Archive for manchester

Canada, Canada-da-diddy-doody-da!

Posted in Reviews of the Kind of Thing You Wouldn't Hear in Lifts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2010 by plumbobrainier

Thing: Owen Pallett (w/ Next Life) @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 28/03/2010

ETA: 20:30

ATA (Actual Time of Arrival, because I was so excited I walked much more quickly than anticipated): 20:05

Company: My better half (who else? who better?)

It’s a tiny place, is the Music Hall atop The Deaf Institute. The disco ball hanging from its ceiling is comically oversized for the space – a great, reflective, kitschy-camp planet.

We were stood in the centre of the room, gradually finding out that we were amongst the oldest in the growing crowd. She was, in her own words, a granny, and I made the inevitable gag that soon I would find rock concerts too darn loud.

I got the drinks in.

She said to me, “I think I’ve just seen him.”


“Owen. Owen Pallett.”

“Oh yeah? Where?” (I said this whilst trying to hide my boyish excitement)

“Has he got long hair?”


“Oh, it wasn’t him then.”

The pretend Pallett with the long hair turned out to be a member of Next Life, the support act. His bandmates were a skinny, shaven-headed Southeast Asian-looking guy wearing an Assuck tshirt, and a very large-chested man with long black hair and a goatee, who looked like he had just retired from international football, playing for Italy, in order to take up the drums.

Next Life are the kind of band you’d expect to play at the Deaf Institute if, like Alanis, you like to sing “well, isn’t it ironic” to yourself. Their’s is a brand of ear-splitting electronica-inflected vocal-less death-sludge-metal-core (they’re concertina-ing train wrecks are genre descriptions) played with drums, electric guitar, a keyboard contraption, and two MacBooks; although I suspect that the guitarist’s showed him the musical score – it would have been necessary, so complicated was the stop-starty barrage of major chord, tombstone-slab riffs and squiggly keyboard lines.

My reactions went as follows: this is loud, this is hilarious, this is a joke of Owen’s, this is great, this is samey, this is I-don’t-know-what. But by the end, Next Life had won a special place in my heart. Their guitarist and keyboardist spent their 20 minute set head-banging around, doing the best impressions, respectively, of a mute pitbull terrier and a horse’s fly-swatting tail I’d ever seen. & yet, the guitarist nodded with sweet enthusiasm between songs, and explained so very much with the words, “We are from Norway.”

Next Life are a band of paradoxes. Despite their metal-heaviness (which is no bad thing), I could see why Mr. Pallett had chosen them: their music was intricate, expertly played, yet deceptively simple, and contained snatches of childish innocence and playfulness amongst its holocaustal hammering. Their guitarist’s parting words: “It was nice to play here. You are a nice audience.” Subject your own ears here.

Owen appeared without fanfare, at the side of the stage. I darn-near swooned. His last brace of albums are probably my favourite two records since records began (I’m sure I’ll put a very masculine list of all me ol’ faves up on here soon). He was looking serious, he was, staring at the stage. He has a small chin, I noticed. A perfectionist’s brain was mulling over the elaborate setup. A young man approached him and handed him a tupperware tub of homemade biscuits. Owen looked bemused and smiled, gratefully. It would be another half hour until his set began.

Owen Takes His Shirt Off

I’d read about Final Fantasy gigs before, and seen clips on Youtube. If you’re reading this (and have read this far), you probably know that Monsieur Pallett plays the violin and uses a loop pedal to build songs up layer by layer. I hadn’t quite realised exactly how fascinating and impressive this would be until I saw and heard it for myself, in reality itself. It is absolutely enthralling, and inspiring in its ingenuity. It looked difficult; and the refreshing thing was that Pallett didn’t make it look all that easy. In fact, the look of satisfaction that crossed his face when he pulled off the timings said it all: this was tricky stuff – like musical juggling. You could almost accuse the plucky Canadian of showing off, if it wasn’t all just so incredibly, sublimely beautiful.

He had a friend along with him called Thomas Gill, who played the guitar, provided percussion (as well as backing vocals and some mightily impressive whistling) and seemed generally quite in awe of Mr. Pallett. Much like everyone else in the room then.

Having someone else on stage meant that O.P. had a foil for his witty banter (delivered in a supremely sarcastic, deliciously camp voice). T.G. left the stage for one song and as he walked off, O.P. cooed “love you,” before explaining that T.G. was disappearing for a biscuit break because there was nothing for him to do during the next song, and it was therefore boring for O.P. to have T.G. sitting up there. Apparently T.G. had taken to providing an accompaniment of interpretative dance, but this had disturbed previous audiences. […] Well, I thought it was funny at the time.

Of special note were three songs I didn’t recognise. I have since discovered these to be an original called ‘The Man with no Ankles’ (Owey Pally’s favourite song from ‘Heartland’ which didn’t make it onto ‘Heartland’, apparently) and two covers (both of which had me expel an instance of an amused alarmbell cackle); the first: ‘Interview‘ by Simon Bookish, the second: ‘Independence is No Solution for Modern Babies’ by Sylvester Boy. Don’t know anything else about either. Songs were good though.

I left the gig elated, truly happy I’d had the chance to witness Canada-da-diddy-doody-da’s finest floppy-haired son do his stuff. It was all over too soon. And the cherry on the already well-iced cake? My better half loved it too!

I realise that this post long ago became a grossly fanboyish gush. I’m sure that it has been of little-to-no-interest to anyone who isn’t inclined towards Senor Pallett already. But if I have any modest ambition for this article it is that I hope it piques the curiosity of those who haven’t yet heard his audio-outpourings, and earns the bon hombre one or two more fans.

Of course, less than (or equal to) two people per week read this thing……

……. BUT! if those two or fewer people listen to, enjoy, and go see a live performance of Owen Pallett’s music, then our planet will be a minutely better place, and I will have played my part and have gone some way to becoming the change I want to see in the world!

That was a trifle overblown, wasn’t it.

[N.B. What’s great is that I delayed writing this review for so long that some internet-habiting person had the time to put the whole gig up on YouTube… Mr. Pallett is made for sharing. Enjoy!]


A Few Words to Fill a Sad, Sad Void… Or, some verbal trailers, if you will.

Posted in Delicious Morsels with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by plumbobrainier

So – yeah.

I’ve not been overly proliferiffic of late.

But there are things on the horizon – OH READER! The metaphorical horizon is metaphorically littered with articles and bluedogposts and ideas for articles and blankhogposts!! These may look like insignificant dots from you’re standing (if they’re visible at all, especially to the young lady with the restricted view from behind the pillar at the back – next time fork out the extra few quid for a proper seat!) but in not too much time at all I hope they will sitting on this webface with disconcerting pride.

These are just a few of the things looking to squelch out of the pipeline in the coming hours, days and weeks:

Arise, Ms. Bullock!

1. A long overdue assessment of the filmographic works and humanitarian achievements of Ms. Sandra Bullock.

2. An in-depth discussion of the postmodernist narratology which pervades the musical output of Mr. Owen Pallett, of Toronto, Canada.*

Robin Hood fell ill - Mr. Pallett dons the tights!

*Mr. Owen Pallett’s latest album, ‘Heartland,’ was called a “firecracker of an album” by Pope Benedict the 16th, and “the soundtrack to my life getting really good then falling apart far too quickly” by Pope Benedict the 16th. These rave adulations make an assessment of Mr. Pallett’s literary value particularly pertinent.

3. A guest feature! The Paris Review has kindly donated an overlong and overtedious interview with an author, whose talent is only matched (and possily even superceded) by his obscurity. Tune in to find out who! (special prizes for the young scamperoo who can guess! Who says literature can’t be more fun than a parade?)

4. A review of page 53 of ‘Don Quixote’; the Cervantes version, not the Menard.

5. A tantalising teaser of Andy Johnston’s forthcoming, sure-to-be-earth-shattering novel, translated into Russian and then back into English.

6. The full publication of the above author’s Bewilderbliss-printed story (which was met with a belligerently hostile review within the four walls of this ettablisement), but with a twist! The English has been translated into Portuguese, and the Portuguese has been translated into English.

7. A 15,000 word description of my face.

Watch out! You’re drooling on your keyboard with anticipation!!


P. R.

A Review of a Story from Bewilderbliss

Posted in Reviews of Literary Outpour with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by plumbobrainier

Oh dear.

Didn’t Hemingway go out with the Ark?

Shotgun (w/ Hemingway attached)

We’ve all seen and heard the rave pre-announcements, shout-outs and reviews of the latest issue of Bewilderbliss, Manchester’s premier student-led literary organ; but what could possibly have possessed the editorial staff to publish the story, “Uma Amiga” by Andy Johnston, which sits like some diabolical vomit puddle on pages 48 through 53?

If ever a story was borne out of a creative writing workshop exercise, this is it. Shades of Ernest Shotgunmouth abound in everything from the clipped sentences to the imbecilic vocabulary, from the setting (a cafe, for goodship’s sake!) to the Iberian language! It’s just “A Clean, Well-lighted Place” with Portuguese people, and some different characters, and a completely different theme.

Speaking of the characters, never has a story of this brevity repeated the words “old waiter”, “younger waiter” and “young woman” more often than this one. By the end, I felt like three people (two of whom were waiters) had been bashed through the front of my skull.

Cliches fly in from all quarters. There’s the woman in black (a femme fatale as it turns out, who even wears sunglasses, has a cigarillo case, and smokes!), the old/young double act, and even a cheating husband, who (surprise-surprise!) gets his head bashed in. One can only assume Mr. Johnston ate a few pulp novels, masticated them until even pulpier, then spat the mess onto his submission.

When he’s not describing wholly inane actions (“the water fell back and stopped,” “Miguel shrugged,” “She lifted a gloved hand,” “Miguel was holding a metal table,” “The old waiter pointed,” “Miguel was still holding the table,”), Mr. Johnston indulges in overwritten, malapropic nonsense:

“The young woman shrugged, lit her cigarette and walked away, birthing bent pillars of smoke, which trailed behind her.”

Artist's Rendering of Ark (gone out now)

Birthing? And how would she create pillars (pillars?) of smoke? How this made it past the copy-editing phase, I haven’t the faintest idea. I can only assume bribery, or some inappropriate favour was involved (although I certainly wouldn’t want to bring the name of Bewilderbliss into disrepute).

Mr. Johnston, had felicity granted him sense, might also have provided translations of the Portuguese he uses, perhaps included as footnotes. It is, however, clear that it is his intention to alienate the reader. It is anyone’s guess what Fode-se, Senhora, or Bom could mean.

Glancing at his Biog, it is sad to note that Mr. Johnston is wasting everybody’s time on a prestigious MA programme at Manchester Univercity. I plan to write to him and make him reconsider his continuing attendance as a public service.

(Andy Johnston’s “Uma Amiga” appears in Issue 3 of Bewilderbliss, available in Blackwells and The Cornerhouse, £4)

The Third Hour of Bewilderbliss

Posted in Good Eve'news with tags , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by plumbobrainier

Cormac McCarthy's latest finds him experimenting with plot, form and presentation to a bewildering degree

This is a shameless plug.

If, like me and over 400,00 other human beings of both genders, you live in Manchester, England, then you can get your finger-filled hands on a literary magazine called “Bewilderbliss” (now on Issue 3).

Famous author and elbow rubber, Jenn Ashworth, set a theme of “Untruth” (untruth?) and literally dozens of writers, young and old, rose to the challenge of writing fiction (which is inherently, necessarily, untruthful) that could live up to the diabolical challenge set by that theme. They all managed superbly. But not everyone was chosen. I hear their editing staff is ruthless. And their budget low.

N-E-weigh; the magazine costs FOUR POUNDS, looks nice (unless you leave drinks on it), and has stories, poems and drawings (2 of them) of not inconsiderable quality in it.


P. R.

And here‘s a link to the Bewilderbliss site…

A casual manifesto (outline, and colouring in)

Posted in Introductive Wordsoup with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by plumbobrainier

I am the person who needs no introduction.

[…] & this is a landmass of the cybersphere I have claimed for myself, and propose to fill with words (long ones and short ones, picked indiscriminately).

Aside from a wife (to whom I owe everything), they’re all I have. This is as personal as I will get. This is also as pretentious as I will get (I hope – otherwise, shoot me).

Some of the treats to look forward to in the coming months and years include:

  • Reviews of page 53s from any novel I/you/she can think of. (i.e. I will read page 53 of a novel, and nothing else, then write about it, and maybe give it a rating)
  • Reviews of albums, films, books, sensations, people – as & when.
  • Works of fiction and non-fiction. (No poetry)
  • Pictures with colours and shapes in them.
  • Snide or flattering comments about people I know, but whose names have been changed, so as not to damage their integrity or fragile sensibilities.
  • Newstastrophes, as & when they happen to encroach upon my day.
  • Your chance to contribute! (only for me to take the credit…)
  • Competitions with intangible prizes!
  • Links to matters of great concern!!
  • Discount offers on goods and services rendered!!!
  • An overabundance of exclamation marks.
  • Abrasive sarcasm.


P. R.