BPREVIEW: Hans Zimmer @ Barclaycard Arena 12.04.16

Words by Olly MacNamee

On Tuesday 12 April, Hans Zimmer performs at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham – as promoted by Harvey Goldsmith. At the time of writing tickets for this event have sold out, but for direct information from The Ticket Factory, click here.Main with web colour bcg - lr

There’s no doubting Hans Zimmer’s credentials as one of Hollywood’s major composers, with a career spanning over 150 films including The Lion King (for which he won an Oscar in 1994), Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and the recently released Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. To the modern movie-goer he’s arguably best known for his work scoring the films of Christopher Nolan, including Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy and Interstellar.

Having spent his childhood fixated on music, Zimmer played keyboard with a number of bands in the ‘70s, including Trevor Horn’s The Buggles, even making a brief appearance in the video of The Buggles’ 1979 hit ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’. Zimmer worked his way across Europe as a jobbing musician, before eventually washing up in Hollywood. Hell, he’s even worked with The Damned.

Even in childhood, with his father an engineer, the Frankfurt born Zimmer would experiment with music and musical instruments, fixing odds and ends onto his piano to achieve a different, experimental sound. His noodling with electronic music still continues to this day and it will certainly be interesting to see how this translates on stage when Zimmer, along with his 70+ travelling minstrels, comes to Birmingham with over four decades of back catalogue to borrow from.

ttf LOGO WEBCOLOURSPerforming with the likes of Lebo M (from the aforementioned Lion King), Mike Einziger from Incubus, as well as a possible appearance Johnny Marr (whom Zimmer has previously worked with on Inception and The Amazing Spider-man 2) it would seem that those fortunate enough to be going will be witness to a rather eclectic, diverse set.

Given that this is one of few UK dates on Zimmer’s first ever tour, many have already grabbed the opportunity to catch one of Hollywood’s most renowned contemporary composers – with the concert selling out.

But to keep track of updates & info direct from The Ticket Factory, Barclaycard Arena’s official online outlet, click here.

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

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

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

BPREVIEW: Mike Carey signing @ Waterstones – City Centre (High St) 09.04.16

fellside2Words by Olly MacNamee

On Saturday 9th April at 6.30pm, graphic novelist & author Mike Carey (X-Men, Lucifer) comes to Birmingham’s High Street branch of Waterstones – signing to sign copies of his latest novel, Fellside.Main with web colour bcg - lr

The Mike Carey signing (or M R Carey as he is known as a prose writer) is a free event, organised in conjunction with The Birmingham Comics Festival. For direct info from Waterstones, click here

Carey’s writing career has seen him writing for Marvel (Fantastic Four, The X-Men), Rebellion (2000AD) and DC Comics offshoot Vertigo (Lucifer – now a FOX TV series). Amongst the comic book fans of this world, he’s something of a name.

Carey is much more than a comic book writer though and has also found the time to forge a successful career as an author – hence this signing of Fellside, a thriller set in a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.

Carey’s most notable prose work to date is arguably his 2014 novel The Girl With All The Gifts, which is currently being adapted into the film She Who Brings Gifts, starring Glen Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine. The film was partly filmed in the mean streets of Birmingham itself last summer, when a portion of Brum’s streets were turned into a facsimile of a dystopian future.

Arguably, Carey is as well known as an author as he is a comic book creator – and probably about to become even better known once She Who Brings Gifts hits cinemas later this year. I will always fondly remember the time I met Neil Gamain on his tour for his novel American Gods, back in the day. It’s doubtful I would ever get such a chance again, and this signing could be a similar one-off opportunity to meet Mike Carey.

M R CareyThe M R Carey signing a free event, but it will be ticketed and I’d make sure you book before venturing into town.

Having made his name as a comic book writer, I expect this will be more intense than your average signing – with plenty of comic book fans ready in the wings with arms full of things to be signed. You may find yourselves standing in a slower moving queue than expected.

Either drop into Waterstones or phone and reserve your ticket on 0121 633 4353. Alternatively, you can tweet your request to @waterstonesbham

For more information, visit https://www.waterstones.com/events/meet-m-r-carey/birmingham-high-street

For more on Mike Carey / M R Carey, visit http://mikeandpeter.com/

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

BPREVIEW: The Birmingham Comics Festival @ Edgbaston Cricket Stadium 23.04.16

The Birmingham Comics Festival @ Edgbaston Cricket Stadium 23.04.16

Words by Olly MacNamee

On Saturday 23 April, The Birmingham Comics Festival comes to Edgbaston Cricket Stadium. And now in its second year, the guys behind The Birmingham Comics Festival have a grand plan for the future of the event – building on the success of the 2015 event and spreading their wings and influence across the whole city. No longer just a comic-con but a full blown festival, a number of satellite events have been scheduled to spread the word and grow the event.Main with web colour bcg - lr

They clearly want to leave an endemic mark on the city for years to come. And in making many of these events free to all, they are certainly thinking beyond the capitalist confines of simply profiteering, but at bolstering and sustaining the thriving comic book culture within the city that has always been here, though subsiding, like Batman, in the shadows in recent years.

The main event itself, The Birmingham Comics Festival, runs from 9am (for Early Bird ticket holders, or 11am for everyone else), over two halls. You will be able to take it all in, with one hall having a firm focus on comic book creators and comic book exhibitors and vendors, and the other showcasing other exhibitors of sci-fi, cosplay, gaming and the like.

The Birmingham Comics Festival @ Edgbaston Cricket Stadium 23.04.16Along with these more established names, there will be the chance to delve into the vast and varied world of indie publishing, with several comics launching at the festival. Having covered cons for nearly three years now as a roving reporter of geek culture, and a self-confessed aficionado, more and more I find I am drawn to these indie titles and the diversity they offer in terms of storytelling and subject matter. For me, these cons are about finding those hidden gems, or stumbling upon tomorrow’s Neil Gaiman or Amanda Connner.

So have a sneak peak at a few new titles ahead of publication: Steve Tanner from Time Bomb Comics, will be debuting his Flintlock comic, set in the 18th Century, Planet Jimbot will launch their new comic, Samurai, as will local first timers, Joe Krawec and Angus Medford with their book, Blood. There are, of course, far more than these names to salivate over, so why not take a look at the complete list – click here.

And, if your love for pop culture is not simply as a devourer of the four coloured page, there are other sights to see across the day, with one of the big pulls guaranteed to be the chance to have your photo taken with The Tumbler, from the much-loved Christopher Nolan helmed Batman trilogy. Originally touted as a ticket only opportunity, it was soon realised that demand was far too large to ignore. You can’t say they haven’t listened to their fans, at least.The Birmingham Comics Festival @ Edgbaston Cricket Stadium 23.04.16

There’s plenty to do, and that’s before the panels have been announced, which will run throughout the day and will probably take on a diverse range of themes if last year’s panels on superheroes and films, women creators in comics and a panel on 2000AD, are the litmus test to go by.

Oh, and there will be cosplayers too. There’s always cosplayers. They bring an added element of fun and frollicks to the whole day. Why not get dressed up yourself and join the party.

Tickets are still available, and many of the events leading up to the big day are free.

For a full list of satellite events, click here – with a few highlights below.

Laydeez Do Comics @ The Victoria 04.04.16

Admission: free / 7.30pm

A regular meet up with guest speakers of the female variety (but not exclusively) sharing their passion for comics and their own work within the field. This time round guest speakers will be artist Verity Glass (cover artist for Titans Comics Dr Who as well as IDW’s Independence Day comic series), Coventry-based cartoonist and illustrator Caroline Parker and Birmingham writer and editor Paul H Birch.

For more info, visit http://www.thevictoriabirmingham.co.uk/


Quiz Night @ The Victoria 06.04.16

Admission: free / 6.30pm

Again at The Victoria Theatre Bar, and supported by Nostalgia and Comics, Birmingham’s longest running comic book emporium, is the return of the intensely competitive Quiz Night. The winner gets to walk away with an original piece of artwork especially commissioned by one of the big name artists present at the festival. Last year’s lucky winner took away an original Hulk drawn by Mark Buckingham (Vertigo’s Fables) and inked by Mark Farmer (who I will always associate with his partnership alongside artist Alan Davis on Marvel’s Captain Britain).

For more info, visit http://www.thevictoriabirmingham.co.uk/


Mike Carey signing @ Waterstones – City Centre (High St) 09.04.16 

Admission: free / 6pm

Mike Carey, or rather M R Carey when wearing his author’s hat, is in town and signing his new novel Fellside at Waterstones on the High Street. Expect a range of fans there for his novels (The Girl With All The Gifts is about to be released as a major movie adaptation starring Glen Close and Gemma Arterton) and his comic work (Lucifer, Fantastic Four and X Men).

For more info, visit https://www.waterstones.com/events/meet-m-r-carey/birmingham-high-street


Creating Comics workshops @ mac April

Two courses, two different demographics.

Firstly, there is the child friendly Creating Comics workshop, on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th April at mac (11am – 1pm) aimed at children aged between 8 – 14. And, if they can talk their parents into it, an hour later at 2pm, there will be a screening of The Iron Giant to round off a busy day.

Then, there is the more intense adults’ course, starting on April 15th and running every Friday (7.30pm – 9.30pm) for 13 weeks costing £120/£96 with concessions. Both are hosted by Chris Hamilton.

mac is a popular venue for the middle classes of Moseley and beyond, so be warned, if you want a place get in there quickly otherwise you may be disappointed.

For more info, visit https://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/creating-comics-sc217/


Drink & Draw @ Edwardian Tea Rooms, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 22.04.16

Admission: free /  6.30pm

Hosts Simon Myers and Nigel Hopkins return to the Edwardian Tea Rooms in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, providing the theme and the pens, pencils and paper. Expect a comic book related theme I imagine. A huge number of willing participants turned up last time (I’m talking HUNDREDS of people) and there are already over 600 people showing interest in this one. A hugely popular evening and a great setting too.

For more info, visit http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/edwardian-tea-rooms-late-drink-and-draw


The Birmingham Comics Festival comes to Edgbaston Cricket Stadium on Saturday 23rd April, running from 9am-6pm.

Tickets are priced between £10-£25 (advance), for direct info &online ticket sales, visit http://www.thecomicfestival.com 

FEATURE: Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt @ City Centre 23.04.16

Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt @ City Centre 23.04.16

Words & pics by Ed King / Artwork by Void One

Birmingham is full of ideas. The city of a thousand social enterprise starts ups is never quiet for long, as a maelstrom of rhetoric fills the coffee shops and square foot homes from home of the city’s eager creatives. God knows I’m one. Birmingham Review was one. Most of my portfolio started at the end of a pot of filter coffee. And as the wheat, chaff and Arts Council do their merry little dance, the city’s event programmes and flyers stands ebb and flow, and ebb again.Main with web colour bcg - lr

(I should at this point apologise for all the ‘lost’ features we’ve never published, or the pages of our website that are not yet online. Watch out for our Lost Review anthology – coming out both in print and online.)

Birmingham Review first interviewed Harley Davies, founder of Beta Birmingham and Beta Test Records, back in May 2013 – after the home grown label released its stonkingly solid album of mash up and homage, Council Pop. The cream of a precarious crop, Council Pop grabbed me as a local release benchmark worth writing about, with the man behind as someone to keep in the ‘Safe Senders’ list.

But often simplicity shines through; simplicity, alongside the graft and address book it takes to deliver a project. Oh yeah, tenacity helps as well. And cash. And time.

So with at least three of those foundations in place, Harley Davies had another idea – one that taps into our city’s desire for art, free stuff and a mad dash around the city. No, not another riot-by-twitter – something all together more creative and constructive. And following on from the beautifully curated The Big Hoot project, it’s planning to “celebrate our vibrant art community, framed by some of the city’s most iconic, intriguing and even notorious locations.” Go on…Harley Davies @ The Custard Factory / By Ed King

On Saturday 23rd April, armed with a treasure map and mobile broadband, the Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt will be swooping across the city centre. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. Let the numbers come, the pirate metaphors flow, and the slow loafer hipsters beware… the Captain’s got a canvas to catch.

Beta Birmingham is a local record label. And if you’ve never heard of a treasure hunt before, it’s where you hunt for treasure. Moving on. Beta Birmingham are using the streets of Birmingham city centre for their fast grab endeavour, hiding over 30 pieces of original art from a range of genre and artists. So far we’ve been told about illustration, photography and all sorts of mediums on canvas.

But with ‘why’ hovering on one shoulder, let’s quickly look at ‘how’. And again, the idea is simple. At 12noon on Saturday 23rd April, Beta Birmingham will release a map via their website and social media channels – showing a series of locations across the city centre where they have hidden ‘X Marks the Spot’ signs. Tried and tested, even Enid Blyton children can pick this one up.

Then once a successful ‘player’ finds an ‘X’, they take the ubiquitous selfie (apparently now the world’s new form of colloquial transaction) post it onto the Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt Facebook page, and tootle down to The Custard Factory Street Art Treasure Hunt HQ to collect their loot. Kind of like Thomas Crown meets Treasure Island, with a bit of Gumball Rally thrown in. Or Battle Royale, if you’re really ‘passionate’ about your art.

The ‘why’ is a little more colourful, no pun, and Birmingham Review will be following this story with an interview from Harley Davies – letting them man behind the project explain it in his own words.

But for now, I’ll throw in a starter for ten. According to the initial press release, the Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt is being held to “celebrate” the city’s “vibrant art community” – whilst also being a showcase for “artists who may not have exhibited before to showcase their work alongside some of Birmingham’s more recognised and infamous characters”. Sounds like a solid grant application.

But what arguably makes this project stand out, alongside the unashamed variety of art being presented and the veracity of Beta Birmingham’s previous endevours, is a big fat ‘F’ word. Fun.

“I can’t give too much away at this stage,” says Harley Davies, as Birmingham Review catches him for a greedy pre-interview soundbite, “but we’re hiding the Xs in some iconic, intriguing and even notorious places. There’s original work from a range of this city’s artists and infamous characters; we wanted the treasure map to be just as colourful and just as exciting.  You should see this as a friendly day time mad dash, a pedestrian Gumball Rally style race for hidden art treasure.Harley Davies @ The Custard Factory / By Ed King

And everywhere is accessible – free to get to and open to all ages. It was important that everyone could be involved in the event at every stage. The Street Art Treasure Hunt map will show  players places in the city centre they might never have seen before, but would love to discover. There are places with food and drink in there too, but a packed lunch and trainers might not be a bad idea.” 

And if it all sounds like too much of a foot based commitment, you can always head down The Custard Factory Street Art Treasure Hunt HQ on 23rd April and have a look at some of the pieces – as they wait patiently for their new owners to come and collect them. The ‘HQ’ is at the back of the lake, next to The Mockingbird Theatre & Bar – so it all goes horribly Pete Tong, and you find nowt on your hunt, you can still be a graciously sore loser. Or a full and tipsy one, at least.

But right now I’m off to sharpen my cutlass.

The Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt will take place across the city centre, from 12noon on Saturday 23rd April – with the supporting selected pieces on display at The Custard Factory from 10am.

All aspects of the Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt are free and open to all ages. For more information, visit www.betabirmingham.co.uk

Or visit the Beta Birmingham Street Art Treasure Hunt Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/864333440332012/permalink/904617286303627/

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/

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high