Out of the Blue and on Stage

I’ve just spent the last day and a half, coming up with sure fire excuses to head down to the shops in an attempt to catch sight of one of them.  I walk slowly, smiling ludicrously, trying furtively to gain eye content with any and every 20 year old-ish male, as my affections currently have no limits and I’m desperate to see them again.

Yes, you guessed it…I had the absolute delight of seeing Out of the Blue, live at the New Theatre Oxford on Monday evening.

So, in regards to this particular expedition.  I felt well and truly prepared, as the small chap had received the CD ‘RESOUND’ (2010) for Christmas, which had undergone pretty much continuous playback until ‘RUSH’ (2011) came to live with us and now there is a constant struggle between the two – for which one can make it to the CD player first.

Hence, working with the clues:
You can detect that prior to 7.30pm, 11 June
+   I loved their style
+   I loved their ‘Stacy’s Mom’, ‘Don’t you want me’ and ‘Rehab’ and much, much, more,
+   I even loved their album covers.
However, I wasn’t planning on being a Groupie…???….which, my insides are now bursting to be.

I guess there’s no point holding it back then – rather I’ll embrace it, so with no further ado

  • 1st law of being a groupie – buy the programme.
    And familiarise yourself with the product.  Learn their backstory and spend time acquainting yourself with their photographic image (if one is provided).

Aside from that I’m still working on my technique – so back to Monday evening then

Picture: Fifteen young men, really enjoying themselves, standing on stage in different formation, using slight (though sometimes not so slight) body movement – excellently choreographed, singing beautifully, without accompaniment – aside from the rhythm and beats they produce themselves, smiling lots and giving the audience more than they had bargained for.  Then add, perhaps fifteen tunes – a mixture of pop, rock, R&B and by far the best rendition of Amazing Grace you are ever likely hear and you have about a third of how it really was.

Not only are these men terrific, they put on a great show.

Their appeal crosses all boundaries and their Musical Director (Nick Barstow) deserves special mention, for the arrangement of the pieces, selection of best fit voices and the diversity of the music/songs/singing, must have been a pretty hard problem to solve and you did it Mr Barstow, with Distinction.

Therefore…Young chaps be afraid, be very afraid – as I’m now 100% your biggest follower.

Petit Mal

Though I generally stretch out the timescale between my adventures and attempt not to over stimulate and excitement myself too much, I couldn’t…wouldn’t…dream of passing up a little more pleasure – for the Race Horse Company were coming to town.

Between you and me, I hadn’t actually heard too much about them though the advertising material grabbed my interest, for anything to do with ‘extraordinarily talented young artists’, ‘world-class circus like you’ve never seen before’ and ‘seemingly impossible stunts’ tends to snatch my attention.

Thus, I found myself sitting very eagerly in Row K, pretty much in the centre of a really jubilant and very mixed aged audience, three evenings ago.

First thing to take on board – this show both extended and exceeded my appreciation and definition of circus.

Secondly –they did not stop, for the three incredibly agile, accomplished and amazing performers were either scaling poles; wrestling (in a very attractive and acrobatic way); bouncing, flipping and racing around on Swiss Balls; breakdancing, trampolining (though none of that run of mill kind of stuff – rather in a cool street way); climbing in and out of tyres; staying in character (for the most part as surly, fairly destitute worksite, employees – I think…); whilst providing their sold out audience with an unbelievably animated evening out.

Thirdly – Everything was on time.  Why so shocked?  Well, I’m one whom you’d refer to as, less than co-ordinated, so when I see people doing things ‘in time’ ‘together’, I find this to be top shelf in the achievement stakes.

Fourthly – the music and lighting fits really, really, well with the performance. It’s utilised brilliantly for mood setting and staging.

Finally – and this might explain the performance better than I can:
The applause that followed the final act was enormous and so full of thanks.  There was no holding back with a polite clap, for people were cheering, squealing and whistling their appreciation. Even perhaps 25% of the audience got to their feet to illustrate their gratitude, which I haven’t seen for a truly long time.

I’ve just googled where they are heading next – so take my advice and do your darnedest and get tickets, for it’s original and will expand your appreciation of what’s possible.

  • 12th and 13th June – Poole Lighthouse
  • 15th, 16th and 17th – Sherman Theatre, Cathays, Cardiff

Hooray for Hay!

Gosh, such an early wake up but such fabulous fun.

So, bleary eyed and not so bushy tailed, I surfaced Friday morning at 5.05am – thankfully with good reason.  For I and the rest of the clan were heading to Hay, the Hay Festival to be precise.  An excellent location to hang out and let the experience and erudition of the Artists (Hay’s word, not mine), diffuse into all of one’s parts.

Hence armed with tickets, my husband maybe a little ambitious with his back to back programme, we headed out West to see and hear real published authors; sit and listen starry-eyed to historians and cheer on the champions of children’s/teenagers’ literature.

It was soggy, really soggy – Friday that is, as we’d booked to attend events over a two day period.

Kick off (10.00hr) saw us happily stationed in the mid to back audience of Simon and Alex Scarrow. Both brothers, both writers and both entertaining.  I’ll confess now, I haven’t read either, though this in no way distracted from the appeal (however husband and small chap have enjoyed muchly). For they confidently sell their product and enchanted all of us with extracts from their books, answering questions from the audience in a very honest way and challenging six contestants to a history quiz.

Moving to the 14.30hr slot – small chap and my mystery event – as we had no idea what we were up for – though had a feeling it might be about puberty from a girl’s point of view.   Yes, some young males might be disinterested, though luckily this one I feel is beyond being put-off, rather desires the inside scoop.  And the scoop was plentiful.

Louise Rennison, it was an absolute pleasure being in your audience.  You were laugh out loud good fun from the moment you stepped on stage.  Furthermore, you engaged everyone completely with your terrifically layback and genuine approach to growing up and describing it, both in words, personal tales and actions. Your extracts were a mix of chortle loudly whilst patting one’s eyes so one’s mascara wouldn’t run, especially the re-tell of Tallulah’s evening at the movies and what happens when she reaches home.

As testament to your impress factor, small chap whispered across within ten minutes of being in your presence, ‘Can we buy some of her books please?’ (thankfully he said please which is not only a relief, though further evidence of how much enjoyment he was experiencing). Honestly though, I wasn’t waiting for him to ask, for I’d already decided, this lady requires much more of my time. You were so worth the wait at book signing and thank you for looking pleased to meet us.

Day Two  – dawns.

9.00hr – found us back in Big Tent, in the company of Charlotte Higgins as Chair and Bettany Hughes, Alice Oswald, Madeline Miller and Tim Whitmarsh on the panel, discussing for the most part, interpretations of Homer’s Iliad.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous that this might go over my head, though luckily it didn’t, well not all of it. Instead I found myself contemplating ways that I could encourage the five of them to come over to my house later for a drink and a further chat.  For they were all so good at explaining their intentions and approaches to the text, putting across their enthusiasm for the subject and instilling in us all – the importance, brilliance and impact that both The Odyssey and the Iliad carry.

Ohh and I also took in a little celebrity spotting (aside from obviously what was on stage) for in the audience there was one of, the very friendly and hardworking members of the Creation Theatre team whom I forced my young chap to go up to and say ‘Hello’.

Post event, husband rushed off for book signing with Madeline Miller and Bettany Hughes (yes, I feel he is as starry eyed as I am) and small chap and I headed off to AA Gill talking to John Mitchinson, hoping Daddy would make it in time.  And yes he did.

Mr Gill and Mr Mitchinson, were a super match.  The audience was HUGE. And the topic for discussion was based around AA Gill’s new book, The Golden Door: Letters to America.

A very, very, entertaining mix of wit, interesting fact, strong opinion, a call from Mummy, the random expletive, wonderful story telling and a riveted audience. Pure enjoyment.

Post a break and happily the sun arriving, husband headed off to take in some World War II chats and small chap and I returned to the children’s/teenage scene.  First stop – 13.00hr – Philip Reeve talks to Sarah McIntyre.  In actual fact less talk to each other, more interaction with their very eager assembled listeners.  We were treated to extracts from Mr Reeve’s new book Goblins; introduced to Clovenstone; invited to fire a goblin at a flip chart using a bratapult; and let in on a collaboration between Mr Reeve and Miss (or Ms or Mrs, sorry Wikipedia couldn’t tell me) McIntyre which will hopefully arrive within the next 12-18 months.

Then the One small chap had been really waiting for, his favourite author – Christopher Paolini (14.30hr), and what a wonderful high to leave Hay on.

For the young Mr Paolini (born 1983), has not only devoted over half his life to producing/writing the ‘magnificent’ (small chap’s description) Inheritance Cycle and in the process pleasing millions of readers worldwide, he also -in the flesh- radiates enthusiasm, is an incredibly effervesce individual and I feel is a wonderful and inspiring role model.  He provided the audience with a brief background to how it all began, what he’s currently up to and where he’s going. Further too, he gave the assembled mass the news they most wanted to hear, that there would be a 5th tome in the cycle, though they may need to wait as he has twenty other books he’s interested in writing as well.  What a relief!  He wasn’t going to leave his adoring audience wanting, he’s going to provide them with further for their feast.  This Big Tent event was Big Pleasure and beautifully topped off with a meeting and signing with the man.

I had a sensational two days. Thank you Hay Festival!