ED’S PICK: January 2018

Words by Ed King

January 1st… no finer day to cross off the calendar. But as the world crawls out of bed with hangovers and resolutions, Birmingham’s events diary looks forward to a pretty vibrant January. It seems the ‘quiet month’ is not so dormant this year. Which is a good thing, right? I mean, who needs to stay in and save money? Food and heating are for quitters.

Some pretty big gigs happening this month, with the rock powerhouse that is Paramore (ain’t alliteration ace) coming to the Genting Arena on Jan 14th. Tickets may be sold out by the time I finish this sentence, so you’d better act rápido por favor (just finished watching Narcos) if you want to catch them tour their fifth album, After Laughter, through the second city. On the Lord’s Day as well… dios nos perdone.

On the smaller stages in Birmingham, Surprise You’re Dead are tearing the city in two on 24th Jan – as Ohio’s metalcore Miss May I come to Mamma Roux’s, whilst London’s pop punksters The Bottom Line are joined by Nottingham’s Lacey at The Asylum. In fact, overall it’s quite a strong start to 2018 from SYD as the Birmingham’s stalwart rock/punk promoters are also bringing Dead! to The Flapper on 31st Jan and The Bronx to Mama Roux’s on 17th Jan – although The Bronx gig has already sold out so check the relevant corners of t’interweb for returns.

Elsewhere in the land of live gigs, we have the rising stars Riscas headlining an uber line up at The Sunflower Lounge on 19th Jan – with Spilt Milk Society, Candid and The Real Cool all in support. If this gig doesn’t sell out then I will 1) buy a hat, 2) eat my hat, 3) buy another hat. 2018 is set to be a big year for Riscas, we reckon, so catch them when and where you can. Then The Hunna return to the O2 Academy on 11th Jan, whilst Setting Son Records present Average Sex and Semantics (one of our faves) at the Hare & Hounds on 24th Jan.

Hot on the heels of their recent triumphant homecoming, KIOKO headline a stellar line up of local acts at The Crossing on 26th Jan – with Namiwa Jazz, Zara Sykes, VITAL, Elektric, and revered local poet Kurly all performing as part of the Love Music Hate Racism event at the Milk Street venue. Trish Clowes presents her latest album, My Iris, with a new ensemble of the same name at Eastside Jazz Club on 25th Jan. Whilst those somewhat silent psychedelics, Moon Duo, come back to the Hare & Hounds on 30th Jan courtesy of This Is Tmrw. Then there’s the gig I’m throwing my metaphor in the ring for – This is the Kit showcase their new album, Moonshine Freeze, at The Glee Club on 24th Jan.

January also sees a strong line up of comedy in the city, kicking off with Tina T’urner Tea Lady Steamy Bingo at The Old Joint Stock on 5th Jan. Tracey Collins will be bringing her ‘camp alter ego’ back to The Old Joint Stock in March, so if you miss your numbers this time around you can always try again in spring.

Stand up also starts strong at The Glee Club, with Andy Zaltzman bringing his Satirist for Hire tour to The Arcadian Centre venue on 19th Jan – a week before Fern Brady’s debut Suffer Fools tour lands there on 26th Jan. Quick tip, if either of these stand ups ask you to email in suggestions or comments… don’t. Or at least don’t sign your name. Or sit in the front row. You have been warned. Whilst over at the Town Hall, Ed Byrne brings his Spoiler Alert tour to Birmingham on 27th Jan – a room big enough for some safe anonymity, for the audience at least.

Theatre stamps a reassuringly eclectic foot down on the first month of 2018, with Outer Circle Arts presenting The Death Show at The Rep Door on 26th and 27th Jan. Whilst a stone’s throw behind them in Hockley, Blue Orange Theatre present The Late Marilyn Monroe – running from 30th Jan to 3rd Feb. Then over at The Patrick Centre is the somewhat less self-explanatory Translunar Paradise  – Ad Infinitum’s unspoken story ‘of life, death and enduring love’, presented at the Hurst Street venue for one night only on 31st Jan.

Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet present Swan Lake, also for one night only, at the Symphony Hall on 7th Jan. Whilst The Mockingbird continues to its mission to save The Custard Factory from the cultural abyss with a double screening of Clerks and the documentary behind Silent Bob’s directorial debut, Shooting Clerks, on 19th Jan. There will also be a Q&Q with the latter’s director, Christopher Downie, and some cast members at 9pm.

For more film, mac hosts Playback from 7th to 24th Jan – a touring and ‘interactive exhibition’ of over 200 short films from ‘krumping and parkour dance shorts, to an animated tale of teenage love that unearths our desire to be as cool as the zines we read’. Held in the arts centre’s First Floor Gallery, with free admission, Playback carries a Tubbs and Edward local angle too, as ‘some of the films were originally made in and around Birmingham, where young people based in the Midlands were given the support and funding to create a short film.’

Then rounding off Birmingham’s cultural cache for the New Year, The Chefs’ Forum present their ‘Pay What You Can’ lunch at University College Birmingham on 15th Jan – a networking, trade and showcase event with four courses from some of the city’s top restaurants. Having launched its Midlands’ agenda at UCB back in February this… sorry, last year, The Chefs’ Forum is hosting their Jan ‘18 lunch to raise funds and awareness for its Educational Foundation which supports young chefs across the UK.

And with Louisa Ellis (The Wilderness), Mark Walsh (Opus Restaurant), Luke Tipping and Leo Kattou (Simpsons) and Olivier Briault (The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel) all chipping in a course, it should do just that. Although, the non-fixed donation approach is gratefully received in mid January.

Now if I can just find an energy provider with the same approach…

**Also straddling this month and the next are the two rescheduled Lady Gaga concerts, as the uber-star kicks off the UK leg of her Joanna World Tour at Arena Birmingham on 31st January before returning to play the Genting Arena on 1st February. Tickets to both arena shows are priced at £48.50 (+ fees), as presented by Live Nation UK.

In memoriam of her paternal auntie and namesake, Lady Gaga’s latest song, album and tour appear as personal an affair as you can offer when delivering it to millions of strangers. A curious dichotomy, but one Birmingham will get to see on stage first as the Live Nation machine sets down in our city before anywhere else in the UK. Kudos.

And with tickets being transferred from the previous dates in October 2017, it’s fair to say there may be a bit of a bun fight to get in to these gigs. No doubt it’ll be worth a few scuffed elbows though, but even if ‘I’m never going to know you now, I’m gonna love you any how’. OX Joanne.

For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, for Lady Gaga at Arena Birmingham on 31st January, click here. For Lady Gaga at the Genting Arena on 1st February, click here.’

Tickets for the originally scheduled Lada Gaga shows at the Genting Arena (12th Oct ’17) at Arena Birmingham (15th Oct ’17) can be transferred to the new dates. According to the venues’ websites, ‘if you cannot make the new date, refunds can be obtained at your point of purchase for a limited period’.**

Playback @ mac 7th to 24th Jan

For more on any of the events listed here, click on the highlighted hyperlink. 

Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which issues both the Birmingham Review and Birmingham Preview titles.

THE GALLERY: MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review





Words & pics by Michelle Martin 

A favourite pastime to end an eventful year. It’s been a peculiar one.

I’ve once again donned a new cosplay for the weekend’s MCM Comic Con Birmingham – held at the NEC on 19th and 20th November. This time it’s a Vulcan Commander in Starfleet (AU), or as a friend mentioned, Spock’s wife.

For the first time (instead of hiding behind by my camera) I was approached by fans of my chosen cosplay asking for photos with me. A new territory that was nerve racking, but one I grew to quite enjoy.MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16

Although I did get more questionable looks from some middle aged, old school bikers – puzzled by hundreds of people dressed as a Twisty the Clown inspired Predator, Rick and Morty and a seven foot Totoro. The hall next door was hosting Motorcycle Live.

But thousands turned up for the MCM Comic Con at the NEC; the convention sold out weeks before, with both general and priority tickets snapped up by eager fans.

For me though, highlights of this year’s event were spotting Mythbuster Adam Savage and his NYCC incognito Totoro, a very accurate Negan cosplay, and the Marvel vs DC photoshoot at the giant NEC sign at the entrance.

All in all the photoshoots were far more organised this year, following the bad organisation last March for the DC Comics shoot. The lead photo (above) is by far one of my favourite shots in almost four years of attending conventions, even if it was from an unusual angle. Another photographer commented that if your knees aren’t dirty, you’re not working hard enough.

(I’ve also realised this year why cosplayers assemble in groups; travelling to the NEC on your own is very awkward in a military uniform with half shaved eyebrows and abnormally large Vulcan ears)

See everyone in March 2017 for the next MCM Comic Con at the NEC. But in the meantime, here are some pics for THE GALLERY from the November con.

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con @ NEC 19-20.11.16 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

MCM Comic Con Birmingham returns to the NEC on 18-19th March. For direct event info, including programme updates and online ticket sales, visit www.mcmcomiccon.com/birmingham

For more on further MCM Comic Con events across the UK, visit www.mcmcomiccon.com

For more from the NEC, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.thenec.co.uk


BREVIEW: Hans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16

Hans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16 / By Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

For the full Flickr of pics, click here

Words by Olly MacNamee / Pics by Michelle Martin 

If anyone was still wondering how we can break boundaries and encourage people from all walks of life to embrace classical music, then Hans Zimmer’s concert  at The Barclaycard Arena provided the answer. Hoodies and Hooray Henries, and all stratum of society in-between, were in attendance.

Hans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16 / By Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review All were there to lap up the soundtrack of our lives, the original scores and complex compositions of Zimmer and his impressively large entourage of musicians. Musical numbers that date back through three thrilling decades of orchestral originality evoked some fond memories over an immense two and a half hours.

Starting promptly at 8pm on the dot, Zimmer introduced each track with humorous anecdotes – as we were transported through an autobiographical autobahn of his back catalogue.

The last time he’d played Birmingham, over thirty years ago, Hans Zimmer travelled in a Ford Transit van and played to a crowd of three in a pub. Humble beginnings indeed, but as I watched him command the stage, his love for music, for what he does, became apparent. It struck me that here is a man who, even if he were busking at New Street Station, would be equally as happy.

Hans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16 / By Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewSurrounding yourself with friends and long-term collaborators helps too, especially if you’re on the road as much as he is over the coming months. The energy on stage was palatable and infectious. We were won over almost instantaneously as we witnessed the man behind the majestic, soaring music he has penned.

The first half was dominated by past achievements, the score to Crimson Tide kicking off the set before segueing into the original score for the film Angels and Demons – reminding the audience that sometimes, Zimmer’s music is the most memorable part of a film.

Playing through scores from Gladiator (both haunting and bombastic in equal amounts) there was also room for the much more elegant, subtle sound of The Da Vinci Code. Music from The Lion King was thrown into the mix, and proved to be an instant crowd-pleaser, immediately recognisable from the opening bars alone.

With many tracks lasting epic lengths of time, the first hour was over in the blink of an eye. We had been enthralled and entertained. A man who showed he could be both a musical maestro as well as a humorous raconteur. And, justHans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16 / By Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review like the Man City match on the same night, this was a show of two halves, with a second half that had a superhero and sci-fi theme.

Focusing on his more recent work with Christopher Nolan and the like, Zimmer – swapping instruments as he went along – brought the electricity to the Electro Suite from The Amazing Spider-man 2 and the darkness to The Dark Knight. His heavier, gothic music grabbed you around the throat, hanging you threateningly over the edge of a precipice. Just like Batman himself would.

He informed us that after hearing of Heath Ledger’s tragic death, he was tempted to change the score, but rightly decided that it should stand as a tribute to the chaos and anarchy Ledger brought to his Oscar winning (albeit, posthumously) performance.

Hans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16 / By Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewFor me, this tight, brutal Dark Knight medley was the highlight of the evening, accompanied as it was by stark lights and visuals, blinking black and white, black and white in ever quicker succession and drowning the stage with appropriate Expressionist aesthetics not too far removed from the director Franz Lang (Metropolis); a fellow German émigré.

With an encore focused firmly on his music for Inception, Zimmer played out the night, as one by one, each musician and the spotlight receded to leave him on stage, bathed in light. Zimmer is a composer and performer who has made a career out of what he loves and it showed, through every minute. Truly an enjoyable, exuberant evening for all in attendance.

Just don’t leave it another 30 years to return, hey Hans.

For more on Hans Zimmer, visit http://www.hans-zimmer.com/

For more from the Barclaycard Arena, visit http://www.barclaycardarena.co.uk/

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BPREVIEW: MCM Comic Con Birmingham @ NEC 19-21.03.16

MCM-logo_H_Birmingham (2)

Words by Olly MacNamee

MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2016 will be hosted at the NEC between 18-21st March. For direct event details, including online ticket sales, click here.

And while I am unconvinced that a two day jamboree calling itself the MCM Comic Con Birmingham, at which comics and comic book creators have a minimal presence, is truly a comics focused convention – it is nonetheless a great celebration of all things geek inspired.Main with web colour bcg - lr

And it draws a crowd. If Anime’s your thing, they’ve got it covered. American candy? Ditto. Cool collectibles (or are they really toys for grownups, I wonder?) yep, covered. Comics..? I’ll refer you to my previous statement on that matter.

But there are a lot of indie creators at MCM Comic Con Birmingham this March that will thank you for taking the time to read their self published comics. So look out for local talents such as Sammy Borras – creator of Giant Rhinos In Space and Coventry’s own GeeBees comic series, and support your local artistic talent in the same way we’re often asked to support our local independent stores.

MCM Comic Con Birmingham takes up its two-day NEC spring residency with a high level of TV, film and gaming celebrities (both past and present) in attendance. MCM favourites, Red Dwarf’s Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules, will be there – along with anyone who may have played a Stormtrooper, Jawa, or even farted in Star Wars offering to autograph your photos, collectibles and whatever else you may have with you. For a price, of course.

MCM Comic Con Birmingham @ NEC 19-21st MarchBut the big guest attraction this time round, and trying to top Lee (The Bionic Man) Majors’ appearance back in November, is Lindsay Wagner – TV’s The Bionic Woman. And for the younger audience at MCM Comic Con Birmingham, who might be scratching their head at this point and asking themselves ‘…who?’, there’s also the pull of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate voice star Paul Amos, who lends his voice to Jacob Frye in the game.

The main pull however, for me and for other guests I’ve witnessed, are the cosplayers and their amazing costumes. And watching from afar it is clear they tend to know each other; I have certainly seen the same masked men and maidens doing the rounds up and down the country when covering different comic conventions in the past.

But there is no doubt that the cosplayers add an essential element to the MCM Comic Con Birmingham, one that elevates the event to something more than just a cash cow for the bigger exhibitors. Although, it is debatable how much they spend when there. I mean to say, where would Spider-man or Harley Quinn keep their money? Those costumes are tighter than Scrooge.MCM2015_Birmingham_webportal

So bring your camera (do people still have these, or just phones?) but always ask politely for a snap. And be careful, many of these costumes can be very fragile and could well represent many months of hard work (and financial expense) from the cosplayer for it to look so good.

But overall, my advice would be to go to MCM Comic Con Birmingham on Sunday 21st March if you want to avoid the throngs. It’s also the best time to grab a bargain too.

MCM Comic Con Birmingham comes to the NEC between 19-21st March. For direct event details, including online ticket sales, visit http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/birmingham/

For more from the NEC Group, including links to full event listings across all venues, visit https://www.necgroup.co.uk/

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