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GODSPELL — by Eagle House at Wilde Theatre

It’s Lent so we decided to get “churched up” this week.

We headed to the excellent Wilde Theatre, at South Hill Park to see the Eagle House [ School in Sandhurst] present their GODSPELL.

The 1971 show with music by Grammy award winning Stephen Schwartz [Enchanted ] and a loose script based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew ( originally re-envisioned by playwright John-Michael Tebelak) is a popular show for touring companies and has enjoyed many revivals.

The structure of the GODSPELL musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The structure of the musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The original London production starred characters like Julie Covington, David Essex, Jeremy Irons and Marti Webb. We were fortunate enough to have seen the original West End Wyndhams production back in 1972. But we love to see new productions and were excited to see the Eagle House show.

In the Seventies the stage show was a fluid and conceptual performance. It borrowed elements from dance, music and circus to tell the story of “Christ’s Passion”.

In the early days of the stage-show the figure of Christ was dressed as a clown. His “tribe” were portrayed as a group of irresponsible, long-haired hippies.

Now the hippie clothing is gone, because today’s youth movements tend to be associated more with athletic trainers and sportswear. The younger elements of the Eagle House Godspell Team wore printed t-shirts with the hash-tagged “Godspell logo” while main cast members wore distinctive tartans.

The magnificent Wilde Theatre is perfect for this kind of innovative, unpretentious presentation. At Godspell the audience was seated on all four sides of the staging.

After the exultant sound of a brass shofar the audience and cast “Prepared” for the “Way of the Lord”. This first song was an exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic number, sung by the whole cast [all five teams] who circled the newly baptised Christ in a spiritual state. Followers were given rubber wristbands to show their affiliation and discipleship.

Exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic…

A characteristic of the earliest shows, and all theatrical productions since, has been topicality.

Once we saw Godspell during the period known as the Three-Day Week, this was in the “power-cut Seventies” and the big joke was that it didn’t matter how dark things got because the audience was “The light of the World.”

Similarly, during the storytelling from Eagle House we had mentions of Facebook, Premier Inn, Justin Bieber and Fake News.

And of course the big, rich baddie (before “All for the Best” ) was Donald Trump.

Ben Trunck, perhaps shorter in stature than we expected, played a fascinating Jesus character — full of vivid personality. While Mark Dickin interpreted Judas skulking presence perfectly.

A feeling of “loving community” encompassed everything…

Each year group of Eagle House wanted to stage their own parable and musical number — so this meant the show was a wonderful consolidation of excellent sketches — each interconnected with the next.

The overall experience, from the perspective of the audience, was a feeling of “loving community” that encompassed everything.

Day By Day” always was — and still is — the most memorable song from the show and in Basingstoke the number was handled intelligently and with sympathy.

All Good Gifts” was brilliantly choreographed and elegantly efficient. Also, at one point, after “Save the People” we had an army of scary zombies grabbing at souls…

There was humour, movement, excitement and tenderness throughout the show — with great dramatic use of simple objects, like the coloured blocks.

Our favourite song was “On The Willows” — it came after the Last Supper scene. Psalm 137 — from which the song is taken — has been set to music by several composers over the years and the lament found in Godspell is possibly the best of all of them. The Eagle House vocalists performed the difficult harmonies with distinction.

This was an excellent production.

All 128 cast members [ages 9 to 13] should be congratulated, as well as their staff at Eagle House and the committed parents who made it all possible.

5 Stars

Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Links: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SouthHillParkArtsCentre
http://www.eaglehouseschool.com/

Godspell at The Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park was ann amateur production presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd

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Anderson / Wakeman – Are They Just Yes-terdays Men?

On the evening of Friday 22nd October I went to see Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson  [The Anderson-Wakeman Project] at The Anvil, Basingstoke.

I approached this concert with a feeling of some ambivalence. The whole thing about these antique rock treasures being taken out of the old trophy cupboard and dusted down saddens me. I can think of nothing worse than spending an evening fawning over some old has-been who is attempting to rekindle that long extinguished flame one more time.  And all that servile pretentiousness that is expected from the audience. All those fake nostalgic feelings. And all that hushed beatification of the noble rock luvvies – the entire experience tends to bring bile to my lips. If old rockers don’t die gracefully then, at the very least, they should be forced into exile far away – running a trout farm or something. We do not need them to come back every five minutes, trying to hit the high notes, and rambling on about how freaky everything was back in ‘73. It is undignified. And, worse still, it reminds us that we are getting old too. So, no thanks.  If we really want to hear them at their very finest then we can download their stuff onto MP3 can’t we?  We don’t need them to be standing there in the weakly quasi-living flesh, doing their absent-minded best to entertain us in some frail way do we? But, on the other hand, what if they still could still turn on the old magic? What if the gift was still there? What if they could still deliver a sting?  It is so intriguing that it is almost worth taking the risk.  But, frankly,  I was  prepared to be disappointed.

As I sat waiting patiently in the luxurious surroundings of The Anvil I couldn’t help asking myself…  Are Rick and Jon just yesterdays men? Can they still pass muster?  Culture lovers and quality music aficionados around me seemed to be asking the very same question. Then, as the lights went down, a gentle ripple of applause echoed around the venue, and the two venerable rock-gods shuffled onto the simply light stage. Jon was clutching an acoustic guitar and was dressed casually, as if he was popping up the corner shop for a pinta.  Rick strolled over to the two keyboards. And that was it. We were in the presence of two artists who can conjure up sounds, images, textures and sensations from just an old guitar and a couple of keyboards.  It was magical.

It is interesting that Jon is five years older than Rick – because he doesn’t look it.  Aged 66 (to Rick’s 61) he looks like he is in his late forties. The years have not worn away Jon’s elfin features and nor that airy-fairy posture. Neither have they worn down his amazing voice. Naturally higher than tenor, but without extending to falsetto – his voice has a lush mellow sweetness to it. At this  concert he was still perfectly pitched and the nuances of that nutty-brown Lancastrian accent were still abundantly clear. Jon seemed to be completely baffled by the whole experience of getting up on stage with his guitar and putting on a show.  A consistent theme  ( perhaps  deliberately over-emphasised  for dramatic effect ) was that Jon could not remember the text of any of the songs, nor present a concise introduction to the pieces. In fact, it seemed likely that he didn’t even know what day it was. But the audience seemed perfectly happy to let this go by, and the songs were gorgeously inspiring and wondrously created.

Rick has now become a minor celebrity outside his rock persona for being one of the regular ‘Grumpy Old Men.’ He is also an admired DJ on Planet Rock. As far as I am concerned he can never do wrong, not just because of his keyboard work for ‘Yes’ but also because of his incredible contributions to such famous songs as Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” and Cat Stevens’ re-working of the school assembly hymn “Morning Has Broken.”     I first encountered Rick’s virtuosity on ‘The Strawbs’  ‘From the Witchwood’ album (1971) and I commend to you the track “The Hangman and the Papist”.  I advise you give that a listen, to understand why I was completely blown-away by his spectacular artistry. In the Anderson-Wakeman Project,  Rick keeps things simple. Just two keyboards and a laid-back gentle attitude. Only once or twice did we experience the true greatness and extraordinary rendition of this amazing player.  And at those times he stooped over the keys like a mad praying mantis – a look of deadly concentration upon his face – as his fingers flashed out, like a predator, to take the ivories.

Rick seems, upon the surface, to be ‘of sound mind’ and the more lucid of the partnership. But it is quite clear that he adds depth and magic to the mythical and emotional dimensions of Jon’s characteristically surreal pieces- like those old favourites “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Yours Is No Disgrace”. He is perfectly at ease in translating what seem like the ‘ramblings’ of  an imaginative mind, and turning that jamboree-bag of Jon’s thoughts into real commodities, containing sound and light. These two are a perfect creative partnership. This became even clearer as the new songs emerged from ‘The Living Tree’  and during the “Recital Part” of the show, (as Jon called it.)

Constant humorous interludes and witty interjections from the pair helped enliven the show and added a welcome lightness. Not only were these anecdotes entertaining, they were also inciteful.  According to Jon the two partners collaborate together using email and text – Rick lives in the UK whilst Jon lives in the U.S.A.   So when one has an idea, he urgently emails the other to put across the musical concept. Jon told us how he was grappling with the ideas behind ‘The Living Tree’ and he told us how he had come up with the idea after he had ‘Just come in from the garden… and trees and plants were on my mind ….  I had to contact Rick right away with my thoughts’. Rick added “It’s a good job, then, that you hadn’t just come in from the loo!”   An another occasion Jon was speaking passionately and fervently about the theme of love and how people do not love themselves enough – loving each other has to start somwhere and it ought to start with loving ones self.  Rick interjected ‘ I used to love myself …. a whole lot …. back when I was fourteen – until my dad told me to stop because it would make me go blind’.

Another interesting anecdote was shared with the audience when Jon explained how he had come up with the idea for “Roundabout” [from the 1971 Yes album Fragile ].  ‘In and around the lake – mountains come out of the sky – one mile we’ll be there and see you…’ According to Jon, the band were herded into a van to make a difficult return journey from northern Scotland back to the north of England in time for the next concert. The journey seemed to ‘go on for ever’ and the most annoying parts were the ‘roundabouts’ (circular road junctions) “I remember there seemed to be hundreds of roundabouts on the way back, and at each roundabout there was a traffic hold up – I thought we would never get to our destination.” But the icy lakes and the occasional glimpses of mountains squeezing through the cloud, helped Jon to pass the time and paint a pretty potent lyric.

The purpose of prog rock is to create an imaginary world. To move beyond what is commonplace. To travel through space and time, and reality. To represent textures, sounds and ambiguous ideas in the forms and nuances of light and shadow that make life a dream and reality a memory.

You might like your rock to be earthy and raw. You might need it to be unblemished and simple to digest at times.  But if, like me, you want to leave this tawdry planet every now-and-again and fly off in a paper glider towards those Topographic Oceans then you need bands like ‘Yes’ ( or ‘Porcupine Tree’ and ‘Spock’s Beard’ or ‘Rush’ ) and you need artists like Jon and Rick to help you break the bonds of your existence so that you can float gently away.

In the Anderson-Wakeman Project tour, Rick and Jon have managed to cut down on flamboyances, cut away excesses and shortened the conceited sojourns and the interminable jazz odysseys. This is stark, almost nude, Progressive Rock. Not quite unplugged, but almost. And without the pomposity and the over inflated egos, the audience were left with some simply attractive, carefully crafted, rock pieces. Put together with heart and soul. Yes, the lyrics are in bloom, and you need your thinking-cap on to make the most of it. But for sheer joyous escape, and flight to a better world, there is nothing better than sharing some time with Rick and Jon. I was not disappointed.

© Neil_Mach
October 2010

Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES




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The Anderson/Wakeman Project 360 Tour continues through November culminating in a visit to London’s Indigo at the O2  on 15 Nov

Monday, November 01, 2010      Colston Hall
Bristol

Tuesday, November 02, 2010     Cliffs Pavilion
Southend

Saturday, November 06, 2010     Playhouse
Edinburgh

Sunday, November 07, 2010     Concert Hall
Perth

Monday, November 08, 2010     The Sage
Gateshead

Thursday, November 11, 2010     Palace Theatre
Manchester

Friday, November 12, 2010     The Corn Exchange
Ipswich

Monday, November 15, 2010     indigo2 at the O2
London

Enjoy Destroy

Enjoy Destroy

Enjoy Destroy

Come…let’s play…

Enjoy Destroy have been favourably compared to Juliette & The Licks, Biffy Clyro and Silverchair. Their melodic compositions,
enhancing light and shade and underlining the excesses and the vulnerabilities of this modern age, are tempered by post-grunge anxieties of doom and guilt yet feel welcome in these crunchy & uncertain times of highs and lows.

I saw Basingstoke’s highly favoured sons on a chilly Monday night at the Boileroom, Guildford, and the place was like a statically charged play-pen of anticipation!

The good looking boys have recently been supporting ‘My Vitriol’ on tour and, during this set of live dates, they have built up an astonishing and enviable stage presence and an aura of reliability, trust and sheer musical quality that was fully demonstrated on the Surrey stage.

Enjoy Destroy tested a couple of new tracks on their oh-so friendly supporters but it was the familiar funstuff that the crowd had come in from the cold to celebrate. And, wow, was it not food for the masses? Truly a symphonic sacrament.

Most folk would choose ‘Screamer’ as the iconic Enjoy Destroy song. It starts with a goth-sounding stomach churning chord
line from Freddie that settles down to a rumbling and regular chug-a-chug rising to a sensible and catchy chorus. Lots of
peaks and troughs though… a sure sign of each Enjoy Destroy song.

‘Holiday Lover’ with its kooky harmonisations, chord based anthemic vibes from Chris – along with plenty of syrupy smooth
lead breaks- contrasted well with ‘Rifles’ and the screech and whine of machine chop-shop metals, entwining together with tribal thumping from drummer Tommy, in this futuristic industrial soundscape.

The trademark sound of Enjoy Destroy is the heavily melodic mix of guitar, bass and drums building up a rich tapestry of interwoven
riffs and nifty sequences. The results are often colourful, majestic and sonically influential landscapes.

‘Mactier’ is a favourite song, with a heavily bass influenced riff (Ted) that tends to slightly fade away to reveal, like a gift from the thunder gods, a simply picked shimmer of shiny notes glimmering in a weak light before changing direction and effectively looping-the-loop with an infectious and raucous sing-along chorus.

Celebrating the light and shade, ‘Little Dreams’ starts with a xylophonic set of rapidly dappling notes accentuated by smooth
lead curves and building up to a high plateau of sunlight upon which a platform is established for the insistent and anthemic
choruslines.

For a golden treat and a celebration of darkness and light Enjoy Destroy are incomparable right now. Catch them as soon as
you can, in their youthful and experimental stages of growth… because this band is destined to soar an ever higher arc towards the mountain tops of pop-rock.


© Neil_Mach
JAN 2009


Link:

http://www.myspace.com/enjoydestroy

Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES




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5 Things – This Week in Staines

1.

Duncan Mckenzie & Alec McCabe at Staines

Duncan McKenzie at Staines

Nov 13 2008      9:00P The Staines Riverside Club £3

Those that regularly read this column and support live music in Staines will be familiar with Duncan McKenzie the smooth acoustic and blues operator who has recently been gracing our Thameside venue with his superlative fretwork and polished repertoire of soft, yet invigorating, blues. He has worked, recently, with Mike Piggott and, ofcourse, Big Jim Sullivan. He is now back in town with Alec McCabe.

If you like your blues to be soft, luxurious and professional- this show is not to be missed.  We are very luicky to have these guys in town!

Alec McCabe is a guitar teacher (originally from Australia) who also works as a duo (with  Lizzy Templer) sometimes adding musicians to the mix to create Freepeace a standalone rock band.


http://www.myspace.com/duncanmckenzieuk

2.

Audio.Video.Disco – EP Launch Party- Staines

Audio Video Disco at Staines


Nov 15 2008      8:00P  Audio. Video. Disco. EP Launch Party     Hob Staines

So it all started when Matt and Rich played lots of acoustic guitar for a long time and eventually they got a bit bored of the acoustic circuit and decided it was time for a change.

So in came the help of Adam Linton (bass) and Tom Smith (drums) into the band. Everything seemed to fall into place very quickly and new songs were written in a flash and we hit the ground running. All we needed was the band name….so after months of rubbish ideas and even worse ideas we settled on Audio.Video.Disco. meaning “I hear, I see, I learn” in latin and as rich described it, it was the coolest thing matt has ever come up with in his life!

They have played alongside established pop act Alphabeat, played headline shows at The Fighting Cocks, sold out in their hometown and had a storming set at The Clapham Grand, things are majorly looking up. The band are set to record with engineer / producer Phil English in September and are currently preparing for their biggest gig yet……a headline slot at the London Astoria 2. It’s gonna be mad, get a ticket, don’t be the only person to miss out……

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/audiovideodiscouk


3.

Blues and R&B at Shepperton

Debbie Giles Band at Shepperton

Nov 15 2008      9:00P  Barley Mow     Shepperton

A new entry into the UK blues and R&B circuit

Powerful and passionate vocals with rockin’ rhythm ‘n blues” is based in Guildford, Surrey playing venues in London and mainly the southern counties.


Featuring Debbie Giles (vocals) Phil Headsmith (lead guitar/vocals) Baz Payne (Bass/vocals) and Neil Turfitt (Drums). They have all individually logged years of experience as professional musicians and have developed their own blend of Rocking Rhythm & Blues with Phil Headsmith’s orginal songs.


Most recently in June 2008 they have launched their new album “Shake it Just a Little”, whilst in their live set feature numbers by Thin Lizzy, BB King, Al Green and Jimmie Vaughan, Georgia Satellites to name a few.. Debbie & Phil’s duets have become a focal point of this ‘live band and recently have been featured in “guest radio sessions” with Delta, County Sound 104fm and BBC Radio Swindon.


Formed in October 2006 the band caused a storm when they opened for Mike Pender’s Searchers in July ‘07 at Basingstoke Live Festival.

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/debbiegilesband

4.

Tight Pop/Rock at Staines

A Girl Called Kate at Staines

Nov 15 2008      8:00P at the Audio. Video. Disco. EP Launch Party     Staines

A Girl Called Kate

Mikool: Vocals/Guitars

Benzie: Vocals/Bass

Jake: Guitars

Megan: Synth/Vocals

Alex: Drums

If you like  The Subway, The Automatic, The Killers etc, You are gonna love this!

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/agckband



5.

The Folk Group of the Year- at Windsor

Lau at Windsor

Nov 12 2008      7:00P Lau     Windsor Fire station Arts Centre

“BBC RADIO 2 FOLK GROUP OF THE YEAR 2008”

Lau is a formidable union of three of the finest and most innovative exponents of modern traditional music in Scotland today; Kris Drever (guitar and vocal), Martin Green (piano accordion) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle). Winners of “Best Group” at the BBC Folk Awards 2008 and with a year of dates around the globe ahead, look set to cause serious musical trouble worldwide.

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/laumusic

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