December 16th, 2004


We can stay a while in heaven today

The Tears: Tuesday December 14th, The Zodiac, Oxford

Last night, the Zodiac played host to the eagerly-awaited debut of this new indie sensation. The Tears are: Brett Anderson (one-time collaborator with Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann) on vocals; Bernard Butler (McAlmont & Butler, also successful solo career) on guitar; Makoto Sakamoto (Bernard Butler, Bert Jansch, Frou Frou) on drums, Will Foster (Sophia, Heather Nova) on keyboards, and Nathan Fisher on bass.

Oh, who am I kidding? Never mind the indie credentials: Brett and Bernard from Suede are back together again. Collapse )

You'd never get away with all this in a play

Friday 10th December, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera

If Tuesday's entertainment took me back 11 years, then the previous Friday's outing should have taken me back even further. Before I caught the indie bug, before I even really got the hang of this thing called 'pop' that my friends liked, I was into musicals. I loved all Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals, but by far my favourite was Phantom of the Opera -- not just the music but the story captivated me, and rapidly became my obsession. I bought the cassette, sent off for the libretto booklet, read Leroux's novel (in two different English translations, and then in French), read Susan Kay's eminently readable rewrite, watched every film version I could get my hands on (from the Lon Chaney silent movie to Brian de Palma's Phantom of the Paradise), and devoured every bit of information in The Complete Phantom of the Opera, from biographical details about Charles Garnier to the number of beads used in the chandelier in the stage production of the musical. Actually seeing the stage production, as a birthday treat for my 12th birthday, was everything I could have hoped for (apart from Michael Crawford! -- though Dave Willetts played the title role admirably).

15 years later I still love the story, I'm still keen to see new film versions and read new rewrites; all in all, I was determined to like this film. And with Lloyd Webber's score (which I will still defend, though it does now seem rather dated) and a budget of goodness-only-knows how many millions, I didn't think there was any way it could fail to delight. The opening sequences certainly promised great things: the moment when the grainy monochrome and dusty memories burst suddenly into a blaze of light, exploding into glorious colour along with the first chords of the famous theme, promised the sort of spine-tingling romantic excitement that the musical always held for me.

Collapse )