BREVIEW: Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17

Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review




Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics by Aatish Ramchurn

When I last saw Cabbage they were supporting Blossoms at the O2 Academy and, I felt, they stole the show with a brief, explosive set. Now they’ve announced a new EP, The Extended Play of Cruelty, and their biggest headline tour to date. Can the energy of their supporting act scale to a full set?

The venue was the upstairs room at the O2 Institute in Digbeth; a small room, which made for a more intimate experience. The first band on were Strange Bones, a Blackpool outfit who deserve a special mention.

Frontman Bobby Bentham was an absolute madman, jumping off the stage and into the crowd with a technician frantically spooling out the microphone cable after him. At one point he donned a balaclava shouting “BIG SISTER IS WATCHING YOU”, before approaching various members of the audience chanting “behead the despots” Strange Bones - supporting Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Reviewwhilst waving his finger across his throat in a slitting motion. The confrontational manner of his lyrics matched his onstage presence – it was a cross between a bank raid and a political rally – with Bentham often addressing the younger members in the audience as the future “kings and queens”. He certainly had them on his side by the end of Strange Bones‘ short set.

Next up were The Blinders who calmed things down with their psychedelic guitar focused set. If Strange Bones brutally confronted the audience with political agitation, The Blinders came out with a more reflective approach. The lyrics took the form of poetic musings on life and society whilst the dream-like quality of the guitar produced a trance effect, which in a way deflated the audience who had been provoked into a frenzy by Strange Bones. Consequently this made Cabbage‘s entrance less bombastic, after being lured into a sedative mood by The Blinders.

There’s an elephant in the room. Cabbage have been embroiled in controversy over the last couple of months after it was alleged that lead singer, Lee Broadbent, had sexually assaulted a concertgoer as part of his performance whilst supporting Kasabian. These claims are denied by the band.

The Blinders - supporting Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewIt’s tempting in these situations either to jump on the Twitter hate train or to leap to the defence of your favourite musicians, but I think we should do neither – we should refrain from indulging in speculation. I mention it because Cabbage made a point of thanking the audience for their commitment in the last “tough three months”, hastily adding that things can “get them into trouble”.

There was an overwhelming atmosphere of reciprocal gratitude and love between the band and the audience. Making such references indicated that perhaps Cabbage had lost a bit of confidence, something I felt with their quiet entrance and slow start, and clearly this allegation (and the negative media attention) has made the band more tentative . But by the end of the night Cabbage were back on form with the energy of the audience seeping into their set.

When I saw them last, Cabbage opened with ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’, which is a belter and probably their most recognisable track. This time they opened with ‘Terrorist Synthesiser’ which combines punk sensibilities, thumping drums with a funk edge, proving their dynamic range. They played a few new songs from their upcoming EP, including their new single ‘Celebration of a Disease’ which brought the audience to more of a quiet rumble instead of Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Reviewthe loud cheering and singing which they did on Cabbage’s more memorable numbers.

The next new song (apologies, didn’t catch the name) proved more of a hit than the official single and could end up a fan favourite with an incredibly up-tempo drum beat and a good head banger. To keep up with the pace, singer Joe Martin raced through the lyrics half rapping them like a Streets song, which was fun but ultimately made it really difficult to understand the lyrics which are an important part of Cabbage‘s appeal.

Joe Martin got the crowd going with his ‘Dinner Lady’ and ‘Kevin’, the lyrics being chanted back by the audience and showing that Cabbage can dissect anything and everything to make a great song that resonates with both the disaffected youth and the beleaguered workforce.  ‘Tell Me Lies About Manchester’ was a particular favourite of the set – the hypnotic chorus and bass rumbled along with ska inflections, creating a fevered sense of anticipation for the frenzied ending. One more song was dedicated to their drummer, Asa Morley, and was a great show-piece for him and his kit.

Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewCabbage put on a good show. Both front men were dynamic, moving about the stage and interacting with the crowd;Joe Martin did his striptease routine and ended up in just his trousers. And I am pleased to report that the only groping I saw was from the audience, after Martin and Broadbent climbed up on the barriers and everyone in the the crowd went somewhat mad. By the end of their last song, ‘Uber Captalist Death Trade’, it was clear that Cabbage are adored by their fans; a relaxed and confident grin appeared on the band’s faces.

Cabbage‘s new songs may not be as rough and ready but they have shown that the band can evolve musically and challenge their punk roots.  However it can be hard to make out the words in their new material (which don’t have as much bite) and even the performances seemed tame – it doesn’t matter how much you’ve sharpened your rapier wit, if I can’t hear what you’re saying in a crowded room reverberating with amplified guitar chords then it falls flat.

Obviously these songs are new to both band and fans alike, so with practice and time they may well become more defined. Plus it’s all part of being the main act on the bill; I’ll just have to keep going to more Cabbage gigs to find out.

For more on Cabbage, visit

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BPREVIEW: Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17

BPREVIEW: Cabbage @ O2 Institute 30.06.17

Words by Lucy Mounfield

On Friday 30th June, Cabbage will take over the main stage at the 02 institute Digbeth, with support from The Blinders and Strange Bones. Doors open at 6pm with tickets priced at £11.50 (advance). For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

This summer the Manchester five-piece are taking to venues across the UK in their biggest headline tour to date, following their recent stint with fellow Manchester band, Blossoms. Coming from the Scala in London (June 29th) to the 02 Institute in Birmingham (June 30th) and then onwards North to the Ritz Manchester (July 1st), expect to see Cabbage to pitch up at some major venues.  For full tour details from SJM/Gigs and Tours, click here.

Cabbage have recently announced their new The Extended Play of Cruelty EP – set for a digital release on July 21st, with a physical release on August 25th via Skeleton Key records. Cabbage have previously released their new single, ‘Celebration of A Disease’, which is out now and the opening track from the EP. The Extended Play of Cruelty EP comes after a short recording session with producers James Skelly and Richard Turvey at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios. According to a post Cabbage’s Facebook page, “The Extended Play of Cruelty is our revisited conquest to our pop psychological platitudes. The deceit of man tests all in a moment of clarity and we deliver our position in a long search for Utopia. Our blend of fervent disdain is focused on local frustrations, whilst celebrating those who shall rise through the ashes.”

What looks like Cabbage’s thoughts on their The Extended Play of Cruelty EP does in fact read like a cultural and musical manifesto. Certainly, their new single is a seething comment on society’s unnatural fixation with social media that spreads like a ‘disease’ with ‘the corruption of technology’ breaking our ‘dreams’. Deep stuff, but not unexpected from a band who are known  for their politically and socially charged lyrics, and during the run up to the 2017 general election had the words ‘Vote Jeremy Corbyn’ on their drum kit.

The Extended Play Of Cruelty comes hot on the heels of their collection of early EP’s, called Young, Dumb and Full of… in January 2017; twelve songs of hard-hitting post-punk that bubble away with an energy that is not so far removed from The Sex Pistols. However, the darker, more punkier sound is somewhat lacking in their new single, ‘Celebration Of A Disease’ which still retains the heavy throng of the drums but lacks the slicing guitar that made some of their classic songs like ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’, ‘Necroflat in the Palace’, ‘Indispensable Pencil’ and ‘Terrorist Synthesiser’. But Cabbage are proving they have a lot more material to give and are by no means a flash in the pan. It will be interesting to see how their new song fares when played live, especially as Cabbage can deliver a ferociously intense set on stage.

(Lucy Mounfield last saw Cabbage playing at the O2 Academy in March, as part of the NME Awards Tour with Blossoms and Rory Wynne. Read her BREVIEW here)

Support band The Blinders are a three-piece alternative group from Doncaster who are now based in Manchester. Combining political punk-rock with ‘psychedelic poetry and tones’ to create visceral ‘punkedelic’ sound, the band seem an equal match for Cabbage’s raw yet thought provoking punk. Equally so, Blackpool rockers Strange Bones are putting a modern twist to punk with their stand out tune ‘God Save the Teen’ – a nod and a wink to The Sex Pistols’ punk anthem.

‘Celebration of a Disease’ – Cabbage

Cabbage play the O2 Institute on Friday 30th June, with support from The Blinders + Strange Bones. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Cabbage, visit

For more on The Blinders, visit  

For more on Strange Bones, visit


For more from the O2 Institute, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit

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BREVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong @ REP (House stage) 19-24.06.17

Words by Lucy Mounfield / Production pics by Helen Murray

On those occasions when a comedic play enters a theatrical program, it’s always a pleasure to know I don’t have to sit up straight, hold my serious-yet-intrigued face and attempt to think too hard about the plot and what it might mean in the larger context of today’s messed up society. And in today’s post- referendum, post-election but not-quite-the-formation-of-Parliament, now is surely the best time for comedy to lift and carry us over this wall of insanity.

The Play That Goes Wrong does exactly what it sets out to do – it tells the story of amateur actors trying to bundle their way through mishap after mishap on stage. Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong shows The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society going through the motions of putting on a clichéd ridden 1920’s murder mystery called Murder at Haversham Manor. This is the play within a play bit; you don’t watch The Play That Goes Wrong to find out ‘who done it’.

Even from the beginning the actors break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, asking if we know where their missing props are. This immediately makes it inclusive. Before the curtain rises we are introduced to the director of Murder at Haversham Manor, who also is doubling as Inspector Carter (Chris Bean) a pompous wannabe thespian who is embarrassed by the previous shows put on by the Cornley Drama Society. These include ‘Cat’ and ‘Ugly and the Beast’.

Chris Bean is excellent as the eager director who halfway through the performance breaks down when he can’t find a ledger, which quickly prompts the audience to shout its whereabouts (an audience plant?) making the scene even more hilarious as the ever-professional director tells the excitable audience to be quiet as “it’s not a pantomime”. This obviously incites the audience into a bout of “oh yes, it is” which is then jousted back and forth; this surprise element heightened the fun and made it feel spontaneous.

However The Play That Goes Wrong didn’t make me laugh as much as I thought I would. The title forewarns us about the disasters that befall the amateur acting troupe, and consequently I was waiting for the merriment rather than surprised by it. Indeed everything that can go wrong does and by the end of the play it’s just the actors left standing (though barely) with the set giving up entirely.

The pace of the extended joke is relentless – one thing after another – but as each physical joke occurs I laughed a little less and by the end I was wanting less and less of it. Sure I laughed and so did everyone else, The Play That Goes Wrong can be very funny, but with two acts I felt it was getting strained rather than leading me excitably to the crescendo of the entire set collapsing. The jokes about the door slamming open and knocking out Florence Collymore (Sandra Wilkinson) and the alcohol replacement forcing Thomas Colleymore (Robert Grove) to spit it out repeatedly became a little laboured.

When The Play That Goes Wrong first premiered at the Old Red Lion pub theatre it was just one act running at under an hour, now it is two acts (and an interval) that hits the two hour mark. I think after the interval was the point I began to realise that of course the hilarity is planned; after that I struggled to enjoy it with the same zeal.

The set design by Nigel Hook is incredible, it moves like an actor constantly aware of its surroundings and nimble on its feet. The set has perfect comedy timing; moving, falling and collapsing in just the right way as to squeeze out as much comedy value as possible. Most of all it does create that camp 1920’s murder mystery vibe: the grandfather clock not chiming, long velvet curtains that someone can hide behind, leather armchairs and wood flooring that make that perfect echo which in turn creates the perfect murder mansion feeling.

The costumes are bang on too: 1920’s flapper dresses and headdress for the Florence, tweed jackets, the ubiquitous velvet smoking jacket for the middle-aged gentleman, and the even more ubiquitous pin-stripe cricket outfit complete with jumper for the young fool. This combines to heighten the fun we are at first presented with, something The Mousetrap would be proud of until it all gets a bit wobbly and starts falling to pieces.

The Play That Goes Wrong is a light-hearted show that just wants to make people laugh in the crudest way possible. In my opinion, it goes a little too far and our laughter peaks before the end of the show (or at least mine did). But all in all The Play That Goes Wrong is a respite from the chaos of our current situation; it will take you away from the misery going on in the real world, let you release your clenched jaw, form a smile and laugh… a lot.

The Play That Goes Wrong – Mischief Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong will be running daily at the Birmingham REP (except Sundays) until Saturday 24th June. Matinee performances will be held on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2pm. For direct event info and online tickets sales, click here.

For more on Mischief Theatre, visit

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BPREVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong @ REP (House stage) 19-24.06.17

BPREVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong @ REP (House stage) 19-24.06.17 / Helen Murray

Words by Lucy Mounfield / Production pics by Helen Murray

On Monday 19th June, The Play That Goes Wrong will bring theatrical disaster to Birmingham REP’s House stage – as produced and performed by the Mischief Theatre Company. The Play That Goes Wrong will be running daily (except Sundays) until Saturday 24th June. Matinee performances will be held on Thursday 22nd and Saturday 24th June at 2pm.

Standard tickets start from £15 with matinees from £10. For direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

The Play That Goes Wrong is written by co-authors Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, whose first production, Let’s See What Happens, was devised by the former LAMDA students in 2008. The Play That Goes Wrong depicts the very opposite to the multi-award-winning trajectory that Mischief Theatre have taken.

This meta-theatrical experience of a play within a play has been running for five years (on the West End since 2014) and builds upon the tradition of turning amateur performance disaster into comic triumph. The premise is simple: The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920’s murder mystery, but as the title suggests this does not go to plan. Think Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap meets Fawlty Towers, as the wannabe thespians cringingly carry on ‘against all the odds to reach their final curtain call, hilarious results ensue!’

BPREVIEW: The Play That Goes Wrong @ REP (House stage) 19-24.06.17 / Helen MurrayBut this well received farce is certainly this is no amateur production; Mischief Theatre are getting it wrong perfectly. This comes in many forms: slapstick, travesty, set malfunctions and miss-communications between the actors of the drama society who really are learning on the job. The Play That Goes Wrong promises physical humor such as planks of wood knocking out actors, but will this get too much for the real audience watching a play that is depicting another play going wrong? Does this kind of farce have to be believable, or is it simply about the hi-jinks?

What springs to mind when thinking about a play within a play genre is the ridiculous Michael Frayn play Noises Off – considered by many the greatest of all backstage farces. Noises Off manages to create nuanced characters and personality conflicts to explain away the comic failings of their play, thereby producing something akin to the believable. The National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors (which in my opinion was the funniest play I have ever seen) may not be a backstage based narrative, but utilises the artistic components of slapstick to full effect – by setting up a story and the characters motivation, the chaos that ensued was far funnier and quite often surprising.

The Play That Goes Wrong surely further takes influence from Morecambe and Wise’s Play’s Wot Erne Wrote, in which Morecambe and Wise invite a celebrity guest to star in one of Ernie’s plays (of course, it goes wrong as its badly written, badly acted and no one has a clue what is going on). But the play within a play tradition works well here because of the unsuspecting guest’s attempt to act whilst the others don’t, in turn making them look ever more the fool.

The Play That Goes Wrong has been running solidly in London’s West End and on Broadway, winning a slew of awards including an Olivier for Best New Comedy. So once more we tread the precarious boards of a play within a play, one that promises to push the boundaries of this genre even further and I suspect my laughter even louder.

The Play That Goes Wrong – Mischief Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong runs at the Birmingham REP from 19th to 24th June – on the theatre’s House stage. For direct event info and online tickets sales, click here.

For more on Mischief Theatre, visit

For more from the Birmingham REP, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit

BREVIEW: Blossoms + Cabbage, Rory Wynne (NME Awards Tour) @ O2 Academy 24.03.17

BREVIEW: Blossoms (NME Awards Tour) @ O2 Academy 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham Review




Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics by Rob Hadley

The show started with Rory ‘this song’s all about how good I am’ Wynne’s brand of indie rock. Wynne’s persona is charming, in an arrogant sort of way, like a budget Mick Jagger.

The only issue being I don’t think he’s got sufficient calibre of music behind him for it to work; he talks the talk, but at this point I don’t think he quite walks the walk. Although his set was fun and the crowd (albeit a bit thin on the ground) enjoyed it.

Next up were Cabbage, a wholly different story. Fronted by Lee Broadbent, heroically hobbling around with an injured pelvis (I initially thought the funny walk was part of the act) prowling about chewing the scenery and spewing beer everywhere.

Additional vocals and fronting duties came from Joe Martin (also on guitar) who was leaping about the place and tearing himself out of his shirt as if it were a straight jacket. Cabbage stole the show here, opening with the ferocious ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ and barely letting up the intensity until their set was, regrettably, over.

Cabbage perform a high-energy post-punk with lyrical content drawing in equal parts on the political and the absurd. Alongside Broadbent and Martin, Cabbage are completed by Eoghan Clifford on guitar, Stephen Evans on bass, and Asa Morley on drums.

BREVIEW: Rory Wynne – supporting Blossoms (NME Awards Tour) @ O2 Academy 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham ReviewThe aforementioned ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’ is a breakneck speed punk anthem with a righteous ‘three chords and the truth’ approach, while subsequent tracks slowed things down and brought in more keyboards, played by Broadbent. Another stand out track was ‘Dinner Lady’, played towards the end of their set, with Martin’s rap-punk slur reminiscent of Joe Strummer. This left Blossoms with a hard act to follow, since their more down-tempo sound never quite reaches the same intensity. It felt a bit like the climax of tonight’s show was in the middle.

Finally, after some interlude recorded music (which people were inexplicably singing along to), Blossoms came onto the stage. The O2 Academy main room was absolutely packed by this point; a huge crowd had turned out. Blossoms began with ‘Honey Sweet’ – the fourth track of their BREVIEW: Cabbage – supporting Blossoms (NME Awards Tour) @ O2 Academy 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham Reviewnew LP, which was, like most of their tracks, a synth heavy mid-tempo affair with lots of chugging along on the guitars, topped off with Tom Ogden’s distinctive vocals. Charlie Salt’s bass is prominent and rather good on the funkier tracks like ‘Blow’, which Blossoms played towards the middle of their set.

Towards the end we had the acoustic ‘My Favourite Room’, along with some audience interaction – an intimate moment with Ogden alone on the stage, proving his abilities as a front man who can command and engage with an audience even in larger venues. However this section of the set ended with a medley of various cheesy songs (‘Last Christmas’?) which felt incongruous and like karaoke night down the pub. The audience loved it.

‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’ is one of the more interesting songs on Blossoms‘ debut/eponymous album, but played live it lost its psychedelic keyboard section under the wall of guitar and bass – although this might possibly have been the fault of the venue. Blossoms create a wall of sound composed out of the textures of the synths, guitars and bass; on record one can pick out the details, but live at the Blossoms (NME Awards Tour) @ O2 Academy 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham ReviewO2 Academy everything was a little too muddy for me. Cabbage were less susceptible to this, their sound more stripped down and in your face.

‘Charlemagne’ was the last track played, but the intensity produced by ‘Deep Grass’ (the second to last) was not followed through by such a well-known song. I particularly liked the jam section at the end of ‘Deep Grass’, it felt rhythmically interesting and you got the sense the band were enjoying themselves.

Interestingly, in terms of their music, Blossoms bear little or no resemblance to those mighty Mancunian bands to whom they have been compared: The Stone Roses and Oasis. Instead they came across as a kind of clean cut ‘mum friendly’ band performing a solid sort of indie rock. I feel the better moments were when they embraced the bassier, funkier aspects of their sound and they seemed to riff off one another – however these were the bits that seemed to bore the rest of the audience. Blossoms (NME Awards Tour) @ O2 Academy 24.03.17 / Rob Hadley - Birmingham Review

All in all, a good night. Blossoms, the main act, were certainly giving their fans a great time. But for me they were upstaged by the supporting act, Cabbage, whose frantic performance left little room to up the ante.


For more on Blossoms, visit

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For more on the NME Awards Tour 2017, visit

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