Whitney & Aldous RH at the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 26/11/19

Chicago’s Whitney make short, sweet albums of indie soul. The second, Forever Turned Around, came out recently, and is full of memorable songs. The band they emerged from, The Smith-Westerns, were fun but frivolous. Nothing throwaway about Whitney, whose drummer and singer Julien Ehrlich (above left) takes centre stage. His diffident manner and Ed Norton meets Chris Martin looks appeal to the large female contingent in the packed, mostly twenty-something audience. The seven piece band includes two keyboards and occasional horns. Ehrlich’s blue-eyed soul voice is a distinctive wonder. It takes me half the set to realise what the soul inflected songs (co-written with guitarist Max Kakacek) most remind me of: pre-disco era Bee Gees. There’s also a clear influence from the late Southern soul…

Visiting The Beatles’ Childhood Homes

My family moved to West Kirby, on the Wirral in early 1963. Dad had a new job in Liverpool. It was a long, bitterly cold winter and I remember snow still covering the ground. ‘Please, Please Me’ was number one, but I don’t recall that. I was five. Across the Mersey, Beatlemania was begining. My mum bought all The Beatles’ Parlophone singles and albums, which I endlessly played. A year of so year later, with my late friend Mike Russell, we visited the NEMS record shop, where I was given money for the Long Tall Sally EP, the first record I ever bought. I’m playing the songs of my life on John Holmes’ legendary Sunday radio show just after 11AM next Sunday (Nov 3), a…

Weird Dreams: Roy & Buddy hologram tour

Royal Concert Hall, October 21st, 2019. This review first appeared in the Nottingham Post. Roy Orbison, famously, was one of the first superstars to play the Royal Centre, on June 3rd, 1985. Tickets were £8 and he played for 55 minutes. I’m told he did all the hits and his only words to the audience were before the encore: ‘I’ve had a request, so I’ll stay’. Buddy Holly and the Crickets played two shows at Nottingham’s Odeon on March 8, 1958. In a kinder world, perhaps, this would be a joint farewell tour. Holly died in a plane crash at 22, Orbison of a heart attack in 1988, aged 52. Both men would be 83 now, only four years older than Cliff Richard, who’s just…

Ready Eddie: Wunderbar! Eddie Izzard’s farewell tour

Six years after giving us two nights at the arena, Eddie Izzard returns for more two nights in a more intimate venue. This is being billed as the 57-year-old transgender comedian’s ‘last stand-up show’. Last time round, his (surprisingly short) show felt tired, the edge blunted by his campaign to become London Mayor. In the next General Election, he hopes to win a Labour seat. Nothing funny about that. Eddie comes on in leather jacket, fake boobs ‘from IKEA’ and a tartan kilt. Brexit and the fate of the planet features only at the beginning and end. Donald Trump does provide the punch line to one brilliant, surreal, extended joke. But most of this is Izzard doing what he does best, wild tangential humour where…

25 Years of the Creative Writing MA at NTU. Launch on October 23rd.

I don’t post much about my day job here. In 2002, I took a one year part-time contract to teach on Creative Writing courses at Nottingham Trent, in Clifton, including their MA in Creative Writing, one of the oldest in the country. Eighteen months later, I found myself running it, and introducing a module on Children’s and Young Adult Fiction. I was able to bring in script writer Michael Eaton and novelist David Almond as Visiting Professors and did the job for seven and a half years before standing down. Seventeen years later, as of today, I find myself running the MA for a third and final time (I was Programme Leader a second time the year before Rory Waterman took over. This semester I’m…