of aggression is intentional, but you can’t help but feel they would benefit a great deal by letting it explode once in a while. (Max Scrivner) HHHHH

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12/21/2011 2:30:29 PM

Music Katey Brooks: jumps octaves with the grace of a Tracy Chapman yodel, she does

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

// don't miss // Terremoto

// JAZZ Oil those hips! Shine those shoes! Here comes the Cuban jazz sound of Ray Barreto and Chucho Valdez – and it’s irresistible. TERREMOTO SAT 14 JAN, THE BELL, BATH


// ROCK As 80s disco as it is 90s shoegaze, as likely to inspire animated euphoria as it is coma-inducing: M83 play Bristol for the first time since the release of their hugely ambitious double album, ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’.

the big gig

Mike White unplugs himself (not like that) for a weekend of locally sourced sounds. // Sunday 25 July, 1965, Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island: the crowd are booing Bob Dylan for playing with an amplified band. The acoustic scene would never be the same again. What might that crowd make of this year’s Bristol Acoustic Music Festival, which is making extensive use of evil electricity? Sure, there are some fine acoustic acts on the bill – like careworn alt. country troubadour Steve Page (Fri, 7.45pm), or sugary-sad singer-songwriter Jane Taylor (Sat, 10.10pm) – but there’s also quadrophonic chamber jazz, smoky soul, even a foray into (whisper it) rap. Festival organiser Steve Parkhouse: “It’s more diverse than ever, from folk roots to reggae. There’s a choir on the Sunday, too.” There is indeed – the Free Range Acapella, bringing light-hearted closeharmony covers from ‘Dancing Queen’ to ‘In the Mood’. The one thing that unites the line-up is that it’s “100% local; all the acts have always come from the Bristol area,” says Steve. After that, it’s anything goes – though fans of deathgrind or dubstep will probably be disappointed. Laidback jazz fans might like the Mowat Farnon Quintet (Sat, 3pm), a smooth mix of David Mowat’s buttery guitar and singer Alison Farnon sugary tones. Those in need of a little summer sun should bask before the dubby Trenchtown stylings of


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the Hail Jamaica Reggae Band (Sun 9.45pm), fronted by Troy Ellis, son of rocksteady royalty Alton Ellis. For a taste of Americana, check out the aforementioned harmonicavirtuoso bluesman Steve Page (Fri, 7.45pm), whose new album ‘The Age of Plenty’ hints at the melancholy riches of Neil Young or Richard Thompson. A familiar face on the festival roster is Katey Brooks: “a flawless wonder… jumping octaves with the grace of a Tracy Chapman yodel, scraping barrel bottoms like Cash… there’s not a lazy note in the set, nor a colourless moment in her blue, blue delivery,” said our reviewer last year. For those lacking the stamina to watch all 20+ hours of this year’s BAMF, stalwart festival supporters BCFM will be recording every minute and then broadcasting it in instalments later, so you can listen again if you find you’ve missed something great. With two dozen acts playing over the festival’s three-day run, there’s surely something to please most tastes (dubsteppers and deathgrinders notswithstanding) – no booing at the back, please. JELLI RECORDS BRISTOL ACOUSTIC MUSIC FESTIVAL IS SUPPORTED BY BATH ALES AND BCFM AND HAPPENS AT ST GEORGE’S, BRISTOL, FRI 13SUN 15 JAN. FFI: WWW.STGEORGESBRISTOL.CO.UK


Ruth Moody


Bristol Acoustic Music Festival

// ROOTS One third of The Wailin’ Jennys (one-time winners of Canada’s prestigious Juno Award), Manitobabased Moody adorns subdued piano, guitar, ukulele and banjo with her syrupy, classically trained soprano. RUTH MOODY WED 18 JAN, ST BONAVENTURE’S, BRISTOL

Leslie Howard

// CLASSICAL If Liszt pianist extraordinaire Leslie Howard is getting withdrawal symptoms now that the 200th anniversary year has slipped over the yardarm, 2012 has presented him with a meaty challenge: Rachmaninov’s two technically formidable piano sonatas in a single programme. LESLIE HOWARD THUR 19 JAN, HOLBURNE MUSEUM, BATH

Wild Flag

// ROCK “Sound is the blood between me and you.” Former Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, Jicks, Minders and Helium alumni band together to create indie rock’s grittiest unit. Windmilling, high kicks, deafening distortion, 10-minute psychedelic jams, sweet girl group harmonies. Expect the next three to six months to massively disappoint. WILD FLAG FRI 27 JAN, THE THEKLA, BRISTOL

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For more reviews and extra pics, see

Live review

Holy Stain at Festive Fest

PICS: Leah Pritchard:

Thekla, Bristol (Sun 18 Dec)

// It’s Holy Stain’s second to last ever show, so we can forgive them for believing volume is synonymous and interchangeable with enthusiasm. Their joyful send-off; our week of tinnitus. Peppered throughout the set are post-hardcore vocal exchanges which recall At The Drive-in (a sort of musical relay in which the changeover is initiated by a pained scream from the other vocalist); melodic, krautrocky basslines; moments that recall Wire’s guitar tones and others that seem pilfered straight from My Bloody

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Valentine’s tab book. It’s a mishmash of not-quite-there influences, but what remain consistent are the paint-by-numbers crescendos: start to head bang when the speakers are overloading and the guitarist’s spasms render his face a skin-coloured blur. It’s not a particularly inspiring songwriting method but, for a 30-minute set at an allday festival, this routine does well to keep the crowd’s attention. During the final song, they invite Big Jeff (pictured) to yelp poetry over… something. It’s difficult to process

exactly what it sounds like. Mostly because Venue’s attention is directed toward the lady pouring her drink on Jeff’s chest as he rubs it in, or worrying about the owner of the glasses he is now wearing, or the diseases he will contract from rolling on the floor. Yet, for a spectacle so intensely physical, the final song stands out as the most musically cohesive and genuine; Jeff’s screams and shouts a freeing, visceral addition, which makes any details of the instrumentation beneath an afterthought. (Leah Pritchard)


12/21/2011 5:06:24 PM


O2 Academy, Bristol (Mon 28 Nov)

LIVE REVIEW The Magic Band

Thekla, Bristol (Sun 4 Dec) // When rock visionary Captain Beefheart passed away in December 2010, he hadn’t performed live in almost 30 years. Tonight his desertwracked boots are filled by longsuffering sticksman and arranger John ‘Drumbo’ French, whose imitation of his famously cruel master’s strangulated holler may well be a form of exorcism. The affable French is joined by Magic Band veterans Rockette Morton (bass) and Feelers Reebo (slide guitar), as well as prosaically named newbies Eric Klerks (guitar) and Craig Bunch (drums). The first half is dominated by frazzled good-times boogie, as the band warm up with a selection of the Captain’s most accessible work,

although the duelling slide licks on ‘When It Blows Its Stacks’ hint at the mind-altering intensity to come. French switches to drums midway through ‘Kandy Korn’ – leading into a series of tricky instrumentals that show off the musicians’ enviable chops. It’s a turning point. When French returns to the mic the band are in full flight, and frenzied crossroads hoedown ‘The Floppy Boot Stomp’ kicks off a string of classics – ‘Moonlight on Vermont’, ‘Electricity’, ‘Big Eyed Beans From Venus’ – that are among the greatest in rock’s canon. Sounding like a titanic tag team battle in which Elmore James and Howling Wolf wrestle Igor Stravinsky and Ornette Coleman for control of the universe, The Magic Band take us to rhythmic and melodic places that few others have dared to dream of. (Adam Burrows)

LIVE REVIEW Oxford Philomusica/Schiff St George’s Bristol (Thur 8 Dec) // Intriguing to see Andras Schiff (pictured) in front of an orchestra minus the big black box of keys with which he customarily unlocks musical doors. True, earlier, he’d despatched Haydn’s D major keyboard Concerto with scintillating wit and wisdom – directing Oxford Philomusica with an inscrutability that argued: “Conductors? Who needs them?” He seemed more intent on listening than leading. A beatific smile and the occasional twitching of thumb and forefinger are all it took. And while two curtain-raising solos (a Fantasia and Sonata) had provided much to admire, it was the Concerto that added ‘love’ to the equation. His first movement cadenza smuggled in a literal ‘Surprise’ or two, while the finale didn’t stint on the paprika as Hungarian-born Schiff got in


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touch with his inner ‘gypsy’. The second half opened with something of a Brendel speciality: Haydn’s (for it was exclusively a Haydn hooley) sublime F minor/major Variations. And there was more than a little of Brendel’s sovereign intellectual concentration in Schiff’s aristocratic delineation. But there was no ‘prop’ for the conclusion as Schiff spearheaded the ‘London’ Symphony which, in a space similar to that of its premiere, raised the roof with its immediacy and impish élan – from the arresting, incisive opening (hard timps sticks setting the tone) to the flairful finale. Maybe the ensemble wobbled a tad in the Andante, but the Minuet was rammed with fine-tuned felicities. During his Beethoven sonata cycle, for a couple of years Schiff was a St George’s fixture: his long-overdue reunion reminded us what we’ve been missing. (Paul Riley)

// He left the stage smiling, and so he should have – everyone else was too. Visually, sonically, conceptually… everything about Shadow’s performance was heart-stoppingly impressive: the kind of gig where you can, just for that small window of time, forget everything else. The Shadowsphere was in full effect, providing a blank 3D canvas for an AV show that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. So much to think about, so much going on – satirical images of the media (he had to get them in somewhere), a brief homage to Bristol (it’s the simple things…) and anything and everything in between. The music was equally as

exploratory: elements of classic, well-known Shadow tunes were mixed with new material, samples were drummed, and nothing – nothing at all – was how it had been before. Marvellous, mixed-up, musical mayhem. The concert absorbed all the senses, and almost forced you to find new ones that you didn’t know you had. It was funny, it was sad, it was beautiful and it was, above all, musically impressive. Hopefully it will remind him that true popularity is democratic. That when it comes down to live performance, to the essence of what music is about, his talent and passion will prevail. (Ella Pawlik)


El Rincon, Bristol (Fri 9 Dec) // Tonight El Rincon is a place of two halves, with a large and happy birthday party out back and a smaller but equally chirpy crowd squeezed into the front room. Venn is a new saxophone quartet and tonight’s debut programme is an eclectic exploration of the sound palette available. Thus Kevin Figes’s ‘Is What It Is’ is a classic, melody-driven chamber jazz work-out, while Jake McMurchie composition ‘Fringe Shift’ gives freer rein to various pairings of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes, moments of bickering spittery subsiding to a gentle sea-swell before scampering off elusively. The tireless drive of Hugh Johnson’s baritone, regularly called on as anchor, is impressive, especially on Get The Blessing’s swaggering ‘Can’t Believe In Faith’ (dedicated

to discreetly efficient bar-tender and GTB trumpeter Pete Judge), with Andy Tweed’s glittering soprano wrenching genuine bathos as he cascades through the piece. Individually they’re each masterful players but it’s their collectivity that makes this a really special musical experience, locked tightly into the arrangements like a classical string quartet. Even a knotty Graham Fitkin piece can’t throw them off, with moments of four-voiced sonority like an amazing organ played by a single pair of hands, dazzling counterpoints weaving with impeccably timing. It must have been a huge effort to get this together but the general view in the front room is that it’s been well worth it. Quite what the diners think is anyone’s guess but they still look happy, too. (Tony Benjamin)

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12/21/2011 3:15:36 PM

Clubs Get out of it

For more news, reviews and extra pics, see

Still hungover from Christmas and New Year? Adam Burrows is already looking forward to the next round of serious partying.


f you’re reading this on New Year’s Day, a night of debauchery may be low on your list of immediate priorities. Even if staying in, drinking tea and keeping a low profile seems like a good idea right now, the weekday grind is coming back with a vengeance, and pretty soon you’re going to need something to look forward to. While it’s impossible to second guess the famously fast-moving world of clubbing, we’ve gazed into the Venue mirrorball and gleaned a few choice insights into the year ahead. Pull up an armchair, put on your raving slippers, and we’ll do our best to fill you in. Waist winders will be glad to hear bashment specialists Ruffnek Diskotek are reviving their Karnival offshoot. Described as “Ruffnek’s hypedup younger sibling”, it will be held at Cosies every two months, with a focus on soca, juke and all manner of rowdy soundsystem fare. Their first night is on 28 Jan with Murlo (Hipsters Don’t Dance/Pollinate). Meanwhile, bass worshippers can breathe easy – while Dubloaded’s monthly midweek dubplate sessions at The Croft came to an end in December, the night will live on in a different format. Details are a bit sketchy right now, but we’ve been told they will be quarterly and – rejoice, wage slaves – held on weekends. There’ll be more from big brother bass blow-out Subloaded in the new year too, while eclectic Friday bass session 51°27’ – one of 2011’s most promising newcomers – will continue to run weekly at Thekla with bookings rumoured for Ikonika, Loefah,


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Looking good: Joy Orbison gets excited about the year ahead

Braiden, Deadboy and Oneman. House and techno fans will also be well catered for. Ist Das – Venue’s club night of 2011 – start the year as they mean to go on with Matthew Herbert (28 Jan) and Ben Klock (17 Feb) at TB2, while Headrush are bringing Detroit legend Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir to the same venue on 11 Feb. Funk brothers and soul sisters should note that Fiddlers is the new venue for Heavy Soul – DJ Leon’s vintage vinyl session relocated from Eton bar in December and is booked to run monthly on Saturdays through 2012. Also making a fine start to the year are turntablist heroes Funk From The Trunk, who have booked Motion on 18 Feb for what promises to be their biggest party to date. They’ll also be making a return visit to Boomtown Fair, after a triumphant showing for their Funkington Manor showcase at the 2011 festival. As always, established nights

will mark their birthdays in style. This month Futureboogie celebrate their tenth anniversary with a label compilation and huge parties in Bristol and London (see feature on p.56). Not to be outdone, the equally influential Just Jack have bagged some serious talent for their sixth birthday session at Motion on 4 Feb. We can’t reveal the headliner yet (though the one they’re talking about is pretty impressive), but it’s hard to argue with a bill that already features Subb-An, Joy Orbison, Jef K and Ben UFO. Meanwhile, drum & bass aces Intrigue celebrate nine years in the game with events in Bristol (Dojo, 3 Feb) and London and a ramping up of their release schedule. Intrigue’s latest EP – ‘Many Things’ by Random Movement & Ben Soundscape – has been picked up by Fabio, Storm and Lynx among others, so expect big things from the label this year. Looking further ahead, we’re

excited to announce that Simple Things – one of our highlights of 2011 – will be back for a second helping on 6 May. We’re not allowed to tell you who they’ve booked yet, but the names we’ve heard suggest another all-day epic of hip-hop, bass and leftfield electronica across multiple venues. Later still, In:Motion will return in October for its third autumn of megaraves. They’re promising to up the ante with more acts than ever before, including a number of first-time visitors to Bristol. With old favourite Lakota expected to re-open in February, and plenty of promoters still getting their heads around the challenge of 2012, it’s safe to assume we’ve barely scratched the surface. One thing’s for certain – it’s going to be a lot of fun discovering what’s underneath. SEARCH EVENTS ON WWW.VENUE. CO.UK FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE CLUBS LISTINGS.

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2. crazylegs & headrush

deepbeat Point B

Pearson Sound, Blawan & more...


// We caught Point B at Lakota a year or so ago and he was a bit special. The South London producer’s sound is a moodswinging blend of post-garage beats and smart electronica somewhere between a more danceable Burial and a grimier Autechre. His releases on Combat Recordings and Frijsfo Beats are restlessly creative, and his return visit to Bristol should impress lovers of electro, techno and dubstep alike.

// When two of Bristol’s finest club nights join forces, you know it’s going to be special. Blawan (pictured) has released on R&S and Clone since making his Hessle Audio debut in 2010, and his output ranges from wildly percussive drum machine work-outs to blunted deep house. Tonight he’s joined by Hessle mainman Pearson Sound, whose set for Fabriclive was one of our favourite mix compilations of last year, plus Hodge and Vessel, two fast-rising Bristol producers working the slow, moody 4/4 sound that’s fast becoming a local speciality. This will be rammed – get there early.


metalheadz D Bridge & Jubei // A stellar drum & bass session from the legendary label. D Bridge (pictured) is one of the giants of the genre, with classic releases varying from the inspired brutality of early Bad Company to the more refined delights of his solo work. Here he’s paired with Jubei – who has constructed more terrifying drops since 2006 than most of us have had hot dinners – for a two-hour back-to-back set. Also on the bill are Dutch maestro Lenzman and Leicester neuro ace Critical Impact.




agro Dom & Roland, King Cannibal & more…

// The dark lords of Bristol’s rave scene tear into 2012 with a killer line-up headed by Dom & Roland – one of the most inventive producers to come out of drum & bass’s late90s second wave. King Cannibal (pictured), also on the bill, welds tough, riotous dancehall beats to the extreme sonic palette of dubstep and breakcore, while a supporting line-up including Cooh, Vaetxh, The Sect and Parasite means the intensity won’t let up for a minute. You may need reconstructive surgery after this one, but it will be well worth the pain. AGRO THE BLACK SWAN, BRISTOL, SAT 21 JAN. FFI: WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/AGROBRISTOL


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ist das Matthew Herbert / / A true iconoclast, Matthew Herbert has recorded at landfill sites and the Houses of Parliament, collaborated with Roisin Murphy and Heston Blumenthal, and released a concept album about the life cycle of a pig from farm to fork. If that all sounds a bit arty for your Saturday night kneesup, fear not – his DJ sets are fiendishly danceable, taking in house, techno, hip-hop, jazz and deep electronica. It’s impossible to predict what the foodobsessed maestro will bring to TB2’s table, but it’s certain to be tasty and nourishing. IST DAS TB2, BRISTOL, SAT 28 JAN. FFI: WWW.TB2.CO.UK


planet shroom Master Blasters, Pogo & more... // A midwinter special from the psytrance mainstays, with sumptuous ultraviolet décor, projections, lasers, costumed dancers and an 18K rig. The line-up’s a big one too, featuring live sets from Master Blasters (pictured), Monk3ylogic and Sinewinders, and DJ sets from Pogo, Sean Shift and Marki Kleesh. Leave the cold, damp darkness at the door and step into another world. PLANET SHROOM TRINITY CENTRE, BRISTOL, SAT 28 JAN. FFI: 3CA.ORG.UK

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Clubs Jack to the Future Forward-thinking party starters Futureboogie notch up a decade on the frontline this month. Adam Burrows blows out the candles.


s DJs, promoters, broadcasters, booking agents and now a record label, Dave Harvey and Steve Nickolls (alias El Harvo and Joe 90) have built an international reputation on good taste, hard work and a broad-minded approach to the music. For two figures so strongly associated with Bristol, it’s surprising to hear that they met in Leicester. “We moved down to Bristol at pretty much the same time,” Steve remembers. “We knew Bristol from going out here, coming to the Ashton Court Festival. We knew it was a good city to be in if you wanted to do music.” Futureboogie grew out of the Seen parties they put on at Level: “Those parties became synonymous with broken beat, but we had a pretty wide remit. You could come and hear house, hip-hop, soul, funk, broken beat, jazz, latin, techno, drum and bass.” Futureboogie was originally the name of their website – a go-to place to grab DJ mixes at a time when few promoters were sharing them online. “It eventually became the default title for everything we were doing,” says Steve. Since then, they’ve become booking

“The pace of change is what makes all this so exciting.” Steve Nickolls, Futureboogie 56 // January 2012

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agents for Quantic, Bonobo and Ashley Beedle, managers for Crazy P, and been involved in tons of festivals, including the lovingly curated Wow! Stage at Glastonbury. Last year was their busiest so far, with the launch of Futureboogie as a label. What made them take the plunge into the notoriously unlucrative business of making records? “It just felt right at the time,” says Steve. “After years of talking about doing it, and other people telling us we should, we just got on with it. Coming across Matt (Julio) Bashmore’s ‘Father Father’ track, and realising he wanted to get involved in a Bristol label… We were like ‘let’s just do this now’.” Their timing has been impeccable, with releases from Bashmore, Behling & Simpson, Waifs & Strays and Lukas & Christophe catching a wave of creativity that’s redefining Bristol as a mecca of forward-thinking house. “Yeah, 4x4 has definitely come into its own again in the city over the last couple of years,” says Steve. “You’ve got to look at nights like Just Jack really to see a big part of why that has happened.” Steve sees Bristol’s recent house explosion as inseparable from other strands of its music culture:“The prevalence of bass in this city has clearly informed and influenced some of the house music being made here that’s now getting recognised globally. Of course house has always had a following here – house has a following everywhere – but there are people in the city making their own take on it, and being rightly proud of where that sound has come from.” Steve adds that he and Dave never set out to restrict themselves to local artists,

“but I tell you what – listening to what is being made here, and what is coming out on labels like Idle Hands, Schmorgasbord, Punch Drunk, Applepips, and BRSTL – outside of London and Berlin you’d be hard pushed to find somewhere as musically productive at the moment.” Futureboogie’s 2011 came to a fittingly huge climax with their November party at Motion, which Steve describes as “Unbef*ckinglievable, really. We had some of our favourite artists playing all under the same roof – people we’d known, loved and worked with for years coming together alongside this wealth of new local talent from the label. It really summed things up so far in some ways.” Plans for the coming year include a label compilation, featuring exclusives from their established roster as well as “newies like Eats Everything, Crackazat, Type Sun and Maxxi Soundsystem”. They’re also gearing up to celebrate their tenth anniversary in style. “We’ve got two 10-year knees-ups incoming,” says Steve, with “something in Bristol on 27 Jan, and then hitting London on

24 Feb.” The line-up for both will be Bashmore, Behling & Simpson, Christophe & Lukas and Waifs & Strays as well as El Harvo and Joe 90 themselves. With a decade at the forefront of the clubs scene behind them, and plenty of hard partying years before that, it’s great to see Futureboogie still so focused on what happens next. Don’t they ever get jaded? “I’m starting to struggle with the late nights a bit,” says Steve. “But Harvo – who is much younger and has the constitution of a rave horse – definitely shows no signs of wear and tear. The pace of change is what makes all this so exciting.” He sounds thrilled with the progress the label’s made in its first year, saying: “We couldn’t be happier – it’s gone better than we expected. By the end of 2011 we had six vinyl releases and one digital – all from Bristol producers, all quality. There’s some bloody good music there, and hopefully there’s more to come.” FUTUREBOOGIE’S 10TH BIRTHDAY PARTY IS ON FRIDAY 27 JAN, VENUE TBA. FFI: WWW.FUTUREBOOGIE.COM

Future perfect: boogie boys Joe 90 (left) and El Harvo (right)


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comic musical Sister Act

// When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she’s put in protective custody in the safest place the cops can think of: a convent. But when our heroine turns her attention to the convent’s off-key choir – and breathes new life into the rundown neighbourhood – her cover could be blown for good. With the gang giving chase, is time running out for Deloris? First-ever UK tour of the hit musical comedy.

2. theatre and song Call Mr Robeson



comic theatre The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists // Townsend Productions stage Robert Tressell’s 1911 workers’ classic, using live music, mayhem and mirth aplenty. 'TRTP’ traces the working-class struggle for survival in complacent Edwardian England. THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM FRI 27-SAT 28 JAN. FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM

4. dance Balletboyz: The Talent // Return for Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt’s “contemporary dance, boy-band style” spectacle, featuring eight 18-24-year-old male dancers recruited via a mighty stiff audition process. As well as their trademark behind-the-scenes films, the evening will feature performances of Russell Maliphant’s duet ‘Torsion’, Paul Roberts’s haunting ‘Alpha’ and the acclaimed ‘Void’ by Czech choreographer Jarek Cemerek. BALLETBOYZ: THE TALENT IS AT THEATRE ROYAL BATH ON SUN 29 JAN. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL.ORG.UK


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// Tayo Aluko presents this rollercoaster journey through the life of Paul Robeson – actor, singer, writer, lawyer, athlete and civil rights campaigner who stood up to the prevailing mood of pre-civil rights America – and whose performances of Negro spirituals sold out venues worldwide (including the Colston Hall, several times in the 1930s and 1940s). CALL MR ROBESON IS AT THE USTINOV, BATH FROM THUR 12-FRI 13 JAN. FFI: WWW.THEATREROYAL. ORG.UK/USTINOV AND WWW. CALLMRROBESON.COM

5. one-woman show Henry VIII and the Royal Wedding Planner // Actress Julia Gwynne performs this canter through the fortunes of the six wives of our most infamous monarch, in this one-woman show directed by and co-written with Andy Burden, former Rondo boss and a hugely gifted and imaginative director (see The Interview on p.13). HENRY VIII AND THE ROYAL WEDDING PLANNER IS AT THE BREWERY, BRISTOL (TUE 10SAT 21 JAN) AND THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH (FRI 17 FEB). FFI: WWW.TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE. COM AND WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK

noir spoof The Blue Room


// No, not the erotic merry-go-round by David Hare, but a physical comedy-cum-spoof noir/thriller by Barefaced Cheek Theatre. We’re in post-war France, where young lovers Leo and Sophie just want to spend the night together. Sophie’s outwitted her parents: Leo’s lied to his boss. So far, so good. But from here on in, everything can and will go wrong. Features French music from the period. Formidable! THE BLUE ROOM IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH FROM WED 18-THUR 19 JAN. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK

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Playing around From hardcore Pinter to big-league musicals, madcap comedy to brave new work, it’s all happening in theatreland in 2012. Steve Wright flicks through his diary.


ristol’s trio of new theatres all begin 2012 in fine health. After its opening production, Rescue Me (16-26 Jan – see News on p.61), the Bierkeller Theatre welcomes hosts French outfit La Compagnie du Cèdre (31 Jan-9 Feb), with a double bill of shorts: Gift to the Future, about John Heminges, Shakespeare’s friend and editor of the first Folio, and The Lover, The Wife, about how a man’s wife and mistress form an unlikely alliance to plot his downfall. And in early April, Bristol’s Darkstuff Productions (they of ‘Outside’, ‘Scrooge at the Farm’ and the ‘Eddie King’ walkabout series) stage a promenade performance of Moby Dick, transforming the Bierkeller into a 19th-century ale house, Captain Ahab’s ill-fated ship and, of course, a whale’s belly. Plans at the brilliant Wardrobe Theatre, above Kingsdown’s White Bear pub, include another week of Itch (April), scratch performance pieces from some

of Bristol’s best theatre makers. And last but not least, Redland’s bijou and beautiful Little Black Box Theatre welcomes Bristol’s Sh*t Happens Productions with Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter (1217 Mar); Unsinkable (10-14 Apr) by residents Fragile Theatre, a play drawing on transcripts of conversations as the Titanic went down; and, in May, a week of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues. Bristol’s Stepping Out are the country’s leading mental health theatre group – and, just as significantly for Bristol theatregoers’ eyes, purveyors of fine, madcap comedies penned by their director Steve Hennessy. And they return with (The Brewery, 4-5 and 10-14 Apr), about a group of online friends who have met through a therapy website – a virtual English village with an array of larger-than-life characters. Madhampton appears to offer sanctuary for troubled minds – but when they meet for real, the friends discover that relating is rather more complicated. After an excellent

January (see elsewhere in this section), The Brewery also hosts nonpareil puppeteers Blind Summit, who bring The Table to town from 21-25 Feb. A busy May at Bristol Hippodrome includes a new production of The Phantom of the Opera (22 May-30 June), starring John Owen-Jones (Jean Valjean in ‘Les Misérables’) as the titular phantasm. Lovers of colourful contemporary dance and indeed anyone in search of a visceral live spectacle should book for The Nutcracker (17-21 Apr) by contemporary dance’s big name, Matthew Bourne (who started out in Bristol, you know), and those in need of another dose of mentalism and mindwarpery should snaffle tickets for Derren Brown (17-19 May). Among a raft of fledgling and growing companies, one to catch our eye last year was Bristol’s Roughhouse, who gave us a superb Shakespeare double bill at Arnos Vale Cemetery. And they’ll be back this autumn, with a Much Ado About Nothing/Macbeth rep pairing at the Cemetery (3-22 Sept). RoughHouse are also on the

The deservedly lauded 'Translunar Paradise' comes to Bristol Old Vic in Feb; clockwise: 'I'm An Aristocrat...', The Table', 'Red Light Winter' and cheeky hip-popping scamp Kid Carpet

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bill at Shakespeare Unplugged (11 Feb-4 Mar), Theatre Royal Bath’s festival of fresh takes on the Bard in the egg and Ustinov theatres. Highlights include The Judgement of Macbeth, a unique collaboration between the egg and Cirque Bijou’s trapeze artists; Gerard Logan’s acclaimed performance of Shakespeare’s brutal narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece; and a double bill of Shakespeare’s History Cycle (five reigns in 60 minutes) and The Tempest served up with supper by local companies Hammerpuzzle, New Old Friends and our friends Roughhouse. And, of course, some of the finest Bardistry you’ll see this year, in Bristol or indeed anywhere, will as ever come from Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, whose thirteenth Tob Fac season opens with King Lear (9 Feb-24 Mar), with John Shrapnel in the title role supported by Simon Armstrong, Chris Bianchi, Julia Hills, Roland Oliver, Saskia Portway – and Dudley ‘Tinker’ Sutton as Lear’s Fool. After that, SATTF venture once more away from the Bard with Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard (29 Mar-5 May). Back at the Theatre Royal, other highlights include a version of Long’s Day Journey Into Night (19-24 Mar), Eugene O’Neill’s compelling portrait of a family facing explosive revelations over the course of 24 hours. David Suchet stars. The Royal Shakespeare Company bring their Taming of the Shrew to Bath (27-31 Mar), direct from Stratford’s winter season, and there’s a joint TRB/Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mike Leigh’s brilliantly uncomfortable portrait of 1970s suburbia, Abigail’s Party (23-28 Apr). This summer, the Theatre Royal bids goodbye to the Peter


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

Hall seasons that have lit up the theatre since 2003. There is a fine-looking summer season in their stead, though, comprising Sheridan’s witty and flirtatious Georgian comedy The School for Scandal (5-21 July); Hysteria (26 July-18 Aug), Terry Johnson’s witty farce starring Antony Sher as the good doctor Freud; and The Tempest (Aug 23-Sept 8) directed by Adrian Noble. The latter also directs a new stage version of last year’s blockbusting Britflick The King’s Speech (20-25 Feb). Around the block, The Ustinov continues the new regime introduced by incoming artistic director Laurence Boswell: seasons of three UK premieres linked under a common theme. After the autumn’s season of European classics, spring at The Ustinov is given over to three intriguing modern American plays. Adam Rapp’s compelling, poetic and erotic drama Red Light Winter (1-31 Mar) was originally produced by Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theater; In A Garden (4 Apr-5 May) is Howard Korder’s intriguing play about an American architect’s struggle to build a structure for the culture minister of a fictitious Middle Eastern country; and Sarah Ruhl’s award-winning play In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play (10 May-9 June) is a provocative, funny and touching story about sex in the 19th century. A welter of fine-looking all-ages shows at the egg, meanwhile, includes White (9-12 May), Catherine Wheels’ thrilling light and colour feast for ages 2 and above, and Best New Show winner at last year’s Theatre Awards UK. Bristol/Bath favourites Stuff and Nonsense visit with their adaptation of The Hare and the Tortoise (2-5 Feb); M6 Theatre present One Little Word (7-10 Mar), a moving story which features original music and just one spoken word; Hiccup Theatre present a puppet version of Edward Lear’s classic poem The Owl and the Pussycat for


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ages 3 and above (24 Mar); while the performance from Bristol musos Kid Carpet and the Noisy Animals (3-4 Apr) is billed as ‘Oliver Postgate meets The Beastie Boys’. A nicely varied winter/ spring at Bath’s Mission Theatre, meanwhile, includes another chance to catch The Decent Rogues (24-28 Jan), the comedy musical by local troupe Music is Life about a pair of Edwardian gentleman crooks. From 27-31 Mar, The Mission’s excellent residents Next Stage give us The Children’s Hour, Lillian Hellman’s tense drama in which a vindictive teenager wreaks havoc in 1930s small-town America. Elsewhere in non-pro land, Bristol community theatre troupe acta host the COAST International Festival of Community Theatre (26-29 Mar), created with migrant communities in Holland, Germany, Poland and the UK, at their Bedminster homestead. Bristol Old Vic will re-open its Main House this summer. Exact dates, and programming post-reopening, are still to be confirmed – but until then, there are a few treats to be had in the Studio. Venue was moved to tears by Theatre Ad Infinitum’s extraordinary wordless play of music and masks, Translunar Paradise, which visits the Studio from 7-11 Feb. A journey of life, death, and enduring love, the show follows a widower who escapes to a paradise of fantasy and past memories, a place far from the reality of his grief – but who finally and touchingly manages to let go of those memories. Other hot BOV tickets include a visit from Bristol Jam favourites The Sacconi Quartet with the beguiling-sounding Death’s Cabaret (21-22 Feb) and a hugely tempting Pinter/Beckett double bill, A Kind of Alaska/ Krapp’s Last Tape (5 Apr- 12 May), directed by Simon Godwin who gave us the sensational ‘Faith Healer’ last year. May will also see the return of Mayfest

(dates tbc) and Bath Fringe (25 May-10 June). Pinter is also on the menu at Bath’s Rondo Theatre, where European Arts Company tackle two of the great man’s one-act plays, The Dumb Waiter and The Lover (13-14 Apr). EAC are worth catching – their last visit to the Rondo, with some of Chekhov’s short comedies, bowled over one of our harder-to-please reviewers. Other Rondo highlights include a return for Bristol’s brilliant, Goons-esque comic troupe Gonzo Moose with their French Revolution romp I’m an Aristocrat, Get Me Out of Here! (22-24 Mar), “Sheer joy from start to finish,” we pronounced of GM’s last outing ‘Grimm and Grimmer’. Elsewhere, Angel Exit Theatre adapt the magical and oft-dark children’s classic The Secret Garden (10-11 Feb), swiftly followed by a return from Rondo favourites Reform Theatre with Nick Lane’s nicely downbeatsounding comedy My Favourite Summer (14 Feb). And we also like the look of the Rondo Theatre Company’s own production of Blood and Ice (2831 Mar), Liz Lochhead’s play set in summer 1816 at a house party on the shores of Lake Geneva, where Mary Shelley and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, along with Mary’s half-sister Claire and the

infamous Lord Byron, take part in a challenge to see who can write the most horrifying story. It is Mary, of course, who goes on to create one of the most celebrated Gothic novels of all time: Lochhead’s play explores how the extraordinary monstrous Frankenstein could have emerged from the mind of a 21-year-old English woman.

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PREVIEW Jerusalem

THEATRE // “Audiences, actors, directors: everyone will feel jaw-dropping shock at the audacity of the man, and of the playwright who has had the desire and vision to create him. Rooster appears to be an amoral, foul-spoken drunkard with a casual attitude to sex and drugs. However, as the play unfolds, most people see behind the brazen facade to a man who has his own moral code, a sense of justice and a care and loyalty to his friends.” The man concerned is one Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, of whom more in a moment. The playwright is Jez Butterworth,


Belleville Rendez-vous THEATRE // Modelled on Sylvain Chomet’s eccentric, Academy Award-nominated animation comedy, Fellswoop Theatre’s multimedia interpretation of 2003’s ‘Belleville Rendez-vous’ comes to Bath and Bristol after an acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe run. Fellswoop scooped a cartload of warm reviews last summer and even garnered warm praise

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of whom ditto. And the speaker is Ann Garner, director of Bath’s non-pro company Next Stage. Ever since their formation in 1994, they have carved out a niche quite different from that of your average am-dram troupe. Consistently programming adventurous, meaty and confrontational modern drama, they’ve often been among the first am-dram companies to acquire the rights to bold new plays. Past examples, well rendered by NS’s fine band of actors, have included Bryony Lavery’s ‘Frozen’, Lucinda Coxon’s ‘Happy Now?’ and, most memorably, a searing rendition of Thomas Vinterberg’s dysfunctional family drama ‘Festen’. And now Next Stage have made one of their boldest moves yet – they are the first UK non-

pro company to acquire the rights to ‘Jerusalem’, Jez Butterworth’s visceral, shocking and hugely acclaimed portrait of dystopian rural England, just months after its lauded West End run. ‘Jerusalem’ is set in a fictional Wiltshire village on St George’s Day, the morning of the local county fair. Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron – rural waster, ex-stuntman, small-time drug dealer – is a wanted man. Facing eviction from his dilapidated mobile home, plying his friends with drink and drugs, ducking and weaving to avoid outraged neighbours, Rooster has little time to enjoy the annual pageant. Those in Rooster’s orbit include Ginger, the group’s underdog, who aspires to be a DJ but is in fact an unemployed plasterer; thuggish Troy who, it is implied, abuses his stepdaughter; and Dawn, Johnny’s ex-girlfriend and mother to his child, who toys with a reconciliation with him during the play. ‘Jerusalem’’s West End production featured live chickens, a turtle, a goldfish and several trees. Next Stage’s production will, says Ann, be more about the performances than a lavish set. “It’s my passionate belief that if you come out talking about the set or the costumes, the play has failed,” Ann reflects. “The Mission’s intimate arena will only increase the play’s power, with so much uncomfortable, in-yourface drama happening a foot from your seat.” The play is, she says, a judicious mix of modern England and more ancient currents.

“Rooster Byron holds forth on his lineage and talks of myth and marvels while Wesley, the pub landlord, sings traditional May Day songs which, along with his morris dance, remind us of ancient pagan rituals and ballads to fertility. However, alongside its repeated references to our traditions and past, ‘Jerusalem’ explores topical issues – traveller eviction, underage sex and drinking, drugs, abuse and the prejudice experienced by those at the bottom of the heap. Rooster challenges and confronts all of the above – and his charisma and ability to conjure with words mesmerises all those around him.” Rooster’s greatest flaw, says Ann, is his unquestionable belief that society owes him. “Despite his unwillingness to accept any aspect of conventional life in modern-day Britain or to contribute positively to society, he feels that he has the right to live where he wants and do what he wants. Society versus anarchy is a principle tenet of the play, and Butterworth invites audiences to consider and question some of our fundamental principles. “It is a rollercoaster ride – and the brilliance of Butterworth’s play is that, at exactly the moment you are most appalled by Rooster, the playwright swings you about and shows you the flip side of his character.”  

from the story’s original writer: Chomet “felt a real tenderness and care for the piece” and was taken aback by the “talent, energy and enthusiasm” on show. High praise indeed. Fellswoop – a bunch of Warwick Uni graduates who’ve been drawn by Bristol’s vigorous theatre scene to make a base here – layer a mix of physical theatre, puppetry and live jazz onto Chomet’s original. The latter, to refresh your memory, centres around a mob kidnapping of a crack cyclist (and beloved grandson) during the Tour de France. Ensuing events see three superannuated music hall stars, a

fat cat and a doting grandmother crisscrossing the French countryside in a desperate bid to liberate the abducted vélo ace. Expect some ingenious and inventive visual theatre from Fellswoop, who label their style

‘junkyard vaudeville’.




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The Marvellous and Unlikely Fete Of Little Upper Downing THEATRE // Surrey’s Little Bulb Theatre have been the buzz company of the last couple of years – audiences and critics alike enchanted by their childlike, inventive and

poignant mix of music and theatre. Their latest show ups the quirkiness ante by being designed specifically for – and, to date, mostly performed in – village halls. Commissioned and produced by Farnham Maltings, ‘The Marvellous and Unlikely Fete of Little Upper Downing’ is touring across the heart of the country to the outer reaches and beyond, from Surrey to Pembrokeshire and the Scottish Borders – but the Tobacco Factory, where Little Bulb’s ‘Crocosmia’ have gone down particularly well, gets a bumper four-night run.

THEATRE / DANCE / LIVE ART Little Bulb’s latest starts as a story and ends at a country dance: in between, it tells the tale of two villages, different but strangely similar. There has been a great divide between Little Downing and Upper Downing for as long as can be remembered until Christopher Roaring and Derek Badger meet one another on “the fateful night of the fog”. Through music, sincerity and nerve, the two men eventually succeed in uniting their feuding villages, discovering love and passion along the way. Using live music, tapestries, blue marrows and a vast array of characters, Little Bulb’s latest celebrates the eccentricities of village life and explores how traditions form. As ever, live music is at the centre of things – for this show the Bulbers have been exploring the rich English folk tradition, composing a score that ranges from heart-felt ballads to raucous hoedowns. THE MARVELLOUS AND UNLIKELY FETE OF LITTLE UPPER DOWNING IS AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY, BRISTOL FROM WED 18-SAT 21 JAN. FFI: WWW. TOBACCOFACTORYTHEATRE.COM

PREVIEW Mayday Mayday

THEATRE // A revised version of the solo show by Tristan Sturrock, actor (seen in BOV’s swashbuckling 2011 Christmas show ‘Coram Boy’ at Colston Hall) and Kneehigh Theatre stalwart. Sturrock’s, um, spinetingling autobiographical show was developed through BOV’s excellent and increasingly prolific Ferment strand, and had its world premiere at the theatre last year. The show creates art from a traumatic real-life experience. In 2004 Sturrock fell 10 feet, head first off a wall in Cornwall, breaking his neck. Doctors feared that he would never walk again, but after a high-risk operation, months of recovery and physiotherapy, Sturrock was able to return to the stage.


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His solo show charts his journey from accident through to recovery, mixing in elements of Mary Shelley’s classic novel ‘Frankenstein’ as it goes. “Mixing deft, inventive storytelling with some utterly inspired set-pieces, it races through mime, comedy, music, object manipulation and dance with a zest which often belies the potential gravity of the subject

matter,” praised our reviewer. “Sturrock excels in creating moments of utterly poignant stillness which register a sense of his own fragility – and of wonder as he relearns to sit up, stand up, walk and, indeed, feel. Exemplary stuff.” MAYDAY MAYDAY IS AT BRISTOL OLD VIC FROM THUR 26 JAN-SAT 4 FEB. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK


Bristol Ferment THEATRE // Winner of Venue’s Top Thesps Award 2011, Bristol Old Vic’s fecund theatrical hatchery is back with the first of two festivalsized outings for 2012 – and another batch of Fermenting, informal performances that span the spectrum from scratch-y works-in-progress to script-in-handers and beyond. This time round the roster incorporates a rare old mix from the likes of storytellers The Devil’s Violin (Thur 12), Mayfest flag-wavers Search Party (Fri 13), Ferment/Jam regulars Sam Halmarack & Tom Wainwright (Fri 13), actor/wordsmith Saikat Ahamed (Wed 18), avant-garde adventurers Bodies in Flight (Thur 19), ‘Morpeth Carol’ pliers Sleepdogs (Fri 20), Prototype favourites Bocadalupa (Sat 21) and performance linguist Inua Ellams (Sat 21). Elsewhere, you’ll come across work about Bigfoot (Ella Good & Nicki Kent, Thur 12), Stalin and Shostakovich (Bozarts, Sat 14) and a tender friendship formed during the foot and mouth epidemic (Bea Roberts, Sat 21). As always, it’s your chance to catch brand-new work at its freshest, most exciting and cheapest – and have a say in how it develops. Kicking things off on Wed 11 is ‘I Went To Albania’ (pictured), a travelogue/social experiment teaming Balkansobsessed Venue hack Tom Phillips with director Andy Burden (see The Interview on p.13). BRISTOL FERMENT BRISTOL OLD VIC, WED 11-SAT 21 JAN. CHECK WWW.BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK FOR FULL PROGRAMME.

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Comedy Fun’ll come out tomorrow Steve Wright looks forward to having a good laugh in 2012.


ristol’s two big summer comedyfests will both return this year. After a widely admired debut last summer, featuring the likes of Ed Byrne, Russell Howard and Ardal O’Hanlon, Bristol Comedy Garden will re-colonise Queen Square for a week in July: the organisers are also planning to add a smaller venue to the site hosting free live entertainment each day. And Bristol BrouHaHa, the Comedy Box/Tobacco Factory’s ace fortnight of Edinburgh previews, is also earmarked to return that same month, with similar plans to expand the existing festival. Bath Comedy Festival, meanwhile, returns from 30 Mar-9 Apr, with an already fit-to-bursting line-up including another visit from festival stalwart Arthur Smith (who’ll be leading an Easter egg hunt!); magic and deadpan humour from Piff the Magic Dragon; the brilliant, puppyishly endearing Patrick Monahan; Wil Hodgson, Chippenham’s finest fast-talking, My Little Ponycollecting raconteur; sketch troupe The Real MacGuffins; Norwegian comedian Dag Sørås – “not for the faint-hearted”, apparently; and Lee Camp, Jewish-American comedian, writer and political thinker. Over at the Rondo Theatre, always a home from home for the festival, guests will include Boothby Graffoe, Instant Wit, Quicksilver and Robin Ince. And, as ever, you can expect plenty of comedy, much of it from the experimental end of the spectrum, when Bath Fringe returns from 25 May-10 June. Other Rondo comedy draws across the year include the sharp, likeable Nathan Caton (16 Feb) and the guitar-toting Mitch Benn (11 Apr).


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Back at the Comedy Box, 2012’s draws include weekend slots from Wales’s beguiling, freewheeling rising star Elis James (3-4 Feb – also at the Rondo, 17 Mar) and the sharp and straight-talking Oz comic Steve Hughes (17-18 Feb – again, also at the Rondo, 14 Mar). The CB also hosts three (three!) nights from cerebral, surreal and arena-filling former son of this parish Mark Watson (20-22 Feb). Down the road at the Tobacco Factory, meanwhile, you can catch the gleefully misanthropic Andrew Lawrence (19 Feb); admired mime comic The Boy With Tape On His Face (11 Mar); the likeable and musically adept Isy Suttie (8 May) and a four-(four!)night run from everyone’s favourite lugubrious, wryly observational part-Cherokee, Rich Hall (9-12 May). Mark Olver’s freewheeling new-acts night Oppo Comedy continues to flourish at Channings Hotel in Clifton, now run and compered by rising Bristol comics Jared Hardy and Fin Taylor. Every Sunday night, yours for a footling two pounds. A newish night with a similarly homespun feel, Noah’s Lark Comedy continues monthly at Leftbank on Cheltenham Road: entry is just £4/£3 and headliners thus far have included John Robins and Matthew Crosby from sketch troupe Pappy’s, so it’s another one that’s well worth investigating. Elsewhere, Tumbleweed Comedy continues every other Sunday night at The Big Chill Bar in the centre of town, once again featuring a mix of established and

emerging acts. Olver, Hardy and Taylor are also running fortnightly new-act nights at the Wardrobe Theatre, above the White Bear pub in Kingsdown – and Olver has programmed a week of comedy previews there from Monday 23 Jan, names tbc. Other new-act nights, meanwhile, continue monthly at Clifton’s Richmond Spring pub (Thursdays) and in Bath at Komedia (Tuesdays) and Belushis (Thursdays). This year we do, though, bid a sad farewell to the Comedy Cavern in Bath’s Porter Cellar Bar, which for over 13 years has programmed splendid, intimate Sunday-night comedy for Bath audiences. Almost everyone of note, from Russells Howard and Kane to Carrs Alan and Jimmy, has looked in at the Cavern on their way up the ladder: as a venue and a vital building block of Bath’s comedy scene it will be much missed. The final curtain came down at the Porter on Sun 18 Dec:

watch this space, though, as plans are afoot for the Comedy Cavern to return, in either a weekly or monthly format, at a new Bath venue in the New Year. Filling out the larger arenas, meanwhile, are Chris Addison (Colston Hall, 10 Feb), Stewart Lee (Bristol Hippodrome, 6 May), the gleefully offensive Doug Stanhope (Bristol Hippodrome, 8 Apr) and brassy NY stalwart Joan Rivers (Colston Hall, 21 Oct). Weekend comedy continues on a three- or four-comics-a-night basis at RIPROAR Comedy and Jongleurs in Bristol, and at Komedia in Bath. RIPROAR highlights include a visit from folksy, guitar-totin’ newcomer Carly Smallman (11 Feb) and Stuart Goldsmith (18 Feb), an exuberant and hugely likeable former street performer who promises “a white-knuckle, high-octane meander through the worlds of sex, circus and subculture”. Komedia’s Krater Comedy draws include Gary Delaney (18 Feb), a deadpan comic who manages a high strike rate of inspired gags, and our man Elis James again (25 Feb): Komedia also welcome deadpan Canadian oneliner merchant Stewart Francis on 25 Apr.

Straight-talking Oz comic Steve Hughes comes our way in 2012, as does Joan Rivers (above) who plays Colston Hall in October

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w w w. t he c o me dy b ox .c o.u k

// THE MONTH AHEAD // komedia Krater Comedy



// Pick of a typically tidy-looking month of line-ups at Komedia is Sat 21’s, featuring the bendy-faced, guitartoting, rock-classic-mangling and frankly inimitable Rob Deering, in the company of thinking man’s comic Nick Doody, Marcel Lucont (louche Gallic bon viveur and alter ego of stand-up Alexis Dubus) and your MC, the always-bankable Mark Olver.

riproar comedy Tom Allen // Camp, fastidious Mr Allen leads the line up twice this month at RIPROAR, the fledgling comedy night brought to you by the team behind the erstwhile Jesters, housed in a bespoke auditorium next to Bristol Cathedral School. Allen’s exacting observations on the vagaries of modern life and his brilliantly particular language and diction are a comedy sight worth beholding.



comedy box Sean Hughes


// Freewheeling Irish comic, an early-90s indie hero for his oddball sitcom ‘Sean’s Show’ and surely an influence on his similarly befuddled compatriot Dylan Moran. Expect sharp, literate, poetic and where-the-hell’s-he-going-with-this brilliance.

rondo theatre Simon Munnery // With his languid, often shambolic delivery and mix of surreal aperçus and unlikely forays into song, nobody does stand-up quite like Simon Munnery. His downbeat oddness will not be to all tastes: but for anyone with an interest in comedy’s wilder shores, a sample of Mr Munnery is strongly recommended. SIMON MUNNERY IS AT THE RONDO THEATRE, BATH ON WED 25 JAN. FFI: WWW. RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK

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rondo Brett Goldstein


// Writer, actor and recent convert to stand-up unfurls the tale of how, at 21, he found himself running a strip club in Marbella frequented by Armenian hitmen, the Irish mafia and other jolly souls. Reviews site, while noting that Goldstein’s nakedly confessional show “struggles to fit its ‘comedy’ billing”, pronounces it “as vicariously gripping as any gangster movie, full of drugs, power trips and larger-than-life personalities”. BRETT GOLDSTEIN GREW UP IN A STRIP CLUB IS AT THE RONDO, BATH ON FRI 20 JAN. FFI: WWW.RONDOTHEATRE.CO.UK


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In the frame

Got an event to list? Submit it to us at submit-a-listing

… or out of it, there’s a hell of a lot going on in the art world in 2012. Steve Wright sets sail for a busy year.


ne of this year’s arts highlights takes place far from a gallery. This September, Bristol gets a visit from Nowhereisland, the nation formed by artist Alex Hartley from an Arctic island in Svalbard. Now officially declared a new nation (see, Nowhereisland will tour Britain’s south-western coast before being towed up the Avon into town on the weekend of 7-9 Sept (the finale of the Cultural Olympiad) and mooring in the Floating Harbour for a weekend of events and celebrations. An accompanying mobile museum, the Embassy, will tell the story of Nowhereisland. Unmissable. On the fine art spectrum, highlights at Bristol’s excellent Lime Tree Gallery include a solo show by one of Sweden’s most successful painters, Mats Rydstern (from 13 Oct). Up in Clifton, a renovated Innocent Fine Art will feature a new Collectors’ Gallery, featuring artists including Picasso, Miro and Chagall. Innocent’s first 2012 exhibition, in mid Feb, will feature work by one of Bristol’s finest painters, Andrew Hood – alongside paintings by Paul Lewin, who also exhibits this year at Hilton Fine Art in Bath. And Bath’s Adam

Gallery gives us some big solo shows featuring 20th-century giants like Eduardo Chillida, Alexander Calder and Joan Miro, alongside big-hitting contemporary painters Barbara Rae and Fred Cuming.  Elsewhere among BrisBath’s army of small, vigorous galleries, Bath’s consistently intriguing bo.lee gallery will give us The Salon, featuring the surreal Ione Rucquoi, to coincide with Bath in Fashion (24 Mar-21 Apr). Over in Bristol, Centrespace’s year includes Hinterland (25-29 Feb), in which eight artists get inspired by half-remembered legends. Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery displays The Radev Collection: Bloomsbury and Beyond (8 Sept18 Nov), featuring works by Alfred Wallis, Modigliani and others; from 11 Feb-21 Mar it gives over its walls to the exuberant abstract colourist Gillian Ayres RA; the annual Bath Society of Artists exhibition makes an early start this year (31 Mar-19 May), while summer (7 July-2 Sept) features automata by Robert Race. Arnolfini’s 2012 is themed around A Parallel Universe and includes exhibitions, film, performance and events exploring alternative realities and co-existing worlds. Highlights include a first major UK show for rising Indian artist Shilpa Gupta. Spike Island hosts a show for the Paris/Bordeaux duo Dewar & Giqcuel (31 Mar-17 June), who create idiosyncratic and deliberately perverse works of art (including

this outdoor sculpture of DJ Carl Cox, pictured). Joining this exhibition is The Artists’ Postcard Show, chronicling a century of artists’ postcards from Mail Art to Gilbert and George. Spike’s Open Studios weekend, a highlight of any Bristol art lover’s calendar, returns from 5-7 May. A cracking line-up of shows at Bristol’s City Museum and Art Gallery includes Art Fund International (6 Oct-2 Dec), the first in a series showcasing the new collection acquired using money from the Art Fund. This debut will include works by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Before that, Artist Rooms (30 June-23 Sept) is a touring show featuring a fine-looking collection of contemporary and conceptual art by the likes of Bruce Nauman, Jenny Holzer and Ed Ruscha. 2012 at the RWA, meanwhile, will include an exhibition focusing on the design of Penguin Books; a celebration of the brilliant landscape and war artist Eric Ravilious; and Tremor, an exploration of the complex bonds between art and music. Street art highlights include, at Bristol’s gallery-cum-artists’ hangout King of Paint, a fine-looking series of solo shows by Paris, China Mike, Inkie, Andy Council and Xenz. And we’re excited to hear that See No Evil – the vast Broadmead streetart makeover-cum-bloc party – is rumoured for a return.

In other festival news, June welcomes the first Bristol Biennial (, a two-week visual arts, theatre and film festival drawing in artists, performers and curators from Bristol and way beyond. Bath Fringe’s visual arts wing Fringe Arts Bath returns from 25 May-10 June, and there’s also a return for Bristol’s biennial Festival of Photography (3-31 May:, featuring over 100 exhibitions from international and local artists. Photography fans should also catch 4 Decades (19 May-9 June), showing 40 years of street photography by Rupert Hopkins, from 60s demonstrations for Oz magazine to wilderness landscapes in India, Nepal, Japan and Australia. Bath’s Royal Photographic Society unveil the talents of Charley Murrell ARPS, an emerging documentary photographer specialising in real-life portraiture. And the Holburne Museum gives us Art of Arrangement (11 Feb-7 May), an investigation into how photographers have explored still life down the decades. Back, finally, to the 2012 Olympics: and, in the run-up to the games, museums in both cities are donning the Lycra and trainers. Bristol’s M Shed give us Bristol Urban Sport (23 May- 9 Sept), an inventory of the various sports practised across Bristol’s natural and urban landscapes. Back at Spike Island, Rogue Game (8-30 Sept) is a performance project by Spike studio artists Jonathan Mosley, Sophie Warren and Turkish artist Can Altay which stages three different sports simultaneously on the same pitch before sitting back to watch the ensuing subversion, resistance and happenstance. SEE WWW.VENUE.CO.UK FOR MORE

Art attack (l-r): work by Gillian Ayers, Dewar & Giqcuel, Rose Sanderson & Shilpa Gupta goes on view in 2012


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January / February / March 2012

Royal West of England Academy

David Shepherd: A Crazy Life of Steam & Elephants Over 30 rare works from the home collection of one of the UK’s best-known painters. Exhibition: 8 January – 12 February 2012 £5/£3/FREE (includes admission to all exhibitions on at the same time) David Shepherd: In Conversation Join David Shepherd CBE for a chat show. Learn about his extraordinary life, his painting and his passions – steam railways, aviation, and wildlife. Events: 19 and 31 January 2012 £10 (booking line: 0117 973 3171)

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Discover the RWA Shop Papadeli Cafe Exhibitions Talks Family activities Royal West of England Academy Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX 0117 973 5129

Also showing: Brian May: A Village Lost and Found (plus book signing: 26 January) Martyn Colbeck: Wildlife Photography Ivor Abrahams: Eden and Other Suburbs Exhibitions: 8 January – 4 March 2012 Filthy Luker: Artist in Residence J Patrick Boyle: There’s No Emoticon For What I’m Feeling Street art interventions: 20 January onwards Margaret Gregory: Portrait of an Artist Janette Kerr: Extremes and Instabilities Exhibitions: 16 February – 4 March

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Light fantastic After a successful first debut in November 2010, Bath’s beguiling festival of street illuminations returns to chase away the lateJanuary blues. Steve Wright shines a light.

“Like moths to a lamp, it will draw onlookers into a chain of images and shadows.” artist robert Fearns venuemagazine

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Bangkok and St Petersburg. For Bath’s Illuminate, Greyworld have created a multi-venue installation where visitors will find that large keys have been mysteriously attached to street furniture (bins, benches and so forth): when turned, the keys will trigger lights, projected images and sounds, bringing Bath’s dark winter streets to life. Other installations include ‘Heads, Bodies, Legs’, in which Bath animator Petra Freeman, film-maker Tim Rolt and children and staff from Larkhall’s St Saviours Junior School have created an interactive animated version of the traditional pencil and paper game. Elsewhere, ‘Attracted to Light’ by Bath artist Robert Fearns and students from Bath Spa University is inspired by the way humans use light to navigate through the nocturnal urban jungle. “Like moths to a lamp, it will draw onlookers into a chain of images and shadows created by masses of small light sources,” Fearns explains. And children in particular will love ‘Catch Me Now’ by Danish multimedia artist Tine Bech, a deceptively simple spotlight that reacts to onlookers’ movements and leads them on a merry dance. Visitors to the Roman Baths will find a new light installation by Alex Cotterell, Will Kendrick, Lumen and OCD, which will transform the Baths into a colour-filled oasis by means of light projections onto their waters, mixing with the steam as it rises into the cold January air. And there’s a special commission by Kristin and Davy McGuire, whose stunning films and live shows have featured in a Guillemots video. The

duo, who have recently set up a studio in Bristol, have just created Southwark Playhouse's Christmas production ('Howl's Moving Castle') and were also seen at last year’s Mayfest with the enchanting light and shadows show ‘The Ice Book’. “The first Illuminate was a huge success, with some 40,000 visitors, and this year’s festival will once again transform the city centre,” comments Anthony Head, Illuminate’s creative director. “Our decision to show over four nights will mean that visitors will be entertained by a variety of different events occurring simultaneously each night. “One of the highlights for me is enabling students to work with international

artists Greyworld, which has been a real privilege and inspiration. Their work has a playful approach which enables people to reconsider their preconceptions of public spaces and objects. “Allowing free entry to the balcony area of Roman Baths on two of the nights to see a magical projection of light work is really exciting. Seeing the waters of the Great Bath lit up, while the mists rise off the water, will be enchanting. And several of the projects on show encourage interactive participation from the audience, so come along and join in." ILLUMINATE BATH 2012 WED 25SAT 28 JAN, 5-8PM DAILY. FFI: HTTP:// WWW.ILLUMINATEBATH.ORG/

The bright side: look at the Roman Baths in a whole new light

pic credit: Edward Lockyer


he last days of January can be a slightly dispiriting time – short days and long nights, empty post-Christmas wallets and a sense of stasis and lifelessness after the raucous energies of Xmas and New Year’s promises of personal regeneration. The end of this month in Bath, though, should be anything but drab and gloomy. In fact, visitors to the city will find it rather, well, illuminating. The dark days at the end of the month see the return of Illuminate Bath, the festival of light and projections in urban spaces that made a successful debut at the end of 2010. Illuminate Bath 2012 will include seven new installations around the city centre, created by a raft of artists, from international exhibitors and next-big-things to local students and school children. An undoubted highlight will be ‘Clockwork City’ by Greyworld, an artists’ collective that has already created some fairly mesmerising public art works in London, Warsaw,

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Art // THE MONTH AHEAD // installations /|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|


// Yes, that’s right: ‘/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|’. This tricksily-titled show (and try saying it!) is the largest solo exhibition to date by artist Haroon Mirza, whose work fuses sound and image into a complex sensory experience. The show’s installations are assemblages of separate components that synthesise light, sound and movement – and include a series of acoustic sculptures that build toward a complete musical piece. HAROON MIRZA: /|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/|/| IS AT SPIKE ISLAND, BRISTOL FROM 21 JAN-18 MAR. FFI: WWW.SPIKEISLAND.ORG.UK

4. 3. emerging talents New Visions // Extensive and inspiring-looking group exhibition, featuring works by some 40 emerging and established artists, chosen from a large pool sent to the gallery by open submission. Fresh, contemporary 2D and 3D work, both abstract and representational. Pictured: Niki Hare, ‘Portrait 6’.

PIC: Jean Shrimpton ‘Plain Girl’ 1963, wearing James Wedge © Norman Parkinson



landscapes Kathleen Caddick & Justine Cooke // Paintings featuring sweeping landscapes and atmospheric mists by two experienced landscape painters. Caddick has a 50-year career behind her as an etcher and painter; Cooke uses pastels to create colour field works of Dorset landscapes. Plus drypoint prints by Richard Spare, two new prints by Sir Peter Blake and designer-made lighting. KATHLEEN CADDICK & JUSTINE COOKE EXHIBIT AT ROSTRA & ROOKSMOOR GALLERIES, BATH FROM 6-31 JAN. FFI: WWW. ROSTRAGALLERY.CO.UK

vintage fashion snaps An Eye for Fashion


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abstracts and landscapes Colin Kent


// New paintings by popular gallery artist, exploring the representation of different landscapes through a mix of paint, collage and ink drawing. Kent’s use of tonal contrasts, texture, light and shade can transform ordinary views into extraordinary visions. COLIN KENT EXHIBITS AT ADAM GALLERY, BATH FROM 2-31 JAN. FFI: HTTP://WWW. ADAMGALLERY.COM/BATH

// Exhibition of vintage fashion photography by Norman Parkinson, one of Britain’s most significant portrait and fashion photographers of the 20th century. Over 60 rare vintage photographs, evoking (their words, but we bet they’re right) “a sense of glamour, beauty and timeless elegance”. You’ll also find original 50s and 60s clobber.


Got an event to list? Submit it to us at submit-a-listing

playful inflatables Filthy Luker // Bristol-based street artist Filthy Luker, who specialises in colourful, witty and often beautiful hand-crafted inflatable sculptures, undertakes a residency at the RWA, which will include some pieces created for the gallery’s newly-cleared back garden. With his playful inflatables reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg, FL’s works interact with the urban environment around them – the Banksy of inflatables, if you will. FILTHY LUKER IS AT THE RWA, BRISTOL FROM 20 JAN-4 MAR. FFI: WWW.RWA.ORG.UK

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Coming Soon...

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BOOKS // top ten //


New year, new discoveries


Books that the forward-looking folk at Foyles bookshop in Bristol think people should read in the New Year. HEALTH ‘Your Personal Horoscope to 2012’ – Joseph Polansky (Harper Element, £8.99) Astrologers unite! This book will guide you through 2012 with a month-by-month forecast for every sign. You’ll be aware of any up-andcoming changes or lulls in all aspects of life, and you can check the signs of your family and friends too. Put together by leading US astrologist Joseph Polansky.

“Undoubtedly the region’s one true eating out guide” Alex Reilly, director of the Lounges and Goldbrick House






£4.95 where sold

Edition Best ever


Plus Takeaways, Delis, Specialist food shops, Caterers, Dining clubs, Out of town restaurants & pubs... and Michael Caines! Covers.indd 3

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HEALTH ‘The Goddess Guide’ – Gisele Scanlon (HarperCollins, £10) It’s a new year, and that might mean a new you (if your resolutions are anything to go by), so introduce yourself to ‘The Goddess Guide’: a selection of great pieces of advice, from places to hang out to gardening the fun way. This book has everything the modern-day girl needs, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s also beautifully laid out, with stunning images and product information.

who love lists or who make a list of stuff they’ve already done just so they can cross it all off. And if you like this one, there’s also a ‘Future Listography’ for things you want to achieve in the future. Exciting stuff! COOKERY ‘Vintage Tea Party’ – Angel Adoree (Mitchell Beazley, £20) A brilliant source of inspiration for both food and decoration: Angel Adoree is simply wonderful at giving great recipes and ideas wrapped in a delightful visual experience. There’s grace, elegance, class and effort in this vintage gem. Perfect for dinner parties, the beautiful way! COOKERY ‘Vegetarian’ – Alice Hart (Murdoch Books, £14.99) If you are trying to make a healthy start in the new year by skipping the meat or if you’re already vegetarian, then this book is perfect. There is a wide and exciting range of different dishes which may satisfy even the most avid of meat-eaters hunger. It is a beautifully presented book, easy to follow and with brilliant photos!

HEALTH ‘Feel the Fear and Do it

10/06/2011 09:51:37 Anyway’ – Susan Jeffers (Vermilion,

£6.99) If you find it much easier to avoid doing things than to take risks, then you need this book. A level-headed collection of confidence builders with simple yet profound reasoning, this bestseller will surely get you doing things you never thought you could. Sky diving? Easy! KIDS ‘I Want My Sledge’ – Tony Ross (Andersen, £7.99) The classic Little Princess is back, and this time she’s demanding a sledge! Whether it snows near you or not, this picture book with DVD is a wonderful tale of a spoilt princess who wants a new sledge, but new doesn’t always mean better! Tony Ross is guaranteed to bring a smile to your little one’s face, and there’s more tales of The Little Princess if this one is enjoyed! MISC ‘Listography’ – Lisa Nola (Chronicle, £9.70) The idea of this was to create the foundations of what could someday be your autobiography. But it’s also really fun for relentless list-makers – those

FICTION ‘The Complete Short Stories’ – Saki (Penguin, £10.99) These stories are humorous, satirical, supernatural and macabre, highly individual, full of eccentric wit and unconventional situations. With his great gift as a social satirist of the upper-class Edwardian world, Saki is one of the few undisputed English masters of the short story. TRAVEL ‘Atlas of Remote Islands’ – Judith Schalansky (Particular Books, £25) An exceptionally beautifully produced book, with great description and mapping. It’s a book of islands in the mind’s eye of a young girl who’s unable to travel and lives vicariously through her parent’s atlas. Schalansky spent years creating this, her own imaginative atlas of the world’s loneliest places, and you will not want to put this book down. GRAPHIC NOVEL ‘Civil War’ – Mark Millar & Steve McNiven (Panini, £10.99) If you want to start the year with a graphic novel, then this is the one. McNiven’s artwork is among the best. As for the writing – there’s a brilliant hint of humour the whole way through. Whose side will you be on?

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family fun and trips away

Heavens above Anna Britten gets starry-eyed


ne of the unexpected upsides of cold winter weekends, is that pastimes considered anorak-y during summer days of wine and sunshine suddenly become irresistible. Radio plays, Scrabble, making lampshades out of old bits of wallpaper. And astronomy – what better way to turn those long, long nights to your advantage? Furthermore, it’s been a bumper year for space. We’ve had the final Space Shuttle flight, the most unambiguous sign yet of water of Mars, and we’ve had the discovery of Kepler 22b, aka ‘Earth 2.0’. Seized with a desire to be able to identify more than The Moon, The Plough, and EasyJet flights in and out of Bristol Airport, Venue set off to see what Bristol and Bath’s astronomical attractions could offer. Bristol Astronomical Society Never has Saturday night cloud cover been so forlornly received than on the two nights Venue hoped to catch a glimpse of Jupiter and the Pleiades via Bristol’s answer to Hubble. On clear Saturday nights only, you see, generous volunteers at The Bristol Astronomical Society hold open sessions to any member of the public wishing to see the night sky through a telescope. These take place at the society’s own cosy observatory, built at a secret location under the dark skies to the south of Bristol in the early 70s when former member Cyril Swindin donated them his homemade 12¼ inch

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Space = cool



12/21/2011 5:33:04 PM

For loads of days out ideas, see

Newtonian Reflector. The observatory was opened in 1972 by Patrick Moore, and has been used for product-testing by Sky at Night magazine. To register an interest in attending (and to obtain directions) email saturday.observing@ Notification on whether or not the sessions are going ahead are announced between 6pm and 7pm on the night itself. We shall persevere. FFI: WWW.BRISTOLASTROSOC.ORG. UK

At-Bristol Planetarium In the meantime, a show AtBristol’s Planetarium runs a pretty close second to the Cyril Swindin Observatory. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s just for children – as well as shows for little ones and school groups, that big chrome ball on the Harbourside also runs daily seasonal shows aimed at all ages and, we can report, providing a terrific amount of fascinating, brain-stretching detail. Venue sat back in the darkened dome to watch the Autumn Night Sky show which began with a demonstration of how city light pollution masks most of the sky’s sights, before the full, uninterrupted splendour of the night sky was revealed to much coo-ing. And, gracious, there’s a lot of it. Thankfully, our knowledgeable young presenter pointed out the Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus and Pegasus constellations, as well as explaining coloured stars, giant planets and how to navigate your way through space. There’s atmospheric music and informative slides, all adding up to one of those genuinely brain-expanding


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experiences you can’t believe you’ve never had before. There’s even a real robotic arm from the International Space Station stretching across the ceiling at the entrance! Access to the 90seater planetarium will cost you a quid – however this is on top of hefty-ish admission to AtBristol so if you’re not interested in that part, do grab a child who is (it’s a brilliant place). FFI: WWW.AT-BRISTOL.ORG.UK/ PLANETARIUM

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy Orreries, astrolabes, planispheres, mirror globes… Just some of the antique astronomical instruments on show at Bath’s Herschel Museum of Astronomy, a tidy little shrine to our astronomical forebears set in a modest Georgian house tucked away in one of the city centre’s few tranquil zones. This was the home of 18th-century astronomer William Herschel, who, in his own words, “looked further into space than any human being did before”, and of his sister Caroline, herself a distinguished chronicler of comets. It was from here, using

a telescope of his own design – you can see a replica – that William discovered Uranus, one of the many observations he made that helped double the known size of the solar system. There’s a short film explaining all this in a tiny cinema in the vaults, and you can still see where he cracked the paving stones after an experiment went wrong. The museum is also home to the William Herschel Society, membership of which [about a tenner] gets you access to the observing sessions and quarterly meetings of Bath Astronomers. Non-members, however, are welcome at the public star gatherings usually held monthly, weather and moonlight permitting, in the village of Wellow. Notice of such gatherings is usually given a day or two in advance on the ‘Observing’ section of the website. FFI: MUSEUM WWW.BATHPRESERVATION-TRUST.ORG.UK/?ID=8 (NB DOES NOT REOPEN AFTER CHRISTMAS UNTIL MON 30 JAN); SOCIETY WWW.WILLIAMHERSCHEL. ORG.UK

ISS it a bird, ISS it a plane... // If you do only one astronomical thing this winter, try to spot the International Space Station. You can do it with the naked eye. Tilt your head upwards just after sunset or before sunrise (it’s not visible during the day or in the middle of the night) on a dark, clear night, and if you see something that looks like it might be a shooting star, but it keeps going at a steady pace and in a steady arc, until gradually disappearing – that’s probably it. Twitter users can get updates of exactly when the ISS is due to pass over their heads by following @Twisst

Scope it out // If museums, planetariums and snatched visits to BAS’s open observing sessions do not sate your thirst for the heavens, you might consider investing in some astronomical equipment of your own. While you won’t clock anything as magnificent as the photos in books and newspapers – most of which are multi-exposure, carefully-filtered jobs taken with massive telescopes in the middle of Australia or Mexico – you can still enjoy plenty of heart-stopping celestial sights including the craters of the moon, Jupiter and its largest four moons, Saturn and its rings, Venus, Mars, nebulae, star clusters, the Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way. You’ll get what you pay for. If your budget is less than £100, go for binoculars. Decent starter scopes can be had for £130 to £400. Bath Photo Optics Owner Peter Larkin has been in the photo trade for 30 years, and his independent shop loves introducing newcomers to the delights of astronomy, promising “not to blind customers with science”. BATH PHOTO OPTICS 16 THE PODIUM SHOPPING CENTRE, NORTHGATE ST, BATH, BA1 5AL, 01225 446599, WWW. BATHPHOTOOPTICS.CO.UK

Bristol Cameras Established 1995, and promising knowledgeable service and competitive pricing in store and online. Pop in and try products “without any hassle”. Astronomical telescopes, accessories, binoculars, night vision goggles, reference books and more. BRISTOL CAMERAS 47 HIGH ST,

Ace Digital Vast array of astronomical telescopes, optics, digital, lenses and accessories. A healthy secondhand section. Staff promise to find the perfect products for everyone from the basic beginner right through to professional universe-watchers. You can buy online too (where there’s a very useful buying guide). ACE CAMERAS SOUTH WALK, YATE, BRISTOL, BS37 4AU, TEL: 01454 325615; 16 GREEN ST, BATH, BA1 2JZ, TEL: 01225 466975, WWW.ACECAMERAS. CO.UK

january 2012 // 73

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EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN JANUARY Jan 2 // CycleOut Bristol Meet by King William Statue, Queen Sq, Bristol, time TBA. Ffi: All welcome: don’t be put off by distance – you’ll be accompanied to the finish. Don’t forget your lights! • Monthly meet-up to discuss books written by or about gay men. This month’s book is ‘While England Sleeps’ by David Leavitt.

Jan 7 // The Rainbow Cafe St Michael’s Centre, next to Little Theatre Cinema, off Westgate St, Bath, BA1 1SG, 10.30am-12.30pm. Ffi: 0870 811 1990 • Organised by Gay West and offering a safe, affordable space for gay and bisexual men and women.

Jan 26 // Training with Bristol Bisons RFC Cotham Park RFC, Upper Farm, Beggar Bush Lane, Failand, Bristol, BS8 3TF, 7pm. Ffi: www. • Rugby training with the Bisons every Thursday evening, followed by drinks at the Bristol Bear Bar in Old Market. Newcomers always welcome.

It’s all change at Bristol’s Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, reports Darryl W Bullock.


LAGS, Bristol’s longrunning Lesbian and Gay switchboard, is closing at the end of February. One of the first L&G switchboards to set up in the country, and currently the second longest running, the volunteers have decided, after many months of discussions, to close the service down. Well, sort of. “It’s a success story in a way,” a Switchboard volunteer tells me. “Things are much easier for gay people today than they were when the Bristol Lesbian and Gay Switchboard was originally set up back in 1974. Gay people now have much more access to information; they have more freedom about where they live, work and socialise; and, thanks to the many changes in legislation over the last few decades, being gay no longer has such a huge stigma attached to it.” But it’s not quite the end of the line. Although the group has decided to close down their office in Bristol, people will still be able to call the switchboard number for help as well as access a new web site, set up to carry information about local LGBT venues and services as well as containing a potted history of the group. The group has set aside funds to ensure that local people still have access to a helpline which will, from the end of February, be manned by the London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard (LLGS) and which will be provided with up-to-date information on local gay amenities by BLAGS volunteers. “It seemed like the obvious solution,” the volunteer adds. “We’re getting fewer calls than ever, it’s become harder and harder to find volunteers locally who were able to offer time to answer phones and we’re currently only able to take calls twice a week. Transferring to LLGS means that people in the Bath and Bristol region will have access to a helpline seven days


Gay 976.indd 75

a week, from 10 in the morning until 11 at night; keeping the same phone line means that there’s no extra cost to callers and we intend to maintain that for at least a couple of years.” The group are marking their passing with a party for volunteers past and present, to be held on 28 Feb. They are also organising an exhibition to tie in with LGBT History Month (again in February) and have been discussing how best to preserve the Switchboard’s almost 40-year archive with OutStories Bristol, the region’s LGBT history project. “It’s very sad that, after almost 40 years, we feel that the time has come to close the Bristol L&G Switchboard down, but we’re all absolutely adamant that local LGBT people, their friends and families should still have access to help if they need it. We want to turn the passing of BLAGS into a celebration of everything we have achieved over the last four decades and invite everyone who has had a part in the Switchboard over the years to help us do that.” BRISTOL L&G SWITCHBOARD TEL: 0117 922 1328. CURRENT OPENING HOURS: 8-10PM WEDTHUR; FROM 1 MAR 10AM-11PM MON-SUN.

Jan 8 // West Walking Women Ffi: 0780 4469 991 • Friendly walking group for lesbians meets the second Sunday of the month. Walks are varied, set at a medium pace and last for around three hours (plus a lunch stop). Well-behaved dogs welcome. Jan 12 // Student Night Mandalyn’s, 13 Fountain Buildings, Lansdown Hill, Bath, BA1 5DX, 6pm-2am. Ffi: 01225 425403 or www. • Drinks offers for card-carrying students, plus karaoke with host D Jay. Jan 15 // Gay Outdoor Club: Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and North Somerset Ffi: Nigel 01793 770099, Martin & John 0117 951 2386 or www.goc. • Ashton Court and Avon Gorge Winter Warmer: a walk of approximately seven miles. Please bring a picnic lunch. Jan 18 // Gay Men’s Book Group Ffi: bristolbookclub@

Jan 22 // Cabaret and Games Night The Retreat, West St, Bristol, BS2 0DF, 7pm-2am. Ffi: Facebook – We Love the Retreat • Live cabaret each Sunday from some of the country’s top names, introduced by Bristol’s own Miss Match.

Jan 28 // Liberty/Women-only Speed Dating Toto’s Bar, 125 Redcliffe St, Bristol, BS1 6HU, speed dating 7.309pm, Liberty 9pm-2am, £10 both/£5 Liberty only (otd or from liberty.bristol@live. Ffi: libertybristol. • Bristol’s only regular women-only club night. Tonight’s club night is preceded by a womenonly speed dating session (register in advance at Jan 29 // Living Springs Metropolitan Community Church United Reformed Church Halls, Grove Street, Bath, BA2 6PJ, 6pm. Ffi: • Gay church, open to all. Tonight’s special service marks Holocaust Memorial Day.

AUGUST 2011 // 75

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



12/21/2011 12:15:39 PM

Venue Magazine 976  

January's issue of Venue magazine

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