ED’S PICK: March ‘18

Rews + You Dirty Blue, P.E.T @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18Words by Ed King

**Due to the severe weather conditions, some March editorial may be delayed. It has nothing to do with 1) hangovers, 2) gigs on a Sunday that cause hangovers, 3) each episode of The Deuce being 1hr long. It’s the snow… it’s all about the snow**

The BIG NEWS this month is that Rews are coming back to Birmingham, finishing of their England tour with a special gig at the Hare & Hounds on Thursday 22nd March – joined by an awesome local line up, Tamworth’s garage rock two piece You Dirty Blue and Birmingham’s rising balloon punksters P.E.T.

Still out smashing holes in radio playlists and the right kind of ear drums across the country,  Rews are back on the road (do they ever stop!?!?) with their debut album Pyro – a rock pop stonker which we thoroughly suggest you check out. Read my Birmingham Review of the ten track beast here, or cut out the middle person and just get yourself a copy. You can bill me if you’re unhappy.

But Rews are a step up live. And don’t just take my word for it, ask any of the following: Hew Edwards, Mark Radcliffe, John Kennedy, Scott Mills, Alice Levine, Dev, Greg James, Scott Mills, Clara Amfo, Adele Roberts… (and that’s just the beeb). Or anyone who’s seen them play. Or Google. It’s not a difficult cross reference.

Of course, the best way to know for absolute certainty is to come and see Rews at the Hare & Hounds on 22nd March – for direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here. Or to can hop over to the Facebook event page for updates, info and links aplenty – click here.

Paloma Faith @ Genting Arena 21.03.18WARNING – CONTAINS CIVIC PRIDE: Rews have bolted Birmingham onto their England tour dates because their last gig in the city was such a stormer – Birmingham loves Rews, and it seems there’s a little mutual flutter there too. So, come down to the Hare on 22nd March, enjoy an awesome gig from Rews, You Dirty Blue and P.E.T, and stand on for your local live music scene. BRUMMIES UNITE.

And breathe…. There are other gigs this month, some pretty high profile shows too. In the land of five figure crowds, the Genting Arena hosts All Time Low (15th Mar) and the resplendent resurfacing of Paloma Faith (21st Mar). Whilst at Arena Birmingham we see some of America’s A-Lists rock with Fall Out Boy (27th Mar) and 30 Seconds to Mars (29th Mar). So, that’ll keep you busy. And a little broke.

Feeder @ O2 Academy 14.03.18N.B. Paul Weller was scheduled to play at the Genting Arena on 2nd March, but due to the school run slaying beast from the east (erm, the snow) this gig has been postponed. When we know more…

Editors play an ‘intimate’ gig at the Town Hall (4th Mar) to showcase their new album, Violence. Whilst across town Hookworms headline at the Hare & Hounds (4th Mar), and across the road Amit Dittani introduces his debut solo album, Santiago, at the Kitchen Garden Café (4th Mar).

Elsewhere in the city, Ezio return to Birmingham but this time at the Kitchen Garden Cafe (7th Mar), Astroid Boys tour their debut album, Broke, at The Asylum (1th Mar), Feeder take us on a retrospective love in at the O2 Academy (14th Mar), Joan Baez celebrates the end of a near 60 year live career as her Fare Thee Well Tour comes to the Symphony Hall (14th Mar), The Stranglers come to the O2 Academy (17th Mar),Rae Morris @ O2 Institute 21.03.18 ‘First Lady of Celtic Music’ and Clannad family member Moya Brennan plays at the Glee Club (20th Mar), whilst Rae Morris brings a sneak peak of her sophomore album, Someone Out There, to the O2 Institute (21st Mar). Phew… can anyone lend me a tenner?

And so exciting it gets it’s own paragraph, electronic music pioneers, Plaid, bring their AV tour to the Hare & Hounds on 10th March. A pivotal piece in the EDM jigsaw, Plaid come back to Birmingham after their sell out gig in the city last year – if this show doesn’t pack out then there’s something inherently wrong with the world, so we would suggest getting your Warp loving wriggle on and buying a ticket or two quick smart. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here or on the relevant hyper link.

Plaid @ Hare & Hounds 10.03.18A little later in the month the same promoters, Scratch Club, are putting on a breaks, beats and hip hop free bash at One Trick Pony with Dr Syntax (The Mouse Outfit, Foreign Beggars) & Pete Cannon, joined by Birmingham’s own DMC champion Mr Switch (30th Mar). For free..!?!? Now that’s a good bloomin’ Friday.

Film is stomping is size 10s across the city too, a cheeky month before Flatpack #12, with a healthy collage of celluloid (well, probably digital now) coming to screens in a variety of Birmingham venues. Ruben Östlund’s takes a well-penned stab at the pretensions of class and art with The Square – on general UK release from 16th March, before coming to The Electric (23rd Mar) and mac (30th Mar). Whilst mac programme a centennial celebration of Ingmar Burgman with The Seventh Seal (16th Mar), The Touch (17th Mar) and Persona (18th Mar).Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits @ The Mockingbird Kitchen & Cinema 26.03.18

The Mockingbird hosts a Wes Anderson Marathon (18th Mar) featuring The Royal Tenenbaums at 12noon, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou at 2:30pm, Fantastic Mr Fox at 5:00pm and The Grand Budapest Hotel at 6:45pm. Bit of a welcome refresher course before Anderson’s latest (and animated) feature, Isle of Dogs, is out on general release from 30th March – with two preview screenings at The Electric (25th Mar) if you wanted to jump the gun a little.

The Mockingbird are also showing the eponymous biopic about the notorious fashion designer, Westwood, throughout the month. But we recommend you wait until 26th March, so you can jump straight into Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits – another biopic, but this time about an altogether more altogether slice of formative female punk.Comedy Short - fundraiser fro SIFA Fireside @ Artefact (Stirchley High Street) 21.03.18

On the city’s smaller silver screens this March, Neighbourhood present a series of comedy shorts at Artefact in Stirchley (21st Mar) – with a pay as you feel fundraiser for SIFA Fireside, a Birmingham based organisation who support ‘those experiencing homelessness or who are vulnerably-housed.’ A great charity that deserves our cash and consideration; look outside, now pay what you feel.

Elsewhere, The Victoria welcomes the rescheduled Birmingham Horror Group: Mini-Movie Marathon (25th Mar) which is also fundraising – this time ‘with proceeds from ticket sales going to the medical charity Diabetes UK’. Whilst the Kitchen Garden Café screen the Arnie body count craziness and all round awesome… Predator  (20th Mar) – which we are more than a little happy about. I’m off to buy a dog eared cigar, dog eared dog tags, and practice the film’s profound script such as, “if it bleeds we can kill it”. Powerful stuff Arn, Kierkegaard?

The Gilded Merkin @ Glee Club 18.03.18Treading the boards this month, Joe Black starts the UK run of his new show, Touch of Evil: A Celebration of Villainy in Song, with two nights at The Old Joint Stock (09-10th Mar). The Birmingham REP stages fingersmiths’ rewrite of John Godber’s Up’n’Under (12-14th Mar) – a play about pride and adversity (and rugby, to be fair) which has been adapted for all audiences ‘with a cast of Deaf and hearing actors using British Sign Language and spoken English’.

Overlapping a little bit, REP also present The Kite Runner (13-24th Mar) performed in venue’s main theatre, coming to Birmingham after ‘an outstanding’ run in the West End. Then back in the ‘burbs, The Wardrobe Ensemble present their tale 90’s nostalgia and the Blair honeymoon – Education, Education, Education – at mac (20th Mar).

On the more glamourous side of town, Alyssa Edwards’ The Secret Is Out Tour saunters over to the Glee Club (7th Mar), before BCU’s Burlesque society present Dare to Desire at the Bierkeller (15th Mar) and Scarlett Daggers brings The Gilded Merkin burlesque show back to the Glee Club (18th Mar).The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18 Not far behind is Ben DeLaCreme, with her ‘terminally delightful’ show coming to the Glee Club (29th Mar) – a day before Klub Kids present The Twisted Circus in all its glitz and glory at the O2 Academy (30th Mar).

Comedy has a pretty decent crack of the whip in March too, kicking off with Russell Brand’s Re:Birth at Symphony Hall (8th Mar) before the Glee Club takes the reigns until April, with Phil Wang (11th Mar), John Robbins (21st Mar) and Tiff Stevenson (23rd Mar).

Outside of all that, if you’ve got any dry socks or shekles left, there’s A Notorious Odyssey at The Electric (24th Mar) – as Birmingham’s 35 piece a cappella choir, notorious, take us on ‘a musical voyage where no audience has gone before’ performing ‘tunes from sc-fi films and TV, to music inspired by space and the future.’

Across town and the space-time continuum, Rupi Kaur presents an evening of performance poetry the Town Hall (24th Mar) including work from her recently released second collection, The Sun and Her Flowers.Phil Wang @ Glee Club 11.03.18 Then just shy of a week later, Richard P Rogers rounds off the month with his Frank Cook and the Birmingham Scene exhibition at mac’s Community Gallery (30th Mar) – a study of the titular Ladywood artist, as he worked his way from the north Birmingham back to backs to art school in London in the late 1960’s.

Right then, a fair amount happening in March – I’m off to do some diary/bank statement cross referencing. And maybe drink a glass of wine, or two. What day is it again…?

For more on any of the events listed here, click on the highlighted hyperlinks. Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which issues both the Birmingham Review and Birmingham Preview.

BREVIEW: Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy Birmingham 05.09.17

Bianca Del Rio - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review

 

 

 

Words & pics by Eleanor Sutcliffe

Working as a music photographer prepares you for numerous things.

It doesn’t prepare you for drag queens cart wheeling into splits clad in platform heels and lingerie, or having a 10 inch silicone phallus thrown at you across the stage. Or being called a cunt in front of the O2 Academy’s sold out main room. It definitely doesn’t prepare you to find these things side splittingly hilarious.

Arriving at the O2 Academy, I was greeted with the most diverse, kaleidoscopic crowd I’ve ever seen. Groups of men and women snaked along the streets and up Bath Row as drag queens ran along the crowd, hugging fans and batting their false eyelashes while handing Bianca Del Rio - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Reviewout Klub Kids flyers. Usually with any concert you can easily identify the standard show-goer demographic, but here it was simply impossible. Drag has no boundaries regarding its audience – clearly, anyone can enjoy it.

As the room filled up and the lights dimmed, I made my way to the front and sat in anticipation. Out onto the stage burst Andrew Hoyle, the head promoter for Klub Kids; exclaiming that tickets for their Twisted Circus tour were now on sale, he sold the room the show by promising “acrobats, and midgets, and acrobatic midgets” before welcoming on Bianca Del Rio.

Jackie Beat - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham ReviewDel Rio is what some people would describe as their worst nightmare – a six foot figure of immaculate makeup and savage wit, her comedy both hilarious and highly inappropriate for what was deemed a 14+ show. Within minutes of gracing the stage with her presence, she managed to insult at least half of the room. Girls filming the show were openly mocked, as Del Rio exclaimed that they would watch it at home whilst “flicking the bean”, much to their horror and to the sheer delight of their friends.

Not a minute later, I was branded an “utter cunt” by the queen herself for taking photos from an “unflattering” angle. And yet, none of us could stop laughing. Her humor was so dark, so Charlie Hides - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Reviewabusive, so obscenely unaware of what was socially acceptable to say in a room full of a few thousand people, that you simply couldn’t help but find it utterly hilarious.

First up was Jackie Beat, as BenDeLaCreme was sick and not able to perform – according to Beat, this involved an altercation involving heels and stairs. Exclaiming how she would be combining “the two things gay men love most – Broadway musicals and sex”, she performed a smut smeared cover of ‘And I Am Telling You’ from Dreamgirls, followed by a hilarious rendition of ‘Baby Got Back’ by Sir Mix-A-Lot.

House of Decay - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham ReviewNext was Charlie Hides, who’s comedy was so quintessentially British that the whole room simply fell in love with her. Her humor, though scathing, was smart and witty. She described one drag queen as being “rather like Joan of Ark – creative ideas, but badly executed”, leaving the entire room in stitches.

As one of the few queens of the night that did not rely simply on sexual puns or insulting other performers, she stuck out to me as one of the highlights of the show. Her original song ‘I Don’t Care If You Think I’m A Bitch As Long As You Think I’m Thin’ was not to my taste, however that didn’t stop it going down a storm with the rest of the room; although to me musically she fell flat, I could have easily watched her comedy for hours.

Lady Bunny - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham ReviewNext was an interval performance by London and Manchester based dance group, House of Decay. Watching them twist and contort their bodies into shapes that I was not aware were even humanly possible, I was brutally reminded that I may need to work on my own personal dance skills.

As someone who avoids heels with a vengeance, I was in awe as they ran, jumped, cart wheeled and pirouetted across the stage in footwear that looked more like some sort of post-apocalyptic weaponry than anything that I would dare let grace my feet.

These guys have mastered every form of dance you can think of – from voguing, which involves quick and fluid movements using your hands and arms, to the aptly named Death Drop. This move is, in short, fucking terrifying. If Katya - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham ReviewBirmingham Review let me use GIFs in my write ups there would be one following this sentence, so I encourage you to go forth and Google, and be both impressed and distressed for a while. (Ed’s note… as far as I can see, the trick here is to not break your spine – Death Drop Compilation)

Now, the iconic Lady Bunny. One of the original Club Kids from 80s New York, she soon had the room in stitches as she joked about her age, claiming she’d be dropping dead any minute. Her performance was less high octane than those before her, and relied solely on poop humor, but still brilliant. I would be lying however if I said that I did not spend most of my time staring in utter bemusement at her wig, as it made up at least half of her height and did not move a millimeter throughout her set.Alyssa Edwards - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review

During her performance of ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ by Britney Spears, she whipped out a 10 inch silicone penis and started flinging it around the stage like something possessed. It was at this point that I excused myself side stage and began contemplating my career decisions.

Following from this was Katya, who describes herself as “your average run-of-the-mill Russian bisexual transvestite hooker”Bianca Del Rio describes her as “the rightful queen of Drag Race All Stars,” and as she writhed her way along the stage in thigh high lace up gold boots, it was clear why. Not only was her new stand up routine to the point and side splittingly funny, but her impressions of fellow drag queen Roxxxy Andrews was both horrific and hilariously accurate.Bianca Del Rio & Alyssa Edwards - Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy 05.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review

Finally, Alyssa Edwards strutted out on stage and launched straight into an energetic dance number to a mashup of songs including ‘Me Too’ by Meghan Trainor and ‘What You Know ‘Bout Me?’ by Nicki Minaj.

Within minutes she was climbing along the crowd barrier while House of Decay served as her backing dancers on stage. Describing herself as “Drag royalty” and promising a show to remember, she delivered just that.

Overall, Klub Kids’ Queens of Comedy Extravaganza show was everything I was promised and more; smutty, witty, and worryingly offensive at times, each performer commanded the stage as their own. I can’t wait to see more of them in the future.

For more on Queens of Comedy Extravaganza/Klub Kidsvisit www.klubkids.co.uk

For more from the O2 Academy, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

BPREVIEW: Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy Birmingham 05.09.17

BPREVIEW: Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy Birmingham 05.09.17

Words by Eleanor Sutcliffe

You’re born naked and the rest is drag” – RuPaul

On the 5th of September, O2 Academy will be welcoming Kids Klub’s Queens of Comedy Extravaganza tour – hosted by Bianca Del Rio, and including performances from a whole host of drag artists, including Alyssa Edwards, BenDeLaCreme, Lady Bunny and more.

Doors open at 8pm, with tickets priced at £30 plus booking fee – for direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Leading the show is Bianca Del Rio, whose last appearance in Birmingham was back in February as part of her Not Today Satan tour. A self confessed ‘Clown in a gown’ armed with a ‘Rolerdex of Hate’, Del Rio is flanked by Lady Bunny – the only performer of the night to not have appeared as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Famed as one of the original Alig Club Kids of New York in the 1980s, Lady Bunny performs frequently with Bianca Del Rio as a fixture on the New York gay club scene and has released tracks such as ‘Shame Shame Shame!’ and ‘The Pussycat Song’. Joining them is former Miss Gay America, Alyssa Edwards, and BenDeLaCreme, a burlesque performer hailing from Chicago. Bringing up the rear are Charlie Hides, who’s scathing impersonations of celebrities such as Lana Del Ray and Lady Gaga make for prime YouTube viewing material, and singer Katya who performs regularly in her hometown of Boston.

From the information we could find on the world wide web, Birmingham Review can’t confirm whether the Queens of Comedy Extravaganza at the O2 Academy will be turn by turn or a single extended act. But it will be interesting to see how the show juggles the six large personalities they’re bringing to the stage.

And although Birmingham frequently hosts drag nights in venues such as the Nightingale Club or Eden Bar, it’s rare for the city to be treated with a show in a venue as large as the O2 Academy. However with O2 Academy announcing even more shows with Klub Kids, such as their Twisted Circus tour in March 2018, so here’s hoping that Birmingham will be treated to a whole catalogue of bigger stage drag events in the coming year.

Bianca Del Rio & Lady Bunny – hosting season 8 premier of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Chicago)

Klub Kids presents the Queens of Comedy Extravaganza, coming to the O2 Academy on 5th September ‘17. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here. 

For more on Klub Kids, visit www.klubkids.co.uk

For more from O2 Academy Birmingham including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham