Bille The Vision And The Dancers Live At The Royal, Derby, 24/10/08

Billie The Vision And The Dancers

Billie The Vision And The Dancers, live last night! Click the pic for a gallery!

If you’re a regular Groinker, you probably already know that I have a soft-spot for Billie The Vision.

So, as soon as I heard they were playing in Derby, supporting The Pipettes, I got tickets and me and my mrs went to the gig last night.

WOOO!

Although the set was very short as they weren’t headlining and the PA was acting up quite badly, the talent, charm and honesty of BTV shone through. Yeah, there were a few idiot kids in the audience shouting homophobic stuff out about Lars’ clothes but BTV managed to convert most of the peeps there who hadn’t seen / heard them before.

There were a couple of girls in front of me who started off the BTV show giggling, wondering why a man was dressed up in women’s clothes. By the end of the gig, they were clapping and jumping up and down. Such is the power of great pop.

BTV played a mix of songs from old albums and the newie and, honestly, they performed like superstars on that stage. New songs like ‘Lily From The Middleway Street’ just stormed along, a great, grand party of a tune, inviting everyone. And then there were softer, slower oldies like ‘Man From Argentina’ that were sooo sweet. It helps that all the band are effortlessly great on their respective instruments but technical proficiency can so often lead to leaden, worthy workouts. Not so with Billie The Vision. Live, everything BTV do serves the songs, frames those perfect vignettes perfectly.

If I had to make any criticism, it’s that they didn’t play long enough but, obviously, that was out of their hands.

It felt quite bizarre, standing in a venue in Derby hearing this band I’ve loved since hearing about them when I was gigging in Sweden. To see them, in real life, a few feet in front of me… well, it was a night I won’t ever forget.

Please, check out their music if you haven’t already!

Derby Festé 2008

Derby Festé 2008

WOW!

What an absolutely amazing night the opening of Derby Festé 2008 was!

Giant insects:

Derby Festé 2008

Fireworks:

Derby Festé 2008

And the enchanting Heliosphere pictured at the top.

We got into town around eight and were just in time to see the Sarruga insects marching past Bold Lane. I think my fave was the mantis, I loved the way it nibbled on vegetation it was passing. 🙂

Then the assorted giant creatures met in the market place and ambled around for a while before the Heliosphere rose into view like a multi-coloured moon. The crowd was all ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ as the graceful dancer swooped and soared, sometimes just touching hands with the audience:

Derby Festé 2008

Finally, some very lovely fireworks (more ‘ooohs’ from the crowd) and the launch of Festé 2008 was over. A perfect way to introduce Quad Derby to the 4,500 people who passed through the doors last night.

It was marvellous to feel such a positive, friendly vibe in Derby and be surrounded by thousands of people enjoying the show. Honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve seen in Derby since… well, probably the dragons last year. 🙂

Here’s to Festé 2009!

(Click any of the pics for a gallery from last night!)

Quadness

Derby Quad

Yesterday, I went for a meeting at Derby’s new centre for the arts and film, the Quad.

I’ve been invited, along with around with a few other peeps, to be a Quad Ambassador. Sadly, this doesn’t mean that I can embark on a crime spree and then scuttle to sanctuary in the Quad. What it actually entails is spreading the word about Quad and also passing any ideas or criticisms back.

We got a little tour of the new building and it’s very impressive. There’s a large space for exhibitions, two cinema screens, the first BFI Mediatheque outside of London and a bright, airy cafe. To see this kind of initiative in Derby is inspiring. And I’m not just saying that because the cinema seats are far more comfortable than the bum-destroying ones at the Westfield.

I really hope that Quad can kick-start new art in Derby in the context of its friendly, inclusive space. It’ll also be wonderful to have a purpose-built environment for art and film rather than somewhere adapted to those functions after the fact. Looking out of the Quad’s windows at the Market Place felt strange, like a whole new era in Derby had arrived.

The Quad officially opens on Friday, September 26th so you can pop down yourself then and have a look around. In the mean time, if you’d like a sneak peak, just click on the pic above for a little tour!

Today Was… Flying Ant Day ’08!

FLYING ANT DAY IN DERBY 2008

Well, at least in Derby it was. Walking around town, the little bastards kept flying in my face, down the back of my shirt into my mouth.

It’s a few days later than last year’s Flying Ant Day. Maybe they were finishing off the Snow Storm mission on GTAIV. That is particularly hard if your over-sized mandibles obscure the jump to the speedboat.

Ahhh… ANTS!

Derby Carnival 2008

Derby Carnival

Ambling round town today with Monsieur Swan, we bumped into Derby Carnival 2008!

And guess what – I had no camera on me. Not even my little Fuji compact which is always in my rucksack. I’d taken it out to do some Blue Note pics and forgot to put it back in. 🙁

I hadn’t even realised the Carnival was on today, or else I would have taken one of my SLRs. Dang!

Anyhow, I made do and snapped some pics with my iPhone, which you can see by clicking the pic above. Sadly, I don’t think they do the wonderful costumes, the parade or the dancing justice. Really, it was a an amazing show.

When we got to the market place, we saw all the different dancing groups go through their routines and they were all, honestly, brilliant. Some class booty-shaking going on and the whole atmosphere was tremendously friendly and joyful. Top marks have to go to the tiniest dancers, some of them were adorably confused but they still gave it their all. Awwwww…. 🙂

It was a great day of dancing and smiles. My only regret is that I broke Photography Rule Number 1: always have a camera on you!

Finally, A Great Night Out!

Snug Anti-Social
Click the pic for some shots from tonight!

Tonight/this morning/whatever the hell it is now, I’m a happy Jyoti.

Things have been quite depressing lately: a funeral, health problems, horrible war news and Derby weirdness.

Usually, I can dance myself out of the blues, at least for a short while. I love dancing. I’m no good at it but that’s irrelevant, of course. Dancing isn’t about looking good, it’s about feeling good, expressing yourself and letting the music just flow through you.

That’s been pretty hard lately as the club scene in Derby has been at a very low ebb. I’m not talking about the mainstream, Zanzibar / banging house-type scene, I’m sure that’s as mechanically efficient and utilitarian as it’s always been, like a disco abbattoir. I mean the alternative clubbing scene. You know, the clubs for freaks and geeks, like me. They’ve been piss-poor.

Tonight was different.

The Red Room of The Royal was host to the Snug Anti-Social and DJs Tom, Ash and Robbie played the finest set of music I’ve heard anywhere in the last few years. Forget every other tired, hilariously repetitive Derby club, forget the preternaturally dull Rescue Rooms. My god, this night was what clubbing is meant to be about: amazing music, lovely, sexy, people and a great venue. If that sounds borderline wanky, I can tell you that the atmosphere was friendly and inclusive, not elitist. This was all about a love of musics. And by that, I mean more than one genre.

Yep, tonight proved that it is possible to fill a room with people and get them all dancing to Nas and Glassjaw, Fugazi and Heatwave, Of Montreal and Dead Prez. In Derby! On a Friday night!

(Hey, no musical apartheid here! Nights that only play one genre are, like, soooo 20th century, dude…)

In their eclecticism, the DJs tonight shamed every other “alternative” DJ in Derby. I was grinning like a lunatic all night because I was so surprised and happy to hear such great choices. I knackered myself out too early so I couldn’t even dance to every fab song I heard. Whereas, in every other club, I’m standing round for two hours waiting to dance for five minutes. If I even get five minutes.

If this post sounds even more over-sentimental and hyper-emotional than usual, it’s because music means perhaps too much to me. Music itself is the healthiest it has ever been. Every week, I hear stunning new music from new artists. It angers and saddens me greatly that none of this is heard on the radio or in clubs, partly through the zombie stranglehold of major labels and their torrents of shite (hello Fratellis!), partly the laziness of most DJs.

Music has never been better, the music scene has never been worse.

Tonight was a tiny rebellion, maybe nothing more than a butterfly in front of a steamroller but, nevertheless, tremendously heartening.

The downside is that I now cannot bear the thought of going to a club night not this good.

So, I guess I’m staying in till the next one! 🙂

Iron Man @ Cinema De Lux, Westfield

I’ve just come back from seeing Iron Man at the new Cinema De Lux at the Westfield Centre. This isn’t a proper review of the film but rather a review of the whole experience…

Well, the new cinema is certainly swanky central. Everything is impeccably clean, scrubbed and gleaming. The staff are all well-groomed, well-spoken and friendly. Even the lad I bought my too-tasty hot dog from was chatty and welcoming. As such, the initial feeling is the antithesis of going to a British cinema in the 1970s or early ’80s.

Before the big multiplexes opened, going to the cinema was a tacky, furtive, smelly expedition. If you managed to get a working seat it would invariably be covered with several generations of chewing gum. And worse. The staff would be surly bordering on homicidal and the food over-priced kapok. Forget any nostalgic bobbins you hear – I was there and British cinemas were shit. No wonder they were empty.

Then the multiplexes came! Clean! Loads of screens! Proper sound! People sweeping up! Masturbating onto seats discouraged!

And, surprise, surprise, Britons started going to the cinema again. Even families went, together!

Here we are at the last two years of The Noughties and Derby is the first city in Britain to get a Showcase De Lux. Apparently, the market is now being segmented. At the one end will be the cheaper, old multiplexes (hello Derby Odeon and the existing Showcase). At the other will be new luxury multiplexes.

Well, the luxury is there. But I do wonder if there are enough people who are willing to pay for it when they can see exactly the same film more cheaply elsewhere.

Our Cinema De Lux only opened last Friday but at tonight’s 7.30 screening of Iron Man, my wife and I felt like VIPs as it was almost like a private screening. This is a big film in a big screen but only thirty to forty people were there. It felt a bit like when you go to see a film in the day at Odeon. But way swankier service, of course. I ordered some chicken nuggets and the assistant said they’d be five or ten minutes. When I looked a bit worried as the film was due to start by then, he said he’d bring them to me. And he did! Now that’s swanky!

The picture and sound quality were excellent. Of course, as a musician, bad sound irritates me insanely. I stopped going to the old Showcase because of numerous sound faults. The Cinema De Lux’s sound doesn’t have those bugs. The only gripe I have is that I found the seats a little low: when I sat down my knees were heading toward my chin. And I’m not that tall, I’m only 6’1″. However, the seats do recline so I could rock back. I wish they were a teensy bit higher but I’m guessing they’re low to maximise visibility and seat numbers. Whatever, it wasn’t enought to spoil my enjoyment of the film.

Oh… the film…

Iron Man

I liked it!

I was extremely irked by all the Afghanistan Bananistan bits but, hell, this is a mainstream Hollywood summer blockbuster, not Syriana. The whole ‘US military saving the innocents from warlords’ was so laughably the opposite of their actual actions in Afghanistan and Iraq that no-one with any intelligence could swallow that propagandic turd.

BUT… (deep breath)

At least the major villain wasn’t Yet Another Swarthy Ayyy-raab. The inherent gung-ho-ness was also defused by Stark’s contingent conversion to occasional pacifism.

Pluses: cool fighting! Good explosions! Lovely effects coupled with non-intrusive CGI. It was also lovely to see a superhero film not ruined by huge dollops of shit campery like the Fantastic Four films were or nonsensical characterisations like the later Batmans (pre-Begins). Downey was ace, as much Tony Stark as he was Charlie Chaplin. I grew up reading Iron Man and Downey nailed the character totally. If anything, he animated it more than the comic book version which is a reversal of the norm for comic to film adaptations.

Iron Man is a great action film that even non-comic fans will enjoy provided you can leave any knowledge of the last six years geopolitics at home. Just switch that part of your brain off and you’ll be fine. It’s a film, it’s a bloke in a flying exoskeletal battle suit, it’s fantasy. As such, it’s good fantasy. A proper popcorn movie.

So, I’d give the experience:

Cinema De Lux – 9/10
Iron Man – 7/10

Let’s hope they can put some more bums on those expensive (and low) seats! Or we’re going to have a large, luxurious, empty shed right in the centre of Derby…