You can see the The Rocky Horror Show over and over again. It is addictive. There is so much to it. It works on so many different levels, and covers so many different subjects: Science fiction, B movies, sexual freedom, promiscuity, and rock ‘n’ roll. It is funny, naughty and – at times- moving. It is not just a cult. It is a philosophy. “Don’t Dream It, Be It” . They say.
Now celebrating its fortieth year (first premiered in June 1973) it was written by out-of-work Richard O’Brien to keep himself busy. The show has been given a new coat of paint and was trundled out in time for Christmas in Brighton. An apt location (if ever there was one) and a fitting time of the year. It is has always been a dressing-up box panto for adults.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the new Frank N Furter is played by Oliver Thornton, who was winner of Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for “Best Supporting Actor in a Musical” in 2010 playing Adam (Felicia) in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. So this part suits him from the top of his scarlet fascinator, down to the tips of his polished toes.
The Narrator in Brighton was Philip Franks – probably best known as “Charley” to “Darling Buds” fans, or more recently as Sgt. Raymond Craddock from Heartbeat. The The X Factor runner up Rhydian plays Rocky.
The majestic Theatre Royal in Brighton was dressed up to the nines for the starry opening night. Cleverly designed red tinsel boas lined the windows and doors. Inside the venue, the place looked like a tart’s boudoir. So it was perfect for this show. The Brighton crowd bustled in, most were dressed up to have some fun. “No water, lighters, cards, water pistols ….” Said the stern lady on the door as we went through to take our seats. She pointed out a long list of rules that were printed onto the door. We could not see all the rules of the house, but the list probably included ‘No smiling’ and ‘Do not sing’. But there you are, that’s ‘Health and Safety’ Britain for you.
But once the show got under-way, the “regular Rocky fans” (they tend to describe everyone else as mere ‘Mortals’) found cunning ways to beat the system. So, for example, when we got to the line about seeing a light “Over at the Frankenstein Place” … the Rocky fans held up a wide range of party lights, glo-sticks and torches.
The ‘house band’ was loud and expressive. They delivered a real punch. Full credit must go to Gareth Owen for Sound Design and Tony Castro: Musical Supervisor. And some of the cast played their roles superbly well. Leggy Abigail Jaye was excellent as The Usherette/Magenta. And in this new production, The Usherette pushes back the tatty curtain, to literally open up the show. This was a nice touch.
The new Brad (Ben Forster) and Janet (Roxanne Pallett) don’t now start their story outside the church at the Hapshatt wedding. The show starts with the newly engaged couple already travelling in the car.
The old castle has been carefully created (Set Designer Hugh Durrant) and seemed to be a bit more believable than the 2009-10 production. But there were some minor irritations. The television monitor scene in Act 2 was poorly executed. And it took a lot of imagination (and knowledge of the show) to get an idea of what was happening. And there was too much ‘smoke’ when Riff Raff and Magenta emerge wearing space-suits. And even more smoke was used when the castle went off into space. We hope that these problems will be ironed out in the coming weeks.
The big question is – was Oliver Thornton passable as Frank? Well, to be fair, he has some pretty big platform shoes to fill. David Bedella (as the most recent incarnation in the UK) was considered by many fans as one of the best Frank N Furters in the Rocky story. It is going to be a while before Oliver Thornton is able to make the role his own. At times, during the Brighton performance, his accent seemed shaky. Was it Welsh? Was it starchy English? Or was it Transylvanian? But maybe that was all part of the act. But all-in-all, Thornton struck an imposing figure. Sultry, masculine and threatening. It will be nice to see him develop the role.
Far weaker, though, in our opinion, was Rhydian (playing Rocky until March 2013.) Not only was he physically weaker (there were no gymnastics during “The Sword of Damocles” – and he was unable to pick up Frank in the ‘dying’ moments ) but he was also vocally weaker . He seemed to lack stage presence * [Update below]
In conclusion, I think that we felt just a bit of disappointment that Christopher Luscombe did not try something entirely fresh and innovative for this special 40th anniversary production. Without spoiling the essence of the show, some risks could have been taken. For example, why does Frank always have to be some kind of incarnation of Tim Curry? Why not try a different approach – for example a sleazy Essex-boy type. ( Russell Brand’s name was mentioned recently in connection with a new movie version… not that I am recommending him for the role -heaven forbid – but you get the idea.) Or why not try a sexy urban-style player – based on someone like Idris Elba’s character “Stringer” Bell from the HBO drama series ‘The Wire’ ?
But perhaps that’s the beauty and the essence of the show. Like all good pantomimes, we all know who we have to hiss at. And root for. The heroes and villains are crudely drawn. But they are easy to identify.
And, in Brighton, when Richard O’Brien came on stage for a final “Time Warp” – and the audience burst into irresistible applause – we all knew that this was a very special moment. “For a show that was not expected to last more than a few weeks … we did pretty well,” said Richard. “Don’t you think?” The crowd roared their approval.
Here is to another forty years!
– © Neil_Mach December 2012 –
There are a whole bunch of new UK Tour Dates. So check the website http://www.rockyhorror.co.uk/ for details and book your tickets as soon as you can !
From : Andrew
He’d sprained his wrist, didn’t you notice the strapping? It’s not condusive to picking up another human being or doing gymnastics!. Vocally weak? You didn’t see the injury so I’m not convinced you could hear very well either, Rhydian has a very powerful voice.
Sorry this had to be said- Are you not aware that all directors who attempt RHPS have to run their ideas by R’Ob first? The possibility is- R’Ob likes his production how it is. And so do all us fans- or we wouldn’t keep returning.
For those still able to think rationally after a night of dubious groping, mysterious smooching and comprehensively debauched indulgence, Sunday morning was a laid-back affair of gentle musings and fondly remembered after-glows.
Polite Bristol based alt-rock quartet ‘The Bronze Medal’ provided the kind of slow-burn music that warms the cockles of your day, and allows you to slip gently into a state of consciousness.
And then ‘The General’ played a pleasing set of Sunday morning songs on the Introducing Stage. These were exquisitely produced and highly refined ‘Gypsy folk’ numbers – decorated with a kind of sentimental zithering ‘Cossack’ sound.
After that, most of the crowd headed over to the main stage to enjoy the quality, style and hankering good looks of those ‘Brothers & Bones’ lads. Quite clearly, all the females in the crowd were wilting under the band’s potently masculine charms – but the guys were not just beautiful to look at. They also played some terrific songs and they demonstrated a whole lotta impressive musicianship. They clomped and bounced around the stage at such a huge speed, it was difficult not to get giddy just watching. Good grief, it was a memorable show. Amazing fun. It brought to mind a heavy version of Mumford & Sons.
Tree House Fire, down in the Introducing Tent are a great Pop/Reggae band. Full of energy and spirit. This entertaining bunch of musical geniuses played their socks off. I highly recommend this band to you. Their album is out soon!
Crowds started to descend from the campsite on the hill in formidable numbers for the ‘Don Broco’ slot. This band have really taken over in the last few months. Their album is already tipped for major chart success, and they have been working their way around the UK, bringing their stylized strut filled geezer-rock anthems to almost everyone’s doorsteps. We love ‘em. They are exuberant, loud, rude and arrogant. But their incredible show is full of fun – and we loved to sing along to their merry lager-drinking tunes.
‘The Skints‘ are on everyone’s list of favourite ska bands. Marcia is quite simply one of the most outrageously talented people in the UK. With a heavenly sweet voice, she sublimely undercuts the more brashly defiant vocals from Josh. And she plays keys, sax, flute and melodica. Outstanding.
It seemed that the afternoon was turning into a ska / reggae party when those naughty boys from Essex, the real working class crusaders ‘Missing Andy’ came to the main stage with another helping of ska-based sounds and mod-style British rock.
Missing Andy played a lively and entertaining set. But unfortunately, by now, many of the campers had started to fade in the hot sun and due to the lack of any meaningful sleep. This is a great shame because this band is all about crowd participation. They demand that you dance and be happy. Anyway, the boys still played an enjoyable set to a drooping audience- most of which were now flopped on the grass in heaps.
Just as the sun started to go down, and people started feeling a little more lively and vibrant, then those perky grime and dubstep pranksters from the Foreign Beggars took to the stage with their mischievous typhoon-speed high-jinks. They swept the crowds to their feet, got everyone bouncing again, and started to really shake up the festival. Playing some old tracks, they also played material from their latest releases and even did an impromptu RedFest song to get the audience really moving and grinding. Frisky business!
Best memory: DJ Nonames from Foreign Beggars putting on a ‘wasp’ costume from the fancy dress box… “Where does this actually go?” He asks bandmate MC Orifice Vulgatron – pointing to the yellow and black ‘sting’ – which now protrudes from THE FRONT of his trousers…
– © Neil_Mach July 2012 –
After a small amount of confusion in the dance tent – Friday night soon got off to a promising start with some monster sounds outrageously produced by the eminent RedFest DJ’s.
Revellers danced to the fun-packed electro clubland grimy dubstep grooves from 10 o’clock until way into the wee-wee hours … and the crowd were even entertained by a Modestep DJ set. It was a legendary party! If you weren’t there, shame on you.
And on Saturday morning, after sleeping 2 hours (on average) things seemed even more exotically brilliant. Why? Because the sun had come out to play!
Suicide Si and Taygon Paxton lit up the Acoustic Tent in the morning with their generous and motivational sets. And punk stars ‘Loose Lips’ provided some much needed summer madness over in the Introducing Tent. They were followed by the young hip-hop combo ‘Critical State’ getting all hot ‘n’ sexy afterwards.
Up on the main stage, meanwhile, Clement Marfo and the Frontline gloried in the huge crowd anticipation. Grabbing many new converts for their funky blend of hip-hop and rock, this band’s idiosyncratic fusion of dance sounds created the ultimate party atmosphere in the afternoon. An enthusiastic crowd basked in the glorious afternoon sunshine – and lapped up Clement’s hugely entertaining set.
Next on stage were the inimitable Manchester based Rock / Reggae Hip-Hop slicksters Sonic Boom Six. When Laila K shouted to the crowd to get up onto each other’s shoulders – and sway – all followed. This was sexy. It was sleazy. And it was shimmering sensational fun. SB6 are a real stand-out act.
For a more subdued, but nonetheless magical, experience – many of us went over to the Acoustic Tent for some delectable goodness – courtesy of those luscious sounds from the soothing voice of Kadija Kamara. Her amazingly beautiful vocal range reminded us of Aretha Franklin. She was followed by the equally impressive and totally captivating pop-soul ‘diva in waiting’ Kal Lavelle, who performed an enjoyable and cheekily humour filled set to a delighted audience.
Kings Lynn heavy rockers Deaf Havana played a gig so loud and so ear-bashingly invasive that it, quite literally, hurt. I have the bruises to prove it. How can anything compare with that extraordinary power and unbridled energy?
Well, Fei Comodo certainly gave it their all – with a mighty set. Their impressively awesome energy nearly brought the Gozibe Introducing tent down around our ears. But, alas this was to be their first date in a swan song tour … so if you missed them at RedFest, I’m afraid to tell you that time is running out to see them live for one last time!
The headline act on Saturday night were the South Wales rock legends and showpiece sonic supremos ‘Kids In Glass Houses’. This band plays rock ‘n’ roll in it’s finest form. Full on, dynamic and spirited music played at the highest possible volume- like the mighty zeal of a cataclysmic storm. How anyone could sleep after that? I don’t know. And as far as I’m aware, no one did!
With dance tents full to capacity and some legendary DJ’s stacked up – the parties literally went on from dusk till dawn! And the sky stayed cloudless! OHMYGOD !
Best memory: Vocalist Laila K ( Sonic Boom Six)hastily writing ” I LOVE LAILA … FROM SONIC BOOM SIX’ onto the back of a totally unaware punter in the crowd !
– © Neil_Mach July 2012 –
TBC: Check back soon for Part Three of my RedFest Report
Arriving at the beautiful site of Redfest at Robins Cook Farm things looked a bit gloopy. Dark clouds swirled and threatened overhead and we decided to quickly get our tents up over our heads, in nervous anticipation of a very imminent downpour.
Kicking the festival off in style were locally based rockers ‘The Blue Pursuit’ (who managed to sticka the whole site within a few hours – every toilet seat was stickered–so most bum cheeks were impressed by the band.) And then we were treated to the tasty post prog-metal anthems of XenicibiS adding texture and celebration – to go with our much needed ‘first drink of the day’.
Over at the Acoustic tent stunning ‘Alice Dale’ performed an intrinsically radiant set that warmed up the delighted crowd, and she was followed by the profound musical talent of ‘Lewis Mokler‘ pursued – as usual – by his gaggle of female devotees -his ‘Hot Moklates’.
Bringing some glamour and sophistication to the Gozibe Music Introducing Stage was the talented and majestic Hertfordshire 5 piece ‘Burn So Bright’ fronted by the delectably attractive Millie. Then, after a sizzling set from the Borderline:Fire, the plentiful crowd in the Gozibe tent were treated to the effervescent magnificence of those haughty rockers ‘New Ivory’.
This undeniably controversial and reliably theatrical rock act is causing quite a buzz on the live music circuit. And festival goers could see for themselves how the band have managed to garnish their reputation. New Ivory tactics/antics included their drummer Nite succumbing to a hysterically childish yet divertingly comical hissy fit because his stool was too low – he threatened to walk off stage before the band had even started to play a single note. Later on, front man Mickey started climbing onto one of the main speaker stacks (the ten foot high one) – much to the alarm and trepidation of the security – to play a lead-guitar solo. He later huskily waltzed off stage in an indignant huff – but not before he had executed an enigmatic stage dive and returned to the stage crawling on all fours. Who needs humility? This is rock and roll…
WeCaughtTheCastle put on a grandstanding show- the radiant smile of golden-haired singer Hollie Elizabeth helping to offset the dark & gloomy clouds threatening to form overhead. WeCaughtTheCastle had already suffered the humiliation of having their tour van securely locked in sticky mud in the track that leads onto the backstage area – but the security staff has helped pull the van out of the mire – and get the timings back on track.
As usual ‘Attention Thieves‘ staged an excellent and enjoyable show. They are now scheduled to play Reading and Leeds (BBC Introducing Stage) so if you missed them in the intimate environment at RedFest, then you will have missed out on seeing this amazing band at close-hand. These boys are sky-rocketing up to the very top. Mark my words!
Over on the Main Stage the first of the really big hitters of RedFest 2012 unfurled their array of furious, but complicated, metal extravaganzas to the amazed and adoring crowd. Playing an enormously enjoyable and deliciously frenetic set, Mallory Knox set the tone for the rest of the evening … magic, mayhem and munificently mighty metal.
Next up were the sublime dub-metal doom-punk magicians (everyone is now talking about them) Subsource. Still doing their best to destroy every soundsystem in the land, they played numbers so exotically deafening that it is some small wonder that the band didn’t set off some kind of a quake alert! And, man, can these fella’s play? What an incredible treat!
Over on the Gozibe stage ‘Honour Is Dead’ were playing to a jam packed house – their Metal/Hardcore sounds causing muddy confusion in the jammy mosh pits. And then the magnificent ‘Shadows Chasing Ghosts’ screamed onto stage with their death or glory anthems bursting out to the frantically baying crowd.
When High Wycombe’s ‘Young Guns’ rose up onto the main stage to confront the rabbling masses – the party really began to sizzle. As the animated crowd lurched, lunged and reeled as one, the band played a masterful and truly electrifying show. This band is one this country’s most bravely ambitious bands, and they are already looking to dominate the sound-waves with their ‘Bones’ release. They have justifiably earned their title as the UK’s greatest ‘must have’ band at any live music event. Lucky RedFest revellers could see why this band has managed to garner themselves such a righteous reputation. Their musicanship, songwriting and showmanship is truly out-and-out brilliant. This performance marked them out as one of the highlights of the entire RedFest weekend.
But the icing on the RedFest cake was yet to come – because the remarkable ‘Modestep’ was headlining on the main stage. This band’s unique blends of dubstep, rock and electro sounds nearly caused a mini-riot – especially as Josh Modestep demanded that revellers “Get up and get moving…” Motivated by their womp-womp spirit and irresistible energy, the whole crowd jumped – AS ONE- for joy. Joy of life. And joy for music. What a day!
Best memory: Rapper ‘Twivey’ (from hip-hop band Critical State) setting fire – he claims ‘accidentally’ – to huffy New Ivory lead singer Mickey’s preciously combed quiff …
– © Neil_Mach July 2012 –
TBC: Check back soon for Part Two of my RedFest Report
The rain stayed behind the threatening clouds right until the end of the show at this weekends successful ‘Laughing Stock‘ Festival held in Shepperton. Hosted by Linda & Jon Jagger, at their riverside home. ‘Laughing Stock’ is an exceptional afternoon of exciting live music, provided by 8 live bands, including local heroes like Lee Aaron, Prezence and of course – !Daft!
The proceeds from this enjoyable family day out went to the EAGLE RADIO TRUST – this is supporting local causes.
Festival goers were welcomed by an arc of gazebos encircling the tented stage – looking almost like a defensive circle of wagons just before an imminent Apache attack. But these precautions were necessary to overcome the nasty and discouraging weather that we are all becoming rather bored with during this soggy summer.
But the ‘pioneers’ were soon able to leave the safety of their tents and spread themselves out in a neighbourly fashion – along the tidy riverside lawns – to enjoy the simply superb live music on offer.
Delights included classic rockers Prezence (the self-proclaimed rock gods of the south.) The extraordinary drummer Lee Aaron with his talented band. And the great voice of ‘Mercy’ with ‘The Hog’.
In the early evening we were all chilled out beautifully and reliably intoxicated. And happy to see the top of-the-bill band – !Daft! – doing their thing. This group is the UK’s top Rock and Pop cover band – they are exceptional musicians and masterful entertainers. But as the band started to play the REEF anthem “Place Your Hands” and the swaying crowd waved happily to the lyrics ‘Put Your Hands On…’ the first fat spatters of rain started to be felt.
The !Daft! guys suggested cutting their set short – and some festival goers even started packing their picnic baskets and putting on cagoules and wellies – but for the majority of the crowd it was an easy decision … let’s dance in the rain!
A memorable event of love, peace and music.
© Neil_Mach July 2012
We spoke today with the band, just as the announcement about RedFest 2012 was being made – and they promised us plenty of shimmering summer shenanigans, and a bounty of their hardest hitting mixology. Founder of Dented Records and resident rapper on all Foreign Beggars material Orifice Vulgatron told us, “2012 has been a pretty hectic year for us – our first ever headline USA TOUR, Working in studio with Deadmau5. Live broadcast for the Mau5hax in Miami, Remixed with Engine Earz. The New Meshuggah Single, and finally recording a new album! “ It doesn’t get any more bursting busy than this.
The 2012 Robins Cook Farm extravaganza in the glorious Surrey countryside is already promising to be a totally awe inspiring and utterly thrilling experience for fans of the band. And of course, the excitement of any Foreign Beggars live show is legendary. “We are really looking forward to this festival,” D.J. Nonames explained “And you can also expect to see us at SW4 (along with Skrillex) and at this year’s Glade Festival.” And expect the unexpected. “We had pyrotechnics on stage in New Zealand … The dude got a bit excited – we dropped a shell-shock, and we nearly sh*t ourselves.” “ There’s gonna be some crazy sh*t, just have to wait and see!” Added Orifice Vulgatron.
“We have been touring extensively …. the U.S. portion was the most exciting part of our tour. Webster Hall in NYC – and LA – was insane.” The RedFest date [July 22nd] comes towards the sharp-end of a hefty schedule of performances for the band, and so the Foreign Beggars expect to be highly buffed, full of juice, and as deranged as ever. They will be up for anything. “We’re always touring…” Says Nonames “Although it’s not healthy to look too far ahead… or it can be a bit overwhelming.” But he recommends to start prepping for the party now – because this will be monumental.
Foreign Beggars were talking to Neil Mach