Bureaucracy gone mad, or rightful regulations? Make your own mind up, but kids were upset to see many of their favourite cartoon characters escorted from the Brunel Shopping Centre this Christmas like criminals.
Outcry ensued after Alan Reed posted this video, showing security of the shopping centre harshly directing the characters off the premises. “Every year I organise a visit to the GWH hospital,” Mr Reed explained, “I take all the mascots up there to visit the kid’s wards and give them a present that has been kindly donated. I have a great bunch of friends who volunteer their time to do this. Then, just for some Christmas fun, every year after the hospital we go to the Magic Roundabout, walk about and wave to the cars. The after this we go to the town centre to spread some more fun and Christmas cheer to the people. All the kiddies love it along with their parents.”
Upon asking the reason Alan and friends do this, he told me, “we do all of this free of charge, with no other meaning to it at all.” Perhaps Christmas joy just isn’t enough to warrant such a gesture, not in the eyes of the centre, whose Saturday saw children flock to see Frozen characters Anna & Elsa in aid of Swindon’s Down Syndrome Group. No issue with this, but this impromptu visit is a blunt reminder for Swindonians, despite the shopping centre commonly being regarded as the “town centre,” it’s actually a privately-owned business.
Rob of the Brunel Shopping Centre explained, “as a privately-owned shopping centre it is our duty to ensure that shoppers and their children are kept safe. Therefore, our staff will always politely ask unannounced visitors, who have not sought prior permission to be at the centre, to leave. We regularly work with charities and fundraisers who book in with us and are always happy to work with people to benefit good causes, but we do need to carry out due diligence when booking these people in.”
The issue becomes irate when the organisers question the reasoning, but without an informative response, and security ordered to carry out their task, things become awkward and it doesn’t fair well on the personal relations within the centre. Ah, it happens, but with the children who do not understand the red tape, it has to be said, it’s a crying shame the issue couldn’t have been dealt with diplomatically. I’d suggest the Brunel has a disclaimer form, stating clearly that any repercussions are wholly the responsibility of the organisers, and then, where’s the real problem?
It does remind me of the scene in the classic Pink Panther film, where Inspector Clouseau arrests a blind beggar and his “minky,” whilst a bank robbery is occurring behind them. Forcing me to wonder how many shoplifters or fraudsters happen to be bobbing about the centre during this inconsequential fiasco; maybe it’d make a great decoy!
In an era when physical shopping is losing the war against online shopping, you’d have thought the issue could have been dealt with diplomatically, if not for the children’s sake but the reputation of the centre. Meanwhile social media exploits the video, shares and comments call to boycott the centre as the witch-hunt progresses. A cruel sign of the times with unsolicited media where anyone can pass comment, when the centre has strived to host similar fundraising events yet the bureaucracy stamps on such a good deed. Not in the spirit of Christmas, and yes, I said Minky; because I’m annoyed by what bureaucratic balderdash has degenerated us into, Merry bloody Christmas!
After a hushed couple of months for Daydream Runaways, they return with a topical smash single, Closing the Line……
I observed in awe the multitude, at least for Devizes, squeezed between the Town Hall and Vinyl Realm. Ah, what with the perpetual drizzling, wish it could be summer again; street festival time. The highlight for me was undoubtedly Pete and the staff at Vinyl Realm’s second stage; what a totally awesome job.
I did one of my live, wobbly Facebook vids of a band I held in anticipation to finally catch, which earned a comment, “who are they?” Coupled with loitering local musicians inquiring, I was astounded that this dynamic indie Swindon-Devizes four-piece were still fairly obscure. But as the sun shone, I think this photo captured perfectly that the moment of elation was communal, and confirmed everyone present will not forget the name, Daydream Runaways.
Just to make certain, they rocked the Southgate at the end of August, and what with appearances on BBC Wiltshire Radio and It’s All Indie Spotify playlists, their Facebook page has been quiet recently, save a swanky new logo. On a separate note, the threat of closure at Swindon’s Honda plant looms over its employers. I don’t want to argue the toss, and I think neither does the band, let whatever bias newspaper you believe squabble if this is the result of Brexit, or not, it’s not going to help those losing their livelihood. Such is the passionate subject of Closing the Line, the Daydreamer’s forthcoming single.
Here then is a progressive step in their building discography, which is already teetering with quality, into the realm of local topical subject matter. Personifying the shockwaves felt by a community, this emotive and illustrative indie rock track is akin to Springsteen’s woes of factories shutting. Closing the Line kicks off with an industrial noise effect, which abruptly ceases and this striking riff explodes post-haste. Vocals wail eloquently, questioning if you’ve ever tried with all you’ve got, and you’ve given up with ardent prose, continuing the leitmotif of pending gloom. It’s all very U2, but this street has a name, it’s the Highworth Road out of Swindon.
If it’s not the dejected subject of a current and local topic which drives this potently catchy tune, what fills me with enthusiasm about Closing the Line, due for release this coming Friday (25th October,) is it matches the excellence of their previous singles and wiggles towards a maturity in sound and production. In an era where pop shies from the expression of political and social stock, favouring to warble about bad relationships and who has the tightest buns, it’s an advancement the band should be very proud of achieving.
For just a year into their journey, self-recording, producing and mixing their singles, Daydream Runaways are never fearful to experiment with different production and song writing techniques. I reckon with this one, they’ve just found a niche. I hope this could encourage an album which would be as characteristic as Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever. Yet amazed, pondering what took Petty ten years of playing with the Heartbreakers to achieve, the diligence and motivation of Daydream Runaways means they could nail this less than a quarter of the time. Then, the world is ready for these kids, and bloody good luck to them.
Images used with the kind permission of Steve Ullathorne
I’ve been a admirer of the pragmatic Mark Thomas and his satirical cutting-edge comedy since his days guesting on The Mary Whitehouse Experience at the dawn of nineties, end of this month he’s at the Swindon Arts Centre; could you ask for a more apt date?!
I recall with fond nostalgia how he ridiculed and enraged his local McDonalds, or gambled the entire ten grand profit from the previous show on a hopeless outsider at Doncaster, thanking Michael Grade, chief executive of Channel 4 at the time, for allowing him to waste his money. The notion, he stated, was that it was an exhilarating thrill of washing someone else’s money down the toilet, and likened it to the how the Queen must feel at races.
But it’s been a while since stumbling across his name. Hearing this self-dubbed “libertarian anarchist” comedian is heading to the Swindon Arts Centre on Thursday 31st October as part of a work-in-progress tour, before the real thing kicks off in the New Year, I did a little YouTube catching up type research, and found a decade old stand-up show where he the tackles the fox hunting ban, Tony Blair’s move to the right, and the Islamic extremism hot on the world’s lips. He takes no prisoners, dares to go where other comedians would quiver.
I have to ponder if the current affairs of a hare-brained conservative ruling, shifting towards nationalism and abandonment of a unification of Europe, simply to maintain billionaire’s tax-free offshore accounts whist politically dividing the country through media-bias, propaganda and blatant fabrications, thus creating a hatred of alternative thinking which even lambasts the very extinction of all life on Earth simply because it’s voiced by a teenage female, is enough ammunition for this cheeky-faced comedian.
The blurb suggests though, his new show, 50 Things About Us will go beyond this, “Mark Thomas combines his trademark mix of storytelling, stand-up, mischief and really, really well researched material to examine how we have come to inhabit this divided wasteland that some of us call the United Kingdom.”
“He picks through the myths, facts and figures of our national identities to ask how we have so much feeling for such a hollow land. Who do we think we are? It is a show about money, history, songs, gongs, wigs, unicorns, guns, bungs, sods of soil and rich people* in the vein of The Manifesto-meets-sweary History Channel.
*(not the adjective Mark has chosen)
It sounds like age and the writing of award-winning plays has only in heightened his crusade and hilarious radical sarcasm. I think we can take it as red; he isn’t going to do a Morrissey on us just yet. With a full tour of this show happening next year, here’s something worthy of your attention for the 31st October, what else you going to be doing on that date, eh? Kowtowing Boris Johnson whilst stockpiling baked bean tins before your meds run out?
With an 12+ Age Restriction, tickets are £15.50. Concessions: £2.00 Off, from here.
Have you ever loved a show so much that you wished you could kidnap the actors, keep them in your basement and get them to perform it again for you? No? Just Rupert?
After a successful three week run at the Miniver Theatre, a troupe of young actors are ready and willing to let go of their most recent production and move on to bigger and better things, but Rupert isn’t going to let that happen. He loves the piece to the point of obsession and can’t let their show die. There are a few things you should know when trying to save a play from death. Thing number one: the actors aren’t gonna like it. Trapped in a basement, forced to rehearse and fearing for their lives, there is only one way for the performers to gain their freedom.
They must act their way out…
The intriguing new drama-thriller work, At This Stage is on at The Shoebox Theatre, Swindon on Saturday 12th October at 7.30pm. Suitable for ages 14+
Tickets are £10 from HERE
With my ribs near fully recovered from giggling injuries caused by the one Ed Byrne, it’s nice to note if you missed him at the rescheduled Devizes Arts Festival evening, he’s playing Trowbridge’s Civic Centre on the 26th September, March 13th at the Wyvern, Swindon and Bath’s Forum on March 19th.
Here’s an interview with the man himself, to tempt your taste buds….
A household name teetering on the brink of national treasure status, award-winning comedian Ed Byrne enjoys worldwide acclaim for his stand-up. With 25 years under his belt, Ed has parlayed his on-stage success into a variety of notable television appearances. A regular on Mock The Week and The Graham Norton Show, Ed has recently co-presented Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure and its follow-up Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay, and managed not to disgrace himself on Top Gear or whilst tackling one of The World’s Most Dangerous Roads. As a semi-professional hill-walker himself and fully paid-up humanist, he also brought a refreshing warmth and honesty to BBC2’s recent hit The Pilgrimage.
But the Irishman is still best-known and best appreciated for his stand-up performances. A quarter of a century at the comedic coal-face has equipped Ed with a highly evolved story-telling ability and a silky mastery of his craft. Yet his wit, charm and self-deprecatory observational humour is often underpinned by a consistently hilarious vitriol and sense of injustice at a world that seems to be spinning ever more rapidly out of control.
Having recently hit a new peak with shows such as the sublime Spoiler Alert and reflective Outside, Looking In, which explored the minefield that is modern parenting and a generational sense of entitlement, Ed’s new show If I’m Honest digs ever deeper into a father’s sense of responsibility, what it means to be a man in 2019, and whether he possesses any qualities whatsoever worth passing on to his two sons. Occasionally accused of whimsy, If I’m Honest is a show with a seriously steely core.
Gender politics, for example, is something Ed readily engages with – deploying his customary comedic zeal. ‘I’ll admit that there are things where men get a raw deal,’ he says. ‘We have higher suicide rates, and we tend not to do well in divorces, but representation in action movies is not something we have an issue with. It was Mad Max: Fury Road that kicked it all off, even though nobody complained about Ripley in Alien or Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. Of course, social media means this stuff gets broadcast far and wide in an instant, which emboldens people.
‘The problem with men’s rights activists is that it’s not about speaking up for men’s rights, it’s about hating women. If you’re a men’s rights activist, you’re not going to care about the fact that there’s an all-female Ghostbusters remake. That’s nothing to do with men’s rights or female entitlement. That’s everything to do with being, well, a whiny baby.’
As ever, Ed manages to provoke without being overly polemical, a balancing act that only someone of his huge experience can really pull off.
‘I did stuff about Trump and the Pizzagate right wing conspiracy,’ he says, ‘and a couple of the reviewers said, “Oh, I would have liked to have watched a whole show of this”. And I think, ‘well you might have, but the average person who comes to see me would not like to see that’. I like to make a point or get something off my chest, or perhaps I’m talking about something that’s been on my mind, but the majority of stuff is just to get laughs.
‘People who come to see me are not political activists necessarily, they’re regular folk. If you can make a point to them, in between talking about your struggles with aging, or discussing your hernia operation or whatever it is, you can toss in something that does give people pause as regards to how men should share the household chores.’
He continues, ‘It’s not that I feel a responsibility, I think it just feels more satisfying when you’re doing it, and it feels more satisfying when people hear it. When a joke makes a good point, I think people enjoy it. It’s the difference between having a steak and eating a chocolate bar.’
Ed, who broke through in the mid-1990s when the New Lad became a genuine cultural phenomenon, doesn’t want to submit to any unnecessary revisionism, but admits that if the times have changed, he has changed with them. He reflects a little ruefully on one of his most famous jokes. ‘There’s an attitude towards Alanis Morrisette in the opening of that routine that I’m no longer comfortable with, where I call her a moaning cow and a whiny bint… slagging off the lyrics of the song is fine, but there’s a tone in the preamble that I wouldn’t write today.’
The new show also takes his natural tendency towards self-deprecation to unexpected extremes. ‘I do genuinely annoy myself,’ Ed concedes. ‘But the thing of your children being a reflection of you, gives you an opportunity to build something out of the best of yourself only for you to then see flashes of the worst of yourself in them. It’s a wake-up call about your own behaviour.’
When I challenge him over the degree of self-loathing he displays, he disagrees. ‘Self-aggrandising humour is a lot harder to pull off than self-deprecating humour,’ he insists. ‘A lot of people get really annoyed when Ricky Gervais is self-congratulatory. I always find it very funny when he accepts awards and does so in the most big-headed way possible. I think it’s a trickier type of humour to pull off, talking yourself up in that way.
‘So no, I don’t think I’m being massively hard on myself. The fact is when you’re the bloke who is standing on the stage with the microphone, commanding an audience’s attention, you’re in a very elevated position anyway.’
That said, If I’m Honest brilliantly elucidates the frustration that arrives in middle age – and lives up to its title. ‘I’m bored looking for things, I’m bored of trying to find stuff, because I can never find it, and it is entirely my fault,’ Ed says. ‘Nobody’s hiding my stuff from me. Although my wife did actually move my passport on one occasion’.
He insists that, while the show might have mordant and occasionally morbid aspects, it’s also not without its quietly triumphant moments. ‘I thought I was being quite upbeat talking about the small victories,’ he says. ‘You know, finding positivity in being able to spot when a cramp was about to happen in your leg and dealing with it before it does. I was very happy with myself about that.’
Age, it seems, has not withered him. Especially now that he’s figured out how to head off ailments before they become a problem. ‘You see comics who are my age and older but are still retaining a level of “cool” and drawing a young crowd. I can’t deny that I’m quite envious of that. But there’s also something very satisfying about your audience growing old with you.’
Ed Byrne is touring nationwide, appearing at Trowbridge’s Civic Centre on the 26th September, March 13th at the Wyvern, Swindon and Bath’s Forum on March 19th. For more information, please visit http://edbyrne.com/
Ah, nuts, it’s all over. Get your winter coat, hats and snow shovels and bolt down the hatches; it’s September. “We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage.” Back to school though, summer usually kicks in around now. So, gig-wise, here’s what we’ve got to warm your soul.
Note, this is for musical gigs, please keep up. Last month I did this people were arguing I forgot their flower pressing show, foot healing festival and stuff like that. Please consult our homepage for it’s THE most comprehensive event guide in these dark waters, even if I do say so myself. Yeah, no, yeah-no, there’s all kinds of stuff listed to do, family stuff, sporty stuff, arty stuff, stuff with stuff in it and all the stuff between. And what is more, it’s updated nearly every day, so keep your eye on it, ‘n’ stay in the know.
Thursday 5th – Sunday 8th
Starting midweek, as I’ve procrastinated this weekend; man cut lawn. Regular acoustic nights on Wednesdays at our dependable Southgate, Devizes, and there’s an open Mic at The New Inn, Semington.
Thursday 5th then, and all I have to date is that American singer-songwriter and one third of acclaimed Americana harmony trio Applewood Road, Amy Speace will be returning to Sound Knowledge, Marlborough to promote her new solo album. Me And The Ghost Of Charlemagne is produced by long-time collaborator Neilson Hubbard and recorded during the final weeks of pregnancy with her first son, capturing Amy at her most honest, with sparsely-decorated songs which double down on her larger-than-life voice and detail-rich song writing. Amy will be playing a short set in the shop and signing copies of her album from 7pm on Thursday 5th September.
Friday, and aside the popular karaoke nights, we’re glad to see The Pelican in Devizes opening up for live music, this should become a regular free venue, and bands are encouraged to get in touch with them. What better way to kick off the proceedings than with Devizes-own Funked Up?
Now, I know my boss at work has a hand in this one, and going on the thought I’ve never seen anyone more dedicated to one particular band than him, I mean it’s an obsession to the point he talks of little else, I have total faith if you like Thin Lizzy, this will be the ultimate tribute band to catch. 4-piece, Twin Lizzy play The Cavalier on Friday, with all the classics that you would expect, but also, they claim to “mix it up with some key album tracks for good measure.” Including a genre-related disco, this is the ideal opportunity to check out the Cavy. It’s booking get evermore diverse, with country and rock, to kid’s discos and a plethora of top pop tributes.
Meanwhile in Swindon, those old-time musical hall, sixties psychedelia and new world country blenders, The Astral Ponies storm the Castle. Least they say “the Astral Ponies politely asking if people would like to come along and enjoy some fine and joyous music with them,” is more suitable. If vintage punk-rock is more your thing, try The One Chord Wonders at the Rolly. Metallers think The Queen’s Tap, with Rorkes Drift, or the Vic where Ion Maiden play; stop head-banging for a second a re-read that, yeah, s’ a tribute.
But if you’re still hunting for festivals, Crash the Festival is in Andover direction, KV Brass are followed by Humdinger on the Friday and Kova Me Badd on the Saturday, roundup the Burbage Beer Festival, on the Red Lion field. The other way, Saturday 7th sees a one-dayer at Marshfield; Marshfest brings together popular Hip-Hop act, Stay Hungry, five-piece rhythm & blues combo Haney’s Big House, indie rock with The Temple Keys and Falling Fish, blues band Antalya, soul-funk with Eden, rock with The Clones, to name but a few. If this doesn’t convince you, Devizine favourites, Train to Skaville are also booked.
Devizes, make your way to the Southgate, Dry White Bones accompanied those Boot Hill Allstars last time I saw them, and it wasn’t nearly for long enough. After a stint at Glasto, it’ll be good to see this duo headlining. Larkin play Melksham’s Pilot, and for folky pop songs, Scratchy Black Cat at Stallards, Trowbridge is recommended.
There’s a Big Get Together at the Neeld, which aims to bring over 50 local clubs and organisations together in one place, to provide a showcase of activities that will encourage people to participate, get involved and expand their social life. Free event. Staying in Chippenham, soprano, Susan Coates, Mezzo- Soprano, Marie Elliott and Concert Pianist, Nick Goodall presents a mix of famous solos and duets from the world of Opera, Broadway and The All-American Songbook at the Cause. Or, rock out with Homer at the Black Horse.
Ska-punk in Swindon, as Operation 77 play Level III, or Led-Into-Zeppelin are at The Victoria.
Sunday, Devizes Town Band takeover Hillworth for the Children’s Proms in the Park, or maybe catch The Everly Brothers and Friends Tribute Show at The Neeld.
Wednesday 11th – Sunday 15th
Acoustic jam down the Southgate Wednesday, Thursday in Devizes is all about Mirko’s band, 10p Mix-Up, playing the Cellar Bar from 8pm. In aid of Liam’s fund, please support this one if you can. I interviewed Mirko recently, which covers the gig fully, so check here.
Meanwhile George Wilding and Plummie Racket support Johnny Lloyd, at The Vic, and Chris Webb does an acoustic set at The Tuppenny, Swindon.
Friday 13th has a good variety of local music, that danceable duo, The Truzzy Boys play The Crown, while our other own indie upcomers, Clock Radio are welcomed by The Southgate. People Like Us nip over to The Seven Stars at Bottlesford, the Chaos Brothers at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford, and The Skandals play The Vic in Swindon.
For an evening of classical music, try the Corn Exchange on Saturday, where two fabulous local musicians, guitarist Andrew Hurst and soprano Chloe Jordan will take you on a journey through a range of music from the medieval to now. There’s a unique original melodic rock band from Glastonbury at the Southgate called The Truthseekers, and favourite rock cover band, the Rockhoppaz play The Cross Keys, Rowde.
While the 2Tone All Ska’s are at The Woodlands Edge, and Level III Punk the Club, there’s a beer, cider and music festival at Wichelstowe, in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, still awaiting the lowdown on this, but rumour has it Lottie J and other Marland favs will be playing. Vinyl Realm is at the helm of this one, and after the amazing show at the Street Festival, I’m expecting this to be a good one.
Wow, The Human League are playing Bath Racecourse on Saturday, but Reggae though? Check those Urban Lions at the Woodbridge Inn, Pewsey, or Train to Skaville at Warminster’s Prestbury Sports Bar.
Ah, we’ve reached the end of the first fortnight, I’ll update this with the following one later, best get this out now so you can plan ahead. Round it up, Sunday the 15th in Devizes where George Wilding supports The Strays at The Cavalier, or The White Bear continues its Sunday sessions with Andrew Bazeley.
Treat this as a guide, though, not a bible; more gigs and events of all kinds are updated on our homepage and Facebook page too.
One of the scene’s most best-known names for more than three decades, Judge Jules has never shied away from pushing the boundaries in dance music. And this year, for the first time ever, audiences will be able to experience the iconic tracks that have defined his career through a ten-piece live band with Judge Jules himself at the helm.
‘Judge Jules: Live’… will be coming to Swindon’s MECA venue on 25th Jan 2020.
Jules’s in-depth involvement in many of the recent wave of “classical” dance events, including Gatecrasher, Colours, Club Class and 2019’s Ministry of Sound tour, inspired the decision to take the impact and emotion of the classical shows, but refine the feeling with a wholly new take on live dance music.
With complete creative free rein, Jules curated every element of the performance. Each track has been bespoke reinvented and reworked in a style unique to this live show, featuring a full ten-piece band, with brass, percussion, drums, bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboard, singers, and of course Judge Jules himself. A 90-minute show from start to finish, the music has been selected to represent the breadth and scale of his career.
“There is something about music being played live that never fails to send shivers down your spine – it doesn’t matter what the genre is, hearing a track performed by live musicians on stage is something you cannot replicate in the studio, or even on the best nightclub environment. So, I decided to create my own bespoke versions of my all-time favourite records with a specially selected band. It’s taken a long time to put together, but finally we look forward to taking the “Judge Jules Live” tour on the road. This truly is a new take on the ‘live dance music’ phenomenon and the tour bus starts rolling shortly.” – Judge Jules
This is not a show to sit down for – combining the energy of specially-chosen outstanding musicians with his own inimitable presence behind the decks, Jules will take the audience on a tailor-made journey through dance music with vocals, hands-in-the-air moments and plenty of basslines that’ll take you right back to your very first rave.
With audiences demanding more from dance music and newfound focus on a visual as well as a sonic spectacle, Judge Jules Live is a chance for dance fans to lose themselves in the moment with the kind of experience that you just can’t replicate with a solitary DJ.
The Judge still won’t budge.
Judge Jules will play Swindon MECA – 25th January 2020