sun 14/08/2022

Leeds

The Darkest Part of the Night, Kiln Theatre - issues-led drama has its heart in the right place

Music plays a big part in the life of Dwight, an 11-year-old black lad growing up in early 80s Leeds. He doesn't fit in at school, bullied because he is "slow", and he doesn't fit in outside school, would-be friends losing patience with him.But he...

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Parsifal, Opera North review - full focus and a dream line-up

Wagner, in his medievalist, pan-European, 19th century way, wanted Parsifal to be a blend of abstract and religious experience for his audiences at Bayreuth, calling it a “festival play for a stage consecration”. Questions for those performing it...

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I Get Knocked Down, Brighton Festival review - Chumbawamba singer's film is lively, funny and thought-provoking

One effect of the film I Get Knocked Down, a playfully constructed journey around the life of Chumbawamba vocalist Dunstan Bruce, is to remind that socio-political rage was once woven into the fabric of popular music. Old footage from the band’s...

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The Mission, Chalk, Brighton review - the hits, delivered straight, to an enthused crowd

“Play something we can dance to,” heckles a fan. “Fuck off, we are not a dance band,” fires back Wayne Hussey, leader of The Mission. He’s right. They’re not. But still there is dancing.One especially notable aspect of this gig is the total and...

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Alcina, Opera North review - flat update redeemed by excellent vocal performances

This new production of Handel’s Alcina opens well, with no preamble, the protagonists’ arrival on the island inhabited by the titular sorceress suggested by footage of rushing water projected onto the backdrop. This is billed as Opera North’s first...

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Album: Nightmares On Wax - Shout Out! To Freedom...

George Evelyn is one of British music’s more interesting characters. With equal parts Yorkshire bluntness, hip hop swagger and cosmic dreams, he has filled Nightmares On Wax’s beat collages and soul grooves with soundsystem heft and endless...

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Bernstein Double Bill, Opera North review - fractured relationships in song and dance

Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti enjoyed a relatively trouble-free gestation, at least compared to his other stage works. Its seven short scenes last around 50 minutes, Bernstein providing his own libretto and completing much of...

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Leeds International Piano Competition Finals, Leeds Town Hall review - a hi-tech, low carbon musical celebration

It’s easy to forget that what you see in a competition final isn’t always the full story, the jury members’ votes in this case based on what had gone on in the earlier rounds. The 20th Leeds International Piano Competition began its final stages in...

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Album: Emma-Jean Thackray - Yellow

Emma-Jean Thackray is not lacking in audaciousness. This is, after all, a white woman from Leeds barely into her thirties, raised on bassline house and indie rock, making music whose most obvious comparisons are with some of the most revered (in the...

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From cancellation to new vigour: pianist and artistic director Joseph Middleton on Leeds Lieder

April 2020 was to have been the celebratory 10th Anniversary Festival of Leeds Lieder, the organisation I’ve been fortunate enough to direct since late 2014. I’d called the Festival Ode to Joy and in a curious turn of programming, geekery...

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Connolly, Middleton, Leeds Lieder online review - epic voyage on a luxury vessel

Some lockdown-era recital programmes have doled out miserly short measures, as performers gallop through a brief, rushed hour (or less) of music as if afraid to tax the online patience of their disembodied audience. If this final concert in Leeds...

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Dame Fanny Waterman (1920-2020) - some recollections, with love and affection

Dame Fanny Waterman was a true force of nature, in the best sense of the word. Her diminutive height belied a giant intellectual force and a steely determination to achieve the seemingly unachievable through every means she could muster.She...

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