Tomorrow evening I was planning on seeing John Renbourn play at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, one stop on a tour he was doing with guitarist Wizz Jones. This morning I opened the paper to learn that he was dead. With Bert Jansch, John Renbourn co-founded Pentangle in 1967, the brilliant band of musicians which burst … Continue reading John Renbourn: buckets of tears
How to explain the phenomenon of Breaking Bad? I pondered this as we waited for One Man Breaking Bad to begin last night in a sold-out, packed Liverpool Philharmonic. The fact that Miles Allen, a Los Angeles-based actor and comedian could fill the place with his 80-minute précis of five seasons of a series never shown on UK television is quite something. Asking … Continue reading One Man Breaking Bad
In anticipation of tomorrow’s great astronomical event, I have been recalling the last (and only) time I witnessed a total solar eclipse. In Cornwall on 11 August 1999 we saw the last total eclipse that was visible over the UK (though, last time, totality was only fully visible along a limited path that crossed northern France and Cornwall). Typically, being … Continue reading Total eclipse: darkness and light
Leviathan, the latest film from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, opens with waves beating upon a barren shore where rocks as old as the earth face an implacable, slate-grey sea. Tracking inland across barren wastes to an insistent Phillip Glass score, the camera encounters signs of human imprint on this unforgiving landscape: power lines, the hulks of wrecked and abandoned … Continue reading Leviathan: politics, religion, and vodka (lots)
On show at the Walker in Liverpool until June is a tremendous exhibition of photography by Martin Parr and Tony Ray Jones. I first saw the exhibition Only in England when it was on at the Science Museum in London in 2013, and it so captivated me then that I had to go and see it again. For a … Continue reading Only in England: photos by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr at the Walker
Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint – three of the piano-player greats who have emerged from New Orleans, that laboratory of musical invention, the city where every stream of American music has converged and shape-shifted. None have transmogrified the music to the same degree as a fourth pianist, Mac Rebennack who reinvented himself as Dr John, fusing voodoo psychedelia … Continue reading Dr John at the Phil, Liverpool: Such a Night!
A cloudless sky, the sun warm on my shoulders – one of the first days when it’s felt as if the long tramp through winter’s cold is over. Gardening this morning, then walking my dog in Sefton Park in the afternoon, seeing all this glory in the natural world, brought to mind the question – What is wrong with … Continue reading Spring: sunshine and glory. But: What is wrong with us?