Posts Tagged ‘film’

“Tommy” with special Guest Roger Daltrey Whitley Bay Film Festival 1st August 2015

The Whitley Bay Film Festival presents “Tommy with special guest Roger Daltrey”
tommytixSo Tommy, or rather Roger, came to Whitley Bay, the past home of many pinball arcades. And he watched the great 1975 movie with us. The Whitley Bay Film festival kicked off it’s sixth year of movie, culture, music and arts events with a very special 40th anniversary screening of Ken Russell’s and The Who’s classic film, Tommy.  Roger Daltrey was in attendance for a conversation with music historian Chris Phipps and a question and answer session with the audience. The evening was introduced by festival patron Ian La Frenais.
whitleybayfilmfestivalTommy is a dark, crazy, OTT ride through 1970s culture. It features a star cast of acting and musical royalty including Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, Elton John and The Who themselves to name but a few.  The music is, of course, based on a reworking of the Who’s classic 1969 rock opera. I went along with Norm, and the two enjoyed the joys of the film all over again. We both saw the film when it was first released, but neither of us had seen it since then. I was surprise how current it seemed; its larger than life characters and images, iconography, pastiche reminding me to some extent of recent movies such as Moulin Rouge.
Leading up to the main film event, the festival team held a month long pinball tournament, which ran throughout July, and culminated in the final held in the foyer, immediately prior to the film screening. Our pinball champion was Matt Morrison of Whitley Bay, who was presented with his award by Roger Daltrey. After the movie we were all treated to a question and answer session with Roger, sat next to a lovingly restored pinball machine, and who admitted: “I’m the worst pinball player in the world.” Roger was introduced festival patron, comedy writer Ian La Frenais, originally from Whitley Bay and whose work with writing partner Dick Clement includes The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Ian told us: “I had my first snog in this building”. Roger told several stories of the making of the film including how he was the target of a fire hose which left him “black and blue”, thrown in a cold bath and laid on an ironing board while Cousin Kevin tortured him. He also admitted “Ann Margaret was supposed to be my mother, but that was a tough acting job on my part.” A unique night and an opportunity to see a hero up close.
“That deaf, dumb and blind kid, Sure plays a mean pinball!” (Townshend, 1969).

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Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” live screening event Empire Cinema Newcastle 6th July 2015

Grateful Dead live screening event Empire Cinema Newcastle 6th July 2015
deadfilm“Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead”
20 years after their last concert, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead (Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir) returned to Soldier Field in Chicago for a historic performance. The four members were joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano). The Dead reunited for a series of five concerts (3 in Chicago and 2 in San Francisco where it all started), which was entitled “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” and grossed an amazing $52.2 million in ticket sales. The Pay to View package, which included footage from the band’s Levi Stadium San Francisco shows (attended by 151,650 fans) and the Soldier Field Chicago shows (attended by 210,283 people). The collection of live broadcasts now holds the record for the largest syndication of a live music event ever. The Grateful Dead were, of course, formed in California in 1965 and rose to become one of the best-known bands of the psychedelic movement of the late ’60s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and have sold over 35 million albums worldwide. The last time the Dead played live together was in July 1995, just one month before the tragic death of the band’s lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia. The demand for the reunion concerts has been incredible.
faretheewell The final Chicago concert was screened at more than 250 cinemas across the UK on the evening of Monday 6 July, the day after the last ever Dead show. It was a delayed screening – a live broadcast was impractical, given the six-hour time difference between the UK and Chicago.
I went with Laura and Dale to watch the film and joined a small group of UK Deadheads who wanted to see the band “live” one more time. I have to admit being unsure what to expect. My only other live encounter with the Dead was when they played Newcastle City Hall in 1972, and I didn’t quite get what all the fuss was about. Well, we all really enjoyed the movie. The songs, as always in a Dead concert, progressed into extended jams, but were never boring. I even enjoyed the Drums solo, which was followed by a lengthy Space piece involving trippy electronic sounds and heavy use of theremin. You could feel the love and respect that the fans have for this band, and see how moved Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in particular were by the whole event. If this was really the end, it was a very fitting way to close the final chapter of the career of a band who have meant so much to so many people, and touched fans throughout the world.
Set 1: China Cat Sunflower; I Know You Rider; Estimated Prophet; Built to Last; Samson and Delilah; Mountains of the Moon; Throwing Stones
Set 2: Truckin’; Cassidy; Althea; Terrapin Station; Drums; Space; Unbroken Chain; Days Between; Not Fade Away
Encore: Touch of Grey
Encore 2: Attics of My Life

Gentle Giant Sunderland Locarno 21st April 1972

Gentle Giant Sunderland Locarno 21st April 1972
imageThis was a strange tour. Prog rock band Gentle Giant toured the UK as support for “Jimi plays Berkeley”, which was a film of a Jimi Hendrix concert. “Jimi Plays Berkeley” was never intended for official release but was hurriedly put together as a film shortly after Hendrix’s untimely death, and was put out on an European tour complete with support acts, which was Gentle Giant in the UK. Because everyone was so hungry for anything to do with Hendrix, it became one of the most popular music films of its era. The film features excerpts of performances by Jimi, bassist Billy Cox, and drummer Mitch Mitchell from two concerts. They perform “Purple Haze”, “Machine Gun”, “Voodoo Child” “Star Spangled Banner” and “Johnny B. Goode.”
I found this fascinating write-up of the tour on the excellent Gentle Giant tour history site: “…the tour may have been a somewhat humiliating experience for the group, as they actually had to serve as the opening act for a movie, the Jimi Hendrix live concert film, Jimi Plays Berkeley. Certain ads for the tour had the band’s name in large, bold print, as if they were headlining, but they did, in fact, take the stage first each night, before the movie. This tour also had its share of problems, supposedly. At one gig, the film never arrived. At another unknown date on the tour, Giant’s equipment didn’t arrive, due to a van breakdown, so they were unable to perform. This also caused a further problem for the film, as the band’s PA system was supposed to be used for the soundtrack. Roadie Phil Freeman recalls that the angry crowd actually beat up the projectionist on this occasion, out of frustration…..” I recall very little about Gentle Giant’s set but I do remember a long wait before the film was shown. I think the film was travelling separately to the band. When it finally arrived it was a bit of a let down as the makeshift projection and screen facilities weren’t great in the ballroom and the picture and sound were poor.
Gentle Giant’s line-up at the time was Gary Green (guitar), Kerry Minnear (keyboards), Derek Shulman (lead vocals, saxophone), Phil Shulman (lead vocals, saxophone, trumpet), Ray Shulman (bass, trumpet, violin) and John “Pugwash” Weathers (drums, percussion). They were formed by the Shulman brothers from the remnants of Simon Dupree and the Big Sounds of “Kites” fame. The band’s aim was to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular”. Gentle Giant were much more experimental than other bands of the prog genre, making their music much less accessible and more difficult to get into than say Genesis, Yes or King Crimson. This concert was at the time of their third lp, “Three Friends”.
Gentle Giant’s setlist is likely to have consisted of the following songs: Prologues, Alucard, Funny ways, Nothing at all, Schooldays, Plain Truth, the Queen.
I saw Gentle Giant once more around the same time, supporting the Groundhogs at Newcastle City Hall.

Tommy the film 1975

Tommy the film 1975
TheWhoTommyI know this isn’t a gig, but hey I’ve got a programme for it (pictured) and its The Who, so I just couldn’t let it pass without writing something about it.
In 1975 The Who featured in 1975 musical film based upon their 1969 rock opera album “Tommy”. The movie was directed by Ken Russell and featured a star-studded cast, including members of the Who themselves (Roger Daltrey plays the title role). Other cast members include Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John, Arthur Brown and Jack Nicholson. We all trooped off to the cinema to see the film, and pretty good fun it was too. It also held particular local interest in the north east as it features The Black Angels, the local hells angels chapter, who play a group of hell angels in the movie. It is very OTT, silly, and outrageous; but then what else could you expect when you consider that this was Ken Russell, The Who and “Tommy”. 🙂
“One thing is sure: there has never been a movie musical quite like Tommy, a weird, crazy, wonderfully excessive version of The Who’s rock opera. Ken Russell is a film maker (Women in Love, The Devils) who glories in the kind of heightened visual absurdity that Tommy both invites and requires.” (Time magazine).
Townshend, speaking to Rolling Stone on the Tommy concept in 1969: “Tommy’s real self represents the aim – God – and the illusory self is the teacher; life, the way, the path and all this. The coming together of these are what make him aware. They make him see and hear and speak so he becomes a saint who everybody flocks to. The boy’s life starts to represent the whole nature of humanity – we all have this self-imposed deaf, dumb and blindness – but this isn’t something I’m over heavy on”

Nick Cave 20,000 Days On Earth Live Link Up Tyneside Cinema 17th Sep 2014

Nick Cave 20,000 Days On Earth Live Link Up Tyneside Cinema 17th Sep 2014
NickCLast night Laura and I went to the Tyneside Cinema to take part in a live link up to London’s Barbican for “20,000 Days On Earth”. Artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard have created this film which follows 24 hours of the (approx) 20,000th day of Nick Cave’s life. The film takes an imaginative and in-depth look at the mysterious and charismatic figure of Cave, exploring his life, his art and his creative process. This authentic and compelling movie gives us a glimpse of how Nick Cave approaches writing, work, and music. What you begin to understand is that there is no real distinction between Cave and his art. During the movie, he talks quite a bit about transforming himself by creating his own mythology and narrative, based on characters, thoughts and memories from his life. His life has become a project, which he lives 24/7, and the film gave us a glimpse of a single day in that life. It is set partly in his adopted home town of Brighton, and includes clips of rehearsals with the Bad Seeds in France, Cave’s manic live performance, and visiting his personal archive. Guests including Kylie and Ray Winston pop up briefly to give their own perspectives of Nick. Cave talks about how he lives for the performance and how he believes that, when it works, a live concert can become a truly transformative experience for him, the band and the audience. nickcavemovieThe screening of the film was followed by a live performance by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis and Barry Adamson, plus a Q&A with with those three and directors Forsyth & Pollard, all broadcast live from London’s Barbican centre, and linked to 150 cinemas across the UK. The Tyneside was sold out for this special event, and rightly so. We all left understanding a little more about the enigma that is Nick Cave; you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the passion, intensity and belief with which he approaches his art, and the uncompromising and relentless work ethic of the man.

Slade in Flame Sometime in early 1975 A personal appearance at Studio 1 Cinema Sunderland

Slade in Flame Sometime in early 1975 A personal appearance at Studio 1 Cinema Sunderland
sladeinflameI lost faith in Slade during 1973 and 1974. I thought they had become too much of a teen pop band, and didn’t feel it was “cool” to go and see them live at the time. I felt that I’d lost that fine loud raucous rock band to the teenage girls who would scream at Noddy and Dave, and go the concerts sporting top hats with silver circles stuck to them, Slade scarves and tartan baggies. So while all the girls at school were going to see them at the City Hall, and telling me how great they were, I resisted the urge to go along. I didn’t fancy standing in a hall full of screaming girls. And anyway, I told myself, I’ve seen them before they “sold out” to celebrity status, when they were a proper rock band. Looking back that was a mistake; its funny how important it was to appear “cool” at the time. And all along I secretly wanted to go and see them again. Still, I consoled myself by spending my time going to see Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Groundhogs, Uriah Heep and lots of other “proper” rock and “underground” bands. My pop side did win through a few times, however, when I went to see T Rex and the Bay City Rollers…..
Anyway, the next time I (sort of) saw Slade was when they made a personal appearance at a local cinema to promote their film “Slade in Flame”. “Slade in Flame” tells the story of “Flame” a fictitious late 1960s beat group who make it to the top, only to break up at their peak of success. The film begins with the future members of Flame playing in two rival bands, one fronted by a singer named Jack Daniels 🙂 (played by Alan Lake), and the other, The Undertakers, fronted by a singer known as Stoker (played by Noddy Holder). Flame formed from remnants of the two bands, and have the same line-up as Slade do in real life. The rest of the film tells the story of Flame’s rise to fame, disillusionment and eventual and inevitable break-up. It is quite entertaining and pretty funny in places, with some great songs.sladeprog One moment which sticks in my mind is when Stoker is brought on stage in a coffin (the band is called The Undertakers after all; the idea was nicked straight from Screaming Lord Sutch, who, of course also nicked it from Screaming Jay Hawkins). Anyway, the lid of the coffin gets stuck and Stoker can’t get out (now I never saw that happen to Screaming Lord Sutch 🙂 ). The album of the same name, “Flame”, was released at the same time and features the two classic hit singles “How Does It Feel” and “Far Far Away”.
I went with a group of mates to see Slade introduce the film. We were cutting it fine time-wise and as we arrived at the cinema, we saw a big silver Rolls Royce pull up outside. Noddy, Dave, Jim and Don jumped out of the Rolls, ran straight past us, and made their way into the cinema. We quickly paid our money to the cashier (probably £1 or so) and followed them in, just in time to hear them say a few words to introduce the film, and then run out just as quickly as they came in. I think they told us that they were off to another cinema in the region to do the same thing. Strangely, given the band were making a personal appearance, the cinema was nowhere near full. Or maybe their popularity was already starting to wane.
I still enjoy watching “Slade in Flame” and “How Does It Feel” is a classic song.
I’ve added a picture of a Slade programme that I have from the period. I’m not sure at which gig I bought this one; it could even have been sold at the cinema.
I finally relented from my Slade abstinence and went to see them in concert a few months after seeing the film. I’ll write about that concert, in April 1975, tomorrow,

Pulp: Life, Death and Supermarkets (with live Q and A from Sheffield City Hall) Tyneside Cinema 6th June 2014

Pulp: Life, Death and Supermarkets (with live Q and A from Sheffield City Hall) Tyneside Cinema 6th June 2014
pulp_filmThings weren’t looking too good for Pulp back in 1988. After a disastrous farewell show, they packed their bags and relocated to London from Sheffield. Some 25 years and 10 million album sales later, the band returned home for an emotional farewell show. Rather than making a conventional concert movie, award-winning film-maker Florian Habicht uses this momentous occasion as his backdrop for a more intimate documentary. Setting up a series of artfully arranged tableaux, he presents a fascinating exploration of the close and enduring relationship between Pulp and the “common people” of Sheffield. At this charming and insightful film’s centre is the band’s charismatic, endlessly quotable lyricist and frontman Jarvis Cocker. (From the publicity for the film).
Starring Jarvis Cocker, Mark Webber, Candida Doyle, Nick Banks, Steve Mackey and the people of Sheffield. Directed by Florian Habicht.
‘Florian Habicht’s concert movie follows Jarvis Cocker and his bandmates as they prepare to mark their 25th anniversary as Britpop royalty with a concert in their native Sheffield. Songs will be sung, stories will be told, and pies will be eaten, because the only way to fully understand Pulp is to hang out in the town that birthed the band. “Sing along with the common people” isn’t just a lyric – it’s a mission statement.’ (NowToronto.com). “Fittingly, Florian Habicht’s affectionate documentary tells the story of the band from the streets of Sheffield with the help of friends, family and fans, aged and youthful alike (one wears a T-shirt proclaiming: “I am a common person so **** you”), all of whom have their own stories to tell.” (The Guardian)
The UK release was last night, 6th June 2014, and the Sheffield premiere, with the band, local stars and filmmakers in attendance was broadcast live to 90 cinemas across the UK from Sheffield City Hall. Laura and I went to the screening at the Tyneside Cinema.
pulpfilmtixThe event started with a live feed from outside Sheffield City Hall, a choir of Yorkshire ladies singing “Common People” on the steps of the Hall, and the audience mingling and making their way to their seats. Soon we see Jarvis and the rest of Pulp arrive. The screen at Sheffield lists the towns and cities to which the film is being beamed out, each one followed by a little Jarvis  joke, some rhyming…”Doncaster….Clap faster….Tyneside….You shall have a fishy….” (lots of cheers from our home crowd). The film is introduced by Director Florian who brings Liberty, a young Sheffield girl who features in the movie as one of the “stars” from the people of Sheffield, up on stage to say a few words.
The film itself centres around the farewell 2012 Pulp gig at Sheffield Arena, the day of the gig and, most of all, the people of Sheffield. There are clips from the concert, but not many in comparison with other concert films. Most of the time we are taken around Sheffield, meeting the people and talking about their personal connections with Pulp. A group of older people sing a lovely rendition of “Help The Aged”. Jarvis, and each band member, talk a little about themselves, their connection with Sheffield and the importance of holding their last gig there for the people they grew up with. A paperseller outside the market tells us why he likes Pulp. Liberty listens to “Disco 2000″in her garden.
This works well, and paints a picture of a band returning to, reflecting on, and respecting their roots.
After the film, Paul Morley hosted a live Q & A session with the band, and Florian, talking largely about the movie, the concept behind it, and how it came about. At one point, Javis asks everyone in the audience who features in the movie, to stand up. Almost half the crowd in the City Hall do so.