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Rocky Horror Show- Woking Theatre OCT 22

RHSI have to admit I have been a regular Frankie fan for over 30 years but I must say that this production of the cult Rocky Horror Show is one of the best I have seen.

Starring David Bedella as Frank ‘N’ Furter who, in my humble opinion, is the best Frank since, well since Tim Curry – this touring production is essentially the same show as the 2007/8 show but with a few  tweaks and tassels here-and-there.

In this show we have Haley Flaherty as Janet (she recently toured in Mama Mia!) instead of Suzanne Shaw (from Hear’Say) … and if I am honest I think that Haley does a better job playing Janet – who has to transform from uptight hometown virgin to sexy vampish diva before your very eyes (similar to the character Sandy in Grease.)

Ainsley Harriott was our guest ‘criminologist’ (narrator) with his bulging eyes, chubby faced grin and none of the normal pomposity that comes with the character. As it happens, Ainsley did a very fine job and the crowd were delighted.  Magenta was played by Australian Kara Lane, and she played the character with more slinky, sassy style and a darn sight more sexily than I have ever seen before.

Bright-as-a-button Columbia was played by Ceris Hine. Our Brad on the night was  played by understudy Stuart Ellis and the small but perfectly formed Rocky was played by Dominic Tribuzio (High School Musical.) This glossy acrobatic Charles Atlas styled ‘monster’ bounced around the stage with enormous gusto. A nice touch was that Rocky first appeared to the audience as an ‘airfix’ model complete with Village People accessories.

It is hard to imagine that the Rocky Horror Show first came to the stage in 1973. Since then tens of millions of fans around the world have dressed up to act out, sing-along and heckle the actors in the show and also at special get together  film showings.

Nowadays rice and water pistols are forbidden in the theatres (but I once went to a production in Key West, Florida where the management gave each member of the audience  a large ‘party bag’ containing every prop needed for all the one-liners and the ‘in jokes’.)

But the show is not caught up in a celluloid jam- and this 2009 production is a spicy, fresh and frequently naughty jaunt into an erotic, freaky world … cool enough for the noughties audience to enjoy. It is a measure of the sophistication of the 21st century audience that the famous bed scene is now appreciated as a hearty joke for the whole family to enjoy, where internet-educated grans sitting alongside their teen grand-daughters, and chuckle along together to the sexual innuendos involving oral and anal sex and activity tantamount to rape. Back in the Seventies, when I first saw this show, the scene was considered to be shabby and scandalous enough to earn the show an ‘adults only’ stamp of disapproval.

For those of you who have not seen the show (and I was sitting next to two older ladies who had never seen the show or even the film before – so they are still out there)  the second half fairly zips along and is almost a ‘rock opera’ rather than a musical, using only songs  and very few words to paint the pictures. The band, directed by Steve Hill (Wicked, Mama Mia! etc) is above and to the rear of the stage (rather than in the pit) and this elevated position is also used for some of the solos and gives the stage the atmosphere of a sleazy club. The band was vulgar and bold enough to get the audience hot and alive and very much in the mood for dancing. The band pushed out the sounds in great waves when required.

The big numbers of the show are the famous Time Warp ‘theme tune’ (you must have heard that) and Frank ‘N’ Furter’s entrance song ‘Sweet Transvestite’ but I have always also loved Eddie’s ‘theme’ (in this production Eddie is played by Nathan Amzi) for it’s sheer joyful celebration of rock n roll life. “All he wanted- Was rock and roll porn. And a motorbike.”

On the weak side (I thought) were Riff-Raff (played by Brian Mcann) who lacked the ‘other worldly’ quality of Richard O’Brien’s character and whose voice was a little too wispy for me, and Brad – who seemed like a little lost bunny rabbit constantly dazzled by the headlights.

This show is definitely value for money and I guarantee that it will put a smile on your face and a glow in your heart for days and days after … … one of the striking things about this show (which explains its longevity and it’s loyal fan-base) is that it truly brings out the best in people. Folk are never happier than when dressed up in silly pantomime clothes and joined together to sing and dance to some doo-wopping, good old fashioned rock n rolling show-tunes.

Oh, and if you if you intend to catch this show as it tours the UK, please please make an effort to dress-up … even if it is just by wearing a red feather boa.  This advice is for your own good, because nothing, absolutely nothing feels worse than being the only ‘straight’ boy or girl (or as they say in ‘mortal’) at a Rocky Horror Show. You have been warned.

© Neil_Mach
October 2009

Rocky Horror Show
Theatre Royal Brighton

Monday 26 October 2009 to Saturday 31 October 2009

On Saturday 31st October at the Brighton Sea Front the cast and many, many fans are going to attempt a ‘world record’ for

doing the longest (as in distance) Time Warp … come down and be a part.  Don’t Dream It – Be it.

Mon 02nd Nov 2009 to Sat 7th Nov 2009
Hippodrome (Birmingham)

Mon 09th Nov 2009 to Sat 14th Nov 2009
Empire (Liverpool)

Mon 23rd Nov 2009 to Sat 28th Nov 2009
The King’s Theatre (Glasgow)

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Imicus – Hobgoblin, Staines – 7 May 2009

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The National Union of Imicus – Hobgoblin, Staines – May 7th 2009

Rock, as we know,  is theatre and this band knows how to play a crowd. The crowd is clapping for a while and the band has been playing ‘long time’ before the singer even takes to the stage. And when he does I really can’t help thinking that he reminds me of someone. For a start, lead singer Miller appears to be an eighties throwback (think a cross between Gary Numan and the Cure’s Robert Smith ) And, Sorry, Imicus, you are probably not gonna forgive me for this… but this is the second time in a week that I have had to compare a singer to Tony Hadley… I know it sounds mad but it’s true. The vocal style of Miller (with and without the growls) is Spandau-esque. Yes, I know that Hadley didn’t perform groove melodies, death growls etc, and I know you think I’m mad but still, I am right… if you look / listen you will agree with me.

The song ‘Inveigle’ went down well with the large crowd at Hobgoblin, Staines – bellowing wolfhound bass notes and thudding great drums hunting you down like an army of orcs raging across the border of oblivion. Contrasted with the golden lines of strings and occasional pinch harmonics, lush and rich lead breaks from Billy and the whole damn effect was other-worldly, dark and devastatingly addictive musicianship. Superb stuff.

My favourite ‘Imicus’ number was the slowest song in their repertoire ‘Isolation Dawn’ with its bitter melancholy edge and a Gothic, earthy sub-text. This number starts as raindrops on a pool of silence and ends in a climax of earth shattering shuddering release.

‘Animal Factory’ with its classic-rock sounding lead guitar breaks laid against the blackest of black velvet gauntlets also gained enthusiastic applause at The Hob. This was a thing of sparkling glory. A black diamond.

Billy plays lead guitar with a rare emotion and skill, and so, it seems, sirens and demons spiral and twirl from his dark strings. These are often beaten down by the raging rattling and unpredictable percussion from Dale and doomy bass notes from Steve, with darkly woven textures from Dan on rhythm guitar. But then, like mystical genies, the lighter guitar  sounds begin to rise again like  fireflies in  the  smoke to  encourage and enchant the enraptured audience  ( check the track ‘Visceral’ to appreciate this.)

This band has already gone down well at this year’s Hammerfest and is due to play at the 2009 BULLDOG BASH FESTIVAL. It is no surprise to learn that the band has recently been signed to TRANSCEND RECORDS and it is a tribute to the good folk at Buckle Up Promotions that they managed to secure this young band for us metal-heads of Staines.

The finale ‘Oedema’ with its melodic hardcore overtures reminded me of ‘Killswitch Engage’ or even melodic death metal bands like ‘In Flames’ – this is a progressive, nutritious and amazing number with unexpected twists and turns and heavy sludgy riffs led, as always, outrageously and energetically, by Miller’s vocals and Billy’s guitar.  Satisfying and motivating stuff.

Billy - Imicus Lead Guitar
Billy - Imicus Lead Guitar

If you like your heavy metalcore sounds to include an enticing classic rock attitude (acceptable to Motörhead or Black Sabbath fans) then you should really take time to listen to this band, or better yet, catch ‘em live.

© Neil_Mach
May 2009

Link:  http://www.myspace.com/imicus

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Kyoto Drive – Hobgoblin Staines 3rd May

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Don’t Take ’em for Granted – Kyoto Drive – The Hob 3rd May

Birmingham-based band Kyoto Drive is a 4-piece pop punk/emo band consisting of Adam Binder, Mike Levell and Chris and Mark Piper. They played the Hobgoblin, Staines on Sunday night. The band played a selection of reasonably catchy songs to an audience already knocked out by The Sketch and The Sunshine Getaway. This is the curse of being the ‘headlining’ band on a Sunday evening in a provincial town. By the time you get to the stage i.e. around 10 pm, the crowd begins to thin out / come  apart at the seams / fall over.

Fortunately, there was still a fair amount of buzz and fizz left in Hob and KD put on an energetic and exhilarating show to match the vibe.

The Kyoto Drive brand of semi-commercially viable melodic pop punk (think New Found Glory / Good Charlotte) has many pretenders to the throne, but none possess so strong and sure a hand as this band. They seem to be fully confident in their ability to perform above and beyond expectations. Sometimes the dynamic tension on stage sizzled and crackled like a police Taser aimed at an unfortunate protester.

The crisply starched vocals and the prominent guitar motifs, together with their distinctively harmonic style of vocals and a sense of grandeur in their ambitions, mean that Kyoto Drive put on a positively shameless performance. Their super-floppy hairstyles and larger-than-life egos meant that the audience could not keep their eyes off the wild antics.

Big and powerful Chris gave us huge proportions of snappy rolling thunder on percussion whilst Mike and Mark shared out the guitar duties with aplomb. Bass and vocals were handled with skill and dexterity by Adam. The whole junket was a huge bowl of  excitement and sparkling sound.

© Neil_Mach
May 2009

http://www.myspace.com/kyotodrive

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