ALBUM: Jubilee Road – Tom Odell 12.10.18

ALBUM: Jubilee Road – Tom Odell 12.10.18 / Pic courtesy of Columbia RecordsWords by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Columbia Records

This is a big record.

Although despite the grandeur that unfurls, Jubilee Road shuffles into the first and title track with gentle keys – setting the scene of Tom Odell’s own ‘Eleanor Rigby’ ode to London, albeit one with a sprinkle of Martin Amis. 

It’s been over two years since Odell’s last LP, and five since his debut. Not that we’re counting. But the staggering of artistic expression requires some chronology, and what do you do after your 88 fingers have been shaken, stamped on, and poked into screens across the pond and back again. Twice. You go home or you go big. Jubilee Road does both.

The album’s second track, and it’s lead single, the f-word infused ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody’ (even the radio play) continues to ramp things up – bringing a gospel undercurrent to a Jackson Browne flavored call to the heart. It’s a little obvious, to a cynic like myself, but I can see it covered in enough Christmas and Jamie Cullem sideways glances to do alright without me.

Then the storytelling returns with ‘Son of an Only Child’, in a track the seethes with what I can only presume is honesty. Or a fucking, good, lie. I’ll admit, it’s my favourite from the album – due in part to a steady melody that grows from a shadow to a monster, but more so because I know that bar. I know me in that bar, listening to that man and forming cannonballs to throw at strangers within reaching distance. I believe the frustration, the maudlin anger; I believe this track. So, I believe the album. Plus the lyrical hat tip to Taupin/John is a nice touch – and one better owned that brought to the floor by cynics like me.

Jubilee Road continues to bounce from self-effacing laments, to the dissection of a broken world we all tip toe through. Or round. Or away from. But the backbone of confident ivory, high octane vocals and visceral lyrics keeps this album from ever falling short – with the flows outweighing the ebbs in a comparison barrage of Tom Waits-meets-Elton John-at-a-Billy Joel-barbeque.

The obligatory label mate duet is well delivered on ‘Half as Good as You’, with Alice Merton sounding more like Florence Welch that Florence Welch. And even if Tom Odell is “tired of eating breakfast on my own,” it seems to make for some pretty good source material. Heaven help album four if the lad finds true love.

But the (second) best is saved until last, and whilst my mum is still alive I do have an older sister and the understanding of vicarious pride. Odell’s open diary/songbook is what makes Jubilee Road flourish and no more so than in its closing track, ‘Wedding Day’. It’s heartbreaking. It’s honest. It made me cry. And to round off my somewhat clunky framing technique, it’s the flashlight through the mist that sails this LP home.

‘Wedding Day – Tom Odell (live at Rough Trade NYC)

On Friday 12th October, Tom Odell releases Jubilee Road – out via Columbia Records. For more on Tom Odell, including link to online sales, visit www.tomodell.com

Tom Odell will be playing at the O2 Academy Birmingham on 21st October, as part of his Jubilee Road Tour. For more gig information, and links to online tickets sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham/tom-odell-tickets 

For more from Columbia Records, visit www.columbia.co.uk

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BREVIEW: Doug Stanhope @ O2 Academy 12.06.18

Doug Stanhope / Illustration by Emily DoyleWords & illustrations by Emily Doyle

Andrew O’Neill seems like a strange choice to warm up for Doug Stanhope. The self-described occult comedian and heterosexual transvestite has eschewed the skirt tonight. He wears an oversized vest and skinny jeans, tinny in hand.

O’Neill delivers rapid fire one liners (“a bad workman doesn’t blame his tools, he blames ‘the Muslims’”) and enforces audience participation. It becomes clear that he has a tough job. The room reluctantly plays along as he sings…

If you’re depressed and medicated, clap your hands!”

His set is short, but towards the end it’s become evident that he’s running out of material. By the time he’s getting the crowd clapping along to ‘We Will Rock You’, it’s time to introduce the main man. By way of a goodbye, O’Neill boasts of how he recently fist-bumped Ozzy Osborne.

Stanhope shuffles on stage in his trademark oversized suit, grumbling about O’Neill. The 38-year-old’s comparatively youthful energy made our host feel like an “angry old grandpa” in the green room.

In his interview for Birmingham Review back in May, Stanhope made it clear that he was not looking forward to his trip to our fair city. Tonight he announces that he “didn’t think it could get worse than Leeds”. This entrance is a far cry from the staple exercise of most touring acts; it seems customary to walk on stage to Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ any time you’re in the West Midlands. Instead, Stanhope tells the crowd that he feels like he’s in the Island of Dr Moreau every time he steps out of his hotel. Similar sentiments surface on his Twitter page the next day, where he writes the following:

‘The ferals of #Birmingham have come out in mass. They literally look unearthed. Every venture out for a smoke is a dangerous experiment. What is it that they seek? What is the addiction? Paint? A Gassy rag? I wear similar ratty pajamas as camouflage.’

He must be enjoying his day off.

It may come as some relief to know Stanhope doesn’t reserve this level of disdain just for his UK crowds. A Magners sponsored tour of East Asia earlier this year saw him performing to a string of expat audiences. Tonight he announces that they all reminded him of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman.Andrew O'Neill / Illustration by Emily Doyle Following this, Stanhope launches into a much anticipated retelling of the Bangkok fiasco he detailed in his podcast, and how he avoided being detained under Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws. These laws state that ‘whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment’.

When they say don’t make fun of the king, it’s not a suggestion… I did a very timid show, but I’ve made fun of him every show since.

He tells of people who’ve fallen foul of these laws, including author Harry Nicolaides. Nicolaides was imprisoned for three years over a 2005 novel which sold a total of seven copies. Stanhope encourages the skeptical crowd to check his Twitter feed for the facts. They can be found amongst a string of tweets criticising Thailand’s monarchy tagged #KingOfThailand.

As Stanhope’s set progresses, he delves deeper and darker into comedy’s untouchable subjects; he quips on racial prejudice and sexual violence at whim. It’s uncomfortable to watch, especially when he’s performing to an audience which is predominantly male and entirely white. When challenged by hecklers on his choices of topic, he shuts them down, shouting, “I’m not done with Indian gang rape, you fucking questioner!” The couple sat to my left, who are about five Jagerbombs deep in their evening, go from laughing at every sentence to a stony, indignant silence. One of them resorts to shouting their objections at an increasing volume, until Stanhope acknowledges them with a cursory, “Wow, you REALLY wanna get noticed.

Doug Stanhope / Illustration by Emily Doyle

He goes on to dedicate his next joke to them, which happens to be on the topic of dead children.

I’m sorry, did I take a subject that’s horrifying and maybe unavoidable and try and make it fun?

At times Stanhope seems to defend his right to make jokes about certain topics. In the past he’s done whole bits about his partner’s mental illness. Tonight he tells how his longtime fan and friend Laura turned up to his North Carolina shows without fail in her final months, each time demanding new zingers on her terminal brain cancer. It’s all well and good, but this angle seems to undermine his jokes about race and gender. Why bother to justify the odd jibe about schizophrenia when in a heartbeat you’re rolling out cheap shots about black Americans and tipping?

The audience for Stanhope’s brand of comedy can be split into three groups. Some people seem uneasy with a lot of his material; he dares people to laugh at the jokes he makes, and in doing so pushes them to examine their own internal prejudice. Others seem worryingly oblivious to the whole subtext, cheering and laughing at every cliché. Stanhope acknowledges this himself, openly lamenting the upshot of his staunch anarchism.

I think I’ve moved a lot of Nazis in my direction…

It’s hard to make people sit and reflect on their own flaws, least of all at a stand up show where the bar sells plastic two pint cups of lager.

The third group of people can be described as the eagerly offended; it feels like a portion of the audience are here to hate on Stanhope as a pastime. After all, his reputation precedes him everywhere. No one can have bought a ticket not knowing what to expect.

Doug Stanhope - Twitter feed 13.06.18

For a follower of Stanhope’s work, it’s a strange and awkward evening. It turns out that watching his heavily edited TV performances, or even listening to his very candid podcast, is a sterile way to consume Stanhope’s comedy. What seems like a nuanced and thoughtful observation on capitalism becomes far blunter and messier when it’s just a sweaty man shouting over a drunk crowd, “how many jobs would be immediately lost overnight if you cured cancer?

The couple on my left are still heckling, in between holding a conversation amongst themselves about whether or not Stanhope is a “real alcoholic”. It’s hard to believe they’re this outspoken in day to day life. The next day fans tweet at Stanhope that they were ‘suitably offended’ by last night’s show; it seems his comedy hits home with some and not others. The man himself seems not to mind.

For more on Doug Stanhope, visit www.dougstanhope.com

For more on Andrew O’Neill, visit www.andrewoneill.co.uk

For more from the O2 Academy Birmingham, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

THE GALLERY: Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18

Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

 

 

 

Words & pics by Eleanor Sutcliffe

You can tell a lot about a show by the queue outside the venue.

Tonight, it is an endless horde of teenage girls and their parents. Not my usual rock show, granted. However, I was their age when Rita Ora dropped her single ‘RIP’ back in 2012, so I can understand their excitement. And it’s rare for a pop star of Ora’s size to play such a small venue (if, of course, you can count the 3000 capacity O2 Academy main room as ‘small’).

Kara Marni – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeFirst on stage is Kara Marni, who delivers a no-frills five track performance including a mashup of ‘Wild Thoughts’ by Rihanna and ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran.

Marni’s standout song tonight, however, is ‘Love Just Ain’t Enough’ taken from her debut EP of the same name; her vocals dance effortlessly over subtle R & B beats, amalgamating into a set that is short but nevertheless incredibly impressive.

Next up we have Raye, who bounds onto the stage clad in a black hoodie and shorts. Her energy is seemingly endless as she bounces back and forth to tracks such as ‘Cigarette’ and ‘Decline’, which both send the crowd into what can only be described as group ecstasy.Raye – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Personally, even whilst watching most of it through a camera lens, I enjoy Raye‘s set much more than I anticipated – and even find myself dancing along to her track, ‘Confidence’. Once my professional duties are done, of course. But a great performer and one to watch/watch out for if you get the chance.

But now it’s the main event, the artist this sold out O2 Academy crowd have all come out to see. Admittedly, I am slightly dubious about the show that Rita Ora will deliver tonight – her absence from the UK touring circuit for several years, plus the ‘smaller’ venue choice, were all seemingly red flags to me. However, as the set kicks off with a flourish I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeOpening to one of her latest tracks, ‘Your Song’, Rita Ora weaves her way across the stage along with four backing dancers – all in front of an LED screen showing lyrics to the crowd. Production wise, Ora spares nothing for her fans tonight, from a dancer being constrained in a Perspex box during ‘For You’ to a slightly amusing routine involving numerous industrial fans and chiffon scarves for ‘Body On Me’. The show pushes exactly what is possible for a performer (and production team) to achieve on the O2 Academy’s main stage.Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

It isn’t all theatrics, however; from dedicating her track ‘Lonely Together’ to the late Avicii, to debuting a new slower number titled ‘Soul Survivor’, Ora’s high octane performance is interspersed with slower material including a more laid back, heavier version of her hit single ‘RIP’. But the highlight of the night is when she pulls a group from the audience up on stage to celebrate one of their birthdays. Seeing a star being this genuine and dedicated to their fans is a breath of fresh air.

Finishing her set with ‘Anywhere’, another track from her eagerly awaited sophomore album, it’s clear that Rita Ora’s time out of the spotlight has been well spent. And with a whole host of new material ready for her fans to hear, I’ll be surprised if she graces the stage of a venue this ‘small’ again. Next stop, surely an arena tour.

 

 

 

Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeRita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeRita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeRita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeRita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

For more on Rita Ora, visit www.ritaora.com

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Raye – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Raye – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe Raye – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe Raye – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

For more on Raye, visit www.raye-music.com

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Kara Marni – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Kara Marni – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe Kara Marni – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe Kara Marni – supporting Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

For more on Kara Marni, visit www.karamarni.com

For from the O2 Academy Birmingham, including all further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

INTERVIEW: Doug Stanhope

Doug Stanhope / by Brian Hennigan

Words by Emily Doyle / Pics by Brian Hennigan

On Tuesday 12th June, comedian and author Doug Stanhope brings his one man stand up show to the O2 Academy Birminghamfor direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here. 

Emily Doyle caught up with the American comic before he sets off for the UK, to talk about his new book, upcoming tour, and the joys of a rioting Wolverhampton crowd.

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I’m calling across the Atlantic, not expecting international comic Doug Stanhope to pick up first time. And yet after a couple of rings, I’m greeted with a jubilant “Good evening!” It’s coming up to midday in Arizona, but it’s nearly 8pm here in Birmingham.

Stanhope has been touring his stand-up for a quarter of a century, gaining a reputation along the way. Chris Rock has called him, “the most dangerous comedian in the world.” British listeners will know his blunt social commentary from his turn as the ‘Voice of America’ on Charlie Brooker’s BBC show Newswipe. When asked how he ended up working with Brooker, Stanhope pauses before replying.

“…I don’t know. My manager sets up a lot of stuff just, tells me “Oh, we’re gonna do this thing.” The first one I did was Screenwipe where I had to shuffle down with a hangover to the theatre and sit in a chair – “Okay, here’s the topics, just riff on ‘em, and let ‘em edit out anything you might have said that was vaguely entertaining…” – but after that we set it up over here. It was always fun to do.”

Stanhope has released ten stand up albums and authored three books. The latest of these is This Is Not Fame – from What I Re-Memoir, a celebration of the chaos and excess of his comedy tours. His previous book, Digging Up Mother: A Love Story, was subject to a statute of limitations because of its descriptions of credit card fraud. I’m eager to know if the same is true of the new release.

“Oh, no, there’s nothing illegal,” confirms Stanhope, “There’s probably a lot of stuff I could get sued for. If I WAS famous, I’d probably get sued for that book, but no one would care.”

With the book, of course, comes the inevitable tour. And that means leaving America. I look out the window at Birmingham’s grey skyline and ask Stanhope if there’s any UK dates he’s especially looking forward to.

“What… over there? No!” he laughs, “I don’t look forward to the U.K. at all! You know what, we’re not doing it, but I’d be excited to go back to Wolverhampton just ‘cause the one time I played there – I mentioned it briefly in the book – was absolute chaos. It was one of those towns that everyone said was a piece of shit and we’d hate, and we knew we were gonna love it just ‘cause of all the warnings we get about it. And it became my favourite team and they just got promoted! The Wolverhampton Wolves!”

“I guess other people listen and don’t go there. So, it was just one of those crowds where they were really overly excited that anyone showed up, and they bum-rushed the van. There was a brawl outside after the show, unrelated to the show. But there was some, you know, violent ejections during the show, and fisticuffs outside afterwards but they (the venue) didn’t know what it was about, the rumble, so they secreted us out the back to the waiting van and then a bunch of fans, cool ones, were pounding on the side of the van and screaming like you’re the fucking Beatles. It was… fantastic. The only good part of that seven week tour.”

It seems fitting that Stanhope should feel at home in Wolverhampton, even in the middle of a riot he might have created. The self-proclaimed anarchist never shies away from the grittier side of life. His stand-up revels in the taboo and the touchy, tearing apart topics such as gun violence, prostitution, and his own mother’s suicide with nihilistic glee. Many of Stanhope’s American fans see him as a defender of free speech. I ask if he finds international audiences any more sensitive.

“The only problem I really run into over there is getting halfway through a bit and realising ‘Oh shit, the payoff to this is something they’re not going to get’ and I’m already into it.Doug Stanhope / by Brian Hennigan I should have prepared and I just realised the big fucking punchline makes no sense whatsoever over here. So, then you have to make the judgment call, do I just keep doing the next three or four minutes of this bit knowing it’s gonna die, or do I just abruptly end it?”

Stanhope pauses, “When you do that, you just go “Ah you’re not gonna like this bit, let me move on,” then people think you we’re about to say something really shocking and then they goad ya, “Do it, do the bit!”” 

One authority did see fit to draw the line, however: the BBC. In the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks, Stanhope’s segment for Charlie Brooker’s 2015 Wipe was deemed to offensive to air.

“We filmed some stuff over here; I forget what it was about. Some news story crushed the best bit that I had. I have an album titled ‘…before turning the gun on himself’. It was supposed to the title of the two previous albums I put out, and both of ‘em got shitcanned because there was a shooting right before they went out. So, I had two last minute title changes before I finally managed to self-publish and put that one out. It’s hard to time that title without there being gun violence.”

America is no stranger to the occasional public shooting spree. But, especially to the rest of the world right now, any mention of the US brings to mind one ominous, flatulent word: Trump. Stanhope has gone on record saying that he doesn’t talk about the American president in his stand-up. His UK tour is mere weeks before Trump’s visit though, so I can’t resist asking if he’ll get a mention.

“Yeah, unless something strikes me that I think might not have struck every other comedian, I’ll avoid it,” tells Stanhope. “It’s even destroyed twitter. My whole fucking twitter feed. All the comments are dour fucking really serious anti-Trump stuff. People are still really surprised when he gets caught in a lie? How many news stories are we missing because it’s all the fucking news?” 

Doug Stanhope & Amy Bingaman / by Brian HenniganStanhope becomes irate, and it’s easy to see why. He makes his living cracking wise about authority and institution; Trump beats commentators to the punchline with every move he makes. 

“I’m trying to avoid the cliche of ‘the jokes write themselves’,” continues Stanhope, “but… I love that people are upset about it. They fucking created this. Reality TV, you know. Fawning over people that just talk shit from fucking Jersey shore. Why do I know who a fucking Kardashian is? I shouldn’t know that, you fucking brain-raped me into that. All these fucking zero-weight assholes. You celebrate them, and look at what you got. Good. Fucking sleep in it. I don’t have kids, I have no hope for the future. What do I give a shit about Trump?” 

It’s a valid point, especially from a safe distance across the Atlantic. But whilst British audiences may be on board with Stanhope’s provocative material, that’s not the case everywhere the comedian performs. Earlier this year he completed a seven date tour of East Asia for Magners International Comedy Festival. In his podcast, Stanhope tells listeners of his “$12,000 boo boo”, which saw him almost cancelling his Bangkok show for fear of being locked up for treason. “You’ll hear about that onstage,” he confirms. “ You’ll hear about that for a while.” 

At this point we are interrupted. Stanhope pauses to curse his girlfriend, Bingo, for calling while he’s in an interview. “Brain injury, she claims, but she was that dumb before the brain injury…”

A familiar voice to listeners of The Doug Stanhope Podcast, Amy ‘Bingo’ Bingaman has had her fair share of drama. Currently recovering from a life-threatening coma, which Stanhope lovingly documented by tweeting regular photos of her complete with tracheotomy and feeding tube, Bingo has been promoting her own book, Let Me Out: A Madhouse Diary – a journal of her experiences being institutionalised under the Wyoming Mental Health System.Doug Stanhope / by Brian Hennigan

Stanhope says it’s been a cathartic experience, both for her and for readers who’ve had similar experiences. “It’s in some cases made her a de facto spokesperson that she doesn’t wanna be – like, ‘Hey this is a diary, it’s not necessarily something I wanna be the face of’. A lot of people will email her looking for help.”

Bingo often gets a mention in Stanhope’s stand-up. In his latest album, No Place Like Home, he speaks candidly about his partner’s treatment under Arizona’s mental healthcare system. In order to access her mental healthcare, which consists of Skype sessions with a registered nurse, Bingo goes to a strip mall that’s home to a gun shop, a brewery, and her provider – Community Intervention Associates. Stanhope is quick to point out that for any patients suffering from paranoia, walking through a door marked ‘CIA’ to converse with a TV screen isn’t optimal. I ask if this is still the situation.

No actually, that’s one of those things I secretly take credit for,” tells Stanhope, “after I released that they changed the name from CIA to CHA. I think I’m responsible for that. They had to have seen this, it’s a small town. They had to have heard about it. They changed the name, if nothing else. The mental healthcare hasn’t gotten any better but at least they didn’t make it so blatantly obvious they don’t care by calling it ‘CIA’.

With a population of around five-thousand, Bisbee, Arizona is indeed a small place. But Stanhope is evidently fond of his hometown. “Oh, I love it here. There’s few enough people that there a sense of community, I like knowing my neighbours, I like not having to lock doors. You probably should here… I’ve got angry dogs.”

Doug Stanhope / by Brian HenniganIt’s from their Bisbee home, a compound of bungalows, trailers, and miscellaneous kitsch, that Stanhope and Bingo run their annual ‘eBay Yard Sale’. I ask him what they’ve put aside; keen to know if there’s anything good going.

“That’s what we’re doing today,” explains Stanhope. “As soon as I’m done with you we start cataloging all the stuff. We got a bunch of shit. A bunch of suits, just stuff that just fills up your crawl space, you know. I’ll never look at this again. People send me, like, watercolour paintings of me and you know, hey, that’s a good painting, I guess, but what? Am I gonna put paintings of myself on my own walls? Fuck. So you sell it to the fans.” 

Historically, the clearouts have been mostly made up of eclectic clothing. A scroll through Stanhope’s eBay shows up such descriptions as ‘Plaid Jacket 40R Serious Polyester’,  ‘Bingo’s Turquoise Blue Pimp Suit’, and ‘Old Timey Wool Swimming Trunks’. This time around he’s got something a little more personal on offer. 

“I got a picture that was on my wall from the first time we went over to London with Johnny Depp. It’s me and Bingo and Johnny Depp and Amber Heard and Ron Wood from the Stones and his gal, and I don’t want fucking Amber Heard on my wall any more so I’m gonna sell that, with the explanation that…  if you know the stories then you know why I wouldn’t want this on my wall. But I will sell it and I’ll give that money to a charity for actually abused women. ‘Cause that’s what she supposedly did with her divorce money – “I’m gonna give it all to charities for abused women” – well I’m gonna do the same with your picture.” 

“She dropped the lawsuit,” continues Stanhope – referring to the deformation case Heard brought, and dropped, against the comic. “She had no lawsuit, she was just doing it to try to shut me up. It would’a been fucking hilarious if she went through with it. Sue me in my own small town? Gonna come down here and sue me for all I’ve got? Get that house? You know you can’t sell that house; you’ll have to be my neighbour. Houses don’t sell down here very well.”

Doug Stanhope & Amy Bingaman / by Brian HenniganThe legal run in Stanhope had with Amber Heard has been well documented, as is his friendship with Johnny Depp, who wrote the foreword for Digging Up Mother. Ron Wood is a new one on me, though. I ask him who else shows up in the new book. He simply tells me that, “you can’t have a book called ‘This Is Not Fame’ without name dropping a lot,” before directing me to the index, handily included in the press release I received: Brand, Russell. Clapton, Eric. Manson, Marilyn….

“I texted him,” beings Stanhope at the mention of Marilyn Manson, who sits next to ‘The Man Show’ and ‘Marijuana’ in the index of This Is Not Fame. “He’s legendarily flaky so I texted him, I said ‘Hey, will you write a blurb for the back cover of my book?’ And he just typed back ‘yes’ and never got around to it, so I just put that. He’s a fun character; he’s one who lives up to his reputation. We’ve hung out a few times but I don’t have that kind of stamina. He’s hardcore.”

“I envy the people like that who can party that hard and still create that much. I mean, I can hang with you for awhile but I’m not doing shit the next day. I’m not writing a song or… he paints, he’s just wildly artistic. I party like that and I’m just on the couch for twenty four hours.” Stanhope pauses, “often I will go out on stage to his ‘Killing Strangers’ song… puts you in the mood.”

This is about all the comic will tell me about his upcoming tour; either he’s closely guarding some prime material, or he’s still to write it. Time will tell.

Our time today, however, has come to an end. It’s getting dark here in Birmingham, and Doug Stanhope clearly has a crawl space or two to empty out before the day is done in Bisbee. I wish him well, and try once more to find out what went on in Bangkok. He’s not telling. “Be at the show in Birmingham. This is such a long-ass story…”

Doug Stanhope performs at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Tuesday 12th June – as presented by Academy Events. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham/events/doug-stanhope

For more on Doug Stanhope, visit www.dougstanhope.com

For more from the O2 Academy Birmingham, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

BPREVIEW: Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18

BPREVIEW: Rita Ora @ O2 Academy Birmingham 16.05.18

Words by Eleanor Sutcliffe

On the 16th of May, Rita Ora will be performing at O2 Academy Birmingham as part of The Girls Tour coming to venues across the UK.

Doors open at the O2 Academy Birmingham from 7pm, with tickets priced at £33.70 (plus delivery fees) – as presented by SJM Concerts, Live Nation and AEG. For direct gig information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

**At the time of writing this gig was close to selling out, with only a few tickets left via Ticketmaster and other outlets. Please ensure you buy from a reputable agent**

Rita Ora rose to mainstream music fame back in 2012, after appearing as the guest vocalist on DJ Fresh’s No1 single ‘Hot Right Now’. In May that year, Ora – who had been working on material for her debut album – released her debut single, ‘RIP’, which also entered the charts at the top spot. Then in August, Ora completed the hat trick with ‘How Do We (Party)’ which again debuted at No1 – making her the only artist of the year to have three consecutive releases at the top of the UK Singles Charts. Rita Ora’s self titled debut album, Ora, came out in August 2012 again reaching the No1 spot on release.

Winning huge industry attention, Rita Ora, who signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label in December 2008, attracted support slots from many major artists such as Coldplay and Drake. Clear that Ora was a pop force to be reckoned with, since those somewhat meteoric beginnings she has toured from England to Australia, recorded with artists from Tinie Tempah to Iggy Azalea, and won pretty much every award you could think of including Best British Breakthrough Act at the 2013 BRIT awards.

Rita Ora has further enjoyed a solid career on screen, appearing as a judge on several high profile TV talent shows and staring as Mia Grey in the Fifty Shades… film trilogy

However, every silver lining has it’s cloud and Rita Ora’s music career took a hit in 2015 after she filed a lawsuit against Roc Nation seeking release from her contract. Settling this in early 2016, Ora signed to Atlantic Records in 2016 – releasing her first single on the imprint, ‘Your Song’, in May 2017.

Rita Ora’s latest solo single, ‘Anywhere’, was released in October 2017, following with a track with Liam Payne from the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack, ‘For You’, in January 2018 ‘For You’. A further collaboration with Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX, ‘Girls’, is set for release on 11th May – paving the way for Ora‘s long awaited sophomore studio album, which fans can hope to see released in autumn 2018.

‘Anywhere’ – Rita Ora

On the 16th of May, Rita Ora will be performing at O2 Academy – as presented by SJM Concerts, Live Nation and AEG. For direct gig information, including venue details and online tickets sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham/rita-ora-tickets 

For more on Rita Ora, visit www.ritaora.com

For from the O2 Academy Birmingham, including all further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham