Wednesday, 10 June 2009

That's Entertainment!

Little Feat
The Sage, Gateshead

I don’t know an awful lot about Little Feat but I was happy enough to take the opportunity to go and see them on a rare visit to the North East.

The Sage is a magnificent venue; spacious, complete with eating places and convenient toilets (I know…such features shouldn’t be remarkable, but they are!).

The warm-up act was a bit too heavy metal for my taste but most people seemed to enjoy it.

It’s hard to define the style of Little Feat. A little bit rock, a little bit country and a slice of jazz probably comes closest.

They played well but my lack of familiarity in their back catalogue started to tell after a while and I found it increasingly difficult to really get into the songs. I enjoyed the show on one level, but not as much as the others I’ve seen over the last couple of years.

I will be returning to the Sage very shortly for two more shows, so expect a report soon.

Brief Encounter
Theatre Royal, Newcastle

The Kneehigh Theatre production of Noel Coward’s famous love story is probably the finest play I have ever seen.

The standard is set before the show actually starts, with members of the cast, in full costume, appearing amongst the audience to sing authentic songs from the period.

The play starts with a remarkable special effect, with one of the characters apparently stepping right into a black and white film. This, and other effects - such as a train crossing the stage and one of the characters being hoisted into the air by a chandelier - produce several genuinely jaw-dropping moments. I don’t want to say too much it as it may dilute your own enjoyment if you go to see it.

The basic plot should be very well known to you all. The intrinsic, central premise remains untouched and extremely powerful, but this production takes the liberty of injecting a huge amount of songs and humour into proceedings, most of it genuinely laugh-out loud. This is a risky innovation but it all works remarkably well.

Whether you are a Coward fan or not, this is a must-see production. I’d definitely be interested in seeing it again.

A Meal With The Mish

I was delighted to see that my old friend Mike Closs had once again captured the title of Cleveland Chess Champion.

He’s my longest-standing chess ‘frenemy’; we went to different schools together and first met, over-the-board, in the 1982 Warsett v Westfields match (a draw on board 1).

For some years we met on opposing teams in matches between Guisborough and Redcar. Then Mike joined Guisborough and we won the title.

Over a decade later we joined forces again at Elmwood and won the league and cup many times.

Alas, we have not played against each other for several years (but the French Defence and the Saemisch King's Indian will probably be seen again some day).

These days I am more in the habit of meeting my former chess rivals at the dining table
(...for example:
and: ) and we had a very pleasant evening at Alessi's in Saltburn earlier this week.

There will be more about the Mighty Mish in forthcoming posts, but meanwhile here's a picture of us on our post-meal coastal perambulation.

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