BPREVIEW: You Me at Six @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 10.04.17

BPREVIEW: You Me at Six @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 10.04.17

Words by Ed King           

On Monday 10th April, You Me at Six perform at the O2 Academy (B’ham) with support from Tonight Alive + Black Foxxes.

Doors open at 7pm with tickets priced at £32.75 – as presented by Kilimanjaro Live. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Born on the back streets of Surrey, You Me at Six have spent just over a decade clawing their way up the UK rock ladder – suffering awkward award elbows and all too easy genre alliterations.

But the boys from Weybridge have built a pretty phenomenal following too, with the savvy Leeds based Slam Dunk label (…club night, festival) being the first to pick them up, shake them good, send them to Reading and get a 13 track debut to fall out of the boys. No pun… Take Off Your Colours was released in October 2008 and the pop-punk snowball has been building ever since.

Hop-scotching majors, You Me at Six are now on the books at BMG – with their latest LP coming out on the Infectious subsidiary. Ah… Mushroom Records. Being the arguable make or break of the band, after a grueling ten year tour schedule, gears were shifted, home studios were built and the bulk of the recording took place at Blackbird in Nashville.

Jacquire King was brought in (and brave enough) to produce, with the award winning all rounder, Andrew Schepps, as engineer. The end result came out in January this year, with You Me at Six no doubt hoping their fifth studio album, Night People, will be as well received as its No1 spot reaching predecessor.

Things seem hopeful too, with You Me at Six dropping in for a secret Saturday ‘highlight’ set at this year’s Reading Festival before getting back on the road for nine UK dates across April. Birmingham gets its chance to see them midway through at the O2 Academy, with Tonight Alive and Black Foxxes joining them as tour support.

Check out the title track and first single off Night People, link below:

‘Night People’ – You Me at Six

You Me at Six perform at the O2 Academy (B’ham) on Monday 10th April, with support from Tonight Alive + Black Foxxes – as presented by Kilimanjaro Live. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.


For more on You Me at Six, visit www.youmeatsix.co.uk

For more on Tonight Alive, visit www.tonightaliveofficial.com

For more on Black Foxxes, visit www.blackfoxxes.com


For more from the O2 Academy (B’ham), including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from Kilimanjaro Live, visit www.kilimanjarolive.co.uk


BREVIEW: MK ULTRA @ REP 17.03.17 / Brian Slater

Words by Charlotte Heap / Production pics by Brian Slater 

THIS IS FAKE THEATRE. The commencing proclamation of Rosie Kay Dance Company’s MK ULTRA raised a snigger from the REP audience, steeped as we are in “alternative facts”. Named after Rosie Kay’s favourite conspiracy theory, MK ULTRA explores the occult in pop culture: shining a searchlight on society’s obsession with symbolism, hyper-sexuality and the Illuminati.

The show doesn’t shy away from its droll departure, spiraling into a psychedelic trip through conspiracy history; kaleidoscopic projections, bursting onto a stark triangle set, suck you into a twisted tale of truth and fake news. In preparation for this production, Kay collaborated with BBC filmmaker Adam Curtis to explore the sinister story of mind control and the far-fetched, far reaches of online conspiracies. Cleverly, Curtis intercuts snippets of young Brummies discussing the Illuminati: particularly poignant for the audience and a startling reminder of the prevalence, and passivity, of believers.

BREVIEW: MK ULTRA @ REP 17.03.17 / Brian SlaterRosie Kay encountered this youthful fascination with free will during dance workshops and “fell down the rabbit hole” during the three years of research which led to MK ULTRA’s home town premiere. Conspiracy buffs will already know that MK ULTRA was the code name for a CIA brainwashing programme in the 1950s and 1960s, but the uninitiated may be less familiar with the theory that Disney and the CIA have continued the experiments – collaborating to control favourite pop stars, who occasionally break free and act out. Footage of a mentally fragile Britney Spears viewed through the famous Illuminati pyramid feels uncomfortably voyeuristic. But what is proof? Are we controlled by a shadowy elite? Kay’s combination of daring dance, slick visuals and pulsing beats pull us down the rabbit hole with her.

The choreography in MK ULTRA is rightly ambitious and complex; from fluid innocence to, at times, the grotesquely sexual, we are forced to confront the conspiracy head on. The dancers frequently physically entice the audience, exhorting us to question what we think we know. Am I in control of myself?

Sometimes struggling with the frenetic synchronisation, the seven dancers still stun throughout the production; they become a beautiful seething mass in gravity-defying displays which draw loud gasps. The solos, almost MTV moments, are intimate and BREVIEW: MK ULTRA @ REP 17.03.17 / Brian Slaterultimately unsettling insights into a visceral struggle for free will. The dancers are the perfect puppets in this – at times I can almost see the strings, whilst Rosie Kay, as puppet master, is masterful.

Symbols, both subtle and sledgehammer, are sewn into the fabric of the show; pop culture references abound, from Michael Jackson to Mickey Mouse. Costumier Gary Card (whose celebrity clients include possible CIA puppet Lady Gaga) festooned the dancers with the iconography of the occult. Their decorated limbs reminded this fashion victim of the garish prints of Versace – himself a victim of mobster murder conspiracy theories. Deconstructed and frantic trap beats, interspersed with comfortably familiar classic samples, further compliment MK ULTRA’s crisp choreography and hypnotic visuals – adding to the discordant intensity of the production.

MK ULTRA is the final, political episode in a triptych from Rosie Kay Dance Company; previous installments, 5 Soldiers and There is Hope (covering war and religion respectively), demonstrate Kay’s commitment to creating dance that covers unusual but important ground. MK ULTRA’s programme asks the audience to consider how they experience the show, where they feel it in their bodies – something this cynic scoffed at. BREVIEW: MK ULTRA @ REP 17.03.17 / Brian SlaterBut this prolonged peek into conspiracy culture is stimulating and, occasionally, disorientating. My heart raced, brain strained, fists clenched, palms prickled.

But whilst the interval provided a welcome pause to absorb, the surprisingly saccharine ending to MK ULTRA comes almost too soon; like waking from a fever dream, it leaves you questioning and confused, but exhilarated.

Just as the dance company’s founder and director intended, MK ULTRA challenges the conspiratorial belief that, as individuals, we are powerless: It’s like we can’t control anything,” explains Rosie Kay – in her previous interview with Helen Knott for Birmingham Review. “It’s all controlled by this shadowy elite and there’s nothing that we can do. And of course, now more than ever, it isn’t. We’re the people, we have the power, we can change how the world is.”

For more on MK Ultra, visit www.mkultra.dance

For more on Rosie Kay Dance Company, visit www.rosiekay.co.uk

For more from REP, including a full event programme and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk