Efterklang

imgKatie and Katherine did a showing in St. Martins in the Bullring of their new show which they’ve been working on for the last ten days. Ten of us were invited to watch the performance as it weaved its way around the church, with interludes to stop and read stories and related Bible verses. It was based on the story of Ruth in the Old Testament, though I don’t think all of the audience realised this. They could be forgiven because it was told through the stories of several different people, for instance a Polish immigrant builder.

It was a non-stop evening because we then went to our Italian class, followed swiftly afterwards by Efterklang. This ten piece Danish art-rock ensemble was pared down to a mere eight members, packed into the function room of a pub. The singer played drums at the front of the stage and had an intense physicality remenicient of Ian Curtis. The music was a cross between Sigur Ros and Tuung, both bands which I love, and hence they couldn’t go far wrong. It was great to see a band enjoying themselves so much, and I hope they become better known. Who knows, perhaps the BBC will hire them to soundtrack their next natural history series.

The Car Man

Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man was a contemporary dance show in the Hippodrome. I was trying to work out what to say about it, because I don’t really know anything about dance, I’m a bit like a child walking into a cinema; I’ve got no frame of reference. I could have described the way that they’d transposed Bizet’s Carmen into a Dust-bowl era American town, population 374, or the way that the dancers threw themselves about with abandon. The warning notice on the door does a much better job than me. It warned that the performance contains:

“Strobe lighting, gunshots, smoking on stage, simulated sex scenes, full frontal nudity and… angle grinding.”

Water

We’re made of it, we depend on it and in the future, many wars are expected to be fought over it. Water, the Filter theatre show we watched at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday night was the second show I’ve seen this year on the subject, the other being A Few Little Drops at Edinburgh.

They were very different shows – A Few Little Drops invited the audience to walk around a set, and had a rough-and-ready, deteriorating feel to it, as if the whole place had been flood damaged. Water took the slick approach, as you might expect given Radiohead’s Live Performance Director, Andi Watson’s involvement. The set was all plasma screens and beds and windows sliding smoothly across the stage. The actors communicated mainly by phone, iChat and just occasionally face to face. I found the three stories to be involving and thought provoking. The world is going to be a very different place as the climate shifts gear.

The National, Digbeth

Perhaps its just me, but there seems to be a lot more live music in Brum now than there used to be. When I was a student, I used to end up going to Wolverhampton for a gig fix. Nowadays, the centre of town is lifting with venus, and perhaps this is making it harder for promoters to find venues. It was certainly a long time since Steve had been to the Irish Centre for a gig, but last night The National filled the place and almost lifted the roof off.

Perhaps it was the frustration of being kindly requested not to practice Irish dancing in the dressing room, but Matt Berninger sang like a man possessed. Especially during Squalor Victoria during which he was, in his own words “foisted”. The rhythm section was amazing, growling like an 8 litre V10 and the guitars competed for attention with the violin. The only disappointment were the tracks that they inevitably couldn’t play from their substantial back-catalogue, like Karen. My highlight was the closer, Fake Empire, and the crowd went wild for “Mr. November” having bayed for it between songs.

Ed’s Events

I’ve started doing events listings of upcoming events in Birmingham that I would go to if I had lots of money and time, and could divide myself into multiple copies of myself. I’m going to integrate the listings into this blog in the future (don’t hold your breath), but for now, they are on edsevents.tumblr.com.