BPREVIEW: Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17

BPREVIEW: Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17

Words by Damien Russell & Paul Gallear

Birmingham’s Beyond the Tracks festival is set to take over the Eastside City Park, outside Millennium Point, from the 15th to the 17th of September.

This new three day addition to the Birmingham festival scene has a stellar line-up and caters for an eclectic audience incorporating rock, britpop, dance, electronica and more. And it’s not just music that’s on offer, the festival website boasts a ‘great selection of gourmet caterers to suit all tastes and appetites’ as well as ‘a choice of well stocked and well staffed bars’ which, while not essential for the festival experience, will certainly be reassuring for some (me included).

Beyond the Tracks is one of the biggest city centre festivals this year and although there’s no camping, being just five minutes from Moor Street Station the transport access is good enough to take away the sting of the daily ‘commute’. For direct festival info, including more about getting on and off site, click here. For information and online bookings for all Birmingham city centre stations (Moor Street, New Street and Snow Hill) click here to visit Trainline.com

On Friday 15th September the gates will open at 14:00 and this is definitely your day if you like electronic music. Orbital, reunited and with a new track released this February, are the headliners – with Leftfield performing their 1995 album Leftism in full as part of their anniversary tour. There will be a DJ set BPREVIEW: Leftfield @ Beyond the Tracks - Friday 15th Septemberfrom electronica stalwarts Faithless, with Australia’s Jagwar Ma also providing a touch of psychedelia to the Friday night bill.

Beyond the Tracks opening night also sees the return of the Higher Intelligence Agency (HIA) to our city’s soundsytems, who will no doubt bring the old ambient/Oscillate crowd out from under whatever chamomile flavoured rock of lost serotonin they are currently resting – Birmingham Review’s editor included. HIA are also hosting an unofficial after party at Centrala on Friday night, for direct info click here.

On Saturday and Sunday the gates open at midday, with both days set to have a more rock-based line up. There are also a number of notable local names across the weekend, including Saturday’s headliners – britpop veterans Ocean Colour Scene.

Saturday daytime the event openers are Penkridge based indie-rockers Sugarthief, who have had an impressive festival run this year including Y Not and Kendal Calling. They are followed by ‘experimental’ Birmingham band Health & Efficiency who make me think of what indie would sound like if it were invented in the 80’s. Noise punk fuzz merchants Table Scraps are up next, who recently spoke to our own Ed King at their recent double a-side launch with Black Mekon at the Hare & Hounds – click here for the Birmingham Review of the gig, alongside links to the full interview.

BPREVIEW: Table Scraps @ Beyond the Tracks - Saturday 16th SeptemberAlso performing across the Saturday programme are The Americas, with their driving up-tempo rock (reminiscent of Tom Petty) describing themselves as ‘music to ride a motorbike to’. Then there’s Midlands based artfully crafted classic college-rock quartet Superfood and B-Town indie-pop rockers Jaws, both coming back to Birmingham after some significant success outside the city walls. The Twang, who are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their debut album Love It When I Feel Like This, Maxïmo Park – touring following the release or their 2017 album Rick To Exist – and The Coral complete an indie side to the day’s line-up. To read Damien Russell’s Birmingham Review of Risk To Exist, click here.

For those still craving more following all that, there is an after party running from 23:00 to 03:00 at the O2 Institute featuring a DJ set from Maxïmo Park, Blast Off DJs and Dave Southam of Snobs – click here for more details or check out the banner ad below.

For those not exhausted by the previous two days partying, Sunday is a more eclectic line-up with artists such as Scottish 80’s alternative rockers The Jesus and Mary Chain – touring their new album Damage and Joy, Reading’s shoegaze rockers Slowdive – promoting their eponymous album (the first for twenty-two years) and Birmingham’s own Editors bringing the proceedings to a close.

Beyond the TracksBPREVIEW: Slowdive @ Beyond the Tracks - Sunday 17th September‘ final day will be opened by Dorcha – ‘a five piece Birmingham band of synths, strings, electronics and heavy beats led by composer Anna Palmer’. Then throughout Sunday we will see sets from Victories at Sea – described by The Guardian as ‘dolorous indie disco with a fresh spin’, Goodnight Lenin – who have recently announced they are recording their second album, and psychedelic industrial rockers BLACKASH.

I think it would be fair to say that there is something for everyone on the Beyond the Tracks bill and seeing big national names with current tours/releases lined up side by side with solid local acts is a pleasure. The organisers seem to have considered every act and made sure they all have a connection to the area or to the 2017 music scene – an attention to detail that bodes well for the wider event.

Speaking of the wider event, while information is a little sparse the promotional video for the festival (link below) goes into a little more about what non-music elements we can expect. There is the promise of ‘fine ales, imported lagers, craft beers, scrumpy cider shack, quality cocktails and fine wines & fizz’ for the drinkers, alongside the aforementioned ‘gourmet street food & snacks’ to soak it all up with and and keep you going.

Then for those moments when the music has got a bit too much, we have some ‘cabaret side shows and walkabouts’ for the grown ups. Not a lot on the programme for children though, with the Beyond the Tracks organsisers issuing the following statement:

‘The event is aimed at an adult audience. There will not be any specific children’s entertainment on site with the focus primarily on the music itself. That said, we are keen not to exclude anyone from the event so have not set an arbitrary age limit for this year. However, all persons do require a full ticket for the event regardless of age’.

But seriously, who under the age of… is going to be losing it to Orbital or The Jesus and Mary Train? Also worth noting Beyond the Tracks has a no re-entry policy and once you’re in, you’re in. Although with a line-up like this I can’t see why anyone would possibly want to be ‘out’.

Beyond the Tracks 2017 – Official Trailer

Tickets for this event are £54.45 for individual day tickets, £145 for a weekend pass, and £11 for the Saturday night after party at the O2 Institute. 

For more on Beyond the Tracks, including full festival details and online ticket sales, visit www.beyondthetracks.org

BPREVIEW: Beyond the Tracks - after party @ O2 Institute 16..09.17

BPREVIEW: Birmingham Pride @ Hurst St + various 27/8.05.17

Birmingham Pride 2015 / Michelle Martin

Words by Ed King / Lead & parade pics by Michelle Martin (taken from Birmingham Pride 2015)

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May, Birmingham Pride is back in the city – taking over various venues in Birmingham Gay Village (on and around Hurst Street) for their ‘Big Weekender’.

Tickets will need to be purchased, then exchanged or a wristband allowing you onto the main festival site. Advance tickets will be available from The Nightingale Club (Kent St) on Thursday 25 May from 4pm – 12midnight, then again on Friday 26 May from 12noon until 12midnight.

Wristbands can be bought over the Pride weekend, priced as: Weekend £40, Day £30, Pride by night (9pm onwards) £20. For direct information on tickets/wristbands, including full details on when, where and for how much, click here.

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know what Birmingham Pride is. If you don’t, then move you and your stone abode BPREVIEW: Birmingham Pride @ Hurst St + various 27/8.05.17into the new millennium. Seriously, one of Birmingham biggest parties – with a parade that is possibly the only place outside of Shambala where you’ll see more hairy fishnets than… some joke about sailors and a haberdashery shop.

Awesome fun what/whomever your predilections, Birmingham Pride is in its 21st year – picking up the mantle from previous mirror events to the London Pride, that ran sporadically in Brum from the early 70’s. Birmingham Pride as we know it today is a two day extravaganza, held on five separate festival stages with a deluge of fun and games in pretty much every bar within a stone’s throw of Hurst St.

Plus Birmingham Pride 2017 marks the 50th anniversary since you can’t get locked up for being homosexual, kinda sorta. As long as you kept yourself behind closed doors. But ten years after the Wolfenden Report was published the Sexual Offences Act finally made it through parliament – repealing the draconian laws against homosexuality, as made by Henry VIII (oh yes, we move that fast…)  and the 1885 Labouchere Amendment.

Even whilst being molasses slow, this was the first important step in challenging the discriminatory attitudes… sorry, publicly discriminatory attitudes of Britain’s political class when it came to consensual sex between men. Apparently Lesbians weren’t as threatening to the fabric of a decent, God fearing society.

And whilst 50 years is still not that long a time, the tide had to start somewhere; thank fuck, God bless, and another reason to raise a glass in the air this weekend.

Here’s a maraschino cherry pick from across Birmingham Pride 2017:

Saturday 27th May

Birmingham Pride 2015 / Michelle Martin


Pride Parade 2017 / Assembling in Victoria Square from 11am, ready to ‘wind its way’ through the city and down to the festival site, the Birmingham Pride Parade is as colouful an explosion as you can get. Celebrating half a century of less nonsense, Birmingham Pride have set the theme of Love & Pride for this year’s show of solidarity.

If you want to get involved or enter a float, you might just have some time too – click here for more info.



Duo Lipa / Headlining the Main Stage, the English born singer/ songwriter and model will be releasing her debut album about a week after Birmingham Pride – with Birmingham Pride of the only chances to see her perform before an international festival season takes her out of England until October.

For more on Duo Lipa performing at Birmingham Pride, click here.


Basement Jaxx – DJ set / Exciting enough even when it’s just Felix, Simon and a box of vinyl (or whatever the kids are spinning these days) Basement Jaxx will be DJing a headline slot on the Main Stage. With a pretty stella discography of club hits and foot stamping dance floor anthems, stretching back to 1994, Basement Jaxx have been purveyors of the Big-Beat-Disco-House sound for longer than there was a name to call it. I could run through a list if you need me to, but I won’t – just Google ‘Red Alert’ then crawl back under your rock.

For more on Basement Jaxx performing at Birmingham Pride, click here.


Other names to watch out for on the Saturday line up are: Rue Jay (Dance Arena), Tanya Hyde (Cabaret Marquee), Amy La Queefa (Women’s Arena), Ellé Robertson (Women’s Arena), Sandi G (Dance Arena), Topping & Butch (Cabaret Arena), Son of a Tutu (Cabaret Marquee), Jonas Blue (Main Stage), Louisa Johnson (Main Stage), RAYE (Main Stage), Pete Graham (Dance Arena), Jamie Duggan (Dance Arena), DJ Lisa Sharred (Women’s Arena).


Sunday 28th May


Twiggy / Clubland legend and fashion designer for the bastard child of Ziggy Stardust and Tinkerbelle, Twiggy will be performing in the Cabaret Marquee on the weekend’s second day. If you haven’t been hit on or refused entry by this local luminary of lustre and sparkles, then you should have gone out more. Wouldn’t be a proper party without Twiggy’s extravagant headdress bobbing around somewhere in the crowd.

For more on Twiggy performing at Birmingham Pride, click here.



Call Me Unique / The Urban Gypsy comes back to Birmingham Pride, performing a last day live set in the Women’s Arena. Hot on the heels of her new Urban Gypsy II EP, Call Me Unique is touring her new material across the UK and mainland Europe. Always worth a stop, look & listen, you can read more about Call Me Unique as seen through the eyes of Birmingham Review here.

Or for more on Call Me Unique performing at Birmingham Pride 2017, click here.


Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon / Born out of the festival cabaret circuit the Late Night Pop Dungeon is a den of musical iniquity where Wales’ Voice of an Angel gets to dirty her wings one tip at a time. Pop classics to contemporary hits, from MIA to Sufjan Steven, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon looks hella fun – no pun intended. Now on tour across the UK, it’s hard to think of a better booking for Birmingham Pride’s Sunday crowd.

For more on Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon at Birmingham Pride, click here.


Other names to watch out for on the Saturday line up are: Vicki Vivacious (Marquee Arena), Zara Sykes (Women’s Arena), Gabrielle (Main Stage), Jamelia (Main Stage), Sophie Ellis-Bextor (Main Stage), Boney M (Main Stage), Kissy Sell Out (Dance Arena), Marc Spence (Dance Arena), Tom Shorterz (Dance Arena), Todd Terry (Dance Arena), D.E. Experience (Marquee Arena), Miss Penny (Cabaret Marquee), Madi Saskia (Women’s Arena).

Birmingham Pride takes place from 27-8th May, with the main festival situated on Hurst Street. The Birmingham Pride Parade will leave Victoria Square at 12noon on Saturday 27th May – heading for the festival site on Hurst Street.

For more on Birmingham Pride, including the festival’s full line up and layout, visit www.birminghampride.com

BPREVIEW: Birmingham Film Festival @ The Mockingbird 25-27.11.16

Birmingham Film Festival @ The Mockingbird 25-27.11.16Words by Helen Knott

On Friday 25th November, the inaugural Birmingham Film Festival (BFF) opens at The Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen. Events run across the weekend, including screenings, seminars, panel discussions and a special Gala Awards Ceremony at the Park Regis Hotel to close the show.

Film screenings will be shown in ‘blocks’ across the weekend – featuring up to 10 short films, or one feature film, in each block. Admission to each block is priced at £5.00, with Day tickets also available for £20 and a weekend pass priced at £50. For direct festival info, including full programme and online ticket sales, click here.

Historically Birmingham’s relationship with film and TV was largely defined by shows made at Central Studios on Gas Street and at Pebble Mill in Edgbaston: Crossroads, Doctors, Tiswas, BullseyeBirmingham Preview

How things are changing. Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg was spotted shooting scenes from his new movie, Ready Player One, in the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth, joining a growing number of film and TV production companies shooting work in the city (other recent examples include The Girl With All the Gifts, Hustle and Kingsman: The Golden Circle).

The BBC’s perceived lack of investment in the region continues to ruffle feathers, but it seems that organisations such as Film Birmingham are doing a sterling job of attracting production companies to the city. It’s a fitting time, therefore, for the launch of Birmingham Film Festival – a new festival dedicated to giving local filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work alongside international contemporaries.

But BFF is also a resurrection of sorts, filling the void left by the annual Birmingham International Film and Television Festival which ran from 1985-2002. Of course, Birmingham still has some brilliant film festivals, such as Flatpack, Shock & Gore, Behind the Curtain, Black International Film Festival, and it seems that BFF aims to work alongside these existing events, creating more opportunities to nurture local talent.

Birmingham Film Festival @ The Mockingbird 25-27.11.16BFF has reportedly attracted features, shorts and documentaries of all genres from over 20 countries. Screenings take place at The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen in The Custard Factory and are open for anyone to attend, though details on the actual films on show are rather sparse at the moment (the BFF’s Twitter and Facebook profiles appear to be the best sources of information). The BFF film programme is accompanied by seminars, Q&As and an awards gala.

But having Oscar-nominated screenwriter, creator of Peaky Blinders, and all around top Brummie Steven Knight as patron is a clear signal of the festival’s ambition. Knight has grand plans to open large new studios in Birmingham; hopefully as Birmingham’s TV and film industry continues to grow in stature, BFF will develop alongside it.

Birmingham Film Festival runs at The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen from 25th to 27th November. For more on the Birmingham Film Festival, including a full festival programme and online tickets sales, visit www.birminghamfilmfestival.com

For more from The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, visit www.mockingbirdcinema.com