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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Epic: History Making?

Epic by Foster & Déchery

performed at greenroom

Reviewed by Simon Belt May 2011

 

The pitch for this show definitely intrigued me:

 

'Epic will go on a quest for History; the big one, written about in books, the one with World Wars in it, with memorable dates and names you learn at school, but also the personal one, the human one, the one you can relate to.

 

This is a playful and experimental journey through twentieth century history, combining personal stories, fanciful re-enactments of key historical events, video interviews with eccentric relatives, and a cameo from Bertolt Brecht.' 

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Manchester Centre for Emotion and Value (MANCEV)

Emotion: Phenomenology and Content

Reviewed by Simon Belt May 2011

This was a one-day conference focusing on two aspects commonly associated with emotional experience: phenomenology and content, hosted by the Manchester Centre for Emotion and Value (MANCEV) at Manchester University, and supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

 

MANCEV was set up in 2008 to serve as a hub for research into the emotions and their relation to both aesthetic and ethical value, and claims to be one of the foremost places for research into the emotions and value, with a wide ranging expertise amongst academic staff and a flourishing graduate community.

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Manchester music reviews

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

by Denis Joe

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's 2011/12 Season

As with other art organisations, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic faces cuts to its funding from the Arts Council and the local authority. The cuts could amount to nearly half-a-million pounds in the 2011/12 season. Yet at the launch of the new season there was no gloom and doom - Chief executive, Michael Ekin, seemed upbeat about the future of the Philharmonic.

 

And well he might. Under the baton of Vasily Petrenko the RLPO has gone from strength to strength. Initially, when the orchestra became the NW Orchestra of Classic FM, I thought that programmes would become less adventurous. That has proven not to be the case and the RLPO have continued to bring lesser known operas and new music, such as the recent St John Passion by James MacMillan, to Liverpool.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

George Monbiot - punch drunk?

'Gentleman' George Monbiot's 'Left Hook'

Reviewed by Simon Belt May 2011

 

George Monbiot has a reputation as one of Britain's foremost environmental activists. When I saw the advert for 'Gentleman' George Monbiot's 'Left Hook' was part of the Writing on the Wall (WoW) Festival 2011 in Liverpool, I thought I'd pop across to see for myself who would be interested in his peculiar mix of self-promotion and social commentary, and why.

 

As soon as I was eligible to vote, I used my vote to protest at Labour's contempt for the public that elected them, by voting for the Green Party. Ok, Ok, I was still at school, lived in a trendy and safe Labour seat, and hadn't read what the Greens actually stood for. When I later found out what the Greens actually stood for, rather than what I hoped they stood for, I was a little shocked at how futile the gesture was. Left with no outlet for bringing about a socialist society, I began something of a long search for some coherent and progressive ideas, including spending some time in Liverpool around the time Militant were having their heyday. Expecting a City like Liverpool, with its socialist reputation, to provide some criticism of George Monbiot's environmentalism I started to do some online research.

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Manchester music reviews

The Durutti Column, Bridgewater Hall

The Durutti Column presents Chronicle 

at The Bridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Mark Iddon April 2011


The premiere performance of the forthcoming Durutti Column CD ‘Chronicle’ at the Bridgewater Hall in April, was to journey the emotional depths and potential heights of a band with an illustrious history spanning 3 decades performing in their home town.

 

Fans of The Durutti Column know not to expect polite melodic tunes, but an experimental array of free flowing layering of meandering interwoven sounds, ranging from delicate and restrained classical pieces to the energetic guitar of the anarchic leaning, but classically trained Vini Reilly, overlaid with a complimentary arrangement of sampled sounds. Their music self consciously sets out to challenge traditional music structures.

 

The Durutti Column have previously performed (in 2004) at the Bridgewater Hall, which is a wonderful venue and more usually the home of the Hallé Orchestra. The Bridgewater Hall (who commissioned this performance), has a distinguished entrance on Lower Mosley Street, a grand foyer and civilised, if a little stark, bar area overlooking the canal basin. It has a grand auditorium with stalls area and 3 balcony levels and great attention to the design of the building in order to maximise the acoustic performance of the space. Covers dressed the front of the balconies, presumably to compensate for the heavier sound of The Durutti Column from the traditional instruments of the Hallé Orchestra.

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Manchester film reviews

Gordos (Fat People)

Gordos viewed at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Dir Daniel Sanchez Arevalo, ES 2009, 120 mins

Reviewed by John Hutchinson April 2011

 

Undoubtedly, the most interesting of the sophisticated films and perhaps the “winner” overall of this year's Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the Cornerhouse, is Gordos (Fat People). This has won many accolades, including the best supporting actor at the Goya awards in 2009, and has been a huge box office success in Spain.

 

The film takes as its central premise the subtitle “todos llevamos uno dentro” - loosely translated as “there is a fat person waiting to get out in all of us”, and is sophisticated as it explores this concept in often hilarious and satirical detail. I use the term concept rather than narrative here for although there is a bewildering interweaving of the dramas and crises of many lives, all united under the bursting umbrella of obesity, one way of responding to the film is at a conceptual level rather than to an individual story line.

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Manchester film reviews

Octubre (October)

Octubre (October) viewed at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Dirs Daniel Vega Vidal & Diego Vega Vidal, PE 2010, 93 mins

Reviewed by John Hutchinson April 2011

 

The 17th Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the Cornerhouse showed its final film on 27th March ending a 3 week fiesta of films, talks, discussion, educational events and an art exhibition. This annual event has become a permanent feature of the Manchester cultural landscape to the extent that at the Café Cervantes, the conversational cafe run by the Cervantes Institute (the Spanish equivalent of the British Institute) a number of Spanish speaking veterans revealed they had been attending since its inception.

 

The general consensus was that this year has not been quite of the same vintage as past festivals but then veterans usually take pride in saying that and the impressions of some films grow over time as their details fade. This author would nevertheless like to explore some of the films critically and suggest that there were tastes on offer that appealed to sophisticated and raw palates alike in specific cultural contexts.

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Manchester book reviews

The Cambridge Quintet

The Cambridge Quintet

by John L. Casti

Reviewed by Charles Brickdale April 2011

 

This review article was solicited to form part of some background readings for a discussion on Artificial Intelligence and Human Consciousness organised by the Manchester Salon to coincide with the Manchester Science Festival.

 

The Cambridge Quintet’ by John L. Casti is not about chamber music or yet another batch of undergraduates recruited by the KGB. It concerns one of those slow-burning science stories that has been smouldering quietly away, occasionally flaring up and generating some light and a fair amount of heat, in the backgrounds of our lives for many decades.

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Manchester book reviews

Dog Day Dimp by Peter Clayfield

Dog Day Dimp by Peter Clayfield

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley April 2011


I’d just finished reading yet another ‘crime’ novel (my favourite genre) and was ready to play detective again, when I spotted a couple of interesting books by Peter Clayfield on Simon’s (my husband’s) desk. I picked up ‘Dog Day Dimp’ as I was intrigued by the cover, I know, I know don’t judge a book and all that, but the book itself looked smaller than a normal sized paperback – I only mention this because I said to Simon that the size felt great for me having small hands and the book felt really easy to handle. It was only then that I read the ‘sleeve/description/synopsis’ and realised that it was about a Dwarf and the thought crossed my mind that this was a deliberate ploy – you know a book for little people. However in fact it is the same size as normal paperbacks, just an optical illusion and one I’m not sure was intended. So basically I snatched this book, before it was passed on to one of the other reviewers around the Salon to do a proper formal review – but here are my ramblings and thoughts and hope you will forgive such an apolitical review!

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Manchester music reviews

Jheronimus Bosch - The Carrying of The Cross

James Macmillan - St John Passion  

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Reviewed by Denis Joe April 2011


Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Conductor: James MacMillan)
Christopher Maltman Baritone
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir (Chorus master: Ian Tracey)
Colla Voce Singers (Director: Lee Ward)

 

Walking past the Catholic Cathedral on my way to the Philharmonic Hall, the bells were ringing out for the Easter week; an appropriate time to give a concert of St John Passion at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

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