troubled diva  
 

My freelance writing can now be found at mikeatkinson.wordpress.com.
Recently: VV Brown, Alabama 3, Just Jack, Phantom Band, Frankmusik, Twilight Sad, Slaid Cleaves, Alesha Dixon, Bellowhead, The Unthanks, Dizzee Rascal.

On Thursday September 17th, I danced on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Click here to watch, and here to listen.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cliff Richard and the Shadows - Nottingham Arena.

You know what? That might just have been my gig of the year. And hence a bugger to write about, without defaulting to gush. So I'll write it up tomorrow, once the dust has settled.

The xx, Beyonce and Gong: take heed. The bar has been raised!

Thursday update: I've been a bit poorly today, so this will have to wait a while longer.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The September Pledge: two days to go.

I don't know whether anybody else remembers this - I certainly didn't, until I checked the archives last week - but I've actually made one of these "write a blog post every day for a month" pledges before. In September 2006, to be precise: and it was heartening to discover that I made good on the promise.

Tomorrow's final post should be a doddle. Dymbel and I are going to see Cliff Richard and the Shadows at Nottingham Arena, on their fiftieth-anniversary-slash-farewell tour - and as it's a "payer" rather than a guest list job, I shall be released from all professional duties, leaving me free to blog about the gig to you lot instead. By way of preparation, I can strongly recommend this article by Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley, which appeared in Guardian Film and Music two Fridays ago. Cliff was long overdue for a fair-minded critical re-evaluation, and I agree with most of the points made.

Now that the summer recess is over, it's good to re-engage with live music. As well as recent gigs from Tinchy Stryder, Fuck Buttons and Ungdomskulen, I had a whale of a time at a wedding reception in the village on Saturday, bopping around to a distinctly superior covers band (sourced by the father of the groom, who played in a chart pop group in the early 1970s). Choosing the right range of songs for an all-ages crowd, and playing them accurately and skilfully, without letting individual egos intrude, is an art all of its own - and the band in question succeeded delightfully in their mission. And although - once again - I tried to rein in those pointy fingers, I have now accepted them as my signature look. Hell, people have expectations! I cannot disappoint!

Earlier today, I conducted a "phoner" with the folk musician Jon Boden, best known for fronting the 11-piece band Bellowhead. It was an amiable and thought-provoking encounter - particularly towards the end of the call, when we got onto the subject of private versus public "ownership" of songs. I'll be bunging it up on the freelance blog in a couple of weeks' time, in advance of Bellowhead's Nottingham show.

That's all that I have for you today. Back tomorrow night, with breathless tales of His Cliffness. Ooh, I'm that stoked!

Monday, September 28, 2009

My cupboard is bare...


(Photo taken by bourgeoisbee)

...so I'll just quickly fill in with some favourite items from the "recently spotted" section of my sidebar. (If you only read me via RSS, then you may have missed this section - but I've been keeping it regularly updated for a good couple of years now, even when I've not been posting.)

1. Petite Anglaise says "au revoir" to personal blogging for the forseeable future.

2. The Annotated Weekender wreaks its usual pictorial havoc over my Saturday supplement of choice.

3. Freaky Trigger's Vic Fluro dissects "Can't Buy Me Love". (This is part of an extended series of posts on the Beatles Rock Band game, all of which have made me chuckle.)

4. Faustus M.D. witnesses a touching meeting of minds on the New York subway.

5. Vicus Scurra steps out of character, in order to serve up a pungent and on-point rant.

6. Almost everybody on The Singles Jukebox has vastly complimentary things to say about Fuck Buttons (yes, them again).

7. JonnyB offers beginners' tips on keeping chickens.

8. Qwerty Queen writes movingly on the occasion of her 20th wedding anniversary.

9. And finally... Beleaguered Squirrel has an awkward conversation with her 7-year old.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beyond Limits 2009: sculpture exhibition at Chatsworth House.

Tell you what: let's bury yesterday's dodgy little tale under an avalanche of lovely images (taken by K) from this year's Beyond Limits exhibition at Chatsworth House.

We particularly liked Yayoi Kusama's Narcissus Garden, which involved the freeform placing of several hundred stainless steel balls in one of the ornamental pond. Curiously, the vast majority of said balls opted to clump together on one side of the pond, regimentally lined up in rows. Occasionally, a smaller cluster would attempt to break away from the parent clump, drifting a short distance out into the middle of the pond - only to run out of steam and drift back again. Elsewhere on the pond's perimeter, small groups of renegade balls had drifted into the shallows. Some had become stuck in marshy areas, unable to drift away again. An even smaller number of individual balls had detached themselves entirely from the group, finding their own individual spaces.

Naturally, we decided that the whole piece was a Metaphor For Society, and therefore a Profound Masterpiece.

The exhibition runs until 1st November. Highly recommended, as always.

  
L: Igor Mitoraj: Eros Bendato Screpolatio.
R: Subodh Gupta: Leap of Faith.

Claude Lalanne: Olympe (grande).

Ju Ming: Taichi Series: Pushing Hand.
  
L: Francois-Xavier Lalanne: Carpe (tres grande).
R: Aristide Maillol: L'Harmonie, Premier Etat.

Sol Lewitt: 1 2 3 4 5 (Brescia)

Jedd Novatt: Chaos Mundaka.
  
L: Manolo Valdes: Ariadna 1.
R: Fernando Botero: Dancers.

Henry Moore: Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped.

Bernar Venet: 222.5 Arc x 5.

Antony Gormley: Angel of the North (Life-size Maquette).
  
L: Niki de Saint Phalle: Buddha.
R: Jaume Plensa: Heart of Trees.

Ju Ming: Taichi Series.

Guy Zagursky: Mirror against Mirror.
  
L: Ugo Rondinone: Air gets into everything even nothing.
R: Richard Hudson: Marilyn Monroe.
  
L: Zhan Wang: Artificial Rock #70.
R: Marc Quinn: Archaeology of Desire.
  
L&R: Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden.
  
L: Eric Goulder: The Woman.
R: Sorel Etrog: Mother and Child / George Rickey: Two Lines Up Excentric Twelve Feet.

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