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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 8 January 7:00pm start

Tuesday 8th January: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss the stories breaking in 2019, introduced by Simon Belt

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester film reviews

Poster for killer Joe

Killer Joe, Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Ian Betts July 2012

 

It is deeply enjoyable when typecast actors take on roles that corrupt their clichéd screen personas. Robin Williams did it in 2002 for One Hour Photo by portraying an obsessive photo-lab technician who constructs a delusional reality for himself using other people’s images. Having set himself up as a feel-good wizard of the sickening and schmaltzy after winning the Oscar for Good Will Hunting, Williams moved on from emotive dross like Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man by refashioning himself as a disturbing, compulsive fanatic, combining his ability to evoke our yearning for kindness and compassion with darker, more sinister urges.

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Manchester music reviews

Manchester Jazz Festival Radio

Manchester Jazz Festival: Preview 2012

in Manchester from 13th July to 21st July

by Charlotte Starkey July 2012

 

In just a few days’ time the 17th Manchester Jazz Festival opens. Each summer for the past sixteen years Manchester city centre, at different venues, has come alive to the sounds of the saxophone, clarinet, guitar, keyboard, percussion and vocals – all the voices of jazz. Like the water that endlessly bubbles from the Jubilee fountain in Albert Square (marking Queen Victoria’s sixty years), drawn from the ever–flowing streams that feed the great lakes and reservoirs of Cumbria, the rhythms of jazz pulse, whine, fill the air with waves of sound around Albert Square, St Anne’s, the musical venues of concert halls and bars.

 

You can get married in the Town Hall, step outside and forget the expensive hotel you booked, buy your drinks and food from the numerous stalls and enter into the groove; there’s your reception laid on, inside and outside the big Festival Pavilion, shared by every passer-by drawn in, en route from the office, the shop, the train station, just like the wedding-guests of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, captivated by some haunting lonely horn.

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Manchester book reviews

Glass is Elastic by Jon Glover

Glass is Elastic by Jon Glover

Publisher: Carcanet Press, 128 pages

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2012

 

I first came across Jon Glover’s work a few years ago with the collection Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It was a collection that joined a trend of poetry publications at the time, which included Maurice Riordan and Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s Dark Matter: Poems of Space. Of course using Science as a theme for poetry is nothing new, John Donne’s poetry is testimony to that, and one can even go back as far as Lucretius’ On The Nature Of The Universe.

 

The drawback to creating thematic genres of poetry is that the theme becomes the primary concern rather than the poetry itself, which can be a drawback if you create a narrowed audience. For someone who has done so much for the poetry in this country, and is one of the few real artisans (who I would rate along with Geoffrey Hill, for the real workmanship that goes into their poetry), being seen for autobiographical or propagandist dabblers that populate much of the poetry scene in Britain, would be a grave mistake.

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Manchester book reviews

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak by Catherine Smyth

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak. by Catherine Smyth

The Murder of Sophie Lancaster

Reviewed by Simon Belt June 2012

 

From the outset, this book is direct and down to earth. It reports the violent assault, in their local park in the early hours of Saturday 11 August 2007, on Sophie Lancaster and Rob Maltby from the Lancashire town of Bacup, the subsequent court case and development of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Sophie never recovered from her injuries and her life support machine was turned off on Friday 24 August 2007. Aged just 20, Sophie suffered her fatal injuries while cradling her boyfriend Rob’s head in an attempt to protect him from the cowardly assault which started on him. Although Rob was released from hosiptal the same day, his injuries have profoundly affected his life since. So what insights do we get from this book?

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

A Wagner opera production is always an event unmatched by any other. The passion displayed on stage is generally reflected by the audience. Perhaps no other opera produces greater feeling than Tristan and Isolde.

 

Based on the 13th Century poem of Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg, Wagner took one section of the story and rewrote it. The result was an opera that casts a giant shadow over all aspects of musical composition, even to this very day. As the conductor of this performance says in the programme notes “With its expansion of harmony, its achievement of chromatic independence, and its ‘emancipation of dissonance’, Tristan ultimately leads the way to atonality and to twelve-tone composition.” We can certainly feel the hand of Wagner’s Tristan on the early Schoenberg and throughout Mahler’s works.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - La bohème

La bohème by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

For its Summer 2012 season, Welsh National Opera presents two of the greatest and most famous operas on the theme of love. But the two could not be more different: Puccini’s classic, La bohème, gives us a real-life approach to love, with all its irrationality and heartache. Wagner’s masterpiece, Tristan and Isolde, meanwhile, positions love in the realms of a virtue that is even higher than valour or duty.

 

Are you put off the idea of opera by all those hysterical protagonists, highbrow plots and sky-high prices? Well, watch this myth busting video by Tim Rhys Evans on the WNO website. But if I could recommend one single opera, above all others, to the uninitiated it would be La bohème. An opera replete with the most beautiful melodies that combine with a simple tale to melt the blackest of hearts.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Shades of Diva

Shades of Diva by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan

Performed at Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade

Reviewed by Simon Belt June 2012

 

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from Lloyd Eyre-Morgan's Shades of Diva. Accurately described as a musical drama, it was being performed in a converted shop under Afflecks Palace which is now Manchester’s funky new Three Minute Theatre. What I experienced was a refreshing and delightful reminder of the creative and dedicated passion people have for theatre, and the effort they will put in to make sure the show goes on, and that it's quality.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Rolf Sings

Rolf Harris: can you tell what it is yet?

Walker Gallery, Liverpool

Reviewed by Jane Turner June 2012

 

Many years ago, I took part in a discussion entitled What is Art? At the time, I couldn’t understand why a bunch of revolutionaries were sitting around intellectualising about whether or not a chair was a work of art or a functional object, whilst half the country was in dispute with the government. I might have been a little economistic in my outlook, but I’m still not sure to this day if we came up with a satisfactory answer.

 

When an Art lover, a canny investor or maybe just someone with more money than sense, can spend 74 million pounds on The Scream by Munsch - a painting that makes me feel miserable every time I see it - I still can’t figure out the Art World.

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Manchester music reviews

Halle Orchestra, photo by Joel Chester Fildes

Fanfare for H.M. the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Hallé Orchestra at The Bridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

Thirty-five years ago, as a 19-year old, spotty-faced youth, I bought myself a copy of the Sex Pistols’ single God Save The Queen. It was the latest landmark in an exciting youth movement and like many others of my age we were caught up in the Punk scene. It was rebellious, exciting and struck an anti-establishment pose. We didn’t examine the more reactionary facets, such as the sneering manner in which Johnny Rotten, and the rest, viewed the masses with a patronising contempt for their celebrations of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. More than a third of a century later, I find myself at a concert celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and enjoying it immensely.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Waiting for Brando

Waiting for Brando

at Unity Theatre, Liverpool

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

There is an urban myth borne of two areas of modern mythology: cinema and Liverpool. When Elia Kazan was filming On The Waterfront, in 1953 in a dockside bar in New York, two Liverpool merchant seamen were allowed to stay during the filming. Apparently you can see the backs of their heads in a mirror.

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