wed 08/12/2021

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Thomas H Green
Wednesday, 08 December 2021
Madness frontman Suggs is asking the capacity crowd at the Brighton Centre if any of them are in school-age education. Quite a few are. There are actual young people here! Some...
Adam Sweeting
Wednesday, 08 December 2021
In 2014, Susan and Christopher Edwards were jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the killing of Susan’s parents, William and Patricia Wycherley. They’d been shot dead in 1998, and...
Nick Hasted
Wednesday, 08 December 2021
Neil Young’s ornery spontaneity has resulted in a remarkable number of mediocre songs. His sketchy 21st century has conjured audacious sonic conceits – the jazzy sparseness of...
Adam Sweeting
Tuesday, 07 December 2021
I sympathised with the prosecuting barrister when she put it to the court that the accused, a man called Hero (Samuel Adewunmi), was “using his closing speech to construct a work...
Sebastian Scotney
Tuesday, 07 December 2021
This winter's evening spent at Wigmore Hall, completely immersed in performances of songs by Tchaikovsky, was a delight.Mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk and pianist Semyon Skigin...
Veronica Lee
Tuesday, 07 December 2021
The lengthy ovation Chris and Rosie Ramsey received when they walked on stage at the O2 showed there was a lot of love in the room, and why wouldn't there be? The married couple's...
Guy Oddy
Tuesday, 07 December 2021
Christmas albums can traditionally be slippery beasts with a whole host of quality control issues. This is not unlike the...
Boyd Tonkin
Monday, 06 December 2021
The shadow of the cross falls over James MacMillan’s manger. You may come for his work’s consoling, even transporting,...
Tom Birchenough
Monday, 06 December 2021
Measure for Measure may be the quintessential Shakespeare “problem” play, but just what has earned it that epithet remains a...
Robert Beale
Monday, 06 December 2021
Manchester’s oldest chamber orchestra has been gathering a new audience at the Stoller Hall in Chetham’s School of Music...
Jasper Rees
Monday, 06 December 2021
The energy of Antony Sher, who has died at the age of 72, was prodigious. He not only acted like a fizzing firecracker. He...
Graham Fuller
Monday, 06 December 2021
Just as love's downward spiral can deconstruct a lover's sense of self, so SJS's plangent post-modern prog deconstructs...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 05 December 2021
The picture seen above doesn’t have quite the same resonance as Art Kane’s 1958 shot A Great Day in Harlem which brought 57...
Sebastian Scotney
Sunday, 05 December 2021
Jef Costello, the lone contract killer in Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), carries out the murder of the boss of a...
David Nice
Saturday, 04 December 2021
Two major composers took Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies as the subject for two very different operas. The 19 year old...
Guy Oddy
Saturday, 04 December 2021
Madmess are a Portuguese power trio who are based in London. Muscular and (mostly) instrumental stoner rock is their thing,...
Rachel Halliburton
Friday, 03 December 2021
When the Canadian Yann Martel went to India as a young adult backpacker he fell in love – not with one person but with the...
Jenny Gilbert
Friday, 03 December 2021
How do you picture Gene Kelly? Most likely in his effervescent screen persona, either as the burly ex-GI of An American in...
Adam Sweeting
Friday, 03 December 2021
Netflix is sometimes criticised for bringing too much of everything to its online feast, but the way it’s opening up...

★★★★★ MACMILLAN CHRISTMAS ORATORIO, LPO, ELDER, RFH A new star for the season

★★★★ MEASURE FOR MEASURE, SAM WANAMAKER THEATRE This problem play is a delight

★★★★ MADMESS - REBIRTH A head-spinning debut from the Portuguese power trio

★★★★ BLU-RAY: LE SAMOURAI Trenchcoat, fedora, white gloves and meticulous film-making

10 QUESTIONS FOR PETE TONG Musician and DJ on his latest EP and his musical life thus far


★★ SHAGGED. MARRIED. ANNOYED. LIVE, O2 ARENA Popular podcast lost in translation

ANTONY SHER Brilliant actor knight who revealed himself on stage and in performance diaries

disc of the day

Album: Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Barn

Hushed Horse epics rekindle sputtering songwriting


Landscapers, Sky Atlantic review - Olivia Colman and David Thewlis star as a pair of convicted killers

Is post-modern jokiness suitable for this real-life murder mystery?

You Don't Know Me, BBC One review - true love meets inner-city crime wave

Adaptation of Imran Mahmood's novel is strongly cast but slightly preposterous

Hellbound, Netflix review - supernatural assassins usher in an age of terror

Nightmare alternative reality from director Yeon Sang-ho


Blu-ray: Le Samouraï

Trenchcoat, fedora, white gloves and meticulous film-making from Jean-Pierre Melville

theartsdesk at Tallinn's Black Nights Film Festival - still crazy after all these years

With its black carpet and audiences referred to as ‘wolves’, Black Nights is 25

The Power of the Dog review - of rawhide and roses

Jane Campion's 1920s Western nails the lid on rugged masculinity

new music

Madness and Squeeze, Brighton Centre review - enjoyable annual December nostalgia romp

Despite occasional sound problems Madness and Squeeze bring joy to the south coast

Album: Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Barn

Hushed Horse epics rekindle sputtering songwriting

Album: Various Artists - A Damaged Christmas Gift For You

Seasonal greetings from the lo-fi punkers at Damaged Goods


Semenchuk, Skigin, Wigmore Hall review - compelling Tchaikovsky songs

A great mezzo partnered by the perfect pianist for this repertoire

MacMillan Christmas Oratorio, LPO, Elder, RFH review – a new star for the season

Eclectic, epic, accessible: this musical feast deserves to last

Hanslip, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - lyricism and challenge

Top violinist puts conductor-less orchestra through its paces


Zingari/Tosca Suite, Opera Rara, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - symphonic mastery and fluent hokum

Top singers and orchestra deliver the goods in Leoncavallo's fast-moving melodrama

The Valkyrie, English National Opera review - fitfully flickering flames

Consistently fine orchestra, singing from strong to strenuous, clear but patchy staging

The Cunning Little Vixen, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - nature, large as life

Janáček's natural wonder goes large, in a supercharged concert staging


Measure for Measure, Sam Wanamaker Theatre review - this problem play is a delight
Blanche McIntyre regenders the Duke and relishes the London low-life
Antony Sher: 'I discovered I could be other people'
Remembering the brilliant actor knight who revealed himself both on stage and in pioneering performance diaries
Life of Pi, Wyndham's Theatre review - visually ravishing show uplifted by astonishing puppetry
Despite its deceptive lightness, at heart this is a dark terrifying story


Starstruck, Scottish Ballet review - smart, sassy and cinematic

A ballet by Gene Kelly from 1960 gets new wings

Past Present, Linbury Theatre review - historic, but very much alive

Yorke Dance Project premieres the final work of Robert Cohan

Ballet Black, Linbury Theatre review - an essential part of the landscape

Twenty years on, the pity is that it's still necessary for this excellent company to exist


Shagged. Married. Annoyed. Live, O2 Arena review - popular podcast lost in translation

Intimacy crucial to Chris and Rosie Ramsey's show is missing

The Good Life, Richmond Theatre review - popular sitcom gets its own origin story

Tom, Barbara, Jerry and Margo are back in the '70s, but with a message for today

Alfie Brown, Soho Theatre review - a contrarian on great form

Mental health and male privilege examined


Peter Robison: Flying Blind review – a story of decline and crawl

The galling account of the 737 MAX Boeing tragedies

Lucie Elven: The Weak Spot review - a cryptic modern fable

This study in manipulation asks what happens when our weaknesses are weaponised

Sarah Moss: The Fell review - a dark night on the hills

What happens when you go missing in a pandemic?

visual arts

The Courtauld Gallery - the old place, just better

After a three-year redevelopment, one of the UK's finest galleries is better than ever

Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern review – more explication please

A carnival of characters looking forwards as well as backwards

The Danish Collector: Delacroix to Gauguin review - fabulous art, not sure about the framing

Exhibition on Screen offers a catch-up for those who missed the RA show


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