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Out of the Shadows – England’s 1982 World Cup

The Story of England’s 1982 World Cup

Having missed out on the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals, Espana ’82 was the first World Cup for a generation of English football fans with a national team to support. Leading up to the tournament there were England scrapbooks for young fans to buy, anticipation in the media for a nation whose clubs had won 5 of the previous 6 European Cups and of course there was a theme tune, “Ron’s 22” (‘This Time’) in the charts and on Top of the Pops. Continue reading…

TV Highlights 2017

The golden age of TV can longer be considered a period or a phase; the high standards that were established by the cream of the crop at the turn of the century have spread and every year the quantity of high quality output increases. As a medium it has surpassed cinema and in 2017 there was plenty of original television content distributed through big screens in living rooms, laptops and mobile devices.

For many years since the new age, some of the best of the comedy came through well developed characters in long running dramas, with laugh out loud moments in West Wing, Twin Peaks, The Sopranos and still in Game of Thrones. But following on from the best thing on 2016 being a comedy with a dramatic thread through its centre, with the BBC’s Fleabag, so it was again in 2017 with the second season of Netflix’s Master of None. Continue reading…

Blondie – London

Blondie, Brixton Academy, London, November 2017

On the final night of their 2017 European tour at Brixton Academy in London, Blonide come on stage just before 9pm, moments after a bloke is overheard in the crowd saying he had “waited 38 years for this.” Debbie Harry takes to the centre, wearing a white cape, like the superhero she is to many. She stands with her back to the crowd, so they can clearly see the advice written on there, with lettering in the style of a boxer’s nickname on a robe, saying “Stop fucking the planet.”

And then she turns rounds, the band get into One Way or Another, and the Academy starts to rock. Continue reading…

Little Steven and The Disciples

Little Steven and The Disciples, London, November 2017

At 8pm on the first Saturday in November, when much of London is at Bonfire nights, in the warmth of a pub or watching reality TV, there is a queue that stretches from The Roundhouse near Chalk Farm tube station bending all the way to near the Camden arches. Mostly of a certain age, the crowd are in snake-like but disciplined line to see what transpires to be Stevie Van Zandt giving out a live performance that energetically trawls through what he terms the history of “rock and soul.” Continue reading…

Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes

With her first contribution on The Substantive Rachel Harms provides the words and a picture from a night seeing Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes at Kentish Town, London. (Full Setlist at the end of the page).

Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes – O2 Forum Kentish Town 22 June 2017

On Thursday 22nd June, Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes made a rousing return to London for their only stop in the UK this tour. On an unforgettable night, the unmistakable sound of the Jersey Shore was once again brought to the stage.

Continue reading…

Harriet Harman A Woman;s Work

Harriet Harman’s autobiography, A Woman’s Work, is an account from the frontline of women’s progressive politics from the past thirty years; from a prologue that describes a predatory University lecturer to a later anecdote of being a Deputy Labour Leader in 2009 and being asked to the G20 “wives dinner” rather than the main event, there are depressing little nuggets that colour in the backdrop of what Harman has had to contend with in her tireless efforts to help the lives of others. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen in New Zealand 2017

Christchurch and Auckland, Summer ’17

Bruce Springsteen in New Zealand 2017

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band ended a five week ‘Summer 2017’ tour with two intelligent, well structured and engrossing sets in New Zealand, one on each island.

The first date in Christchurch was a day prior to the sixth anniversary of the earthquake that killed 185 people, from which the city is still recovering. Following the quake, Springsteen’s My City of Ruins became an anthem and locals petitioned for him to come and play. The show sold out it in an hour and dominated the local media in the days leading up to his visit to the South Island. Continue reading…



With two new Jim Jarmusch releases in cinemas at the same time, Christmas has arrived one month early for fans of the great American independent film maker. After a three year wait since the Only Lovers Left Alive double-running with The Stooges documentary Gimme Danger is Paterson, a story of a week in the life of a New Jersey bus driver.

The title character, Paterson, played by Adam Driver, like many of Jarmusch’s wonderful characters over the years, has an independence about him; but rather than being an outsider on a journey, the spirit of a warm, calm and gently paced film is of a man who has learned to find freedom, escape and pleasure while balancing routine and compromise. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Wembley 2016

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Wembley Stadium, 5 June 2016
Springsteen Wembley June 2016

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

Through the wonders of the world wide web, there is now a nice little fan created site that allows other Springsteen followers to have a look at some of the stats of the variety of sets The Boss has played dating back to 1973. In that time word has spread that he, augmented with the E Street Band, are the best live rock’n’roll performers in history. And the word is right.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s only London performance during The River Tour 2016 produces all the magic of a Springsteen gig, acting like a drug that takes hours to come down from, leaves a glow for days to come and leaves people walking away thinking it was an even better hit than the last. And the last, two nights earlier at Coventry, was brilliant. Like at Coventry he played 33 songs, but yet 14 of them were different from the Friday night.

At sixty-six years of age there is a recognition that Bruce can’t go on forever, while he still continues makes every live performance special. Throughout a hot and humid day in north-west London anticipation builds as people flock from their local accomedation from their overseas trips, the rail replacement services, the slow Sunday trains and the 182 bus that stops at Wembley Park. And that anticipation explodes into an atmosphere that lasts an unrelenting three and a half hour perfomance. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Coventry 2016

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ricoh Arena, 3 June 2016

Bruce Springsteen Coventry 2016 For You Live Solo

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

It is not even quarter to seven in the evening when Bruce Springsteen walks on stage in Coventry. He’s on his own and saunters over to sit at Roy Bittan’s grey piano, lit sky blue by the lights. Something special, in the spirit of Hyde Park 2012, is coming. He delivers a rare outing of For You, from his debut album released in January 1973; on record it is a song where he is at his most Dylan-like, with cutting, poetic lyrics and flowing delivery where he throws away the odd line with disdain as part of a fuller, fluent sound. The live solo verison is more sombre and a sold out stadium, which was bustling before the start to the point there was no room to move in the first third of the matted football pitch. fell silent in awe.

Almost seamlessly he brings on the band, walks centre stage and within a heartbeat they launch into a thrilling version of Something in the Night. Something in the eye. But there ain’t even a cloud in the sky. Soon, many were lost in a flood. Something in the Night, a song about blanking everything else all out in lament, was delivered with an intensity that was transparent both in the sound and in The Boss’s face, beamed close-up on big screens. It was then followed immediately by Prove it All Night. Two storming versions of songs he cited at Wembley 2013 as part of his fiercest collection. Overpowering yet empowering at the same time. To nick another Springsteen lyric, he is getting a crowd to laugh and cry in a single sound. And it wasn’t even 7pm. Continue reading…

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