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.

BPREVIEW: Notorious – 20th Anniversary Finale @ Town Hall 25.11.17

BPREVIEW: Notorious - 20th Anniversary Finale @ Symphony Hall 25.11.17

Words by  Damien Russell

2017 marks the 20th year of Notorious, Birmingham’s own alternative non-audition choir. Notorious have been celebrating with an impressive tour that reaches its peak at the Town Hall on Saturday 25th November.

Tickets are priced at £18.00 (premium) or £12.00 (standard) with the standard booking fees. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Notorious. A great name for a group that prides itself on doing things differently to the ‘norm’. They’re a group known for adventurous live performances including a ‘water-themed concert in a cave with the audience on barges’, a Halloween-themed concert in a coffin factory, and joining the Bishop of Birmingham at Lifford Lane tip ‘to promote not being wasteful at Christmas’. Notorious are also known for their unusual choral song choices, such as ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead and ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion to name but two. Notorious also actively support new work and new composers and have even performed four works commissioned specifically for them – including ‘Mistletoe’ by Ēriks Ešenvalds.

Yet in a perhaps surprising move, the culmination of this year’s excitement is to be their most traditional-styled show to date. Town Hall is a natural choice for choral music with its marvelous acoustics and the pieces Notorious will perform are both Catholic in origin with one, ‘The Magnificat’ by John Rutter, being a musical setting of a biblical canticle and the other, ‘Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem’, the shortened Catholic Mass for the Dead in Latin.

Despite their cheery-sounding nature both pieces are recognised as being uplifting, with ‘The Magnificat’ described as ‘an outpouring of joy’ and, as Fauré himself said of Requiem, “it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above” so the (still early) lead-in to the holiday spirit seems sure not to be dampened here.

For those who have seen Notorious before and are now thinking ‘I know those pieces, I know the artists, I know what to expect’, there is one more twist for the event. The typically 35-strong choir will be bursting at the seams with its biggest ensemble of 75 members. I’m not sure where they’ll all fit on the Town Hall stage but where there’s Notorious, there’s a way. Something this creative choir have proven time and time again.

Founded by Clare Edwards back in 1997, the Birmingham-based choir set out to make ‘high-quality choral music that is accessible and can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of background or previous experience’. Under Edwards’ musical direction, Notorious has grown from a tentative group of 15 singers to a 35-strong choir, performing more than 120 concerts in 65 different venues.

So, whether it’s because you love choral music and want to see it in a traditional setting, you love Notorious and want to celebrate their 20th year in style, or you just want to find out what it might all be about, all are welcome to help this unique Birmingham choir blow out their 20 candles.

Do you think we should all sing them ‘Happy Birthday’ at the end? “And many more….”

‘Mistletoe’ – Notorious (performed at St John’s and St Peter’s Church 10.12.16)

‘Mistletoe’ was composed by Ēriks Ešenvalds with text from poem by Walter de la Mare – commissioned by Notorious to mark the choir’s 20th anniversary. Conducted by Clare Edwards.

Notorious end their 20th year celebrations with a special performance at Birmingham’s Town Hall on Saturday 25th November. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Notorious, visit www.notoriouschoir.org

For more from both the Town Hall and Symphony Hall, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.thsh.co.uk